Cascade into Bond of Agony

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So, reading on MtgSalvation, there was this situation

Cranial Insertion wrote:
What happens when I cascade into Bond of Agony? If my life total is greater than my opponent's can I pay enough life to kill him?

His answer was

A: It's usually the case when you're getting a free x spell that X has to be zero.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glossary: X
I
f you're playing a spell that has x in its mana cost, the value of X isn't defined by the text of that spell, and an effect lets you play that spell without paying any cost that includes X, then the only legal choice for X is 0.

...buuuuuut that isn't true for Bond of Agony! You're not getting off without paying any cost that includes X, because you still have to pay the additional cost of X life. If you have more life than your opponent when you cascade into this card, you can just win outright.

Another judge disagreed with him in the comments, saying that X must be zero.

They both seem to make compelling arguments, so I ask, who is right?
EDIT: Cancel that. I'm not entirely sure, someone else can get this one.

EDIT 2: OK, I've looked over the rules.

1) X is in the mana cost of Bond of Agony
2) X is not defined by its text.
3) Cascade does not allow you to play Bond of Agony without paying any cost that includes X.

Therefore we are not forced into choosing 0 for X, since we only meet two of the three criteria in the rules. Playing a spell with cascade follows all the usual procedures for playing a spell normally, minus the mana cost, so as usual we pick a legal value for X (any non-negative integer) and pay the associated costs. The effect should resolve with whatever value of X you chose and paid the life for.
M:tG Rules Advisor
You have to pay the additional X life, the X being the same X you payed for the cost. However, playing an X-spell without paying its cost sets X to 0. Therefore you play the spell, pay an additional 0 life, and your opponents take 0 damage.
"Screw the rules I have money!"
The problem is this phrase

If you're playing a spell that has {X} in its mana cost, the value of X isn't defined by the text of that spell, and an effect lets you play that spell without paying any cost that includes X, then the only legal choice for X is 0.

You are paying another cost that includes X here, though.
Huh, apparently this was a disscussion in the Rules issues, and they don't seem to be in aggrement either.

I will say that Conflagrate seems to provide credence to the idea that even if you bypass the paying the mana cost, another X payment will let you set the X for the spell.
The effect lets you play the spell without paying it's mana cost. That cost is X. The X life in the spell is identical to the X you paid in the mana cost. Since you paid 0 for X in the cost, the other X life has to match it. Just think about it in terms of math. X is a variable. NEVER can you have X = 0 and X = 20 at the same time, because then 0 = 20, which is false.

Edit: Conflagrate is a completely different case, where you're paying an ALTERNATE cost, which sets the value for X in it. This is an additional cost.
"Screw the rules I have money!"
The effect lets you play the spell without paying it's mana cost. That cost is X. The X life in the spell is identical to the X you paid in the mana cost. Since you paid 0 for X in the cost, the other X life has to match it. Just think about it in terms of math. X is a variable. NEVER can you have X = 0 and X = 20 at the same time, because then 0 = 20, which is false.

Edit: Conflagrate is a completely different case, where you're paying an ALTERNATE cost, which sets the value for X in it. This is an additional cost.

You didn't pay 0, because you didn't pay it at all. The only X you paid is for the life.
The X life in the spell is identical to the X you paid in the mana cost.

No. Both the X in the additional cost and the X in the mana cost are equal to whatever value you chose for X. What you pay depends on what the value of X is, not the other way around. So even if you're not paying the mana cost, the X in the mana cost (and everywhere else) can still be 20. The only thing that could keep the value of X at 0 is the rule that specifically says you can't choose a non-zero value in some situations. But by the most obvious interpretation of that rule, it doesn't apply to this situation. I'm not going to answer the question one way or another, though, since as far as I know an official ruling hasn't been given yet.
I believe what I said is at least a valid argument, but eh... this is a situation where the ruling is probably the best thing to wait for. I personally don't think they'll let it work, since it's not how the card is supposed to be used.
"Screw the rules I have money!"
I believe what I said is at least a valid argument, but eh... this is a situation where the ruling is probably the best thing to wait for. I personally don't think they'll let it work, since it's not how the card is supposed to be used.

You do have a valid argument, because the majority of X-costed spells only have X in the mana cost, not an additional 'x' elsewhere in the cost. However, don't go by the rule that 'if you don't pay the mana cost, X must be zero.' As the rules stand right now (and I seem to recall a ruling issued saying what I'm about to say with no other (more recent) official answer contradicting it...), x must be zero if you're not paying ANY cost that has an X when playing the spell, not just if you're not paying the mana cost.
MTG Rules Advisor Mirrodin_Loyalty.png

You do have a valid argument, because the majority of X-costed spells only have X in the mana cost, not an additional 'x' elsewhere in the cost. However, don't go by the rule that 'if you don't pay the mana cost, X must be zero.' As the rules stand right now (and I seem to recall a ruling issued saying what I'm about to say with no other (more recent) official answer contradicting it...), x must be zero if you're not paying ANY cost that has an X when playing the spell, not just if you're not paying the mana cost.

true, but I was talking about my mathematics argument, that multiple values all using the same variable must be equivilant. But hey, one way or another, someone's gonna make a judgement call. :P
"Screw the rules I have money!"
true, but I was talking about my mathematics argument, that multiple values all using the same variable must be equivilant. But hey, one way or another, someone's gonna make a judgement call. :P

Right, but just because the X in the mana cost has to be equal to the one in the additional cost and in the effect, doesn't mean that any of the Xs are equal to 0 if you don't pay the mana cost. There's a difference between a cost of 0 and an unpaid nonzero cost. The mana cost of a Flashbacked Conflagrate for 4 is still . All the Xs are still the same. You're just not paying one of them.
it should be noted that this exact issue was brought up in the Rules Issue forum and I don't believe an [o] ruling was ever made...

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it should be noted that this exact issue was brought up in the Rules Issue forum and I don't believe an [o] ruling was ever made...

The latest in that thread ( http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1189841 ) is that the official position is still under discussion.
M:tG Rules Advisor
Without an [o] ruling yet defining an answer, it should currently be played according to what the Rules actually DO say.

As the Rules are currently worded, you may choose any value for X from 0 up to and including your current life total (assuming it is positive).

We may get an [o] Ruling which says that's not how it is intended to work and giving us the official way to handle it. But we don't yet have that, and speculation on whether we will or won't get it is irrelevant. Currently, the Rules allow you to choose a value for X in the given example.

When we get an [o] Ruling, and if it changes the behavior, hopefully someone will remember to update this thread.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Without an [o] ruling yet defining an answer, it should currently be played according to what the Rules actually DO say.

What the rules actually say is ambiguous. "Without paying any cost that includes X" can mean either "without paying some particular cost that includes X"1 or "in a way such that there is no cost that you pay that includes X." There is at least one more interpretation of the glossary entry, as well: that if any cost including X is replaced with an alternative cost, the alternative cost must include X or X is 0.

I suggest bringing it up with the Head Judge before the tournament begins if you think the situation might come up; they should be able to tell you how they will rule. If you're not playing in a tournament, of course, you can come to any agreement you like with your fellow players.

1 This brings up issues with Shining Shoal et al., but it is a tenable position.
this seems to be mainly a wording issue as with most ruling question I encounter. casting cost here is 1 black plus X, with an additional cost of X life, that's technically word for word off the card...... so it never says that both X's have to match, nor does it state that the mana is the cause of the damage dealt. leading me to think that damage dealt is the sum of both parts. like a fireball only you can pump it with life. so i could theoretically pay one black one colorless and 19 life and kill every one at the table.
it never says that both X's have to match

Sorry, but that's just flat-out wrong. The rules very clearly say that all instances of X on an object have the same value:

[indent]
X
Many cards use the letter X as a placeholder for a number that needs to be determined. All instances of X on an object have the same value.
If a spell or activated ability has a cost with an "{X}" in it, and the value of X isn't defined by the text of that spell or ability, the controller of that spell or ability chooses and announces the value of X as part of playing the spell or ability. (See rule 409, "Playing Spells and Activated Abilities.") While the spell or ability is on the stack, the {X} in its mana cost equals the announced value.
If you're playing a spell that has {X} in its mana cost, the value of X isn't defined by the text of that spell, and an effect lets you play that spell without paying any cost that includes X, then the only legal choice for X is 0. This doesn't apply to effects that only reduce a cost, even if they reduce it to zero. See rule 409, "Playing Spells and Activated Abilities."
If a spell or activated ability has a cost with an "{X}" in it, and the value of X is defined by the text of that spell or ability, then that's the value of X while that spell or ability is on the stack. The controller of that spell or ability doesn't get to choose the value.
If a cost associated with a special action, such as a suspend cost or a morph cost, has an "{X}" in it, the value of X is chosen by the player taking the special action as he or she pays that cost.
If a card in any zone other than the stack has {X} in its mana cost, the value of {X} is treated as 0, even if the value of X is defined somewhere within its text.
In other cases, X appears in the text of a spell or ability but not in a mana cost or activation cost. If the value of X is defined by the text of that spell or ability, then that's the value of X while that spell or ability is on the stack. The controller of that spell or ability doesn't get to choose the value. Note that the value of X may change while that spell or ability is on the stack. If the value of X isn't defined, the controller of the spell or ability chooses the value of X.
[/indent]
DCI Level 2 Judge Please use autocard when you ask a question about specific cards: [c]Serra Angel[/c] -> Serra Angel
The other thread on this matter has already been locked here. There is an [o] ruling in the works. I don't think we need to endlessly debate this issue.
Level 3 Magic Judge "To face death, that's nothing much. But to feel really stupid when you die, well, that would be insufferable." -Nafai, The Ships of Earth
i'm unclear as to what this zero ruling actually entails.
i'm unclear as to what this zero ruling actually entails.

What "zero ruling"? Or are you alluding to the [o]fficial ruling which does not, as yet, exist?
No, I am not a judge. That's why I like to quote sources such as the rules that trump judges.
that would be the one. as i am fairly new to the game i can't figure out how one would cascade into bond of agony.
never mind i think i figured out what is meant by "cascade into bonds of agony".
that would be the one. as i am fairly new to the game i can't figure out how one would cascade into bond of agony.
never mind i think i figured out what is meant by "cascade into bonds of agony".

Simple. If you play a spell with Cascade that has a CMC of 2 or greater, and the first nonland card with CMC 1 or less that you remove via Cascade is the Bond, then you have "cascaded into Bond of Agony." (While in any zone other than the stack, the in Bond of Agony's mana cost is treated as .)
oh ok
what card would cause this? i searched cascade and the same 3 cards pop up every time and none of them do that.

Bloodbraid Elf, Ardent Plea, Bituminous Blast? (Just to name a few examples off the top of my head.)

They all have this ability called "Cascade". Cascade means this:

[indent]
502.85a Cascade is a triggered ability that functions only while the spell with cascade is on the stack. "Cascade" means "When you play this spell, remove cards from the top of your library from the game until you remove a nonland card whose converted mana cost is less than this spell's converted mana cost. You may play that card without paying its mana cost. Then put all cards removed from the game this way that weren't played on the bottom of your library in a random order."
[/indent]

So, if the first nonland card from the top of your library is Bond of Agony, the Cascade ability allows you to play Bonds of Agony. (This is not in dispute.)

The open question is whether playing Bond of Agony with Cascade forces X=0 or whether the player may choose a non-zero X. That's awaiting an [O]fficial Ruling.
DCI Level 2 Judge Please use autocard when you ask a question about specific cards: [c]Serra Angel[/c] -> Serra Angel
As described [post=18753441]here[/post], [o]fficial word on this matter should be forthcoming in the near future. Until that time, this discussion serves little purpose and merely tends to make tempers flare. As such, I'll be closing this thread, just like the [thread=1199552]previous one[/thread] on the same issue.

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