I have a question I'd like YOU to answer...

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How does Cascade combo with Bond of Agony, my friend keeps saying that he can win the game instantly with it, if he is above my current life point total, but I don't think it's true. Any help you guys (and girls) could render would be appreciated.

Thanks.
How does Cascade combo with Bond of Agony, my friend keeps saying that he can win the game instantly with it, but I don't think it's true. Any help you guys (and girls) could render would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Short story: Nobody knows. We're currently waiting on an official ruling for this one. Search this forum or see [thread=1189841]the thread in Rules Issues[/thread] to read what the argument is about.
How does Cascade combo with Bond of Agony, my friend keeps saying that he can win the game instantly with it, but I don't think it's true. Any help you guys (and girls) could render would be appreciated.

Thanks.

*facepalm*
We don't have an [o]fficial answer as of yet how cascade interacts with Bond of Agony. It is indeed quite possible if the player cascading has more life then you that he would win. Its also quite possible that X is 0. We don't know as of yet.
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
Oh come on, this is ridiculous, I just want an answer to my question. Why isn't there an official ruling yet?
Oh come on, this is ridiculous, I just want an answer to my question. Why isn't there an official ruling yet?

Trust me, we ALL want an official answer, its a weird corner case that has valid points on both sides as to why it works one way or another. As to why there isn't a ruling yet, my guess is the people at Wizards are very, very busy.
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
Because some of the most accomplished rules-gurus on this forum and its subforum have been discussing it for days, forcing us to wait for an [o] arbitration?

This is an uncommon situation. Ask just about any other question, and this forum will get you a response in a few moments.
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As to why there isn't a ruling yet, my guess is the people at Wizards are very, very busy.

My guess, based on nothing in particular is this:

1) They're carefully weighing the consequences of ruling one way versus the consequences of ruling another way. This takes time.

2) They're working on changing the rules to make clear how the ruling is derived from the rules. This means we probably won't see anything official until the M10 rules update.
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My guess, based on nothing in particular is this:

1) They're carefully weighing the consequences of ruling one way versus the consequences of ruling another way. This takes time.

2) They're working on changing the rules to make clear how the ruling is derived from the rules. This means we probably won't see anything official until the M10 rules update.

I like your guesses better, and I really hope it isn't option 2.
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
Oh come on, this is ridiculous, I just want an answer to my question. Why isn't there an official ruling yet?

Because the question blindsided the people who make official rulings. The rules now seem to contradict rulings made four years or so ago, but may not have done so intentionally.

We were told at the start of this month that a ruling would take "about two weeks." That two weeks is not over yet.
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Oh come on, this is ridiculous, I just want an answer to my question. Why isn't there an official ruling yet?

1) the difference in interpretation is subtle and takes a bit to wrap one's head around it
2) there are many cards and rulings already in existance and they have to determine whether the revised wording/rulings will alter the existing ones
3) the ruling must take into account future cards in development
4) the new wording/ruling must be unambiguous but still "grokkable" in the parlance of Mr. Rosewater.
5) I doubt this is a high priority. Bond of Agony is not Standard legal so it's interaction with Cascade is not super important to them in the grand scheme of things though with that evil genius Gottlieb managing the rules, who knows?

In the absence of an [o] ruling, the interpretation has been falling on the local judges and to my knowledge more of them have been ruling that yes it is a legal play.

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From what I understand, the cascade effect will pay for the mana costs of this card, which would be 1. (X is always assumed to be 0 unless it is declared greater than 0. For the purposes of the cascade ability, X is 0) Any additional costs, such as paying life, sacrificing creatures, or extra mana, (for instance, a kicker cost) can be payed by the player prior to the spell resolving.

In the case of Bond of Agony, the cost is X and 1 black mana, which means that X would be 0. Since you can only pay 0 life as an additional cost (X = 0), then the spell would have no effect.

Hope this helps...

-Grumpy
From what I understand, the cascade effect will pay for the mana costs of this card, which would be 1. (X is always assumed to be 0 unless it is declared greater than 0. For the purposes of the cascade ability, X is 0) Any additional costs, such as paying life, sacrificing creatures, or extra mana, (for instance, a kicker cost) can be payed by the player prior to the spell resolving.

In the case of Bond of Agony, the cost is X and 1 black mana, which means that X would be 0. Since you can only pay 0 life as an additional cost (X = 0), then the spell would have no effect.

Hope this helps...

-Grumpy

Sigh. As has been said already, it's not that simple. The rules for Cascade say nothing about X being 0. The rule that normally applies in these kinds of cases is worded in such a way that it is somewhat ambiguous whether it applies to Bond of Agony (essentially, X is 0 if an effect lets you play a spell "without paying any cost that includes X," and in the case of Bond of Agony, you're still paying a cost that includes X). Just wait for the official ruling.
Um, how does Hatred work when played without paying its mana cost?
Um, how does Hatred work when played without paying its mana cost?

Just fine. The rule only applies for spells with in the mana cost. For reference:[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 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]
So the reason there is no answer to this yet is basically because the rules people forgot to put a clause in the cascade rules saying "X=0" am I getting that right?

That's dumb, if X is considered to be 0 for basically every other card that allows you play a card without paying it's mana cost, why wouldn't it be that way for cascade? How is this even an argument? Can someone give a better example here or explain this one?
Cascade isn't a special exception. We don't currently know how Bond of Agony works with any effect that lets you play it for an alternative cost (such as "without paying its mana cost").

And the "X must be 0" thing is unambiguous for things that only have the X in their mana cost. The question is how it works with cards that also have an X in their additional cost, and we don't have an answer to that.
Cascade isn't a special exception. We don't currently know how Bond of Agony works with any effect that lets you play it for an alternative cost (such as "without paying its mana cost").

ok, then what's different about it as opposed to if you cascade a Fireball?
ok, then what's different about it as opposed to if you cascade a Fireball?

From what I understand, Fireball doesn't have an additional cost that sets the value of X.
So the reason there is no answer to this yet is basically because the rules people forgot to put a clause in the cascade rules saying "X=0" am I getting that right?

No, that's not right. There is a separate rule about choosing the value for X.

That's dumb, if X is considered to be 0 for basically every other card that allows you play a card without paying it's mana cost, why wouldn't it be that way for cascade? How is this even an argument? Can someone give a better example here or explain this one?

The complication does not stem from Cascade, it stems from Bond of Agony, which has X in both the mana cost and an additional cost. In fact, this issue is not limited to Cascade. It includes any effect that allows you to play a card without paying its mana cost. Such effects are common. Cards which have X in both the mana cost and an additional cost are very rare.
So the reason there is no answer to this yet is basically because the rules people forgot to put a clause in the cascade rules saying "X=0" am I getting that right?

No. There's more to it than that. Mind's desire, Dream Halls and other cards that let you play spells without paying that their mana costs don't specific clauses that make x = 0 either. Fireball off a cascade spell is still always for 0.


That's dumb, if X is considered to be 0 for basically every other card that allows you play a card without paying it's mana cost, why wouldn't it be that way for cascade? How is this even an argument? Can someone give a better example here or explain this one?

It gets complicated for cards that have non-mana X costs like Shining Shoal.

See the linked thread
All Generalizations are Bad
I edited my post to answer that.

Fireball's only cost involving X is in its mana cost. If you're not paying the mana cost, there's no longer any cost involving X, so X must be 0. Bond of Agony, however, would still have an X in its additional cost, so it's not clear that X would still have to be 0.

And trying to argue about this is futile. It can't be resolved until we get the [o]fficial ruling.
So what's the current ruling on Shining Shoal when it's played without playing its mana cost, or is there even one? Is Shining Shoal similar enough to Bond of Agony to make a comparison?
From what I understand, Fireball doesn't have an additional cost that sets the value of X.

Remember that costs never set X. You choose X, and then your choice sets the cost.
All Generalizations are Bad
So what's the current ruling on Shining Shoal when it's played without playing its mana cost, or is there even one? Is Shining Shoal similar enough to Bond of Agony to make a comparison?

If you cascaded into shining shoal, it would be for zero, since it doesn't have an additional cost that includes X.

However, you can obviously play it without paying its mana cost and have a non-zero X according to the text on the card.
All Generalizations are Bad
And trying to argue about this is futile. It can't be resolved until we get the [o]fficial ruling.

This is true, so I'll stop or I could go all day. But when the ruling comes out, I'm sure there will be much to be said.
Remember that costs never set X. You choose X, and then your choice sets the cost.

Ok, so if costs never set X...

And they rule that the Bond of Agony trick works...

Then it's CMC would be 1, X in its mana cost would be 0, and you pay let's say 10 life and the opponent loses 10 life.

As a math guy, that makes no sense to me as in my mind X is a variable, and if it's set as a value in one place, that's what it is everywhere, no exceptions!

We'll see how it plays out I guess. =D
This is true, so I'll stop or I could go all day. But when the ruling comes out, I'm sure there will be much to be said.

Not really. If it's ruled that Cascading into Bond means the only legal choice for X is zero, the rule will be changed to reflect that. If it's ruled that Cascading into Bond means that you can choose a non-zero value for X, the rule will either be left alone (because the current wording leans heavily towards the latter ruling anyway), or be changed to be as unambiguous as possible in regards to such. The only ones who will argue with that ruling will be those who don't understand how X-costed spells work to begin with, so they won't have much validity in their arguments anyway.
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Then it's CMC would be 1, X in its mana cost would be 0, and you pay let's say 10 life and the opponent loses 10 life.

As a math guy, that makes no sense to me as in my mind X is a variable, and if it's set as a value in one place, that's what it is everywhere, no exceptions!

Yes, it is the same value everywhere. Your mistake is thinking that amount of mana you end up paying matters. Cascade and other such effects explicitly bypass the mana cost. The total cost is "Don't pay the mana cost, and pay X life". Everywhere you see an X, you substitute in the chosen value (eg "Don't pay the mana cost, and pay 5 life"), then you pay that much.

Alternatively, you can view it as "Don't pay [], and pay X life." Substitute in the chosen value, and you get something like "Don't pay [], and pay 5 life".
So the reason there is no answer to this yet is basically because the rules people forgot to put a clause in the cascade rules saying "X=0" am I getting that right?

no, this applies to other cases as well such as with Isochron Scepter

That's dumb, if X is considered to be 0 for basically every other card that allows you play a card without paying it's mana cost, why wouldn't it be that way for cascade? How is this even an argument? Can someone give a better example here or explain this one?

this is not an issue specific to cascade
if I had Bond of Agony RFGed by Mosswort Bridge, then played it via the ability on Mosswort Bridge, I would encounter the same problem.

The ability lets me play it without paying its mana cost, it has X in the cost and X is not defined by the card text, but I can play an additional cost of X by paying life which would determine the value for X in the effect.

some are saying that X must be chosen as zero, others say that this additional cost is excluded like the Shoals. Unfortunately, the rule that controls which is correct is ambiguously worded and this spell could fall on either side based on which interpretation is correct and intended.

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Ok, so if costs never set X...

And they rule that the Bond of Agony trick works...

Then it's CMC would be 1, X in its mana cost would be 0, and you pay let's say 10 life and the opponent loses 10 life.

As a math guy, that makes no sense to me as in my mind X is a variable, and if it's set as a value in one place, that's what it is everywhere, no exceptions!

We'll see how it plays out I guess. =D

No, X in the mana cost would still be 10, and its CMC would be 11 while it was on the stack. It would cost 11 and a to counter it with spell blast. Its cost doesn't get set to 11 until it's on the stack, after cascade has seen that its cost was 1 to let you play it.
All Generalizations are Bad
Ok, so if costs never set X...

And they rule that the Bond of Agony trick works...

Then it's CMC would be 1, X in its mana cost would be 0, and you pay let's say 10 life and the opponent loses 10 life.

As a math guy, that makes no sense to me as in my mind X is a variable, and if it's set as a value in one place, that's what it is everywhere, no exceptions!

We'll see how it plays out I guess. =D

This is wrong.

If the Bond of Agony trick works, then its CMC will be (in your example) 11, X in the mana cost will be 10, X in the additional cost will be 10, and X in the effect of the card will be 10. Cascading into it does not make X=0 in the mana cost.

For a similar one: Conflagrate will have a CMC of 15 if you discard 7 cards when you play it via Flashback. You're not paying the mana cost, but the X's in the mana cost will reflect the chosen value of X when you play it via Flashback.

Not paying the mana cost does not mean the X in the mana cost is automatically zero. The rules say that the only legal choice for all the X's is zero in most cases where a card has in the mana cost. The question is whether or not this applies to cards like Bond of Agony, since the current wording of the rule can be argued both ways (that it means the Bond trick does work and that it means the trick doesn't work).
MTG Rules Advisor Mirrodin_Loyalty.png

If you cascaded into shining shoal, it would be for zero, since it doesn't have an additional cost that includes X.

However, you can obviously play it without paying its mana cost and have a non-zero X according to the text on the card.

of course, you can't opt to play it for its alternate cost when an effect is already letting you play it. For the same reason, you can't evoke an elemental in your graveyard after you've used the ability on Horde of Notions.

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No, X in the mana cost would still be 10, and its CMC would be 11 while it was on the stack. It would cost 11 and a to counter it with spell blast. Its cost doesn't get set to 11 until it's on the stack, after cascade has seen that its cost was 1 to let you play it.

This makes much more sense to me now. Though I still think it should be X=0, I can at least see where the argument comes from
Ok, so if costs never set X...

And they rule that the Bond of Agony trick works...

Then it's CMC would be 1, X in its mana cost would be 0, and you pay let's say 10 life and the opponent loses 10 life.

As a math guy, that makes no sense to me as in my mind X is a variable, and if it's set as a value in one place, that's what it is everywhere, no exceptions!

The problem is that you aren't taking into account that Cascade is looking at the CMC of the Bonds at a different time than you seem to think it is.

For Cascade, it is looking at the CMC before the spell is played, while it is still just a card. At that time, the CMC of Bond is 1. This means that Cascade lets you play it.

Now, when you play it, you choose a value for X as part of playing the Bonds, and put the (now) spell onto the stack. At this point, the CMC is no longer 1, but is 1 plus whatever value was chosen for X.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
The only problem I'm having is that one other poster said that "costs never set the value of X" and what you're telling me here is that it clearly does.

The amount of life you pay is X, a cost, which then sets the CMC.

Hey I'm fine with the ruling either way, I'm just trying to understand what the other poster meant (Which maybe I'm misunderstanding)
The only problem I'm having is that one other poster said that "costs never set the value of X" and what you're telling me here is that it clearly does.

The amount of life you pay is X, a cost, which then sets the CMC.

Hey I'm fine with the ruling either way, I'm just trying to understand what the other poster meant (Which maybe I'm misunderstanding)

You still misunderstand. What you pay into the additional cost doesn't set the CMC; what you choose for the value of X sets the CMC and also tells you how much life you have to pay. What you pay into X in the additional cost doesn't set the CMC.
MTG Rules Advisor Mirrodin_Loyalty.png

The only problem I'm having is that one other poster said that "costs never set the value of X" and what you're telling me here is that it clearly does.

The amount of life you pay is X, a cost, which then sets the CMC.

Hey I'm fine with the ruling either way, I'm just trying to understand what the other poster meant (Which maybe I'm misunderstanding)

No it's not. You choose the value of X, which determines the amount of life you pay and the amount of mana you would pay. You choose the value of X long before you get around to determining what the spell costs, then you plug the chosen value into the costs that include X to get the spell's basic cost. If, after that, the cost is then reduced by an outside effect, the value of X doesn't change.
ΦΦΦΦΦ
The only problem I'm having is that one other poster said that "costs never set the value of X" and what you're telling me here is that it clearly does.

The amount of life you pay is X, a cost, which then sets the CMC.

Hey I'm fine with the ruling either way, I'm just trying to understand what the other poster meant (Which maybe I'm misunderstanding)

409. Playing Spells and Activated Abilities
409.1. Playing a spell or activated ability follows the steps listed below, in order. If, at any point during the playing of a spell or ability, a player is unable to comply with any of the steps listed below, the spell was played illegally; the game returns to the moment before that spell or ability was played (see rule 422, "Handling Illegal Actions"). Announcements and payments can't be altered after they've been made.

409.1a The player announces that he or she is playing the spell or activated ability. If a spell is being played, that card (or that copy of a card) physically moves from the zone it's in to the stack. It has all the characteristics of the card (or the copy of a card) associated with it, and its controller is the player who played it. If an activated ability is being played, it's created on the stack as an object that's not a card. If an activated ability is being played from a hidden zone, the card that has that ability is revealed. On the stack, the ability has the text of the ability that created it, and no other characteristics. Its controller is the player who played the ability. The spell or ability remains on the stack until it's countered or resolves.

409.1b If the spell or ability is modal (uses the phrase "Choose one ?," "Choose two ?," "Choose one or both ?," or "[specified player] chooses one ?"), the player announces the mode choice. If the player wishes to splice any cards onto the spell (see rule 502.40), he or she reveals those cards in his or her hand. If the spell or ability has a variable cost that will be paid as it's being played (such as an in its mana cost), the player announces the value of that variable at this time. If the spell or ability has alternative, additional, or other special costs that will be paid as it's being played (such as buyback, kicker, or convoke costs), the player announces his or her intentions to pay any or all of those costs (see rule 409.1f). You can't apply two alternative methods of playing or two alternative costs to a single spell or ability. If a cost that will be paid as the spell or ability is being played includes hybrid mana symbols, the player announces the nonhybrid equivalent cost he or she intends to pay. Previously made choices (such as choosing to play a spell with flashback from his or her graveyard or choosing to play a creature with morph face down) may restrict the player's options when making these choices.

409.1c The player checks whether the spell or ability targets one or more targets only if an alternative, additional, or special cost (such as a buyback or kicker cost) is paid for it, or if a particular mode is chosen for it. Its controller will need to choose those targets only if he or she announced the intention to pay that cost or chose that mode; otherwise, the spell or ability is played as though it did not have those targets. All of a spell or ability's targets are chosen at the same time.

409.1d If the spell or ability requires any targets, the player first announces how many targets he or she will choose (if the spell or ability has a variable number of targets), then announces his or her choice of an appropriate player, object, or zone for each of those targets. The chosen players, objects, and/or zones each become a target of that spell or ability. A spell or ability can't be played unless the required number of legal targets are chosen for it. The same target can't be chosen multiple times for any one instance of the word "target" on the spell or ability. If the spell or ability uses the word "target" in multiple places, the same object, player, or zone can be chosen once for each instance of the word "target" (as long as it fits the targeting criteria).
Example: If an ability reads "Tap two target creatures," then the same target can't be chosen twice; the ability requires two different legal targets. An ability that reads "Destroy target artifact and target land," however, can target the same artifact land twice because it uses the word "target" in multiple places.

409.1e If the spell or ability requires the player to divide or distribute an effect (such as damage or counters) among one or more targets, the player announces the division. Each of these targets must receive at least one of whatever is being divided.

409.1f The player determines the total cost of the spell or ability. Usually this is just the mana cost (for spells) or activation cost (for abilities). Some cards list additional or alternative costs in their text. Some effects may increase or reduce the cost to pay, or may provide other alternative costs. Costs may include paying mana, tapping permanents, sacrificing permanents, discarding cards, and so on. The total cost is the mana cost, activation cost, or alternative cost (as determined in rule 409.1b), plus all additional costs and cost increases, and minus all cost reductions. If the mana component of the total cost is reduced to nothing by cost reduction effects, it is considered to be {0}. It can't be reduced to less than {0}. Once the total cost is determined, it becomes "locked in." If effects would change the total cost after this time, they have no effect.

409.1g If the total cost includes a mana payment, the player then has a chance to play mana abilities (see rule 411, "Playing Mana Abilities"). Mana abilities must be played before costs are paid.

409.1h The player pays the total cost in any order. Partial payments are not allowed. Unpayable costs can't be paid.
Example: You play Death Bomb, which costs {3}{B} and has an additional cost of sacrificing a creature. You sacrifice Thunderscape Familiar, whose effect makes your black spells cost {1} less to play. Because a spell's total cost is "locked in" before payments are actually made, you pay {2}{B}, not {3}{B}, even though you're sacrificing the Familiar.

409.1i Once the steps described in 409.1a?h are completed, the spell or ability becomes played. Any abilities that trigger on a spell or ability being played or put onto the stack trigger at this time. If the spell or ability's controller had priority before playing it, he or she gets priority.

409.2. Some spells and abilities specify that one of their controller's opponents does something the controller would normally do while it's being played, such as choose a mode or choose targets. In these cases, the opponent does so when the spell or ability's controller normally would do so.

409.2a If there is more than one opponent who could make such a choice, the spell or ability's controller decides which of those opponents will make the choice.

409.2b If the spell or ability instructs its controller and another player to do something at the same time as the spell or ability is being played, the spell's controller goes first, then the other player. This is an exception to rule 103.4.

409.3. Playing a spell or ability that alters costs won't do anything to spells and abilities that are already on the stack.

409.4. A player can't begin to play a spell or activated ability that's prohibited from being played by an effect.

409.4a If an effect allows a card that's prohibited from being played to be played face down, and the face-down spell would not be prohibited, that spell can be played face down. See rule 504, "Face-Down Spells and Permanents."


The value of X is chosen well before costs are paid or the total cost is determined. The value of X sets the costs, not the other way around. However, there are sometimes restrictions on what value of X can be chosen, as quoted above.

The issue really doesn't involve any of that, though; that's prerequisite knowledge to understand the conversation. If you would like to understand the issue, I suggest reading [thread=1189841]this thread[/thread] in the Rules Issues forum.
This has already been done to death, resurrected and then done to death again.
See here.
From what I understand, Fireball doesn't have an additional cost that sets the value of X.

Neither does bond of agony. You pay the life of what X is. You don't choose the value of life you pay for x.
it would be like playing it for 1 black and 1 colorless then saying I pay 19 life and kill you.
Adopt one today!
Neither does bond of agony. You pay the life of what X is. You don't choose the value of life you pay for x.
it would be like playing it for 1 black and 1 colorless then saying I pay 19 life and kill you.

You just can't admit that you're wrong, can you?

You're not getting it. Cascading into any X-mana-costed spell does not automatically make X=0. The rules say that, if an effect is allowing you to play such a spell, the value of X is not defined in the text, and that effect is allowing you to play it without paying any cost that includes X, the only legal choice you can make for X is zero. The question is whether or not 'paying any cost that includes X' is meant to refer to the effect not having you pay an X cost as part of itself, or if it means 'as long as you're paying some X cost, X doesn't have to be zero.'

The X in the casting cost would be whatever value you choose for X, you're just not paying the mana cost. The CMC of it would still be 11 if you chose X=10, and you'd pay 10 life.

Your example fails because that would be two different values of X, but you can't do that, because you choose X before you pay any costs, so both X's must be the same.

Also, what you pay into the mana cost does not determine the value of X in the text box. What you choose as a value for X determines the X in the mana cost and all Xs in the text box. Even if you don't pay the mana cost, you choose a value for X. The question is whether or not zero is the only legal choice for X in this case.
MTG Rules Advisor Mirrodin_Loyalty.png

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