Published on 09/23/2013

Dawn of the Gods

or, Welcome to Theros

Cranial Translation
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Note: This article is over two years old. Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes. Proceed with caution.

God of Chilling Out
Welcome to the sunny plane of Theros, ladies and gentlemen, where epic heroes do tense battle with ferocious monsters while the gods... um... if Theros is anything like Greek mythology, the gods are busy bickering over which way the toilet paper should hang. Creative has assured us that Heliod is not running around the plane creating little Clerics in any way other than by spending mana, so we've got that difference from Greek, at least.

As with all of our prerelease articles, make sure that you also read the Theros Release Notes for all sorts of other cool knowledge and with even more pretty pictures! If you have more questions, send them in to or by Twitter to @CranialTweet and we'll get you an answer with 100% more trustworthiness than Cassandra.

Q: If my devotion is too low, can a God be countered by Negate?

A: Nope! Outside of the battlefield, a God is always a creature. Its ability that checks devotion is conditional, so it can't be a characteristic-defining ability, which would work in all zones, so it only applies while on the battlefield.

Q: Do tokens help devotion?

A: Most tokens won't. A random token created by something like Heliod or, ironically, Increasing Devotion doesn't specify a mana cost, so it has none, and no white mana symbols in it. However, if the token is a copy of something, it will have a mana cost since an object's mana cost is one of its copiable values.

Q: Does Boros Reckoner make Fanatic of Mogis a very happy cow?

A: He will indeed squeal in bovine delight. A mana symbol is both a red mana symbol and a white mana symbol, and raises your devotion to each of those colors. Your opponents are going to take at least 4 damage.

Q: Are bestowed creatures enchantment creature Auras?

A: When they become Aura spells, they stop being creatures. While on the stack or battlefield, they simply aren't creatures. Since a creature can't be attached to anything anyway, it would be pretty awkward otherwise.

God of Heavy Metal
Q: Does Prophet of Kruphix let me bestow with flash?

A: It sure does! The "cast as though had flash" permission is checked only as you put the spell on the stack. If you recall your Crazy Teenagers, that's before you make choices like "I do believe I shall pay the bestow cost" and "whatever shall I target with this spell." At that point, it's still a creature card.

Q: If Auras aren't countered for illegal targets, do I still draw a card off Dragon Mantle if the target gets removed?

A: Aura spells are still countered if their target is illegal. Just because bestow creates a specific exception doesn't mean that the general rule has changed.

Q: When my bestow target is killed, is the spell on the stack still an Aura spell, or does it become a creature spell right away so I can't Redirect it to another creature?

A: The spell won't revert to being a creature until it goes to resolve and sees that its target has been splattered all over the landscape. It's an Aura for the entire time it's on the stack, so you can Redirect it to keep it alive. Or from living, I guess, since it's an Aura.

Q: When a bestowed creature breaks free and becomes its own creature, can it attack right away?

A: If you've controlled it continuously since your turn began, it doesn't matter whether or not it's been a creature that entire time. It'll be free to stretch its new found legs and use them to kick your opponent in the shins.

Q: Does my Anax and Cymede die if I toss a Magma Jet at it?

A: When people get splashed with magma, they tend to die horribly. But because Anax and Cymede are so heroic, they can withstand one-thousand-degree molten rock! An ability that triggers from a spell being cast, such as heroic abilities, are put onto the stack on top of the spell and will resolve first. By the time Magma Jet resolves, Anax and Cymede are 4/3, and 2 damage won't kill them.

Q: Can I equip something to a heroic creature over and over to just keep getting the benefit?

A: Nope. Cards often lump spells and abilities together ("becomes the target of a spell or ability," "spells and abilities opponents control," etc), but they are distinct. The equip ability is not a spell. Only actually casting an instant, sorcery, or Aura spell gets you the trigger - activated and triggered abilities, notably equip and bloodrush, won't help.

Q: Does Martial Glory targeting the same heroic creature twice get me one trigger or two?

A: Heroic abilities trigger upon the casting of the spell, and you only cast one spell. It doesn't matter how many times that spell targets that creature; you only get one trigger.

Q: Artisan of Forms is a copy of Arbor Colossus, so I activate its monstrosity ability then target it so it becomes a copy of Polukranos, World Eater. How much damage does it deal?

A: A big whopping 0 damage. Since the monstrosity ability resolved without an X paid, the trigger looking for the X goes home disappointed and uses 0 rather than the null value.

Q: Can I activate a monstrosity ability twice at once?

A: You can activate an ability that monstrosities (this is so awkward to verb) as it resolves any time you'd like - but when the ability goes to resolve, if the creature is already monstrous, it won't do anything. Activating the ability twice without passing priority will do that. One ability resolves, the creature goes "rawr!" and becomes monstrous, and the second resolves later and the creature's all rawred out and monstrous, so it does nothing.

Q: If I remove the +1/+1 counters from a monstrous creature, can I monstrify it again?

A: The big monster going rawr is still going rawr, but now its "rawr!" is much smaller and cuter, like a little kitten trying to menace a shoelace. It's still monstrous, even though it's tiny and adorable. The counters are a convenient way to remember "oh yeah, it's monstrous," but they are entirely separate from the creature actually being monstrous.

Q: If my Spark Jolt target gets protection red in response, do I still get to scry?

A: When all of a spell's targets are illegal, the spell is countered. It's exactly the same as if someone cast Cancel targeting it. None of its things happen, even if they were unrelated to the target, so you won't get to scry.

God of Awkward Photos
Q: If Battlewise Hoplite dies in response to its heroic trigger, do I still get to scry?

A: Yup! Unlike Spark Jolt in the last question, Battlewise Hoplite's ability doesn't target - it just references itself. So the ability resolves, doesn't put a counter on anything since the referenced object is nowhere to be found, and then it carries on and you scry.

Q: Can I sacrifice Tymaret, the Murder King to activate his return-from-graveyard ability?

A: An ability that says to move an object out of a zone, like Tymaret's or Reassembling Skeleton's, only functions while that object is in that zone. Anywhere else, it can't be activated at all, no matter how much you want to murder something.

Q: My opponent only has Hythonia the Cruel and 8 life, and I have an Aqueous Formed Polukranos, World Eater. I want to make him 8/8 so I can win. Can I activate his ability, but choose no target for his trigger so he'll survive?

A: You won't be able to do that. When an ability triggers and asks you to divide X damage among targets, and X is greater than 0, at least one target must be chosen so that the damage can be divided. If there were no legal targets, the ability would just be removed from the stack, but there is a legal target - no matter how little Heady the Hydra wants to get into a fight with her.

Q: How can Aetherling survive the Whip of Erebos?

A: By bouncing around and avoiding it, much to Erebos's consternation. The Whip's replacement effect says to exile the creature if it would leave the battlefield instead of putting it anywhere else - it's not going anywhere else if you activate its ability, so the replacement effect doesn't apply, and Aetherling's own delayed triggered ability can bring it back. After that, it's a brand new Aetherling with no trigger to exile it and no replacement effect to exile it if it dies later.

Q: If I sacrifice the creature enchanted with Ordeal of Thassa, do I get to draw cards?

A: You're sacrificing the creature, laying it down on the stone table and jamming a straw through its beating heart. The Aura is just sitting on it making horrified faces and trying not to scream - you're not sacrificing that, just the creature it's so dearly attached to. After the creature's dead and gone, the Aura toddles off to your graveyard in sadness, but that's not a sacrifice; it's just put there by the game rules. You won't even get to draw cards for your monstrous sacrifice.

Q: If I turn my opponent's commander into sweet, sweet bacon, does he actually get a Boar token?

A: He does. It's a little awkward because exile is both the verb and the zone, but it's identical to "destroy" and "is destroyed this way" when the creature is put into the command zone or exiled rather than dying. It's not the same as "destroy" and "is put into a graveyard this way," as logical a reading that may be.

Q: Can Medomai the Ageless attack during extra turns after time is called in a tournament?

A: Those aren't extra turns - those are "additional" turns. "Extra" turns are only turns created by an effect that specifically says that a player takes an "extra turn."

Now that we're all settled in, take some time to get used to the new place. Callum will be back next week to continue looking at the new cards, expanding their interactions back into Modern and Legacy.

Until next time, make sure not to quarrel with old men on the road.

- Eli Shiffrin

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.

"Only actually casting an instant, sorcery, or Aura spell gets you the trigger"

I'd thought I'd be a smartass and mention Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. He triggers heroic, right?
#1 • Date: 2013-09-24 • Time: 01:34:02 •
Re: Commanders getting destroyed / exiled and effects triggering off of those.

Our playgroup was under the impression that ANY \"Dies, Destroyed, Exiled\" abilities don\'t trigger for Commanders who are \"saved\" as there is a replacement effect in place that prevents the dying, destroying, exiling etc.

Triggers would of course happen if you chose to let your Commander hit the yard or actually be exiled, etc.

Is this is a particularly worded situation and I am missing something?
#2 • Date: 2013-09-24 • Time: 07:54:25 •
Quote (Rytthigar):
"Only actually casting an instant, sorcery, or Aura spell gets you the trigger"

I'd thought I'd be a smartass and mention Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. He triggers heroic, right?

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre has a triggered ability that triggers when you cast him (her?) from your hand. The creature is a target of that ability, not the Ulamog spell.
#3 • Date: 2013-09-24 • Time: 08:33:45 •
In regards to commanders:

Dies - This is short for "is put into a graveyard from the battlfield". If a commander is put into the command zone, it never is put into the GY, and thus doesnt die. No trigger here

Destroyed - This just means it was removed from the 'field either by lethal damage, or by effects that say destroy. A trigger would happen

Exile is covered above in the article =)
#4 • Date: 2013-09-24 • Time: 17:51:03 •
So the tricky part then, is in cards that specifically refer to the action (exile, destroy) which cares more about something leaving to go somewhere else (yard, exile) but they don't necessarily care what happens once they leave the field...

Not the same for cards that are specifically referencing whether or not something arrives or refers to game term (ie. "Dies") which has that reference built-in.
#5 • Date: 2013-09-25 • Time: 13:14:18 •
Re: Gods being creatures outside of the battlefield...

Does this mean that I can put a +1/+1 counter on Experiment One if Nylea, Goddess of the Hunt comes into play devotion-less?

And on that note, if Reverent Hunter comes into play, does it allow my Experiment One to evolve, too?

Thanks in advance for the answers!
#6 • Date: 2013-09-28 • Time: 00:04:09 •
1. No you cannot. Since your devotion is not high enough, it will not enter the battlefield as a creature, so the evolve ability of the One will not trigger.

2. Nope. Evolve will only trigger if the creature that just entered the battlefield has a higher power and/or toughness than the creature with evolve. The Hunter enters the battlefield as a 1/1, so the One's ability would not trigger. The Hunter has a triggered ability that will make it bigger, but it won't get the counters until we're well passed the point where evolve would trigger.
#7 • Date: 2013-09-28 • Time: 13:01:09 •
The quoting isn't working, so I'll just copypaste:

Quote (Rytthigar):
"Only actually casting an instant, sorcery, or Aura spell gets you the trigger"

I'd thought I'd be a smartass and mention Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. He triggers heroic, right?

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre has a triggered ability that triggers when you cast him (her?) from your hand. The creature is a target of that ability, not the Ulamog spell.

Ulamog is, at the time the ability resolves, a spell on the stack, and is the source of the triggered ability. If I target my Battlewise Hoplite with that ability, why doesn't that trigger heroic?
Sorry if I'm being dense, but I see no reason why this won't work?
#8 • Date: 2013-10-02 • Time: 10:17:01 •
You said it yourself: you're targeting Battlewise Hoplite with an ability. The Heroic creatures trigger when they're targeted by a spell, and spells and abilities are very different things. The triggered ability on the stack and the Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre spell on the stack are completely separate and independent game objects.
#9 • Date: 2013-10-02 • Time: 11:15:49 •
Looking at it in another way: the Heroic trigger condition is \"whenever you *cast a spell* that targets CARDNAME\". When you *cast* Ulamog, it doesn\'t target anything. Then, its ability triggers and goes to the stack (and you choose a target for it) only *after* Ulamog was already cast.

As you didn\'t target the Heroic creature when you *cast* Ulamog, the ability won\'t trigger. Only instants, sorceries and auras target *when cast*.
#10 • Date: 2013-10-07 • Time: 05:09:19 •

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