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23.11.2016

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What is Landfall and how does it work? Let us sort this out by taking Lotus Cobra as example. And while we are at it, we'll refresh our knowledge about mana abilities.


Translated by Witas Spasovski


Lotus CobraLotus Cobra

Lotus Cobra is a mythic rarity card. It doesn’t mean anything in terms of the game mechanic. It is just harder to encounter such cards in boosters.

Landfall

Landfall, just as Heroic, is an ability keyword. The word “Landfall” on a card by itself means only that the rules text after this word will be related to a land entering the battlefield under your control.

Rampant Growth Yavimaya Dryad Annex

The land may enter the battlefield under your control in any way: you may play it, you may get it through an effect, for instance, that of Rampant Growth.

The opponent may sneak in a Forest under your control through Yavimaya Dryad’s trigger. This counts for Landfall.

It’s not enough to take someone’s land under control to trigger Landfall: that land was already on the battlefield, it has only changed its controller.

In the first Zendikar block, Landfall appeared in two different forms: as triggered abilities and spell abilities. These two function quite differently, and it is therefore important to be able to tell one from another. To analyze that, let us have a look at how Landfall works on Steppe Lynx and Groundswell.

Steppe Lynx

Steppe Lynx’s ability begins with the word “Whenever”. This shows it is a triggered one. Its triggered event is a land entering the battlefield under your control. Whenever that happens, the Lynx’s ability triggers.

If multiple lands hit the battlefield under your control at once, Steppe Lynx’s trigger goes off that many times, so the Lynx will get bigger by +2/+2 that many times, provided the triggers resolve successfully.

You should remember that triggers do not resolve all at once. If multiple lands enter the battlefield simultaneously, for instance, through Harrow, the Lynx doesn’t get the bonus all that soon. Your opponent will have opportunities to fling in before each trigger resolves. However, one may not respond to playing a land — that is a special action which doesn’t use the stack.

Groundswell

Groundswell’s ability text has no triggers (the word “if” doesn’t signal one), but there is the word “instead” that shows that the ability generates a replacement effect. The effect checks whether a land has entered the battlefield under your control in the current turn. If so, the effect is changed. This check occurs at Groundswell’s resolution.

In this case it doesn’t matter how many lands have hit the battlefield under your control before Groundswell resolved. Groundswell’s effect doesn’t change if more than one did:

  • +2/+2, if no lands have hit the battlefield under your control,
  • +4/+4, if at least one has.

Lotus Cobra’s ability is also a triggered one, so each land that enters the battlefield under your control gives you mana of any color* off that trigger.

Despite the fact that Lotus Cobra’s ability gives mana, it is not a mana ability. It is so because its triggered event is not activating a mana ability, but a land entering the battlefield under your control.

It means you don’t receive mana at once. The cobra’s trigger goes onto the stack and may be:

Only as the trigger resolves do you get the mana. The color is also chosen at resolution. If your opponent asks you about the color of mana, it means that he is passing in response to the trigger, and that it is already resolving.

Just as any other trigger, Lotus Cobra’s one is easy to miss due to it not being represented physically. Since the Cobra’s trigger supposes a choice at resolution, that choice must be voiced at that moment so that the trigger isn’t considered missed.

Finally, in case you lived the last couple of years in seclusion, let me remind you that currently mana pools are emptied at the end of each step and each phase. If you get mana off the Cobra by putting a land onto the battlefield through Braids, Conjurer Adept’s trigger, you cannot use it in your main phase, unless you also control Omnath, Locus of Mana besides Braids and the Cobra.

Battle for Zendikar set brought us a cycle of Retreats — Enchantments of each color with modal Landfall ability. Let us take a look at one to get a grip on these:

Retreat to Kazandu

The abilities of the Retreat cycle are of the triggered type. They trigger each time a land enters the battlefield under your control. But they are also modal. What does it mean?

Each of them allows you to choose either of the two effects it can produce. Unlike the ability of Lotus Cobra, where you make the choice of the color of mana as the ability resolves, you must choose the mode you wish to apply as you put the ability on the stack. If the ability is targeted, as in case with Retreat to Kazandu’s first mode, you also need to announce the target right after that.

In case you control multiple Retreats, they all trigger at once each time a land hits the battlefield under your control. After SBA are performed, it is time to put the triggers that have gone off so far onto the stack. You put your triggers in the order you like, but only in APNAP** order related to all other players whose abilities have triggered. Do have in mind that they will obviously attempt to resolve in the opposite order.

Cobra 101.

Lotus Cobra Wooded Foothills Forest

While controlling Lotus Cobra, we play Wooded Foothills, the Cobra’s trigger goes off. We activate the ability of Wooded Foothills and find a Forest, the Cobra’s trigger goes off again. As we resolve the Cobra’s two triggers, we get mana, and we may cast Myr Superion.

If we count the mana from the Forest we just found, we can cast a spell with total mana cost equal to three.

As soon as the trigger goes off and is put onto the stack, it becomes an independent object. Treacherous slaughter of the Cobra by your opponent does not change the fate of that trigger.

Since the active player is the one to get priority after a spell resolves, we may cast the Cobra in our hand, then immediately play a land and put the trigger onto the stack. The opponent will gain priority and will be able to respond only after the Cobra’s trigger is put onto the stack.

Lotus Cobra Dryad Arbor Hushwing Gryff

If the cunning opponent controls Hushwing Gryff, a Dryad Arbor entering the battlefield under your control will not trigger Lotus Cobra’s Landfall, because Dryad Arbor is a creature, and the Gryff’s ability effect does not allow creatures to trigger abilities.

Lotus Cobra is a great second drop that works as mana ramp and color stabilizing. It can charge into attack a few times while the table is empty, and naturally, it can always chump-block.

The cobra comboes well with Fetchlands, Harrow, Explore, Khalni Heart Expedition and Primeval Titan. You will most likely meet this reptile in Valakut decklists.


* While playing Commander, you may not gain mana of a color not in your Commander’s color identity. If you choose such color, colorless mana will be added to the mana pool instead.

** APNAP — Active Player, Non-Active Player — the order in which simultaneous actions are taken by players as instructed by the rules. The active player performs such actions first, followed then by each other affected player in turn order.



Irina Samonova © 1999-2017

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