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06.12.2016

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Meet the Magnificent Five: Infernal Titan, Grave Titan, Primeval Titan, Sun Titan, Frost Titan. Today we will discuss EtB-triggers, Deathtouch and Trample.

Translated by Lev Kotlyar


Titans

All five titans are mythic rare cards. That means that it’s a great luck to find one in a booster pack, because they come even less frequently than regular rare cards.  There is nothing more special about the mythics besides that.

Each titan has 2 abilities, one of which is a triggered ability that triggers when the titan enters the battlefield or attacks. That means that the ability will trigger regardless of the way the Titan appeared on the battlefield, whether it was cast or not:

Show and Tell Cloudshift Mimic Vat

Any Titan can be put on the battlefield on resolution of Show and Tell and its ability will trigger.

Each Titan is a perfect target for Cloudshift as its return from the exile will cause the ability to trigger.

Mimic Vat is a great tool to get a Titan’s EtB trigger every turn.

Any Titan can be cloned, but the result might be different. If a clone enters the battlefield as a copy, we get a trigger. If any creature already on the battlefield gets transformed into a copy of a Titan, the triggering event doesn’t happen:

Vesuvan Shapeshifter Mirrorweave Phyrexian Metamorph

If Vesuvan Shapeshifter becomes a copy of a Titan when unmorphing we won’t get a trigger, because he simply changed face and didn’t enter the battlefield.

Make a handful of Titans from whatever you have is a great idea, but not if you want a lot of EtB triggers.

Any Titan on the battlefield can be cloned. We’ll get a trigger because Phyrexian Metamorph enters the battlefield already as a copy.

The same ability will trigger also if a Titan was declared as an attacker, if it became an attacking creature any other way, the ability will not trigger:

Yore-Tiller Nephilim

If any of the Titans was risen from the grave with Yore-Tiller Nephelim’s ability, we’ll get only one trigger, the EtB one. We won’t get a trigger from the attacking event, because the Titan has never actually attacked.

Inferno Titan Infernal Titan

Infernal Titan’s first ability is an activated ability, you may activate it as many times as you want as long as you can pay its cost. Though, this doesn’t mean that you can pay 5 mana and immediately buff it with +5/+0. Every ability is independent and they all resolve separately, so, in reality, even if nothing else happens, Titan won’t become 11/6 immediately, but will be gaining +1/+0 five times.

By the way, if you “pumped” lots of mana into Titan without telling your opponent that you want to activate the ability a few times in a row without passing priority, your opponent has a right to intervene in the series of your buffs with his or her actions and have them put anywhere in the middle of the buffing abilities on the stack. See Tournament Shortcuts.

The Infernal Titan’s second ability has up to three targets, the choice of targets and damage distribution is done when you put the ability on the stack. Each target must have at least 1 damage assigned to it. This means that the choice isn’t that great there: you can deal 3 damage to a single target, 1 and 2 damage to 2 targets or 1 damage to each of three targets.

Curiosities:

Spellskite

According to the rules, the same target can’t be chosen multiple times for any one instance of the word “target” in the text of a spell or ability. So, if a Spellskite was chosen as one of the targets for the Titan’s trigger, the other targets can’t be changed to the same Spellskite. If your opponent controls a single Spellskite it’s enough to distribute 1 damage to it in order to make it unable to activate its ability and change the second target to itself.

Sun TitanSun Titan

This Titan’s first ability is Vigilance. It is a keyword static ability that stands for “attacking doesn’t cause this creature to tap”. It doesn’t mean that you can declare a tapped Sun Titan an attacker, so an opponent activating his Tumble Magnet before declare attackers step can hold your Titan back.

On resolution of Sun Titan’s second ability you may return target permanent card from your graveyard to play if its CMC is 3 or less.

It looks like we know pretty much everything about CMC, check out Fireball, Shining Shoal and Dark Confidant. In this particular case we deal with card’s CMC, not CMC of a spell, so all the tips can be found in the column on Dark Confidant, except for the split cards.

In fact, I don’t know any split permanent cards, but in case such a thing is created in future, be aware that any effect that compares CMC of a split card (“less than 3” as Sun Titan sais) receives a positive answer if either of halves satisfies the condition.

Remember that permanent cards are only the cards with types creature, artifact, enchantment, land and Planeswalker.

Curiosities:

Spirit Mantle Black Knight Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

If you return an Aura card to the battlefield, you need to choose a permanent to attach it to. Because of the fact that Aura-permanent doesn’t target anything you may easily attach it to a permanent with Shroud or Hexproof if it may legally enchant it otherwise.

You may return a creature with Protection from White. Protection is a static ability that only affects a permanent on the battlefield, so Black Knight in the graveyard is a legal target for Sun Titan’s triggered ability.

If you return a land to the battlefield it may just as well trigger the appropriate abilities. Also, as the land is put on the table and isn’t “played”, you’ll still be able to play one after (if you haven’t done that this turn). But you know, Valakut’s best friend is the next Titan, not this one…

Primeval TitanPrimeval Titan

Trample

Primeaval Titan’s first ability is static. It changes the damage assignment rules.

Strangely enough, there are so many myths and legends about Trample that have so little in common with reality of the rules… In fact, everything is simple: if an attacking creature has trample then once its controller has assigned lethal damage to all creatures blocking it the rest can (fully or partially) be assigned to the defending player or a planeswalker the creature is attacking.

  • Trample changes the damage assignement rules.
  • Trample only matters if a creature attacks. (Blocking creatures, fighting creatures etc. may of  course have Trample, but it wouldn’t affect them)
  • To trample the blockers a creature with trample must assign at least lethal damage to each blocker.

    Lethal damage is an amount of damage greater than or equal to a creature’s toughness. [CR glossary] When checking for assigned lethal damage, take into account damage already marked on the creature and damage from other creatures that’s being assigned during the same combat damage step, but not any abilities or effects that might change the amount of damage that’s actually dealt. An amount of damage that’s greater than a creature’s lethal damage may be assigned to it. [CR 510.1c]

  • If a creature that blocks a creature with trample already has any damage marked on it then a blocked creature needs only to assign the difference between the blocker’s toughness and the marked damage. The same way we account for the damage that is to be dealt to the blocker by the other creatures it blocks (Palace Guard).
  • Creatures with deathtouch only need to assign 1 damage to the blocker, this damage is considered lethal.
  • When we deal with trample, what happens to the damage assigned to the blockers is irrelevant, e.g., a creature with Protection can’t “absorb” all damage done by the creature with trample although the damage assigned to it is prevented.
  • If a creature attacks a Planeswalker it can’t deal damage to the defending player even if the Planeswalker leaves the battlefield or the creature’s power is more than the amount of the Planeswalker’s loyalty counters.
Archon of Justice Elspeth, Knight-Errant Mirran Crusader

If an opponent’s Archon of Justice with 2 damage marked on it (dealt by Shock) blocks Primeval Titan, Archon only needs 2 more damage to have lethal damage marked on it, so we may assign from 2 to 6 damage to Archon and the rest to the opponent.

If Primeval Titan attacks Elspeth, Knight-Errant with 4 loyalty counters on her, the defending player won’t receive any combat damage.

Mirran Crusader can’t “absorb” all damage from Primeval Titan, although it has Protection from Green, Titan only needs to assign 2 damage to the Crusader to be able to deal damage to the player or a Planeswalker it’s attacking.

The policy that suggested that all “extra” damage from a creature with Trample is dealt to the defending player or Planeswalker that creature attacks by default was removed from the tournament shortcuts. It’s been a while since combat damage used the stack the last time, and since the players must announce all changes in life totals, the rules guys decided that this shortcut is obsolete and removed it.

The second ability’s effect allows you to get lands from your library and put them on the battlefield tapped. Since there are no limitations on the lands’ types or supertypes in the ability’s text, you can search for and get any two lands. This is why this guy is Valakut’s best friend. Also, similarly to the Sun Titan’s ability, resolving this one doesn’t affect your ability to play lands.

Curiosities:

Sun Titan

If a Titan brings you one of this ravnican dual lands (shocklands), it doesn’t matter whether you pay 2 life or not, the land will enter the battlefield tapped.

Frost TitanFrost Titan

Frost Titan’s first ability is also triggered. It makes an opponent pay 2 mana unless he wants a spell or an ability he controls that targets the Titan to be countered.

I’m reminding you that an Aura spell is a targeted spell, so if an opponent tries to enchant your Titan the ability will trigger.

Strangely enough, but people ask many questions about the Titan’s first ability. Most of them are essentially “Do I have to ask an opponent if he wants to pay?” The answer is yes! You must ask your opponent if he wants to pay the price if you want the spell or ability to be countered.

If both of you have simply forgotten about the trigger, you should immediately call a judge.

What happens**** with the missed triggered abilities highly depends on the moment when the mistake was noticed and player's opponent wishes. If this has happened this turn and the opponent wants the triggered ability to resolve, then the trigger will be put in the appropriate place in the stack. If opponent doesn't wish the trigger to resolve, the judge will do nothing.

At a Competitive REL tournament it is penalized with a Warning, if the judge thinks that this trigger is a generally detrimental. As it is classified as Game Play Error, a player will need to commit the same infraction three times to have it upgraded to a Game Loss. Be careful with that.

If the trigger was missed more than a turn ago, it will be simply ignored. No penalties are applied and the game state is left as it is.

With the Frost Titan’s second ability you may target any permanent, even if it’s already tapped. As we already know the permanents are all the cards and tokens that are present on the battlefield, i.e. creatures, enchantments, artifacts, lands and Planeswalkers.

If the permanent tapped with the Frost Titan’s second ability is somehow untapped by the beginning of its controller’s untap step, the part of the effect that forbids the untap is ignored according to the one of Magic’s “Golden rules”.

If the permanent affected by the Frost Titan’s ability has changed the controller, the effect will be tracking the next untap step of the permanent’s current controller.

Curiosities:

Combust

Not every spell is countered if its controller doesn’t pay 2 mana during the resolution of the Titan’s first ability. Some spells and abilities can’t be countered, e.g. Combust.

So if an opponent is playing red and charges you with a bunch of 1/1 creatures think twice before choosing to block them with your Frost TItan.

Grave TitanGrave Titan

Deathtouch

Grave Titan’s first ability is static. Single damage from a creature with deathtouch is lethal, so Grave Titan has a unique ability to kill up to 6 creatures blocking it. Deathtouch works for noncombat damage too! If you teach your Titan to ping*****, for example, equipping it with Heavy Arbalest, then pinging any large creature will instantly kill it.

If Grave Titan somehow gains Trample it will only need to deal 1 damage to each creature blocking it as it will count as lethal.

Deathtouch is that deadly only for creatures. Nothing special happens when Grave Titan deals damage to a player or a Planeswalker: player still loses life and loyalty counters are removed from a Planeswalker the regular way. The only exception might be in case of “animated” Planeswalkers, like Gideon Jura. If Gideon-creature is somehow  dealt damage by Grave Titan (specific circumstances are needed for that to happen as normally all damage dealt to Gideon-creature are prevented) he’ll die even if he still has loyalty counters.

Grave Titan’s second ability has probably the simplest effect: you get two 2/2  black Zombie creature tokens.

I don’t even know what else to tell about this ability… I’ll just remind you that these tokens just like any other creature without Haste can’t attack right away.


* Permanent – a card or a token on the battlefield.

** Shortcuts – actions taken by players to skip parts of the technical play sequence without explicitly announcing them.

*** Spell – a card, copy of the card or of another spell, on the stack.

**** Ancient discussion at Judge List for the nosy.

***** “Ping” (Magic slang) – a nickname for the abilities that deal noncombat damage.



Irina Samonova © 1999-2017

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