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01.12.2016

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Have you played the M13 prerelease? If so, you must've gotten this foil card. I doubt it will see play in constructed tournaments, but the effect of its activated ability is rather interesting. Let’s take a close look at this piece of cardboard.


Translated by Witas Spasovski


Xathrid Gorgon

Xathrid GorgonXathrid Gorgon’s first ability — deathtouch — is a static one.

Even one damage dealt by a creature with deathtouch is considered lethal. This means that if Xathrid Gorgon is attacking, you just need to assign one damage to each of the creatures blocking it, even if those creatures’ toughness is greater than one. I.e., Xathrid Gorgon can kill up to three blockers just by herself, without any extra conditions.

Should Xathrid Gorgon gain Trample somehow, you may assign just one damage to the blocking creature (since it is lethal), and the remaining damage may be assigned to the defending player or to the planeswalker under his or her control, depending on whom your Gorgon was attacking.

Deathtouch functions not only with combat damage. A creature with toughness greater than zero that has taken any kind of damage from a creature with deathtouch is destroyed upon the nearest SBA check.

Lightning Prowess Prey Upon Divine Deflection

Through Lightning Prowess, Xathrid Gorgon gains an activated ability which on resolution allows her to deal 1 damage to target creature. Since Xathrid Gorgon has deathtouch, the target creature will be destroyed by this damage.

When Xathrid Gorgon fights a creature (and there are no damage prevention effects), the creature dies a painful death no matter how tough it is.

This example shows how important it is to read cards. Divine Deflection does not redirect damage. Although the source of the original damage was Xathrid Gorgon, the source of the new damage is Divine Deflection, and it doesn’t have deathtouch!

Deathtouch is “deadly” only to creatures.

Gideon Jura

If Xathrid Gorgon deals damage to a player or planeswalker, nothing special will happen: the player will lose life and the planeswalker — that many loyalty counters.

The only exception is a planeswalker that is also a creature at that moment, such as an “animated” Gideon Jura. Normally, damage to be dealt to him is prevented in this shape, so special conditions are necessary to actually deal the damage, but when that happens, he will hit the graveyard even if he still has loyalty counters.

Xathrid Gorgon’s second ability is activated (we recognize it by the colon in the text). Since the cost (it stands in front of the colon) contains the tap symbol, and Xathrid Gorgon is a creature, we immediately remember the notorious “Summoning sickness”.

302.6. A creature’s activated ability with the tap symbol or the untap symbol in its activation cost can’t be activated unless the creature has been under its controller’s control continuously since his or her most recent turn began. A creature can’t attack unless it has been under its controller’s control continuously since his or her most recent turn began. This rule is informally called the “summoning sickness” rule.

This means that in order to activate the ability, you must have controlled Xathrid Gorgon continuously* since the beginning of your latest turn. There are no other limits on activation. You may do it any time you have priority, any number of times in a turn as long as you can pay the cost each time (both mana and tap!).

If you activate Xathrid Gorgon’s ability, it survives until resolution and its target remains legal, then the effect of this ability is applied in the order written in the ability text.

First, put a petrification counter on target creature. This is a new counter type that appeared with Xathrid Gorgon herself. The token doesn’t mean anything by itself, no rules nor effects are actually related to it. It just helps keeping track of creatures “incapacitated” by the Gorgon, that’s all.

Tatterkite Vampire Hexmage Rimescale Dragon

Tatterkite can’t have any counters placed on it at all, including this one. This part of the effect is simply ignored as per second Golden rule.

It is possible to remove the petrification counter, but it is pretty much pointless. Xathrid Gorgon’s effect doesn’t depend on whether the counter is there or not.

Unlike Gorgon’s effect, that of Rimescale Dragon’s static ability is in fact dependent on the presence of ice counters on creatures.

Second, the target creature gains Defender ability, making it unable to be declared attacking.

Next, the creature gains an additional card type — artifact, and loses all of its colors.

If the creature had any other card types, they are all preserved. The creature also keeps all of its subtypes related to current types. This is so because Xathrid Gorgon’s effect text states: “in addition to its other types”.

Colors are lost because no such wording about color is in the ability text.

Dryad Arbor Gideon Jura

Dryad Arbor:

Artifact Land Creature — Forest Dryad

Animated Gideon Jura:

Artifact Creature Planeswalker — Gideon Human Soldier

Finally, an effect is created that prohibits to activate the target creature’s abilities.

Pithing Needle Xathrid Gorgon

Unlike Pithing Needle’s effect, Xathrid Gorgon’s one “disables” all activated abilities, including mana abilities.

Besides, if the object changes its name, it will not escape Xathrid Gorgon’s effect, whereas Pithing Needle’s effect will no longer affect it.

An activated ability is easily recognized by the colon in its text. Some keyword abilities are activated ones. In this case you will find the colon in that ability’s ruling text.

Gideon Jura Coralhelm Commander Birds of Paradise

Loyalty abilities are activated ones.

The Level up keyword ability is an activated one.

Birds of Paradise has an activated mana ability.

Since Xathrid Gorgon’s ability effect has no time restrictions, it is effective indefinitely, i.e. as long as the object it affects remains on the battlefield, until the end of current game.

After the ability resolves, the game no longer cares if the object affected by this effect is a creature or not. All permanents under this effect that have lost the creature type in some way continue to have the petrification counters and the Defender ability, to be colorless artifacts and not to be able to activate their abilities.

Inkmoth Nexus Civilized Scholar Homicidal Brute

An Inkmoth Nexus under Xathrid Gorgon’s effect that stops being a creature at the end of turn remains under that effect. You cannot gain mana off it nor animate it with its ability.

A two-faced card is treated as the same object after transformation.

If an “incapacitated” Civilized Scholar transforms somehow (say, through Moonmist) into Homicidal Brute, it will keep the counter. It will be a colorless artifact creature with Defender. It will transform back pretty soon since it cannot attack.

The effect is created at resolution of an activated ability, and its text has no mentioning of its relation to the source. Therefore, the existance of this effect is not related to the presence or absence of Xathrid Gorgon on the battlefield.

Let us compare Xathrid Gorgon with Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer:

Xathrid Gorgon Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer

The effect is produced by an activated ability.

The effect is produced by a static ability.

Abilities: what they are, how to recognize them

The effect is created on resolution of an ability and has no time limitations. The effect does not depend on its source.

The effect exists only as long as the permanent with this static ability is on the battlefield.

The effect doesn’t depend on the presence or absence of the petrification counter.

The effect depends on the presence of the bribe counter. If the counter is removed, the static effect will cease.

That’s pretty much all I wanted to tell you about Xathrid Gorgon. I would like to remind you that when an object changes zone, it is treated as a new object and has no “memory” of its past incarnations. That’s one way to get rid of the Gorgon’s effect — to “blink” the creature (Cloudshift).


* If the control is breached at some point since the beginning of the turn, it is considered that the creature is again “summoning-sick”.

** This rule has exceptions. Curious and inquisitive readers are welcome to help themselves to the rule 400.7.



Irina Samonova © 1999-2017

Magic the Gathering is TM and copyright Wizards of the Coast, Inc, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All rights reserved.

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