I know everyone’s itching for some of the new mechanics, but first we’ve got to finish going over the returning ones! Whether you’re new to the block and wanting to get a quick primer on the old abilities before this weekend’s prerelease, or you’re a returning player just wanting to brush up, this article is for you! We’ll cover the new mechanics tomorrow, I promise.
So, on Monday we covered Devotion, Heroic, and Scrying. Today we’ll finish it up with Tribute, Inspired, Monstrosity, and Bestow – as well as a little bit on the Gods.
Tribute and Monstrosity both show up on a lot of the big, bad beasties of Theros- the Hydras and Cyclopes and Krakens that our Heroes do valiant battle against. Monstrosity is from the Theros set itself, and appears on activated abilities: you can pay the cost, and when the ability resolves, your creature gets some number of +1/+1 counters and “becomes monstrous.” That matters for two reasons – the first is that being ‘monstrous’ keeps further activations of Monstrosity from doing anything. It’s a sort of one-shot deal, you can’t keep pumping your Nessian Asp every turn like that. The second is that many of the monsters have a second ability that triggers when they become Monstrous. This is separate from the counters – it happens after they’re already huge. For example, Arbor Colossus swats a creature out of the sky when he becomes Monstrous. Again, this can only really happen once per creature!
Tribute is the mechanic for the Monsters from Born of the Gods. Tribute makes your opponent pick his poison, so to speak – they may pay a Tribute to your creature as it enters the battlefield, in the form of allowing you to put a set number of +1/+1 counters on it. If they don’t pay the Tribute, something else happens – an unpaid tribute for Fanatic of Xenagos means he comes down swinging; not paying tribute to Ornitharch throws some birds onto the board. Your opponent is the one to make the choice about Tribute, every time – you have no say over it, and must ask for a decision from the opponent (you could try to persuade them into taking the option that’s best for you, but that’s still up to them).
Back onto our Heroes, we have Bestow, one of the more interesting mechanics rules-wise in a while. An inherent weakness to Auras, historically, has been the “two for one” – your opponent throwing one Doom Blade at your enchanted guy costs you TWO cards. Sort of an ‘eggs in one basket’ thing – your auras can beef up your guys, sometimes even better than Equipment, but at higher risk. Bestow helps more or less do away with that risk. Many Nyxborn creatures on Theros can be Bestowed onto your creatures as auras. By paying the alternate Bestow cost as you cast the spell, you cast it as an Aura instead of a creature. But here’s the part where the resilience kicks in – where a normal Aura would fall off and go to the graveyard, a Bestowed aura falls off and grows legs. If your opponent manages to kill the enchanted creature, your Bestow guy can fight the good fight in his place! The same is true if your opponent kills the Bestow target in response to you casting it – your spell still resolves, just as a creature. While they’re Auras, your Bestow guys are NOT creatures, at all. They are always enchantments, though, even when they’re creatures, since this is an enchantment heavy block.
Inspired isn’t a keyword like Monstrosity or Tribute – it’s an ability word. What that means is that it has no actual rules meaning, it’s just a word used to group similar abilities. That’s why “Inspired” shows up in italics on your cards; just like reminder text – it’s got no rules meaning, it’s just there for flavor, grouping, and convenience (similar to Landfall, Hellbent, Morbid, etc.). The common thread among Inspired cards is that they do stuff when you untap them – it doesn’t matter why they’re being untapped, either. You can be untapping them for your normal untap step, due to your Prophet of Kruphix untapping them during your opponent’s turn, or even a spell or ability untapping your creature. The Inspired trigger doesn’t happen until after whatever caused the untap is done, though, and Inspired triggers that are triggered by untapping the creature during your untap step don’t go on the stack until your upkeep.
Last thing for today is a quick crash-course on the Gods themselves. There are 15 in the Theros block, and there’s a chance you could open a God in your seeded pack, so it’s likely you’ll come across some of them! We’ll hit a few common questions that’ve risen since the originals came out last fall. First, the only zone where the Devotion matters is the battlefield. A God on the stack is always a creature spell. A God in your hand, in your library, or in the graveyard is always a creature card. A God in exile is always a creature card, etc. While they’re always creature SPELLS, they won’t trigger “When a creature enters the battlefield” triggers unless their Devotion is high enough when they enter (counting themselves). Casting Heliod while all you control is a Karametra won’t get you a land! On the board, the Gods are always indestructible, even while they aren’t creatures. Their static abilities work even while they’re noncreatures, and the original mono-color gods can activate their abilities too. The multicolored gods care about your TOTAL devotion to both their colors – you could have 6 blue mana symbols among your permanents and only one black mana symbol, and your Phenax, God of Deception would be a creature – it’s seven TOTAL across both colors, not seven of each, or any required split. Note that indestructible won’t stop exile effects, or sacrifice effects, or the Legend Rule – and don’t forget the post-M14 Legend Rules mean that you and your opponent can each have a copy of the same Legendary Creature!
Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez