Do you like layers? That depends!

The following video contains information originally provided by Carsten Haese.

Overview of the video from the Midwest Judge Conference in Chicago, September 2012.

1. How to arrange layers? (1:20)
It has to have consistency, intuitive results and it has to be easy to remember.
Apply independent effects first!

2. Ordering the layers (4:00)
Control, copy, text, type, color, abilities, counters, power/toughness, modifiers, characteristic defining abilities (CDA), effect that set and switch P/T –> But how to order these (sub)layers? Hint: “Independent first!”

  • Text before type. Because the text can effect the type, such as Blood Moon.
  • Copy before control. Mind Control is on a creature and you copy Mind Control. In order for the control effect to be there it has to be copied first.
  • Copy + control before text and type. If you copy the Blood Moon it has to there in order to change the type.
  • Color before abilities. Creatures of a certain color gain a certain ability. You would want color changes after text changes.
  • Last is the power/toughness layer with its sublayers: CDA, modifiers, counters, setting and switching
    • Effects from CDA are more universal (they work in different zones) thus go before effects that set P/T.
    • Order of modifiers and counters doesn’t really matter, but modifiers are applied before counters.
    • P/T switch is last on the list
And the layers are:

1. Copy
2. Control
3. Text
4. Type
5. Color
6. Abilities
7.a P/T CDA
7.b Set P/T
7.c P/T modifiers
7.d P/T counters
7.e Switch P/T


3. Dependency and timestamp (12:26)
Applies only for effects that happen in the same layer.
First arrange the effects in a timestamp order, unless they are dependent on one another.
Humility was played after Opalescence. First apply type changing effects from Opalescence, then ability changing effects from Humility and finally P/T setting in a timestamp order. So, Humility becomes a creature and loses its abilities. BUT if an effect starts to apply in one layer (or sublayer) it will continue to be applied, even if the ability generating the effect is removed during this process. So, Humility is a 1/1 enchantment creature without abilities.

4. Ability vs effect (18:40)
Objects have abilities. Abilities create effects. Effects have interactions.

5. Examples (19:37)

  • a) Magus of the Moon, Humility and Bayou. Magus’s effect is applied in layer 4, so Bayou is a Mountain, but in layer 6 Magus loses its ability. This does not reverse the process so Bayou remains a Mountain. A bit unintuitive.
  • b) Magus of the Moon, Humility and you play Gruul Turf. Its replacement effect changes the way that land enters the battlefield, so it enters tapped. On the battlefield it’s a mountain and since basic lands have no abilities (which is a “side effect” from layer 4) there are no triggered abilities.
  • c) Magus of the Moon, Bayou and you play Vesuva. You can choose Bayou as a target, it will enter as the chosen land, but on the battlefield it will be a Mountain. If you remove the Magus, its effect goes away.
  • d) Humility and Goblin Chieftain. Chieftain gives haste in layer 6 and +1/+1 in layer 7c. Dependency in layer 6 –> the Chieftain is dependent on Humility, so applying (the independent) Humility effect changes the existence of Chieftain’s. You’ll have a really humble Chieftain.