Rebound swinging

You’re the head and only judge at a limited GPT.

Amy is playing against Neil, and controls Dragonlord Atarka and Surrak, the Hunt Caller. As Amy is about to enter her combat phase, Neil casts Ojutai’s Breath on her Dragonlord Atarka, placing the spell sideways beside his graveyard. Amy thinks for a bit and decides not to attack with her Surrak and passes the turn.

Neil draws for his turn and proceeds to attack with his Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest. As Amy is about to block, Neil realizes his Ojutai’s Breath is still in exile, and calls you over.

What do you do?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

Hello Judges! This week’s discussion went quite nicely, touching on all the points we wanted to make with this scenario.

Everyone quickly identified that Neil had committed a GPE – Missed Trigger and would not be getting a Warning for it, as a triggered ability that lets you cast a spell for free is not considered generally detrimental. What’s more, any trigger that gives its controller the option not to do anything is never considered generally detrimental as, after all, there is the option not to do anything.

Now, regarding the fix, two very important points were made:

  • Though rebound does create a delayed triggered ability, this ability does not cause a zone change; it merely lets you cast your spell. This means we can’t just resolve it immediately.
  • If you look closely, you’ll notice that the IPG does not say anything about how to deal with “optional” triggered abilities or those that include “may” in their wording; it only mentions what to do with triggers that have a default option. These latter ones are worded to include phrases like “Do X. If you can’t/don’t, do Y” or “Unless you do X, do Y.” As such, we cannot assume that Neil chose the “default” option to not cast his spell because there is none.

So, we go back to the old trusty “Amy, do you want to place Neil’s trigger at the bottom of the stack?” If she decides to do so, Neil may decide whether or not to cast his Ojutai’s Breath.