Guess what is a 6/6, costs 3GB, includes a lot of rule text and is not a Spiritmonger?
Shadows over Innistrad is not particularly dedicated to multicolor, but it includes a bunch of bicolor cards of great power. While in a draft we usually do not want to commit early to two colors, no one will blame us if we chose Sigarda, Olivia or The Gitrog Monster as a first pick. In constructed, we will soon see these new cards in action.
More than other cards, The Gitrog Monster, has to be evaluated in its whole. A 6/6 deathtouch for 5 mana is qualified as a “fatty”. Apart from that we have:
- a detrimental ability forcing us to sacrifice lands;
- a beneficial ability allowing us to play one more land each turn, recovering the sacrificed land.
- another beneficial ability allowing us to draw whenever we lose one or more lands.
The global result looks positive. Maybe The Gitrog Monster is not suitable for a four/five colors deck, but may play its role in a bi/tri-color one.
“At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice The Gitrog Monster unless you sacrifice a land.”
During each upkeep, the monster asks for its tribute. This is what we should keep in mind:
- To sacrifice a land is optional. If at a given point in the game we decide that our lands are more important than the monster, we may always decide to sacrifice it;
- If we do not have any land to sacrifice, we are forced to sacrifice the monster;
- The ability goes on the stack at the beginning of the upkeep. We decide whether to sacrifice a land or not and which land when the ability resolves. While the ability is on the stack, we can tap a land for mana and then sacrifice it. If the mana in pool is not used, it will vanish as soon as we leave the upkeep step to enter the draw step. We cannot use that mana to cast the turn drawn card.
- It is possible to play in response to the ability. With the ability on the stack we can, for instance, sacrifice a Sakura-Tribe Elder, look for a land card and put it into play, then sacrifice it;
- What happens if we untap and draw forgetting the ability of the Monster? It is exactly the same as untapping and drawing without paying an echo cost. The default action is to sacrifice the monster; since we did not sacrifice a land to avoid it, the default action is fulfilled and the monster is put into the graveyard.
“You may play an additional land on each of your turns.”
What happens if we control more than one Gitrog Monster? We choose one of them and sacrifice all the others because it’s legendary! Good, I wanted to see if you were paying attention.
What if instead we control The Gitrog Monster, play two lands, play a second The Gitrog Monster and sacrifice the first one? Can we play a third land? The answer is no. When we would like to play the third land, we have in play only one The Gitrog Monster. Therefore We have the right to play only one additional land and we already used that bonus during this turn. Thus, we cannot play a further “additional land”. The Gitrog Monster allowing us to play our second land of the turn is not the same as the one we control now, but this does not count. The answer is exactly the same in the case we blink our The Gitrog Monster (for instance using an Eldrazi Displacer) after playing two lands for the turn: we cannot play a third land.
And what if we control The Gitrog Monster and an Oracle of Mul Daya? Effects are cumulative and this time we can play three lands: one for the turn, one for the Monster and one for the Oracle.
“Whenever one or more land cards are put into your graveyard from anywhere, draw a card.”
The Monster acts also as a “drawing engine”. We will draw a card whenever one or more lands will hit our graveyard from any zone:
- Sacrifice a land to the Monster? Draw!
- Cycle a Barren Moor? Draw!
- Discard a land for a Pack Guardian? Draw!
- One of our lands is destroyed by a Stone Rain? Draw!
- Our animated Mutavault dies in combat? Draw!
- We mill three cards for Vessel of Paramnesia and at least a land is among them? Draw!
What happens if more than one land hits the graveyard? We must ask ourselves if they are doing it all together, as a consequence of a single event, or as a consequence of more events. We will draw a card for each distinct event:
- We draw one card if we mill one, two or three lands for a sacrificed Vessel of Paramnesia
- If two or more Mutavault die simultaneously in the same combat, we draw one card.
- Countryside Crusher sends the lands to the graveyard once at a time and every land is connected to a different event. N lands hit the graveyard = N events = N drawn cards.
- We sacrifice a Sinister Concoction, the top card of our library is a land and we discard a land, we draw two cards (these are two separate instructions of a list, even if part of the same cost).
Let’s suppose now that we end our turn with more than 7 cards in hand. We usually discard extra cards and players do not receive priority. The game then follows to the untap step of our opponent. But, if we discard a land, The Gitrog Monster triggers. Rules allow us to respond to the triggered ability and some priority exchanges happen: Let’s have a closer look at them:
- We discard the extra card(s). If among them there are no lands, end of the story. If there is at least a land, go to step 2.
- The “draw a card” ability goes on the stack. Players receive priority, first the active player (AP) and then the non-active one (NAP). They can cast instant spells and/or activate abilities after the active player discarded but before he/she draws. These objects will resolve.
- The “draw a card” ability will resolve. Both players will receive again priority, first AP, then NAP. If we draw an instant card, we can cast it. Also these objects resolve.
- If we have more than 7 cards in hand, go back to point 1, otherwise, end of the story.
TL;DR: Essentially, we leave the loop once we have 7 or less cards in hand. There is no way to end our turn with 8 or more cards.