The return of such a dangerous creature could only bring doubt and confusion to the world. An instant like Pyroclasm is already a great spell; but Kozilek’s Return has a triggered ability that multiplies its devastating effect.
“Whenever you cast an Eldrazi creature spell with converted mana cost 7 or greater, you may exile Kozilek’s Return from your graveyard. If you do, Kozilek’s Return deals 5 damage to each creature”.
First of all, you choose whether to exile the Kozilek’s Return when the ability resolves, and not when it triggers. The ability goes on the stack in any case and choices are made only once your opponent has already decided whether to answer somehow, or not.
Said so, everything looks simple: a triggered ability like many others … but the interactions with other cards have generated a lot of interesting questions.
Let’s have a look at these interactions in detail:
Emerge into Kozilek
Let’s say we play an Elder Deep-Fiend for its Emerge cost, sacrificing a creature with Converted Mana Cost (CMC) 5. Even though only two blue mana are spent to pay for the Eldrazi, the CMC of the spell will remain 8. This is more than enough to trigger the Kozilek’s Return ability from the graveyard. Since the triggered abilities of Elder Deep-Fiend and Kozilek’s Return trigger at the same time, both abilities go on the stack on top of Elder Deep-Fiend. Since the active player controls both abilities, they will get to choose what order they go on the stack.
Antonio casts a Drownyard Behemoth and has a Kozilek’s Return in his graveyard. Nadia controls a Selfless Spirit. When Antonio casts the Eldrazi, the ability of Kozilek’s Return triggers and goes on the stack. Before the ability resolves, Nadia receives priority. This is the last possible moment for Nadia to choose whether or not to sacrifice her spirit and give indestructibility to her creatures. Only during the resolution of the ability of Kozilek’s Return will Antonio decide whether to exile it for 5 damage or leave it in the graveyard for the next Eldrazi creature spell.
This also means that while the trigger of Kozilek’s Return is on the stack, Nadia will still have time to cast Extirpate and exile Kozilek’s Return, causing the trigger to not resolve since it cannot find the card it’s looking for in exile.
Return to the promised end
Anna controls Emrakul, the Promised End. Nadia has 3 copies of Kozilek’s Return in the graveyard and casts an Abundant Maw. Kozilek’s Return triggers 3 times and Nadia decides to exile all three copies during resolution to do a total of 15 damage. However Emrakul continues to keep her “promise” by preventing the damage. This is because the source of the damage is an instant.
A different fate for those creatures who have protection from spells with certain characteristics. In this case we do not have a spell, which is a card or a copy of a card on the stack, but a triggered ability. We cannot prevent the damage from Kozilek’s Return with a Dromoka’s Command nor can we counter it with Dispel. The source is not a spell being played, but an ability resolving.
A lot of interactions (and tons of damage) for a great card. I’m sure we will see Kozilek’s Return for a long time into Standard and Modern … are you brave enough to try it in Legacy?