Core 2021 Missed Triggers Guide

The time has come once again to dive into a new set with the Missed Triggers guide! Core Set 2021 brings us plenty of new (and a few very old) cards and mechanics to play with. They’re uncomplicated for the most part, which is a welcome break from the complexity we’ve seen in some recent sets. In fact, only two cards have generally detrimental triggers this time around! Besides those two we’ve included some notes on other cards that might cause confusion, but shouldn’t ever lead to Missed Trigger warnings.


Two cards have triggers that upgrade when missed:


  1. Nine Lives

“When there are nine or more incarnation counters on Nine Lives, exile it” and “When Nine Lives leaves the battlefield, you lose the game.”

Nine Lives can buy you a lot of time, but both triggers here ensure that Death can’t be cheated forever. The ‘lose the game’ trigger is hard to forget, and opponents are strongly incentivized to remind players when it happens. It is just an ordinary trigger though. So if it does end up missed (perhaps because both players treated the trigger condition as “destroyed/exiled” instead), it follows the typical “one turn cycle” remedy.

The ‘nine or more counters’ trigger is an example of a state trigger; a trigger that goes on the stack as soon as its condition is true, and then keeps getting put on the stack anytime it resolves or leaves the stack but is still true. If a player puts the ninth counter on their Nine Lives and goes a full turn cycle without exiling it we simply give them a Warning, then put a new instance of that state trigger on the stack when the game resumes.

  1. Mazemind Tome

“When there are four or more page counters on Mazemind Tome, exile it. If you do, you gain 4 life.”

Another example of a state trigger! So we handle this one exactly the same as before. Something important to note is that even if players take counters off the Tome (or Nine Lives) after the trigger is put on the stack, it will still resolve because it doesn’t use the “intervening if” format. The number of counters only matters when the trigger goes on the stack, not when it resolves.


Other cards or mechanics of note:


  1. Pursued Whale

“When Pursued Whale enters the battlefield, each opponent creates a 1/1 red Pirate creature token with ‘This creature can’t block’ and ‘Creatures you control attack each combat if able.’”
This card looks quite like the Hunted cycle that we saw way back in Ravnica, and then again with the Hunted Nightmare in Ikoria. But this time the trigger is definitely not detrimental. Giving your opponent creature tokens usually helps them, but this Pirate causes more trouble for your opponent than a measly 1/1 is worth.

It’s also worth noting that the Pirate token itself doesn’t have any triggers; its abilities are both static. That means that an opponent who’s been given a Pirate will get a penalty if they forget to attack with all of their creatures, even though they don’t “own the card responsible”, because they’ve committed a Game Rules Violation rather than missed a trigger.

  1. Sanctum of All

“If an ability of another Shrine you control triggers while you control six or more Shrines, that ability triggers an additional time.”
We’ve seen this template a few times now (Panharmonicon, Teysa, Yarok, Naban) and it’s getting a bit more familiar but is still an odd one. So, a reminder: the Sanctum itself doesn’t have to be acknowledged in order to create a second trigger. Instead, players just have to acknowledge both of the triggers coming from the affected Shrine(s) before the window passes.

  1. Phasing

Teferi’s signature mechanic, Phasing looks quite a bit like a zone change with a delayed zone change trigger. But that’s not the case. No zone change happens at all, and the first things players do during their Untap Step each turn is to phase back in any cards or tokens they own that are phased out. Since this is a turn-based action and not a trigger, players aren’t allowed to miss it. Handling that if it comes up will fall under GRV.

And now, it looks like the time has come to close things out. Hopefully this guide has been helpful to you all! Now’s the opportunity to relax for a while before we embark on a new adventure this Fall with Zendikar Rising. We’ll see you all then.