Triumph of Ferocity’s “if” is not intervening, but it still checks at resolution.

RAWR! Looking at exhibit A, Triumph of Ferocity, it has one and only one responsibility: to trigger on your upkeep. Now, this triggered ability will trigger on each of your upkeeps no matter what the situation: if the board’s empty, if your opponent controls a creature bigger than yours, or if your opponent has a billion creatures compared to your zero.

Now, you as a knowledgeable reader might say, “OH! I know this one, it has an if, therefore it’s an intervening if! Wouldn’t it not trigger if you don’t fulfill the condition? Why would this trigger in any situation?”

Let’s look at the difference between Triumph of Ferocity and every deck check team’s favorite card:

Now, Battle of Wits says “At the beginning of your upkeep, if [condition], [effect].” This is the specific wording required for an ‘if’ to be ‘intervening’.

Compared to our lovely enchantment, “At the beginning of your upkeep, [effect, which has a condition]”

This subtle difference changes EVERYTHING.

In the Battle of Wits situation, it is indeed an ‘intervening if’; it checks the condition when triggering and checks again upon resolution.

Triumph of Ferocity triggers no matter what; the effect, however, has a condition upon it. When this triggers, the ability (along with the condition as a whole) goes on the stack. When it resolves, it allows the effect to occur if the condition is satisfied. This is the normal English word ‘if’ as opposed to the Magic-ese ‘intervening if’ that has special formatting.

So why does it matter that it triggers every time if it still checks at resolution whether I get to draw a card? Well, since triggered abilities use the stack, you (and your opponent) get a chance to respond. So you can flash in your Restoration Angel in order to get your card draw even if you didn’t control any creatures when your upkeep began, or you can kill your opponent’s Thragtusk in response so your 3/3 will be tied for highest power by the time the trigger resolves. Of course, the opponent can also respond by killing your Angel to make sure you don’t get to draw!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Eddie Cheung

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