Gods, 4 devotion, and evolve.

A few weeks ago, we talked about a situation involving gods, devotion, and an Imposing Sovereign (http://blogs.magicjudges.org/rulestips/2013/10/gods-4-devotion-and-entering-the-battlefield/) on the battlefield. Today, we’re going to look at a similar situation, but with an entirely different outcome: gods and evolve.

Let’s say I have four Cloudfin Raptors on the battlefield and I play a Thassa, God of the Sea. Now, based on the previous article, you might expect that you would not get the evolve triggers from the Raptor, but that is incorrect! With triggered abilities like evolve, the permanent enters the battlefield, then we look to see if evolve should trigger. Since there’s never a point when Thassa would be on the battlefield and not a creature, the Raptors see a 5/5 creature entering the battlefield and will trigger.

So why does evolve work but not the Sovereign? Let’s look at a quick quote from the Comp Rules, which should help clear things up a bit:

611.3c Continuous effects that modify characteristics of permanents do so simultaneously with the permanent entering the battlefield. They don’t wait until the permanent is on the battlefield and then change it. Because such effects apply as the permanent enters the battlefield, they are applied before determining whether the permanent will cause an ability to trigger when it enters the battlefield.
Example: A permanent with the static ability “All white creatures get +1/+1” is on the battlefield. A creature spell that would normally create a 1/1 white creature instead creates a 2/2 white creature. The creature doesn’t enter the battlefield as 1/1 and then change to 2/2.

In the case of the Sovereign, the Sovereign replaces how the creature would enter the battlefield, so we need to look at how it would look before it enters the battlefield (so we don’t take Thassa’s mana cost into account towards her devotion). In the case of evolve, we look at Thassa after it’s on the battlefield, and her mana cost will factor in to devotion. Since your devotion is high enough once it enters, it will enter the battlefield as a creature and will trigger any relevant abilities (like evolve). It doesn’t enter the battlefield as a noncreature, then become a creature. In this case, Thassa entering will cause your Raptors to evolve.

Let’s get one more bonus tip in here as well. Let’s say I have a Thassa and three Raptors on the battlefield (putting our devotion to blue at four), and I cast a second Thassa. What happens in this situation?

As we discussed above, since your devotion to blue is five or more, the new Thassa will enter the battlefield as a creature. However, I now control two legendary permanents with the same name. So before I can put the evolve triggers from the Raptor on the stack, I have to apply the legendary rule, and in this case, which Thassa I choose to keep will affect whether or not my Raptors get a counter or not! Confused? Let’s take a closer look.

Let’s say I choose to keep my old Thassa around, and get rid of the one I just cast. The second Thassa did enter the battlefield, so evolve will trigger, even though the second Thassa didn’t hang around for very long. When the evolve trigger resolves, the second Thassa isn’t on the battlefield, so we use the last-known information about that Thassa. At the last point it was on the battlefield, Thassa was a 5/5 creature, so my Raptors will evolve.

But what if I choose to keep the new Thassa around and get rid of the old one? Well, we still get the evolve triggers, but when the triggers resolve, my Raptors won’t get a counter. Since my old Thassa is no longer around, my devotion to blue is only four, so my new Thassa is not a creature. And when the evolve trigger resolves and checks to see what that new Thassa’s power and toughness is, it doesn’t get a response, since it doesn’t have a power and toughness anymore (we don’t use last-known information because Thassa is still on the battlefield), the check will fail and my Raptors will not get a counter.

This can be a fairly confusing subject (I mean, when gods are involved, things are rarely simple), but hopefully this helps clarify things for you, our faithful readers.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Nathan Long

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