Archetype of Courage
Hello everyone! The Rules Tips Blog team is honored to have received this official preview card from Wizards of the Coast. We’re glad they picked us for this one, because it comes with a brand spanking new rules template, and we’ll help you understand what it means. Without further ado, please enjoy!
View the Archetype!
Archetype and double strike
As you may know, double strike and first strike are similar to each other. Double strike is essentially just dealing first strike -and- normal damage, rather than just one or the other. But they don’t play well together (putting First Strike on a double striker is redundant, for example!), and unfortunately our new friend the Archetype doesn’t play well with double strike either. The first strike he grants to your creatures is redundant on your double strikers, and even worse, he won’t lessen the pain of being attacked by your opponent’s Bonescythe Sliver, or a creature buffed with Boros Charm, because double strike is a completely different ability than first strike, which means the Archetype doesn’t interact with it at all.
Gaining first strike and something else
One of the major rules of Magic states that, if a card or ability tries to do something impossible, it does as much as it can. A simple, intuitive example of this involves being hit with Rakdos’s Return for X=7 when you only have 5 cards in hand. You take 7 damage, and then the game tries to make you discard 7 cards — but, oops, you only have 5, so you discard all of those.
The same rule applies to many situations involving Archetypes. If your opponent controls an Archetype of Courage, the game considers it impossible for your creatures to gain first strike. However, if an ability grants first strike and does something else, those other effects will still happen.
As a concrete example, suppose your opponent controls an Archetype of Courage, while you control just a lonely Bear Cub. You decide to bestow a Celestial Archon onto your Bear Cub, to make it more fearsome. Your Bear can’t have first strike, but it will become a mighty 6/6 and grow some cute wings (because it now has flying). Even though your creatures can’t have first strike, casting Celestial Archon as an aura is still perfectly legal, and the Aura that the Archon becomes will still pump your Bear as much as it can.
“Can’t gain or have…”
One other interesting interaction is resolving something like Coordinated Assault on your creature while your opponent controls Archetype of Courage, then you attack. Your creatures can’t have first strike, but they can get +1/+0. But what if you cast Divine Verdict on the Archetype after they declare blockers? What happens to the first strike at that point? Your creatures are now allowed to have first strike, but at the moment they would have gained it, that was impossible due to the Archetype. So that part just didn’t happen, and the creatures won’t have first strike even after the Archetype dies.
But what about something like Lightning Talons? Since that card says “has” instead of “gains,” it just keeps trying to apply (fruitlessly) until the Archetype leaves the battlefield. Then once it’s gone, the “has first strike” effect can actually do something!
If the Archetype dies mid-combat
While there is normally only one combat damage step in any given combat, first strike changes up the rules a bit. Only creatures with first strike or double strike will deal damage during the combat damage step, while the game creates a second, “regular” combat damage step where everyone else gets to deal damage.
Other than the modified damage rules, the “first strike” combat damage step plays out as normal — which means that players can cast spells and abilities after combat damage is dealt. So what happens if something causes an Archetype to die in between first strike damage being dealt, and regular damage? Your creatures won’t have first strike anymore… but they won’t get to deal damage a second time. The only creatures that are allowed to deal damage during the “regular” combat damage step are those which didn’t have first strike or double strike as the first combat damage step began, and those creatures which currently have double strike. In other words, your no-longer-first-striking creatures, because they don’t have double strike, have already gotten their one hit in, so they’ll have to sit around for a whole step while the rest of the battlefield catches up. If any of your opponent’s creatures have regained first strike at this time, they’ll also get to do their damage, because they didn’t have first strike during the “first strike” combat damage step.
If both players have an Archetype
And finally, what happens if both you and your opponent control an Archetype of Courage? Well, it’s a bit of bad news for everyone. If both players each control an Archetype, then no one’s creatures will have first strike. Each Archetype will try to give their allied creatures first strike, but the opposing Archetype will step in and prevent that, so the net result is that none of the creatures will be able to have first strike.
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Contributors to this article are Jen Wong, Nathan Long, Paul Baranay, Trevor Nunez, and Josh Stansfield