Modern Masters Week: Tournament Tuesday Triggers!

Welcome to a special SECOND daily post for this special week! Today we’ll be going over Missed Triggers again (especially focusing on the ones in Modern Masters 2015), so hopefully those of you headed to the Grands Prix this weekend will know what to be on the lookout for. As we’ve covered before, Missed Triggers are handled differently at Regular and Competitive/Professional RELs. At Regular (FNM, Game Day, Prereleases, casual pick-up drafts, etc), the Judge will decide to either let you have your trigger (and remind you to be more careful) or just have it be missed, depending on how much has happened in the meanwhile.

At Competitive, it’s more plainly laid out: a trigger is considered remembered until you demonstrate otherwise. When that ‘time limit’ is depends on the kind of trigger! The first kind of trigger is the kind that requires a choice to be made right away, such as targets or modes. An example of that from Modern Masters would be the enters-the-battlefield trigger on Aethersnipe. If you play those and then do anything other than select a target, you’ve missed your trigger! The ‘critical moment’ is the actual moment it triggers.

The next kind of trigger is one that changes the visible game state, or requires some choice on resolution; these are honestly the most common triggers around. An example would be the lifegain on Conclave Phalanx, or the tokens made by Dread Drone. With these, you can perform actions that COULD be performed with the trigger on the stack (activating abilities, casting Instants or spells with Flash, etc), and you’re fine. It isn’t until you take an action you COULDN’T take with the trigger on the stack (moving to combat, playing a land, casting a Sorcery, etc.) that the trigger would be considered missed. Here, your ‘critical moment’ is the time of resolution.

The third kind of trigger is one that changes the rules of the game itself. The LONE example from MM2 is Glassdust Hulk becoming unblockable. You don’t miss these triggers until you allow an illegal game state that the new rules wouldn’t permit. In this case, your opponent attempting to block your Hulk. You don’t need to point out that your Hulk is unblockable until they TRY to block it, but if you let them block then you’ve missed the whole trigger. Another example would be Wall of Frost locking down the creature- you don’t need to point out that the creature stays locked down until they try to untap it, and if you let them you miss your trigger. Now, why did I mention that the WHOLE trigger for Hulk would be missed? Well, because it’s also partially the fourth kind of trigger! The final kind of trigger is one that changes the INVISIBLE game state, such as a creature’s power/toughness. With these, you only need to point it out the first time it would matter (which is honestly a lot like the rules-changing ones). An example would be both the triggers on Battlegrace Angel. Her triggers both change the game in a way that’s not immediately visible. If you swing with just the Angel, and your opponent says “I take 4?”, just correct them and say “No, you take 5 and I gain 5” and you’re good. Now, it’s also entirely possible that your opponent flat out asks you how big your creature is mid-combat, rather than assuming. You can’t try to hedge this and surprise him! If your opponent asks “How big is that Angel?” while he’s considering his blocks or removal, you’ve got to answer accurately. If you say it’s a 4/4, then you missed your trigger, and you’re not gonna be able to surprise him with an extra damage. If you want it to be a 5/5 there, you have to say it is!

So, that’s the ‘crash course’ on Missed Triggers for Modern Masters! A reminder to all of you headed to a GP this weekend: if you’re not quite sure how something goes down (or WENT down earlier), just stick your hand up and holler for a Judge. There’s gonna be a small army of us running around in black (and a few in red!) shirts, eager to help you out. Who knows, you may even get one of the Rules Tip team!

Today’s Tournament Tip was written by Trevor Nunez

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