The Gitrog Monster and the cleanup step (a better love story than Twilight)

Welcome back to Innistrad, Magic fans! We hope you had a spooky good time investigating the madness at Prerelease weekend. While we count down the days to launch, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at some of the set’s more notable characters.

First on the list is The Gitrog Monster, which has been drawing a lot of questions on the associated Judge IRC chat. The first and second abilities are pretty straightforward: eat a land every turn, play an extra land, cycle of life and death continues. So let’s take a closer look at the third ability, which draws you a card when you put a land (or more) into your graveyard from anywhere. Anywhere really means anywhere – so it could be from the battlefield, such as sacrificing a land to The Gitrog Monster’s first ability, but it could also be directly from your library, or perhaps discarded from your hand.

There’s a lot of cards in the new and mad Innistrad that instruct you to discard cards, but perhaps the most interesting one is the one that isn’t connected to Innistrad at all: discarding down to hand size at the end of your turn (formally known as the cleanup step). So what happens if you end your turn with The Gitrog Monster and eight cards in hand, and you decide to discard a land? Normally, no one has priority during this time. However, because The Gitrog Monster had a triggered ability that triggered in the middle of the cleanup step, the ability goes on the stack, and players can play spells and abilities in response. After the ability resolves, players get another window to play spells and abilities. So, if you drew a spell with The Gitrog Monster, you’d be able to cast it during that cleanup step. Then, after all players have passed priority, the game… goes to another cleanup step. If you’ve still got eight cards in your hand at this time, you’ll have to discard one again. If the one you discarded was a land, you’ll have to draw with The Gitrog Monster, pass priority, go to another another cleanup step, discard a card from your hand, and so on and so forth until you stop drawing cards, because the game cannot progress to the next turn until an entire cleanup step goes by with no state-based actions happening and no abilities triggering.

In the odd case that all the cards in your hand are lands, and all the cards in your library are lands? The Gitrog Monster’s draw ability is mandatory, so better hope you kept the company of a Laboratory Maniac during your last visit to Innistrad!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Jen Wong

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