Expansion vs Kicker

Welcome, chemisters and blastseekers! Izzet Week continues here on the Rules Tip Blog, and today we’re going to talk about two things very dear to any Izzet mage’s heart- replicating results, and MORE POWER!

Guilds of Ravnica has brought us an excellent tool for doing silly things with spells in the form of Expansion, one half of the split card Expansion // Explosion. Expansion costs two hybrid U/R mana, and for that cost you get to copy an instant or sorcery (so long as it doesn’t cost more than 4!), and choose new targets for that copy. There’s a lot of interesting things you can do with this, but today we’re going to focus on how it interacts with two common ways of amping up your spells: kicker and X costs.

First, kicker costs! Dominaria brought us some really fun kicker cards, such as Shivan Fire. If you (like me) are a fan of setting your opponent’s creatures on fire, then you (like me) will be pleased to learn that as part of copying a spell on the stack with Expansion (or any other spell copying effect), you copy all decisions made as part of casting that spell. This includes any additional costs you chose to pay- so if you kicked the original Shivan Fire, the copy created by Expansion will also be kicked. Good news if you have two Enigma Drakes you really want dead, less good news if you’re that second Enigma Drake.

Second up, X costs! Much like kicker, the value of X is something you decide while casting the spell, which means that Expansion copies the value of X just fine- but be warned! In most zones of the game, X is 0, and that includes when you’re figuring out mana cost. On the stack, however, the value of X is equal to whatever number you set it at- and that factors into the CMC. If you’re trying to cast Banefire and copy it with Expansion, you’re going to max out at X=3, or the total converted mana cost of the spell will be to high for Expansion to target it. I guess there is such a thing as too much power…

That’s all for today! Good luck, Izzet League, and may your explosions be plentiful and preferably focused on your enemies!

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Alistair Crook

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