Niv Mizzet, Parun and Priority

Welcome one and all! It’s me again, and I don’t have a theme, so you know what that means: Yet more Izzet cards! Or maybe it’s just a coincidence and Izzet cards tend to be a little weird (EDITOR’S NOTE: No, it’s not a coincidence, Alistair). Anyway, let’s get to the fun part: Today we’ll be zeroing in on the Parun of the Izzet, the Dracogenius, the Big Smug Lizard Wizard himself, Niv-Mizzet, Parun!

There’s a lot to love about Niv-Mizzet. An uncounterable 5/5 flier is nothing to be sniffed at, but it’s the other abilities that we’ll be focusing on today. First, whenever you draw a card, Niv will deal 1 damage to a target of your choice; second, whenever any player casts an instant or sorcery spell —that’s right kids, ANY player, not just you— you draw a card, which of course triggers that first ability in turn. Which is all well and good, except… what if there’s more than one Niv? I encourage you to whistle the theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as you consider the following: You and your opponent are both down to 1 life, both playing Izzet, and both have a Niv Mizzet. It’s your turn, and you’re holding an Opt. Your hand twitches as a tumbleweed drifts by. The screen cuts in close on your eyes as you reach for an Island.

Like a true high-noon shootout, the question becomes: Are you the quickest draw?

No. No you are not. If you cast Opt right now, you will lose the game. But why is that?

When more than one player has to do anything at the same time in Magic, it usually happens in “AP/NAP” (which is short for “Active Player/Non-Active Player”) order . What this means in practice is the Active Player (the player whose turn it is) does their stuff first, then each other player follow suit in turn order. In this scenario, casting a spell causes both Niv Mizzets to trigger, one for each player, and those triggers are placed on the stack in AP/NAP order. Because it’s your turn, you’re the active player, so you put your trigger on the stack first. Then your opponent puts their trigger on the stack on top of it, meaning that it will resolve first. Oops.

So it’s looking pretty bleak for you, but there’s still a way out. If it’s not your turn any more, you’ll be the non-active player, your trigger will go on the stack last, and then resolve first. So pass the turn and cast something in your opponent’s upkeep, and you’ll do just fine!

So that’s AP/NAP order in a nutshell. Remember, it doesn’t matter who’s casting the spell, just whose turn it is. With that, it’s time for me to say goodbye, but make sure to stop by Wednesday for another tip, and until then, good luck in your incredibly improbable Izzet mirror matches!

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Alistair Crook

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