Amplifire and CDAs

Welcome one and all! Here’s hoping release weekend treated you well- with Ravnica Allegiance now Standard legal, it’s a whole new world out there! And what better way to explore this whole new world than by BURNING IT TO THE GROUND. It’s time to get acquainted with a new friend, by the name of Amplifire. Let’s take a look!

Amplifire is an exciting card. At the beginning of your upkeep, it reveals cards from the top of your library until you hit a creature card, and then until end of turn its base power and toughness are equal to double the revealed creature’s power and toughness. All straightforward so far. The main flaw: 0 times 2 is still 0. So, how do you stop your Amplifire burning out? Well, obviously, don’t include any 0/0s in your deck. But sometimes it’s not entirely obvious what is and isn’t a 0/0. Let’s look at a few examples.

First example is something like Rampaging Monument. Rampaging Monument is a 0/0, but enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters. Unfortunately, it isn’t entering the battlefield here! In every zone other than the battlefield, your Monument is gonna be a 0/0 if anything asks, so Amplifire will burn out. What else?

Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar, is also a 0/0, but his ability- granting him +1/+1 for each land you control and land card in your graveyard- is static. So does that help? Unfortunately, no. Abilities of permanents only function on the battlefield, outside a handful of specific exceptions. So despite that power boost, Amplifire will see Multani as a 0/0 in the library and immediately die.

So what are those exceptions? Well, there’s a few of them, but the big ones that matter here are abilities that state which zones they function from- for example, Anger’s static ability functions from the graveyard because it states that explicitly- and Characteristic Defining Abilities, or CDAs. A CDA is an ability on a card that sets one of its characteristics, such as color (hi, Sphinx of the Guildpact!)- or in our case, Power and Toughness. CDAs are special because they function in all zones, not just the battlefield- meaning that Amplifire will see what they’ve defined the power and toughness of that card to be.

So, how can you tell if an ability is a CDA? There’s a couple hinky bits, but for now all we need to know is “It’s an ability printed on the card itself, which defines its colors/subtypes/power/toughness or some combination of those things, and it doesn’t set those characteristics only if certain conditions are met”. For Amplifire, it’s really easy- P/T setting CDAs are almost always accompanied by asterisks in the P/T box. Awakened Amalgam, Enigma Drake, and Tishana, Voice of Thunder are all perfect examples. If you flip over one of those cards with Amplifire, you’ll calculate their P/T based on what their CDA says it is (so “number of differently named lands you control”, “Number of instant and sorcery cards in your graveyard”, and “Number of cards in your hand” respectively), and Amplifire will double that number for itself. Those asterisks won’t return a “0” when Amplifire asks! Unless you have no lands, or no hands, or no spells in your bin. Then sadtimes.

One final word of warning: If there’s no fuel, there can be no fire. So if you reveal your entire deck and find no creature cards, it’s as if you revealed a 0/0. The Amplifire is going to turn into a 0/0. Better to burn out than to fade away, I guess?

So that’s all for today! Hope you’ve learned something, and see you again soon for more rules tips!

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Alistair Crook

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