Good morning and welcome back to the Rules Tips Blog! Today we’re going to be covering how the game handles multiple objects entering the battlefield at the same time! There’s only a few ways for this to go down in Standard- things like Scapeshift and Gruesome Menagerie. But places like Modern and Commander are dripping with plenty of ways for it to happen, so you need to be prepared when it does!
First: If the objects are truly entering together, then it’s sort of a binary thing. They’re all NOT on the battlefield, and then they all ARE. They don’t come in one at a time, so there’s no order for you to determine. They all just show up together at the exact same time. This can work a little weird with replacement effects. For example, let’s say you use Gruesome Menagerie to bring back a Mirror Image, a Dimir Spybug, and a Barrier of Bones. You’d sure like to use your Mirror Image to copy the Spybug, so they’ll both be 2/2s after Barrier surveils- or maybe put all your eggs in one basket and have it copy Barrier, so that your Spybug is a 3/3! Unfortunately, neither of those are possible. Mirror Image’s replacement effect looks at the battlefield the moment right before it enters, and says “Hey- I can copy any of the creatures you currently control as I enter!”. And at that time, Spybug and Barrier are also waiting in your graveyard, not quite on the battlefield yet. Since they’re not on the board, your Mirror Image can’t copy them- sad times!
The same is true of any replacement effect that modifies the way the object is entering, not just creatures. Let’s say you resolve The Great Aurora and you get a grip full of lands. One of them is a Hinterland Harbor, one is a Stomping Ground, and there’s a fair few Forests, Islands, and Mountains among them as well. They’re all gonna come down at once, and you have two replacement effects kicking around as they do- Stomping Ground says that unless you pay 2 life, it’ll come in tapped, so you’ll make that choice. And Harbor enters tapped unless you control an Island or a Forest. At the moment the Harbor is about to enter, you don’t control ANY lands, since Aurora shuffled everything in- so Harbor is coming in tapped. The game doesn’t know (or care) that there’es ABOUT to be a hot mess of Forests and Islands on the battlefield- at this exact moment, where Harbor is checking for them, there aren’t any.
So that’s replacement effects handled- what about triggers? Triggers are a bit easier- the replacement effects can’t “see” the other objects that are entering, but triggers actually can. Let’s be casting Immortal Servitude for X=1, and we’re yanking four copies each of Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant. Each of those 8 creatures “sees” the other 7 enter alongside it… and in this case, trigger appropriately. So for each Warden, you have 3 triggers from other Wardens, and 4 triggers from the Attendants. And for each Attendant, you have 3 triggers for the other Attendants, and 4 triggers for the Wardens. That’s 56 triggers gaining you 1 life each- how does gaining nearly 60 life for 4 mana sound?
So remember- replacement effects that modify how the object enters are going to look at things immediately BEFORE the object enters, so they can’t see things coming in with them. Triggers look at things as soon as the object actually HAS entered, and can ‘see’ any friends that came along for the ride!
Today’s Rules Tip was written by Trevor Nunez