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Bloodrush is confusing my friends and I. Suppose I have a Ghor-Clan Rampager in my hand:

  • Can I cast Bloodrush from my hand (discarding Ghor-Clan Rampager straight from there), without first having summoned Ghor-Clan Rampager to the battlefield? If so:
    • Can it be cast from the had as an instant?
    • Why is this the case? Can activated abilities really be used from the hand, or is there just something special about Bloodrush?

We're having genuine trouble understanding definitively whether it can be used from the hand or not. I'd imagine that as an activated ability, the creature has to actually be summoned first, but then there's this quote from the Gatecrash mechanics feature on Wizards:

The warriors of the scattered Gruul Clans spend a lot of time fighting for territory, for loot, or simply for enjoyment. A creature with a bloodrush ability is so eager to get into the fight, it might not even wait for you to cast it.

It's hard to know whether this is flavoursome description for which our interpretation has gone awry, or an author writing about how a creature with Bloodrush actually doesn't have to be on the battlefield before you use its ability. Plus this answer about Bloodlust quotes rule 602.2a which talks about using abilities from hidden zones, but that might not be the hand. We're trying to stick to the Basic Rules though and not overcomplicate things, and I can't find what those have to say about this.

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A more relevant quote from the Gatecrash mechanics page: "Bloodrush is an ability word that marks a particular kind of activated ability you can use when a creature card with bloodrush is in your hand." –  Jefromi Aug 25 '13 at 14:37

2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Bloodrush is an activated ability that you can activate from your hand and only from your hand. You cannot use bloodrush if the card is already on the battlefield.

Most ability in Magic are only used from the battlefield, but abilities with costs that only apply in other zones, like "Discard this card," "Reveal this card from your hand," or "Exile this card from your graveyard," can only be activated from those other zones instead.


For an in-depth explanation, let's look at the text of Ghor-Clan Rampager:

Bloodrush — {R}{G}, Discard Ghor-Clan Rampager: Target attacking creature gets +4/+4 and gains trample until end of turn.

First off, note how Bloodrush is italicized on the card. That means it's reminder text, not rules text. Specifically, it's an "ability word" (207.2c in the comp rules). I'm only pointing this out because it means that, unlike trample or deathtouch, the word itself doesn't imply any extra rules. Everything about bloodrush is printed right on the card.

The ":" indicates that it's an activated ability — pay a cost, get an effect. However, how do you discard a creature that's on the battlefield?

701.7a To discard a card, move it from its owner’s hand to that player’s graveyard.

So, the answer is, you don't. You can only discard the card while it's in your hand. Which means...

112.6. Abilities of an instant or sorcery spell usually function only while that object is on the stack. Abilities of all other objects usually function only while that object is on the battlefield. The exceptions are as follows:

...

112.6i An object’s activated ability that has a cost that can’t be paid while the object is on the battlefield functions from any zone in which its cost can be paid.

So, because the ability says "discard Ghor-Clan Rampager" as a cost, you can activate it from your hand, even though most abilities are only used from the battlefield.


Some other things to note about bloodrush, based on the text:

  • Using bloodrush is activating an ability, not casting a spell. It still goes on the stack but it doesn't trigger "When a spell is cast" triggers and can't be countered by cards that say "Counter target spell."
  • You can't activate the ability at all without an appropriate target (an attacking creature, in this case).
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You can look at Faerie Macabre for an example of an Oracle ruling that matches the interpretation above. –  Alex P Aug 25 '13 at 14:11
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Superb answer, except for one error. The following is incorrect: "You discard the card as part of the cost. So the card will go into the graveyard before you put the ability onto the stack." Putting the ability of the stack is the first step of activating it. Paying its cost is the sixth. Many choices including choosing targets happen first. [I have deleted the incorrect claim in your post.] –  ikegami Aug 25 '13 at 14:55
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e.g. Faerie Macabre can't exile itself since it's not in the graveyard at the time targets are chosen. –  ikegami Aug 25 '13 at 15:02
    
@ikegami Much improved, thank you! –  Alex P Aug 25 '13 at 18:46
    
Thank you for this excellent explanation. This has taught me a lot about how cards and abilities work. –  Jonathan Hobbs Aug 26 '13 at 1:31

Blood rush is an activated ability of a card. Therefore it is cast at instant speed like any other ability. The only time blood rush can be used is from your hand.

If the card with blood rush was on the battlefield as a creature, you could not 'discard' it and thus could not activate that ability.

Bloodrush is just like cycling. They are both abilities of a card, not a creature.

Normally activated abilities can not be used from the hand because they are part of the creature that a card becomes. Because Bloodrush and cycling depend on the card being discarded, they are an activated ability of the card not the creature and thus can only be used from the hand.

207.2c An ability word appears in italics at the beginning of some abilities. Ability words are similar to keywords in that they tie together cards that have similar functionality, but they have no special rules meaning and no individual entries in the Comprehensive Rules. The ability words are battalion, bloodrush, channel, chroma, domain, fateful hour, grandeur, hellbent, imprint, join forces, kinship, landfall, metalcraft, morbid, radiance, sweep, and threshold

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