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Mirrorworks reads like this:

Whenever another nontoken artifact enters the battlefield under your control, you may pay 2 (colorless). If you do, put a token that's a copy of that artifact onto the battlefield.

If I cast say, a Darksteel Relic, could I then pay 4 colorless and get a total of 3 Darksteel Relics (the original and two copies)?

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Mirrorworks' ability can never be activated, because it is triggered. This is mentioned in the answers but I think it's worth emphasizing. –  David Z Feb 19 '12 at 20:20
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

No sir, it's a one-shot effect only: you either pay 2 and get one copy, or pay nothing and get no copies.

I'll look into the comprehensive rules to find something that explicitly proves this, forthwith...

In the meantime, you can see this is backed up in the rulings on Mirrorworks' Gatherer entry:

Each time the ability triggers, you can pay {2} only one time to get one token.

I think this may be the most relevant section of the Comp Rules I've found so far:

603.2c An ability triggers only once each time its trigger event occurs. However, it can trigger repeatedly if one event contains multiple occurrences. See also rule 509.4. Example: A permanent has an ability whose trigger condition reads, "Whenever a land is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, . . . ." If someone casts a spell that destroys all lands, the ability will trigger once for each land put into the graveyard during the spell's resolution.

I think it's obvious that the ability only triggers once. Though I'm still hunting for an explicit rules statement that you can't pay a cost for an effect as many times as you like to reduplicate that effect. I'll let you know if I make any progress on that!

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603.2c is the closest I can think of that you're going to get to that... I see that user1873 has already done the legwork to show it ;-) –  David Z Feb 19 '12 at 20:19
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Since the thesunneversets is looking for an explict rules that prevent paying multiple costs to get multiple effects.

No. You can only get one token copy of Darksteel Relic for each nontoken Darksteel Relic that enters the battlefield.

Mirrorworks contains a triggered ability. We know this because its rules text begins with the word "When."

112.3c Triggered abilities have a trigger condition and an effect. They are written as “[Trigger condition], [effect],” and begin with the word “when,” “whenever,” or “at.” Whenever the trigger event occurs, the ability is put on the stack the next time a player would receive priority and stays there until it’s countered, it resolves, or it otherwise leaves the stack. See rule 603, “Handling Triggered Abilities.”

From rule 112.3c, we also know that the [Trigger Condition] is "another nontoken artifact enters the battlefield under your control", and with rule 117.12 (below) the [effect] is, "put a token that's a copy of that artifact onto the battlefield."

Rule 603.2c explains that abilities only trigger one time for each event that occurs (so if multiple nontoken Darksteel Relics were coming into play, it would trigger once for each occurence).

603.2c An ability triggers only once each time its trigger event occurs. However, it can trigger repeatedly if one event contains multiple occurrences. See also rule 509.4.

Example: A permanent has an ability whose trigger condition reads, “Whenever a land is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, . . . .” If someone casts a spell that destroys all lands, the ability will trigger once for each land put into the graveyard during the spell’s resolution.

The final piece of the puzzle. We know from all the above, that there is a single existence of the triggered ability on the stack, and we know from the rule below that you can only get one token copy of the nontoken Darksteel Relic (the ability didn't say, "you may pay 2 any number of times", and this isn't an activated ability which allows playing a cost for an effect any time you have priority)

117.1. A cost is an action or payment necessary to take another action or to stop another action from taking place. To pay a cost, a player carries out the instructions specified by the spell, ability, or effect that contains that cost.

117.12. Some spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities read, “[Do something]. If [a player] [does or doesn’t], [effect].” or “[A player] may [do something]. If [that player] [does or doesn’t], [effect].” The action [do something] is a cost, paid when the spell or ability resolves. The “If [a player] [does or doesn’t]” clause checks whether the player chose to pay an optional cost or started to pay a mandatory cost, regardless of what events actually occurred.

Example: You control Hesitation, an enchantment that says “When a player casts a spell, sacrifice Hesitation. If you do, counter that spell.” A spell is cast, causing Hesitation’s ability to trigger. Then an ability is activated that exiles Hesitation. When Hesitation’s ability resolves, you’re unable to pay the “sacrifice Hesitation” cost. The spell is not countered.

When the Mirrorworks trigger resolves, it gives you the option of paying a cost may pay 2. Then the [If you do] clause checks whether the cost was paid to determine if the [effect] (put a token that's a copy of that artifact onto the battlefield) occurs.

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Holy wall of text. Good Job! +1. This is one of the rare situations I'm upset that I can only upvote an answer once. –  Ender Feb 19 '12 at 16:33
    
I logged in to boardgames.se for the first time just to vote you up :) –  Tacroy Apr 10 '12 at 22:33
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It doesn't say you can't pay 2 multiple times; it says "Pay 2 and put a copy," nowhere does it state this ability can only be activated once.

And since it dose not state a limit it should work multiple times provided you pay 2 for each copy since each "pay 2" is added to the stack as the artifact comes into play, then it resolves and the copies are made. Since this is actually not a triggered ability it is actually an activated ability since mana is payed for it to resolve.

For example, triggered abilities resolve as the result of an action being made, i.e. a land entering and you gaining life--no mana cost involved. If there is mana involved it always states you cannot activate more than once.

And activated ability, e.g. "Pay 1 red, get +1/+0 until end of turn," since it does not say you cannot pay 10 red and get +10/+0, you can! Mirrorworks is both a triggered and an activated ability since its conditional is "When a nontoken..." and its activated is "Pay 2..." you can pay 2 multiple times provided it is paid as the artifact is put into play since each instance of the pay 2 resolves at the same time.

Basically, because the card does not state "this can only be activated once," it should be able to be activated multiple times for the same card, and after you have paid the 2 for each copy you wish to make then the copies come into play.

If it can only be activated once it should say "Pay 2 only once". With the text as is, you should be able to pay 2 multiple times.

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-1 Your answer directly contradicts the ruling in Gatherer. –  Alex P Apr 9 '12 at 23:39
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You chose to pay 2 as part of the resolution of the trigger. The trigger only goes off when something ETBs. One ETB equal one trigger. –  Origami Robot Apr 10 '12 at 18:44
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It is most assuredly not an activated ability. See comprehensive rule 112.3b: Activated abilities have a cost and an effect. They are written as "[Cost]: [Effect.] [Activation instructions (if any).]" There is no [Cost] then a colon in the instructions, therefore the cost cannot be paid multiple times. There is a triggered ability, an optional cost that may be payed when the ability triggers, and then a conditional effect if you pay the trigger cost. –  ghoppe Apr 11 '12 at 16:10
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"if there is mana involve it always states you cannot activate more then once." — this is not true. This phrase will only be seen in activated abilities, never triggered abilitites. If there is no colon : in the instructions, you will not see this phrase. –  ghoppe Apr 11 '12 at 16:20
    
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