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For independent reasons, I was looking recently for cards that interact with Sacrificing. At the time (owing mostly to my lack of knowledge in MtG templating), I found none. Looking at the Avacyn restored preview card Sigarda, Host of Herons brought back the question, which was further piqued when I noticed that another preview cards is intended to "mess with" sacrificing (Angel of Jubilation).

Looking through Gatherer (with the above caveat), I found only a few cards cards (Sigarda's predecessor Tajuru Preserver, Dragon Appeasement, Furnace Celebration, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, Mortician Beetle, Thraximundar) with sacrifice trigger effects. I found no card with trigger effects when they are sacrificed to other cards (something which, coming fro a YGO background, I am used to).

Was my research too incomplete or are there really just few cards that interact with Sacrificing other than as a cost or effect?

If there are so few, do you see any design-related reason for it? I mean, given the prevalence of effects triggering by entering the battlefield, drawing cards, creatures dying, attacking, blocking/being blocked etc., it seems strange that such a prevalent game action as sacrificing would have been ignored.

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It's not clear what you include in your definition of "interact with sacrificing." The question could be "Why are sacrifice effects so common in Yugioh?" Maybe you could describe how Yugioh sacrifice effects work for Magic players who are not familiar. –  Ben Gartner Apr 11 '12 at 21:04
@Ian Pugsley Sacrificing and causing sacrifices are clearly not within the ambit of what I mean, these are cards thaat CAUSE sacrifice, not cards that prevent (are there cards that say "you cannot Sacrifice {cardname}"?) or trigger when something is sacrificed in general (as the cards I cite). –  Circeus Apr 11 '12 at 21:13
@Circeus I mistook what you were asking (in that Sigarda and Angel of Jubilation are fairly unrelated, other than making you think about sacrificing). –  Ian Pugsley Apr 11 '12 at 21:16
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2 Answers

The main reason is that "when something is sacrificed" or "when something is exiled" are mechanics that pigeonhole a card into a very narrow range of decks.

Cards that can sacrifice themselves (as part of the cost for an activated ability) are much easier to use than cards that do something when sacrificed but require an external ability to do it.

Alternatively, a simple death trigger will also work with sacrifice without restricting the card so narrowly. (You can also uses "leaves the battlefield," if you want to trigger on exile or return-to-hand effects as well.) This way, a card that works optimally as fuel for a sacrifice engine can also be used in other circumstances, e.g. as a value-added chump blocker. Broadening synergy is particularly relevant in Limited (i.e. draft), where players won't necessarily be able to play the 2-3 cards that go best together in the same deck all the time.

The major exceptions are cards designed to be the lynchpin of "Johnny" decks that would be, well, "too good" if they were based on straight-up death triggers. This is where cards like Savra fit in.

Beyond that,

  • Alara block had the devour mechanic, which was usually rather weak outside of a few cards. Dragon Appeasement offers a way to at least make those decks fun in a casual environment.
  • Rise of the Eldrazi has the annihilator mechanic, which Tajuru Preserver defends against. Mortician Beetle is designed to interact with all the self-sacrificing Eldrazi Spawn tokens in the set.
  • Scars-Innistrad Standard involves a lot of hexproof creatures, which are immune to spot removal. Effects that force an opponent to sacrifice a creature (commonly called "edicts" by long-time players) can get around that immunity. Sigarda shuts down that plan and forces opponents to use blockers and sweepers to deal with your creatures.

In part, you're seeing this design space explored more now because Magic's M10 rules changes, which removed a timing interaction that allowed players to sacrifice a creature while still trading with an opponent's creature in combat, have allowed designers to push the power of sacrifice effects.

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"Mechanics that pigeonhole a card into a very narrow range of decks." Given that such cards have been made in the first place (albeit in sets that did include a high number of sacrificing cards 30+, whereas Innistrad for comparison has 18) goes rather strongly against that argument. –  Circeus Apr 11 '12 at 21:21
@Circeus Dragon Appeasement is a card you can draft around. If it doesn't work out, it's only one card in your pool you don't have to play. In contrast, if all the supporting cards for it said "When this is sacrificed" rather than "Sacrifice this: do a thing" or "When this dies, do a thing," you'd be stuck with a rubbish deck that just doesn't do anything. –  Alex P Apr 11 '12 at 22:10
"Magic's M10 rules changes, which removed a timing interaction that allowed players to sacrifice a creatuer while still trading with an opponent's creature in combat, have allowed designers to push the power of sacrifice effects." I had seen the change (I find rule evolutions to be fascinating, and admittedly could simply not comprehend how the eliminated manipulations worked), but I wouldn't have expected this was a consequence. I had noticed these sets had a lot of sacrificing, but not made the connection with specific mechanic (my lack of practical knowledge shows here, sorry...). –  Circeus Apr 11 '12 at 22:50
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You said:

I found no card with trigger effects when they are sacrificed to other cards

In a design article, Mark Rosewater said:

Originally, Perilous Myr dealt 1 damage when it was put into the graveyard from play but 3 damage if it was sacrificed. And it wasn't the only artifact creature with this rider. As I explained in parts 1 and 2, black and red had a sacrifice theme that was a little stronger in the design handoff. The biggest problem with the rider was the phrase "When CARDNAME is sacrificed" led many players to believe that they were allowed to sacrifice it whenever they wanted. The development team decided that having a death trigger was cleaner and still would be slightly better in a deck capable of sacrificing its artifacts.

So Mark Rosewater considers sacrifice triggers of that kind bad design. Not that it couldn't work, just that the benefit of putting them into a set is not worth the complexity. Triggering when a card goes to the graveyard is just close enough in most cases that the sacrifice effect is not worth the potential confusion.

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Thanks, that does go to answer part of the question (though I must say I think the team gives too little credit to players there IMO). –  Circeus Apr 11 '12 at 21:31
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