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Loyal Cathar - When Loyal Cathar dies, return it to the battlefield transformed under your control at the beginning of the next end step.

Question reposted from user Zacula:

"I believe that Cathar's ability is not a delayed ability that triggers at End of turn. The ability reads: "When Loyal Cathar dies, return it to the battlefield transformed under your control at the beginning of the next end step." It is triggered upon Loyal Cathar's death! it doesn't say: "If Loyal Cathar dies, at the beginning of the next end step return it... blah... blah... blah...".

From the rulings, a triggered ability begins with the words "at", "when", "whenever". Loyal Cathar's aility triggers upon its death, so it is up to the controller of the two triggered abilities (Undying, and cathar's) to place them on the stack any way he/she wishes to. He will of course prefer the Undying to resolve first, hence the result will be the same as everybody else answered to this question.

My question is: am I right regarding the Cathar's ability not being a delayed triggered ability that triggers at the End step?"

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You are partially right. Loyal Cathar's ability is actually a triggered ability that creates a delayed triggered ability.

603.1. 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.” They can also be expressed as “[When/Whenever/At] [trigger event], [effect].” Loyal Cathar's ability can be parsed as follows [When][Trigger Condition], [effect]:

  • [Loyal Cathar dies], - is the Trigger Condition.
  • [return it to the battlefield transformed under your control at the beginning of the next end step] - is the effect.

The effect of the triggered ability sets up a delayed triggered ability that triggers at the the beginning of the next end step (see example below).

603.7c A delayed triggered ability that refers to a particular object still affects it even if the object changes characteristics. However, if that object is no longer in the zone it’s expected to be in at the time the delayed triggered ability resolves, the ability won’t affect it. (Note that if that object left that zone and then returned, it’s a new object and thus won’t be affected. See rule 400.7.)

Example: An ability that reads “Exile this creature at the beginning of the next end step” will exile the permanent even if it’s no longer a creature during the next end step. However, it won’t do anything if the permanent left the battlefield before then.

The original question that spawned your question still has the correct checkmarked answer. Loyal Cathar's ability will fail to find the card in the graveyard, because Undying Evil already returned it to the battlefield. So, when the delayed triggered ability resolves at the beginning of the end of turn, it will fail to do anything. If Loyal Cathar dies again before the beginning of the end of turn, the original delayed triggered ability will still fail to do anything, because the Undying Evil returned Loyal Cathar is a new object.

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Here's how I understand it: 2 abilities trigger simultaneously when "Loyal Cathar dies", since they have the same trigger condition. Their controller chooses on how to place them on the stack.

If he chooses to place Undying first and Cathar's ability above it, the latter will resolve first and it will set the Delayed triggered ability "return it to the battlefield transformed under your control at the beginning of the next end step", then Undying resolves, it checks if the creature had no +1/+1 counters on it, and as a result it returns it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a +1/+1 counter on it. Then, at the End step, the delayed triggered ability set by the resolution of Cathar's ability triggers, but fizzles due to not finding the Cathar in the zone it was expecting it to be (Graveyard).

If the active player chooses to place the abilities in reverse order though, Undying will resolve first, it will check what it checks, and will return the creature to the battlefield under its owner's control with a +1/+1 counter on it. Then Cathar's ability will try to resolve, but it doesn't find Cathar in the zone it expects it to be (Graveyard), so it fizzles without creating the Delayed triggered ability. Hence nothing triggers at the End step.

So, in the second scenario Loyal Cathar's Delayed triggered ability won't even trigger, since the triggered ability that creates it fizzled. This is excactly what I was saying from the beginning. Of course, I was indeed partially right, since I did not think of the first scenario. In any case Undying happens, either way the controller chooses to stack the abilities, so why even bother thinking about all these??

We are geeks, aren't we??? :P :P :P

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The rules disagree. LC's trigger is only checking if it died. ("is put into a graveyard from the battlefield."), which it did. The game state is checked to verify that LC did trigger, then the ability is put on the stack. It doesn't check again until the delayed trigger ability resolves. Even if you believe that this card contained an intervening "if" clause, what part is failing to do anything (since it isn't doing anything until EOT). "the part of the ability attempting to do something to the object will fail to do anything." –  user1873 Apr 15 '12 at 2:17

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