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I have a Gloryscale Viashino creature on the board. I cast the spell Armadillo Cloak to enchant this creature. My opponent responds playing Dismember.

His intention is to kill my creature before it gets the bonus from the enchantment and before it gets +3/+3 (Armadillo cloak is a multicolored spell). Here is the rules text from Gloryscale Viashino:

Whenever you cast a multicolored spell, Gloryscale Viashino gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

I think that he cannot kill my creature, because he already got the +3/+3 from its ability when I cast the spell, not when it resolves. This means that my Gloryscale Viashino should be 6/6 before Dismember resolves. What is the correct ruling here?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Your opponent can kill your creature, because he can respond to the trigger that gives it +3/+3 until end of turn. Here's the sequence of actions:

  1. You cast Armadillo Cloak, putting it on the stack. Then the triggered ability from Gloryscale Viashino goes on the stack.

    Stack:

    • triggered ability
    • Armadillo Cloak

    Gloryscale Viashino is a 3/3.

  2. Your opponent casts Dismember.

    Stack:

    • Dismember
    • triggered ability
    • Armadillo Cloak

    Gloryscale Viashino is a 3/3.

  3. Both players yield priority (decline to cast anything), so the top item on the stack resolves.

    Stack:

    • triggered ability
    • Armadillo Cloak

    Gloryscale Viashino is a -2/-2. It gets put in the graveyard for having 0 or less toughness.

  4. Both players again yield priority, so the top item on the stack resolves. That's the triggered ability, but it doesn't do anything because Gloryscale Viashino is no longer in play.

    Stack:

    • Armadillo Cloak
  5. Both players again yield priority, so the top item on the stack resolves - or would resolve, except that it's a spell with an illegal target, so instead Armadillo Cloak gets countered.


For educational purposes, here's what could happen if your opponent cast Dismember at the wrong time (for him):

  1. You cast Armadillo Cloak, putting it on the stack. Then the triggered ability from Gloryscale Viashino goes on the stack.

    Stack:

    • triggered ability
    • Armadillo Cloak

    Gloryscale Viashino is a 3/3.

  2. Both players yield priority, so the top item on the stack resolves. This is the triggered ability which pumps the Viashino.

    Stack:

    • Armadillo Cloak

    Gloryscale Viashino is a 6/6.

  3. Your opponent casts Dismember.

    Stack:

    • Dismember
    • Armadillo Cloak

    Gloryscale Viashino is a 6/6.

  4. Both players yield priority, so the top item on the stack resolves.

    Stack:

    • Armadillo Cloak

    Gloryscale Viashino is a 1/1.

  5. Both players again yield priority, so the top item on the stack resolves. This time, the target of Armadillo Cloak is still legal, so it resolves as normal.

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Ah, your answer is pretty nice, going step by step showing the stack contents. I will keep mine for the rules references, though :) +1! –  rahzark Jul 14 '12 at 19:11
    
Thanks for the explanation. I totally missed that triggered abilities also use the stack. This means I lost the game though. –  Demento Jul 15 '12 at 13:17
    
Does this mean that if the Armadilo Cloak was countered, the +3/+3 would still take effect? I suppose if the trigger was "successfully cast" or "resolves" then a counter would prevent the effect? –  Nick Jul 16 '12 at 9:25
    
@Nick The triggered ability is not linked in any way to the spell. So if Armadillo Cloak is countered, that doesn't automatically have any effect on the triggered ability. –  David Z Jul 16 '12 at 9:41
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Let's go step by step. First of all, what does it mean to cast a spell?

(emphasis mine)

701.4a To cast a spell is to take it from the zone it’s in (usually the hand), put it on the stack, and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect. A player may cast a spell if he or she has priority. See rule 601, "Casting Spells."

So, as soon as you put your spell on the stack, even before it resolves, it is already being cast. The ability on the Viashino triggers:

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]."

603.2. Whenever a game event or game state matches a triggered ability's trigger event, that ability automatically triggers. The ability doesn't do anything at this point.

(...)

603.3. Once an ability has triggered, its controller puts it on the stack as an object that's not a card the next time a player would receive priority. See rule 116, "Timing and Priority." The ability becomes the topmost object on the stack. It has the text of the ability that created it, and no other characteristics. It remains on the stack until it's countered, it resolves, a rule causes it to be removed from the stack, or an effect moves it elsewhere.

So, the ability is put on the stack above the enchantment, so in a normal scenario the creature would get the +3/+3 even before the enchantment resolves!

Even so, the triggered ability is still an ability. It goes on the stack and can be responded to like most abilities and spells. Unless your opponent lets the triggered ability resolve before putting his Dismember on the stack, Dismember would kill your creature.

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Yes. Spells and abilities do not resolve immediately. Each player has the opportunity to respond to the Gloryscale Viashino's +3/+3 triggered ability. We know that the Gloryscale Viashino's ability is a triggered ability, because it starts with "Whenever." Only the top spell or ability resolves, so for your opponent to kill your Gloryscale Viashino, they need to respond to it's +3/+3 triggered ability. When they do this, Dismember is added to the top of the stack, and it will be the first spell or ability to resolve. The stack will look like this:

Dismember - Gloryscale Viashino gets -5/-5 until end of turn.

GV triggered ability - Gloryscale Viashino gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

Armadillo Cloak - Enchanted Creature gets +2/+2, trample, and gain life triggered ability.

If both players pass at this point, the Gloryscale Viashino will get -5/-5 until the end of the turn before anything else on the stack resolves. Because it's toughness is 0 or less, it will killed ("die") and will be placed in its owner's graveyard. The remaining spells/abilities on the stack will fail to do anything, since the Gloryscale Viashino will no longer be on the battlefield (assuming that Armadillo Cloak was targeting the Gloryscale Viashino). Basic Rulebook quoted below:

RESOLVE - When you cast a spell or activate an activated ability, or when a triggered ability triggers, nothing happens right away. It just goes on the stack. After each player gets a chance to respond to it, it will resolve and its effect will happen. If another spell or ability counters it, or if none of its targets are legal when it tries to resolve, it won’t resolve at all (and if it’s a spell, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard).

RESPONDING TO A SPELL - The spell doesn’t resolve (have its effect) right away—it has to wait on the stack. Each player, including you, now gets a chance to cast an instant or activate an activated ability in response. If a player does, that instant or ability goes on the stack on top of what was already waiting there. When all players decline to do anything, the top spell or ability on the stack will resolve.

TRIGGERED ABILITIES - A triggered ability is text that happens when a specific event occurs in the game. ... Each triggered ability starts with the word “when,” “whenever,” or “at.” You don’t activate a triggered ability. It automatically triggers whenever the first part of the ability happens. The ability goes on the stack just like a spell, and resolves just like a spell.

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