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The question is based on the following situation:

In a five person game, there has a been a Timesifter in play and the turn order has already been varied for a few turns. A player plays a Time Stretch and I target the card with a Radiate. What happens next, and subsequently, what happens when the person with Timesifter is eliminated from the game?

As an immediate result, I assume that the person who was targeted with the original Time Stretch takes the next turn, which results in a trigger of the Timesifter, sending us back into a whirlwind of turn order that is dictated by the artifact. I'm relatively certain this is correct, although an affirmation would be nice. But, when the person with the Timesifter dies, where does the turn order go? Are the extra turns from Time Stretch still stacked? Does the original target of the spell take their second turn, followed by everyone else taking two extra turns in normal turn order?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

There are several different things going on here, so it's important to understand the key details. Those boil down to:

1) Nothing in your scenario changes the turn order. This is essential, because it's the first guide to understand what's going on. While Time Sifter looks like it effectively changes the turn order, instead it specifically generates extra turns itself.

2) This is relevant because the game maintains what amounts to a stack (not to be confused with the actual stack in the game, for resolving spells) of extra turns; any effect that says '~player~ takes an extra turn after this one' adds an extra turn for ~player~ onto that stack. This is spelled out in rule 500.7:

500.7. Some effects can give a player extra turns. They do this by adding the turns directly after the current turn. If a player gets multiple extra turns or if multiple players get extra turns during a single turn, the extra turns are added one at a time. The most recently created turn will be taken first.

Let's look at how this works on its own: suppose you're playing a four-player game, players A, B, C, and D (in that order); the turn order would then normally be A B C D A B C D etc. Now, suppose player A plays a Time Sifter. At the start of player B's upkeep, the structure of the upcoming turns looks like (using [] to denote the current turn: [B] C D ... Technically, the game doesn't actually know that C will be taking a turn after B; instead, it knows that the 'present' turn is controlled by B. I'll denote this by starring that turn: [B*] C D A ... Now, Time Sifter's effect resolves; we'll say that D wins. An extra turn for D (we'll label extra turns with a ' symbol, so D') - is 'inserted' after the current turn: [B*] D' C D A ... Now, B finishes their turn and it goes on to D's extra turn: B* [D'] C D A ... Assume that now C 'wins' the Time Sifter fight. Then the turn structure becomes B* [D'] C' C D A ...; D's extra turn finishes, the turn passes to C's extra turn, and the game all the while is remembering that B took the last 'non-extra' turn and that C is next in turn order: B* [C'] C D A ... Things go on like this until Time Sifter is removed.

3) Now, the next piece of the puzzle: Radiate's interaction with Time Stretch. I'll assume that during one of player A's 'extra' turns (so that the current structure is B* [A'] C D A ...) they cast Time Stretch (targeting themselves!), and that player B Radiates it. As other answers have noted, when Radiate resolves copies of Time Stretch will be generated for players B, C, and D; these copies resolve before the original Time Stretch does. I'll presume that player B stacks them with his copy on the bottom, D above, and C's copy on top, so that the resolution will be CDBA; this means that after all the copies and the original Stretch resolve, the 'turn stack' looks like: B* [A'] A' A' B' B' D' D' C' C' C D A ...

4) From here, Time Sifter will work as normal. This means that (once A's turn ends) A will start to take the first of their extra turns, putting the Sifter on the stack: B* [A'] A' B' B' D' D' C' C' C D A ... Now, suppose D wins. Then a new extra turn for D will be added, but all of the other extra turns are still there: B* [A'] D' A' B' B' D' D' C' C' C D A ... and once the turn passes from A to D, it'll look like B* [D'] A' B' B' D' D' C' C' C D A ... - but all of those extra turns are still hanging out, waiting for Time Sifter to go away somehow so that they can be had.

I hope this helps somewhat - it's obviously a remarkably complex situation, but once you understand what each effect is actually doing it all flows relatively straightforwardly.

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This is pretty much what I thought was supposed to happen. The visual representation with letters makes every aspect of this issue much easier to understand, and you addressed the multiple pitfalls this situation was presenting. – SocioMatt Sep 10 '12 at 18:48
In 3, shouldn't the extra turns be ordered the other way around (i.e. starting with A's)? The original Time Strech resolves last and hence is the most recently created turn. – Caramdir Sep 10 '12 at 23:12
Ack, that's a very good catch- I was putting them up by resolve-order, but of course the extra turns stack is (essentially) a stack. Thank you! – Steven Stadnicki Sep 10 '12 at 23:43

First, the actual turn order is never changed. Rather, there's a stack of extra turns that must be taken before turn order can proceed.

Let's take a look at what happens. Presumably the player playing Time Stretch targeted himself. Let's call him "A".

Stack: Time Stretch[A]
Extra Turn Stack: -empty-

In response, you cast Radiate. It resolves. You get to place the copies in the order you desire.

Stack: Time Stretch[A], Time Stretch[you], Time Stretch[B], Time Stretch[C], Time Stretch[D]
Extra Turn Stack: -empty-

The spells start resolving.

Stack: -empty-
Extra Turn Stack: D,D,C,C,B,B,you,you,A,A

At the end of the current turn, the original caster will ge an extra turn.

Extra Turn Stack: D,D,C,C,B,B,you,you,A

During his upkeep, Time Sifter will give a player an extra turn. Just push that extra turn on the stack.

Extra Turn Stack: D,D,C,C,B,B,you,you,A,C

The Time Sifter keeps granting extra turns, so the stack doesn't get a chance to unwind. But what if the Time Sifter or its player were to leave the game? The extra turns have already been granted, so you don't lose them. Then game would continue to unwind the extra turn stack, giving "C" an extra turn, then giving "A" an extra turn, and so on until "D" has taken both of his extra turns.

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Any turns that are "extra" turns get piled up at the end of the current one in a last-in first-out queue, much like the stack. So if player 5 won this upkeep's's time sifter and player 2 cast the time stretch on themselves, your extra turn queue looks like this after it's all resolved


For the players in the middle, the person who cast the Radiate chooses the order the copies go on the stack, so they choose the order people take their turns in. (Which will be the opposite of the order you stack them.)

Now the time sifter is going to jump back in and start creating extra turns at the front of the queue when player 2 takes their first extra turn, but that has no effect on this queue of extra turns sitting out there. When the time sifter leaves play you'll finish taking all these extra turns that have been created and are waiting to happen, then resume regular turn order with the person who would have been next after the very first time sifter trigger.

I strongly recommend you keep a pen and paper handy to track this :)

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