I control Krasis Incubation enchanting my Floodtide Serpent. My mana pool is empty and I have no way to gain more mana this turn. The only enchantment I control is Krasis Incubation. Floodtide Serpent does not have summoning sickness.

Can I attack with Floodtide Serpent by returning Incubation Krasis to my hand?

Here is what I have found so far, to help you guys answer my question.

Rule 508 describes the declare attackers step in depth. 508.1 is broken down into a few steps. Here are the parts I found to be relevant.

  • 508.1c The game checks for restrictions. Floodtide Serpent has a restriction that I am disobeying. Krasis Incubation has a restriction that I am disobeying.
  • 508.1d The game checks for requirements. I have none.
  • 508.1g-i I determine my total cost for attacking. I bounce Krasis Incubation to pay this cost.

If the game backs up at 508.1c, then Floodtide Serpent cannot attack. However, if this is the case, it would appear that Floodtide Serpent could never be allowed to attack, because his cost can never be paid prior to reaching 508.1g-i.

If the answer is that he cannot attack with Krasis Incubation, then I couldn't describe any situation in which he could attack.

  • Note that you are incorrect in your description of 508.1g-i: Krasis Incubation would not be sacrificed but instead returned to your hand Feb 5, 2014 at 15:54
  • I think you are incorrect in describing Floodtide Serpent as a restriction. From general context (i.e. clearly it is meant that Floodtide Serpent can attack when not enchanted by Krasis intubation) and from the reminder text ("The cost is paid..."), the intention is clearly that the text on Floodtide Serpent represents a cost that is handled by 508g-i.
    – tengfred
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:37
  • @tengfred A restriction is defined in 508.1c as effects that say a creature can't attack, or that it can't attack unless some condition is met. Clearly Floodtide Serpent has such a restriction.
    – Rainbolt
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:59
  • @John, I disagree. A restriction needs a condition, which is a (true or false) statement about the game state. Floodtide Serpent has "unless [action]" which must be interpreted as a cost for the rules to make sense. So "unless [condition]" is a restriction, but "unless [cost]" is a cost.
    – tengfred
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:03
  • 1
    Obviously Krasis Incubation is also a restriction, it says so explictly in 508.1c ("effects that say a creature can't attack, or that it can't attack unless some condition is met")...
    – tengfred
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:07

2 Answers 2


In this situation, the Floodtide Serpent cannot attack.

For this situation, the most important quote (from 508.1) is

If at any point during the declaration of attackers, the active player is unable to comply with any of the steps listed below, the declaration is illegal; the game returns to the moment before the declaration.

The rest of 508.1c says

If any restrictions are being disobeyed, the declaration of attackers is illegal.

So once you got to the point that you are disobeying the restriction from Incubation Krasis, the attack is illegal and the game returns to the moment before declaration.

If Incubation Krasis was instead enchanting a different creature and you try to attack with, then when we get to 508.1c, it is not restricting Floodtide Serpent's ability to attack. Then when we get to 508.1g, you determine that the cost of attacking is returning one enchantment you control to its owner's hand. Then when you get to 508.1i, you pay that cost by returning Incubation Krasis to your hand. Then Floodtide Serpent becomes an attacking creature.

Note that the text on Floodtide Serpent is not a restriction, it is a cost. The difference is that restrictions have the form "This creature can't attack" or "This creature can't attack unless [some true/false statement about game state]", while attack costs have the form "This creature can't attack unless [you do something]". It wouldn't make sense to count those costs as restrictions because then every attack with an additional cost would have already failed at 508.1c. That would make cards like Propaganda nonsensical.

  • I figured as much. I was unsure because of something that I read on Wizards own website. I didn't post it though, because I wanted to avoid biased answers.
    – Rainbolt
    Feb 5, 2014 at 4:30
  • 7
    Can you link to that thing you read? It probably should be in the question, since it gives motivation. Bias shouldn't matter; an answer about MTG is either right or wrong.
    – murgatroid99
    Feb 5, 2014 at 4:32
  • My only problem with this answer is that if it were correct, then it would seem Floodtide Serpent simply can't ever be declared as an attacker in any situation. That said, I still think this answer is the most correct answer, and I think Floodtide Serpent is somehow broken.
    – Rainbolt
    Feb 5, 2014 at 14:33
  • I don't see how this makes Floodtide Serpent broken. The only reason it can't attack in this case is because Incubation Krasis says it can't. In most other cases, if you control an enchantment you can attack with the Serpent.
    – murgatroid99
    Feb 5, 2014 at 14:57
  • 1
    @John 508.1g is when you pay the costs, not when you choose what costs to pay. You choose to pay the cost for Floodtide Serpent at 508.1c (and that choice is enough to satisfy that restriction), but you don't actually pay it until 508.1g.
    – Pablo
    Feb 5, 2014 at 15:17

This is a cool, really technical interaction and I love it. Thank you for sharing this scenario.

The way it works is this: for Floodtide Serpent to bounce an enchantment (in this case, the intended target would be Krasis Incubation), it would have to be declared as an attacker and the cost would then be paid by bouncing the enchantment before attackers are finalized.

However, for it to be able to be declared as an attacker, Krasis Incubation would have to be removed in some way at or before the "begin combat" phase. You have no way to do this, so Floodtide Serpent can't be declared as an attacker for it to bounce the enchantment.

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