Full disclosure, I am relatively new to the game and haven't experienced all the mechanics yet.

There are a couple premade decks in the Born of the Gods set that use Tribute. We're a little hazy on how exactly it works...Is it simply a yes/no answer to paying tribute from the target player? Or is there a mana/health/whatever cost as well? It seems like some of the pay/don't pay choices are total no brainers.

  • 1
    For most of them, the decision is obvious. For others, like Fanatic of Xenagos or Ornitharch, it is less obvious. May 1, 2014 at 17:46
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    I actually disagree with the "obviousness" of most Tribute cards. In most (all?) cases, the decision depends on the state of the battlefield or your cards in hand (do I have removal which makes Tribute irrelevant, etc.) I can't really think of a Tribute card where you can say "always pay Tribute for card X" or the reverse. Which is the point of how they're designed, of course.
    – ghoppe
    May 2, 2014 at 17:09

2 Answers 2


The following is a how a card with Tribute would play out.

  • You cast Nessian Demolok and place it on the stack.
  • You pass.
  • I pass.
  • Nessian Demolok resolves. During resolution, the following occurs.
    • Nessian Demolok begins resolving.
    • You ask an me to make the choice for tribute.
    • I choose to deny tribute.
    • Nessian Demolok enters the battlefield without counters.
    • Nessian Demolok's ability triggers, but it doesn't go on the stack just yet.
    • Nession Demolok finishes resolving.
  • A spell finished resolving, so you, the active player, receive priority.
  • As soon as you receive priority, you choose a target to destroy and then place Nessian Demoloks triggered ability on the stack.
  • You pass.
  • I pass.
  • The triggered ability resolves, and my permanent is destroyed.

How you communicate whether you are paying tribute is not written in the rules. It's just a yes or no question that you are obligated to answer while the spell is resolving.

It works about the same in multiplayer games. The player who controls Demolok gets to choose which opponent pays tribute (or not), and there are more passes of priority in between (everyone at the table must pass before anything can resolve).

  • This doesn't address multiplayer games at all.
    – GendoIkari
    Jan 28, 2017 at 18:36
  • @Gendolkari "At all" seems a bit strong. I added a short paragraph to the end that will help readers apply the exact same process to a multiplayer game.
    – Rainbolt
    Jan 29, 2017 at 20:11

As a creature with tribute enters the battlefield, an opponent of your choice "may" place +1/+1 counters on the creature. The "may" means that he has 2 choices: do it, or don't do it. There is no "overpay", and no health or mana costs associated with this. Just read the reminder text literally.

Also note that it is not a "target" opponent. Tribute doesn't target, meaning you could choose an opponent with hexproof.

Here's an excerpt from the Born of the Gods new mechanics notes:

As Pharagax Giant enters the battlefield, you choose an opponent. That opponent then decides whether to "pay tribute" by having Pharagax Giant enter the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it. If he or she does, then that's it—you've got a bigger Giant. If he or she decides not to pay tribute, then Pharagax Giant's enters-the-battlefield ability will trigger instead. Either way, it's good for you—and in the meantime, you get to watch your opponent sweat.

And here's the comprehensive rules on it:

702.103. Tribute

702.103a Tribute is a static ability that functions as the creature with tribute is entering the battlefield. "Tribute N" means "As this creature enters the battlefield, choose an opponent. That player may have this creature enter the battlefield with an additional N +1/+1 counters on it."

702.103b Objects with tribute have triggered abilities that check "if tribute wasn’t paid." This condition is true if the opponent chosen as a result of the tribute ability didn’t have the creature enter the battlefield with +1/+1 counters as specified by the creature’s tribute ability.

  • Perfect. We did read the text correctly. It just felt "too easy" to me if you know what I mean.
    – emaltman
    May 1, 2014 at 16:14
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    @user7504 well, neither choice necessarily works to the benefit of the opponent making the choice, they just have to pick the option that sucks less for them. But they just magically get to put counters on the creature because the card says they can. May 1, 2014 at 22:28

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