Situation: My opponent has Dictate of Erebos out ("Whenever a creature you control dies, each opponent sacrifices a creature."). He then attacks me with one of his creatures; I defend, killing his creature, but then I have to sacrifice a creature in response due to the enchantment. I name Undercity Informer as the creature I will sacrifice. In response to having to sacrifice him, I use his ability, pay 1, and sacrifice target creature (I chose Undercity Informer), and target opponent reveals cards from his/her library till they reveal a land and put all cards revealed into the graveyard.

Does this then mean I have escaped the cost of Dictate of Erebos as when the stack now unfolds Undercity Informer is sacrificed and his ability works and the creature to be sacrificed has already been sacrificed, so therefore cannot be sacrificed?

Or do I then pick a new creature to sacrifice?

3 Answers 3


You must pick another.

The Dictate's ability does not target, so the creature to sacrifice is chosen on resolution.

If you self-sacrifice the Informer in response to Dictate's ability, then it won't exist when the Dictate's ability resolves, so it won't be a valid pick for the Dictate's ability. You'll have to sacrifice a creature among the other ones you have (if any) when the Dictate's ability resolves.

If you wait for the Dictate's ability to resolve before doing anything, the Informer will no longer exist for you to activate its ability.

If the Dictate's ability targeted, the choice of creature to sacrifice would be made when the ability is placed on the stack, meaning you get a chance to respond after the choice is made. If the creature no longer exists when the ability is about to resolve (e.g. because you self-sacrificed it), the ability fizzles and you wouldn't have to sacrifice anything more.


The only way this can work is if Undercity Informer is your only creature. When Dictate of Erebos's ability triggers, the choice of which creature you'll be sacrificing isn't made until the ability actually resolves; you cannot choose which creature to sacrifice and then "respond to" the choice with other abilities. Before the Dictate's ability resolves, you can activate Undercity Informer's ability as normal and sacrifice it to itself to mill an opponent (Side note: The creature sacrificed to pay the Informer's cost is not targeted; it's just chosen. This matters for things like shroud and protection.), but then after that you'll still have to sacrifice (another) creature to the Dictate. The only ways to avoid a sacrifice are to have no creatures to sacrifice when the ability resolves or to control a Tajuru Preserver or Sigarda, Host of Herons, but in the latter case there's no pressing need to activate the Informer's ability early.


Even at Competitive REL, you should have been locked into this one from the beginning. The same would occur at Regular REL (Friday Night Magic), but judges at Regular can be a little lax on letting people take back their choices.

The moment you named a creature, you declared your intent to let the trigger from Dictate of Erebos resolve.

You should immediately follow through with its resolution and sacrifice a creature. You will not have a chance to make other choices until after the spell has resolved. In other words, you should never have even had the opportunity to activate Undercity Informer before the trigger resolved.

How do I know this?

Personal Experience

I once played Foundry Champion at a Pro Tour Qualifier sealed event in Dallas/Fort Worth. My opponent asked who I was targeting with the enter the battlefield trigger. I chose a creature. He then tried to counter my Foundry Champion. I called a judge, and the judge ruled that because my opponent prompted me to make a choice that could only be made after the creature had entered the battlefield, and because I made the choice, that he had declared his intent to let the creature enter and I had accepted. Therefore, it could not be countered, the triggered ability sits on the stack, and my opponent has priority.

Article by Scott Marshall

Read this. It will not only improve your game, but it will make you a better communicator and therefore more fun to play with.

Most situations involving shortcuts are judged by who has what to gain from making ambiguous choices. In your case, the state of the game was ambiguous. You thought you were making the choice before resolution. We assume that your opponent knows the rules, and thought you were making the choice during resolution. The ambiguity you created caused your opponent to give away information: he had nothing to do before resolution. Therefore, you cannot change your choice. You have gained information that you wouldn't normally have (however minor it may be), and so the game cannot be reverted.

  • Good point. Since the creature is chosen when Dictate's ability resolves, if you pick a creature to sacrifice to it, you must have allowed the ability to resolve. The two earlier answers cover what you can do; this answer covers what happens if someone were to try to do things in the wrong order.
    – ikegami
    Jun 26, 2014 at 15:56
  • That said, there's a major difference between the OP's scenario and yours which invalidates the parallel. In your scenario, your opponent proposed a shortcut (let the spell resolve, place its ETB on the stack and pass priority), and the shortcut was accepted (by you specifying a target). If the OP were to say "I sacrifice X. No wait, first I ...", it could be said that he proposed a shortcut that was never accepted. The outcome could very well be different (i.e. he could very well be allowed to take back the choice). If he actually did sacrifice it, then it's definitely too late.
    – ikegami
    Jun 26, 2014 at 15:56
  • @ikegami Looking at it again, there was no need for the opponent to accept a shortcut. There was no shortcut. The author simply passed priority and let the dictate trigger resolve. The opponent doesn't have to agree to let that happen. I admit that my parallel was poor because it involved more than pass of priority (which of course calls for a shortcut). However, both stories involve progressing the game by some number of passes, and then attempting to back it up. My answer needs a serious revision. Do you agree?
    – Rainbolt
    Jun 26, 2014 at 16:01
  • The difference is more in one player soliciting future information from the other vs one "thinking-out-loud" on his or her own. In context you may sometimes be allowed a "take back" on the second. Regardless it's still helpful information for OP to learn when different decisions are made.
    – Affe
    Jun 26, 2014 at 16:11
  • 3
    It sounds like it would really depend on the exact wording. If he said something like "I'll sacrifice Undercity Informer, but before I do..." then he should be allowed to do that; he hasn't progressed the game beyond a certain point.
    – GendoIkari
    Jun 26, 2014 at 19:09

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