Yesterday on MTGO an ability didn't trigger and I don't understand why.

I had Experiment One in play, with one +1/+1 counter on it, so it was 2/2. Experiment One has Evolve (Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature).

I also had Strangleroot Geist, without counters. It has Undying (When this creature dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a +1/+1 counter on it.)

Strangleroot Geist then died. So it goes. Its ability triggered, and it returned to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it, making it 3/2.

At this point I expected Experiment One's ability to trigger, as it is 2/2 and a 3/2 enters the battlefield, but it didn't.

Why not?

  • I agree with Fabian. At no time is the SG on the battlefield without the +1/+1 counter, and ETB abilities trigger based on the state of the game after the event (the default), so it's a 3/2 when determining whether the ability should trigger or not. Intermediary "if" conditions are rechecked on resolution, so unless the counter was removed in response to it entering the battlefield, it's still a 3/2 when the condition is rechecked on resolution. Let me know if you want the rule numbers.
    – ikegami
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


Well, it should have.

In the ruling for Experiment One it clearly stats: If a creature enters the battlefield with +1/+1 counters on it, consider those counters when determining if evolve will trigger. For example, a 1/1 creature that enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it will cause the evolve ability of a 2/2 creature to trigger.

You should report this bug to the MTGO support.

  • That's a first for me, people complain about the client but I always thought MTGO's rules implementation was rock solid. Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 9:01
  • 2
    @Remco I never found a Bug up to this date and it certainly is a great rules implementation. But the whole rule engine certainly is very complicated and it is certainly possible they missed such a special case. Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 10:02
  • Maybe this has to do with rule semantics. Is it possible that "return to the battlefield" does not count as "enter the battlefield"?
    – Nzall
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 12:06
  • 1
    @NAte Kerkhofs, If it wasn't on the battlefield one moment and it is the next, it entered the battlefield.
    – ikegami
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 13:05
  • 4
    There's usually a couple glitches a year that I'm aware of. I don't know of any computer system with thousands of unique object families (each mechanic is essentially an object family) that interact with each other and somehow limits the number of bugs to "a couple a year". I have enterprise apps with a few dozen object families that would dream of having as few bugs as MTGO does.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 22:13

The only thing I can think of is if MTGO isn't processing it as entering with a counter, and rather placing one on after it comes back to the field. I would submit a bug report.

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