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So a friend of mine bought a new deck today which is (heavily) based on Extort ability:

Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay {W/B} If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.

So now I wonder how exactly does it work? Does he have to pay {W/B} for EACH creature with Extort for each spell he plays or is 1 {W/B} enough to let Extort trigger from all creatures? An example:

A player has 5 lands and 3 creatures with Extort ability. He then plays an Oblivion Ring for 3 mana(2 colorless mana{W}), so he now has 2 mana left. If he taps one, would all 3 Extorts trigger or just one?

From the text I would assume the following:

Whenever you cast a spell, if you pay {W/B} extra, then Extort ability will trigger.

So am I right or is Extort a pretty useless ability that should be paid on each creature separately?

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From the text I would assume the following:

Whenever you cast a spell, if you pay {W/B} extra, then Extort ability will trigger.

That is incorrect. The triggering event is you cast a spell. Each time that event occurs, the ability triggers.

On resolution, you may pay {W/B} and cause life loss.

A player has 5 lands and 3 creatures with Extort ability. He then plays an Oblivion Ring for 3 mana ({2}{W}), so he now has 2 mana left. If he taps one, would all 3 Extorts trigger or just one?

All three trigger. Note that no time exists between Oblivion Ring being cast and Extort triggering. You don't have to option to tap anything then or when you place the ability on the stack.

When the third ability stacked resolves, you may pay {W/B}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.

When the second ability stacked resolves, you may pay {W/B}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.

When the first ability stacked resolves, you may pay {W/B}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.

So you can cause each opponent to lose up to three life, but each life lost will cost you a mana.

Michael Snook explained how this isn't useless. This post is mostly about correcting your understanding of triggered abilities.

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You're right that Extort costs {W/B} for each creature: each instance of Extort is a separate triggered ability. Each one triggers, and then your friend may pay for the first, for the second, and so on. He cannot pay for multiple triggers with just one mana.

That said, I wouldn't call it useless. It's a repeatable ping for one mana at a time. It's life loss, so it can't be prevented by damage prevention effects. It hits each opponent, so it scales in multiplayer. Late game it provides a nice mana sink. I've played against it in Commander and it's a fairly consistent threat. It's probably better in Commander than last standard or modern because of those: longer games with higher mana bases and scaling with opponents help the ability out.

  • Also, it's a constant threat to your opponents. It may limit their options to know you can cause a number of points of life loss at virtually any time. – ikegami Nov 15 '14 at 22:34
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Yes he would have to pay for each trigger but I wouldn't say it is useless because if he would only have one creature with extort he could only pay one mana at most. If he has three creatures with extort he can pay up to three mana.

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