Example, if I had Archon of Redemption out and my opponent played Arrest on it (Arrest says that the creature's activated abilities cant be activated). When something with flying enters the battlefield can I still gain life equal to its toughness?

  • 2
    The trick is... if it has a colon, it's an activated ability. – corsiKa Nov 17 '14 at 23:37
  • (And since the part before the colon is the activation cost, you were pretty close: it's things with activation costs, which are often but not always mana costs.) – Cascabel Nov 17 '14 at 23:44
  • 1
    I would hazard a guess and say Tapping is the most common cost. – Hackworth Nov 18 '14 at 10:18
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Archon of Redemption's ability is a triggered ability and will not be effected by Arrest. Arrest affects activated abilities, described by rule 602.1.

602.1. Activated abilities have a cost and an effect. They are written as “[Cost]: [Effect.] [Activation instructions (if any).]”

Examples: Ancient Silverback, Elvish Mystic, Heritage Druid, Fume Spitter

Triggered abilities, like the Archon's, are described by rule 603.1.

603.1. Triggered abilities have a trigger condition and an effect. They are written as “[Trigger condition], [effect],” and begin with the word “when,” “whenever,” or “at.” They can also be as “[When/Whenever/At] [trigger event], [effect].”

In either case, whether or not mana is involved has no bearing on the classification of the ability (except in the specific case where mana is produced, but we'll ignore that for this conversation).

Activated abilities can have a mana cost (R: Shivan Dragon gets +1/+0 until end of turn) or not (T: Prodigal Sorcerer deals 1 damage to target creature or player).

Also, triggered abilities can have optional costs (Apothecary Initiate's Whenever a player casts a white spell, you may pay {1}. If you do, you gain 1 life). The Archon's triggered ability is an example of one that does not.

  • Thanks for the comp rules update, @Rainbolt! Was at work and just happened to see it so I quickly explained the differences :P – pixels Nov 17 '14 at 16:49
  • Add a note about triggered abilities with optional costs? – Hao Ye Nov 17 '14 at 19:16
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    That just makes things confusing, in my opinion. They're part of the effect of the ability (which happens on resolution), but you make them look like some kind of activation cost. Triggered abilities don't have costs, optional or otherwise. The ability triggers unconditionally, and the ability resolves unconditionally. You don't have to decided if you're going to pay the mana until the ability resolves. – ikegami Nov 17 '14 at 20:13

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