If you want to activate the activated ability of Teysa, Orzhov Scion, does "sacrifice 3 creatures" count as 1 cost, or 3 separate costs? And, does it matter which it is at all? 601.2g says The player pays the total cost in any order. Does this mean that the creatures are sacrificed in any order; or are they sacrificed all at the same time, as 1 cost?

Further, is it any different if they are sacrificed all at the same time, or one after the other? I believe it wouldn't matter, because no triggered abilities would go on the stack until a player is about to receive priority anyway. 603.6d says ...will trigger based on their existence, and the appearance of objects, prior to the event rather than afterward. But what is "the event" that it looks prior to? Is each sacrifice of a creature a separate event? If this were the case, then sacrificing Teysa before the other creatures would mean that you don't get the tokens for Teysa's triggered ability. Or, is "the event" the activating of Teysa's ability, in which case the order makes no difference?

  • I'm not sure where you get the idea of "3 separate costs." I can't find anything in the rules that mentions paying multiple costs for a single spell or ability. – murgatroid99 Dec 7 '14 at 22:40
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    @murgatroid99 I got the idea from the phrase "pays the total cost in any order". But I guess "three parts of the cost" would have been a better phrasing than "3 separate costs." – GendoIkari Dec 8 '14 at 0:23
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    Why was this downvoted? Providing explanations / reasons is helpful. – GendoIkari Dec 8 '14 at 23:14

When you “sacrifice 3 creatures” as a cost, are they sacrificed one at a time?

No. "Sacrifice 3 creatures" only has one keyword action. This differs from "Sacrifice a creature. Sacrifice a creature. Sacrifice a creature."

When a payment consists of more than one action, those action aren't performed simultaneously as per the rule you quoted ("in any order"). That is practically never relevant.

It means that if part of the cost requires that you sacrifice a permanent, and that part of the cost requires that you tap a permanent, you could tap a permanent then sacrifice that same permanent. If all parts of the payment was done simultaneously, I don't think that would be possible.

In this case, there's only one action ("sacrifice"), so asking about order makes no sense. All three creatures are sacrificed at once since there's only one instruction to sacrifice.

So yes, for each black and white creature you sacrifice at the same time as Teysa, Teysa's second ability will trigger. Because of 603.6d, all that's relevant is that the Teysa was on the battlefield immediately before the sacrifice, and that the sacrificed creatures were black[1]. This is supported by a ruling on Teysa:

You may sacrifice Teysa itself to help pay for its first ability, but unlike other white and black creatures, it won't cause its second ability to trigger. Any other white and black creatures you sacrifice to pay for the first ability will cause the second ability to trigger.

  1. It doesn't matter that Teysa left the battlefield during, that Teysa isn't on the battlefield afterwards, or that one of the creatures became a colorless artifact card when it got sacrificed.
  • You say in your answer that the sacrifices happen in a particular order. This would seem to me to imply that if you sacrifice Teysa first, the other creatures' deaths will not trigger her ability. Can you explain in your answer why that is not the case (or that it is, if it is)? – murgatroid99 Dec 8 '14 at 1:41
  • And yet, the ruling on Teysa's Gatherer page says unconditionally that sacrificing Teysa with other black and white creatures will trigger her ability for each of them. This implies that that interpretation is incorrect. – murgatroid99 Dec 8 '14 at 1:46
  • The ruling doesn't say anything about that. Simultaneity is a slightly tricky thing in Magic, and I think in this case it is up for interpretation. – murgatroid99 Dec 8 '14 at 1:50
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    @murgatroid99, Rulings don't go into as much detail as rules, so that's not really relevant. But my answer was wrong, and I fixed it. – ikegami Dec 8 '14 at 2:36

The reason that rule 601.2g exists is for payments with multiple parts. Take for example Birthing Pod, it has a payment that includes mana, tapping the pod, and sacrificing a Creature. 601.2g says you can pay the costs in any order, so you can tap the pod first, sacrifice creatures second and pay mana last. Or what ever order you want to, I cannot think of an example of a time when the exact order matters.

For something like Teysa all of the creatures get sacrificed at the same time because there is only one direction to sacrifice the creatures. So in this case there is only one cost, to pay sacrificing creatures (the fact there is more than one creature doesn't matter). This means that if any of the sacrificed creatures has an ability that triggers off of any of the creatures dying or getting sacrificed they would trigger.

If they weren't all sacrificed at the same time it would indeed matter what order that they were sacrificed in since if the first on sacrificed has the trigger that cares about the other creatures dying it will not be on the battlefield when those creatures die and thus would not trigger.

  • Do you have a reference for your last paragraph? The rules say that it "looks back in time to before the event", but I'm not clear what "the event" is. The other answer says that it will look back before any costs were paid; you're saying that it would look back to just before each creature was sacrificed (if they were sacrificed one at a time instead of all at once). – GendoIkari Dec 8 '14 at 0:56
  • Because it would work for anything where you have instructions that are followed in order. If "sacrifice three creatures" was the same as "Sacrifice a creature, then sacrifice a creature, then sacrifice a creature" it would work like Austere Command, where if you choose enchantments and either creature mode if you have any enchantments with "when a creature dies..." triggers they will not fire because they are already in the Graveyard. – diego Dec 8 '14 at 1:03
  • Your Birds of Paradise example doesn't make sense. If you are activating a mana ability while activating an ability, you have to do so before you start paying any costs. See rules 602.1f and 602.1g. – murgatroid99 Dec 8 '14 at 1:11
  • You're right I could have sworn you generated the mana when you needed to pay it, not before. – diego Dec 8 '14 at 1:20
  • Your argument as a whole doesn't really make sense to me. Any time you pay a cost, however many parts it has it's still "the same cost." The way I read it, you haven't really demonstrated that the sacrifices happen at the same time, you've just asserted that they do. – murgatroid99 Dec 8 '14 at 1:25

On Teysa's gatherer page, there is a single ruling that says

You may sacrifice Teysa itself to help pay for its first ability, but unlike other white and black creatures, it won't cause its second ability to trigger. Any other white and black creatures you sacrifice to pay for the first ability will cause the second ability to trigger.

This means that either all sacrifices happen at the same time or the order doesn't matter. And it doesn't make a difference which it is because the game will "look back in time" (as 603.6d says) to before any of the cost was payed.

  • Based on 603.1 and the glossary definition for "event", I'm thinking that @diego's answer is more correct... each sacrifice is a separate "event", so if they did happen one at a time, after each sacrifice 603.6d would look back to just before that sacrifice; in which case the order would matter. But because they are sacrificed simultaneously, there is no order. – GendoIkari Dec 8 '14 at 1:00
  • Actually, according to rule 700.1, the same thing can be treated as a single event or multiple events by different abilities. Rule 603.6d may see events at a different granularity than Teysa's ability, which is why I didn't mention events. The point of my answer is that it doesn't matter whether there's an order; the ruling says exactly what happens. – murgatroid99 Dec 8 '14 at 1:03

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