Let me give you a run down of the board state.

I had an Elderscale Wurm enchanted with Canopy Cover on the battlefield. Damage could not reduce my life total below 7.

My opponent had Forgestoker Dragon on the battlefield and a lot of other, smaller creatures. He could pay to kill any other creature that came out on the battlefield, but had no effects in his deck to deal with Elderscale Wurm nor Canopy Cover.

Similarly I had no way to deal with his dragon, and if I attacked with my Elderscale Wurm it would die, and I would lose to his horde.

But, I had one more card in my library than he did, so we assumed I would eventually win until we looked at the other two cards my opponent had on the battlefield- Aether Rift and Library of Leng.

Aether Rift says:


At the beginning of your upkeep, discard a card at random. If you discard a creature card this way, return it from your graveyard to the battlefield unless any player pays 5 life.

Library of Leng says:


You have no maximum hand size. If an effect causes you to discard a card, discard it, but you may put it on top of your library instead of into your graveyard.

My opponent only had creatures in his hand. He wanted to use the interaction between these two cards to randomly discard a card, not pay 5 life,(I could not pay the 5 life cost because it would bring me below 7 life, negating Elderscale Wurm's effect) and have it go back to the top of his library, so that he would have 1 more card than I did, thus I would mill out before he did.

Is that how this interaction works?

  • Even though you both think this is how it would turn out I would still play it out. You can always have forgotten about a card that can deal with the situation. Being it a buff for your dragon so you can attack, or a way to deal with the enchantment or artifact or something else to kill him. It doesn't need to take much time. You could agree about a shortcut with him skipping all his turns and you keep drawing cards (and discarding if you have more than 7) until your deck is empty
    – Ivo
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 10:43
  • At a tournament you'll seriously want to consider conceding in order to have any hope of winning the match before time runs out.
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 15:24

2 Answers 2


He would be able to put a card on top of his library in order to not lose, but not quite the way you are thinking it works.

What happens is a the beginning of your opponent's upkeep Aether Rift's ability goes on the stack, and when it resolves they discard a card at random. when the card gets discarded Library of Leng's replacement effect occurs allowing your opponent to put the card on top of their library. If they chose to put the card on top of their library the rest of Aether Rift's ability doesn't apply since as far as the game knows a creature card was never discarded (a card was discarded if anything else cares about that, but nothing is known about that card, including its type [CR 701.7c]). Your opponent will then draw the card they just "discarded" at the beginning of their draw step. They can keep repeating this process until you run out of cards in your library.

  • 2
    "Aether Rift's ability doesn't apply since a creature card was never discarded." This isn't correct. It specifically says that the card is still discarded. Which means that players will still have an opportunity to pay 5 life. But if they don't pay the life, then the card will fail to return to the battlefield because it is not in the graveyard.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 1:45
  • @Gendolkari This is what I get for assuming what a card does and not reading the rulings :)
    – diego
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 1:50
  • 1
    Wait, never mind I was right. The card is still discarded, true, but since the effect discarding the card doesn't tell you to reveal the card the card remains unrevealed and no characteristics of the card are known, and the paying life is dependent on it being a creature that was discarded. CR 701.7c
    – diego
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 2:21
  • Ah, interesting. Makes sense; I wouldn't have thought of that though!
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 2:50
  • @diego So when my opponent has these two cards out, he randomly discards a card, doesn't reveal what it is, and decides (without knowing what he is discarding) to put it in the graveyard or on top of his library?
    – sillyputty
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 12:26

Yes, it would work that way. The paying 5 life is actually irrelevant here, because if he chooses to put the card on top of his library, then the creature will fail to return "from the graveyard to the battlefield", because it won't be in the graveyard. His library shouldn't ever shrink in fact; each turn he will discard a card, putting it on his library, then draw that same card.

  • Rather than "library shouldn't ever shrink", I would say it oscillates between having n and n-1 cards. Depending on which measurements of the library size you're comparing, you'll get equal or different numbers. If you compare library sizes before and after drawing a card in the draw step they're different (likewise before/after the discard effect). If you look at the same point in the phase/step sequence across different turns, they're equal. Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 12:57

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