Consider this new card from Oath of the Gatewatch -- Crush of Tentacles.

I realize the first part -- "Return all nonland permanents to their owners' hands" -- happens when the spell resolves, but what about the second part of the card text -- "If Crush of Tentacles surge cost was paid, put an 8/8 blue Octopus creature token onto the battlefield."

Does that trigger when the card is cast or when the spell resolves?

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  • 2
    Reality check - why return all creatures to their owner's hand if you're also going to put a token on the battlefield - I don't think the "vanilla creature enters-the-battlefield matters" deck is a thing =)
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 15:47
  • 2
    Note that "trigger" is a bad word to use here, this effect is not a triggered ability.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 17:26
  • @GendoIkari I used triggered because I was confused whether it triggered "on cast" or if it just resolved with the spell. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 18:32
  • 1
    Except the second ability in the paragraph is a triggered ability: "If [card name]'s surge cost was paid, put an 8/8 blue Octopus creature token onto the battlefield." follows the [trigger condition], effect format. It is a state based trigger that checks to see if the alternative cost was paid. Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 16:51
  • That is incorrect. An ability is only a triggered ability if it starts with the word "when", "whenever", or "at" [CR 603.1]. There is no such thing as a state-based trigger. This is simply a spell effect that only happens conditionally.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 22:25

3 Answers 3


The effect that checks whether the Surge cost was paid resolves when the spell resolves. This is because abilities of Instants and Sorceries are by default "spell abilities", and resolve when the spell resolves. Rule 112.3a says

Spell abilities are abilities that are followed as instructions while an instant or sorcery spell is resolving. Any text on an instant or sorcery spell is a spell ability unless it’s an activated ability, a triggered ability, or a static ability that fits the criteria described in rule 112.6.

None of those exceptions apply here. It's not an activated ability, because it doesn't have the form "[cost]: [effect]" [CR 112.3b]. It's not a triggered ability because it doesn't start with the word "At", "When", or "Whenever" [CR 112.3c]. And it's not a static ability, because it's written as an instruction, not a statement [CR 112.3d].

When you are resolving the spell, rule 608.2c says

The controller of the spell or ability follows its instructions in the order written. [...]

so the Octopus token enters the battlefield immediately after the other creatures return to their owners' hands, and it does not itself get returned.


The Surge effect will occur when the Card resolves, since it is in the same paragraph as the spell's effect, per 112.2c.

112.2c An object may have multiple abilities. If the object is represented by a card, then aside from certain defined abilities that may be strung together on a single line (see rule 702, “Keyword Abilities”), each paragraph break in a card’s text marks a separate ability. If the object is not represented by a card, the effect that created it may have given it multiple abilities. An object may also be granted additional abilities by a spell or ability. If an object has multiple instances of the same ability, each instance functions independently. This may or may not produce more effects than a single instance; refer to the specific ability for more information.

If it were to happen when you cast the spell with Surge, it would be worded more like Genesis Hydra:

When you cast XX for its surge cost, do this thing.

  • @murgatroid99 I'm not really sure what you're asking here.
    – Waterseas
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 15:06
  • @murgatroid99 The Question correctly identifies that effect A occurs during spell resolution. Didn't see a need to reinforce a correct understanding. Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 16:30
  • You're right. I should have read the question more carefully. But, on further examination, I think your answer is actually wrong for a different reason: effects in the same paragraph don't necessarily resolve at the same time. Berserk and Death Frenzy are examples of this. So your rules quote doesn't actually show that they resolve together.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 17:33

CR 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 expressed as “[When/Whenever/At] [trigger event], [effect].”

Crush of Tentacles doesn't say “when,” “whenever,” or “at,” it says "if". Thus it can't have a trigger. Consequentially it must do it's thing when it resolves.

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