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I've recently learned about holding the priority after playing a spell or ability.

I understand this can be used for beneficial effects affecting your own spells, for instance copying your own instant/sorcery with Twincast or Reverberate.

But since the stack resolves it's content 1 by 1, I don't see how playing two spells back to back without passing priority would differ from playing one, let it resolve, then play another.

Apart from spell copying/redirecting/etc... effects, what would holding the priority allow a player to achieve ?

  • 3
    There are several examples. One I remember using in standard not so long ago is activating an Humble Defector's ability and sacrificing it immediately so my opponent don't get control of it. – Autar Nov 18 '16 at 10:29
  • Legacy Storm works around this, as well. You cast Infernal tutor, hold priority and activate Lion's Eye Diamond to trigger hellbent and search for any card. – aaron Nov 18 '16 at 19:45
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You hold priority when you need to take additional actions before a previous action resolves, and those additional actions depend on the previous actions.

That is the general answer to your question. The list of specific examples would be endless, and so I'll only provide one example that falls outside of the "spell copying/redirect" category.

Example:

You have four cards in your graveyard.

  1. Activate Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and hold priority.
  2. Activate and resolve Minamo, School at Water's Edge to untap Jace.
  3. Activate Jace.

If you had not held priority after activating Jace's ability, then Jace would have transformed before you had a chance to activate him a second time. By holding priority, you got a "bonus" activation out of Jace.

Note that in order for any spell or ability to resolve, both players must pass priority without taking any other actions. At Competitive and Professional REL, when a spell or ability is added to the stack, its controller is assumed to have passed priority unless they explicitly state otherwise. That explicit statement is what most players call "holding priority".

This answer to another question goes into far more detail about not only why holding priority matters, but why priority in general matters.

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    It's worth noting that you are only holding priority between steps 1 and 2. For Minamo's ability to resolve, you need to pass priority. – Zags Aug 23 '18 at 14:06
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The only time I've ever had to do this is playing around Extirpate. In the particular scenario that came up, my opponent had just milled a large portion of my deck, including a lightning bolt (me playing burn). I had two more in my hand. If I cast one and try to let it resolve, my opponent can Extirpate Lightning Bolt and remove the other from my hand. My best option is to dump both of them on the stack before giving my opponent priority.

Split Second is unique in that it doesn't let you respond to it, so effects that don't use the stack or otherwise shut down the stack until they resolve are a good place to look, even if it might end up a little contrived. Imagine a Manifested Void Winnower. Since flipping it face up is a special action that doesn't use the stack, the opponent can do it as soon as they get priority, immediately shutting me down from casting any even-CMC spells. In that case, if I have know it's there, and I have two spells I need to cast, I should put both of them on the stack before giving priority.

However, you are correct; 90% of the time it is correct to cast, wait to resolve, then cast the next spell. The examples I gave were very much corner cases, and the second one I'm fairly confident will never happen in a game.

  • From the Gatherer rulings for Void Winnower: Yes, your opponent can’t even. We know. I love MTG. :) – BJ Myers Aug 23 '18 at 20:06
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There is at least one corner case that I know of where it is important. In certain legacy storm decks, it is really important that when you play your Infernal Tutor you keep priority and crack your Lion's Eye Diamond in Response.

If you don't do that your opponent can just pass priority and then the spell resolves which does not let you tutor for anything.

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I played a game once with Baral, Chief of Compliance on the board, I desperately needed to cycle for an answer so I casted a spell, and while holding priority, was able to counter my own spell to draw a card

  • While this isn't an extensive answer, it is an answer covering one situation. Curtis held priority to counter his own spell, plus there was a game reason to do so. – Samthere Jul 10 '18 at 8:20
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Scion of the Ur-Dragon allows you to search your library and have it become copies of other dragons in your deck.

What you can do is activate it once, then a second time (or an arbitrary number of times). When the first activation resolves, you choose a dragon that has an activated ability (like giving itself +1/+0, something that several dragons do). You can then throw that ability on the stack as many times as you want/are able. Those abilities then resolve. Then the second Scion of the Ur-dragon activation resolves, and you choose a dragon with a static and/or triggered ability, like Atarka, World Render. Bingo: you have a flying creature with 6/4 that gives all dragons Double Strike when they attack, with the added bonus that it gave itself +7/+0.

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