The card Exquisite Archangel from Aether Revolt has the following ability:

If you would lose the game, instead exile Equisite Archangel and your life total becomes equal to your starting life total.

The way this works with losing due to life loss seems relatively simple, but what happens if you lose to something else, such as poison counters, mill, or an effect that says that your opponent wins the game? Does this ability have any other common edge cases?

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    gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/… ​ ​ – user13741 Jan 10 '17 at 6:18
  • You're right. Lich's Mirror has a very similar effect to Exquisite Archangel. But it's old enough, and unusual enough, that I think most people will be unfamiliar with both the card and the nuances of its interactions when they try to understand Exquisite Archangel. – murgatroid99 Jan 10 '17 at 21:02

There is actually a variety of possible outcomes of the Exquisite Archangel's ability, depending on how you would lose the game.

  1. Life Loss: In this case, the ability works as you would expect: instead of losing the game due to having 0 or less life, you gain life so that your life total becomes equal to your starting life total (20 in a normal game) [CR 118.5].

    • Exception: If an effect says that you can't gain life, such as on Erebos, God of the Dead, then the Archangel's ability will not cause you to gain life, so you will remain a 0 or less life and lose immediately after exiling the Archangel.
  2. Poison Counters: If you get 10 or more poison counters, the Archangel will not save you. You will exile it and change your life total the first time State-based actions are checked, but once that is done, State-based actions will be rechecked immediately, and this time the Archangel won't be there to help, so you will still lose.

  3. Commander Damage: In a Commander game, you normally lose if you take 21 damage from a single commander. Similar to the case with poison counters, the Archangel's effect will apply once, but the damage will still be marked, so you will still lose immediately.

  4. Mill: If you try to draw a card from an empty library, the Archangel will save you once, but you will still have an empty library and you will lose the next time you have to draw a card. You don't lose immediately because of how that specific state-based action is worded:

    704.5b If a player attempted to draw a card from a library with no cards in it since the last time state-based actions were checked, he or she loses the game.

  5. "You lose": If an effect directly says that you lose the game, from a card such as an opponent's Door to Nothingness or your own Demonic Pact, the Archangel will replace that effect, and you won't lose the game.

    • Exception: If you lose due to the effect of the card Transcendence, the Archangel won't be much help. The replacement effect will reset your life total to your starting life total, which will usually be at least 20, and then Transcendence's triggered ability will trigger again, and you will lose.
  6. "You Win": If your opponent has an effect that says "you win the game", the outcome depends on how many distinct players/teams the game has.

    • 2 players/teams: If there are only two players/teams, then winning the game immediately ends the game, without requiring the opposing player to lose the game. In this case, the Exquisite Archangel's ability will simply never apply.

    • More than 2 players/teams: Once a game has more than 2 players or teams, rule 104.3h applies:

      In a multiplayer game, an effect that states that a player wins the game instead causes all of that player’s opponents to lose the game.

      So if an opponent has an effect that says "you win the game", instead each of their opponents loses the game, but the Archangel's replacement effect will apply and save you.

      • Exception: If an opponent wins due to the effect of a state-based triggered ability such as Darksteel Reactor, then the replacement effect will save you once, and then the triggered ability will trigger again, and you will lose.
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    Re: interaction with Erebos, is the triggered ability of Exquisite Archangel really a life gain event? The trigger doesn't say "gain life" it says "becomes". – crimson-egret Jan 9 '17 at 21:54
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    EDIT: posted the 2HG rule, sorry. 118.5. If an effect sets a player's life total to a specific number, the player gains or loses the necessary amount of life to end up with the new total. – Tradeylouish Jan 9 '17 at 22:02
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    @eggo That's what the CR 118.5 link explains. That rule says "If an effect sets a player’s life total to a specific number, the player gains or loses the necessary amount of life to end up with the new total." – murgatroid99 Jan 9 '17 at 22:04
  • For reasons unknown to me, the link to darksteel reactor does not work for me, the search returns 0 results. – PlasmaHH Jan 10 '17 at 10:27
  • @PlasmaHH Some people have in the past had problems with our card links because their default language is set to something other than English in Gatherer. – murgatroid99 Jan 10 '17 at 21:01

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