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Let's say I'm playing a multiplayer game, and I'm drawing from an empty deck with Laboratory Maniac out while an opponent has Platinum Angel.

104.3h 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.

Is 104.3h a replacement effect created by the game rules, or does it modify the effect "win the game" on the card?

A different angle: Platinum Angel says "your opponents can't win the game". Does this refer to the game action "win the game", which instead causes your opponents to lose, or to actually winning the game? (or both?)

If 104.3h is a replacement effect, and "can't win" precludes following the "win the game" instruction, then nothing would happen. The event for 104.3h to replace didn't occur. I think this is the more likely outcome.

Otherwise, if we can follow the Maniac's instruction, then each opponent loses the game, except Platinum Angel's controller, because they can't.

Paraphrased from a comment for clarity: This question might boil down to "can game rules be replacement effects?" I haven't seen why not. The question I have regarding PA's effect is does it stop just the game event of "you win", or does it stop everything that, due to language, looks like "you win"? i.e. if 104.3h changes the game to mean the game action "you win" has nothing to do with winning, it might slip through, but if 104.3h is a replacement effect then it never sees LM's ability to replace it.

Further development: @ikegami commented: The confusion stems from the fact that 104.3h effectively turns "win (the game)" into a keyword action with a different effect than "actually winning the game". So which one does PA prevent now, the pseudo-keyword, or "actually winning the game"? or both?

  • I'm having issues with the Platinum Angel card link, but I can't figure out why. It looks like it's spelled correctly. The Laboratory Maniac link works just fine. (Edit: I see that we were having the same issue with this question, so I went ahead and edited to use a direct link.) – Rainbolt Apr 6 '17 at 13:03
  • @Rainbolt Oops, I broke it again with an edit, and then had a fire alarm! Fixing it now :D – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 13:48
  • @ikegami I think you're right with this; part of what I'm checking to understand is if "win the game" action is distinct from "win the game" outcome. Probably not, it seems? In the particular text you quoted, "does it modify the instruction" better reflects my meaning. – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 15:03
  • @ikegami Yes, I think the way you phrase that probably summarises the issue at the heart of the matter. – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 15:12
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    @aslum: This definitely does not happen, as either way, Laboratory Maniac's own replacement effect isn't messed with, and it will still replace the event of drawing a card. The event of winning a game, while introduced by the same ability, is another event. – TheThirdMan Apr 6 '17 at 20:08
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No player will lose the game, and the game continues normally

104.3h 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. (...)

This multiplayer rule that modifies how winning and losing works normally makes Laboratory Maniac's ability work different in multiplayer games. While in a two-player game, a player would win with Laboratory Maniac and drawing from an empty library, that rule makes each opponent of that player lose instead.

Now, if one of those players controls a Platinum Angel which has a continuous effect stating that they can't lose the game and opponents can't win the game, it will prevent any opponent of that player from winning the game.

101.2. When a rule or effect allows or directs something to happen, and another effect states that it can’t happen, the “can’t” effect takes precedence.

Platinum Angel will effectively prevent Laboratory Maniac's ability from going through with the event of winning the game, meaning the rule 104.3h never applies to this situation.

This course of events is backed by Matt Tabak's response to a question asked by Samthere:

In a multiplayer game, if P1 tries to win via Laboratory Maniac but P2 controls Platinum Angel, what happens? Nothing, or do P3, P4, etc, lose the game?

Nothing. LM’s replacement effect does apply, and then P1 winning the game just doesn’t happen.


This is actually independent from whether rule 104.3h is actually a replacement effect or not, and whether this has been discussed at large in answers, comments and in chat to the point where everyone seems to be agreing to disagree.
Until further enlightenment in this regard, let's cover both cases, and why they're largely identical...

  • If the rule was considered to be a replacement effect, since the event of winning the game wouldn't actually happen (with Platinum Angel preventing it), the following rule prevents the entirety of the respective replacement effect (in this case, rule 104.3h) from taking place:

    614.7. If a replacement effect would replace an event, but that event never happens, the replacement effect simply doesn't do anything.

    For a concrete example, Leovold, Emissary of Trest can prevent people from drawing cards, and has a ruling which notes that "Replacement effects can’t be used to replace draws that Leovold disallows." Replacement effects replace the event as they happen; if the event is prevented from happening, there's nothing for them to replace. Therefore, similarly, replacement effects can't replace winning the game if you're prevented from winning the game.

  • If it wasn't considered a replacement effect, the game would just as well never reach the event of that player winning the game, seeing as there's "you win the game" simply clashing with "you can't win the game", which is settled by rule 101.2. Again, rule 104.3h would never be applied, as the event of a player winning the game is never reached.

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    I think this may be right, but I'll let it stew and see how people read it for a bit. – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 14:42
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    Let's assume that rule 104.3h is a replacement effect. I don't agree with this, but that is not why I downvoted. I want to argue that the last paragraph is wrong. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible (CR 609.3). So even though Platinum Angel prevents one opponent from losing, the rest of the players opponents still lose. What do you think? – Rainbolt Apr 6 '17 at 14:56
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    @Rainbolt: The thing is that Platinum Angel prevents anyone from winning, including the player controlling Laboratory Maniac. Since they cannot win, 104.3h won't ever have anything to replace in the first place. – TheThirdMan Apr 6 '17 at 15:01
  • @TheThirdMan Ah. Now I understand. Thanks for clarifying. – Rainbolt Apr 6 '17 at 15:05
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    @Andrey: They don't - what would make that player lose is the state-based action happening as they draw from an empty library (CR 704.5b). Laboratory Maniac replaces that event, even though the replacement doesn't achieve anything in this case. This is explained in a little more detail in this answer from a similar question. – TheThirdMan Apr 6 '17 at 21:07
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Rainbolt's answer is correct: everyone except the controller of the "win the game" effect and the Platinum Angel would lose. Because you're playing multiplayer, Laboratory Maniac can never make anyone win the game. It could only ever make everyone else lose the game. This means that Platinum Angel can only prevent the personal "you lose the game" effect, since there never was a "win the game" effect to prevent.

I actually contacted WotC support, and they confirmed this is what happens. I haven't figured out a way to publicize this support question, so here's a screenshot of the interaction:

screenshot of WotC support

  • @TheThirdMan With an official response from WOTC this seems to make Rainbolt's answer correct. Would you consider editing your answer to reduce confusion? As for OP it is probably a good idea to change your accepted answer to either this one or Rainbolt's now that there is more information. – Malco Apr 13 '17 at 16:04
  • @Malco: If you had made an effort to read all answers, this one should've raised an eye - it quotes Matt Tabak, the MtG Rules Manager, who sides with my interpretation of the rules. Therefore, for all I know, my answer is correct. Furthermore, if you had bothered actually reading or at least looking at my answer, you would've noticed that I had already editted it with this information well after this answer was posted. At the very least, I now can take a good guess on why I keep getting comment-less downvotes on my answer... – TheThirdMan Apr 19 '17 at 14:46
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Everyone loses except for you and the player who controls Platinum Angel.

Does rule 104.3h create a replacement effect? Can game rules create replacement effects?

No. Replacement effects are continuous effects (CR 614.1). Continuous effects can only be generated by the resolution of a spell or ability or by a static ability (CR 611.2, 611.3). There is no rule that allows for a rule to create a continuous effect.

Does 104.3h modify the effect "win the game" on the card?

Yes. Even though they are not replacement effects, rules can modify all aspects of the game. In a multiplayer game, 104.3h says that any effect that causes you to win the game instead does something totally different.

Despite this, rule 104.3h is not a replacement effect. It's still just a rule.

In a multiplayer game, if I would draw on an empty library while I control Laboratory Maniac and one opponent controls Platinum Angel, what happens?

Here is how this would go down:

  • You would draw on an empty library.
  • Laboratory Maniac replaces this action with "You win the game." This is a replacement effect.
  • Because this is a multiplayer game and you would win the game, rule 104.3h applies. Instead of you winning, all of your opponents lose. This is not a replacement effect - it's simply a rule.
  • The player who controls Platinum Angel can't lose. Thanks to CR 101.2, The "can't" takes precedence over the effect that would cause that player to lose.
  • Each opponent that doesn't control a Platinum Angel loses, because nothing says they can't lose.

You are going to have a hard time understanding the rules if you ask "Why not?" Why can't game rules be replacement effects? Why can't I do X? Why can't I do Y?

There are infinitely many things you can't do, and yet there are not infinitely many rules. How could this be? The answer is simple: you are not allowed to do stuff unless the rules specifically allow you to.

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    I added a small rant at the bottom of the answer. Looking for feedback on whether it makes the answer better. I don't mind rolling it back (or even someone else rolling it back). – Rainbolt Apr 6 '17 at 14:33
  • I'm not sure that 611.2 means it can only be generated by the resolution of a spell or ability. Replacement effects can exist as static abilities on permanents, which is generated by the permanent existing, not by the permanent spell resolving. Additionally, I've just remembered 903.9 (commander command zone rule), which gives the rule and then refers to it as a replacement effect. I think you have a good investigation here but there are still mysteries to me :D – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 14:40
  • @Samthere I said in the answer that replacement effects can be generated by static abilities. That particular sentence was littered with references to the CR, so I understand that it was probably choppy and difficult to read. I edited to hopefully improve the readability of that sentence. – Rainbolt Apr 6 '17 at 14:44
  • So you did; my bad for missing it. However, the 903.9 reference is still relevant. At least, it explicitly states it's a replacement effect. Whether that means other rules can be is questionable. – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 14:50
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    You have a point. However, one thing I'd mention about 903.9 is that it refers to it as "this replacement effect", but doesn't need to mention "this is a replacement effect". Like I say, I'm not certain what this means. In your answer, I'm not certain that PA's "opponents can't win" doesn't step in before LM tries to do something. However, the breadth of answers does help me to narrow down why I'm confused :D – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 15:10
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Nothing happens.

In contrast to ryanyuyu's response from WotC support, I asked Matt Tabak (the official MTG rules manager) and he had the following to say.

In a multiplayer game, if P1 tries to win via Laboratory Maniac but P2 controls Platinum Angel, what happens? Nothing, or do P3, P4, etc, lose the game?

Nothing. LM’s replacement effect does apply, and then P1 winning the game just doesn’t happen.

From this we can see that Platinum Angel does see the attempt to "win the game" and stops it before it happens. This means that 104.3h alters the way you follow the "win the game" instruction, but doesn't change the instruction itself. This lines up with TheThirdMan's interpretation.

For clarity, the case with Platinum Angel works because of the "your opponents can't win the game". Every "you can't lose" effect currently in Magic also includes that clause. If there was a standalone "you can't lose" effect, the other players would lose. Additionally, if the Platinum Angel player instead controlled an Abyssal Persecutor, only that player would lose in that instance.

As TheThirdMan mentioned, it doesn't matter whether 104.3h is a replacement effect (although based on the course of the discussion I believe it isn't).


As a note, I'd like to mention that this seems to be an issue that has confounded many of us — novices, judges and WotC support alike — and numerous others in the past. I think both of the main interpretations are reasonable and well represented in other answers here.

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    Nice quote! It's good to have an official source for this finally, even when it's opposed by yet another official source ;) I'm tempted to believe Matt Tabak on this one, though, not just for the reason that it's what I originally said. – TheThirdMan Apr 10 '17 at 12:24
  • This has been a very good question, it is unfortunate that there are conflicting official sources.... – Malco Apr 13 '17 at 16:06
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    @Malco I'm of the opinion that WotC support is only "semi-official". They're knowledgeable about the game but don't carry authority, but as far as I know the Rules Manager is the ultimate authority on the rules. – Samthere Apr 24 '17 at 12:04
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I would say that everyone but you and the Platinum Angel owner would lose and gameplay would continue with you two (if you so choose).

By the wording of winning effect in multiplayer, it certainly sounds like a replacement effect.

614.1a Effects that use the word “instead” are replacement effects. Most replacement effects use the word “instead” to indicate what events will be replaced with other events.

104.3h 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.

And since replacement and prevention effects are applied at the same time, you can pick which one you want to apply first.

616.1 If two or more replacement and/or prevention effects are attempting to modify the way an event affects an object or player, the affected object’s controller (or its owner if it has no controller) or the affected player chooses one to apply, following the steps listed below. If two or more players have to make these choices at the same time, choices are made in APNAP order

So if you wanted to keep the other players around (Platinum Angel controller is way ahead), you could have the prevention effect apply first. Or just make the world burn (everyone else lose).

  • I don't think this works, because PA's ability isn't a replacement effect, it's a continuous effect. – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 13:33
  • @Samthere It's a prevention effect, not a replacement effect (see 615) – JonTheMon Apr 6 '17 at 13:51
  • Ah, I had missed that prevention effects apply at the same time. However, the rules for prevention effects only define them as using the word "prevent". I think cards that say something "can't" happen modify the game rules, rather than being a prevention effect, but I'm not sure about this! – Samthere Apr 6 '17 at 13:59
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    I agree with Samthere. An ability that says "X can't Y" is a continuous effect that modifies the rules of the game. – ikegami Apr 6 '17 at 14:23
  • @JonTheMon, I agree with your conclusion, but it's not a replacement effect. It simply defines what it means when an effect causes a player to win the game (just like 701.3 defines what "Activate" means). – ikegami Apr 6 '17 at 15:00

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