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Do I have to cast Nissa, Steward of Elements for 4 mana in order to put 1 loyalty counter on her?

2 Answers 2

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No, only three mana ({1}{G}{U}) is required for that.

First of all, note that X is not derived from the cost, the cost is derived from the X you choose. (This matters if there are cost increases or cost reductions in play.)

If you choose X=0, Nissa costs {G}{U} to cast[1], and she enters the battlefield without any loyalty counters (and dies immediately after).

If you choose X=1, Nissa costs {1}{G}{U} to cast[1], and she enters the battlefield with one loyalty counter.

If you choose X=2, Nissa costs {2}{G}{U} to cast[1], and she enters the battlefield with two loyalty counters. This is the highest X you can choose if you have four mana.


  1. Subject to cost increases and reductions, as usual.
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  • Oath of Gideon as a caveat to X=0 causing Nissa to die.
    – Andrew
    Jan 12, 2018 at 18:55
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If Nissa is cast for 4 mana, you are declaring X = 2, so she would enter the battlefield at 2 loyalty.

The minimum you can cast her and have her not immediately be put into the graveyard is 3 (X = 1).

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