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I was thinking about triggered abilities that form a mandatory loop. For example, an opponent loses a life which triggers the enchantment 'Exquisite Blood' causing you to gain a life which triggers Vizkopa Guildmage's 2nd ability which causes the opponent to lose a life whenever you gain life which would trigger Exquisite Blood, etc.

It appears that once this starts, you cannot cast until the loop ends. Is this right?

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    Can you please provide specific examples to clarify your question? – GendoIkari Mar 30 '18 at 18:44
  • @Gendolkari It looks like he's asking about a loop caused by mandatory actions, (e.g. Life and Limb and Sporemound) – Veskah Mar 30 '18 at 20:33
  • This is generic but here it goes. Opponent loses a life which triggers an enchantment 'exquisit blood' causing you to gain a life which triggers a creature ability which causes the opponent to lose a life and your loop is formed. – Bill Mar 30 '18 at 20:38
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    For future reference of anyone else reading the question, a card that combos in that way with Exquisite Blood is Sanguine Bond. @Bill, now that we understand that you are talking about loops of triggered abilities, what exactly is your question here? – murgatroid99 Mar 30 '18 at 23:34
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    I'll just throw the answer here: Yes, they do. Opponent loses life > EB triggers > Priority wave > EB resolves > Sanguine Bond triggers > Priority Wave > Resolves > EB triggers > etc. Unless someone can disrupt the loop, it'll keep going. In this case, usually your opponent will die. However if they can't die for some reason, the game will end in a draw as the loop continues forever. – Veskah Mar 31 '18 at 3:07
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Both Sanguine Bond's and Vizkopa Guildmage's abilities are triggered abilities (you can tell because they begin with the word "whenever"). They go on the stack and can be responded to. You could, for example, end the loop by casting Naturalize to destroy Sanguine Bond.

603.1. Triggered abilities have a trigger condition and an effect. They are written as “[When/Whenever/At] [trigger condition or event], [effect]. [Instructions (if any).]”

What may have confused you are the rules regarding loops that contain only mandatory actions:

719.4. If a loop contains only mandatory actions, the game is a draw. (See rules 104.4b and 104.4f.)

719.5. No player can be forced to perform an action that would end a loop other than actions called for by objects involved in the loop.

Unfortunately, 719.4 is poorly worded. The game does not draw the moment that you enter a loop containing only mandatory actions. You and your opponent both have an opportunity to interrupt the loop at the point of your choice. Only when you both choose to do nothing does the game draw.

As pointed out by a few others, Sanguine Bond and Vizkopa Guildmage alone do not qualify as "a loop containing only mandatory actions". Eventually one player will lose the game. This covered by the rules on taking shortcuts:

719.2a At any point in the game, the player with priority may suggest a shortcut by describing a sequence of game choices [...]. It can’t include conditional actions, where the outcome of a game event determines the next action a player takes. [...]

However, if you add Phyrexian Unlife to the mix, and neither you nor your opponent do anything to interrupt the loop, then the game will draw.

  • It would probably be worth it to note that, in this specific case of a loop of triggered abilities, a couple rules apply: CR704.3 (specifically the first part, that says Whenever a player would get priority[...] the game checks for any of the listed conditions for state-based actions, then performs all applicable state-based actions simultaneously as a single event.) and CR704.5a: If a player has 0 or less life, he or she loses the game. Since there's a priority exchange between the triggers, all SBA's apply normally. – J. Sallé Apr 2 '18 at 14:28
  • @J.Sallé Can you expand on that? How are state-based actions relevant to the question? – Rainbolt Apr 2 '18 at 14:33
  • After more thought, I think I understand what you mean. In the specific example given by the OP, one player will lose before the game can draw. I'll update the answer to cover it. – Rainbolt Apr 2 '18 at 14:35
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    Because of how this kind of loop works, as was explained by Veskah's comment. That means that, unless someone can disrupt the loop, the game will end as soon as someone (most likely the opponent) reaches 0 life. – J. Sallé Apr 2 '18 at 14:36
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    @J.Sallé I decided not to get into the rules on state-based actions, but hopefully captured the spirit of your comment. – Rainbolt Apr 2 '18 at 14:52

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