So say I have an Aetherstream Leopard and I have 10 energy counters to spend, when I attack with it can I spend all 10 energy counters to give it a +20/+0? And same thing with an Aether Swooper, spend 10 energy counters when attacking to create 5 servos?

5 Answers 5


What you have there are examples of triggered abilities. They say "Whenever [this card] attacks, ..." and this means that the moment you declare them as attackers, the ability triggers once and only once, and it's put on the stack.

When the ability resolves you follow the text of the ability: you either pay the mentioned energy cost or you don't. You don't have the option of paying it several times in a single trigger because the ability doesn't say you do. And it doesn't trigger multiple times because "Whenever [this card] attacks, ..." is specifically a simplification of "When you declare [this creature] as an attacker, ...".

You would have been able to pay an arbitrary amount of energy if either of the following had been the case:

  1. If the ability were an activated ability. Activated abilities look like "Cost: Effect". So if the swooper had had "[2 energy symbols]: Create a 1/1 artifact servo token", you could've created an army at any time, provided you had enough energy.
  2. If the triggered ability had explicitly let you pay as much energy as you wanted. If the leopard had had "Whenever Aetherborn Leopard attacks, pay any amount of [energy symbol]. Aetherborn Leopard gets +2/+0 for each [energy symbol] spent this way" you could've pumped it to be as large as you wanted, provided you had enough energy.

In the examples you asked about, no, these are triggered abilities that trigger once the creature is declared as an attacker during your combat step. Either you pay the energy to get the effect, or you don't. That being said, if you use a card to untap the creature and gain an additional combat during the turn (Aggravated Assault for example), this will allow you to declare the creature as an attacker again under the new combat within the same turn and trigger the ability again. Assuming you pay the energy for the leopard's triggered ability each combat in a single turn, the leopard would grow in power each combat as the affect lasts till end of turn.

However, there are energy abilities that are activated abilities. Aethersquall Ancient, Aethertide Whale, Aetherwind Basker, Architect of the Untamed and Bristling Hydra are just a few that have "Pay {cost}:" where the cost is an activated ability that must be paid by energy and can be activated any number of times in a single turn so long as you can pay the cost. So the Aetherwind Basker could get +10/+10 until end of turn if you had 10 energy.


No. The instructions you must follow when the ability resolves only give you to option of paying {E} or nothing at all.

In the unlikely event that the ability triggers twice in the same turn (or if the triggered ability is somehow copied), you are given the option to make the payment again. If you do, it will get +2/+0, and that would stack with the bonus from earlier instances of the ability.


Think about it this way (above answers are correct anyway). When you attack with it, you fulfill its condition of "when it attacks". at which point the card asks you "would you like to pay [E]?" to which you answer "I would like to pay [EEEEEE]" the card would decline as the questions is "would you like to pay [E]?" asked once. It is a yes or no question, not an open question.

You pay [E], it resolves the ability of you paying [E] and you move on with your life.

A different example is Longtusk Cub where the wording is completely different. Look at both and you see why you can do so in one and not the other.


No, abilities written as "When/Whenever X you may Y" are triggered abilities, and they can only be used when that trigger is met, in this case, "Whenever Aetherstream Leopard attacks, you may pay {E}. If you do, it gets +2/+0 until end of turn." triggers when Aetherstream Leopard is declared as attacking, resolves and can't be used again until the leopard is declared as attacking again. If you get a second combat step on your turn, generally through abilities on some red cards (like Aggravated Assault) you can activate it again when the Leopard attacks again, and since the ability is until end of turn the second attack will still have the benefit from the first attack's boost.

If they wanted you to be able to pay more into it, they could have written the trigger like this:

Whenever Aetherstream Leopard attacks, you may pay any amount of {E}. If you do, it gets +2/+0 until end of turn for each {E} spent this way.

This is closest to the original ability, being still triggered, but lets you decide how much energy to spend all at once, when the trigger resolves, letting you pump all ten energy you have into the trigger.

They could have also changed it from a triggered ability into an activated ability, but kept restrictions on when it can be used, like this:

{E}: Aetherstream Leopard gets +2/+0 until end of turn. Use this ability only before blockers are declared and only while Aetherstream Leopard is attacking.

This makes it an activated ability with restricted timing, when it's attacking, and only before your opponent declares blockers (so no post block tricks), which is slightly later timing wise but as close as possible to the trigger, but allows you to repeat the process as long as you can afford the energy.

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