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I have a "self-sacrificing" creature, such as Diligent Farmhand or Dawntreader Elk, and Skullclamp on the field. Can I pay to sacrifice the creature and then in response equip Skullclamp, Or vice versa? I know in some cases the card may be gone but the trigger is still on the stack.

  • Thanks for the answers guys, comfirms what I suspected. – bryan Mar 29 at 1:25
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    You picked two very, very good example cards as those two tend to illustrate when you can "get away" with this and when you cant. – corsiKa Mar 29 at 23:13
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It is possible to get the benefit of the creature's ability and the two-card draw from Skullclamp, but you have to do things in the right order and have a creature that can withstand a +1/-1.

There are a couple of rules concepts that are relevant here:

  • For the cards mentioned, sacrificing the creature is part of the cost. You can tell because it appears before the colon (:)602.1a. Paying a cost does not use the stack, so you can't "respond" to it. As soon as you sacrifice the creature to pay the cost, it goes to the graveyard701.16a.
  • Creatures that have 0 toughness are put into the graveyard as a state-based action704.5f. This condition is checked any time spell or ability resolves.

With this in mind, there are a couple of possible scenarios:

  • If you activate the creature's ability first, the creature is put in the graveyard as part of the cost. This means you can't attempt to equip Skullclamp* while the creature's ability is on the stack - the creature is already gone.
  • If you Equip Skullclamp first, you have two options for timing your use of the creature's ability:
    • If you activate the creature's ability while Skullclamp's Equip is still on the stack, the creature is sacrificed before Skullclamp is equipped, so you won't get the two-card bonus. (The Equip ability no longer has a valid target, so it fizzles.)
    • If you wait until after the Equip finishes, the result depends on how strong your creature is:
      • If the creature only has 1 toughness (like Diligent Farmhand), Skullclamp decreases its toughness to 0 and it will be put in the graveyard as a state-based action. There is no opportunity to activate the creature's ability.
      • If the creature has more than 1 toughness, it will survive being Equipped with Skullclamp. Its ability can then be activated, and you will get the two-card bonus when it is sacrificed.

So it is possible to pull off this combo with Dawntreader Elk, but not possible with Diligent Farmhand.**

*It's not generally possible to use the Equip ability like this anyway. The Equip ability can only be used when you could cast a Sorcery. There are ways around that, but they won't change this outcome.

**Unless you have some other way to boost its toughness or otherwise prevent Skullclamp from killing it. There are always loopholes in Magic.

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    A note on your footnote: indestructible has no impact on whether Skullclamp's toughness change results in a creature dying. – murgatroid99 Mar 29 at 0:17
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    It never fails. If I forget to mention a corner case, somebody will call me out on it. If I try to handle corner cases, I get something wrong. :) Thanks for keeping me honest. – BJ Myers Mar 29 at 1:39
  • There is a footnote with "2" in the part about Diligent Farmhand dying, but it does not seem to refer to anything? There is also a "1" in the part about costs, which also doesn't seem to go anywhere. – Erik Mar 29 at 10:13
  • @Erik It confused me too at first, but it seems to refer to the numbered list above. – Angew Mar 29 at 13:56
  • @Erik - Angew is correct, I was intending to refer to the numbered list of rules. On a second read through, it didn't make much sense and wasn't helpful. I've removed them. – BJ Myers Mar 29 at 15:42
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You can get both the land from the creature's ability and the card draw from Skullclamp with Dawntreader Elk, but not with Diligent Farmhand. The difference depends on the toughness of the creatures.

Dawntreader Elk normally has 2 toughness, so after you equip Skullclamp it still has 1, so it will still be alive. Then after you sacrifice it for the ability, you will draw the cards from the Skullclamp's ability.

Diligent Farmhand normally has only 1 toughness, so if you equip Skullclamp it will immediately die. You can't respond to the death by activating its ability, and if you respond to the equip ability, then the Skullclamp won't be attached when the creature dies. Similarly, even if you could activate the equip ability at instant speed, you wouldn't be able to activate it in response to the creature's ability because the sacrifice is part of the cost and the creature would be dead as soon as the ability is on the stack.

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It depends.

You cannot equip the Skullclamp in response to anything, because equipping can only be done whenever you could normally cast a sorcery. Also, the creature you sacrifice is sacrificed and therefore dies as part of the cost, not the resolution of the ability. So even if you found some instant speed way to equip the Skullclamp (there are ways to do it, like Auriok Windwalker), once the creature's ability is on the stack, the creature is gone.

However, you can equip the Skullclamp before sacrificing the creature. Some times.

If you equip, and in response sacrifice the creature, then the creature will die before Skullclamp was attached, so you won't get to draw cards.

If you let the equip resolve, then the +1/-1 effect applies to your creature. If, at the end of equip resolution, your creature has 0 or less toughness, it will die before you have a chance to activate any abilities. You will draw cards, but don't have time to sacrifice the creature.

If, on the other hand, the creature survives the Skullclamp, then you're good to go.

Short version: Yes to the Elk, no to the Farmhand, assuming no other effects affect their toughness.

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