# Are there any Magic cards capable of generating loops alone?

My first reaction to this question was "of course not, there is no card which is able to generate such loops by itself". Such a card would be just too easy to abuse; generally speaking, one needs two cards to work together to generate a loop of actions (which can be executed an arbitrary number of times (see rule 720 for more details). Many of these combos require a third card to actually profit from the loop.

But is this actually true? Or are/were* there any Magic cards capable of generating such loops alone? I don't expect the loops to win the game by themselves, of course.

*: cards may have later received errata to prevent loops; I'd be interested in those cases as well.

• When you say infinite loop, do you mean any sequence of actions that can be taken an arbitrary, but necessarily finite number of times as per 720.2, or a loop that contains only mandatory actions and results in a draw as per 720.4? Commented May 27, 2019 at 19:55
• @Hackworth you're right, I'm looking for what the rules call 'loops' instead of truly infinite ones. Commented May 27, 2019 at 20:10
• Technically that doesn't help clarify. The game rules call any repeatable sequence of actions a loop. 720.2a [..] This sequence may be a non-repetitive series of choices, a loop that repeats a specified number of times, multiple loops, or nested loops, and may even cross multiple turns. and 720.4. If a loop contains only mandatory actions, the game is a draw. Commented May 27, 2019 at 20:19
• In general when people talk about loops in Magic they mean a sequence of actions that is repeatable arbitrarily many times (or until the game ends). But there are so few loops that can be repeated but only a few times that in practice it shouldn't make much of a difference for this question. Commented May 27, 2019 at 21:54
• There are plenty of 0 cost activated abilities. Not sure if you are counting these. You could activate the ability in response to itself indefinitely; though without some external reason for doing so there would be no benefit. Commented May 27, 2019 at 21:59

Basalt Monolith can tap and untap itself infinitely without any other cards. You do need another card to get any payoff from doing that.

A number of cards have abilities that cost {0} and without specifically prohibiting you from activating them repeatedly. Like with Basalt Monolith, they generally don't have any inherent benefit from activating them repeatedly. The main payoff for that is Crackdown Construct.

Skyshroud Elf can tap for mana, and has an ability to pay {1} to get {R} or {W}. This can be activated indefinitely, but it's even harder to find a payoff for a loop like that.

Lich's Mirror can do this, sort of. You need other cards to set up the game state necessary, but once you have it Lich's Mirror starts and sustains the loop by itself. Specifically, if a player controls but does not own Lich's Mirror, and then gets 10 poison counters somehow, Lich's Mirror will replace the state-based action with its own effect but it will not go anywhere because it is not a permanent that the ability's controller owns. Then the player still has 10 poison counters so the same state-based action will apply again, and Lich's Mirror's effect will replace it again, forever. This is a mandatory infinite loop and results in a draw.

• Basalt Monolith is especially notable because it's infinite untap was used in the (in)famous "Four Horsemen" deck alongside Mesmeric Orb to mill your entire library. Commented May 28, 2019 at 17:12
• And if you have two copies of a creature with "tap: untap target creature", then you can have them untap each other indefinitely. Commented May 28, 2019 at 19:02
• Your Frenetic Efreet link doesn't work, and I have no idea why. Commented May 29, 2019 at 8:12
• That's a bug we've had for a while where autocard links don't work if the card shares its name with a Vanguard avatar Commented May 29, 2019 at 16:12
• @Caleth a player losing from having 0 or less life is a state based action. State based actions are only checked when a player would receive priority and are not during the resolution of a spell or ability. Normally, a player chooses to stop the procedure detailed in game of chaos when their opponent has 0 or less life, as doing so wins the game (because the spell finishes resolving and state based actions are checked), but they are not required to stop.
– Zags
Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 11:18

One such example not mentioned on the other answers is Hostage Taker, which had to be errata'd.

Hostage would allow to target itself which would exile itself until it left the battlefield, which would happen immediately so it would return, ETB and target itself again, and repeat. It was errata'd either shortly after release or still during spoiler season if I remember correctly...The rules text changes it from "target(...)" to "target another(...)"

• Interestingly enough, it also isn't an optional ability, which means that under the original wording, if you played it when there were no other creatures on the battlefield, it would cause a draw. Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 13:32
• Hostage Taker received day-zero errata. Eli Shiffrin tweeted about it on 28 Sept 2017, and Ixalan released on the 29th with the errata represented in its Oracle text already plus a ruling with the errata. Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 17:05
• If by generating loops you are talking about infinite loops, then no, cards that have been accidentally created with a functionality that can be exploded to create an infinite loop by themselves alone have been given an errata to correct this issue. Time vault comes to my mind. It has had many oracle texts. One of them was that you could untap it any number of times to give additional turns to your opponent after your current turn. So you could untap it infinite times. Check this link about the Time Vault history, it's quite interesting: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/articles/evolution-of-magic-the-roller-coaster-called-time-vault

• If by generating loops you are talking about being able to finish the game with it, then yes, there's Mana Clash. If you are really lucky, you can kill your opponent on turn 1 with it (the only card alone that can achieve this). Little piece of trivia: Mana Clash was the original name that Richard Garfield PhD (the creator of MTG) wanted to use, but they changed it to Magic: The Gathering as him and his friends who helped him test the game liked it better ('The Gathering' was added to avoid copyright issues). Another user describes this here: https://boardgames.stackexchange.com/a/14036