If we compare Incubation Druid with Ill-Tempered Cyclops, we see respectively:

Adapt 3. (If this creature has no +1/+1 counters on it, put three +1/+1 counters on it.)

Monstrosity 3. (If this creature isn't monstrous, put three +1/+1 counters on it and it becomes monstrous.)

Now I'm curious about the mechanical differences between the two abilities.

I can think of one difference: Monstrosity has more flexible prerequisites than Adapt: A non-monstrous creature could have other counters on it already (from a different source) and still become monstrous, while a non-adapted creature couldn't become adapted if it already has a counter on it.

Are there more mechanical differences between Adapt and Monstrosity?


Other than the one you mentioned, Monstrosity is actually less flexible in many circumstances; There are many cards that add -1/-1 counters which would cancel out with +1/+1 counters, removing both, such as Archfiend of Ifnir or Baleful Ammit, or otherwise use +1/+1 counters as a cost for abilities such as Bolrac-Clan Crusher. If a creature with Adapt loses all its +1/+1 counters it can Adapt again, whereas a creature with Monstrosity can not become non-monstrous again, so can only benefit from this ability once:

Once a creature becomes monstrous, it can’t become monstrous again. If the creature is already monstrous when the monstrosity ability resolves, nothing happens.

Monstrous isn’t an ability that a creature has. It’s just something true about that creature. If the creature stops being a creature or loses its abilities, it will continue to be monstrous.


In practice, there is little difference between Adapt on Monstrosity, but there are minor differences.

As you already pointed out, Monstrosity and counters are independent. You can make a creature monstrous even if it already has +1/+1 counters on it, whereas you can't adapt a creature that already has +1/+1 counters on it.

On the flip side, many monstrous creatures (such as Stormbreath Dragon) have a triggered ability that triggers when it becomes monstrous. Since an object can only become monstrous once, you can get that trigger at most once per object. Some adapt creatures (such as Growth-Chamber Guardian) have a triggered ability that triggers whenever +1/+1 counters are placed on it. This can happen any number of times: most commonly once through the adapt ability, but also through any other means of putting a +1/+1 counter on that creature.

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    I'd argue that the difference is actually pretty significant. I've abused proliferate and Sharktocrab to tap an opponent's entire board before, which you couldn't possibly do using Monstrosity. And being able to turn on an Incubation Druid without having to spend 5 mana is incredible. – Arcanist Lupus Jun 14 '19 at 22:54
  • @ArcanistLupus On the other hand, I remember playing a monogreen devotion deck that let me make 20 20/20 Hydra tokens by making Hydra Broodmaster go Monstrous, and it doesn't look like any of the Adapt creatures do anything close to that. – nick012000 Jun 15 '19 at 14:18

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