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Haktos the Unscarred has an unusual pair of abilties:

As Haktos enters the battlefield, choose 2, 3, or 4 at random.

Haktos has protection from each converted mana cost other than the chosen number.

It is possible for a creature to have the protection ability without ever choosing a number. For example, Lazav, the Multifarious could become a copy of a Haktos in the graveyard, or Mirage Mirror could become a copy of a Haktos on the battlefield. In a situation like that, what will the ability do?

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  • Just want to mention that I don't think Rayami would ever work for something like this even barring tripping rule 706.7a. Rayami only gains abilities that creatures have in exile with blood counters, but Haktos doesn't have a protection ability in exile. Rather, he has an ability that grants him the protection abilities while on the battlefield. Similarly, Rayami should not be able to copy the protection ability of Empty-Shrine Kannushi.
    – CALEB F
    Jan 8 '20 at 16:45
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    You're right, that wouldn't work. I replaced that bit with another copy effect.
    – murgatroid99
    Jan 8 '20 at 17:12
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If no number was chosen, the ability does nothing.

This is a result of rule 706.7a:

If an ability causes a player to “choose a [value]” and a second, linked ability refers to that choice, the second ability is the only ability that can refer to that choice. An object doesn’t “remember” that choice and use it for other abilities it may copy later. If an object copies an ability that refers to a choice, but either (a) doesn’t copy that ability’s linked ability or (b) does copy the linked ability but no choice is made for it, then the choice is considered to be “undefined.” If an ability refers to an undefined choice, that part of the ability won’t do anything.

This is also stated in one of the card's Gatherer rulings:

If Haktos somehow has no choice made for its ability, its last ability grants it no protection abilities.

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  • 1
    Same is true for Stuffy Doll (no player chosen), Seal of the Guildpact (no colours chosen), and any other "choose X" cards. Worth saying that if you chose for one instance of the card, but not a second (e.g. Mirror Entity copying a Stuffy Doll), the second instance will not benefit from the original choice.
    – Soulus101
    Jan 8 '20 at 10:14
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    It would be nice if "that part of" was more fully defined in "If an ability refers to an undefined choice, that part of the ability won’t do anything" - as it stands, I could see them also ruling the other way, i.e. the bold part of the ability won't do anything: "Haktos has protection from each converted mana cost other than the chosen number." Jan 8 '20 at 19:12
  • The only reason I can see for granting itself the ability ("Haktos has..." vs just "Protection from...") is that it isn't granting itself the ability "Protection from each CMC other than the chosen number", but rather "Protection from each CMC other than (2|3|4)". If the number is not chosen, the protection ability it would grant itself is undefined, so it doesn't get the ability at all.
    – murgatroid99
    Jan 8 '20 at 20:52
  • With Stuffy Doll, it's more clear that it does nothing: it does damage to the chosen player, the chosen player doesn't exist, therefore there is no player to deal damage to. But in this case, one could interpret Haktos is having protection to all CMC that are not equal to the chosen CMC, no CMC is chosen, therefore no CMC is equal to it. Jan 8 '20 at 23:33
  • I think the gatherer ruling clarifies that it's not that it has "protection from each CMC other than undefined" and that doesn't function, but rather it doesn't grant itself any protection ability at all because the ability it would grant itself is not defined.
    – murgatroid99
    Jan 28 '20 at 17:55

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