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So I've been trying to word an emblem for a custom planeswalker so it gives the first card played each turn Flash, but so multiple emblems stack, giving each subsequent spell flash. I've been trying to find a precedent in MTG and have only found the following (maybe):

Make copies of Erayo, Soratomi Ascendent and flip them, either with Mirror Gallery on the board or using Helm of the Host, so they become Erayo's Essence which reads "Counter the first spell played by each opponent each turn". If I have, say, 4 of these effects does it counter the first spell four times or the first four spells?

I'm trying to keep the text on the card concise and easy to understand, but if I weren't I would have it read: You get an emblem with "The first X spells you cast each turn are cast as if they had flash, where X equals the number of emblems you have with this effect. Only one emblem effect counts toward the total number of spells you may cast each turn with Flash gained from these emblem effects." This leaves little to interpretation, but has a ton more text than can fit under a planeswalker's ability.

Any help is appreciated.

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    Make sure you go by the oracle wording on Erayo, not the printed wording: Whenever an opponent casts their first spell each turn, counter that spell. – GendoIkari Mar 14 at 19:41
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    Actually, it's "Counter the first spell played by each opponent each turn". I'll edit my question so it's accurate. – Octotroph Mar 14 at 21:24
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    No, that is the printed text, which is obsolete. The actual Oracle text is what I quoted. gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/… – GendoIkari Mar 14 at 21:49
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This is tricky, and may not be doable with the exact effect want.

One issue is that if you look at the Oracle text of Erayo's Essence, it is a triggered ability:

Whenever an opponent casts their first spell each turn, counter that spell.

A triggered ability will not work for casting a spell as though it had flash though, because if it triggered on casting a spell, it would be too late to allow to cast it if you couldn’t normally.

This means that even if you didn’t care about the ability stacking, and just let it work once, as Erayo does, it would be tricky to word it correctly.

There is something close I can think of that has a few differences, but still does the same basic idea:

You gain an emblem with “At the beginning of each upkeep, exile a card from your hand face-down until the beginning of the next end step. You may cast it as though it had flash for as long as it remains exiled.”

The biggest downside here is that you have to choose the spell you might want to cast at the beginning of the turn. But it stacks the way you want; with 2 emblems you would exile 2 cards and could cast either or both with flash.

An upside is that cards in exile are “safer” than cards in your hand in term of avoiding discard effects, etc.

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    Another downside is that it doesn't work with spells you don't cast from your hand, e.g. with the Escape mechanic. – Fax Mar 16 at 13:30
  • @Fax That falls under "The biggest downside here is that you have to choose the spell you might want to cast at the beginning of the turn." – Hackworth Mar 16 at 16:07
  • @Hackworth Perhaps, but you can't easily amend it with "exile a card from your hand or graveyard".. – Fax Mar 16 at 16:30
  • Storm is already a mechanism that counts how many spells have been played before it this turn. What if it was just: "Spells have flash as long as the number of spells cast before it this turn is less than X where X is..." – Cruncher Mar 16 at 18:44
  • @Cruncher "where X is" is exactly the problem. Emblems have no characteristics by which you could count them, like a name. They only have abilities and an owner/controller. – Hackworth Mar 17 at 14:32
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For the exact effect you want, you can word the emblem as follows:

At the beginning of each upkeep, if this emblem has no Quickening counter on it, put a Quickening counter on it.

As long as this emblem has a Quickening counter on it, you may cast spells as though they had flash.

If you would cast a spell without a Quickening counter on it, instead move a Quickening counter from this emblem to that spell and the spell becomes cast.

This template keeps track of the number of spells cast with flash through your emblems with counters. You can cast spells as though they had flash as long as at least one emblem still has a counter on it. Since I worded the counter-moving effect as a replacement effect, it makes sure you get exactly N uses out of your N emblems, because they can't put a Quickening counter on a spell that has already been handled by another emblem. After all counters have been moved during this turn, you can no longer cast spells as though they had flash. The counters also cease to exist as the spell leaves the stack, so no maintenance is required in that regard.

Personally, however, I would drop the requirement that it has to affect the first N spells, whether they need it or not. It makes the emblem very awkward to word. I would recommend the following, much simpler and more elegant wording:

{0}: The next card you cast this turn can be cast as though it had flash. Activate this ability only once each turn.

That way, you can have multiple copies of that emblem and they work cumulatively and independently, with what I believe to be the minimum amount of text while using standard wording.

For balance reasons, you can add e.g. "and only during your/an opponent's turn" to the second sentence.

The template is a combination of Quicken and Avizoa.

With this wording, you are flexible which card you want to play with flash, and you don't have to awkwardly count the number of emblems, which are the least descriptive objects.

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  • Do you know of any historic usage of counters on spells, counters on emblems, or emblems with activated abilities? – Mephy Mar 15 at 3:23
  • @Mephy The "Factory of Momir Vig" emblem used in one of the Arena variant game modes has an activated ability, though this isn't a printed card. – Draconis Mar 15 at 3:31
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    Your first suggestion's last ability is actually worded as invalid hybrid triggered ability/replacement effect. I think you wanted to say "As you cast a spell, move a Quickening counter from this emblem to that spell if it doesn't already have a Quickening counter", but it would also work to say "Whenever you cast a spell, if it doesn't have a Quickening counter on it, move a Quickening counter from this emblem to that spell". Also, the first ability of the first suggestion should really be two separate abilities. – murgatroid99 Mar 15 at 4:25
  • @murgatroid99 Thanks for the suggestions. I do agree about the first two abilities being separate. I think your first suggestion would not actually work, at least with current rules. "As you cast this spell" is about paying additional costs (607.2j), and the "as [something]" replacement effects only involve permanents entering the battlefield or being turned face up (614.1c, e). 1/2 – Hackworth Mar 15 at 9:27
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    @Mephy Lightning Storm is an example of counters on a spell (the only one AFAIK). – Swimmer F Mar 16 at 4:22
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I don't know of an example to use for precedent, but I think this would work:

You get an emblem with "You can cast spells as though they have flash as long as you have cast fewer spells this turn than the number of copies of this emblem you have."

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I think you could make this work by having an emblem that gets a depletion counter at the beginning of each turn if they do not already have one. Then you would word the emblem something like Decree of Silence, except make it explicitly say target so that the trigger can fizzle when one of the emblems counters a spell, the wording for this would be something like The Abyss. So then they must counter the spell when the triggers and as part of the trigger they remove the depletion counter. This way the first one will be successful removing it's depletion counter and countering the spell and all subsequent ones will fizzle because their target is no longer on the stack so their counter will not be removed. I think the wording would look like this.

At the beginning of each turn put a depletion counter on Emblem.

Whenever an opponent casts a spell, if Emblem has a depletion counter, counter that target spell and remove a depletion counter on Emblem.

Disclaimer: This might work without explicitly making it target but I am not entirely sure.

I think you could apply this same wording for your flash emblem and just have each unique instance check if the spell has flash before removing it's counter. So the first trigger would remove it's counter and all of the other triggers would see a spell with flash then they keep their charge counters until another spell is cast. If you want to let the player choose to make a spell have flash you can just add a may clause to removing the charge and it only gains flash if they remove the charge counter.

EDIT: it just occurred to me their might be a better means to do the flash effect if it is a may. The emblem could grant your spells activated abilities while they are in your hand. Cycling is an example of how this would function. You could grant all cards on you hand a activated ability that requires you to remove a unique counter type the emblem has. The activated ability would be instant speed and would indicate you can cast the spell but need to pay it's Mana cost or it could just grant the spell flash.

EDIT2: This might be the most clean solution. You would have the emblem grant all spells in your hand an additional cost of one of the counters and the flash ability, the emblem would only have this ability when it has a counter on it and would replenish it's counter at the beginning of each turn. This would mean that we are not causing odd triggers and would mean we don't have to do weird things like reveal information ahead of time with my activated ability proposal.

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  • "depletion counter" probably isn't the right flavor term: "depletion counters" are typically used to represent running out of a resource, not gaining it (kinda like the inverse of charge counters) – Alex P Mar 16 at 1:46
  • @AlexP Yeah I agree, I was just using Decree of Silence for my templating and wanted to keep it the same. In this case the tokens should be charges to indicate we are not running out of a resource. I find it interesting though because at first I was going to describe it as building to a threshold but many things build to a certain amount of counters to trigger their effect like darksteel reactor. Then I was wondering why don't we start with 3 counters and once it has zero sacrifice it. I assume this was because it is hard to remove counters instead of adding them. – Max Young Mar 16 at 15:25
  • Does this even answer the question? OP is asking for an emblem that lets you play the first N spells as though they had flash with N copies of the emblem. The thing about countering with Erayo's Essence was only an example for wording. – Hackworth Mar 16 at 15:52
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It's a little awkward, but it almost1 does what you want:

You get an emblem with "If you would cast a spell without flash, instead cast that spell, it gains flash, and this emblem loses all abilities until end of turn."

To cast a spell you have to follow a series of steps as described in rule 601.2. Our ability creates a replacement effect (by 614.1a) so that the spell is legal to play by the time conditions are checked in step 601.2e.

However, whether or not you are permitted to even start casting a spell this way is somewhat dubious. Rule 601.3d states:

If a spell would have flash only if certain conditions are met, its controller may begin to cast that spell as though it had flash if those conditions are met.

It's not entirely clear whether our replacement effect constitutes such a condition.


1) Spells that already have flash don't reduce the number of non-flash spells you can play.

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  • The problem with this is that the first spell you cast depletes all emblems, because after the first emblem has done its replacing, the resulting event is no different from the original (a spell is cast), so the other emblems still apply, so you get a chain of replacement effects. – Hackworth Mar 16 at 15:49
  • @Hackworth Well spotted, thanks. I'll change my answer to address this. – Fax Mar 16 at 15:56
  • I had considered "if you would cast a spell" wording, but I wasn't sure if it worked for the same reason you are questioning; can the event of casting a spell actually be a legal event that could be happening in order to get replaced? – GendoIkari Mar 16 at 17:35
  • Any game event can be replaced. Casting a spell is certainly an event, there already exist many abilities that trigger off spell casting. I suppose a spell casting prevention effect, or a replacement effect that replaces the spellcasting event with something that does not involve that spell being cast wouldn't make much sense, but as long as the replacement effect only adds something to the event, it's fair game. – Hackworth Mar 16 at 18:06
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    @Hackworth It's a chicken-and-egg problem. You're allowed to cast a spell with flash on your opponent's turn, but for the emblem to give the spell flash, you have to cast it. The rules in 601.3 specify some exceptions, but as I mentioned in my edited answer, I'm not convinced they apply. – Fax Mar 16 at 18:37

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