A question regarding Standstill; I have Phyrexian Tyranny on the table and we both have 2 life left. I play Standstill and immediately play an instant so that my fellow opponent would have to draw 3 cards, lose life and die. But, as I play Standstill my opponent also immediately plays an instant. Who draws the cards and loses?

  • do you play the instant in response to the stnadstill? standstill has an ability that only does something when the enchantment is on the battlefield.
    – Neil Meyer
    May 6, 2020 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


You would have to draw the 3 cards from Standstill and lose the game.

Standstill has a triggered ability. It triggers whenever its trigger condition is met, i.e. whenever a player plays a spell. It can keep triggering as long as it's on the battlefield.

603.2. Whenever a game event or game state matches a triggered ability’s trigger event, that ability automatically triggers. The ability doesn’t do anything at this point.

After you played Standstill, you automatically received priority, i.e. the right to cast spells and activate abilities. You used that priority to cast your own instant, on which Standstill triggered.

603.3. Once an ability has triggered, its controller puts it on the stack as an object that’s not a card the next time a player would receive priority.

Putting something on the stack is not the same as that thing resolving. It's only in queue to resolve at a later point.

Since you are the active player, you receive priority after you cast your instant. So you first put your instant on the stack, followed by Standstill's ability.

The stack, from top to bottom, is:

  • Standstill triggered by your instant
  • Your instant

You receive priority again, but pass to your opponent. Your opponent casts his own instant. Standstill can trigger again because it's still on the battlefield. The opponent puts his instant on the stack, then another Standstill trigger:

  • Standstill triggered by opponent's instant
  • Opponent's instant
  • Standstill triggered by your instant
  • Your instant

Then you both pass priority in sequence because neither of you take any more actions. The stack starts resolving:

608.1. Each time all players pass in succession, the spell or ability on top of the stack resolves. (See rule 609, “Effects.”)

The topmost item is the Standstill trigger triggered by your opponent's instant. It resolves, Standstill is sacrificed. You have to draw 3 cards, Phyrexian Tyranny triggers 3 times (the triggers become the topmost items on the stack), and you lose the game.

  • In other words, barring other interactions, the last player to play an instant is the one who wins. If you would've played an instant in response to your opponent's instant, then a third trigger would be on the stack and, assuming that your opponent did nothing else, they would lose.
    – John Doe
    May 5, 2020 at 20:44

The rulings below the card say this:

It only works once. If someone casts another spell after it triggers, but before that trigger resolves, then it will trigger again. The first time one of these triggers resolves, it will be sacrificed for the full effect. Any additional triggers on the stack will do nothing when they resolve because you will be unable to sacrifice it additional times.

That means the instant your opponent casts (if they do it before the Standstill trigger resolves) puts the last Standstill trigger on the stack, so that resolves first, and you have to draw three cards and lose the game (unless you pay the mana to prevent the Tyranny effect).

  • 1
    I agree that this is correct, however the question doesn't seem really clear to me if the OP played his instant by retaining priority and the opponent followed in priority order or if they didn't know about priority rules and are playing a game of who can say they're playing their spell first. It might be a good idea to note that with the priority system here, the person who blinks first is going to be on the receiving end of Phyrexian Tyranny.
    – Becuzz
    May 5, 2020 at 10:42
  • 1
    @Becuzz, unless they have another instant to add on the stack. (Or rather, one more in total than their opponent, since you could go deeper indefinitely. Except that at some point just paying the mana to Tyranny would be cheaper.)
    – ilkkachu
    May 5, 2020 at 19:29

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