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If I have Twilight Drover and a bunch of tokens, along with infinite/sufficient mana, can I work around Cyclonic Rift?

  1. The overloaded Cyclonic Rift resolves.
  2. I stack the leaves the battlefield triggers of Twilight Drover such that of n of my tokens, n-1 resolve putting a bunch of counters on Twilight Drover.
  3. In response to the last token's trigger, I then activate the activated ability of Twilight Drover, to make 2(n-1) spirit tokens.

By step 3, the Cyclonic Rift has resolved, so I don't lose the new tokens?

Is this the correct sequencing?

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No, this does not work

The key problem with your plan is that Cyclonic Rift will bounce the Twilight Drover as well as the tokens, at the same time before you're allowed to respond. Meaning that even though the counter generating triggers go onto the stack and resolve they won't actually do anything (the Drover is gone), and for the same reason you won't be able to activate the drover's ability.

As a general rule, it's impossible to activate the ability of a creature on the battlefield to produce a token that will survive the same wrath that kills the creature with the token producing ability. Either you activate it before the wrath resolves (possibly in response) and the new token dies too, or the wrath resolves first and you then can't activate the ability because the creature with the ability is gone.

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  • Are you sure? I thought I could sequence each trigger individually? – Pureferret Sep 19 at 20:04
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    @Pureferret The triggers sure, but the Cyclonic Rift resolves as a single event, and removes all creatures from play at once. Critically, this includes the Drover. – Arcanist Lupus Sep 19 at 20:08
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    I think the most important point in this answer is that you can't activate Twilight Drover's ability after the Rift resolves, because the Drover is no longer on the battlefield, so you can't create tokens after the Rift resolves. – murgatroid99 Sep 19 at 20:17
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    @Pureferret No. The creatures leave the battlefield as part of the resolution of the spell. Players do not get priority until after the resolution is complete. – Arcanist Lupus Sep 19 at 21:23
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    @Pureferret Each trigger (token leaving the battlefield) cannot be responded to as that happens during the resolution of the Rift. But once the resolution is complete, all the triggered abilities (from tokens leaving the battlefield) will be put onto the stack. These can be responded to. In this case the abilities won't do anything, though, as when the time comes for them to resolve, the Drover is long gone, so there is nowhere to put a +1/+1 counter. – Arthur Sep 20 at 8:13
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No, this is not possible. As Lupus said the rift will bounce the drover and any tokens it would create. This is all done simultaneously - there is never a point where some of the creatures are bounced but others still exist on the field. Drover will still trigger, but nothing will happen until after rift has finished resolving and Drover is no longer on the field. The relevant rules on triggered abilities are here from the Comprehensive Rules:

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.

The game notes that the conditions have been met, but nothing actually happens, the triggers don't go on stack yet, and the spell continues to resolve.

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. See rule 117, “Timing and Priority.” The ability becomes the topmost object on the stack. It has the text of the ability that created it, and no other characteristics. It remains on the stack until it’s countered, it resolves, a rule causes it to be removed from the stack, or an effect moves it elsewhere.

So what happens is the triggers are met while rift is resolving, then rift finishes resolving and the triggers are put on stack, this is the time you can respond to the triggers going on stack, they start to try to resolve, and that too can be responded to, but since Drover is now back in the hand, the abilities do nothing. At no time does any of the triggers caused by and overloaded cyclonic rift or similar spell (any mass wipe or bounce) actually put any counters on the Drover.

You could use drover's ability to remove counters that are already on it in response to Cyclonic Rift, but unless you have something that counts creatures entering or leaving the battlefield, that won't change anything other than costing you mana - the tokens will be bounced at the same time as drover and since they are token they will cease to exist.

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Suppose you have Twilight Drover and a Spirit token on the battlefield. If your opponent plays Cyclonic Rift with its overload cost, then it's as if Cyclonic Rift said "Return each nonland permanent you don't control to its owner's hand". There is one object on the stack that says "Return each nonland permanent you don't control to its owner's hand". There isn't a "Return Spirit token to its owner's hand" and a separate "Return Twilight Drover to its owner's hand" object. The "Return each nonland permanent you don't control to its owner's hand" object resolves as a unit. All nonland permanents are returned as one event. You don't get priority between one being returned and another. Also, any triggers that result from a spell resolving don't get put on the stack until the spell is finished resolving. So once your Twilight Drover's triggers get put on the stack, Twilight Drover isn't on the battlefield anymore. When the triggers resolve, there will be no Twilight Drover for the counters to go on. Even putting Twilight Drover back on the battlefield with flash while the triggers are on the stack doesn't help, since it will be considered a completely new object, and the triggers won't apply to this Twilight Drover.

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