I'm not sure if I understand what Provoke the Trolls spell does correctly.

If I cast this spell on Knight of Obligation and it resolves, does it basically mean that it becomes a 7/1 creature until end of turn (3 damage and +5/+0 until end of turn)?


Yes, that's a reasonable simplification.

To be more precise, it's a 7/4 with 3 damage on it. This may matter in the case of another card which wants to know the toughness of the creature like Abattoir Ghoul. If you attack with the Knight and your opponent blocks with the Ghoul, they'll gain 4 life, not 1.

Also, resolving Provoke the Trolls is not enough; it needs to actually deal damage. If the damage is prevented, e.g. with Avacyn, Guardian Angel's first ability, it doesn't get the +5/+0 bonus.

  • 8
    I'm not sure I agree that it's a reasonable simplification to call a 7/4 with 3 damage a 7/1. There are lots of different situations in which the distinction matters; and more importantly calling it a 7/1 can lead to lots of misunderstandings about how damage and toughness work.
    – GendoIkari
    Feb 10 at 15:03

Provoke the Trolls can target creatures and it works close to the way you say (That's what it will look like on MTGa, but damage doesn't actually reduce toughness). There are two reasons it was worded this way.

  1. It needs to do the damage to give the power to a creature - the spell is flavored as hurting a troll to make it mad, no damage, no rage. If something prevents the damage from being done, something like Test of Faith, it gets no boost. Note though it only needs to do one point of damage, if 2 points of the 3 are prevented, the creature still gets +5/+0.
  2. Non-creature targets - This spell can target players, which don't have a power to modify. It can also target planeswalkers which don't usually have a power statistic to change. If this were cast on a Gideon Jura before you turn him into a creature, and the ability didn't specify damage needed to be done to it as a creature, there would likely be confusion about if the +5/+0 applies when Gideon is turned into a creature or not.

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