So in a Commander match a buddy threw down Helm of the Host and Ghired, Conclave Exile. He attached the equipment to his Commander and swung out. Given the cards' rules texts, what goes onto/off of the stack and does this interaction would result in an infinite combo?

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    Please start by explaining what you think happens in this situation - it's much easier to help you if we're not starting with a completely empty canvas, or we'll just need to quote the entire comprehensive rules. Mar 20, 2021 at 15:59
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    @PhilipKendall it seems clear to me that the question is whether "enters the battlefield tapped and attacking" triggers "when this creature attacks" triggers. Mar 20, 2021 at 16:12
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    @ArcanistLupus That's the only subtlety I can see here, but it would still be easier to answer if we didn't have to guess; Actually, there's actually also whether copies of Helm of the Host created tokens are legendary or not - while that's covered in the rulings on Helm, we get plenty of questions here where people haven't read the Gatherer rulings on a card. Mar 20, 2021 at 16:15
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    @ArcanistLupus I agree that's pretty clear the only way there could be a possible infinite combo, but the asker should be explicit about that, not require the readers to infer the actual question from reading the cards.
    – Andrew
    Mar 20, 2021 at 16:31
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    And after all that, it was on the rulings on Ghired ;-) (good spot @Andrew) Mar 20, 2021 at 16:59

3 Answers 3


This is not an infinite combo

Here are the relevant steps, in order:

  1. You enter combat, and Helm of the Host creates a token copy of Ghired. The token is not legendary, and has haste.
  2. The token entering the battlefield creates a 4/4 Rhino. (The Rhino does not have haste.)
  3. You declare attackers, attacking with both Ghireds
  4. Both Ghired populate triggers go on the stack
  5. The first trigger resolves, creating a copy of the Ghired1 token. The token is not legendary, but does not have haste2, and enters the battlefield tapped and attacking. The token enters the battlefield in the state of "having already attacked", and therefore the game does not 'see' the moment that it did attack (which would have been during the declare attackers step, which has already passed), and it does not trigger the populate effect.
  6. The game does, however, see it enter the battlefield, so you do get another Rhino token.
  7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 with the second populate trigger.
  8. You now have 4 Ghireds. One is the original card, one is the Helm token, and two are the populate tokens. All four are attacking. You also have 3 new rhino tokens (plus probably one from when the first Ghired entered the battlefield). These tokens are not attacking.
  9. Opponent declares blockers.

1 You could in theory populate the Rhino, but why would you want to?
2 This is due to how copy effects work. Copy effects only copy the "copiable values" of the permanent, which is generally the original text of the card as modified by copy effects themselves. All other affects (e.g. "target creature gains flying", "target creature gets +1/+1") are ignored. On Helm of the Host, the removal of the Legendary supertype is part of the copy effect, while Haste is granted afterwards. Therefore the lack of Legendary is copiable, but the Haste is not. This isn't particularly relevant, because haste only affects whether the token can be declared as an attacker, and entering the battlefield tapped and attacking skips this step (which is the same reason you don't get more tokens).

Incidentally, Magic tries to avoid permanently granting abilities through static effects, as this creates memory issues. But they sometimes make exceptions for haste on wordy cards, with the theory being that haste is only relevant for one turn anyways. But it's worth paying attention to if you're facing down a Gingerbrute or dealing with Control Magic.

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    Perfect, thank you. I tried to explain all this to him during the match, but I'm not great at explaining sometimes. I wanted a better explanation from the internet for him to read that hopefully makes more sense than my gibberish. Thank you!
    – Odin1806
    Mar 20, 2021 at 17:25

No. Ghired does not go infinite with Helm of the Host. Whenever ~ attacks abilities trigger when those creatures are declared as attackers - You will be able to attack with the original Ghired and the token created by Helm of the Host, both of which will trigger populate, but the tokens that those populate abilities create will not have their abilities trigger.

Each turn you can more than double the number of Ghired creatures you have, and gain 4/4s from his enters the battlefield, but the populate abilities on those new tokens will not trigger. This is covered by rule 508.2a and 508.3a of the comprehensive rules (emphasis mine):

508.2a Abilities that trigger on a creature attacking trigger only at the point the creature is declared as an attacker. They will not trigger if a creature attacks and then that creature’s characteristics change to match the ability’s trigger condition.

508.3a An ability that reads “Whenever [a creature] attacks, . . .” triggers if that creature is declared as an attacker. Similarly, “Whenever [a creature] attacks [a player or planeswalker], . . .” triggers if that creature is declared as an attacker attacking that player or planeswalker. Such abilities won’t trigger if a creature is put onto the battlefield attacking.

It is also in the rulings for Ghired on gatherer (emphasis mine):

Although the token is an attacking creature, it was never declared as an attacking creature. This means that abilities that trigger whenever a creature attacks won’t trigger when it enters the battlefield attacking.

Since the tokens were not declared as an attacker, but forced in attacking, the populate does not trigger.

  • Thank you for the rules details, but I am trying to explain to my buddy how everything goes onto and off of the stack so he understands why it doesn't go infinite. I read him the rules, but he thought they didn't apply/interact that way for whatever reason. I needed the stack step by step to hopefully help him see the err of his ways!
    – Odin1806
    Mar 20, 2021 at 17:28
  • @Odin1806 Either the ruling off gatherer or rule 508.3A which it is based on will be your best bet - they specifically say if something is put in attacking "when ~ attacks" abilities don't happen
    – Andrew
    Mar 21, 2021 at 0:36
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    I tried to explain attacking and attackers, but I didn't do a great job in the moment... Your answer worked for me and will be great for explaining why it happens how it happens. Still useful and I wish I could give you a check mark as well...
    – Odin1806
    Mar 21, 2021 at 1:26

No, there is no infinite combo here.

Helm of the Host creates a non-legendary copy of Ghired just before you attack. Both Ghireds could create additional non-legendary Ghired tokens that are tapped and attacking, so on the first time you attack, you can get up to 3 non-legendary Ghired tokens plus the original.

However, these populate tokens do not trigger their own attack abilities, only the Helm token does. A creature that enters the battlefield already attacking has never actually been declared as an attacker because it has been created after the declare attackers step. Therefore it doesn't trigger any abilities that trigger on attack, which is necessary for the populate to happen.

The 5 steps of combat are:

  • Beginning of combat. This is where Helm triggers and resolves, and where you get 1 Ghired token

  • Declare attackers. This is where you can declare all existing Ghireds to attack and get that many populate triggers. The populate tokens enter the battlefield but are not declared as attackers because they're already attacking, so you don't get additional populate triggers

  • Declare blockers

  • Combat damage (1 or 2)

  • End of combat

Effectively, you can create x+3 Ghired tokens per attack, where x is the number of Ghired tokens you already controlled before the Helm trigger. That will of course grow quickly, but not arbitrarily quickly.

  • 2x+3 doesn't seem right. You can create 2(x+1) - x new tokens, where x is the number of Ghireds you had at the start of the turn (original included), giving you 2(x+1) total.
    – Andrew
    Mar 20, 2021 at 16:40
  • You go from 1+0 to 1+3 to 1+9 to 1+21 and so on. That means you create 2x+3 tokens per attack, where x is the number of tokens before the Helm trigger. I didn't give the total since the question was about how many you create per attack.
    – Hackworth
    Mar 20, 2021 at 16:48
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    That's not right. If you start with x tokens, the Helm trigger creates 1 more token, then when you attack, each of the x+1 tokens plus the 1 non-token creates another token, for a total of 1+(x+2) = x+3 new tokens.
    – murgatroid99
    Mar 20, 2021 at 16:58

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