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I've been reading what the comprehensive rules say about Sagas and I think I've noticed an error in the rules.

714.2b “{rN}—[Effect]” means “When one or more lore counters are put onto this Saga, if the number of lore counters on it was less than N and became at least N, [effect].”

That means Sagas have an inherent intervening "if" clause. If that clause isn't true at the time of the listed event (namely, a lore counter being put on the Saga), it won't trigger at all.

714.3a As a Saga enters the battlefield, its controller puts a lore counter on it.

This is where I see a problem. The "as" wording means that there is a replacement effect applied before the Saga enters. This is supported by 614.12:

614.12 Some replacement effects modify how a permanent enters the battlefield. ... To determine which replacement effects apply and how they apply, check the characteristics of the permanent as it would exist on the battlefield...

If a Saga enters the battlefield with a lore counter on it, then there was never a point when the permanent it became had zero lore counters on it. Because of that, the "if the number of lore counters on it was less than N" of the rules is not satisfied (N=1) and the first chapter ability should not trigger.

Am I off base here?

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    The wording of Read Ahead doesn't contradict anything in the answer. The bolded sentence in 702.155a is a replacement effect that modifies how the Saga enters the battlefield, exactly like the effect in 714.3a.
    – murgatroid99
    Sep 20, 2023 at 2:46
  • Does 400.7d cover it? The ability can reference the fact that the spell that became the saga had 0 counters on it?
    – GendoIkari
    Sep 20, 2023 at 13:24
  • @murgatroid99 You are correct. My edit was entirely mistaken. Sep 20, 2023 at 19:22
  • @GendoIkari The triggered ability says "When one or more lore counters are put onto this Saga", and a spell isn't a Saga. Sep 20, 2023 at 19:23
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    @CainGoldhardt That shouldn't matter, abilities that say "this creature" for example will still continue to function normally even if the creature its on stops being a creature. In other words, "this saga" just refers to the object the ability is on. And it was a different object when it was on the stack, but that's where 400.7d would come into play.
    – GendoIkari
    Sep 20, 2023 at 19:44

1 Answer 1

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Sagas work correctly as per the rules. When a permanent enters the battlefield with counters on it, they count as having been placed on that permanent.

You are correct in that a Saga enters the battlefield with a counter on it because of a replacement effect and not a separate trigger. However, this counter still counts as having been placed on that Saga and thus causes its first effect.

122.6. Some spells and abilities refer to counters being put on an object. This refers to putting counters on that object while it’s on the battlefield and also to an object that’s given counters as it enters the battlefield.

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    122.6 has no bearing on the question. It proves that the counter the Saga enters the battlefield with counts as being "put onto this Saga" for the purposes of the trigger condition. But if you agree that Sagas enter with a counter, then my issue still stands: there was never a point when the Saga had zero lore counters on it. Jul 17, 2022 at 15:41
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    Philosophically, I agree with you: When a permanent enters with a counter on it, the gamestate never sees that permanent without that counter, so it never had zero counters on it, so the saga shouldn't trigger for when it enters the battlefield. And yet, you asked about the rules, and 122.6 says that the counters from a replacement effect count as having been placed there. And logically, if a counter has been placed on a permanent, the permanent must have had zero counters just before, triggering its first effect. That's all there is to say rules-wise.
    – Hackworth
    Jul 17, 2022 at 15:59
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    Perhaps 122.6 is a cop-out, a dirty fix to that problem, but you'll have to take that issue to the rules managers at WotC. 122.6 very much does give the rules answer to the problem.
    – Hackworth
    Jul 17, 2022 at 16:01
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    Doesn’t it work because the saga didn’t exist before the counters were placed and so uses a value of 0? Sep 20, 2023 at 20:23
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    As a general rule, magic treats any undefined value as 0, so the number of counters on the card before it entered is undefined, and thus treated as 0.
    – Andrew
    Sep 21, 2023 at 14:22

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