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While playing on Arena, I had 3 life left and an Authority of the Consuls on the board. My opponent had a Den of the Bugbear on the board and paid the one red and 3 colorless mana so that it became a creature and attacked.

The Den of the Bugbear ability

Whenever this creature attacks, create a 1/1 red Goblin creature token that's tapped and attacking

triggered, created a goblin token. This in turn triggered my Authority of the Consuls:

Creatures your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped.

I then lost because the created Goblin token also attacked. Why was the Goblin token able to attack, when it was tapped? It was clearly affected by my Authority of the Consuls since I gained one life. I know that "comes into play attacking" is not the same as haste but as far as I know a tapped creature cannot attack.

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2 Answers 2

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The Goblin token is already attacking, so it doesn't need to be able to attack, and it's already tapped, so Authority of the Consuls doesn't do anything relevant anyway.

The specific sequence of events goes like this:

  1. The opponent activates Den of the Bugbear, making it a creature for the turn.
  2. Combat starts, and the opponent declares Den of the Bugbear as an attacker. Den of the Bugbear is now an attacking creature. This triggers the ability that it gained when it became a creature.
  3. The Den of the Bugbear's ability resolves, creating a Goblin token that is tapped and attacking. This Golbin token is now also an attacking creature. Authority of the Consuls also makes it enter the battlefield tapped, but it already enters tapped so that doesn't make a difference. This also triggers Authority of the Consuls' second ability (for completeness).
  4. Authority of the Consuls' second ability resolves, and you gain 1 life.
  5. The rest of combat plays out as usual, with Den of the Bugbear and the Goblin token as the attacking creatures.
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There is a difference between a creature actually attacking, and being declared attacking. The same is also true with creatures actually blocking, and being declared blocking. This arises from the fact that while not explicitly a status per the official rules, ‘attacking’ and ‘blocking’ function in game terms almost identically to a status.

In particular:

  • Abilities that trigger when a creature (or player) attacks or blocks only trigger when a creature that was already in play becomes an attacking or blocking creature (that is, they trigger on the state transition into a state of ‘attacking’ or ‘blocking’). This means, for example, that if you attack an opponent with Kaalia of the Vast and use her triggered ability to put Aurelia the Warleader into play tapped and attacking, Aurelia’s triggered ability that triggers when she attacks will not trigger that turn.
  • Costs associated with attacking or blocking are also evaluated in the same way. This means for example that someone who is attacking an opponent with an animated Den of the Bugbear when that opponent controls a Ghostly Prison only needs to pay for the Den of the Bugbear that they are attacking with, not the Goblin token that gets created.

The second point is what is relevant here. Tapping a creature is part of the standard cost of attacking with that creature, so it gets ignored if some alternate cost is paid, or if something completely circumvents the cost (as is the case with any effect that puts a creature or creature token into play attacking). This is actually why cards that put creatures into play attacking also put them into play tapped, because that provides consistency with how the rest of the game works without making things even more complicated.


This particular aspect of attacking and blocking also has a third implication, namely that abilities or spells that say that a creature is attacking or blocking ignore costs associated with the action of attacking or blocking. This is why the ‘Goaded’ keyword, as well as creatures like Juggernaut explicitly state ‘if able’ in their effects. Without that, such effects would allow you to circumvent additional costs imposed on attacking or blocking (such as by the aforementioned Ghostly Prison).

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    I think "becomes an attacking or blocking creature" in the first bullet point is potentially confusing. It's more accurate to say that those abilities trigger when a creature is declared as an attacker or blocker. This is how it is described in the rules, e.g. in 508.3a. Also, since you are trying to describe this distinction between "declared as an attacker" and "enters the battlefield attacking", it's a little confusing to use the word "attacking" in both cases in the second bullet point.
    – murgatroid99
    Aug 16 at 17:36
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    It's also misleading to refer to tapping as a "cost" to attack. Tapping the creature is simply part of the action of declaring an attack. It doesn't follow any of the rules about costs, and there is no such thing as an "alternate cost" to attack. In addition, I think your final paragraph doesn't really add clarity about the interaction between attacking/blocking requirements and costs. You don't really make it clear why the "if able" clause affects that interaction in that way, and you don't address restrictions at all, even though they play a major part.
    – murgatroid99
    Aug 16 at 17:42
  • Actually, I have another thing: one issue with categorizing attacking/blocking/neither as a status is that rule 110.5c doesn't really apply to it. All actual statuses are only ever directly changed by spells, abilities, or turn-based actions, but a creature can be removed from combat by a much more complicated sequence of actions, e.g. after a spell resolves, a state-based action causes a creature to die, which causes a continuous effect to end, causing a creature to change control, which removes it from combat. (i.e. Lightning Bolt hitting a Willbreaker controlling an attacking creature).
    – murgatroid99
    Aug 16 at 20:35
  • @murgatroid99 re 509.6 and "doesn't say that that triggers abilities": I believe you are misreading/misunderstanding things. Both 509.5a and .5b say that a creature that blocks outside of normal declaration of blockers will still trigger effects (if that creature was not already blocking; it's the transition to a blocking state that matters).
    – Ben P.
    Aug 17 at 18:20
  • OK, you're right about that part. I didn't notice those rules. I've deleted my comment about that.
    – murgatroid99
    Aug 17 at 20:10

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