Conclave Sledge-Captain has backup, which says simply "the following abilities". How will this interact with Mutate? (The mutating spell might need flash.)

conclave sledge captain

  • I'm struggling to see the interaction here - Mutate is a static ability that functions while a spell is on the stack, Backup itself seems to be a triggered ability that functions when the Sledge-Captain ETBs and it adds a couple of abilities that are well understood. Could you give an example of an interaction that you think is non-obvious with this combination? Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 17:29
  • Most of the time, unless you know that there is an official statement from Wizards, we won't be able to answer questions about unusual rules interactions until the actual rules are released. In this case, we don't know what the exact definition of Backup is, so we don't know exactly how it will work.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 17:31
  • @PhilipKendall If I understand right, the interaction here is flashing in a mutate spell targeting this card in response to the Backup trigger. And the question is whether the Backup triggers "see" the abilities added by the mutating creature.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 17:33
  • 2
    @murgatroid99 Either I'm not getting it or that Mutate interaction would need a very unnatural meaning for "following abilities" for Backup to see the additional abilities. But agree entirely we need at least the CRs to answer this. Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 17:44
  • 3
    I don't have the reference, but Maro has said on his blog that backup specifically only interacts with abilities printed on the card itself to avoid mutate or copy shenanigans Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 17:45

2 Answers 2


This is answered by Mark Rosewater in the March of the Machine Learning, Part 2 article:

Backup was created (by Ari Nieh) as another means to show the inhabitants of the various planes working together. The final version kept the essence of the mechanic but had several mechanical hoops to jump through. First up, the original version of the mechanic granted any abilities on the creature to any other creature it targeted with backup. This meant that by granting abilities or through cloning, you could spread abilities that weren't naturally on the backup creatures. To fix this, the mechanic was changed such that it only granted text specifically called out by the card.

(my emphasis)

  • Wait, does this meant that with multiple instances of backup, the first confers the second 2, and the second confers the third? Not that the ability would do anything on a permanent.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:42
  • Never mind I see from the full rules definition that it only confers non-backup abilities.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:53
  • What happens if you give a creature backup, somehow?
    – nick012000
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 2:30

This card is now on gatherer, with the following ruling:

Backup confers only abilities that are actually printed below it. Any abilities that are gained by the permanent are ignored, including abilities gained due to a resolving spell or ability or copy effects.

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