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Say I have Kaervek, the Spiteful and Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder on the battlefield and I cast Sibsig Muckdraggers, creating 9 1/1 thrulls that immediately die to Kaervek's effect. Would the game force me to sacrifice Endrek Sahr in this case, and if so, would I be able to put him back in my hand with Sibsig's effect?

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How triggered abilities work

First of all, what's important to handle a lot of the things in question here is how triggers and state-based actions work. A simplification of the relevant events is:

  • if something meets an ability's trigger condition, that ability triggers (but is not put on the stack yet)
  • state-based actions are checked
  • triggers are put on the stack

The relevant rules for this order are:

117.2a Triggered abilities can trigger at any time, including while a spell is being cast, an ability is being activated, or a spell or ability is resolving. (See rule 603, "Handling Triggered Abilities.") However, nothing actually happens at the time an ability triggers. Each time a player would receive priority, each ability that has triggered but hasn't yet been put on the stack is put on the stack. See rule 117.5.

117.2d State-based actions happen automatically when certain conditions are met. See rule 704. They’re dealt with before a player would receive priority. See rule 117.5.

What happens for this scenario

With that out of the way, here's what happens in your scenario, assuming nothing else other than what you described happens:

You cast Sibsig Muckdraggers, which triggers Endrek Sahr's first ability, which is put on the stack and will resolve to create 9 0/0 tokens (they would be 1/1 tokens, but their P/T get modified by Kaervek). This triggers Endrek Sahr's second ability, which is not put on the stack yet. State-based actions put the tokens into your graveyard (where they cease to exist), then Endrek Sahr's second ability is put on the stack and resolves, which will also put Endrek Sahr in the graveyard.

This is further emphasized by one of Endrek Sahr's rulings:

When the second ability resolves, Endrek Sahr will be sacrificed regardless of how many Thrulls you control at that time, even if it's less than seven.

Finally, Sibsig Muckdraggers will resolve, and them entering the battlefield triggers their ability. Now that this ability is put on the stack, you must choose a target for it, which may be Endrek Sahr (since that creature is in your graveyard).

So yes, you would have to sacrifice Endrek Sahr, and you will be able to put it back into your hand afterwards.

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  • Thank you for your help! I did not know that order you described at the beginning, this is a huge help,.
    – MewUwU
    Mar 17 at 22:17
  • The fact that a trigger such as Endrek Sahr's doesn't care about the change in creature count between triggering and resolution, is the main reason why "intervening if" clauses exist... yes? Mar 20 at 18:37
  • @KarlKnechtel Well... most abilities care about the game state as it is once the ability resolves, such as when gaining life for each creature you control. Intervening if clauses are used when the trigger and the resolution requires a certain state to be true, whereas the absence of such means the ability will try to resolve no matter what. I don't have any insight on development in this regard, but from observation, I can take guesses as to why some cards have intervening if clauses when others don't - mostly it's to prevent weird or overly powerful things from happening. Mar 21 at 19:14
  • I meant in terms of mechanics rather than power level; the intervening if clause causes the card to work differently than if it weren't there, and specifically is designed to allow for the possibility of something relevant happening between triggering and resolution. But sure, I guess e.g. Endrek Sahr could have been writtten so that it also gains life for each thrull upon triggering (in addition to the self-sacrifice), and this would not require an intervening if. And in the currently discussed situation, it would not gain life, because the thrulls are no longer there at resolution. Mar 21 at 19:47
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    I think it's likely more that they wanted to be able to write conditional triggered abilities, and the "intervening if" wording was the simplest way to do that. Then they had to find a simple and intuitive way to handle those conditions, and checking both as you put the ability on the stack and as you start to resolve it ended up being the best option. In a few cases it is used awkwardly for mechanical reasons, and sometimes they use a different wording to get different functionality, but most of the time it's just a direct expression of a condition.
    – murgatroid99
    Mar 21 at 22:52

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