Well since the new set is available I was wondering the combo between Nivmagus Elemental and cipher cards[1].

So let's assume that Nivmagus is on the field then I cast a cipher spell from my hand can I:

  • Eat the spell and mount it on Nivmagus
  • Eat the cipher spell on each attack

Also is it possible to have multiple of the same cipher spells on a target creature?

  1. The definition is assumed to be "You may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost."

3 Answers 3


If you eat a spell with Nivmagus, it won't resolve, so you don't perform any of its spell abilities, so you don't perform its cipher ability. You'll get the +1/+1 counters, but that's it.

Now let's say you did let a cipher spell resolve, and you did attach it a creature. Since a copy of a spell is a spell, you can eat the copies created by cipher. But again, the spell won't resolve if you do. You'll get the +1/+1 counters, but that's it.

Note that you can't encode the copies created by cipher because you can only encode spell cards with cipher, so eating the spell copies is not as expensive as eating the original. It actually sounds like a good use of cipher to me :)

Note that the spell triggers after damage is dealt, so the +1/+1 counters it gets will only help it the next combat (except possibly if it has first strike or double strike).

Yes, multiple spells can be encoded on a single creature.

  • Although, I have to admit, the idea of growing by +2 for every combat damage is quite appealing!
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 21:14
  • 1
    I like it too. It's a good use of cipher. The whole point of cipher is to create a loop, and this is a proper use of a loop :) ...There, made that clear in my answer.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 21:56

You cannot have Nivmagus "eat" the spell and still cipher it on Nivmagus. Ciphering is part of the spell's effect, and if the spell is countered or exiled before resolution, then none of its effects occur.

You can, however, encode the cipher spell on any creature and have the Nivmagus Elemental exile the copies that are cast. Note that this will happen after combat damage, so unless the ciphered creature has first strike, the +1/+1 counters will not count towards the Elemental's damage for that turn.

As far as I understand, there is no limit to the number or identities of cipher cards that can be encoded on a creature.

  • Minor point: it doesn't matter if the ciphered creature has first strike, the +1/+1 counters still won't add to damage that turn. No one has priority to cast spells or place triggered abilities on the stack during either combat damage step, so the counters can't be added until after all damage is dealt.
    – mjqxxxx
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 0:12
  • 1
    @mjqxxxx, that's incorrect. Both players get priority after the combat damage step and the first-strike damage step (if it occurs). If an encoded spell goes on the stack when first-strike damage occurs, then it's perfectly possible to exile the encoded copy and have the Nivmagus elemental get the +1/+1 counters in time for the regular combat damage step. Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 2:20
  • @mjqxxxx See the comp rules sections 510.4 and 510.5. Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 2:23

since cipher triggers by combat damage to the player, first strike shouldn't apply any real changes to the mechanic of cipher. first strike applies damage first during blocking to a creature assigned to block, thus not applying damage to the player. unless double strike may be interrupted during the damage phase, double strike will not benefit nivmagus that turn, but the next.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .