Life Gain from Cloak

Discussion in 'Rules Questions' started by Crackdown, Jan 8, 2001.

  1. Crackdown New Member

    In today's article, Adam Sherman describes an incident at a tournament:

    Rebel dude down to 2 My friend hits him with two vodalian zombies one is blocked with a armadillo cloaked glider. The judge said that life gain was simultaneous with taking damage. That was a game costing BAD call I pointed that out to him that the game checks to see if you are at 0 at all times and life gain happens after damage resolves.

    I'm a bit confused. First of all, the game does not check a state-based effect (life total) at all times. It does so only on gaining priority and at clean up:

    T.11.1 - State-based effects are a special set of rules that are applied whenever a player is going to receive priority, prior to placing triggered abilities on the stack. [CompRules 99/04/23]
    T.11.2 - All state-based effects are checked at once and applied at once in a single event, then the check is repeated until nothing happens. [CompRules 99/04/23] Neither player receives priority until the state-based effects are done resolving. [D'Angelo 99/05/01]
    T.11.3 - A check for state-based effects is also made during the Cleanup Step (see Rule P.13), and if any effect is applied the active player receives priority to play spells and abilities afterwards. [CompRules 99/04/23]

    So, the issue is how combat damage is assigned and resolved.

    Combat Damage:

    C.5.1 - The active player announces how each attacking creature will deal its damage. Then the defending player announces how each blocking creature will deal its damage. This is the assigning of combat damage. These announcements go on the stack as a single entry. Then the active player receives priority to play spells and abilities. When the announcements resolve, the damage is actually dealt to the creatures.

    So, the combat damage is assigned, but not yet dealt.

    Then spells and abilities are played and life totals are calculated as priority is attained (and at clean up, the only two times a state-based effect is checked):

    T.11.6 - Unlike triggered abilities, state-based effects do not pay attention during the resolution of a spell or ability. They only check when a player is about to receive priority.

    The Cloak's life gain is a triggered ability; therefore, it checks the triggering condition at all times... even in the middle of an event:

    A.4.2 - Triggered abilities check for their condition at all times, even during the middle of an event (see Rule T.1.6). [D'Angelo 99/05/01]

    So, when combat damage is assigned, the Cloak's ability is added to the stack.

    In accordance with C.5.1, all spells and ability announcements resolve and damage is dealt:

    C.5.1 - The active player announces how each attacking creature will deal its damage. Then the defending player announces how each blocking creature will deal its damage. This is the assigning of combat damage. These announcements go on the stack as a single entry. Then the active player receives priority to play spells and abilities. When the announcements resolve, the damage is actually dealt to the creatures. [CompRules 99/04/23]

    The only thing that makes sense to me is that the Cloak's ability goes on the stack along with the damage. This ability then keeps checking to see if the condition is met. As the damage is dealt on resolution of the announcements, the Cloak's ability triggers.

    Now... the 2nd Main Phase occurs and as priority is gained by the player, state-based effects are checked:

    Rebel Dude: -2 damage from Zombie, +2 life gain from cloak = net change of 0. [note: I can't add]

    At least, that's how it looks to me, but I'm not a rules expert.

    [Edited by Crackdown on 01-08-01 at 04:42 PM]
  2. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    State-based effects are your des-tiny... and you cannot escape your des-tiny...

    Okay, step-by-step...

    Jack is at 2 life and controls a Thermal Glider, which is enchanted with Armadillo Cloak (so it's 4/3 with flying, trample, and "spirit link").

    Diane attacks him with her two Vodalian Zombies (2/2 pro:green).

    Jack blocks one zombie with his glider, letting the other one through.

    Both players pass priority (nobody plays anything).

    Diane assignes 2 damage to the glider and 2 damage to Jack.

    Jack assigns 4 damage to the Vodalian Zombie that the glider blocked.

    Jack wishes his Armadillo Cloak would hurry up and trigger... but too bad for him.

    Both players pass priority.

    Jack takes 2 damage, as does his glider, while Diane's zombie takes 4.

    State-based effect check reveals that Vodalian Zombie has been dealt lethal damage.

    State-based effect check reveals that Jack is at 0 life!

    Bye-bye, Mr. Zombie.

    Bye-bye, Jack.


    Where any judge got the idea that Armadillo Cloak's triggered ability somehow circumvents the timing rules and happens "simultaneously" (wtf?) is beyond me.

    I'm assuming this was some random level 1 judge (or a WotC Coustomer Service Rep).

    Anyhow, the player needs to survive damage-dealing for Armdillo Cloak (or any other damage-triggered lifegain ability) to do him any good.


    Also, remember that players receive priority pretty frequently (after playing something, something resolving, the other player passing it, etc) so state-based effects are checked for each time this happens... and even more frequently than that! (They're also checked for in the Cleanup Step.)

    For example, in the scenario above, starting with the beginning of combat, there were actually 9 (at least) state-based effects checks.
  3. Crackdown New Member

    Chaos, I'll admit defeat on this, but I thought you might be interested in the aftermath.

    I spoke with a resident rules judge from Wizards regarding this situation (the customer service guy passed me on to him). It was anything but clear cut. Essentially, they've carved out a little exception to make this work.

    According to him, under 310.4, the Cloak's ability is placed on the stack. Since there is no passing of priority under 310.4 after resolution of combat, we move to 311 (end of combat) where the ability now resides on a stack. However, at that moment, priority passes to the active player and the state-based effect of 0 life is checked. Rebel guy dead.

    Note: at first, he tried to say that the state-based effect checked after damage was dealt but before step 311. The problem was that the rules simply did not provide for any passing of priority to play spells or abilities at that juncture and, therefore, the game could not legally check for a state-based effect. So, after reading through the rules again, he decided that 6th edition required that the ability trigger on dealing of damage and that the stack it went onto was 311, so that when priority passed, the state-based effect check would occur before the resolution of the stack giving the spirit link.

    Problem: If the rebel guy was at 10 life, would he gain from the spirit link?

    R&D says yes apparently, but they have a problem. If the stack onto which the ability passes is a 311 stack, then the creature is dead and the enchantment is gone and the ability isn't there. Essentially, they are carving out another exception which states that: "If the enchanted creature deals damage, then at end of combat you gain that life." Essentially, this is how they are reading the Armadillo Cloak text.

    The exchange which lasted about 20 minutes (or longer) was quite interesting. The rules guy knew what the answer was, but couldn't quite get the 6th edition rules to get him there cleanly.

    This was really my first real attempt at seeing if the rules as they are available are sufficiently clear in a simple situation that a reasonably intelligent person can figure out the correct result. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that Magic rules are too tortured for this.

    I've construed statutes and insurance clauses. This exercise was remarkably similar to the worst of those. If Magic is to ever go mainstream (which they want to do), something has to be done with the rules.

    [Edited by Crackdown on 01-08-01 at 04:49 PM]
  4. Zadok001 CPA Founder, Greater Good

    D'Angelo's rulings on triggered effects and state-based effects checks make it clear.

    I know Adam personally through his brother, Duel. I emailed the store explaining the correct ruling, and everything's fine now. :)
  5. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Never, ever call WotC Customer Service, unless you are looking to amuse yourself... or to drive yourself up a wall.

    No joke.


    The guy you spoke to is wrong about players not getting priority after combat damage resolves.

    Combat damage uses the stack, and like anything else that uses that stack, it sits until it resolves. When it resolves, like any other time something resolves off the stack, the active player gets priority.

    The Combat Damage Step can not end until both players have passed priority.

    (Rule 408: Timing of Spells and Abilities, covers this)

    There is nothing anywhere in the rules that suggests that combat damage is treated differently than anything else.

    So, the Spirit Link ability triggers when the damage is dealt, and goes on the stack right before the active player gets priority again.
    There's nothing difficult to understand about that, is there?


    Now about this statement...

    Obviously you have to fail an IQ test to get a job at WotC Customer Service.

    Say it with me, "Once an ability is paid for or triggers, removing the source of the ability does not remove the ability." Silver Rule of Magic)

    Even if this guy was right about his so-called "311 stack" it wouldn't matter; the ability has triggered, will go on the stack, and will resolve normally, interference from other effects notwitstanding.


    Honestly, Crackdown I'm not bitching at you; I apologize if it seems like I am. I'm just so tired of reading about, hearing about, and personally experiencing the failure of WotC's Customer Service Reps to handle the rules.

    They have never (I mean never) in my experience been able to handle any rules question of even moderate complexity.

    Don't even bother asking them any questions any more. Just come here, or make yourself a friend of a level 3 judge, or join the MTG-L mailing list, so that you can be reasonably assured of a correct response.

  6. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    In fact, scratch that.

    DO call them, and often, with challenging - but not absurdly so - problems like this one.

    And ask for the name of the person whom you are speaking to. If you're transferred, get that person's name as well.

    I'd love to start getting some statistics on these guys.

    Surely WotC/Hasbro would want to know if their employees are incompetent for their jobs.
  7. Crackdown New Member

    Chaos, thanks for your attention to this matter. Don't worry about being too abusive. I posted this publicly for a reason (notwithstanding that I got the rules result wrong).

    I'm appalled at the murkiness of the Magic rules themselves.

    This is such a basic question in the game (when can a "gain life" ability save you from death) that it should be covered in the rules simply . . . so that anyone reading them knows the answer. Why should it need a level 3 judge to figure out? Why should it be sufficiently obscure that even a customer services rep (I was transferred from the cust service rep to a "rules judge" I was told) can't explain it with a simple reference to the rules?

    If Magic is to have broader appeal, it's going to have to have simpler rules, IMO.

    A good example of a simple rule: The player needs to survive damage-dealing for Armadillo Cloak (or any other damage-triggered lifegain ability) to do him any good. :D

    [Edited by Crackdown on 01-09-01 at 06:56 AM]
  8. Zadok001 CPA Founder, Greater Good

    That would be a fine rule, yes, but can you imagine how ugly the rules would be if that rule was actually put in? You'd need rulings for every specific card if it had even a slightly strange effect, and in this case, every card with a triggered effect would qualify! The rules would grow to an insane length, and they're already pretty intimidating. (My girlfriend walked up behind me while I was scrolling down the C. Rulebook yesterday. She asked what I was doing. I told her those were the basic rules for Magic. Her jaw nearly hit the floor.)

    In this case, it's really not too complex. The Cloak is a triggered effect that goes on the stack after damage has been dealt (note the AFTER), so it doesn't resolve before an SBEC, and the player dies.
  9. Crackdown New Member

    Zadok --

    Yes, I understand now that because the Cloak requires a condition to invoke the spirit link, it goes on a stack after damage resolved and was dealt.

    The problem I had earlier was in trying to figure out where the ability resided. The damage stack in 310.4 was essentially gone with the resolution of the base item (all assigned damage) and there was no rule giving further priority to a player within 310.4.

    The only solution that made sense (I don't express this as a rule although I think I could write one now) was to put the ability on the 311 stack and when priority passed to the active player, a state-based check occurred destroying the Zombie and reducing the non-active player to zero life.

    I'll admit, I came up with that and the rules guy at WotC agreed because he couldn't find anything in the written rules that would show a different result.

    So, the rule appears to be: When an effect is triggered by resolution of combat damage under 310.4, that effect is the first item on the next stack in the next step (311).

    Of course, I'd love to know precisely where within the 6th edition rules the Cloak's ability, when triggered, goes; but, I can't find any rule or ruling that tells me if it's another stack within 310.4 or the one in 311.
  10. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I think you need to look in another place and combine it.

    Specifically, the 408 section and 408.1c probably answers your second paragraph, where after the damage has been resolved the active player gets priority again.

    Then 408.1f says what happens when triggered abilities trigger.

    Do those help?
  11. Crackdown New Member

    Hitting self on head with sledgehammer

    Spidey --

    OK, now I get it. 408.1c combines with 310.4 to provide the priority and another stack, handled by 408.1f.

    So what was murky is now apparent.

  12. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Just want to nitpick a teeny bit.

    There is only one Stack.

    By wondering about what happens on the stack referred to in 310.4 or 311, you might just be confusing yourself.

    The Stack is always in existence. It may or may not have anything on it at a particular time, but it's there. (waiting....) ;)

    Also, it is pretty rare that an ability which triggers during one step to wait until another step to go on the stack.

    Even during Cleanup, when players normally don't get priority, abilities can trigger (from discard or as a result of a state-based effect resolving) and open the stack.

    The only time this is likely to happen is during the untap step. If, for some reason, an ability triggers at this time, it will wait until Upkeep, and go on the stack along with any other Beginning-of-Upkeep abilities.
  13. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Or "At end of Turn" triggers that might occur during Cleanup, such as Thawing Glaciers.... :)
  14. mpgsheep New Member

    Going back to the point made by Chaos Turtle, why dont we all start ringing Wizards Customer Services and asking obscure questions and then keeping records on all their different advisors? Could be fun!
  15. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I don't play enough Magic to warrant calling them up, but it's a good idea nonetheless.
  16. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Actually, if you play Thawing Glaciers' ability during any part of the End Phase (End of Turn Step or Cleanup Step) it return tou your hand immediately, as part of the resolution of the ability.

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