In my opinion, replacement effects are the hardest part of Magic rules to learn. Continuous effects get a bad rap, but after you memorize the order of the layers and the rules for dependencies, you can usually figure out what’s going on in all but the most contrived examples. Replacement effects don’t apply as consistently, and there are a lot of similar-seeming situations where the answers are different. One rule in particular seems to be a real culprit here, so much so that I’ve devoted an entire article just to showing how it applies. Replacement effects that change how permanents enter the battlefield are subject to so many stipulations and exceptions that it can even be hard to even read the rule all the way through. Here, we’ll go through the whole thing with lots of illustrative examples to break it down along the way. Ready?
614.12. Some replacement effects modify how a permanent enters the battlefield. (See rules 614.1c–d.) Such effects may come from the permanent itself if they affect only that permanent (as opposed to a general subset of permanents that includes it). They may also come from other sources. To determine which replacement effects apply and how they apply, check the characteristics of the permanent as it would exist on the battlefield, taking into account replacement effects that have already modified how it enters the battlefield (see rule 616.1), continuous effects generated by the resolution of spells or abilities that changed the permanent’s characteristics on the stack (see rule 400.7a), and continuous effects from the permanent’s own static abilities, but ignoring continuous effects from any other source that would affect it.
My goodness, that’s a lot of text! Let’s break it down sentence by sentence.
Such effects may come from the permanent itself if they affect only that permanent (as opposed to a
general subset of permanents that includes it).
Example: Coastal Tower enters the battlefield tapped. This replacement effect affects only Coastal Tower, so it can apply to how Coastal Tower enters the battlefield.
Example: Orb of Dreams enters the battlefield untapped. This replacement effect affects a general subset of permanents (in this case, all permanents; the “subset” is equal to the original set). The sentence above excludes this ability from applying to the card it’s on.
To determine which replacement effects apply and how they apply, check the characteristics of the
permanent as it would exist on the battlefield…
Example: Coastal Tower has a replacement effect that affects how it enters the battlefield. Even though it applies before Coastal Tower actually enters the battlefield, and therefore, before the ability would normally function, the game checks the characteristics of the permanent as it would exist on the battlefield, and sees that it has a replacement effect to apply.
Example: Scarwood Treefolk enters the battlefield from a graveyard while Yixlid Jailer is in play. Although it has no abilities in the graveyard, which is where Scarwood Treefolk is when the game is deciding whether it enters tapped or not, the game looks at how Scarwood Treefolk would appear on the battlefield. Scarwood Treefolk enters tapped.
…taking into account replacement effects that have already modified how it enters the battlefield…
Example: Clone copies a Diregraf Ghoul. Because of this clause, we take into account replacement effects that have already modified how a permanent enters the battlefield (like Clone’s copying ability) when determining what replacement effects to apply. Clone will enter the battlefield tapped.
…continuous effects generated by the resolution of spells or abilities that changed the permanent’s characteristics on the stack…
Example: Nicole uses Artificial Evolution to change Amy’s Glowering Rogon from a Beast into a Ferret. This text-changing effect was generated by the resolution of a spell or ability, and it changed the Rogon’s characteristics while it was on the stack. This line means that this continuous effect will be taken into account when seeing how replacement effects affect Glowering Rogon as it’s entering the battlefield. Accordingly, a Beast will no longer be able to amplify this creature. Hope Amy has some ferrets handy.
…and continuous effects from the permanent’s own static abilities…
Example: Amy casts Rusted Relic while she controls 3 other artifacts and her opponent controls Uphill Battle. Rusted Relic’s static ability will be taken into account when determining whether Uphill Battle’s ability applies. Because Amy controls 3 artifacts, the game will see that Rusted Relic will be a creature on the battlefield, so Uphill Battle applies. Note that if Amy controlled only 2 other artifacts (with Rusted Relic being the third), the answer is different. Because Rusted Relic is not yet on the battlefield when Uphill Battle’s replacement effect is applied, the game will count only 2 artifacts when evaluating Rusted Relic’s metalcraft ability. Accordingly, Uphill Battle’s replacement effect will not apply because based on the information the game has available, Rusted Relic will not look like it will be a creature.
…but ignoring continuous effects from any other source that would affect it.
Example: Amy controls Bramblewood Paragon and Conspiracy, for which the named type is Warrior. She casts a Grizzly Bears. Because Conspiracy’s continuous effect does not fall into any of the exceptions detailed in the previous three clauses, this effect is ignored when determining whether Bramblewood Paragon’s replacement effect should apply. Grizzly Bears will not get a +1/+1 counter.
Whew! That’s a lot to take in. Here are a few more example questions you can use to check your understanding.
A: Untapped. When the game is determining which replacement effects apply, it looks at how the permanent entering the battlefield will look once it’s there, but it does not take into account any continuous effects (there are exceptions to this, but none are applicable to this case). So Grizzly Bears won’t look like an artifact until it’s actually on the battlefield, which is after the point where Root Maze applies.
A: To see if Meddling Mage’s replacement effect applies, we check the characteristics of Meddling Mage “as it would exist on the battlefield.” When Meddling Mage is on the battlefield, Yixlid Jailer will not apply to it, so the game will see and apply Meddling Mage’s replacement effect, even though it doesn’t have that ability when the effect is applied.
A: Again, the game considers the characteristics of Meddling Mage as it would look on the battlefield, and once it’s on the battlefield, Humility will make it lose its abilities. However, the game still won’t see that, because while determining which replacement effects apply, the game can’t see continuous effects from other sources that will be acting on the card entering the battlefield (there are three exceptions to this, but Humility does not fit into any of them). Amy still gets to name a card.
A: Here, Mind Bend represents a continuous effect generated by the resolution of a spell or ability that changed Ulasht’s characteristics on the stack. This means it is taken into account when deciding how replacement effects apply to Ulasht’s enters the battlefield effect. Ulasht gets a +1/+1 counter for each black creature, which is all of them.
Note: Suppose Amy had instead used Sleight of Mind to change “black” on Darkest Hour to “red.” In this case, Ulasht will see all creatures as red when its replacement effect is determining how many counters to put on it. Continuous effects that would change the characteristics of the object entering the battlefield aren’t taken into account when deciding how replacement effects will apply. But this does not mean that the way these continuous effects (like Darkest Hour here) affect other permanents isn’t taken into accont.
Q: Amy Victimizes a Dearly Departed to return Adaptive Automaton and a second Dearly Departed to the battlefield. She controls Ashes of the Fallen while this happens; its chosen type is Human. Amy also wants to make Adaptive Automaton a Human. How many counters does each creature enter with?
A: The Dearly Departed will get no counters. When the game is determining which replacement effects apply to the event of it entering the battlefield, it checks how Dearly Departed will look when it’s on the battlefield. Because it won’t be a Human, it gets nothing.
Adaptive Automaton is more interesting. At first, Dearly Departed doesn’t apply to its entering the battlefield for the same reason given above: it won’t be a Human on the battlefield. Adaptive Automaton has its own replacement effect that does apply, though, so it becomes a Human. After that, the game checks to see if there are any more replacement effects that want to apply to this event. When determining what replacement effects apply, the game does take into account replacement effects that have already modified how the permanent enters the battlefield and continuous effects that come from that permanent’s own static abilities. Therefore, the game will see that Adaptive Automaton has a creature type picked for it and will be that type. This means that Dearly Departed will now apply to this event. In fact, both Dearly Departeds will, since both of them are in Amy’s graveyard when this is happening (the first because Victimize specifies the “sacrifice a creature” part happens before the returning part; and the second because replacement effects apply immediately before the events they replace, so both creatures that are returned are still in the graveyard at this point). Adaptive Automaton gets 2 +1/+1 counters.
Note: Suppose Amy also controlled a Conspiracy, for which the named type is Human. Her Dearly Departed still would not get +1/+1 counters because those types of continuous effects are not taken into account when determining what that permanent will look like. Only continuous effects from the permanent’s own abilities or from spells or abilities that changed its characteristics on the stack are taken into account.