Teysa Karlov has so much stuff going on that she gets her own article! There’s so many questions and so many variations and the right answer can change based on a slight change in the situation, so there’s a lot to sort through.
Refresher: How Exactly Do Triggered Abilities Work?
Immediately after anything happens in the game, the game checks to see if any triggered abilities have triggered. Any abilities that trigger get noted on an imaginary whiteboard. The next time a player would get priority, all the abilities on the whiteboard get put on the stack in APNAP order.
Teysa interferes with this process a bit by keeping an eye on the whiteboard. Anytime a creature you control dies and causes something to be written on the whiteboard, she writes it down a second time.
Okay, so that’s mostly how it works. But there’s a little complication. Triggered abilities (usually) only work on the battlefield. So leaves-the-battlefield triggers get handled a little differently. If the game just checked the game state after stuff happened in the game to see if any triggered abilities should trigger, stuff like Anodet Lurker would never trigger because the thing with the ability isn’t on the battlefield anymore. So these triggered abilities are based on the game state immediately before the event happens. This means if Teysa leaves the battlefield as part of the event that causes one of these triggers to trigger, you still get an extra trigger, even though Teysa isn’t around anymore.
Okay, so actually, there’s one more little complication. Anything that looks for stuff going to a zone (including the graveyard) “from anywhere” is not treated as a leaves-the-battlefield trigger, even if the object started on the battlefield. That means these triggers do not look back in time, but trigger based on the game state afterward.
If all of this sounded a little complicated, take a moment to marvel at how the rules of Magic do such a good job of keeping all of this stuff in the background most of the time. I promise this stuff was tough for me too and that it will get better after some examples.
A: Okay, so you probably didn’t need to read an article to figure this one out, but I want to start at the very basics and work up in complexity. I’m going to go through exactly what happens step by step.
- Anodet Lurker dies.
- The game checks to see if any triggered abilities need to trigger.
- AL’s triggered ability is a leaves-the-battlefield ability, so the game knows it needs to check the game state immediately before it died to see if any triggered abilities should trigger.
- Immediately before AL died, there was an object on the battlefield with the ability “When AL dies, you gain 3 life.” This ability triggers.
- Because a creature dying caused a triggered ability of a permanent you control to trigger, that ability triggers an additional time.
- Both AL triggers are put on the stack.
- First AL trigger resolves and you gain 3 life.
- Second AL trigger resolves and you gain 3 more life.
A: The token making ability is a leaves-the-battlefield ability just like before. So it triggers twice. The shuffle back in ability looks for WW to be put into a graveyard “from anywhere,” which means this is not treated as a leaves-the-battlefield ability, so it triggers from the graveyard. WW dying causes this ability to trigger, but because it triggers from the graveyard, it isn’t a “permanent you control,” so Teysa doesn’t make it trigger again.
Hard(er) Mode: Spicing Things Up
That’s the easy stuff out of the way. Hopefully, that wasn’t too bad. In this next section, we’re going to ramp up the difficulty a little. Remember the general problem-solving pattern: Identify when the trigger is going to look at the game state, then check to see if what’s happening matches Teysa’s ability EXACTLY. If it does, you get an extra trigger.
A: Zulaport Cutthroat’s ability is a leaves-the-battlefield ability, so the game looks back in time. Immediately before the trigger event, both creatures were on the battlefield. That means Teysa is in play to see Zulaport Cutthroat’s ability trigger, so it makes it trigger an additional time.
A: Anodet Lurker’s ability looks back in time, so Teysa is again able to see it trigger and makes it trigger again.
A: Because Compost’s ability does not look back in time, Teysa will not be around to see creatures dying causing Amy’s ability to trigger, so she does not get the additional triggers.
A: Because Profane Memento’s ability does not look back in time, it does not trigger at all because it is already in the graveyard at the time the game checks. The ability didn’t trigger, so Teysa doesn’t give it another trigger.
A: Because Dingus Egg’s triggered ability is a leaves-the-battlefield trigger, the game looks back in time and triggers based on the game state immediately before the event happened. Although a “creature dying” isn’t what Dingus Egg’s trigger looks for, a permanent that was a creature dying was the cause of a triggered ability you control triggering, so that ability triggers an additional time.
A: Only one. The reason for this is that a creature dying isn’t what caused Minister of Pain to trigger. Minister of Pain triggered because you exploited a creature. That may have incidentally involved the creature dying, but that isn’t specifically what Minister of Pain looks for. It would have triggered even if the creature didn’t die (for example, if a Leyline of the Void caused it to be exiled instead). Thus, this event doesn’t exactly match what Teysa’s ability says; a creature dying did not cause an ability of a permanent you control to trigger.
Note: In the same way, abilities like Bloodbriar also will only trigger once.