Can someone explain to me how the "stack" works in this situation?

Asked by mrfr1day 5 years ago

Say I declare an attack with my Witchstalker and I have a Burning-Tree Emissary and 2 Voyaging Satyr with a Nylea, God of the Hunt out on the field. Once blockers are declared, I cast Aspect of Hydra then I tap nykthos to add mana then i untap the nykthos using the Satyr to add more mana, then untap it for a 2nd time to add even more mana for me to pump Witchstalker using nylea's ability. Is this possible? Would it all resolve if unanswered? I'm a casual player fyi. Thanks for the answers!

Devonin says... Accepted answer #1

You declare the start of your attack phase, and declare Witchstalker as an attacker.

Once they declare blockers, you cast Aspect of Hydra which goes onto the stack. Then you activate the mana ability of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx which adds 7 green mana to your mana pool. You activate the ability of Voyaging Satyr which resolves, untapping Nykthos. You use (presumably) 2 of the mana from Nykthos to tap it again, 7->5->12, and then repeat that process with your other Satyr, 12->10->17, then Aspect of Hydra resolves, giving Witchstalker +7/+7 until end of turn.

If you use all of that mana for Nylea, God of the Hunt , you could activate its ability 4 times, giving +8/+8 to the Witchstalker making it an 18/18 trample

July 27, 2014 5:52 p.m.

pskinn01 says... #2

yes it would all be able to be resolved.

the stack goes
Aspect of Hydra is castround of priority
aspect resolves
during your turn of priority in which you tap nykthos
nythos ability resolves since it is mana abiltiy
then use saty's ability
round of priority
satyr's ability resolves
during your turn of priority in which you tap nykthos
nythos ability resolves since it is mana abiltiy
use Nylea's ability once or as many times as you like before passing priority
In most situations, I would let each activation of Nylea resolve before activating it again.

July 27, 2014 5:52 p.m.

BboyGeologic says... #3

There is no need to activate Nylea,let it resolve,activate again,let it resolve and on and on. That's a big waste of time and no fun at all. The game lets you shortcut that with no negative impact, so just say " Active Nylea 4 times on my Witchstalker". If you opponent wants they can say they have a response at any point during those activations and the game will reverse to that point and you won't lose any of your mana.

July 27, 2014 7:27 p.m.

Epochalyptik says... #4

@BboyGeologic: That's wrong.

If you declare that you're activating Nylea, God of the Hunt 's ability four times, and your opponent declares that he or she has a response, nothing is rewound. Your declaration implies that you activated the ability four times without passing priority, so you already spent your mana, and your opponent's response would go onto the stack above all four abilities.

Activating the ability and allowing it to resolve is the proper play. If your opponent responds to one of the activations, you haven't wasted the remaining mana activating abilities that will become irrelevant.

July 27, 2014 7:39 p.m.

Devonin says... #5


"I activate Nylea 4 times targeting Witchstalker "

"I cast Fight to the Death "

"Oh darn, I wasted 12 mana by activating the ability on a target which is no longer here. Now I can't cast any of these other instants I had that I could have cast"

July 27, 2014 7:39 p.m.

BboyGeologic says... #6

Devonin Epochalyptik You are both incorrect. This is a common misconception.

Adding multiple objects to the stack without explicitly retaining priority (specifically saying "retaining priority") is an official tournament shortcut under MTR 4.2. Those shortcuts are there specifically to save time. No one wants to sit there for 20 minutes while you use the 30 mana in your mana pool to pump your team of Liliana's Shade s one activation at a time. Activate Shade-resolve? Sure. Activate Shade-resolve? Sure. Activate Shade-resolve? Sure. Activate shade-resolve? Sure......

The game never assumes you retain priority,it always assumes you pass unless you say otherwise, so when it comes to taking shortcuts you can just state where you would like end and then its up to your opponent to stop you and back you up to a point they would like to respond.

"Whenever a player adds an object to the stack, he or she is assumed to be passing priority unless he or she explicitly announces that he or she intends to retain it. If he or she adds a groupof objects to thestack without explicitly retaining priority and a player wishes to take an action at a point in themiddle, the actions should be reversed up to that point. ".

July 27, 2014 8:16 p.m.

Devonin says... #7

You have the ability to retain priority. Sometimes you want to retain priority. In a serious competitive REL event, I would make sure it was clear whether they were passing priority or not. I can think of multiple examples just off the top of my head where the opponent would want to allow some but not all of the activations to resolve before casting something.

July 27, 2014 8:23 p.m.

Devonin says... #8

Saying "I activate it 4 times" I would argue to a judge ABSOLUTELY is an explicit statement that you are retaining priority. To activate multiple abilities in succession without any of them resolving actually -requires- you to retain priority to work. Since activating it once, passing priority and getting priority back would -immediately- make that first instance of the ability on the stack resolve, which would happen before you could activate the ability again.

July 27, 2014 8:26 p.m.

Epochalyptik says... #9

@Devonin: According to the MTR, BboyGeologic is correct. It's made explicitly clear, although the rule itself is counterintuitive. The MTR even states "Note that some of these are exceptions to the policy above in that they do cause non-explicit priority passes."

The problem with shortcutting all of the activations is that you are still committing your mana. The game is only rewound if a player expresses interest in taking an action at a specific point within the group of abilities. Your opponent could just as easily cast a spell or activate an ability after all of the grouped abilities resolve, which means you're SOL on your investment.

July 27, 2014 8:33 p.m.

Devonin says... #10

Oh I know he's right. Neither of us said anything that is contradicted by the MTR. All we said is "It's in your best interest in this case to do it one by one just in case" because we don't know from his statement whether he has other instants, or the opponent is tapped out, or what kind of deck they are playing.

I'm sure in MOST cases, there's no reason not to do it as BboyGeologic is suggesting is the "default" but it is pretty much universally better, in all cases, to answer questions in this format in the way which is the most ideal mode of play, which in this case, is to protect your mana investment as best as you can.

July 27, 2014 8:36 p.m.

BboyGeologic says... #11

Devonin Then you are arguing against the Magic Tournament Rules. I cited the exact rule,so if that's not good enough then there isn't really too much else to say. The rules say that you have to explicitly retain priority for it to actually be held and if you don't then priority is passed. This means you have to say "I would like to retain priority" or "retain priority". About 99.999% of the game is played in situations where retaining priority is not need, which is why you have to state that you are retaining it. Tournament shortcuts were created to speed the game up and to conform to the way games are actually played without having to call the judge 100 times a turn.

July 27, 2014 8:55 p.m.

pskinn01 says... #12

You are missing the whole point of letting it resolve. The shortcut you mentioned is to add things to the stack, which means none of it has resolved.

So yes they can add all of that to the stack, but then if the opponent somehow causes 3 damage to that creature, it would die before any of the abilities resolve.

So without knowing what the opponent was playing with and not knowing what is on the field, letting the ability resolve each time would be the best move. Cause what if the opponent was playing red, and had Glaring Spotlight on the field.

To speed up the process you can state that this is what you are doing: "I am adding these abilities one at a time and letting them resolve before adding another" only a few words, but it makes it clear that you are letting the abilities resolve instead of just putting them on the stack, which is what the rule that you pointed to states.

July 27, 2014 11:09 p.m.

Devonin says... #13

BboyGeologic "I add 4 things onto the stack all at once" REQUIRES you to retain priority to be able to happen. In the same way that you're assumed to be passing priority IN GENERAL unless you say otherwise, saying something which -requires- you to retain priority to be a legal play IS stating that you are keeping priority. Not sure how you're arguing against that by saying "But the rules say" when I'm not actually contradicting the rules.

July 27, 2014 11:25 p.m.

Draugo says... #14

Devonin Now you're just changing words to make them suit your position. The original phrase you quoted was "I activate it 4 times" which is completely different from "I add 4 things onto the stack all at once". The latter I would agree makes it clear you retain priority but the former is definitely a tournament shortcut without retaining priority.
Also saying you agree that BboyGeologic is correct after using a phrase "Saying "I activate it 4 times" I would argue to a judge ABSOLUTELY is an explicit statement that you are retaining priority" is just passive aggressive. Also as a judge I would like to point out that no, that is not an explicit statement that you retain priority but exactly what was said, a tournament shortcut to say that you're doing these things in this order unless something changes.

July 28, 2014 2:18 a.m.

Devonin says... #15

So lets get a case then, Draugo

Alex controls Nylea, God of the Hunt and Squire

Alex says "I activate Nylea 4 times targeting Squire" and taps land sufficient to add 12GGGG to his mana pool.

Bob says "In response, I cast Dimir Charm choosing 'Destroy target creature with power 2 or less' targeting Squire

Dimir Charm resolves.

Alex suggests that he was using a shorthand, and that each instance resolved before Alex activated the next one, and so by the time Bob cast Dimir Charm, Alex's Squire was a 7/8 with one last activation of Nylea on the stack, and that only by rewinding the game to before the first instance resolved (meaning Alex gets back the 12 mana they had tapped to pay for the other 3 activations) for this to work how Bob wants.

Bob calls a judge and say that because Alex said they activated it 4 times, that they were holding priority because you can't activate multiple things before any resolve while not holding priority. Bob suggests that if Alex had asked if there was any response to the first activation, or simply activated it once without stating the intention to activate it multiple times, paying for it multiple times, that might make sense, but that Alex should not be rewarded for bad play by activating the ability multiple times before passing priority.

You rule that Bob is wrong? What do you rule? The game rewinds to when Alex has only paid the activation cost of Nylea once and then proceeds? Each one -did- resolve, and now Dimir Charm fizzles for lack of legal target?

July 28, 2014 3:20 a.m.

Devonin says... #16

The problem is that SOME things which are shorthand are shorthand because there is only one option which doesn't need to be spelled out. But there are cases where you would want to hold priority to cast multiple spells or activate multiple abilities, and cases where you would not want to do that.

Since there is ambiguity as to intention, at competitive levels, greater care should be taken to explain exactly what you're intending.

Also, activating one ability 4 times isn't something that needs shorthand in the way that running a combo cycle 50 or 100,000 times does.

July 28, 2014 3:23 a.m.

Draugo says... #17

I would rule that since Alex did not in any way indicate that he was holding priority and there's no reason for him to do so and that since Dimir Charm can only be effective before any of the abilities resolve Bob has to cast it in response to the first activation rewinding back the three after that leaving the mana from those three activations in Alex's mana pool. There is no ambiguity to intent. No held priority was declared and so no priority is being held. And since this is an acceptable tournament shortcut we are not rewarding anyone for bad play.

July 28, 2014 4:55 a.m.

Devonin says... #18

Wow. So explicitly stating an action which can only be accomplished as stated by holding priority doesn't count as holding priority to you. Fair enough. I don't agree (obviously).

July 28, 2014 11:06 a.m.

Draugo says... #19

Devonin You're just not talking sense. Nothing in "I activate Nylea's ability 4 times" requires holding priority. The end point is exactly the same whether you hold priority or not and since it is always assumed that you don't hold priority unless you explicitly state so you are not considered to be holding priority. I don't understand why you make such a big deal out of this.
This is completely different from a situation where you explicitly have to inform that you are holding priority so let's take an example of that shall we. You have Nivmagus Elemental on the table, it's the only creature currently precent and you attack with it. You have Shock and Negate in your hand. At the declare blockers step you decide that those cards are better used as counters so you cast Shock targeting Nivmagus Elemental and then Negate targeting Shock and then you use Nivmagus Elemental 's ability to exile both. You have to explicitly state that you are holding priority after each spell casting or it is assumed that you pass priority and everything from casting Shock onwards is considered an illegal action. How you inform that you are holding priority can take many forms (although to be certain you should really state "while holding priority" or something similar) but I would take for example simple "and" in this case to mean you wanted to hold priority if you proceeded smoothly from one action to another for example "I cast Shock targeting my elemental and cast Negate targeting Shock and then I exile them both".

July 29, 2014 1:30 a.m.

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