Evra, Halcyon Witness Understanding

Asked by ArachnidGoat 8 months ago

Evra, Halcyon Witness

If it is the beginning of my attack phase, my life total is at 20. How does the activated ability resolve if an opponent plays an instant directly targeting me, after i've declared Evra as an attacker?

Ex. I've switched life total. Evra now is 20/4 and attacking. I'm at 4 life. Opponent plays an instant directly targeting me and deals 4 damage. Is that game? Did the life switch resolve before I could effectively gain life from lifelink?

Ex. I've chosen Evra to attack, and opponent does not declare blockers, then in response to no blockers, i switch life total. Does Evra effectively do 20 damage? Or does the switch resolve after the combat damage has already been dealt?

Go easy on me, I'm trying to understand how to use this card on its first use without dying.

Snivy__ says... #1

Ok so there are five combat phases:

Begin Combat




End Combat

In order to use Evra's ability, you need to know how these work.

What phase are you activating the ability?

What phase is he casting the instant on?

Is he casting it in response to the switch?

If he casts it in response to the switch, you would FIRST go down to 16, then you would switch life totals, putting you then at 4 and Evra at 16/4.

Hope this helps!

May 11, 2018 10:39 a.m.

ArachnidGoat says... #2

Yes! I was playing the stack out in my head and would come to the conclusion that if the instant is played in response, I would be dealt the damage first, then the switch, was just unsure of how the activated ability resolved accordingly.

My mind keeps telling me that since its an activated ability, it needs to resolve first outside of the combat stack, then any instant played will ultimately kill me. Scary, because that mindset will always leave me open to death on its first use with no lifelink gain.

May 11, 2018 10:54 a.m.

cdkime says... Accepted answer #3

It all depends on timing.

The "Combat Phase" is broken down into a couple different steps:

  1. Beginning of combat stage. The main stage is over now, and you declares who will be the defending player(s). The active player (the player whose turn it is) gets priority--this means they can cast instant speed effects. Once they pass priority (i.e. decline to cast a spell), the opponents can cast spells. (I'm going to refer to this as Get/Pass priority to save some words).

  2. Declare Attacks Step - you declare which creatures you will use to attack. You then get/pass priority.

  3. Declare Blockers Step - your opponent declares who will block. You then get/pass priority. You then get/pass priority.

  4. Combat Damage Step(s) (there might be multiple, if creatures with first/double/triple/last strike are in play). Combat damage is assigned. You then get/pass priority.

  5. End of Combat Step: You get/pass priority, abilities that trigger at the end of combat occur and effects that last until the end of combat ends. All creatures are removed from combat.

I know that's a lot, but it is necessary for answering your question.

For your first question: If your opponent plays the instant prior to step 4, you will be killed. This is the most likely situation. In step 4, combat damage is assigned first, before spells can be cast. As such, your Evra will deal damage, you will gain life, then your opponent will have the chance to cast their instant (if they yet live).

For your second example, you would be activating Evra, Halcyon Witness's ability when you gain priority in step 3. Since you've moved past the declaring blockers part, your opponent can no longer declare new blockers. However, you have not moved onto the damage stage yet (4). The ability will resolve before damage is dealt--Evra would deal 20 damage (unless otherwise removed).

May 11, 2018 10:54 a.m.

ArachnidGoat says... #4

Ok. So best case scenario would be to definitely activate Evra in step 3? Shortening the time in which its possible for opponent to play an instant before step 4, correct?

This rabbit hole goes a lot deeper than i expected tbh, my head hurts. haha

May 11, 2018 11:05 a.m.

Boza says... #5

Well, the lenght of the interval does not matter, any interval will do. If you think the opponent has Warleader's Helix, you should never use evra's ability if you want to stay alive.

Or you can use something to increase evra's power. If you put On Serra's Wings on Evra before attacking, you are safe from 4 damage spell even after switching.

May 11, 2018 11:15 a.m.

ArachnidGoat says... #6

Boza, that was my fail-safe idea, when in doubt, just throw that on before attacking. Plus if im lucky enough to not have lost Benalish Marshal's and have both out, and Dub, and pump with Charge, i think i could be safe....

May 11, 2018 11:22 a.m.

ArachnidGoat says... #7

Here's the deck i built with Evra incase you guys wished to see and critique.


Standard ArachnidGoat


May 11, 2018 11:26 a.m.

ArachnidGoat says... #8

Plus I have a few cards that i can use to gain life as well, so All-in-all I think i'd be safe, but i just was trying to really understand how it all plays out. Again thanks everyone all the help!

May 11, 2018 12:16 p.m.

abby315 says... #9

The other failsafe option is to just always have 8 mana available when you go to switch (especially in draft). That way you can always switch in response to an instant, and since the stack is last in first out you will switch back to 20 (or however much your starting life total was at the beginning of the stack) before taking damage from a spell. More likely, the opponent will just not cast the burn spell because you can switch.

So it would look like (I believe):

You gained priority at the end of declaring blockers. Before you move to combat damage, you activate the ability to switch Evra's power with your life total.

You pass priority and they pass back (because to respond would put you to 16 and then switch, as mentioned). Your ability resolves and you go to 4. You move into the combat damage step.

Your opponent casts, say, Boros Charm, targeting your face. They pass priority.

You respond by switching Evra's power with your life total. You pass priority.

Your opponent does not have a second spell. They pass priority and the stack resolves.

Because the stack is first in last out, your ability will resolve first, putting you back to 20. Then Boros Charm resolves, dealing 4 and putting you to 16.

TL;DR it's safe to activate Evra in the face of a burn spell if you have enough to activate her again.

Though you would die to two Boros Charms - one in response to your second activation. Unless you had the mana for a THIRD activation!

May 11, 2018 12:19 p.m.

cdkime says... #10

I have a tiny clarification to this section of abby315 post:

Your ability resolves and you go to 4. You move into the combat damage step.

You do not move into the combat damage step. Once the ability resolves, you regain priority. At this time, you are still in the declare blockers step. You would then indicate you wish to move to the combat damage step, passing priority. While still in declare blockers, your opponent will cast their kill spell, which you would then respond to per the remainder of abby315s post.

May 11, 2018 1:36 p.m.

Gidgetimer says... #11

If you require no further clarification please select an answer to remove the question from the unanswered queue. If there is still confusion ask so that we can help you.

May 14, 2018 12:18 p.m.

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