The first Leyline appeared in the Guildpact set of Ravnica block. There were five of them — Leyline of Lifeforce, Leyline of Lightning, Leyline of Singularity, Leyline of the Meek, Leyline of the Void. In the core set Magic2011 Leyline of the Void was reprinted and four new enchantments appeared: Leyline of Anticipation, Leyline of Punishment, Leyline of Sanctity and Leyline of Vitality.
Ley lines is a term originally introduced by an amateur archaeologist Alfred Wotkins to name imaginary straight lines where “places of power” are. Originally Wotkins meant geographical or historical objects, but later the term became more and more mystical. Perhaps, that’s why the word Leyline appeared on Magic cards.
All nine Leyline cards have the same static ability, allowing to put the Leyline on the battlefield if you have them in your opening hand.
Several totally obvious comments on this ability:
- Opening hands is the cards the player decided to keep after all mulligans.
- A player can’t put out a Leyline and then mulligan. C.O. guarantees.
- A player can put any number of Leylines in his or her opening hand onto the battlefield.
- A player can perform necessary actions with the cards in his opening hand in any order (those cards may include not only Leylines).
- The players do so strating from the first player and continue in turn order.
- A player can’t “change his mind” and decide to do something after his turn has passed.
- All that happens before the game has started. No one has priority during this action.
- Leylines are not cast. They are put onto the battlefield.
- Leylines can’t be countered. They are not spells when they are put onto the battlefield in the begining of a game.
And now totally obscure:
- The first player chooses timestamps for all Leylines put onto the battlefield before the game has started. (See 613.6g)
Every enchantment in Leylines cycle has a usual mana cost and can be cast later during the game if the player was unlucky enough not to find the Leyline in his opening hand.
Now let’s look at each Leyline closely. From now on I will not mention the first ability, common to all of them.
Leyline of the Void
The second ability of Leyline of the Void is static, not triggered as some think. It can’t be responded to. It doesn’t use the stack.
This ability creates a replacement effect as indicated by the word “instead” in the ability text. The effect waits for a “card is put into an opponent’s graveyard” event and replaces it with “exile the card”.
- Leyline of the Void deals with opponent’s graveyards only.
- Leyline of the Void deals with cards only. Tokens are beyond it.
- A card doesn’t reach opponent’s graveyard at all. It is exiled instead.
- No “when put into graveyard” trigger will ever trigger.
- "Dies” means “is put into graveyard from the battlefield”. So the creatures (not tokens!) whose owner is an opponent don’t die! Since they are not put into graveyard!
Leyline of Sanctity
The second ability of Leyline of Sanctity is static. Currently in Oracle it is stated as “You have hexproof”. We’ve discussed Hexproof before many times. Actually, there is nothing mysterious about it. The old text of Leyline of Sanctity perfectly explained it: “You can’t be the target of spells and abilities your opponents’ control”.
- Hexproof allows to target oneself.
- Hexproof allows your opponent to redirect your spell to you (surprise!).
- Hexproof can’t save from non-targeting spells and abilities.
- Under Leyline of Sanctity’s effect you have Hexproof, not your resources or zones.
Leyline of Lifeforce
Leyline of Lifeforce has a static ability stating that creature spells can’t be targeted.
- first, we are talking only creature spells;
- second, the ability says nothing about who controls the spells, so the bonus will affect all players;
- third, the fact that a spell can’t be countered doesn’t mean it can’t be targeted with a countering spell or ability;
- fourth, nothing prevents spells from being exiled from the stack.
Leyline of Lightning
The second ability of Leyline of Lightning is triggered. It triggers when you — the controller of Leyline of Lightning — cast a spell.
- The ability text says “you” so it only cares for the spells you cast (from now on we will treat all spells as such).
- The ability triggers only when the spell is cast. If a spell appears in the stack for any other reason, the ability doesn’t care for it.
- The ability triggers as soon as a spell is considered cast — that is after it is paid for. Nobody cares what happens after that. Will it resolve, is it countered or whatever else — no worries!
- Triggered ability will be put on the stack before you receive priority, so it will be higher in the stack than the spell which triggered it.
- You must choose a target (if it’s possible) when the ability is put on the stack.
- You will choose if you want to pay only on the ability’s resolution, and the road to that moment is pretty long.
- One triggered ability gives you a chance to pay one mana. Period. No other options. You can’t pay a metric ton of mana and kill your opponent. Triggered abilities don’t work this way.
- Damage is dealt on the ability’s resolution — provided you’ve paid the mana.
- Since the damage dealt by Leyline of Lightning is noncombat and you control its source, you can redirect it from your opponent to a Planeswalker under his control.
Leyline of Singularity
The secon ability of Leyline of Singularity is static. It has a very unique effect: it gives every nonland permanent the supertype Legendary. That means we’ll have to deal with the Legend rule.
704.5k If a player controls two or more legendary permanents with the same name, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “Legend rule”.
- Leyline of Singularity’s effect doesn’t mess up with lands.
- If a player controls two or more permanents with the same name (apart from lands) he will have to choose one and wave goodbye to all others at the nearest SBA check.
- SBA check happens before a player receives priority. Therefore it’s impossible to do anything with the permanents being put into graveyard “fast enough”.
- If a permanent with the same name as a permanent on the battlefield is entering the battlefield, all the appropriate EtB-triggers happen, thet the Legend rule is applied, then the triggers are put in the stack and finally a player receives priority. Since a trigger doesn’t depend on its source after it has triggered, generally those triggers resolve successfully.
Speaking of tokens we move on to
Leyline of the Meek
The second ability of Leyline of the Meek is static and gives a +1/+1 bonus to all creature tokens.
- Only creature tokens receive the bonus — only “creature” and only “tokens”.
- All creature tokens receive the bonus regardless of who controls them.
- A token receives the bonus immediately when it appears on the battlefield. There is no such point in the game when a token is on the battlefield but has not yet received +1/+1/.
- The effect of the static ability of Leyline of the Meek is applied on the layer 7c — after the effects that set power and/or toughness to a specific number.
Leyline of Anticipation
The second ability of Leyline of Anticipation is static and allows you to cast nonland cards as though they had Flash. It means you can play any nonland card whenever you have priority.
- You really can play Creature, Sorcery, Artifact, Enchantment and Planeswalker cards whenever you have priority. Yes, even during opponent’s turn.
- The rules of spell cast remain unchanged.
- The ability of Leyline of Anticipation doesn’t affect tokens and lands. They are governed by the usual rules.
- The ability of Leyline of Anticipation doesn’t remove any conditions on ability activation.
Leyline of Punishment
Leyline of Punishment has two static abilities. The first forbids players to gain life. The second negates damage prevention effects.
- Any change of life total to greater amount is considered life gain. It doesn’t matter what effect is the cause.
- Protection, among other effects, prevents damage from a sources with stated qualities. Thanks to Leyline of Punishment effect this part of protection won’t work.
Leyline of Vitality
The static ability creates an effect pumping the toughness of your creatures.
- Only the creatures under your control get the bonus.
- A creature receives the bonus as soon as it enters the battlefield. There is no such point in the game, when a creature is on the battlefield, but hasn’t got +0/+1 yet.
- The effect of the static ability of Leyline of Vitality is applied on the layer 7c — after the effects that set power and/or toughness to a specific number.
Triggered ability of Leyline of Vitality triggers every time a creature enters the battlefield under your control. The trigger’s effect works at its resolution and allows you to gain one life.
- It doesn’t matter how the creature came to appear on the battlefield: was it a creature spell resolving or any other effect.
- If several creatures enter the battlefield under your control at the same time, Leyline of Vitality’s triggered ability triggers for each of those creatures.
- It doesn’t matter what kind of creature enters the battlefield — card or token.
- It absolutely doesn’t matter what happens to the creature after the ability triggers.
- The word “may” in the ability’s text immediately defines the trigger as nonmandatory. If you missed it, you decided not to gain life.
- ⇑ Power 9 — colloquial expression meaning nine Magic cards from Alpha/Beta/Unlimited sets restricted to use due immense power. Those are Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Mox Sapphire, Mox Jet, Mox Ruby, Mox Emerald, Mox Pearl and Timetwister.
- ⇑ Chancellors — a cycle of cards from New Phyrexia. Each allows to do something with the game before it starts.
- ⇑ The last ability of a Planeswalker is usually called his ultimate.
- ⇑ Perhaps the dumbest question I’ve ever encountered. But it came up many times so I mention it here.
- ⇑ This example comes from a real question from one of the players. He was very surprised that the Wolves don’t die because of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. They don’t die because we don’t apply SBA between continious efects. It is the result which is important: 2-2+1=1 and that number totally satisfies the game.
Translated by Denis Fedoseev