Gift of Immortality returns a dead creature to the battlefield and comes back itself, but later. Major questions about this card sound like: why it happens and how to prevent it from happening.
Enchantment — Aura
When enchanted creature dies, return that card to the battlefield under its owner’s control. Return Gift of Immortality to the battlefield attached to that creature at the beginning of the next end step.
For starters, I’d like to say a few general words about this card. Gift of Immortality is a white Aura with a static ability “Enchant creature”. We know almost everything about Auras, if you don’t or have forgotten, go check out the link, read and come back.
Gift of Immortality’s second ability is a triggered one. That’s where the interesting part begins.
“When enchanted creature dies, return that card to the battlefield under it’s owner’s control. Return Gift of Immortality to the battlefield attached to that creature at the beginning of the next end step.”
- When indicates that we have a triggered ability here;
- enchanted creature dies is the triggering event.
- The term “dies” replaces “this creature is put into graveyard from the battlefield”.
Why the creature dies is irrelevant. You may sacrifice it, it may be destroyed or it may simply be put into the graveyard as a result of the state-based actions (SBA).
Note that the creature doesn’t die if it has been regenerated.
This ability won’t trigger if the creature was exiled, returned to the owner’s hand or shuffled into the library.
- return that card to the battlefield under it’s owner’s control. Return Gift of Immortality to the battlefield attached to that creature at the beginning of the next end step is the ability effect. If the ability didn’t trigger (enchanted creature was “bounced”), it was countered (Disallow) or it was removed from the stack ( Time Stop), nothing of the stated above would happen. Gift of Immortality would be put into the graveyard and stay there.
When the ability resolves you get to return the card that used to be an enchanted creature on the battlefield. After that a delayed triggered ability is created.
The card returns under its owner’s control, not under the control of the player who controlled it when it was enchanted, nor under the control of the Aura’s former controller.
- at the beginning of the next end step marks the delayed triggered ability. This ability will trigger only once: at the beginning of the next end step.
Whose next end step it will be is irrelevant. What is important is that it is the closest end step since the Gift of Immortality ability has resolved.
If the next end step is skipped entirely (Sundial of the Infinite), the delayed ability will trigger at the beginning of the next end step that actually takes place.
- Return Gift of Immortality to the battlefield attached to that creature is the effect of the delayed ability. To get this effect the ability must trigger, it must be put on the stack and resolve. And that’s not all! There are many situations when the ability may resolve without effect.
Let’s assume that the creature you enchanted with Gift of Immortality isn’t exactly a creature. It is an animated land, artifact or a planeswalker. Anything “animated” immediately stops being a creature if put into the graveyard. Why will Gift of Immortality find this card and bring it back on the battlefield? The ability tracks the card. But the card has changed the zones, it’s a brand new object! Exactly, it’s new, but here we have an exception to the rules.
400.7. An object that moves from one zone to another becomes a new object with no memory of, or relation to, its previous existence. There are seven exceptions to this rule:
400.7d Abilities that trigger when an object moves from one zone to another (for example, “When Rancor is put into a graveyard from the battlefield”) can find the new object that it became in the zone it moved to when the ability triggered, if that zone is a public zone.
As graveyard is a public zone Gift of Immortality’s ability can track the object that used to be enchanted when Gift of Immortality was on the battlefield.
What can prevent the card from coming back if the triggered ability lived to resolve?
- Grafdigger’s Cage
- By the time the ability resolves the card is not in the graveyard.
- By the time the ability resolves the card has managed to change the zones multiple times and the ability has lost the track of it.
If the cunning opponent exiles the card from the graveyard before the triggered ability resolves, the ability will have nothing to return.
If you return the creature with Undying from the graveyard to the battlefield before the triggered ability resolves and then it somehow ends in the graveyard again, it’ll be a brand new object that Gift of Immortality can’t return.
When an enchanted creature dies, the ability triggers. Then, when the SBA are performed Gift of Immortality follows the creature itself as it is an unattached Aura on the battlefield. Only after that the triggers are put on the stack.
At any point there may be multiple abilities that wait to be put on the stack.
(603.3b) If multiple abilities have triggered since the last time a player received priority, each player, in APNAP order, puts triggered abilities he or she controls on the stack in any order he or she chooses.
As soon as Emrakul, the Aeons Torn hits the graveyard its own ability triggers. If you put it on the stack the last, by the time Gift of Immortality ability resolves there won’t be Emrakul in the graveyard. In fact there won’t be anything in the graveyard.
At the beginning of the next end step the delayed ability triggers. When it successfully resolves you return Gift of Immortality from the graveyard to the battlefield and attach it to the card that used to be its enchanted creature. This will only happen if we have the very same object that was returned to the battlefield by Gift of Immortality’s triggered ability. Remember the card with Undying that changed the zone? The same is important here. Even if it’s the same physical card that has visited another zone, it’s a brand new object that the delayed trigger is unaware of.
If an object has changed the characteristics or status, it will still remain the same object and the delayed ability will successfully find it.
If you had a Clone enchanted by Gift of Immortality, then when it returns to the battlefield, it might become a copy of a different creature. It will still be the same object the delayed ability tracks.
If you return a double-faced card from the graveyard and by the time the delayed ability resolves that card has transformed, the ability is okay with that. If Gift of Immortality can legally enchant the current face up side of a card, it will be attached to it.
If the cunning opponent has turned all the creatures into pumpkins with Ixidron’s enter-the-battlefield ability, the pumpkin that was returned from the graveyard by Gift of Immortality will get Gift of Immortality back when the delayed ability resolves.
If the object tracked by the delayed ability is no longer a creature or has a sort of Protection from White or from Auras, we can’t attach Gift of Immortality to it. In this sad case Gift of Immortality will stay in the graveyard. It never enters the battlefield, so the ability of Ajani’s Chosen doesn’t trigger.
Your devotion to blue dropped below five, Thassa is no longer a creature. Gift of Immortality stays in the graveyard.
A creature with Protection from white cannot be enchanted by a white Aura. Gift of Immortality stays in the graveyard.
Flipped Erayo, Soratami Ascendant becomes an Enchantment. Gift of Immortality can’t enchant it.
Hexproof and shroud abilities can’t prevent Gift of Immortality from being attached to a creature, because
(114.1b) ...An Aura permanent doesn’t target anything; only the spell is targeted.
Lastly, a message from the Captain Obvious: Gift of Immortality cannot be attached to another object!
Here’s a funny example and a puzzle for the dessert.
You control Cantivore enchanted with Gift of Immortality (of course you have some enchantments in the graveyard). Cunning opponent activates the Relic’s second ability and, as a result, Cantivore becomes a 0/0 creature. When the SBA are performed, Cantivore dies and triggers the ability of Gift of Immortality. After that, when the SBA are performed for the second time, Gift of Immortality is put into the graveyard itself, and Cantivore becomes 1/1 immediately. It is then brought back by the Gift of Immortality ability. When the delayed ability resolves Gift of Immortality returns to the battlefield and enchants Cantivore that dies the very next moment when SBA are performed. Gift of Immortality’s ability triggers and Cantivore gets to live until next end step.
You control a Bear enchanted with Gift of Immortality. The bear dies and Gift of Immortality’s ability returns it to the battlefield. Then, Sun Titan enters the battlefield under your control,you return Gift of Immortality with the Titan’s ability and choose to enchant the Titan. At this point, your cunning opponent pulls a Doom Blade out of his sleeve and kills the Titan. What happens next?
- ⇑ You know that creatures do not exist in the graveyard. There are only creature cards there.
- ⇑ Gift of Immortality that enters the battlefield from the graveyard can enchant Emrakul, because it is not a spell.
Translated by Lev Kotlyar
This means that all these cards have a chance to return when Gift of Immortality’s ability resolves.