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.
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.
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 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 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.
(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 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