How Magic Cards work
Soulfire Grand Master

Soulfire Grand Master Russian

Last Modified 29.03.2020

Along with new mechanics and abilities introduced in “Fate Reforged” edition, we have encountered an old ability that functions in an unusual manner affecting new types of objects. Let us find out what is special about Lifelink on instants and sorceries.

Soulfire Grand Master

Oracle Text:

Creature — Human Monk


Instant and sorcery spells you control have lifelink.

{2}{U/R}{U/R}: The next time you cast an instant or sorcery spell from your hand this turn, put that card into your hand instead of into your graveyard as it resolves.

Soulfire Grand Master is a bear with three great abilities: two static and one activated. The first is Lifelink, already fairly familiar to us, and through hers second ability, spells may gain this ability.

The second ability of the Master functions while she is on the battlefield. Should the Master leave the battlefield or lose abilities, your spells lose Lifelink immediately.

Turn to Frog

Soulfire Grand Master loses all abilities through Turn to Frog’s effect, hence it cannot give your spells Lifelink.


If you sacrifice Soulfire Grand Master while casting Fling, Fling will not have lifelink on resolution, and you will not gain life for the damage it deals.

Grab the Reins

If you entwine Grab the Reins, steal an opponent’s Master and sacrifice another creature of yours, by the time damage is dealt Grab the Reins will already have Lifelink, and you will gain life.

How Lifelink works on spells

702.15b Damage dealt by a source with lifelink causes that source’s controller, or its owner if it has no controller, to gain that much life (in addition to any other results that damage causes). See rule 119.3.

Your instant or sorcery spell with Lifelink will earn you life only if both of these conditions are met:

  • damage is dealt;
  • the spell is the source of that damage.
Lightning Bolt

The easiest example is direct damage, such as Lightning Bolt. As damage is dealt you also gain 3 life.


Another relatively simple example is a spell that deals damage to multiple objects. You will gain so much life as much damage has been dealt.

You do not gain life if another object is the source of the damage:

Prey Upon

Prey Upon makes creatures fight, i.e. deal damage to each other. The creatures, not Prey Upon, are the sources of damage.

Kiku's Shadow

The effect of Kiku’s Shadow says that the creature deals damage to itself. The creature is the source of damage, not Kiku’s Shadow.

In both of these cases, only players in control of creatures with Lifelink may gain life.

You will not gain life if the source of damage is a spell card in any zone other than the stack:

Guerrilla Tactics

Guerrilla Tactics deals damage on the trigger’s resolution. Its source is a card, not a spell on the stack.

Resounding Thunder

The same thing happens when resolving Resounding Thunder. The discarded card is the source of damage.

Damage and loss of life are two entirely different events. If your instant or sorcery spell leads to losing life, it doesn’t mean it deals damage.

Vampiric Tutor
Profane Command

None of these spells with Lifelink earns you life.

If damage is prevented it isn’t dealt at all. Some replacement effects do not prevent damage, they merely modify its consequences, such as Infect or Regenerate.


If an opponent casts Endure in response to your Lightning Bolt with Lifelink, no damage will be dealt with Lightning Bolt, it will all be prevented. As a result, you won’t gain life.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

If you cast Firespout, the enemy Emrakul isn’t dealt damage because Emrakul has protection from colored spells. Therefore, when counting damage dealt you will count 2 less, and gain 2 less life.

Golgari Grave-Troll

If you deal lethal damage to an enemy Golgari Grave-Troll and the opponent uses a regeneration shield, first you gain life for the damage, then the damage is removed from the Troll through regeneration.

Things are more curious with redirection effects:

Harm’s Way

When damage is redirected, its source doesn’t change, and neither do the properties of that damage.

If an opponent uses Harm’s Way in order to redirect damage from your spell with Lifelink, the target of Harm’s Way will take 2 gamage from the source with Lifelink, which will earn you 2 life.

Divine Deflection

Opposite to that, Divine Deflection’s effect is not a redirection effect at all. The first part prevents damage, the second tells us that Divine Deflection itself is the new source of new damage. You do not gain life for damage prevented this way. However, if the opponent’s Divine Deflection happens to have Lifelink, the opponent will gain life.

Soulfire Grand Master’s third ability

{2 R/U R/U} : the next time you play an instant or sorcery spell from your hand this turn, return it to your hand instead of putting it into your graveyard as it resolves.

  • : (colon) — is a signal for an activated ability. Only activated abilities have colon in its text. It separates the cost of the ability from its effect.
  • {2 R/U R/U} — the cost is paid as part of the activation process, which matches the order of steps completed while casting a spell. The cost for Soulfire Grand Master’s third ability contains hybrid mana symbols. Each of those may be paid with either blue or red mana. If you plan on playing the Master in a Commander deck, your commander’s color identity must include all three colors: white (the mana cost of the Master), blue and red (colored symbols in hers activated ability’s cost).
  • next time you play an instant or sorcery spell from your hand this turn, return it to your hand instead of putting it into your graveyard as it resolves. — this is the effect of the ability that’s created on resolution and applied only when you cast an instant or sorcery spell from your hand.

Please note that Soulfire Grand Master’s alilities does not create a delayed trigger, since none of the trigger signal words “When”, “Whenever”, “At” are used in its text. It creates a replacement effect which is signaled to us by “Instead” .

Effects never go onto the stack

After Soulfire Grand Master’s ability resolves, the opponent won’t be able to get rid of its effect. The Master’s presence on the battlefield is not related to the existence of this effect. Naturally, while the activated ability is on the stack, the opponent may counter it with something like Disallow, then the effect will not be created.

The effect created when the ability resolves affects only the next instant or sorcery spell you cast from your hand. If something happens to the spell before it resolves (see below), the effect is no longer active. In order to restore it, the ability must be activated again.

If you activate the Master’s ability in response to casting an instant or sorcery spell from your hand, that spell will not fall under the ability’s effect.

When you play a card from anywhere other than the hand, the effect isn’t applied. The card text is as important here as the general rules of the game.

Asylum Visitor

Abilities like Madness allow casting the card from the exile zone, not from the hand!

Temporal Mastery

Abilities like Miracle conversely allow casting a spell from your hand — it is there when you reveal it.

If a spell is countered or removed from the stack in any other way, the effect isn’t applied. The card goes to your hand only if the spell resolves successfully.

Force of Will

After being countered, a spell card goes to the graveyard. This happens before resolution, therefore the spell doesn’t fall under the replacement effect of the Master’s third ability.

Glittering Wish

If a spell exiles itself or shuffles itself into the library as it resolves, this effect is applied before the card would go to the graveyard at the end of resolution, so you will not be able to return the card to your hand.

Nivmagus Elemental
Sundial of the Infinite

If you exile the spell as payment for activating Nivmagus Elemental’s ability or as result of Sundial of the Infinite’s effect, then, again, it doesn’t return to your hand, because any of that happens before resolution.

Leyline of the Void

If two replacement effects apply to moving the card to a different zone, its controller chooses the order in which they apply.

While an opponent’s Leyline of the Void is on the battlefield you may return the spell card to your hand.

If you cast Staggershock from your hand, you may choose on its resolution whether to return it to your hand or to exile it.

Moving the card from the stack to the graveyard (replaced to moving to the hand by the effect) happens at the last stage of resolving the spell. If the spell counts the number of cards in hand, it is still on the stack as it does so, so it will not count itself ( Laquatus’s Creativity).

Translated by Witas Spasovski