The interaction of continuous effects, Humility-effects and the layers system are illustrated by Turn to Frog. Say “Ribbit!”
Any Humility-like card raises many questions. In general, these questions are related to the interaction of continuous effects. And when we talk about those the Phantom of the Layers comes and scares off players and some non-experienced judges.
In reality, nothing overly complex happens when we deal with this card. It is enough to sort through the effects, classify them and apply in a specific order, if by that time they still exist.
There is only one little exception: if you started applying an effect on one layer and continued on another, it is still applied even if the ability that generates it no longer exists. I don’t think anyone can memorize all the layers together at once, but the rules are always there to check out. At the tournament you can call a judge to help you. For curious I recommend a nice article on the layer system. And now back to our muttons… I mean frogs!
Let’s read the card carefully:
“Target creature loses all abilities and becomes a 1/1 blue Frog until end of turn”.
- the creature loses all abilities — this type of effect (usually called a “Humility effect”) is applied on the layer 6, because it affects abilities;
- the creature becomes 1/1 — this effect sets P/T to a specific value, it is applied on the layer 7b;
- the creature becomes blue — this effect changes color and is applied on the layer 5;
- the creature becomes Frog — this effect changes type and is applied on the layer 4;
Now we see that the effect of this card is applied on 4 different layers. We start from the beginning.
Type and Color
We’ve already discussed the type-changing effects with Gideon Jura and Blood Moon. So, we should remember that an effect that sets a subtype replaces all previously existing subtypes unless the text explicitly says otherwise (e.g. this type is set in addition to the other types). Turn to Frog doesn’t mention this, so, same as with Blood Moon, we’ll be using an eraser and a pencil.
The color-changing effects behave in a similar way, that’s why we discuss both effects together.
I’ll note that giving a Frog creature type to a creature doesn’t affect its type, supertype or name. Coloring it in blue, obviously, doesn’t change its mana cost.
Losing the abilities
“To sell something unnecessary we’ll first need to buy something unnecessary.” — said “Uncle” Fedor (Russian cartoon character) and he was right. A creature can lose all its abilities only in case it has any. A creature may have its own original abilities or may gain some via effects.
A bit of theory:
An effect grants a creature an ability if its text has the words “gains” or “has”.
Besides abilities a creature may have characteristics (e.g. color) and attributes that change the game rules (e.g. a creature can’t be blocked or monstrous). Characteristic defining effects often use the following wording “[permanent] is [characteristic value]”.
Now, the main thing:
If an object gains or has ability, then this ability may be removed by an effect. If an effect defines an object’s characteristic it doesn’t grant the object any abilities, so, there is nothing to remove with the “erasing” abilities.
This card is full of surprises! The result of Turning it into Frog will depend on whether it was brought to the battlefield the normal way or with Unearth mechanic.
Interaction of effects that adds/removes abilities
What happens when a single object is affected by different effects that give or erase the abilities? In this case it is important to understand whether one of these effects depends on the other.
613.7a We say that one effect depends on the other if they are applied on the same layer (or sublayer), they aren’t characteristic defining abilities and the application of the second one can change:
- the text of the first one;
- the existence of the first one;
- what it is applied to;
- what it does when applied.
Otherwise the effects are considered independent.
In the battle between independent effects the one with a more recent time stamp wins.
A bit more theory:
- The effects of static abilities have the time stamp of an object this ability is printed on or the time stamp of an effect that generated this ability, whatever happened later.
- A permanent’s time stamp is the moment it entered the battlefield.
- The time stamp of abilities of Auras, Equipments and Fortifications is the moment they were attached to an object the last time.
- The time stamp of the effects generated on resolution of spells or abilities is the moment they were created.
For example, Akroma’s Memorial’s effect has the same time stamp as the Memorial itself, i.e. the moment it entered the battlefield.
Favor of the Overbeing’s time stamp is the moment it was last time attached to a creature.
Tainted Strike’s effect’s time stamp is the moment it resolved.
We won’t go far in discussion of the dependent effects: I’ll provide a single example.
Note that Turn to Frog does not counter any abilities that have already triggered or have been activated:
If Turn to Frog was cast in response to the activation of Knight’s ability, then, after its resolution you get a 4/4 blue Frog.
Turning a Whitemane Lion that has just entered the battlefield to Frog won’t save you from its ability triggering or resolving.
Power / Toughness
It’s very simple when it comes to P/T. In the layer system only characteristic-defining abilities lie lower than setting P/T to a specific value. This means that Turn to Frog’s effect overlay them and doesn’t affect other effects that occupy the higher layers:
Effects that change the game rules (such as increasing the maximum hand size or making a creature indestructible) are applied after all other continuous effects are applied, on a non-existing layer 8. These effects have no chance to be applied if the abilities that generate them have been removed on the layer 6.
In conclusion, let's look at the creation of a massive paddling pool as a result of Polymorphist’s Jest’s effect:
Translated by Lev Kotlyar