Interfering with a Triggered Oath of Druids

@JadePhoenix Heh, funny.

The original wording had the intervening if, and when they cleaned up the wording the functionality stayed intact for a completely different rules intricacy. Interesting.

@Hagrid said:

In example A you cannot tap to add a creature to the opponents side because there isn't a point in the untap step where you can do anything. You go to untap step permanents and such untap then you're immediately in the upkeep step at that point Oath of Druids has already checked and saw that the creature count is 1:1.

Not quite. It has checked the creature counts in that it has had it's target assigned but the ability goes on the stack and thus anyone can respond to it.

@Nefarias said:

@JadePhoenix Heh, funny.

The original wording had the intervening if, and when they cleaned up the wording the functionality stayed intact for a completely different rules intricacy. Interesting.

I only just noticed this seemingly recent change as a result of this thread. Good to know these things but very strange that they would bother with errata that doesn't change the functionality of the card. They must have just wanted to make this kind of intricacy more obvious to players. Not sure it's more obvious though.

@Greg I too have had a fair number of judges give the wrong ruling on this card as well. It can be extremely frustrating when it directly costs the game. It always comes as a surprise to discover how few people understand the details of how the Exodus oathes work especially considering the fame of Oath of Druids; however, I also had to seek out a definitive answer in order to learn the interaction as well at some point so I can't resent an Opponent for just not knowing.

last edited by Aaron Patten

Yes, the intervening if was removed when Oath got put on MtGO, I think. Anyone know what shenanigans they were trying to circumvent with "and is his or her opponent"? Just avoiding casual multi-player interactions with teammates? Any reason not to just use "target opponent who controls more creatures than you"?

Basically. If someone wants to Oath, they have to have more creatures to start the turn, and more creatures as the Oath ability resolves.

(To beat an opposing Jace bounce effect, one can play double Oath, then off only one Orchard, give the opponent a token on end of turn. One untaps and trigger both Oaths, then with them both on the stack, give one's opponent another token. When the first Oath resolves, one get some kind of gigantic, likely flying, monster, and the opponent will still have one more creature. So the second Oath will resolve just fine, and one gets a second monster. Assuming one then just passes the turn, the opposing Jace can bounce a single monster, then on the ensuing turn, the remaining monster will be able to kill the Jace and dominate the board.

-Pronouns edited to be much more passive-voicy and perhaps clearer-

last edited by Topical_Island

@McAra The "you" is unclear in your sentence. It could refer to the Oath's controller. Same thing with "opponent", it could refer to the controller's opponents.

http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=397400

"More creatures" must be true for the ability to trigger and for the ability to resolve favorably.

Two scenarios

A) Villain has an Oath of Druids in play, no creatures. Hero has 1 creature. Villain's Oath triggers in his upkeep, in response: Hero removes his own creature from play, there are now no creatures.

  1. Can Villain still activate Oath?
  2. If so, can he choose to decline to

--
B) Villain has an Oath of Druids in play, no creatures. Hero has 1 creature in play. Oath triggers in Villain's upkeep. Hero flashes in a Containment Priest in response.

  1. Does Villain have to use Oath, or can they now decline?

@Dave-Kaplan
In both situations oath goes on the stack during the upkeep.
A) Upon resolution hero does not have more creatures, so oath cannot be activated.
B) The "may" in oath of druids applies on resolution. Villain can either choose to activate or not to activate oath upon resolution.

This thread and the FB conversation make me wonder what percentage of Oath triggers have been resolved properly in paper, even with the assistance of a judge 😛

It reminds of me of when my friends and I were testing for extended in high school. My friend had an oath deck, but with proxied oaths. He forgot the word "may" and kept milling out my other friend who was playing mind's desire. The latter friend was not amused when he read the Oracle text.

last edited by diophan

@varal said:

@McAra The "you" is unclear in your sentence. It could refer to the Oath's controller. Same thing with "opponent", it could refer to the controller's opponents.

? That is exactly what I meant. I was using English rather than Magic-ese, maybe thats what I failed to convey. I will try to be more clear but I don't understand your confusion, so apologies if this doesn'the help:

Why doesn't Oath say, "At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player chooses one of his or her opponents who controls more creatures than him or her..." instead of the current wording. What technical issues are they avoiding with this wording?

Edit: I see the confusion now, I was only wording it from controller's perspective, not what I intended with my other post.

last edited by McAra

@diophan I'm not sure why they changed the Oracle wording, because the original Exodus text makes it clearer that the creature count is checked both at the beginning of the Upkeep and at resolution. I think most players play the card correctly, though -- at least my experience on MTGO has been that players learn how Oath's trigger works very quickly.

@McAra It's the requirement to use the word target that makes the sentence weird.

@varal said:

@McAra It's the requirement to use the word target that makes the sentence weird.

Ah, I can see how making the text use "target" makes the wording tricky, now. Makes sense why they did it the current way.

@Aaron-Patten said:

@Hagrid said:

In example A you cannot tap to add a creature to the opponents side because there isn't a point in the untap step where you can do anything. You go to untap step permanents and such untap then you're immediately in the upkeep step at that point Oath of Druids has already checked and saw that the creature count is 1:1.

Not quite. It has checked the creature counts in that it has had it's target assigned but the ability goes on the stack and thus anyone can respond to it.

Im not sure this is how it works. Maybe im misunderstanding your point, but the ability won't go on the stack because of what Hagrid mentioned, right? You cant respond to the trigger if its not on the stack, and it won't be on the stack if there isn't a legal target for Oath at the very instance of the start of your upkeep. There won't be a legal target because there is no point at which you can change the number of creatures the opponent has before the start of your upkeep

last edited by Minkar

@Minkar said:

@Aaron-Patten said:

@Hagrid said:

In example A you cannot tap to add a creature to the opponents side because there isn't a point in the untap step where you can do anything. You go to untap step permanents and such untap then you're immediately in the upkeep step at that point Oath of Druids has already checked and saw that the creature count is 1:1.

Not quite. It has checked the creature counts in that it has had it's target assigned but the ability goes on the stack and thus anyone can respond to it.

Im not sure this is how it works. Maybe im misunderstanding your point, but the ability won't go on the stack because of what Hagrid mentioned, right? You cant respond to the trigger if its not on the stack, and it won't be on the stack if there isn't a legal target for Oath at the very instance of the start of your upkeep. There won't be a legal target because there is no point at which you can change the number of creatures the opponent has before the start of your upkeep

Neither player receives priority in the untap step (abilities that trigger when a permanent is untapped carry over to upkeep).

At the beginning of the upkeep, Oath of Druids triggers. The controller of Oath of Druids is then required to pick a legal target. If they cannot do so, the ability cannot be placed on the stack and "fizzles". If they are able to do so, the trigger is placed on the stack. After other upkeep triggers are placed on the stack, the active player receives priority and this is the earliest point they would be able to tap Orchard.

The ability will check when it is about to resolve whether or not the target remains legal. If the target is now illegal (opponent is untargetable or creatures are now equal), the ability will be "countered on resolution", just like every other spell and ability without a legal target. If the target remains legal, the player chooses whether or not he or she would like to use the ability as it is a may ability. Cards are milled, creature is put into play (or whatever), and then the active player gets priority, yada yada yada.

The reason for the somewhat convoluted wording is that the player who controls Oath of Druids is the controller of the ability. "Target opponent" refers to an opponent of the controller and so it cannot be used for the wording on Oath. Why is this relevant? Well, it is the controller's responsibility to remember their triggers and they must trigger Oath on their opponent's turn if the conditions are met. If they forget, it should be a game-rule violation and the opponent should have the ability to put it on the stack like any other detrimental trigger. If they intentionally do not put the trigger on the stack, this is blatant cheating and the punishment could include a disqualification. This is of course at the judge's discretion.

Hopefully, this was an adequate summary.

@ChubbyRain said:

At the beginning of the upkeep, Oath of Druids triggers. The controller of Oath of Druids is then required to pick a legal target. If they cannot do so, the ability cannot be placed on the stack and "fizzles". If they are able to do so, the trigger is placed on the stack. After other upkeep triggers are placed on the stack, the active player receives priority and this is the earliest point they would be able to tap Orchard.

I guess im getting caught up in this sentence because I always thought trigger meant "event happens (spell played, some condition met, etc) and something goes on the stack". So Oath triggers at the start of upkeep but does NOT go onto the stack until a legal target is declared (or does it go onto the stack, but immediately fizzle before anyone gets priority because there are no legal targets??) . If this is the case, in the proposed Example A in the original post where both players have one creature and the player controlling Oath untaps with an Orchard in play, there is no way for him to resolve the Oath effect on his turn, right? There has to be a legal target for the trigger to go on the stack, but there can't be a legal target because both players have one creature and the player controlling Oath won't receive priority to activate Orchard at any point and change the number of creatures in play until after the Oath has fizzled because there are no targets.

Sorry if that was a really convoluted way of writing it, just trying to make sure I follow it correctly

last edited by Minkar

@Minkar said:

@ChubbyRain said:

At the beginning of the upkeep, Oath of Druids triggers. The controller of Oath of Druids is then required to pick a legal target. If they cannot do so, the ability cannot be placed on the stack and "fizzles". If they are able to do so, the trigger is placed on the stack. After other upkeep triggers are placed on the stack, the active player receives priority and this is the earliest point they would be able to tap Orchard.

I guess im getting caught up in this sentence because I always thought trigger meant "event happens (spell played, some condition met, etc) and something goes on the stack". So Oath triggers at the start of upkeep but does NOT go onto the stack until a legal target is declared. If this is the case, in the proposed Example A in the original post where both players have one creature and the player controlling Oath untaps with an Orchard in play, there is no way for him to resolve the Oath effect on his turn, right? There has to be a legal target for the trigger to go on the stack, but there can't be a legal target because both players have one creature and the player controlling Oath won't receive priority to activate Oath at any point and change the number of creatures in play until after the Oath has fizzled because there are no targets.

Sorry if that was a really convoluted way of writing it, just trying to make sure I follow it correctly

"Using a triggered ability is not optional. When triggered, the controller can't refuse to put the ability on the stack. Nor can he or she choose an illegal target, if a target is required. If a targeted ability has no legal targets in play, it still triggers and goes on the stack, but is taken off immediately."

From http://mtgsalvation.gamepedia.com/Triggered_ability

Hopefully that further clarifies it. The end result is as you say - Player A cannot give Player B a token in his or her upkeep/untap step in order to trigger Oath.

So if you're being a real rules stickler, you could call out an opponent who controls Oath but has less creatures than you for not placing the ability on the stack during your upkeep? Wonder if anyone has ever done that in a tournament before...

@Minkar said:

So if you're being a real rules stickler, you could call out an opponent who controls Oath but has less creatures than you for not placing the ability on the stack during your upkeep? Wonder if anyone has ever done that in a tournament before...

Called out? You could... It's not likely to be a particularly harsh punishment unless you can prove your opponent did it intentionally. There is enough confusion surrounding Oath of Druids that the opponent easily could have misunderstood how the card/rules works (this thread is evidence of that). I've on several occasions let my opponent know that I was going to use his Oath in my upkeep and won by flipping over Salvagers. It doesn't come up a lot but I look out for those corner cases. However, I'm never going to try and get my opponent a warning unless I think they should know the interaction and are forgetting intentionally (which is cheating by the rules definition). The better play in my opinion would be to explain it to the opponent after the match.

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