Magic Ruling: By the Skin of Gideon’s Teeth

March 9, 2018

We are at 0 life.

However, we control Gideon of the Trials, having already activated his emblem ability, which states, “You get an emblem with ‘As long as you control a Gideon planeswalker, you can’t lose the game and your opponents can’t win the game.'”

We also have a Naturalize in our hand, which can destroy an artifact or enchantment at instant speed.

Our opponent casts Ixalan’s Binding, targeting our Gideon with the Binding’s enter-the-battlefield ability, “When Ixalan’s Binding enters the battlefield, exile target nonland permanent an opponent controls until Ixalan’s Binding leaves the battlefield.”

Do we lose the game?


The answer? Not yet we don’t!

Ixalan’s Binding’s ability is on the stack, so it will resolve no matter whether we Naturalize or not. So if we DO Naturalize, destroying the Binding, will its ability still exile Gideon before checking whether the Binding is still on the battlefield?

Luckily enough, there’s a rule for this!

  • 610.3. Some one-shot effects cause an object to change zones “until” a specified event occurs. A second one-shot effect is created immediately after the specified event. This second one-shot effect returns the object to its previous zone.
    • 610.3a If the specified event has already occurred when the initial one-shot effect would cause the object to change zones, the object doesn’t move.

So, because Ixalan’s Binding has already left the battlefield when its “until” ability is resolved, Ixalan will not bind Gideon based on these plays, and we survive by the skin of Gideon’s teeth!


Missed last time’s ruling? Find it here!

Andy B

Andy B is our Master of Events and Online Wizardry, and that's why you see his picture at the bottom of most posts and events! You'll see him and his beard at all our locations, often with his nose at a computer, creating pages just like this one. His favorite games include The Grizzled, Tash Kalar, Guild Ball and Legend of the Five Rings.

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  • Nate Smars

    I’m guessing this was retemplated to clean up the issues that the Torment “Nightmares” (Faceless Butcher, Mesmeric Fiend, etc) had where you could effectively stack the abilities backwards (returning something before you exile it), thereby removing it permanently.

    • Yup, this is a cleanup that has been going on for some years. To my recollection, Fiend Hunter from the original Innistrad block is about the last card to use the old two-triggered-ability templating. Nowadays, there is a single triggered ability that creates linked effects. This is part of the trend that began in M10 to remove rules that create “gotcha” traps for new players, which led to a spate of bad initial experiences. While I love me some stacked trigger shenanigans, the game is improved by removing them.

      • Nate Smars

        That was pretty much my exact thought when damage stopped using the stack back in Sixth Edition. “I can’t do that anymore? Yeah, that makes sense.”