Magic Ruling: Rescuing the Sagas!
Let’s talk Saga timings!
We control a Rite of Belzenlok, a Saga card whose third chapter ability reads, “Create a 6/6 black, Demon creature token with flying, trample, and ‘At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice another creature. If you can’t, this creature deals 6 damage to you.'”
The Rite currently has two lore counters on it. It is the beginning of our upkeep, so we’re about to add the third lore counter—but we’re feeling greedy.
We also have Rescue in our hand.
Can we wait for the third lore counter to be added, put the creation of our Demon token on the stack, then Rescue the saga before it is sacrificed?
We’ve got plenty of demons to go around today. The answer is Yes!
The real question here is, when is a Saga sacrificed: As soon as the final lore counter is added? Or when the final chapter ability resolves?
- Rule 714.4. If the number of lore counters on a Saga permanent is greater than or equal to its final chapter number, and it isn’t the source of a chapter ability that has triggered but not yet left the stack, that Saga’s controller sacrifices it. This state-based action doesn’t use the stack.
The wording here is convoluted, but what this rule is saying, is that there are two conditions that must be met before we need to sacrifice our Rite of Belzenlok to state-based actions:
- The number of lore counters on the Rite is greater than or equal to 3 (This is true);
- The Rite is NOT the source of a chapter ability that has triggered but not yet left the stack (This is false, because our demon creation is still waiting on the stack).
So here we are. The Rite has 3 lore counters, the Demon is on the stack, and priority passes to us.
We cast Rescue, targeting the Rite of Belzenlok. It comes back to our hand, and we prepare to tell the Saga anew!
Yep, you guessed it; this is very bad for us. Disallow counters the 6/6 Demon creation ability, removing it from the stack. Next up on the stack is our Rescue, BUT before we can resolve it, state-based actions will see that our Rite of Belzenlok has three counters, and no chapter ability on the stack. We sacrifice the Rite. Ouch.
Our Rescue whiffs, we get no demon, and our Saga is in the graveyard. And that’s why they call it a greedy play.