Max Kahn: Everything You Need to Know About Eternal Masters

Magic articles can help you gain insight into living the pro life, how to metagame, the hidden mistakes people make while playing, or how to sideboard with your Modern deck.

This article will do none of those.

As a judge, my goal is always to help players understand Magic better by not only helping with rulings, but teaching why a ruling is ruled as it is. By giving rulings in this way, judges hope that players will be able to figure it out themselves next time. We judges sometimes need to lay the groundwork for a new set; if players haven’t played with the cards yet, it is more likely that there will be confusion surrounding the cards.

Whenever a new set comes out, my Facebook Messenger app gets flooded with questions about how new abilities interact with popular cards and weird corner case rulings. While Eternal Masters doesn’t feature any new cards, some abilities and mechanics featured in the set are older than I am, so it’s possible that players have never seen them in action. I’ll go through each of the non-evergreen abilities and mechanics in Eternal Masters, breaking down the ins and outs of the ability with examples using the cards from the set.

Even if you’ve already played with some of these abilities, feel free to skip around and read what you don’t know! And if you have any questions that I didn’t answer here, feel free to ask in the comments below.

Cascade (Bloodbraid Elf, Maelstrom Wanderer, Shardless Agent) maelstromwanderer

Cascade, hailing from Conflux, is an ability that allows you to cast some extra spells. Whenever you cast a spell with Cascade, the Cascade trigger goes onto the stack above the original spell. When Cascade resolves, you exile cards face-up from the top of your library until you exile a card that costs less than the original spell. When you do, you have the option to cast that spell without paying its mana cost. Then, you put all of the revealed (exiled) cards randomly on the bottom of your library.

Special Notes:

  • The Cascaded spell will resolve before the spell with Cascade. This is important, for example, with Bloodbraid Elf and Pyroclasm. If you cast Bloodbraid Elf and Cascade into Pyroclasm, Pyroclasm will deal 2 damage to each creature before Bloodbraid Elf resolves. After the board is wiped, Bloodbraid Elf will resolve and can swing for 3 hasty damage.
  • Since Cascade triggers immediately after the spell with Cascade is put onto the stack, countering the spell with Cascade will not counter the Cascade Trigger. However, players can counter the spell that was cascaded into if they would like.
  • If the card that was Cascaded into has an additional cost, such as Tormenting Voice, you must pay the additional cost. If a spell has an optional additional cost, such as Kicker or Conspire, you may choose to pay those costs.
  • If the card that was Cascaded into has an alternate cost, such as Morph or Surge, you may not pay those costs.
  • If the card that was Cascaded into has an X in its mana cost, such as Kaervek’s Torch, X is 0.
  • In the event of multiple Cascade triggers, such as Maelstrom Wanderer, you will resolve each Cascade ability separately.

Echo (Crater Hellion, Ghitu Slinger, Karmic Guide, Keldon Champion, Mogg War Marshal, Stingscourger, Ticking Gnomes)craterhe

Echo is an ability originally from Urza’s Saga that allows your permanents be more powerful than normal — but with a high cost. After a permanent with Echo enters the battlefield, an ability will trigger during your next upkeep. When that trigger resolves, you have two options: pay the Echo cost listed after the word “Echo” or sacrifice the permanent. If you pay the echo cost, you do not need to pay the Echo cost again, unless that permanent has changed control or re-entered the battlefield again.


Flashback (Cabal Therapy, Deep Analysis, Desperate Ravings, Dream Twist, Faithless cabaltherapyLooting, Firebolt, Rally the Peasants, Reckless Charge, Roar of the Wurm, Silent Departure, Sylvan Might)

Flashback is an ability, last seen in the original Innistrad block, which allows players to cast spells from their graveyards rather than their hand. Instead of paying the mana cost in the top right corner, pay the cost listed after the word “Flashback” and the spell goes onto the stack. Sometimes a Flashback cost will require mana. Other times, it will instruct you to sacrifice a creature or even pay life in order to cast the spell again. Flashback still follows normal timing restrictions, so a sorcery with Flashback, such as Deep Analysis, can only be played at a time that you could normally cast a sorcery. Once the spell with Flashback leaves the stack for any reason, including resolving, being countered, or being returned to your hand (Remand), the card is exiled instead of going back to your graveyard.

Imprint (Chrome Mox, Duplicant, Isochron Scepter, Phyrexian Ingester)Scepter

Imprint (originally from Mirrodin) is an ability in which a card is exiled in order for a permanent to have a special effect. Each Imprint effect allows different types of cards to be Imprinted from different zones, so make sure you read the card carefully. For example, Chrome Mox requires you to exile a non-artifact, non-land card from your hand, while Phyrexian Ingester Imprints a non-token creature on the battlefield.. Read the card before you exile the wrong card! If the Imprinted card leaves the exile zone for some reason, such as Riftsweeper, the card with Imprint won’t be able to do its effect/ability anymore.

Special Notes:

  • You can choose not to Imprint a card when an Imprint card enters the battlefield. If so, Chrome Mox cannot tap for anything and Isochron Scepter doesn’t copy anything.
  • Chrome Mox can imprint a multicolored card. If you do, you can choose one of those colors for Chrome Mox to add each time it is activated.
  • Chrome Mox can NEVER tap to add colorless mana to your mana pool, so Imprinting an Eldrazi isn’t such a great idea.
  • Each card with Imprint is independent. So, if you play a Chrome Mox but already have a Isochron Scepter on the battlefield, you would need to Imprint a second card under the Chrome Mox if you would like it to add mana.

Landcycling (Shoreline Ranger, Twisted Abomination)Twisted_Abomination

Landcycling is a specific form of Cycling. Permanents with landcycling have an activated ability ONLY while in your hand. Anytime you have priority, you can pay (2) and discard the card with landcycling to search your library for a land with the appropriate type and put it into your hand. The land that you search for does not have to be a basic land, but it must have the appropriate subtype. For example, when you discard Twisted Abomination to Swampcycling, you can search your library for a basic Swamp, a Revised dual (Underground Sea), a shockland (Watery Grave), a Battleland (Sunken Hollow), a Leechridden Swamp, or a Snow-Covered Swamp to put into your hand.

Morbid (Malicious Affliction, Tragic Slip, Wakedancer)Tragic Slip

Morbid is an ability word that alters a spell or permanent if a creature has already died this turn. Remember that dying only refers to creatures going from the battlefield to the graveyard. Exiling, shuffling into the deck, returning to hand or turning face-down is not considered dying. Some Morbid abilities, such as Tragic Slip, are self-replacement effects, so the spell will check upon resolution if a creature died earlier in the turn. Other Morbid abilities, such as Wakedancer and Malicious Affliction, are called intervening-if clauses. This means that these triggered abilities will not go on the stack unless a creature has already died. You DON’T get to do shenanigans like “Wakedancer enters the battlefield, kill it in response, trigger Morbid, make a Zombie”.

Retrace (Call the Skybreaker, Flame Jab, Oona’s Grace)Flame Jab

Retrace, like Flashback, is another ability that allows you to cast Instants and Sorceries from your graveyard. Instead of playing a different cost, like Flashback, Retrace requires you to pay the mana cost of the spell (including color) and discard a land card in order to recast the spell. Retrace still follows normal timing restrictions, so a Sorcery with Retrace, such as Call the Skybreaker, can only be played at a time that you could normally cast a Sorcery. Unlike Flashback, cards with Retrace will go into the graveyard after they leave the stack, so you are free to continue to pay Retrace costs whenever you have the appropriate amount of mana and a land to discard each time.

Shroud (Argothian Enchantress, Inkwell Leviathan, Nimble Mongoose, Giant Solifuge)inkwelllev

Shroud is known as the OG-Hexproof. Like Hexproof, creatures you control with shroud can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponent’s control. However, shroud doesn’t allow you to target the creature either. This means that nobody’s Giant Growths, Auras, or Equipment can target a creature with Shroud.

Shroud creatures will still be affected by Wrath of God or Glorious Anthem effects, since neither of those effects target the creature with Shroud.


Threshold (Centaur Chieftain, Cephalid Sage, Nimble Mongoose, Werebear)Mongoose

Threshold is an ability word originally from the Odyssey block. Creatures or spells with Threshold have an additional effect if you have seven or more cards in your graveyard. This effect can turn on and off throughout the game, so once you reach Threshold, it is possible to lose Threshold if the number of cards in your graveyard goes below 7 again. So, always check your graveyard for Threshold and don’t assume that since Threshold was active last turn that it still will be this turn.


Vanishing (Aven Riftwatcher, Calciderm, Keldon Marauders)Calciderm

Permanents with Vanishing enter the battlefield with a number of time counters on them equal to the “Vanishing Number”, such as 3 for Aven Riftwatcher and 4 for Calciderm. At the beginning of each of your upkeeps, you have to remove one of these counters from the permanent. When you remove the last counter, a triggered ability goes onto the stack that forces you to sacrifice the permanent. It’s important to note that if something removes the counters from a creature with Vanishing, such as Hex Parasite or Vampire Hexmage, the permanent with Vanishing will still be sacrificed when the last time counter is removed.

Card Specific Notes:

  • Animate Dead has a lot of words. But, here’s what it boils down to: “Return enchanted creature from a graveyard to the battlefield. The creature is enchanted by Animate Dead and it gets -1/-0. If either card leaves the battlefield, the other card goes to your graveyard.”
  • Argothian Enchantress and Mesa Enchantress draw a card upon the casting of an enchantment, not the resolution. Therefore, if your enchantments spell is countered, you will still draw a card.
  • Burning Vengeance will trigger when casting cards with Flashback or Retrace from your graveyard, but returning something from your graveyard with an effect like Animate Dead will not trigger Burning Vengeance.
  • You don’t need to name a card for Cabal Therapy until the spell resolves.
  • Enlightened Tutor, Mystical Tutor and Vampiric Tutor put the card on top of your library, not into your hand.
  • Future Sight allows you to play a land off of the top of your library. However, you can still only play one land per turn (unless you have an effect that allows you make multiple land drops).
  • Each player does not need to have a creature on the battlefield in order to cast Innocent Blood. If you don’t, you are still allowed to cast it.
  • Maze of Ith does not tap for mana.
  • Mishra’s Factory can block and then tap to give itself +1/+1, but only if it isn’t summoning sick.
  • Regal Force counts itself when counting green creatures.
  • Whitemane Lion can return itself to its hand when the triggered ability resolves, assuming it is still on the battlefield.

Max Kahn is a Level 2 judge from suburban Chicago. He serves as the head judge for the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series.

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Max Kahn