Bushido

This is an excerpt from an e-mail message that I sent to Magic rules manager John Carter a while back. It outlines the problems I have with the way the Bushido mechanic currently works. Maybe other people find it interesting as well.


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So, let’s start with the definition of bushido from the comp rules (version 2004-10-01):

502.38. Bushido

502.38a Bushido is a triggered ability. “Bushido X” means “Whenever this creature blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +X/+X until end of turn.” (See rule 309, “Declare Blockers Step.”)

502.38b The bushido bonus is calculated only once per combat, when the triggered ability resolves. Adding or removing blockers later in combat won’t change the bonus.

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I have problems to understand how 502.38b works. Assuming I attack with a creature with “Bushido 1” which gets blocked. According to 502.38a I would expect that a triggered ability with the effect “This gets +1/+1 until end of turn.” would go on the stack. According to 502.38b this reads more like: “This gets +X/+X, where X is the the number in the Bushido ability of this creature.” Since the bonus is calculated on resolution, the effect tries to “look back” at what the current Bushido value is — it has to remember from which ability it triggered, in case the permanent from which it triggered has multiple bushido abilities. I think this is the first time, an ability on the stack does not only need to remember its source (in this case the permanent from which it triggered), but also the specific ability.

I’m unsure how this interacts for example with Humble. If my opponent plays humble on my bushido creature in response to the bushido trigger, what bonus will my creature get? +0/+0 since the creature doesn’t have the Bushido ability anymore? +1/+1? This would contradict the statement that the bonus is calculated on resolution. Will it use the ability’s “Last Known Information”? I don’t think so, since there is no such thing for non-permanents.

Enter Fumiko the Lowblood. Here’s your FAQ entry:

Fumiko the Lowblood

{2}{R}{R}

Legendary Creature — Human Samurai

3/2

Fumiko the Lowblood has bushido X, where X is the number of attacking creatures.

Creatures your opponents control attack each turn if able.

  • X is variable. The bushido bonus is calculated each time Fumiko’s bushido trigger resolves, based on the number of attackers at that time.

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So, if I attack with Fumiko and two Grizzly Bears, Fumiko gets blocked, and one of the Bears is Shock’ed what exactly happens? According to the FAQ the outcome is that Fumiko will get +2/+2. I see three possible interpretations:

  1. When the ability triggers, Fumiko has the ability “Bushido 3”. The ability triggers, and the effect “Fumiko gets +X/+X, where X is equal to the bushido value.” goes to the stack. When it resolves, it checks again and sees that Fumiko now has “Bushido 2”, so she will get a bonus of +2/+2. This is probably the way you intended it to be but has the problems I outlined above.
  2. When the ability triggers, Fumiko has the ability “Bushido (number of attacking creatures)”, so the effect “Fumiko gets +(number of attacking creatures)/+(number of attacking creatures) until end of turn.” goes to the stack. Personally, I think that the X in “Bushido X” must be a fixed number and not a “function”.
  3. When the ability triggers, Fumiko has the ability “Bushido 3”. The ability triggers and the effect “Fumiko gets +3/+3.” goes to the stack. When the ability resolves, Fumiko gets +3/+3, since the ability on the stack is independent from the ability from which it originally triggered. This is not how it works, according to Comp Rules or FAQ, but this is how it should work, in my opinion.

To me it seems as if the rules try to mimic the ability “Whenever Fumiko blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of attacking creatures.” But in my opinion, this just doesn’t work with the rules as they currently are. I would prefer if the Bushido bonus gets “locked in” when the ability triggers, as this seems to me to be most straight-forward and most consistent with other, similar rules.

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