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Deep dive into layers and the Ashaya/Frogify interaction

With the release of [[Ashaya, Soul of the Wild]] in ZNR, some people on MtG Arena are confused about its interaction with [[Frogify]]. A similar confusion also came up with [[Dryad of the Ilysian Grove]] [[Ichthyomorphosis]] that could even happen in draft! Today, I'll explain why they interact the way they do, but more interestingly, why the rules work this way and why there isn't an easy fix. Note: although I'm a huge rules nerd, I'm not a judge. If you notice any mistake in my explanation, feel free to correct me.
The interaction
First off though, what is the interaction? Well, you have Ashaya and your opponent enchants it with frogify, all your creatures (including Ashaya) will still be forests, despite frogify saying it loses all its ability. In fact, Ashaya will lose its ability to turn creatures in forest, but still, creatures will be forests. Why?
Layers
The reason why is the layers. Layers dictate how continuous effects interact and are infamous for causing several unintuitive interactions. Here's the rule that describes them:
613.1. The values of an object’s characteristics are determined by starting with the actual object. For a card, that means the values of the characteristics printed on that card. For a token or a copy of a spell or card, that means the values of the characteristics defined by the effect that created it. Then all applicable continuous effects are applied in a series of layers in the following order:
613.1a Layer 1: Rules and effects that modify copiable values are applied.
613.1b Layer 2: Control-changing effects are applied.
613.1c Layer 3: Text-changing effects are applied. See rule 612, “Text-Changing Effects.”
613.1d Layer 4: Type-changing effects are applied. These include effects that change an object’s card type, subtype, and/or supertype.
613.1e Layer 5: Color-changing effects are applied.
613.1f Layer 6: Ability-adding effects, keyword counters, ability-removing effects, and effects that say an object can’t have an ability are applied.
613.1g Layer 7: Power- and/or toughness-changing effects are applied.
Note that some of these layers, especially layer 7, have sublayers, but they are not relevant to the interaction we're interested in, so I'll skip them for today. That said, if you ever wonder why P/T switching and pump effects lead to weird results, that's where you should look. Another important rule regarding layers is the following:
613.5. The application of continuous effects as described by the layer system is continually and automatically performed by the game. All resulting changes to an object’s characteristics are instantaneous.
Finally, normally if two effects would apply in the same layer or sublayer, they are applied in timestamp order (i.e., the effect that came into play first applies first). There are exceptions, but things are already complicated enough, and they are not relevant here.
Alright, so what does this all mean for Ashaya + frogify? Well, Ashaya's ability that turns creatures into forest is a type changing effect, so it's applied in layer 4. The removal of abilities from frogify applies in layer 6. This means that creatures are turned into forests before the ability is removed. The ability is removed, just too late for it to matter. The other important point is that due to 613.5, it doesn't matter if your creature was on the battlefield before or after Ashaya was turned into a frog, it'll be a forest.
But why layers
Why do we even have layers? Well, for obvious reasons, we need to be able to figure out in what order continuous effects happen. In some digital only games, they can hard code this on a case per case basis in order to arrive to what is the most intuitive. However, given that magic is, at its roots, a table top game, it needs rules that are as general as possible. No one would want a rule book that listed all possible interaction and how they resolve.
Alright, so why not go by timestamp on everything? This actually leads to more unintuitive results. Imagine you have a [[Goblin King]] in play and then cast an [[Arcane Adaptation]]. After that, you cast a grizzly bear. Does your grizzly bear have +1/+1? If you use strictly timestamp, the answer is no. Goblin King was in play first, so it gives all goblins +1/+1 first, before arcane adaptation turns your bear into a goblin.
What if we apply stuff in order, but then retroactively cancel things that have been removed, even if it happens in later layers. For instance, Ashaya turns everything into forests in layer 4, its ability is removed in layer 6, so we go back and say "you know what, layer 6 removed the ability, so let's go back and change what happens in layer 4". This would work in this specific scenario, but would lead to loops. Imagine [[Opalescence]] and [[humility]]. Humility is a creature, so it loses all abilities, but since it loses its ability, it no longer removes all abilities... so it removes its own ability, but without an ability, it no longer removes its ability....... No, things need to apply once and done.
It turns out, most of the time, layers produce the expected board state. The situations where layers are counter intuitive are the exception. Perhaps there's a better system out there to handle these, but given how long the game has existed, I assume the rules people at WotC went through several alternatives and none were better.
But why this particular order
So often, when I have this conversation with people, they say something like "fine, we need layers, but it makes no sense that ability removal happens so late. It should be the first thing that happens!" The problem is that they're looking at one specific situation and are trying to fix that one, without thinking of all the other situations where layer 6 comes up. Let's look at what it means if we move layer 6 around.
Alright, first off, let's put it in layer 1. That puts it before copy effects, such as clone. Imagine the following situation. I have a [[clone]] that copies a [[wind drake]]. You put frogify on it. Does my clone still have flying? Well, if ability loss is in layer 1, the answer is yes, because it loses its abilities first, then becomes a copy. Is that more intuitive?
Ok, so clearly, copy effects need to happen before. What about if we put ability loss as layer 2. That means it happens before control changing effects. Imagine you have [[Melira, Sylvok Outcast]] and a [[Glistener Elf]]. Your opponent uses [[control magic]] to steal your glistener elf. Does the stolen elf have infect? If ability loss was layer 2, yes, the elf would have infect, because Melira removes infect from your opponent's creatures before glistener elf has changed control.
Ok, what about at layer 3. That puts it before text changing effects. Imagine you have an enchantment that says something like "all blue creatures lose flying" and you have a wind drake. You then use [[alter reality]] to change blue to red, such that it now says "all red creatures lose flying". Does your wind drake have flying? No, because the effect is applied before the text changes, so when it applies, it still says "blue".
Ok, so let's put it at layer 4, so that it's before type changing. This is really the crux of the issue, right? Imagine your opponent turned a land into a creature using Nissa, then you cast [[humility]]. Does the land lose all its abilities? No, because the "lose all abilities" is applied before the type changing effect, so the land isn't a creature at that point.
Perhaps you're fine with this tradeoff. Perhaps you think the Nissa example is less common than the Ashaya interaction, and so you'd rather have Ashaya be intuitive, at the cost of Nissa being unintuitive. Here's the thing, layer 6 isn't just ability loss, it's also ability gain. I mentioned an example earlier with goblin king and arcane adaptation earlier. Let's look at that example again, but with ability gain happening before type changing. Well... first goblin king gives mountainwalk to all goblins, but at this point, grizzly bear isn't a goblin. Then bear becomes a goblin, then goblin king gives +1/+1 to all goblins, including grizzly bear. So the bear is a goblin, it gets +1/+1 from goblin king but doesn't get mountainwalk! That's not particularly intuitive, right?
But what if we only move ability loss before layer 4, and keep ability gain in layer 6. Imagine your opponent has a vanilla 2/2 that's enchanted with [[arcane flight]]. They attack with it and you cast [[Canopy Claws]] on it because you want to block it with your non flying creature. Oops, that does nothing, because with these new rules, ability loss happens first, before the creature gains flying.
TL;DR: Layers lead to some unintuitive interactions in exceptional cases, but most of the time, they act as you'd expect. These weird corner cases are, unfortunately, a necessary evil and the alternatives commonly brought up simply lead to more confusing situations than they solve.
submitted by Filobel to magicTCG

First Contact - Chapter 324 (SECURE ARCHIVE)

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Black Box projects had existed throughout human history. They had been under different names, different types, but always they applied technology to problems. From making arrows in yurts in secret to surprise a foe a tribe had lured into attacking a 'defenseless' encampment to the development of the Goku Class Planet Cracker, mankind had always built a Black Box to further their aims.
Humans excel at three things: Secrecy, Adaptability, and Weaponization.
For most of you, your species took tens of thousands of years to move from a club to a spear, from a spear to a sword, from a sword to a bow, from a bow to a propellant based projectile rifle, and from that to the standard plasma rifle used by most species. Each step took your species tens of thousands of years, hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, for more conservative species, millions of years.
Humans went from the bronze tipped spear to atomic weapons within fifty thousand years.
Many of you will learn in other classes that it was all flukes. Accidents.
They are wrong.
In this class, you will learn how a land dwelling omnivorous primate went from a hunter forced to walk after their prey to a species capable of complex superstructures and faster than light travel in less time than some of you took to go from crude iron to steel.
All of it, every bit of it, relies on human adaptability and their ability to weaponize anything and everything.
Turn or scroll your textbooks to Chapter Thirty Eight: Classified Research and Terran Descent Humanity.
--Unknown lecturer
--------------------------
1986 - TERRASOL RECKONING
DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS ASSOCIATION
SUBSIDIARY: US DYNAMICS INTEGRATED CIRCUITRY COMPANY
CHICAGO FACILITY - AT&T SWITCHING BANK BUILDING 3381A
The door opened and the man who entered stood tall in his Class-A green dress uniform. Medals from Vietnam and other brushfire wars around the globe adorned his chest. His face had pockmarks, all with black specks in the bottom.
For those that knew what they were seeing, it was old shrapnel scars with minute grains of steel still embedded in the skin.
"Take a seat," the right hand woman of the trio behind the table said. She was short, her hair in a short pageboy cut, with dark eyes, plain features, a button nose, and a cupid's bow mouth. She was pretty, but silk ribbons are pretty even when wrapped around a hook pointed knife.
The man moved up and sat down in the sole chair, looking at the other two. One the right was a woman with a severe hair cut to her black hair, with gun-metal grey eyes, a wide mouth, and an attractive form that couldn't be hidden by the professional clothing she wore. The shoulderpads made her shoulders look wider than normal.
In the middle was a man, who could have easily been featured in "non-descript male human, Caucasian, middle aged, with spectacles" in a dictionary. He was balding, the hair cut short rather than combed over in an attempt at vanity.
The soldier sat for a long time, waiting. He had to admit, it was the black haired woman on the right that gave him the creeps. The one on the right, he had seen her type before. Most covert action operators suspected that they were grown in a lab or a vat somewhere dark and secret. The man in the middle, he figured for the one actually in charge.
He had that forgettable look about him of a case supervisor for the Central Intelligence Agency.
"Out of three hundred forty-two applicants, you were one of sixty-three who passed initial application examination. Of those, you were one of twenty who passed the physical, intellectual, and psychiatric examinations," the one with the gun-metal eyes suddenly said.
The soldier felt the skin crawl up on his back as she spoke.
"Out of those twenty, you were one of the sixteen who survived the additional testing," she continued. "Of those sixteen, you are one of the nine who passed the CAT, MRI, and PET scan examinations as well as the genetic sequencing."
The one on the right opened a folder in front of her, pushing forward a single piece of paper as the one on the left kept talking. "Of those nine, you are one of the four who passed the bone marrow tests, tissue regeneration tests, and other assorted tests that you are not intellectually capable of understanding the importance of."
The soldier just nodded. Normally he would have bridled up under the insinuation that he was stupid, but something about those eyes, something about that voice.
It wasn't that she spoke in a monotone or threatening tones. Her voice sounded pleasant, like a lady after a couple drinks of scotch, having a pleasant conversation with an old friend. Her face looked friendly, the eyes were warm, but...
...it reminded him of the Vietnamese women who would smile right before pulling the pin on a frag grenade and dropping it into the jeep.
"Of those four, you are the final to be interviewed," the woman on the left said. She tapped the piece of paper. "It all comes down to the following: By signing this paper you will consent to any and all psychological and physiological medical procedures deemed necessary by the Project Lead."
There was silence for a moment.
"You may ask questions, soldier," the woman on the right stated.
"What kind of procedures?" the soldier asked.
"Surgical procedures," the woman on the left said, smiling. "They are withholding information from you, soldier," her smile got wider as the man in the middle shot her a side-eye glare for a split second.
"What type of information?" the soldier asked.
The gun-metal eyed woman smiled, a seductive, knowing smile that wouldn't look out of place in the bed chamber. "If you sign that paper you will, as I told the three who came before you and found that they were yellow gutless cowards willing to let the Communists win on the science battlefield, you will belong to me. I will own your body and your immortal soul. I will be able to do whatever I will to your mind, your body, and your soul. I will inflict horrors on your body in the name of our country."
The soldier swallowed.
"You will be a new breed of soldier, this I can promise you," she said. Her smile got wider. "And, as I promised them before they showed their true colors, before they laid bare their cowardice, Mommy will always love you best."
The soldier stared at the paper, feeling his gut clench as he realized what it was.
It was a simple piece of paperwork that turned his deceased body over to US Dynamics Integrated circuitry company, a subsidiary of AT&T and a joint partner with General Atomics Limited.
He looked up, his eyes wide.
"If you don't sign, of course, your body will go to your next to kin to dispose of," the grey eyed woman said.
The soldier knew what that meant.
"Either way, I'm a dead man," he said.
The balding man in the middle nodded slightly. The woman on the right nodded.
"Except, I'm offering you life," the woman on the left promised. "Sign of your own free will and I offer you life."
The soldier swallowed. Stuff like this only happened in movies.
Except... it was happening.
He signed.
--------------------------
He woke up, feeling that his body was strapped down. His head ached, his vision was blurry.
"How does Mommy's little boy feel?" the grey eyed woman asked.
"Thirsty," he croaked.
A straw was pressed against his lower lip and he sucked at it greedily.
"Good. You're strong. You'll bounce back quickly," the grey eyed woman said.
"You'll make Mommy proud."
---------------------
The unassuming man stepped into the lab without knocking, closing the door behind him and walking up to the backlit drafting table the woman was standing at. The blueprint for an integrated circuit was on the table, the lines and annotations so small that the woman was using a large magnifying screen to see it clearly.
"I have questions about this chip," the man said.
"Of course you do," the woman said, looking up. Her eyes were clear and cold, all the warmth that the soldier had seen missing.
"How exactly does it work?" he asked.
"I could explain it to you, but you wouldn't understand anything but the common nouns, adverbs, and conjunctions. You would identify the language spoken as English, but little else," she said, her voice cold and remote. She looked back down. "Go bother someone else. I am busy."
"I would like to remind you that I am the project lead," the man said.
"You are a petty time clock punching functionary better suited to those weaklings in the Pentagon or perhaps lurking about those incompetent morons of the Central Intelligence Agency," the woman said, her voice still cold and dead. "You could be replaced by an abacus and a Korean child."
"I beg your pardon," the man said stuffily.
"And you will not receive it," the woman said. "You are a monkey in the presence of actual humans, humans who do the work and the intellectual heavy lifting while you scrawl your name on useless paperwork to justify your petty ignorant existence."
"I'll have you know I am a graduate of Harvard," the man started to say.
"You have a Master's Degree in Business Management," the woman said, shifting the magnifying screen. "That is as useful to this project as a penniless eunuch is to a Norfolk Fleet Week prostitute."
"I realize you think you are special," he started to say.
"Yes, yes, the CIA recruited me, they can put me right back to working at IBM or General Dynamics," she said. "That is the line you were fed and all you know."
The man put his hands on the table, on the blueprints, and the woman looked up, anger smouldering in her eyes as he spoke. "I understand you think you're..."
"Did they tell you I graduated from MIT?" she broke in.
"Yes," he said.
"Did they tell you I was fifteen? Did they tell you the rest?" she sneered. "Do you know what I learned at MIT, Mister?"
He nodded. "Particle physics, if I am correct."
"No," she said. She laughed, a mocking laugh. "I learned that a tape recorder could graduate MIT with honors," she pushed the magnifying glass aside. "I learned to vomit up whatever answer was handed to me in text books and lectures. That was what they wanted from every student. Not anything else. For my second year I answered every question with what was stated in the lectures or the textbook verbatim, and received top grades."
She looked back down. "Imagine my disappointment to discover that the most prestigious scientific universities on earth were little more than intellectual vomitoriums."
When he opened his mouth she kept speaking. "Do you know what I learned at Texas Instruments after two years of research?"
The man shook his head.
"That no matter what technological breakthrough I might achieve there was always some starched suit executive who would set my patent on the back of the secretary performing fellatio on him and then scrawl his name upon it before filing it, thereby ensuring that he could retire in wealth," she said. She took three steps to the left, pulling the magnifying glass with her. "At Westinghouse I learned that innovation took a back seat to whether or not something was 'economically feasible' as men like you, men who were unable to understand the ramifications of my discoveries, counted their beans."
The sheer vitriol in her tone made the man step back.
"You are unable to understand what makes my manufacturing process, using my quantum matter transmission system, so world changing," she said.
"Try me," the man said, his voice offended.
"This chip is a fifteen nano-meter MOSFET chip, processed not through standard lithographic design, but using quantum matter recombination template systems I have devised for covert manufacturing systems," she stated. She tapped the entire blueprint. "This integrated circuit could fit on the head of a pin and is more powerful than a Cray Supercomputer."
"Then why isn't Cray or IBM using it?" the man asked, pushing up his glasses.
"Because the minute my research is turned over to civilians some Silicon Valley hippy will break his feet off running to the nearest Soviet agent to hand it to them while slobbering all his Red Commie cock," she sneered. "Let the civilians reach this themselves. I have no desire to get on all fours and let them stand on my back. This chip is my design, my fabrication method."
"What does it do?" he asked.
She laughed, again, mockingly. "You didn't understand anything but some of the words themselves," she tapped the blueprint. "This beautiful piece of work is a neuroplasticity mapper and connection recorder."
He frowned. "What does it do?"
She laughed. "As far as you and monkeys like you are concerned?" she laughed, a mocking thing. "It reads minds."
----------------------------
The soldier set the pistol on the table, opening the folder as he pulled the pen-like object out of his pocket.
Press the button at every page, then turn the page. When you are done with the file, press the bottom button, that will ensure that everything is recorded and returned here, the grey eyed woman's voice was in his head.
At each piece of paper he pressed the button and the device made a high pitched whine as it flashed. He had no idea that the LED was flashing nearly two thousand times a second. His head started to ache partway through, but he kept doing it.
When he reached the end he shifted his grip on the pen-like object and pressed the bottom button.
He felt something strange in the back of his head, beneath the surgical scar. Like something had broken, snapped like a candy-cane in the back of his head. There was a strange sucking feeling and his vision went gray.
He was dimly away of the long wire of thermite surgically implanted igniting, since pinpoint explosive charges had turned his heart to slurry.
There was little of his body left but charred meat.
----------------------
The soldier opened his eyes, looking up at the light touch on his forehead.
Gun-metal gray eyes stared into his.
"There's my boy," the woman smiled.
----------------------
The man stalked into the woman's lab, again not bothering to knock. He walked around the table where she was looking at a dense ladder like diagram.
"That experiment was unethical and immoral," he said. "You killed that man!"
"I temporarily disrupted his status," she sneered. "He only missed the few seconds of his death he would have been conscious for."
"And what did it prove?" the man asked.
"That every single page was implanted directly into his long term memory, that the memories were processed at the speed only the human brain can reach, and that he was able to perfectly recall them," the woman stated. "Just as the system was designed to do."
"Then what was the purpose of killing him?" the man asked.
She tapped the blueprint. "To ensure the system works like I envision it," she said. She looked up at the man, who almost stepped back at the burning passion in her eyes. "This completely changes everything. Espionage, warfare, space exploration. Everything."
She smiled. "Oppenheimer stated that he had become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds," she said. Her smile got wider. "I have conquered death and become God."
The man shook his head. "No. I'm shutting this down."
She stared at him for a long moment. "So in the end, you're just another small minded coward, willing to roll over and stick your ass up in the air for the first Commie to wander by? Willing to sell out America and our allies, what little good they are since their strength was spent in the trenches of Verdun."
"I have grown tired of your mouth, woman," he snapped. "You will speak to me with respect."
"While you shut down my project, my work, and scurry back to the CIA to take credit?" she laughed. "Going to make a stop at the San Francisco bath houses and pass on all my work to some Soviet operative too?" she moved up to him, looking up at his face. "You think you can shut me down?"
"That is within my authority," he started to say.
The stylus punctured his suit, his shirt, his skin, sliding smoothly into his chest, until the sharp tip touched his heart.
He fell to the floor, looking up, unsure of why his legs had buckled, how he had ended up on the floor.
"Small minds have held humanity back since time began," she said, lifting up the stylus. She licked the blood from the end. "What do you know, I just made the world a better place."
Her laughter chased him into darkness.
----------------------------
The Third Republic Combined Military officer walked into the underground room. He had been surprised to find out that the facility existed, buried under the ground, deep inside a mountain. He had been more surprised to find out that the facility had survived the decades, much less the Mantid Attack.
There were virtually no scientists left, the majority of them, hell, the majority of humanity obliterated by the Mantid's surprise attack.
To find out that one remained, and an expert at that, was a gift from fate itself.
He stopped at the cryo-tube and looked down at it.
Inside was a woman. Her hands crossed over her ample chest. Her face remarkable young for having been frozen at fifty three years old. Her hair was black, in a severe cut that had a measure of authority to the officer.
He tapped the data display, surprised it lit up. He checked the file. She had been deemed too dangerous to imprison and too politically sensitive to allow to live.
But her intellectual capabilities, her knowledge, was too vital to destroy.
So the ancient governments of Earth had frozen her, entombed her below granite rock where the continental plates had buckled in epochs gone by.
He looked at the flashing icon.
STABLE
He turned to the other men, wearing heavy power armor.
"Prepare her for transport. Send her to Darkside Station. Remind her, when you thaw her out once you get there, that she's a prisoner and only compliance will earn her any privileges," he said.
The others, technical officers, began moving over and preparing the cryopod for transport.
Three strokes of luck.
Finding a mountain of technical data.
Discovering Darkside Station.
And now...
Her.
He tapped the dataslate, removing her name.
He typed in a single word.
DETAINEE
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submitted by Ralts_Bloodthorne to HFY