Written By Tyler Liston
Hello Destiny players! Welcome to another edition of Judging Others. This time, our topic comes from reader, Bobb Beauchamp, and is focused on Rebel from Spirit of Rebellion.
Can 2 copies of this card go infinite with each other? This question has been the center of much internet debate! I hope to shed light on the controversy.
Here is the situation:
You have a dice showing discard in your pool, a copy of Rebel in your hand, a copy of Rebel in the discard Pile, and 1 resource. Can you play Rebel(1) from your hand, to play Rebel(2) from your discard pile, to play Rebel(1) from your discard pile, to play Rebel(2) from your discard pile… and so on… forever!?
Some people believe that this combo is permissible and can, in fact, be played (technically speaking). Some people believe that Rebel(1) exists in Limbo and thus can’t be targeted by Rebel(2). Who is right? The Rules Reference offers limited answers. To be fully satisfied, I would want a complete definition of “fully resolved” and “play”. In lieu of more clarity, we will push forward with only what we have
For purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that the play restriction is satisfied at all pertinent parts of the interaction. A die has rolled the discard side and will be showing that discard side at all important times. I will be ignoring the play restriction and focusing solely on the following text:
“Play a card from your discard pile, decreasing its cost by 1.”
First we must understand the Areas of Play. There are multiple Areas of Play in SWD. Here, we only need to be aware of three: hand, discard pile, and Limbo. Hand and discard pile are self-explanatory; they refer to cards that are either in your hand or in your discard pile. Limbo is a bit more of an abstract Area of Play. “When an event is played, it is placed faceup on the table and is in limbo. It is no longer in the player’s hand. Once the event resolves, it goes to the discard pile” (Rules Reference v1.6. Part 3. Areas of Play>Out-of-Play>Limbo. P. 10). In other words, a card is in Limbo after it enters the queue and exists there until it is resolved.
It is also essential to understand the concept of the queue. “The queue is an imaginary line that most game effects and abilities enter and leave in chronological order when triggered, based on a “first in, first out” principle. Each one waits its turn in the queue until the trigger condition is complete. Each effect must fully resolve before the next one resolves. If during the resolution of something in the queue, another effect is added, it moves to ‘the end’ of the queue and is resolved last” (Rules Reference 1.6. Part 7. Abilities>Queue. P. 17).
When we play Rebel(1) from our hand, it enters the queue. The example queue at the bottom of page 17 in the Rules Reference shows that two items are added to the queue whenever a card is “played”:
- “[Card Name] enters the queue” (I will refer to this as the Entry Point)
- “[Card Name] resolves” (I will refer to this as the Resolution Point)
Based on the sample visual of the queue, I have concluded that the definition of the word “play” means “add the “Entry Point” and “Resolution Point” to the queue.
It is necessary to have both points for the sake of interruptions. If there is an interruption to the queue, it will be added between the Entry Point and the Resolution Point. See the example queue at the bottom of page 17 of the Rules Reference for a visual representation of this concept. It is also important to note that at the Entry Point, the card enters Limbo. The card remains in Limbo until the Resolution Point (Rules Reference v1.6. Part 1. Card Types & Colors>Events. P. 6)
When we play Rebel(1) from our hand, the queue looks like this:
In our situation, nothing will be interrupting the queue. Thus, we will resolve Rebel(1). Several things happen at the Resolution Point:
- Based on the text of the card being resolved, we “play” Rebel(2) from our discard pileThis means we will be adding an Entry Point and a Resolution Point to the queue
- Rebel(1) leaves Limbo
- Rebel(1) is put into the discard pile
We know that the cards will be exiting Limbo and entering the discard pile based on these citations from the Rules Reference:
- “Once the event resolves it goes to the discard pile.”(Rules Reference v1.6. Part 3. Areas of Play>Out-of-Play>Limbo. P. 10)
- “[When playing an event] the player follows the card’s instructions and then discards it.”(Rules Reference v1.6. Part 5. Game Structure>Actions>Playing a Card from Hand. P. 14)
After resolution, our queue looks like this:
Again, nothing will interrupt the queue so we proceed immediately to the Resolution Point where all of the following happens:
- Based on the text of the card being resolved, we “play” Rebel(1) from our discard pileThis means we will be adding an Entry Point and a Resolution Point to the queue
- Rebel(2) leaves Limbo
- Rebel(2) is put into the discard pile
After this, our queue will look like this:
We are now right back where we started and this line of play can technically be played over and over and over forever.
One argument against the infinite loop that hasn’t yet been addressed is the idea of declaring a legal target at the time a card is played. This is an idea that is used in Magic: The Gathering, but exists in no form in SWD. In MTG, legal targets must exist and be declared upon casting of most cards. In that game, a legal target may become illegal before the targeting card resolves (resulting in the cards fizzle). In SWD, some cards use the word “choose” to indicate that a target must be selected. However, there is nothing in the Rules Reference to suggest that this choice need be made prior to the Resolution Point. We may, for argument’s sake, pretend that a choice need be made at the Entry Point. As I have demonstrated above, the Entry Point occurs after the previous ability is fully resolved and it’s card discarded. This “targeting” argument would only prevail if (1) Rebel used the word “choose”, (2) targets were selected at the Entry Point, and (3) the Entry Point were to interrupt the queue (by existing before the Resolution Point of the previous ability). I have found no evidence to support the accuracy of a single one of these criteria… let alone all three.
Rather, this line from the Rules Reference seems to refute this “targeting” argument: “If during the resolution of something in the queue, another effect is added, it moves to ‘the end’ of the queue and is resolved last” (Rules Reference 1.6. Part 7. Abilities>Queue. P. 17).
Conclusion: Rebel can create an infinite loop with itself.
You may be asking yourself, “Why would one want to do this? What is the reason?” Great question! Perhaps an individual would hope to get ahead on damage and then initiate the infinite loop to run out the clock and ultimately win at tiebreakers. This, however, is clearly an attempt to stall the game for time. This type of stalling is considered “unsporting conduct” and is prohibited (Tournament Regulations v2.0. Tournament Participant Roles>Conduct>Unsporting Conduct. P. 2). No Marshall should allow this combo to delay time in a match.
That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed analysis. If you have an interaction you want explored or want to let me know your thoughts on this interaction, leave a comment below!