A New Age of Age Counters

Posted in Arcana on July 10, 2006

By Wizards of the Coast

Illusionary Forces
Cumulative upkeep, last seen in the Weatherlight set, has spent nine long years on the bench. Its return in Coldsnap heralds a new age of cumulative upkeep trickiness not seen before in Magic: what if cumulative upkeep were not just a necessary cost, but also a way of keeping track of unique new effects? To see these new Coldsnap twists in action, we must first investigate the concept of the age counter.

From the Comprehensive Rules:

502.13. Cumulative Upkeep

502.13a Cumulative upkeep is a triggered ability that imposes an increasing cost on a permanent. “Cumulative upkeep [cost]” means “At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice this permanent unless you pay [cost] for each age counter on it.”

Cumulative upkeep has been worded like this for years now, and the Oracle text of cards like Cyclone and Heart of Bogardan have taken advantage of the usefulness of age counters to template their abilities.

Glacial Plating
Coldsnap takes this to the extreme.

Herald of Leshrac
It's not just Coldsnap's attention to age counters that hold the new twists to cumulative upkeep. There are also some pretty oddball “costs”—again turning the notion of cumulative upkeep as a cost on its head.

That's one way to make cost/benefit analysis easier—when costs are benefits.

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