Last updated on August 3, 2022
Adorned Pouncer | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak
If you know Amonkhet, you know that the plane is modeled after Egyptian mythology. That means it has tons of cool mechanics that follow the theme as well. One of my favorite mechanics from the Amonkhet block came about in Hour of Devastation: eternalize.
If that doesn’t sound awesome, I don’t know what does. You’ve come to the right place if you’re on the fence about it or have some questions. I’m about to go into some good detail about what exactly eternalize means in our favorite card game.
Let’s get to it!
Champion of Wits | Illustration by Even Amundsen
Eternalize is an ability that some creatures have that can be activated from your graveyard. When you eternalize a creature, you exile the card from your graveyard and create a token copy of it on the battlefield, with a few changes:
- The token has a power and toughness of 4/4
- It has no mana cost
- It gains the “zombie” creature type in addition to its other types
- It becomes a black creature.
The History of Eternalize & Card List
Eternalize first appeared in the Hour of Devastation set of the Amonkhet block released in July 2017. Magic’s 75th expansion brought a new way to raise the dead on nine new cards in the set.
Those cards were:
- Adorned Pouncer
- Champion of Wits
- Earthshaker Khenra
- Proven Combatant
- Resilient Khenra
- Sinuous Striker
- Steadfast Sentinel
- Sunscourge Champion
The mechanic made its debut in Hour of Devastation and unfortunately not much past that.
Simply put, the mana value of eternalized creatures is zero. The creature token has no casting cost which counts as zero for cards that check for the mana value of creatures to resolve their effects. And effects that would copy these tokens also copy them not having a mana value.
Earthshaker Khenra | Illustration by Jason A. Eagle
In the same way that creating tokens triggers enter the battlefield (ETB) effects, eternalize tokens also trigger ETB effects.
It’s also important to note that the tokens for cards that reference their own entrance to the battlefield (Champion of Wits, Earthshaker Khenra, Resilient Khenra, Sunscourge Champion, and Timeless Witness) count towards their own abilities. This makes their seemingly weaker abilities super strong when their higher power and toughness is taken into consideration after eternalizing.
No, eternalize doesn’t count as casting. It’s an activated ability that’s activated from the graveyard. The ability creates the token so it doesn’t count as casting a spell, which means it gets around counterspells that don’t have Stifle effects.
Sinuous Striker | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
Yes, eternalize is an activated ability. Even though the ability is activated from another zone in the game, it’s still an activated ability in the same way that its ancestor, embalm, is.
Yes, you can counter eternalize, but not with normal counterspells. You’ll need cards like Stifle or Repudiate // Replicate that say, “counter target activated or triggered ability.” A good catch-all to play is Disallow so that you don’t run the risk of missing actual spells that are cast.
Eternalize isn’t exactly a strong or widely used mechanic. That said, there are some diamonds in the rough.
Champion of Wits
Champion helps you cycle your hand and find the cards you’re looking for with its card draw ability and it’s a decent creature that nets you two cards when you eternalize. Not a bad deal.
Timeless Dragon is one of my favorite eternalize cards. Its Plainscycling ability allows you to get land into your hand to fix your land drops which is super helpful in white. It also eternalizes into a 4/4 flying body for just , which is fantastic value.
Resilient Khenra | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
Unfortunately, this mechanic probably won’t reign eternal. It could become really fun if we return to Amonkhet at some point and Wizards ups the mechanic’s power level by printing more cards with good utility like Champion of Wits or Timeless Dragon.
But it’s a very niche mechanic to play and really only meshes well with other cards that love tokens being created or ETB effects. I still think the mechanic is fun and has some good flavor to it. I’m glad it briefly returned in Modern Horizons 2 and I hope to see it again.
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