Last updated on October 20, 2021

Adorned Pouncer - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

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!

How Does Eternalize Work?

Champion of Wits | Illustration by Even Amundsen

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:

What Sets Has Eternalize Been Used In?

The mechanic made its debut in Hour of Devastation and unfortunately not much past that.

It was briefly brought back for two new cards in Modern Horizons 2, Timeless Dragon and Timeless Witness.

Champion of Wits (AFR Commander)

It should also be noted that Champion of Wits was reprinted in Commander 2021 and the Forgotten Realms Commander decks. Beyond that we haven’t seen the mechanic return in any meaningful way.

If you actually count it as a different set, eternalize also made an appearance in Amonkhet Remastered on MTGA since it combined cards from Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation.

What’s the Mana Value (CMC) of an Eternalized Creature?

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.

Do Eternalized Creatures Have Summoning Sickness?

Yes, just like any other creature token, eternalized tokens have summoning sickness unless the creature has haste (like Earthshaker Khenra) or another effect would give it haste.

Does Eternalize Trigger ETBs When Creatures Have the Ability?

Earthshaker Khenra - Illustration by Jason A. Engle

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.

Does Eternalize Count as a “Cast”?

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.

Is Eternalize an Activated Ability?

Sinuous Striker - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

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.

Can You Counter Eternalize?

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.

Best Eternalize Cards

Eternalize isn’t exactly a strong or widely used mechanic. That said, there are some diamonds in the rough.

Champion of Wits

Champion of Wits (AFR Commander)

Champion of Wits is a card I’ve seen in several Commander decks. It’s even been reprinted in a couple of Commander sets to bolster its popularity out of the cycle of eternalize cards.

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

Timeless Dragon MH2

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.

Wrap Up

Resilient Khenra - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

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.

Thank you for spending your time here today! I always enjoy your company while I talk about our favorite card game. If you’re interested in more awesome content, hop over to our blog for more like this, and feel free to check out some of our socials like Twitter or Discord while you’re at it..

I hope to see you back here next time. Stay safe out there, and have a good one!

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