Patron of the Kitsune - Illustration by Ben Thompson

Patron of the Kitsune | Illustration by Ben Thompson

This is a bit of a bittersweet article to write: I love mechanics like offering that mesh sacrifice and cost reduction since they provide a ton of choices and challenges when building and playing a Magic deck. Offering lets you cast big bad creatures at flash speed… but, as it turned out, it wasn’t exactly a smash-hit of a mechanic, and there are only about half a dozen cards with offering.

Biased as I may be, I think it's a cool keyword ability, so let's find out its history and what it has to offer, and dive a bit into how cost reduction works in general, which tends to be a confusing topic, especially when mana of different colors are involved.

How Does Offering Work?

Blast-Furnace Hellkite - Illustration by Aldo Dominguez

Blast-Furnace Hellkite | Illustration by Aldo Dominguez

Offering is an additional cost that modifies when you can cast a spell, and how much mana you need to spend to cast it.

When you cast a spell with the offering keyword, you can choose to sacrifice a permanent of a specific type (that's the additional cost); if you do, you can:

  • Cast the spell as if it had flash, and
  • Reduce the mana cost you have to pay by the sacrificed permanent's mana cost.

Offering allows you to sacrifice a single permanent, not several. And you can't use the sacrificed permanent to pay for another cost; that's to say, if you cast two spells with offering in the same turn, you need to sacrifice a different permanent each time.

According to rule 702.48c, if you choose to pay offering's additional cost, the cost reduction works like this:

  • Generic, colored, and colorless mana in the sacrificed permanent’s mana cost each reduce mana of the same type in the offering spell’s total cost,
  • Then, any excess in colored or colorless mana, and any mana of a different color, further reduces that much generic mana in the offering spell’s total cost.

The cost of a spell can never be less than 0. If the cost would be reduced below zero, the cost is 0 and the rest of the mana discount just goes to waste; you can’t use this “waste” to pay for anything else.

Let's say you want to cast Patron of the Akki. The first thing you need is a volunteer, so let's say that Ankle Shanker selflessly steps forward and offers itself to the noble goblin cause.

The mana math in this case is:

  • The in Ankle Shanker’s mana cost decreases Patron of the Akki‘s cost by generic mana.
  • The in Ankle Shanker's cost decreases Patron of the Akki‘s cost by .
  • Ankle Shanker also costs , but those colors don't match Patron of the Akki‘s colors, so you further reduce Patron's cost by another .
  • Therefore, you've reduced Patron's cost by ; you just need to pay an additional to cast Patron of the Akki if you sacrifice Ankle Shanker (and you can cast Patron as if it had flash in this case).

What if it's Earwig Squad who boldly steps forward as a volunteer?

  • The in Earwig Squad's mana cost decreases Patron's cost by generic mana.
  • Since Patron doesn’t cost black mana, the in the Squad's cost would further reduce Patron's cost by another 2 generic mana, but you can't reduce Patron's cost by 5 generic mana (since its generic mana cost is ), so there's 1 generic discounted mana that goes to waste here.
  • Bottom line, if you sacrifice the Squad, you reduce Patron's cost by , so you'll have to pay to cast it.

The History of Offering in MTG

There are just six cards with offering in all of MTG.

The first were the five Patrons, one from each color, from Betrayers of Kamigawa (February 2005).

Seventeen years later, the mechanic reappeared on a sixth and last card, Blast-Furnace Hellkite from the Mishra's Burnished Banner preconstructed Commander deck from The Brothers' War (November 2022).

Offering was a bit of a flop, and its cards have seen very few reprints. Patron of the Nezumi saw a couple of reprints in Commander 2011 and Commander Anthology Volume II, while Patron of the Moon and Patron of the Akki are currently included in the List.

What if Your Sacrificed Permanent Is a Different Color?

Different colors in the sacrificed permanent are considered generic mana for the purpose of calculating the offering cost reduction.

Does Cost Reduction Work With Offering?

Yes, it does.

Any effect that reduces casting costs reduces an offering spell's cost. This works the exact same way that it would for a regular spell's cost.

If you have Sarkhan, Soul Aflame in play, your dragon spells cost less. Therefore, Blast-Furnace Hellkite now costs 2 red and 6 generic mana before offering discounts.

Is Offering an Additional Cost?

Yes, it is.

It may sound a bit counter-intuitive when you’re looking at the mana cost because offering offers a reduction in the “bottom-line” mana cost. But, technically speaking, offering is an additional cost: You pay the casting cost, plus you sacrifice a suitable permanent. After paying this extra cost, you get a mana cost reduction and the ability to cast the spell at flash speed.

Rule 7-2.48a of MTG's Comprehensive Rules spells out the exact wording on offering (as of Wilds of Eldraine)

Is Offering an Alternative Cost?

No, it's not. It's an additional cost, not an alternative cost.

Is Offering a Triggered Ability?

No, it’s not. It is a static ability.

Other permanents in play may have triggered abilities that go off if you cast a spell with offering. For example, if you have Juri, Master of the Revue in play and you sacrifice Ankle Shanker to pay for Patron of the Akki‘s offering, Juri's ability (gets a +1/+1 counter when you sacrifice a permanent) triggers.

But that's Juri's ability triggering, not Patron of the Akki‘s.

Gallery and List of Offering Cards

Best Offering Cards

Blast-Furnace Hellkite

Blast-Furnace Hellkite is the most popular offering card in Commander decks. It usually fits dragon decks, letting you sacrifice one of your mana rocks as offering fodder when you want to go for a lethal attack. And, as noted, it's part of the Mishra's Burnished Banner precon deck.

Patron of the Moon

Patron of the Moon sees a bit of play as the Commander in moonfolk typal decks.

You can't really build an “offering deck” where you play several offering cards: Each offering spell focuses on a different type of permanent (Patron of the Akki wants you to play goblins, Patron of the Moon encourages you to play moonfolk, Blast-Furnace Hellkite wants artifacts, etc.), so they don't have much synergy.

Wrap Up

Patron of the Moon - Illustration by Scott M. Fischer

Patron of the Moon | Illustration by Scott M. Fischer

I love this type of mechanic, so I'm probably biased when I say that offering was a bit of a flop more because of the specific cards it was printed on rather than the mechanic itself.

There are just six offering cards, and they all care about different types of permanents, so they don't mesh too well. And on top of that, some of the effects they provide are a bit “meh” for how much the cards cost. If we had offering cards with either more flexibility (like sacrificing any creature) or simply just more consistency in the permanent types they care about, I think offering would be a popular mechanic.

According to MTG's head designer Mark Rosewater, players did like a fairly similar mechanic, emerge (which provides a similar discount and lets you sacrifice any creature), so perhaps we'll see more offering cards in the future, or a similar mechanic.

So, what do you think? Is there anything else this keyword has to offer, or a cool deck these cards would fit? If you have any ideas, stop by the Draftsim Discord for a chat and let us know.

And may you always find selfless volunteers to fuel the goblin cause!

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