3, Sep, 23

Resolving MTG Layer Problems in Wilds of Eldraine

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Article at a Glance

MTG is well-known for being a rich and relatively complicated game. There are tons of mechanics to keep track of, as well as lots of rules to learn in order to understand how certain cards interact. While many card interactions are relatively simple just by looking at the text on the cards themselves, there are some specific cases where simply reading each card, in fact, will NOT explain how they function. Of course, that is unless you are extremely familiar with some of MTG’s more complicated rules and their applications.

One of the more unique subsets of rules that certainly fits this bill is layers. Layers are an important part of the game that helps determine in what order continuous effects are applied to the same game object.

Until now, Layers weren’t really a super common issue to run into outside of some rare instances in Commander and in Modern thanks to effects that care about changing the text on lands like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Blood Moon. That said, thanks to the new Curse Role in Wilds of Eldraine, Layers are a surprisingly common issue that Draft and Sealed players will run into.

The goal of this article will be to explain how to resolve Layer problems that will commonly appear in Wilds of Eldraine Limited. There is a lot more to look at concerning Layers, and we’ll provide a strong alternate resource to level up interested players’ understanding.

Continuous Effects

At the most basic level, layers are used to understand what happens when multiple continuous effects apply to the same game object. In this sense, in order to know when layers are utilized, we need to first break down what a continuous effect is in MTG.

By definition, a continuous effect is anything that alters the characteristics of an object for a fixed or indeterminate amount of time. This could be as simple as when you cast Titanic Growth in Wilds of Eldraine Limited, targeting one of your Creatures. By casting Titanic Growth, the power and toughness (characteristics) of your Creature (object) are being altered for a fixed period of time (until the end of the turn).

In this case, it’s quite easy to understand how your Creature’s power and toughness are altered. However, let’s say that after you resolved Titanic Growth, you cast Spiteful Hexmage, putting a Cursed Role on the Creature you targeted with Titanic Growth. Will your Creature have five power or one power? Now, what happens if you cast Archon of the Wild Rose after all this happens? Archon states that other Enchanted Creatures you control have base power and toughness 4/4, but the Cursed Roles attached to your other Creatures state that they only have base power and toughness 1/1. As you can see, even a game at your local Wilds of Eldraine prerelease can get rather messy. Luckily, layers help clarify everything.

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The Layer Levels

Wilds of Eldraine layer problems all generally occur in one layer, but there are seven total layers in the MTG rulings. Instead of going through all of them, we will instead reference the above video since it does it better than we could. This fantastic resource from Attack on Cardboard explains one of MTG’s most complicated and seemingly nonsense interactions in an easy-to-digest way, and was a huge help when refreshing on how these layers interact. As a result, this video had a significant impact on this article. If you’re wondering why Dress Down won’t stop Magus of the Moon from turning your nonbasic lands into Mountains, this video explains that common Modern interaction beautifully.

That said, we are focusing on Layer issues occurring in Wilds of Eldraine Limited. Since all of these interactions fall into one Layer (that has sub layers), resolving the problem is rather easy as long as you understand the rulings behind it.

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Fortunately, most, if not all, of the layer issues you’ll run into in Wilds of Eldraine apply to the final layer – the one that concerns changes in a creature’s power and toughness. Cursed Roles turn an enchanted creature into a 1/1, but Archon of the Wild Rose turns enchanted creatures into 4/4 fliers. Is your creature a 1/1 or a 4/4? Does the creature even have flying?

Interestingly, the seventh and final layer is the only one divided into additional sections. The layer overall cares about changes to power and toughness, and is ordered as such:

Layer 7a cares about creatures who have *’s in their stats. Regal Bunnicorn is in Wilds of Eldraine, so there will be situations where this layer matters.

Layer 7b cares about giving a creature’s Power or Toughness a new value. Cursed Roles and Archon of the Wild Rose apply here.

Layer 7c concerns changes to power and toughness from effects like Titanic Growth or Locthwain’s Scorn.

Layer 7d cares about a power and toughness value being swapped. I do not think this matters in Wilds of Eldraine Limited.

In the case of the Cursed Role and Archon of the Wild Rose debacle, timestamps are used to decide in what order the effects are applied since both effects occur in layer 7b. This means that whatever effect entered the battlefield first is applied first.

If the Curse Role entered first and Archon of the Wild Rose entered second, then the enchanted creature in question is a 4/4 flier.

If Archon of the Wild Rose entered first and the Curse Role entered second, the enchanted creature is instead a 1/1 flier.

Restless Vinestalk‘s attack trigger also applies in this layer. Follow timestamps for this one too. The Vinestalk will turn a Cursed Role creature into a 3/3, but if it gets a Cursed Role from something like Asinine Antics afterwards, it will go right back to being a 1/1.

What About the Bunnicorn?

It’s time for Regal Bunnicorn to enter the conversation. This little guy can become an absolute menace on boards full of permanents, and applying layers incorrectly will have a massive impact on the game state. The difference between a 1/1 and a 6/6 or more in a game of Limited is massive.

Regal Bunnicorn’s initial effect happens in the first layer of layer 7, meaning the power and toughness effect of the Bunnicorn itself will always apply before the Cursed Role and the Archon of the Wild Rose effects. A Cursed Role does make this card a 1/1, and an enchanted Bunnicorn that Archon cares about will become a 4/4.

This also explains why Dress Down takes down Construct Tokens in the Modern format. That card applies to a higher layer than layer seven, meaning the ability that gives Construct tokens buffs to artifacts will not apply, killing them.

These Cards Shouldn’t be a Problem

Fortunately, the power and toughness changing effects are really easy to apply. After you figure out all of the previous stuff, just apply these after. The only effect in this layer in Wilds of Eldraine Limited that could have a not-so-obvious timestamp is A Tale for the Ages, which means you generally should not have two continuous effects applying at the same time where timestamps are unclear and matter. Just apply the other effects in the order they were resolved – like using a Titanic Growth to save a creature getting hit by Locthwain’s Scorn (you apply the Growth first assuming it resolves in response to the Scorn). Simple as that.

Hopefully, this guide should help navigate some of the uncommon layer pitfalls players have been experiencing with Wilds of Eldraine. MTG Arena won’t explain these to you as you’re playing your Limited game, so knowing how they work can help you avoid a pitfall before falling into it. It can also, hopefully, reassure you that your Cursed Role creature can indeed be turned into a 4/4 flier with the Archon of the Wild Rose that you first picked in your draft.

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