Tribute – MTG Keywords Explained

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Tribute is a mechanic that appears on creatures, and is a little odd in that it gives your opponents the choice of how it resolves. When you cast a creature with Tribute, as it enters the battlefield, your opponent chooses whether or not it enters with a number of +1/+1 counters on it equal to the number written next to Tribute. Yup. That’s it. Of course, all cards with Tribute have an additional ability that triggers if the opponent chose to have the creature enter with no counters. So the choice is, would you rather give your opponent a larger creature, or let them have a smaller creature with an added effect?

Weird, right? Here’s a few more notes to cover some other weirdness:

  • The choice is made as the spell is resolving, so any responses have to happen before that point.
  • It the triggered ability has a target, that target won’t be determined until after the creature has entered the battlefield.
  • There is no window to respond between when the tribute decision is made and when the counters will be put on the creature or the triggered effect is put onto the stack.

Tribute, as has been noted, is a bit of an odd duck. Giving the opponent the choice of how it turns out was not the most popular thing in the world. Players, it turns out, like being in control of their own effects. That said, it was an interesting design space that could see the light of day again in just the right circumstances.

Want to ask your opponents if they want to pay tribute? Head over to!