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Does Crimson Bands of Cyttorak Stagger Activated Characters?


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Doctor Strange's attack Crimson Bands of Cyttorak has a crit, wild, hit trigger of Mystic Binding. Mystic Binding says:

"After this attack is resolved, instead of inflicting the Stagger special condition, if the target character does not have an Activated token, you may give it an Activated token."

If I'm attacking a character that's already activated and I roll crit/wild/hit, what happens?

I would like it to work like:

* Special rule is triggered

* I'm presented with an option that I may take

* I choose not to take it

* Therefore the "instead of" part never takes effect.

End Result: I choose not to give an Activated token and they get Staggered instead.

 

But the more obvious reading is:

* Special rule is triggered

* Instead of inflicting the Stagger special condition, I'm presented with an option

* The target character has an Activated token, so I have to decline the option

End result: no stagger

 

Which reading is correct?

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