Send your rules questions in to email@example.com, and Rune will answer as many as he can!
General / Older Cards Questions
Q: I attack with an unblocked Serra Advocate. Before damage goes on the stack I play Gerrard's Command on the attacking Advocate, then tap it to boost itself and make my final attack for 7. My opponent says that I am not allowed to do that because untapping my Angel removes it from combat and that tapping it again does nothing since it has been removed. Who is right?
A: Your opponent is wrong. Just untapping the creature won’t remove it from combat unless the effect specifically says it does. The card Maze of Ith has brainwashed people into thinking that untapping an attacker removes it from combat, and that is not true.
A: Gilded Drake is targeted, and if the target is illegal when the ability resolves, it can't be affected by the ability. This means that it can't be exchanged with the Drake, and the Drake must be sacrificed. When players exchange something, each player must give something to get something; exchanges can't be one-sided.
Q: If I have taken control over my opponent’s Academy Rector, and it’s destroyed, do I get to use its ability?
A: When the Rector is destroyed, it triggers for the player who controlled it when it went to the graveyard. The Rector card goes to its owner's graveyard, and if it's still there when the ability resolves, you can choose to remove it from the game, which lets you search for an enchantment.
A: It depends on who controls which card, and whose turn it is. Whenever abilities trigger off the same event, the active player (the player who has the turn) puts his or her triggers on the stack first, then the non-active player. If the active player has the Planar Void, and the non-active player has the Academy Rector, the “remove the card” from the Void goes on the stack first, then the Rector’s “search.” The search resolves first, and the player can get an enchantment. If the non-active player has the Planar Void and the active has the Rector, the Rector will be removed by the Planar Void, and it can’t be removed to search for an enchantment. If one player controls both the Void and the Rector, he or she can choose the order the triggers, and can thereby choose if an enchantment can be fetched or not.
Q: I am confused. My friends tell me that if a creature with the regeneration ability is killed, paying the regenerate cost the turn it is killed will put the creature back into play. The rules seem to state differently, as shown below. Please tell me exactly what 'Regeneration cannot replace this event' means.
420.5b A creature with toughness 0 or less is put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event.
420.5c A creature with lethal damage is destroyed. Lethal damage is an amount of damage greater than 0 and greater than or equal to a creature’s toughness. Regeneration does replace this event.
A: It means that if a creature has 0 toughness (thanks to a spell like Mutilate or Enfeeblement that reduces toughness instead of dealing damage), regeneration doesn’t work. Regeneration replaces the destruction, and removes all damage from the creature. If the creature has a toughness of 1 or greater, removing all the damage from it means that it’s still alive, if it has toughness of 0 or lower, it would just be destroyed again, so the rulebook says that regeneration won’t work in this case.
Regeneration works by using "shields". When you resolve an activation of the regeneration ability, a shield is put on the creature. These shields must be in place before the creature would be destroyed; they can't be activated after the creature has been destroyed. If a creature with a shield would be destroyed, a shield is used up, but if the creature has zero toughness, the shield won't work.
Q: Some of my friends tap a Howling Mine and say I can't draw an extra card, is that possible? The artifact has a permanent ability. The same happens with a Winter Orb, it also has an ability with no costs, why can they tap it during their turn and untap all their lands? (In both cases they tapped them with other effects.)
A: A few artifacts have special text that shut them off when they’re tapped. (These include Howling Mine, Winter Orb, Static Orb and Storage Matrix. Click the card names to read the Oracle wordings.) This is a legacy of the old rules, when all tapped artifacts were shut off. The artifacts mentioned kept this to not change their functionality.
At the beginning of the untap step, the game checks which permanents will untap, and since the Winter Orb is tapped (shut off) at this time, everything is allowed to untap. Then all permanents untap at the same time (Rule 302.1 in the Comprehensive Rulebook). Similarly, if the Howling Mine is untapped during your opponent's draw step, he gets to draw an extra card, and if it is tapped during yours, you don't.
Q: My friends say that I can't use Thrashing Wumpus to deal more then three damage in one turn because it dies once 3 damage resolves no matter how many times I have put the ability on the stack. Why doesn't the rest of the damage resolve?
A: Removing the source of an ability doesn’t remove the ability from the stack, and if you activate the Wumpus multiple times, all activations will resolve. The Wumpus will be destroyed when it takes lethal damage, but the rest of the damage will resolve as usual after that.
Q: Can Nantuko Monastery attack the turn it comes into play? The card does say it is still a land, and from what i understand, lands don't have summoning sickness.
--Eddy De La Rosa, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
A: All permanents have “summoning sickness,” but only creatures are affected by it. If a permanent is changed to a creature the turn it came into play, it won’t be able to attack or use activated abilities with the
Q: My friend played Skullscorch against me and he said that I had to discard two cards from my hand and take four damage unless I had a card named Skullscorch; I think it means that I can either take four damage or discard two cards. Who's right?
--David Garcia, Deer Park, TX
A: Whenever a card refers to its own name in the text, it refers to itself. It doesn’t mean that having another copy of the card Skullscorch can prevent parts of its effect.
Q: Opalescence makes Humility a 4/4 creature, then Humility makes all creatures (including itself) 1/1 creatures with no special abilities, meaning that it no longer has the ability to make all creatures 1/1 creatures, so it's a 4/4 again with the ability to make all creatures 1/1 and so on and so forth...
The judges fixed that one. It depends on which card came into play first as to which card takes precedence. But Replenish, which will bring back both Humility and Opalescence, brings them into play at the same time. How do you deal with that one?
A: When multiple permanents come into play at the same time, the active player sets their timestamps in the order he or she chooses, but whenever an effect would change the text or existence of another effect, the other effect is said to “depend” upon the first. In this case, the rules say that the first effect must always be applied first when calculating the results.
Since the Opalescence creates creatures that Humility can change, you apply the Opalescence effect first, turning all enchantments into creatures, then Humility changes everything to 1/1 “blank” creatures, including itself. It’s a bit weird, but that’s how the rules work. Rule 418.5 in the Comprehensive Rulebook has more information on this topic.
Q: Say that a player has the ability to target multiple creatures (with an Aether Burst, or Violent Eruption, for example), and proceeds to target his opponent's creatures. His opponent, controlling a Sylvan Safekeeper, responds by sacrificing a land, and making one of the targets untargetable. Will the spell be countered, as one of its targets is now illegal, or will the spell check for remaining targets and resolve?
--David Beekman, Kalispell, MT
A: As long as at least one of the targets of the spell are legal, it will resolve as normal against those targets. The targets that are illegal won’t be affected by the spell. Aether Burst will bounce the remaining legal targets, and Violent Eruption will still deal the damage assigned to the remaining legal targets.
Q: I recently decided to put Braids, Cabal Minion into my blue-black deck with Waterfront Bouncer. I had a plan to sacrifice something with a low mana cost every turn, then bounce it back to my hand. My friends all agree with me that this is a possible combo and nearly indestructible, but there are people who say this cannot be done. Can you bounce something you sacrifice as an instant?
--Rebecca J. Kirk
A: When you sacrifice a permanent, it is put in the graveyard right after you make the choice to sacrifice it; there is no time in between to bounce it back to your hand. You can’t both sacrifice a permanent to an effect and return it to your hand.
Q: I have X life left and I Spirit Link one of my opponent's creatures that has power greater than X. If I let that creature hit me, do I lose or stay alive?
A: You lose. Spirit Link has a triggered ability that triggers on the damage being dealt. When the damage is dealt, the game checks for state-based effects (lethal damage), and since you’re at less than 0 life, you lose the game before the triggered ability goes on the stack.
Q: If I use Forcemage Advocate's ability of "Return target card in an opponent's graveyard to his or her hand. Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature." and choose an opponent with no graveyard, would this ability still take effect, since there is at least one legal target, the creature?
A: You need all the targets to be legal when you play a spell or ability. Since you can’t target a card in the chosen opponent’s graveyard, you’re not allowed to play the ability.
If you play the ability and target a card in an opponent’s graveyard, and that card goes away between when you play and resolve the ability, the ability will still resolve as normal against the remaining targets. But you can’t play spells or abilities without all targets being legal at the beginning.
Q: If a player played a flashback card (using the flashback ability) and it gets Memory Lapsed, would the flashback card get removed from the game or go into the top of his/her library?
A: It gets removed from the game.
When a spell finishes resolving, it usually goes to the graveyard. Both Memory Lapse and flashback change this with replacement effects. Memory Lapse has a so-called "self-replacement effect", because it replaces part of its own effect, and must be applied first. You then apply all other replacement effects to see where the card goes. Memory Lapse replaces "goes to graveyard" with "goes to library", then Flashback changes that to "remove from game."
Q: What does it mean when the Stronghold card Portcullis says "set that creature aside"? Is the creature removed from play or does it stay in play? I am asking specifically because of its interaction with Laquatas's Champion. Can you explain that to me?
A: The Oracle text of Portcullis says “remove that creature from the game;” it’s no longer “set aside.” Triggered abilities happen as normal. So the Champion comes into play, triggers, and then will leave play due to Portcullis and trigger again. Active player puts his or her triggers on the stack first, then the non-active player puts his or her abilities on the stack. If the Champion leaves play before the comes-into-play trigger has resolved, the targeted player will gain 6 life before he or she loses 6 life, but both the comes-into-play and the leaves-play trigger will happen.
Q: My friend has a black/green deck whose main strategy is to get out a Penumbra Wurm quickly, then sacrifice it and its token to Phyrexian Dreadnought. He says it works because when you sacrifice the original Wurm, the token instantly comes into play before the Dreadnought finishes "eating." So the token comes in and the monstrosity finishes the appetizer. Then he moves in for the main course: you. Does this work? Or is the timing wrong?
A: The player must sacrifice all the creatures to the Dreadnought at the same time. It’s not possible to sacrifice the Wurm first, then wait for the triggered ability of the Wurm to resolve, then sacrifice the token.
Q: The artifact Caltrops deals 1 damage to each attacking creature. If I attacked an opponent with a 6/1 creature and he didn't have anything to block with but had Caltrops out, would my creature die before dealing any damage to my opponent?
A: Caltrops triggers when creatures are declared as attackers, which is before blockers are declared and before combat damage assignments are put on the stack. The 6/1 attacker would be destroyed by lethal damage long before it got to assign damage to the player (Read more on how the Combat phase is laid out in sections 306-311 in the Comprehensive Rulebook).
Q: When using Soul Net, may I pay 4 mana and gain 4 life per creature that is put into graveyard? Or can I only gain 1 life per creature and use the ability as many times as I want during the turn? Also, when a ability like that of Pestilence has an activation cost, does the same rule apply?
A: Soul Net has a triggered ability (starting with the word “when”). It can only be used when something specific happens (creature goes to the graveyard), and then only once. The player doesn’t get the option to pay several times unless he or she has multiple Soul Nets. Pestilence is different; it has an activated ability, and it can be activated as many times as the player can afford to pay for it.
Q: Let's say my opponent attacks with River Boa, Blastoderm, and Cradle Guard. I block all creatures with Wall of Glare and give the Wall protection from green with Mother of Runes. What happens with Cradle Guard's trample ability? Am I dealt damage?
A: With trample damage, you need to assign enough to deal lethal damage to all the blockers without taking anything but the blocker’s toughness, damage already taken, and damage dealt from other attackers into account. If the Blastoderm and River Boa deals enough damage to destroy the Wall, you can trample over with all the damage from the Cradle Guard. When damage resolves, the protection given by the Mother of Runes will prevent all green damage dealt to the Wall, but this does not influence the trample damage assigned to the player. You’ll still take the trample damage.
Q: I currently control four Helm of Awakening and two Islands. Can I play Capsize with buyback, or Whispers of the Muse with buyback (total cost is six, but reduced by four by the Helms, or is this not possible)? In the same instance, can I cast Braingeyser for four (declare “X” as four, then have the generic cost reduced by the Helms, or is this impossible)?
A: The Helm reduces the total play cost of spells, so it can also reduce mana costs in buyback, kicker and other additional costs. All the examples you give work exactly as you state.
Q: If I play Druid's Call on Squirrel Mob and I have no other creatures in play, then my opponent Shocks it, what happens? Do two 1/1 green Squirrel tokens go into play and make the Mob a 4/4 or does it die before the effect resolves?
A: Druid’s Call has a triggered ability, and it triggers on the damage being dealt. The game will check for lethal damage on the Mob before that trigger resolves. The Squirrel Mob will be destroyed, then you will get two tokens.
Q: The card Spelljack has the text "as long as that card remains removed from the game, you may play in as though it were in your hand..." Does that mean that a countered instant or sorcery can be played unlimited times?
A: Once you play the Spelljacked spell it goes to the stack and resolves as normal. It will usually go to its owner's graveyard once it has finished resolving, and it can’t be played again.
Q: Can Commander Eesha be blocked? I know that for protection from colors, if a defending opponent controls that color creature, yours can't be blocked. Does the same rule come into play with Eesha?
A: The only way to block Commander Eesha is to use non-creature effects (like Dazzling Beauty). Protection from any quality means 4 things, abbreviated D-E-B-T: Damage from that quality is prevented, can’t be Enchanted by enchantments of that quality, can’t be Blocked by creatures of that quality, and can’t be Targeted by spells or effects of that quality. Commander Eesha can’t be blocked by a creature.
Q: I have two
A: You let each of the Spike Feeders assign 2 damage to the Genesis when you put combat damage assignments on the stack. You can then sacrifice the Feeders to gain 4 life from each of them. The game will deal the combat damage assigned to the Genesis when combat damage assignments resolves. When combat damage resolves, it’s dealt as originally assigned. This happens even if the creature dealing damage is no longer in play or its power has changed.
Read more about Combat Damage in rule 310 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.
Q: If there's an Ensnaring Bridge in play and the player who controls it has one card in hand, may I attack with a 1/1 creature and then raise its power using something like Muscle Burst to deal more damage?
A: Ensnaring Bridge has an effect which restricts which creatures you may declare as attackers. Once attackers have legally been declared, you’re free to pump your creatures to deal more damage; Ensnaring Bridge only checks for creatures’ power when they’re declared as attackers.
Q: Does a creature gain "summoning sickness" every time it changes controllers? For example, is a creature enchanted with Custody Battle always "sick" when it changes controller? Plus, when a creature changes controller, if it was tapped, does it remain tapped?
A: A creature loses the ability to attack and use activated abilities with the
A: Both the cards target the player, and having True Believer in play means you can’t be targeted by these cards. All spells and abilities that “target X’s [something]” have “X” as their target.
A: The text editing cards can only change the words that are of the correct type (for example, a Magic color word being used as a color word, a land type word used as a land type, or a creature type word used as a creature type). The effect can't change a proper noun, such as a card name, even if that proper noun contains a word or a series of letters that is the same as a Magic color word, basic land type, or creature type. This is rule 415.4 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.
A: When you Clone a creature, you get to make all choices for the new creature as if it was just played. You get to name a new card.
Q: If my opponent enchants one of my creatures with Pacifism, can that creature attack if I give my creature protection from white until end of turn?
A: Giving a creature protection from white means that all white local enchantments (the Pacifism) fall off the creature, and if you have had the creature under your control since the beginning of your turn, you can attack with it.
Rune will answer more of your questions next week and every week here at "Saturday School." You can search past Saturday School questions using our Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.Send your rules questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.