Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Posted in ARCHIVES - ARTICLES on October 21, 2014

By Matt Tabak

Senior editor. Game designer. Writer. Bon vivant. Matt wears many hats inside Magic R&D, but they're hard to see as he's so tall.

Ask Wizards is a monthly feature that gives you a chance to ask us questions and have them answered. If you'd like to submit a question, please email it to AskWizards@wizards.com. We aren't able to answer every question we receive, but if we can, it might show up in the coming months!

This month, Rules Manager Matt Tabak answers some questions about cards and mechanics from Khans of Tarkir.

Q: Can I target my own creature with an X spell like Heat Ray and chose X to equal 0, while still activating an ability that triggers by targeting my creature with a spell, like heroic?

A. You can. Heroic abilities care only that you cast a spell that targets the creature, not what the effect of that spell is. When choosing a value for X, you can choose any number, so 0 is a valid choice.

Q: Does Clever Impersonator trigger prowess if you copy a noncreature permanent?

A. Prowess triggers whenever you cast a noncreature spell. Unfortunately in this case, Clever Impersonator is a creature spell. You don't choose what it will copy until it resolves and enters the battlefield.

Q: If my opponent taps out to cast a delve card (say, Necropolis Fiend), and I use a counterspell like Mindswipe to make my opponent pay X, can he or she use cards in the graveyard to pay for X? Or is delving for the mana cost only an option when casting the spell?

A. Delve lets you exile cards from your graveyard to help pay for the spell itself. Although Mindswipe may feel like it's adding to that cost, it's not. To pay that X to avoid the spell being countered, you must actually pay mana.

Q: Would Generator Servant give a morph haste?

A. If you spend the mana from Generator Servant to cast a face-down creature spell, the resulting face-down creature will have haste until end of turn.

Q: Can you explain the timing of casting the cards exiled with Villainous Wealth? The cards are exiled first. Then it states you may cast those cards, but it never says immediately, end of turn, nor in future.

A. If an effect states that you may cast a card (or a copy), but it doesn't include a duration such as "this turn," it means to cast it right then as the spell or ability that's letting you cast that card is resolving. So here's how Villainous Wealth resolves: first, the target opponent exiles cards from his or her library. Then, you may cast the nonland cards with the appropriate converted mana costs. You do this one at a time, placing each on the stack and making all the choices you'd normally make when casting a spell, such as choosing modes, selecting targets, and so on. Then Villainous Wealth is done resolving, so it heads to the graveyard. Then the spells you cast with it will resolve, one at a time, starting with whichever spell you cast last. (It will be on top of the stack.) Of course, players can respond by casting instants and activating abilities as normal.

Q: Hardened Scales modifies the number of +1/+1 counters that are placed on creatures you control. This seems fairly straightforward, however there are cards that say to put counters on a card based on criteria; Vorel of the Hull Clade and Gilder Bairn effectively double the number of counters on a creature or permanent, but their wording is "for each." Are these "for each" separate events, or one event? This would be a similar question for doubling season and anything that modifies counters.

A. The abilities of Vorel and Gilder Bairn add all the counters as a single action. With Hardened Scales, you'd count the number of +1/+1 counters being added to the permanent, then add one. Hardened Scales and Doubling Season both create replacement effects that apply if a number of +1/+1 counters would be placed on a creature you control. They can apply in either order, although applying Doubling Season last will net you more counters. For example, say a creature you control would have two +1/+1 counters placed on it. If you apply Hardened Scales first and then Doubling Season, two counters will become three and then be doubled to six. If you choose the other order, two is doubled to four and then one is added for a total of five counters.