Championship Rules Challenge

Posted in Feature on February 16, 2009

By Beth Moursund

This is a reprint of an article from 1995. This means that the rules have all changed since these answers were written, and at least one question would be answered in the opposite way if it were answered today! This is being presented solely as an entertainment, not as a guide to the current rules.

At the 1995 U.S. National and World Magic Championships. competitors vied with the best of the best. Now these players know the rules, inside and out...or do they? Judges received quite a few questions, especially in the sealed-deck events in which players were often using unfamiliar cards. These are some of the questions from Sealed Deck and Type II play—how many can you answer correctly?


Foul Familiar
Ironroot Treefolk

1. Player A attacks with Foul Familiar. Player B blocks with Ironroot Treefolk. Can A deal damage to the Treefolk and return the Familiar to his hand before it dies? 

No. Between applying damage and sending creatures to the graveyard, the only legal effects are damage prevention and redirection, regeneration, and interrupts. The Foul Familiar's ability isn't any of these.

Halls of Mist

2. All of Player A's creatures attacked last turn and he has Halls of Mist in play. If he doesn't pay the upkeep, can his creatures attack this turn? 

Yes. As soon as Halls of Mist leaves play, its effect ends.

Mana Vault

3. Player A has two Mana Vaults, one tapped and one untapped. If he taps the second Vault during his upkeep, adds one mana from a land, and uses the mana to untap the first Vault, does he take any damage?

Yes, he takes 1 damage. You can't end your upkeep with an untapped Mana Vault until you take a point of damage from it.

Order of Leitbur
Sleight of Mind

4. Player A attacks with Order of Leitbur and Player B blocks with another Order of Leitbur. Player A casts Sleight of Mind on his own Order, changing its protection from black to white. Is it still blocked? 

Yes. Once a creature is blocked, it stays blocked. Giving the attacker an evasion ability after blocking is declared has no effect.

Nevinyrral's Disk
Thrull Retainer

5. When Nevinyrral's Disk (destroys all creatures, enchantments, and artifacts) is activated, can a creature be regenerated with Thrull Retainer (sacrifice Thrull Retainer to regenerate the creature it enchants)? 

No, The creature and the Retainer go to the graveyard simultaneously, and you can't sacrifice a card that's on the way to the graveyard. (And you can't regenerate a creature that isn't on its way to the graveyard.) The enchantment Regeneration, of course, could be used since it isn't sacrificed as part of its activation.

Jandors Saddlebags

6. Player A attacks. Player B uses Jandor's Saddlebags (, : Untap target creature) to untap one of the attackers. Does it still deal damage? 

Yes. Untapping a creature does not remove it from the combat or prevent it from dealing damage unless the card says so.

Ashes to Ashes
Armor Thrull

7. A player casts Ashes to Ashes, targeting an opponent's creature and his own Armor Thrull. He then sacrifices the Thrull in response to give a +1/+2 bonus to one of his creatures. Does the spell still work? 

Yes. As long as at least one target reamins, the spell still resolves successfully. If both targets are gone, it will fizzle. Note that the player still takes 5 damage.


8. Player A declares the end of his turn. Player B asks Player A to wait while he considers whether or not he will respond with any fast effects. While Player B is thinking, Player A decides he wants to use Pestilence. If Player B does nothing, can he?

No. Once the player has said "done" he can't do anything else during his turn unless his opponent continues the turn by using a fast effect.

Erg Raiders
Kjeldoran Warrior

9. Player A attacks with Erg Raiders. Player B blocks with a Kjeldoran Warrior and two other creatures. Player A uses a Lightning Bolt to kill the Warrior. Who distributes the Erg Raiders' damage?

Player A. Banding among blockers is only checked for when damage is assigned, not when blocking is declared.

Mishra's Factory

10. Player A has one mana in his mana pool. Player B declares an attack. Since mana burn is assessed at the end of any phase and at the beginning and end of any attack, Player A takes mana burn. Player B then activates a Mishra's Factory, attacking with the Assembly Worker. Given that Player A might have been able to use his one mana to somehow affect the Assembly Worker, is this a legal sequence of events?

No. Converting the Factory to an Assembly Worker is a fast effect, so it's illegal during the "declare attackers" step. Player B must convert the Factory during the main phase if he wishes to attack with it. If he does, Player A can spend the mana in his pool to use some effect on the Worker because they are still in Player B's main phase.

Jesters Cap

11. Player A uses Jester's Cap to remove three cards from Player B's library. Does Player B get to look at the removed cards?

Yes. Both players can look through the "removed from game" pile at any time.

Ray of Command

12. Can a player cast Ray of Command to take control of a creature and then attack with the stolen creature during his opponent's turn?

No. Ray of Command only allows the creature to ignore summoning sickness. It doesn't let you attack on your opponent's turn, let a wall attack, or allow you to break any other rule.

Power Sink

13. Player A casts Fireball. Player B interrupts with Power Sink. Player A pays enough mana to satisfy Power Sink. Player B interrupts the same Fireball with a second Power Sink. Is this legal?

Yes. You can interrupt the same spell as many times as you want, waiting for each interrupt to resolve before casting the next one.

Walking Wall

14. Can you use more than three mana in one activation of Walking Wall?

No. Normally, you can use an ability several times in one activation, but the card text on Walking Wall explicitly restricts the ability to one use per turn.

Strip Mine
Land Tax

15. Players A and B each have three lands. Player A taps and sacrifices a Strip Mine, targeting one of B's lands. He then uses Land Tax in response to the Strip Mine. is this a legal sequence of events?

Yes. Costs are paid immediately, before effects are resolved. The Strip Mine goes to the graveyard immediately since the sacrifice is a cost. This leaves Player A with fewer lands, so he can activate the Land Tax in response, before the Strip Mine's target is destroyed.

Latest Feature Articles


January 27, 2022

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Mechanics by, Matt Tabak

Kamigawa is a world familiar to many players. It is the birthplace of several beloved creature types, and its legends shape battlefields to this day. But the time of The Kami War is long ...

Learn More


January 27, 2022

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Product Overview by, Harless Snyder

It's a beautiful day in Kamigawa as you ride your neon-wheeled motorcycle through the city center. Even in the daylight, the many neon signs glow bright with a magical aura, and you see a...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All