Last weekend finished off the Ravnica block. Players all around celebrated the arrival or the Simic, Azorius, and Rakdos is fitting style at prereleases everywhere. Of course, there are questions about the new cards, and we're here to help.
Q: Considering that the epic copy isn't technically played, it doesn't trigger Dovescape. Right? --Wilson L.
A: Yes. Epic copies aren't played - they're put directly on the stack, so they won't trigger Dovescape. Perceptive readers will note that last week the idiot detector failed to go off when I mistakenly said the opposite last week. (Careful editorial scrubbing will take that stain out.)
A: Yes, protection from Auras means Writ of Passage's forecast ability can't target the First-Wing.
The ability would come from a "source not in play that are of that type." [CR 502.7a]
A: If Transcendence sees you lose 1 life, it will try to make you gain 2 life – but thanks to Rain of Gore, you lose 2 life instead. Transcendence will see you lose this 2 life, and will try to make you gain 4 life – but thanks to Rain of Gore you’ll lose 4 life instead. In the same way you’ll lose 8, then 16, then 32 life, etc. Thanks to Transcendence’s other effects this won’t kill you: your life total will carry on going down forever. There’s no way to end this loop, so the game is a draw.
A: Essentially both players draw as many as they want so long as their opponent is also drawing. The situation starts with both players drawing two cards and both Psychic Possessions triggering twice. The active player (AP, whose turn it is) will stack his or her triggers, and then the non-active player (NAP) will do the same. NAP will draw one card from the last of the two triggers he or she stacked. This leaves three triggers on the stack but causes AP's Possession to trigger. This loop of each player retriggering the other continues until one of the players notices the "may" in the Possession's draw effect and chooses not to draw.
*Extra*: If you replace the draw with something like dredge, Possession doesn't trigger.
Q: When does the game "check" hellbent? If I have more than one hellbent instant in my hand, can I put them all on the stack and then get the hellbent effect when they resolve? --Dan
A: Hellbent checks at different times. If you're playing spells that have hellbent replacing the smaller effect with a bigger one, hellbent checks as the spell resolves. Thus, if the only two cards in your hand are Cackling Flames, you could play one in response to the other and have both deal five damage. If the hellbent is a static ability (Taste for Mayhem), hellbent is checking all the time. If the hellbent is an activated ability (Ragamuffyn), it checks only on announcement; if it's a triggered ability (Jagged Poppet), it checks on announcement and resolution.
A: Yes, your opponent can play spells like normal, but he or she will have to add all the mana needed before War's Toll's trigger taps his or her lands. For example, the player could add to the mana pool and then play a pair of Haazda Exonerators (allowing for triggers and the first Exonerator to clear the stack, of course). Alternately, the player might play one Exonerator, and then play a land for the turn and use that land to play another Exonerator.
Q: Is the graft mechanic of the Simic guild considered an effect for Doubling Season? --Eric L.
A: Yes, Doubling Season will double the counters put onto the creature as it comes into play, and it will double the counters that are put onto a creative from a grafting creature. A Simic Initiate would come into play with two counters. If another creature comes into play, the Initiate may lose one counter, and two counters will be put on that creature.
Q: Is the mana generated by Utopia Sprawl instead of or in addition to the regular mana? --Tom H.
A: It's in addition to.
*Extra*: Don't forget that Ravnica block dual lands that are partially Forests can be enchanted by Utopia Sprawl.
Q: Can I use Flash Foliage on a creature with flying? --Donald
A: Yes. Flash Foliage only cares if the creature is attacking you and targetable by green spells.
Q: How does Nettling Curse work? Can I activate if it's on a creature my opponent controls?
A: Yes, you can activate it as long as you're its controller, regardless of what creature it's on.
Q: Does Omnibian make the creature into a 3/3 Frog with no abilities or does it just overwrite the power/toughness and creature type? --Kevin T.
A: Abilities aren't lost. Previous one-shot Power/Toughness effects will be overridden. Static abilities that change P/T and counters will be handle after setting the P/T.
A: Yes, the Minister is both blue and white thanks to the hybrid mana symbol, so both of Augustin's cost reductions would apply. Augustin lets you pay just
Q: If a creature that is blocking Rakdos the Defiler would be killed, does the creature die before the opponent chooses his cards to sacrifice? --Richard G.
A: Yes, the creature trampled upon by Rakdos would be destroyed as a state-based effect just before the Rakdos trigger is stacked. When the trigger resolves, then the player chooses non-Demons to sacrifice.
Q: If a Sprouting Phytohydra has a +1/+1 counter on it, will the copies come with a +1/+1 counter on it or will they just come naturally stronger? --James K.
A: They won't have a counter or be naturally stronger - they'll be 0/2 like normal.
A: As the controller of the creature, the opponent would apply either the Cultist replacement or the Carom redirection to the damage. By applying the Carom first, the Cultist ability no longer applies and waits until the next time that creature would take damage. Applying the Cultist first would destroy the creature, and Carom would no longer apply.
*Extra*: While the redirection will wait around until used or the turn ends, the card draw happens as Carom resolves - not when the redirection happens.
Q: Is the convoke ability considered a mana source? Can a creature be tapped in response to it being used for a convoke ability? --James C.
A: Convoke isn't a mana ability, but it can only be used while paying costs of a spell, so you would have the option of tapping in response to convoke.
A: No, you can’t play Darkblast while Ancestral Recall is resolving. You’ll dredge Darkblast, then draw two more cards, then get a chance to play Darkblast. To dredge more than one Darkblast, you would need to have more than one of them in your graveyard.
Q: Is it possible to counter the same spell twice? For instance, if I use Perplex from the Ravnica block, can I use another Perplex to counter the spell after my opponent has discarded his hand? --Kevin
A: You can legally do that, but it won’t have the effect it sounds like you want. The second Perplex is basically useless: your opponent can choose to discard his hand even if there are no cards in it.
Q: I just got married on the 22nd, and my wife and I were arguing... If I were to steal one of her attacking creatures, would I still take damage? (I did this after blockers were declared, but before combat damage.) --Chris U.
A: Congrats. I can't help with the spats, but you can rest assured that creatures that change controllers during combat are removed from combat and won't deal any damage if it hasn't already been assigned.
A: Both players are responsible for keeping track of the game - including the Pillory's mandatory ability. This means that you can't let him forget, but it also means that he can't play catch-up with it later.
Q: In Two-Headed Giant, who sacrifices permanents for Rakdos the Defiler?
A: The one player who controls Rakdos when it attacks sacrifices half of his or her non-Demon permanents. When Rakdos deals combat damage, its controller picks one of the heads from the damaged team, and that player sacrifices half of his or her non-Demons.
Q: Where do I send a question to ask a judge how a card works? --Derrick
A: Saturday School is an option - as you can tell. I make no promises about reading every email like Rosewater though (I'm human, okay?). A good source for quick answers is the Rules Q&A boards.
Q: My friend used a Falling Star placed in an extremely big card sleeve (used for oversized cards, I believe). My friend says everything the sleeve touched is destroyed. I argued that since the Falling Star was contained in a card sleeve, it wasn't actually touching anything. What happens when an opponent uses ridiculously sized sleeves? --Wentao
A: Falling Star and Chaos Orb are both "dexterity" cards. Casual players sometimes ask that the card be flipped out of the sleeve, but most people use the "burn down" method. The burn down method takes the card as it sits on the table and imagines it melting down through the table like a square of acid - through its own sleeve, cards below it, and presumably the table itself. Any card that has part of the Falling Star or Chaos Orb overlapping it - without the sleeve - is hit with the relevant effect. Having flipped many a Chaos Orb from a deck I play regularly still, I'd recommend you put a finger on the Star once it lands (so it doesn't slide) while you figure out what is hit.
The next month is a busy one. May opens with a Pro Tour in Prague (May 5-7) featuring booster draft with the entire Ravnica block. That same weekend Dissension goes on sale and is legal in Limited in events. Marking this occasion are the Dissension release events to be held at local shops all over the place during the entire release weekend.
Dissension becomes legal for Constructed formats on May 20th. This coincides directly with the date for the Standard Constructed Regional championships on that day.