It’s Not All Black and White

Posted in Feature on April 1, 2006

By John Carter

Send your rules questions to Level Four Judge John Carter. Can't find the answer to your question somewhere else, like the Magic Comprehensive Rules? Maybe he's already answered it! Try the Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

April is here, and with it comes many events big and small. Team Standard is the Pro Tour Qualifier format for the season, and the month wraps up with the Dissension prerelease!

Darkest Hour
Q: What if I had Teysa, Orzhov Scion out with Darkest Hour? Does that mean that I can infinitely sacrifice creatures to remove all opposing creatures from the game? --Stephen

A: Any creatures you control that go to the graveyard would trigger Teysa. Though the tokens are white underneath, the Darkest Hour makes them appear black, so you wouldn't have the three white creatures needed to activate Teysa's removal ability.

Q: What would happen if I targeted a 5/5 creature with Living Inferno's ability while Cowardice is in play? --James O.

A: The target would be returned, and the entire ability would be countered for lack of target.

*Extra*: With eight points of power to divide up, this means Living Inferno could bounce as many as eight creatures with each activation complements of Cowardice. Frankly, if something the size of Silvos caught fire and started running right at me, I'd be afraid, too.

Q: Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind is a difficult card to interpret. For example, if I were to play Compulsive Research would its ability trigger one time or three times? --Chris

A: Card drawing is handled in a slightly special way. Drawing multiple cards is chopped into individual draws that total the multiple amount. So, "draw 3" is handled as "draw, draw, draw." This triggers Niv-Mizzet three times - once for each card drawn.

*Extra*: The distinction is also important for effects that replace draws. You could replace any of the three draws with a dredge, for example, without having to decide which one until just before you would draw. You might draw the first card, draw the second card, and then decide you need to dredge a Darkblast for the third. Of course, if a draw is replaced, Niv won't be triggering for the replaced draw.

Q: How does Parallectric Feedback interact with flashback and madness? --Angelo

A: Flashback and madness tinker with how things get played and how much you spend to play them, but the mana cost is the same no matter how much you spent. Parallectric Feedback will deal seven damage to your for a flashbacked Roar of the Wurm and five for a madnessed Arrogant Wurm.

Q: I have a 1/1 token out, and I block a Sunhome Enforcer. Does my opponent gain two life or one life since the token only has one defense. You can't logically deal more damage than defense. What's the deal here? --Jason

A: The fun/excessive ratio of overkill tends to avoid logic. Just because something could be smashed a little doesn't mean you can't really really smash it into a paste. The Enforcer isn't concerned amount of damage is effective, it wants amounts of damage that are impressive.

Q: If I use Sunforger's ability to search for a Red or White arcane instant spell, can I splice with an arcane spell in my hand? --Michael

A: Yes, Sunforger allows you to play the spell, and splice allows you to add on to arcane spells you play. The Sunforger will cover the searched spell's cost, and you'll pay for only the splice. For example, if you fetch Candles' Glow from your deck, you could play it with a Glacial Ray splice for .

Vinelasher Kudzu
Q: Would a Vinelasher Kudzu get counters for all of your lands Warp World puts into play or not? --Nathaniel H.

A: Yes, the Vinelasher and lands were put into play at the same time, so the Vinelasher will see them coming into play.

*Extra*: Copy Enchantment from a Warp World won't be able to select an enchantment in play as it comes in, so it will remain a play as just a Copy Enchantment and sit in play doing almost nothing.

Q: If I enchant an opponent's legendary creature with Followed Footsteps and Mark of Eviction, what happens? --Derek K.

A: You control both triggers, so you can stack them in either order and resolve them last-in, first-out (LIFO). If the Mark trigger resolves first, the Mark, Footsteps, and creature will be returned to their owners' hands. When the Footstep trigger resolves and uses the last known information about what the Footsteps was enchanting and creates a token copy of that creature.

If the Footsteps trigger resolves first, then you'll get a token version of the legendary creature. Immediately after, the two legendary creatures will be put into the graveyard because of the Legend rule state-based effect. In another SBE check, the game will see a Mark of Eviction and Followed Footsteps not enchanting a legal permanent, and they'll both go to the graveyard (the same SBE pass will make the token not-in-play cease to exist). When the Mark trigger resolves, it can't return the creature or the Aura, since they're both in the graveyard.

Q: What exactly does it mean when a card refers to a "creature spell," ex. Bloodbond March? Are all cards spells? --Ashley D.

A: A "creature spell" is a spell with the type "Creature" or "Artifact Creature." Most, not all, cards are played as spells--lands are not. A spell only exists while on the stack. Elsewhere, and that card is either a permanent (in play) or a card (not in play or on the stack). A creature card in hand is played as a creature spell on the stack and then resolves as a creature in play, and when it dies, it is a creature card in your graveyard.

Q: If I play a Hunted Horror while my opponent controls Ivory Mask, do the Centaurs go away because I can't target my opponent? --Bill C.

A: The Centaurs never show up at all. A triggered ability that doesn't have a target never gets going.

*Extra*: A triggered ability whose target becomes illegal is countered. Either way, not one hoof of a Centaur is showing up.

Eternal Dominion
Q: Can you imprint Eternal Dominion and Time Warp on a Spellweaver Helix and then play Eternal Dominion taking unlimited turns? --Michael

A: Spellweaver Helix looks only at when a card is played. Playing a copy isn't the same as playing a card.

Q: Can I play Tariff if not everybody controls a creature? --Tim C.

A: Yes, Tariff will do nothing to the creatureless player while everyone else sacrifices or pays.

Q: If I play Lava Spike, splicing on Desperate Ritual, and I pay the colorless mana of the splice cost with Boseiju, Who Shelters All, does Lava Spike become uncounterable? --Si K.

A: Yes, spending Boseiju to pay for any part of and instant or sorcery spell will make that spell uncounterable.

*Extra*: This applies to splice, buyback, and even cost increasing effects like Chill.

Q: Necrogen Spellbomb doesn't say it can only be played as an instant. Can I use it with my Auriok Salvagers to stop my opponent from playing each card he draws? --Mitch P.

A: Mostly. The Spellbomb can be used during your opponent's draw step (after he or she has drawn). The flaw is that your opponent could respond to the Spellbomb ability by playing the card if it's an instant.

*Extra*: Additionally, if your opponent has an effect that could let him or her draw during the main phase, he or she might be able to play the resulting card. For example, with an empty stack and no cards in hand activate Archivist. Using the Spellbomb before that draw effect resolves means it does nothing. However, if the ability resolves, priority is given to the active player, and since resolving that meant the stack is once again empty during the main phase, then the player could announce playing the card before you can sacrifice the Spellbomb to force a discard.

Barrin's Unmaking
Q: I know that lands are colorless, but if there are no nonland permanents in play, can I bounce a land with Barrin's Unmaking? --Adam A.

A: You could play the Unmaking, but it won't actually return anything. "Colorless" isn't a color that can be shared, and it's never the most common color (since it's, you know, lacking color).

Q: If I were to play Ambush Commander, the turn I play it, would the 1/1 Forests have summoning sickness? What if after Ambush Commander were in play when I play a Forest? --Jesse

A: Forests that have been in play since you started the turn won't be summoning sick when Ambush Commander comes into play. Any Forests not under your control since you started your turn, including any you play after the Commander arrives, will be sick.

*Extra*: Ambush Commander doesn't say "basic Forests," so even your Stomping Grounds (and other duals) will be 1/1 green Elf creatures that are lands, too.

Q: My friend attacks me with my own Redwood Treefolk, enchanted with Control Magic. I block with my Treefolk Mystic, thus destroying Control Magic... then what happens? Does combat end now that he no longer controls the creature? --Steve G.

A: You'll get back the Redwood Treefolk (removing it from combat since it switched sides). Combat continues, but with only the Treefolk Mystic still involved, nothing deals damage to anything else, and combat ends in short order.

Q: I understand that Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker looks at a creature's power just before it leaves play but I wonder what happens with equipment. Say I have a 1/1 creature equipped with Leonin Scimitar making it 2/2… --Roelof B.

A: When Shirei looks at the creature, it's going to account for everything that is modifying the creature's power. Shirei won't bring back a 2/2 even if it's only the Scimitar that makes it that large.

Q: What happens to Engineered Plague after I take it as my first choice with Thieves' Auction? --Joshua W.

A: Thieves' Auction puts the Engineered Plague into play. As the Plague is being put into play, you'll be choosing a creature type to get -1/-1.

Ebony Owl Netsuke
Q: With Ebony Owl Netsuke, what happens if the number of cards in hand is six before beginning the upkeep and it changes to seven while Owl ability is on stack? What is if it is the other way? --Stefan

A: Ebony Owl's triggered ability has an "intervening if clause" (the if clause is written between the trigger event and what the trigger does). [CR 404.3] If the condition isn't met at either time, the ability does nothing. The only difference between the two examples above is that the first one won't even go on the stack.

Q: Does Beacon of Immortality in Two-Headed Giant double your whole team's life total? --Neil

A: Beacon of Immortality will give the target player half of his team's life total rounded up. So if your team is at 19 or 20, you would gain 10 life, and the team would then be at 29 or 30.

Q: My opponent has Censorship in play and "says" the named word 10,000 times... He then plays Reverse Damage. Does he gain all of that life before he dies? --Brandon

A: If state-based effects find a player at 0 life - after resolving the tenth Censorship trigger, for example - the game ends before anything else happens. So here we have your opponent at 20 life with 10,000 triggers on the stack. With 9,991 triggers on the stack and 2 life, they play Reverse Damage (or else they'll die). The next damage from Censorship will be prevented, and they'll gain 2. Two triggers later (with 9,988 triggers to go), your opponent will get permanently Censored, and you can go on to another game.

Dissension previews begin April 10th. As always, Saturday School will be happy to help you get your brain around the cards previewed here on magicthegathering.com in time for the prerelease, and we'll cover anything that comes up once the set debuts at the prerelease. Stay tuned for the latest.

Class Dismissed.

--Carter

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