Oh I Like Pie… Humble Pie

Posted in Feature on October 2, 2004

By John Carter

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

I have a t-shirt from the Colorado judges. Emblazoned across the front of it is “RTFC” (Read The Friendly Card). It's a reminder of Rule #1 here at Saturday School—Read the Card. I wore that this around the office earlier this week, and this time I wore it to remind myself. Yes, there were a few misstatements in last week's column, so let me clear those up and be done with it. My apologies for the mishap, I shall now eat humble pie…

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's roll out some new questions. Perhaps this time I should wear a helmet. As long as we're in Heroland, let's start with this one:

Student of Elements
Q: Player A has a flipped Student of Elements (Tobita, Master of Winds) in play. Player B has two unflipped Student of Elements in play, and a Jump in hand. He plays Jump on one of his Students. What happens? --Jared H.

A: Player B winds up with the only Tobita in play. Here's how: the jumping Student of Elements triggers, when its trigger resolves, that Student flips into a second Tobita, Master of Winds. This gives Tobita and the other Student (who's still studying for now) flying, triggering the unflipped Student's ability. Having resolved the trigger, the active player would get priority, but state-based effects check and put the two Tobita into their graveyards (compliments of the Legend Rule). The triggered Student loses flying, and his triggered ability goes on the stack. When that trigger resolves, that Student becomes a Master.

Q: What you say? Are you on the way to destruction? Flying, not flying, but still flipping?

A: Yes. Student of Elements' trigger is a state-triggered ability [CR 410.11]. State-triggered abilities are similar to regular triggers. However, unlike regular triggers, that don't retrigger until the original trigger resolves (or they'd trigger forever), and they don't recheck the game state's condition when the trigger resolves. For great justice.

Q: What happens when a Quicksilver Elemental gains all activated abilities of a Flip creature, and then meets the flip criteria? Does it flip itself to no effect? –Roy

A: You'll have a flipped Quicksilver Elemental that has all the same characteristics. Being flipped doesn't matter unless there's a set of flip characteristics to apply.

Q: I have no cards in hand. I untap, and I draw a card. Then my opponent uses Nezumi Shortfang to make me discard a card and flip his permanent. Can I play the card I was supposed to discard (for example if it was a creature) in response and prevent him/her from getting the Stabwhisker the Odious? --Jose

A: You could play the card if it's an instant, but that won't keep Nezumi from flipping. With Nezumi's ability it doesn't matter if you actually discard a card-- just that you have no cards in hand when the ability resolves.

More 'Gawa

Swirl the Mists
Q: I played Swirl the Mists on my friend the other day and we got really confused. I used it to change his Sokenzan Bruiser's ability of Mountainwalk to Plainswalk because I had Mountains. He said all the Mountains were now Plains… Could you please tell me how to use the card so no more confusion is made? --Eric C.

A: Swirl the Mists affects only color words (white, blue, black, red, green)—it has no effect on basic lands (Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, Forest).

*Extra* Let's say your opponent has out a White Knight (2/2 Protection from black). You play Swirl the Mists and choose “red”. The White Knight is still named “White Knight” [CR 418.6a], and it now has protection from red.

Q: I play Lava Spike then Splice two Glacial Rays onto it. My opponent uses Sideswipe. Does my opponent get to change the target of Lava Spike and all the spliced spells or just the original Lava Spike's target? --Paulus F.

A: Sideswipe reads “any targets”. Thus, he could have the original Lava Spike portion and each of the spliced Glacial Rays target the player and creatures/players he wants.

Q: I tap Boseiju, Who Shelters All and play Tooth and Nail. My opponent plays Condescend on T&N. Does my opponent get to scry? --Oleg P.

A: Yes, he does. Countering the spell and scrying are separate effects. Though the countering portion will do nothing, the scry part still works fine.

Q: I'm confused about the interaction between the Myojin and Tooth and Nail. Tooth and Nail puts it into your hand and then plays it, right? --Chris R.

A: Almost—you won't get a divinity counter with Tooth and Nail. Tooth and Nail puts creatures into play. “Play” means to put a spell on the stack or put a land into play. “Play” and “put into play” have a similar result, but they aren't the same thing.

Q: I control a Myojin of Infinite Rage, and seven more lands than my opponent. On my opponent's turn, he plays Avatar of Fury for . In response, I remove the divinity counter on Myojin of Infinite Rage to destroy all lands. Does the Avatar of Fury get countered? --Felix A.

A: No. Once a spell is played (put on the stack and paid for) doing things to the game won't change how much that spell's cost.

Q: My friend has Night of Souls' Betrayal in play. If I have Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro out and make a 1/1 with Orochi Hatchery, would my 1/1 die or would it stay in play since it gets +0/+1 from Sachi? --Rick

A: The token lives. You'll take the base stats and apply both the Sachi effect and the Night effect. The end result is a 0/1 green snake. If the Daughter goes away, the tokens will be put into the graveyard next time state-based effects check (and then they'll cease to exist when SBE's recheck).

Q: Can I tap my “Legendary Enchantment – Shrine”s to active Honor-Worn Shaku? --Isariya

A: Yes. Though enchantments tend to not get tapped there's no rule against being able to tap them if a cost (like Honor-Worn Shaku's) or effect calls for it.

Reverse the Sands
Q: If a person uses Reverse the Sands and takes my twenty life and leaves me his one life, can I use False Cure to make him lose 38 life? --Daniel

A: Yes, if he makes his life greater than it was he'd lose two life for each extra life. By making his life total go up he'd be gaining life [CR Glossary: Life, Life Total].

*Extra* Be careful though—if a player has life to give, and you play False Cure in response to Reverse the Sands, the Sands opponent could redistribute the life totals so you're the one gaining life (and then losing it to the False Cure). For instance, let's say you have four life, and he has five, and a third player has eight. If he sets your life to eight (4 + 4), sets his to four (5 - 1), and the third player’s to 5 (8 - 3) then the False Cure would cause a trigger that would make you lose (4 x 2) eight life, and you'd be the one falsely cured.

Q: If Eight-and-a-Half-Tails turns my artifact into a white permanent can it still be destroyed with Shatter? --Torsten R.

A: Yes. Eight-and-a-Half-Tails only changes the color of the permanent (or spell). 8.5 does not change whether it has the “artifact” type is unchanged. Compare this to Neurok Transmuter for a creature that makes things a given color (blue) and makes them no longer artifacts.

Q: If I play Soulblast, does the power of a sacrificed creature equipped with Cranial Plating (and thus the damage to be dealt) include the bonus from my equipment or not? --Marc F.

A: Yes. Soulblast will remember what the total power of the sacrificed creatures was right before they valiantly flung themselves at your hapless opponent. This includes bonuses from Platings, Warhammers, pennies, and perhaps bit of string that were on the creature at that time. In judge-speak, we'd say Soulblast uses the creatures' “last known information” or “LKI”.

Q: Regarding Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. If I copy an Arcbound Ravager that has more than one +1/+1 counter, do I get all the counters on the copy or just one counter? --Emile

A: Just one counter. It doesn't matter how many pennies (or bits of string) the original Ravager has, the new copy will start out without any extra counters.

*Extra* Of course, once the end of turn comes around you'll have to sacrifice the KJMB Ravager copy, and you'll get to put the modular counter somewhere. But why wait that long? Once the copy's done its dirty work sacrifice it to the original Ravager to get the bonus for sacrificing an artifact and put the modular counter wherever you'd like (might I suggest... the Ravager).

Q: Can you splice onto an Arcane instant played from an Isochron Scepter even though you didn't play an arcane spell, just put one on the stack? --Clint B.

A: Yes, you can splice onto spells off Isochron Scepter. The wording on Isochron Scepter is, in part, “You may copy the imprinted instant card and play the copy without paying its mana cost.” The Scepter doesn't put a copy on the stack (Mirari and Fork do, for example)—it let's you play a copy. Since you are playing the copy, you can still splice onto it if it's Arcane. Yes, a Glacial Ray in your hand can be spliced onto a copy of a Glacial Ray played off an Isochron Scepter.

Q: If I play Reweave on an animated Blinkmoth Nexus, do I get to choose the card type or does Reweave stop when it finds a card that is or an artifact, creature, or a land? --Tiago F.

A: You do not get to pick which type. An animated Nexus is a 1/1 artifact creature land. Thus, that player will stop turning over cards once an artifact, a creature, or a land is revealed.

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor: Costs

Ruby Medallion
Q: I was reading your last article and was curious about the question involving Ruby Medallion. The answer seemed to imply that the casting cost of a spell on the stack included any amounts paid to splice on spells. Is this the case or is the splice cost separate? --Glen W.

A: “Casting cost” is an old (pre-6th Edition / pre-April 1999) term. So the answer depends on what you mean when you say “casting cost”. How about a Long Answer…

Nowadays when people say “casting cost” they often mean “mana cost”. Mana cost is that set of numbers and symbols in the upper-right corner of a card. For example, the mana cost of a Glacial Ray is . Mana costs stay the same with one exception—when there's in the cost. (Ok, ok, The Ultimate Nightmare of Wizards of the Coast Customer Service has other variables, and even Fireball did for a while, but let's stay focused here. Rules people claim no responsibility for what happens in an Un- set.) When a cost includes , then the is treated as anywhere except on the stack. On the stack that value is set when the spell is played. For example, Blaze can be , or , or {some other number} while on the stack.

The other common term seen on cards is “converted mana cost”. That's where you take a mana cost and turn all the colored symbols into and then add the result. Thus, Glacial Ray (mana cost ) converts into + = . Could a spell like Thoughtbind counter a Glacial Ray? Converted mana cost of 2 is 4 or less, so yes, it can. Do note that with Blaze, the number would be {value for X if on the stack} + = {CMC}. A small Blaze (X = 3 or less) could be Thoughtbound, but a larger one (X = 4 or more… + = 4 + 1 = 5) could not. (Technically you couldn't even try to counter it with Thoughtbind because a 4-point Blaze's CMC is greater than four.)

When you want to do extra stuff that's not part of the symbols in the upper-right corner, you're talking about “additional costs”. Splice is the most recent example of an additional cost. Additional costs can also include returning things, sacrificing things, or a myriad of other actions. Additional costs do not affect the mana cost or the converted mana cost of a spell. Paying to splice a copy of a Glacial Ray into Kodama's Reach doesn't change the in the corner of the Reach. Other classic examples of additional costs are Kicker (Invasion block) and Buyback (Tempest block). Playing a Thornscape Battlemage (PL) might cost + + , but the mana cost remains .

These additional costs all go into another term—“total cost”. The total cost of a spell is the result of all the things that make a spell more or less expensive. This is also casually referred to as a “casting cost”, but as you can see, that term isn't very accurate. The “total cost” of that double-kickered Thornscape Battlemage was . The total cost of a Glacially Raying Kodama's Reach is . Be sure to remember that a spell's color comes only from the color(s) in the mana cost. So each of these examples would be dealing two points (and one blowing up and artifact) from green sources. The total cost is what a card is referring to when it talks about “costs… to play.”

If you have a Ruby Medallion in play, and splice a Glacial Ray onto a Glacial Ray, you get the mana cost, add any additional costs (ie: the splice), and then subtract any reductions (Ruby Medallion). Because reductions apply to the “costs… to play”, you can reduce any applicable portion of a spell's total costs. So having two Ruby Medallions in play would result in this: Glacial Ray + splice – Ruby – Ruby = .

If Glen meant casting-cost-which-is-total-cost, then, yes, splice is included. If Glen meant casting-cost-which-is-the-mana-cost, then no, it's not. I'd bet he was thinking “casting cost” = “total cost”.

And Now Back to the Show

Thrull Champion
Q: Let's say I use my Imagecrafter to change one of my opponent's critters into a "Thrull". Then I use my Thrull Champion to seize control of it. Do I lose control of that critter at end of turn, when it ceases to be a Thrull? --E.W.

A: No, you'll keep the critter. The abilities like the Thrull Champion's check their target twice. The first time is when you play the ability (an illegal announcement would be reversed), and the second time is when the ability resolves (the only target being illegal would counter the ability). Otherwise, once the Champion has its tendrils on a guy he's yours to keep (unless the Champion goes away).

Q: I tried to search the archives but 'comes into play' returned too many results.

Does destroying a creature with a comes into play effect while the CIP effect is still on the stack cause the CIP effect to fizzle? --QJ W.

A: No. Destroying the source of an effect won't counter the effect.

*Extra* Thanks for checking the archives—there is tons of information there for the brave at heart.

Q: Molder Slug… what happens if you are unable to sacrifice an artifact? --Michael

A: When the Slug's ability resolves each upkeep that player Does Nothing and continues on with the turn. Sacrificing an artifact is not required to keep the Slug, but it is required if that player controls any artifacts.

Q: If March of the Machines is out, and Quicksilver Elemental copies the abilities of Arc-Slogger and then Synod Sanctum, can the Elemental "return all cards removed" by itself through Slogging? --James P.

A: No, it can only return cards removed with it's own Sanctum ability. While the Elemental might be shifty, it does remember why each pile of cards was removed.

Q: My opponent plays Grab the Reins on a creature I control. In response I play Abeyance. My opponent says that Grab the Reins is returned to his hand because he can't play the card, but I think that it is put in his graveyard, because it is already on the stack. Who is right? --Johannes

A: Actually, neither one (well, you are, but not the way you want to be). The Grab the Reins has already been played (the spell was put on the stack), so Abeyance won't stop it. Even if you played Abeyance earlier in the turn, he could have responded with the Grab the Reins. Eventually the GtR will go into his graveyard, but that will be because it's done resolving like normal.

Q: I used Astral Slide to remove an opponent's Skyreach Manta, with five +1/+1 counters on it, does the Skyreach Manta return to play as a 5/5 or as a 0/0? If it returns as a 0/0, can my opponent pay mana to put new counters on the Manta to stop it from dying? --W. R.

A: The Manta returns to play as a 0/0. Sunburst only applies when you play a spell (returning something to play is not playing it). Your opponent will not have any option to pay mana to keep it alive either.

Blinkmoth Nexus
Q: If I have an Arcbound Crusher and Blinkmoth Nexus in play, and I turn the Blinkmoth Nexus into an artifact creature does my Crusher get a counter? --Frank S.

A: No, the Nexus was already in play when it became an artifact. Playing artifact lands (such as Vault of Whispers) will trigger the Crusher, but turning things in play into artifacts will not.

Q: Suppose I equip Viashino Sandstalker with Grafted Wargear. At end of turn, will the Sandstalker return to my hand because of its end of turn trigger, or will it have to be sacrificed because of Wargear's effect? --Jeff

A: The Sandstalker will return to hand. The effect can't do anything at that point because you can't sacrifice things that are no longer in play.

Q: If I had a Crystal Shard and a Spike Feeder in play, could I remove two +1/+1 counters from the Spike Feeder to gain four life and then return it to my hand with the Shard before it goes to the graveyard? --Johan

A: No. The Feeder would be put into your graveyard when you would be getting priority (this is a state-based effect—SBE [CR 420.5b]). However, you could remove one counter, gain 2 life, and bounce the Feeder.

Q: Can I Stifle the triggered ability on Yawgmoth's Will that forces cards to be removed from the game? Is this even possible? --Mark D.

A: No, Yawgmoth's Will creates a replacement effect; Stifle isn't even possible. You can tell it's a replacement effect because it uses the word “instead” [CR 419.1a]. A triggered ability would use “when”, “whenever”, or “at” [CR 404.1].)

Q: I have a Question about Chains of Mephistopheles.

"If a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in a draw step, that player discards a card instead. If the player discards a card, he or she draws a card. If the player doesn't discard a card, he or she puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard."

My question is about this part specifically: "If the player discards a card, he or she draws a card." Doesn't this trigger Chains again? --Vick

A: No, Chains is a replacement effect, and replacements only apply once to a given event [CR 419.6a]. This means that whichever “draw a card” gets replaced will be replaced with “…discard a card. If [you did], draw a card. If [you didn't], put the top card of your library into your graveyard.” The card draw inside that replacement won't be affected by itself.

On the Tournament Front

Q: I'm not exactly sure what sealed deck format is... could you clear that up for me? --Greg

A: Sealed deck is what's called a “Limited” format. Limited formats are where the tournament organizer brings cards, and you build your deck at the start of the event. For Sealed Deck, the typical configuration is one tournament pack (aka “a starter”) and two booster packs. From there you'll open the tournament and booster packs and build a deck of forty cards—that includes lands. The organizer should have extra basic lands if you need them.

*Extra* For the second and third sets of a given block, the prerelease events use three booster packs of that new set. These three packs go with the tournament pack, so you'll get thirty land, forty-five old cards (let's say Champions of Kamigawa) and forty-five new cards (such as Betrayers of Kamigawa). This is only done for the small set prereleases though. Feel free to ask your local judge for more details on how sealed deck work, or talk to your buddies that went to the prerelease.

Q: I'm new in Magic and I was wondering what is the mana curve and how do I apply it in my game, thanks in advance. --Jorge S.

A: A mana curve is the mana cost of the spells in your deck laid out in ascending order. The idea is that you want several low-cost spells, some medium-cost spells, and a few high-cost spells so that you are more likely to have spells to cast at each stage of the game. If you have too many expensive (high-cost) spells, you won't live long enough to play them because you're more likely to be stuck doing nothing earlier in the game. You apply a mana curve when you're deciding how to build your deck (at say a sealed deck event, for instance). If your games seem to end with you holding several expensive spells, then maybe it's time to adjust your mana curve and/or raise the amount of lands you play.

Q: Can I use world championship cards in tournaments if the cards are in colored sleeves? --Zach

A: No, World Championship cards are specifically prohibited from tournament play. This is true if you can't see the card backs (ie: opaque sleeves). Here's the text that applies from the Magic Floor Rules:

“102. Authorized Cards
Alpha cards (cards from the first print run of the core set) may be used in decks containing non-Alpha cards only if all cards are placed in completely opaque sleeves and only if the sleeves could not be considered marked.

If sleeves are not used, Alpha cards may be used only in decks that consist exclusively of Alpha cards.

Participants may not use cards from any special-edition sets or supplements, such as Collector's Edition, International Collector's Edition, Pro Tour Collector Set, World Championship decks, or Unglued cards.

Note: Unglued basic land cards are allowed in sanctioned Magic tournaments.”

Q: I'm told that the Spirit Token given out with Magic rewards has flying, and during the pre-release my opponent told me my dying Zubera would be making me a 1/1 colorless flying Spirit, even though the card does not say it has flying. Is it assumed that all Spirit tokens have flying, or was I right in saying that the token did not get to fly? --Matthew S.

A: Not all spirits fly. The token given out in 2001 was created to go with the card March of Souls. These are different spirits than the ones that come out of Dripping-Tongue Zubera, Honden of Life's Web, or Forbidden Orchard.

Q: If I'm playing at the State Championships, can I have a list of favorable targets for Cranial Extraction, or do I have to try and remember all these new card names? --Sean

A: You cannot use outside notes during a match. “Outside notes” are anything that you did not write during that match. You could take notes during the match though. However, you can also call over a judge and ask for a card's name. All you have to do is be able to uniquely identify the card—just keep it fast. For example, you could say “the black dragon in Champions”, and the judge can confirm that that card's name is Kokusho, the Evening Star. Be careful, if you can't accurately describe the card, a judge might not be able to help—saying “the Akroma card” isn't good enough because there are multiple cards with “Akroma” in the name.

The State Championships are just three weeks away. These events tend to be slightly more causal than Pro Tour Qualifiers, and they're the first big test of the new Standard. This year is 8th Edition, Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, and Champions of Kamigawa. Don't forget that Skullclamp is banned in Standard. Take a trip and play if you can. You can also check back on this site for decklists after the events are done to see how the new world of Standard is shaping up.

Class dismissed.

--Carter

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