Saturday School #10

Posted in Feature on January 11, 2003

By Rune Horvik

Rune is back and rested from the holidays and ready to answer your questions. Send them to

If you don't see an answer to your question here, try our Searchable Rules Database.

Beginner Questions

Q: If I play a Confiscate to take my opponent's Silver Seraph that has a Serra's Embrace on it, my opponent says that the Serra's Embrace goes directly to his graveyard. But I believe that when I take control of his Silver Seraph I also take control of all enchantments on it, namely the Serra's Embrace.
--Sean Lerman

A: The Embrace remains on the Seraph, and will give it +2/+2, etc. There's no reason to put it into the graveyard; the Seraph is still a perfectly legal creature to enchant.

One thing to note - although you have Confiscated the Seraph, your opponent is still the controller of the Embrace. That has very little effect in this example, but if the Embrace had text which referred to "you," then it would still be referring to your opponent. (If the enchantment was Armadillo Cloak instead, your opponent would still gain the life, not you, as he still controls the enchantment.) It would also be possible for your opponent to sacrifice the Embrace to something like Dispersing Orb or Auratog.


Q: If a player has Megrim and Millstone in play, and then uses Millstone to move the top two cards from your library to the graveyard, does Megrim come into effect, causing you to lose 4 life?
--Aron Gunn

A: No, it doesn't. Megrim only triggers when you discard cards. Millstone doesn't use the word "discard" so it's not discarding anything, it just moves cards from the library to the graveyard.

Q: I'm at six life. My opponent sacrifices five Clerics to his Cabal Archon to make me lose 10 life. He says it's game over for me then, but I believe I can play an instant such as Swords to Plowshares on my own biggest creature, giving myself some life, and keeping me in the game. Does a sacrifice just happen--end of story--or do I get a chance to respond to the effect of the sacrifice?

A: You get the chance to save yourself. The Clerics are sacrificed when the Archon is activated, then the life loss/life gain abilities are put on the stack. Each player has the chance to respond before these resolve, for example by gaining life with Swords to Plowshares.

Q: If Endemic Plague is played and a player sacrifices a creature, is it possible to destroy the creature before it is sacrificed?

A: No, it's not. If a player has priority, he can play spells and must pay all costs (including sacrificing the creature) before any other player can respond. When the player has started to play Endemic Plague it's too late to destroy the sacrificed creature. Examples of other spells that work this way are Goblin Grenade and Tinker.

Onslaught Questions

Q: My opponent attempted to play Clone as a copy of creature in play that can be cast as an instant (I think it was King Cheetah) at the end of my turn. I argued that he could not play a Clone as an instant because it did not receive the Cloned creature's abilities until after it was cast. Is this correct or can he play Clone, Clone the instant ability, and play the creature as an instant?

A: You are correct. Clone is played as a regular creature card, and only gets to copy a creature as it comes into play. It will copy the characteristics and abilities of King Cheetah when it resolves, but that's far too late to affect how it's played.

Q: I Clone a Roar of the Wurm token. If someone later Aether Bursts the Clone, is it removed from the game rather than put back into my hand? I mean does it also inherit the "token" property?

A: The Clone card is put in your hand. "Tokenness" is not a characteristic that is copied. In play, Clone is a normal creature card that's a copy of the Wurm token.

Q: An opponent attacks with a face-down morph creature. I declare a non-flying blocker to that creature. During the fast-effects phase my opponent morphs the creature up and the resulting creature has flying. My creature in a non-flyer and does not have an ability to block flying. What happens to the blocker? Is the block no longer valid and the creature flies overhead?

A: The block is still valid, and the creature is still blocked. The game only checks for legal blockers in the declare blockers step. Giving or taking away flying or another evasion ability after blockers have been declared does not affect the declared blocks.

Q: My opponent has a face-down 2/2. I play Humble on it. Later in the turn, he wants to morph it into a Treespring Lorian. Can he? And how big would it be?

A: He can turn the card face up, as the morph effect on the card isn't an ability (it's an effect created by playing the card face down), so Humble doesn't affect it. It will still be 0/1, because Treespring Lorian's printed power and toughness will always be evaluated before any external effects. Morph changes the initial power/toughness from 2/2 to 5/4, but it will still be overwritten by Humble.

Q: If you Giant Growth a face-up creature with morph, which is later in the turn put face down using Backslide, is it a 5/5 face-down creature? A friend of mine is of the opinion that Backslide reverts creature with morph into a 2/2 creature regardless of effects on it. I believe I am correct that turning a creature with morph face-up or down only effects the base power/toughness.

A: It will be a 5/5 face-down creature. A creature remembers all effects on it even when it's turned face down, only what's printed on the card is removed. The printed power/toughness will be replaced with 2/2, then Giant Growth increases that to 5/5.

Q: I play Erratic Explosion, and the first card I reveal is the spilt card Assault/Battery. How much damage do I get to do?

A: Erratic Explosion will deal "1 damage and 4 damage," for a total of 5 points of damage. Split cards have two mana costs. Effects that ask for split cards' mana costs will get both values, and add them up.

Birchlore Rangers

Q: Can you use the ability of Birchlore Rangers and Aphetto Grifter (tap two Elves/Wizards) with creatures suffering from summoning sickness? A friend of mine told me you could because the card doesn't have the tap icon and that the effect, once activated, forces the two creatures to tap.
--Daniel Watson, Jacksonville, Florida

A: You can use the stated abilities even if the creatures haven't been under your control since the beginning of the turn (have "summoning sickness"). Creatures are only prevented from using abilities with the symbol, abilities that use the text "tap" can still be used.

Q: My brother and I have recently had an argument concerning the Doubtless One. I say that it counts itself in determining its power and toughness (since it is a Cleric), but my brother doesn't. Who's right?
--Tom McCracken, Hermitage, PA

A: You are right. Doubtless One counts all Clerics in play, and since it's a Cleric itself, it will usually be at least 1/1, even if there are no other Clerics around.

Q: My opponent attempts to deal 3 damage to my Shadowmage Infiltrator with Fever Charm (three damage to target Wizard), and I want to Meddle it to his non-Wizard creature. I argue that Fever Charm is not only redirectable because of the two choices my opponent didn't make (I could, for example, give his creature haste), but even with the choice my opponent made (3 damage to target Wizard) I can change the target to the non-Wizard, and when the spell on the stack resolves, it will notice that the creature is a non-Wizard, and the non-Wizard will take no damage. Who's correct?

A: You are wrong, for two reasons.

1) Meddle can only change a spell's target, not the other choices made for it. In this case, your opponent has chosen to have Fever Charm deal 3 damage to a target Wizard. This is called the "mode" of the spell, and Meddle says nothing about altering that, so it can't. You don't have the option to give anything Haste - you can only choose which Wizard will be dealt 3 damage.

2) When you change the target of a spell, the new target must be legal. Since Fever Charm can only target Wizards, you must choose a Wizard for it to target. (Similarly, if there's another reason why Fever Charm can't target something - e.g. if a creature has protection from red - then you can't choose that creature as its target.)

Q: I have two Astral Slides in play. When I cycle card, do I get to remove two creatures from play (one per Slide)? Or is the ability of the Slide a static ability that only allows one removal per cycled card?
--Dirk Tilley

A: Each Astral Slide has a triggered ability that triggers off the same event (cycling), and each will let you remove a creature. Two Astral Slides means you can remove two creatures.

Q: My friend played a Pinpoint Avalanche on a Glarecaster I had in play, and I managed to pay the cost to 'redirect' it. My friend argues that since the damaged wouldn't be dealt to the Glarecaster, it's being prevented, and that would be illegal. I argue that the damage is still being dealt, just to another source. So does the damage kill the Glarecaster, or is it 'redirected'?

A: The damage won't kill Glarecaster. Damage Redirection and Prevention are two different things, and even though the damage can't be prevented when it resolves, it can still be moved to another target by Glarecaster's effect.

Q: I have a question about Quicksilver Dragon's reflecting ability. I attack with only Quicksilver Dragon and my opponent plays a Chastise on it, then I pay the U to target another creature. Does the game counter Chastise because there are no other attacking creatures, or does the Chastise automatically force me to target the Quicksilver Dragon again because it is the only attacking creature? My friend thinks that because the text in Quicksilver Dragon doesn't say whether the new target has to be legal or not, it is implied that the new target must be legal, but I'm not sure.

A: All targets must be legal when they are chosen, this also applies to effects that lets you change a spell or ability's targets after it has been played. This is rule 415.2 in the Comprehensive Rulebook. If you change the target of Chastise, you must choose another attacking creature if there is one. If there are no other attacking creatures, the effect that changes the target does nothing, and the target is unchanged.

Q: I use Skirk Fire Marshal's ability and in response play Akroma's Blessing and choose the color red. My friend says that Skirk's ability isn't targeting any specific creature, so the protection doesn't matter. I argue that if that was so then Skirk would also be dead, but he has protection from red for that reason. Who is right?

A: Neither of you are 100% correct. Protection from [quality] does 4 things, abbreviated D-E-B-T:

1) Damage from [quality] sources is prevented

2) Can't be Enchanted by [quality] enchantments

3) Can't be Blocked by [quality] creatures

4) Can't be Targeted by [quality] spells or abilities

If a creature has protection from red, all red damage will be prevented, even if the damage-dealing spell or ability isn't targeted. The damage to your creatures will be prevented.

Q: If I have Words of Waste and Archivist in play, and my opponent has one card in hand. Can I make him discard it in response to his playing it? Or if I make him discard it, can he play it in response?

A: You can't make him discard it in response to him playing it. When your opponent has priority, he can play spells and put them on the stack before you can activate the Archivist. If you have priority, have activated Words of Waste, and then tap Archivist to make him discard, he can respond to the activation by playing the card in his hand, but only if it is an instant.

General / Older Cards Questions

Q: Say I cast Elephant Guide targeting one of my creatures and my friend plays Meddle, changing the target to one of his creatures. What happens when the enchanted creature dies? Do I get the 3/3 elephant token or does he?
--Josh Blevins, Kingwood, TX

A: You get the token. The triggered ability from Elephant Guide is controlled by the player that controlled Elephant Guide, and that player will put the token into play under his or her control, regardless of who owned the creature that actually died.

Q: I am tapped out and have a Lilting Refrain in play with 3 verse counters. My opponent taps out to play a 5-point Kaervek's Torch. In response, I sacrifice Lilting Refrain to counter his sorcery unless he pays 3 more mana. However, Kaervek's Torch has the additional text: "interrupts that target Kaervek's Torch each cost an additional 2 to play." Since my Lilting Refrain was already in play, do I need to pay this extra cost of 2 colorless mana? How do "counter" enchantments already in play (i.e. Lilting Refrain or Hesitation) interact with Kaervek's Torch?
--Darin from Colorado

A: Kaervek's Torch current Oracle wording says that "spells that target it cost more to play." Abilities from permanents are not affected, so they can be used without extra cost when you want to use them to counter Kaervek's Torch.

Q: I pay to make my Nantuko Monastery a 4/4 green and white creature with first strike. My opponent taps his Reef Shaman to change it to a basic swamp in response. When the stack resolves, do I get a 4/4 creature that is a basic swamp? Or does his response eliminate the text on the Monastery when it becomes a basic swamp, countering my activation? Additionally, what would the result be if the abilities were activated in the other order?
--Derek Smith

A: When the stack resolves, you get a green and white 4/4 creature that's named "Swamp," which is a basic swamp and can tap for black mana. It has no other abilities. This is regardless of the order the abilities were activated in.

Changing a land's type into a basic land type will take away all abilities from the card, and it will gain the ability to tap for the "usual" type of mana. It will not affect the land's color (if any) or other types of the card (if it's also a creature, it will still be a creature).

Once the Monastery has been activated, the ability is on the stack, and it will resolve as usual even if the card changes name or loses all abilities before the activation resolves.

The activation of the Monastery changes the permanent type, and this will always be evaluated first when you find out what the permanent is and does. Changing the land type just changes what type the land is, and is always applied after type-changes.

Q: Can you explain the interaction of Yawgmoth's Agenda with Energy Field? Can I play spells from my hand without the fear that they will go the graveyard and trigger the destruction of Energy Field?

A: You can play spells without the Energy Field going away. Energy Field has a triggered ability that looks for cards being put in the graveyard. Yawgmoth's Agenda has a replacement effect that makes all cards that are supposed to go the graveyard be removed from the game instead. The cards will never go to the graveyard, and the Energy Field will never see them.

Q: I've noticed several cards (like Nether Shadow and Corpse Dance) that have text referring to a card's position in the graveyard. Scream at me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that a player can rearrange the cards in his/her graveyard at any time. Surely this means these cards are very powerful.

A: A player is not allowed to rearrange the cards in the graveyard at any time, just because these effects exist. There are several cards that depend on graveyard order in the game, and to not make these overly powerful (or very weak), you are not allowed to rearrange it. This is true even if it doesn't apply to any cards in the format.

Q: What happens when you have Recycle and Spellbook in play at the same time? Recycle says your maximum hand size is 2 and Spellbook says you have no max hand size, so which is it if Spellbook came into play first? Why?

A: When continuous effects interact, they are evaluated in timestamp order, usually the order the permanents that generate them came into play. Effects that set maximum hand size will overwrite each other, the last effect will "win". If Spellbook came into play last, you have no max hand size, if Recycle came into play last, max hand size is two.

Q: Player A plays Disenchant on Player B's Mirari; Player B plays Counterspell, targeting Disenchant. Player A responds with Counterspell targeting B's Counterspell. Now… Can Player B copy his Counterspell at this point and target either Disenchant or A's Counterspell? Can Player B copy his original Counterspell immediately and target the same Disenchant twice?
--Neil Selby

A: There are three possible outcomes in this case. Because Mirari has a triggered ability, B only gets one chance to copy the Counterspell. So when Mirari's ability resolves, he must choose - pay now to make the copy, or give up the opportunity forever. By contrast, A can play his own Counterspell whenever he wants, either before or after B makes this choice (meaning before or after Mirari's triggered ability resolves).


1) If A plays his Counterspell before B makes his choice, then B will choose to make a copy, as you described.

2) If A is smart and waits, then B will have to choose whether to make a copy without knowing what A has. If he decides not to make the copy, then A is happy - he can play his own Counterspell, and B can't do a thing about it.

3)If A waits, and B does choose to make the copy, then there's not much A can do about it. A would be best off saving his Counterspell for later.

Q: I control some Goblin Trenches tokens, a Castle, and a Fervent Charge. My opponent plays an Engineered Plague on Goblins, making my 1/3's into 0/2's. On my turn I attack with them. But we're not sure which happens first to my tokens: do they lose Castle's +0/+2 first and die when they tap or do they gain Fervent Charge's +2/+2 first and attack as 2/2's?
--Keith, NJ

A: The tokens will die. When the tokens are tapped as attackers, they lose the Castle bonus, and will be destroyed by a state-based effect (having zero toughness) before the triggered ability from Fervent Charge resolves. Fervent Charge won't pump the creatures immediately, it goes on the stack and gives the bonus when the ability resolves, at which point the tokens are long dead.

Reborn Hero

Q: I have a Reborn Hero in play, but I am not yet in threshold. If Reborn Hero was put into my graveyard, can I return Reborn Hero into play later when I get to threshold? If I already have threshold and Reborn Hero was put into graveyard from play but on that turn I am unable to pay the cost, can I return Reborn Hero into play next turn?

A: You can only return Reborn Hero if you have threshold when it dies, and only when the triggered ability resolves. If you don't have threshold when the Hero dies, the game won't see the ability, and you won't get a chance to return it. If you have threshold when the Hero dies, the ability goes on the stack, and when it resolves you get the option to pay to return it. You won't get the option to pay this at any other time.

Q: If I have a Goblin Piledriver, two Mogg Fanatics, and Okk in play, can I attack with all four? Could I still attack with all of them if I only had 1 Fanatic in play? In other words, can Piledriver's +2/+0's allow Okk to attack?

A: Okk won't be able to attack. The game checks for legal attacks before anything that triggers off creatures attacking is put on the stack, and the creatures won't get the attack bonus until the triggered ability resolves. The game won't let the Okk attack because the other attackers are smaller than it.

Q: If I use my Skeleton Ship to put two -1/-1 counters on a creature and then use Sorceress Queen's ability to turn that creature into an 0/2, would the creature die due to the -1/-1 counters on it or would the tokens be taken into account and be ignored?
--Ryan Baxter, Toronto, Ontario

A: Sorceress Queen's ability gives a continuous effect that is evaluated after counters are taken into account. It will always ignore any counters on the creature. When calculating power and toughness, you start with the printed values, then apply counters, then all other effects (in timestamp order). The creature will become 0/2.

Q: Bloodfire Infusion has the text "can only enchant a creature you control." If I had the Infusion and Custody Battle on the same creature, what happens to the Infusion when the creature switches controllers because of Custody Battle's effect?
--Kabe Rinaul, Charleston, WV, USA

A: If a local enchantment ever enchants a permanent it's not allowed to, it will fall off as a state-based effect. If your Bloodfire Infusion is on a creature that your opponent controls, it will be put in your graveyard because it enchants an illegal permanent.

Rune will answer more of your questions next week and every week here at "Saturday School." You can search past Saturday School questions using our Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

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