Saturday School #12

Posted in Feature on January 25, 2003

By Rune Horvik

Now that Legions is public knowledge, feel free to send all your questions about Legions — or any cards, for that matter — to Rune at ask@wizards.com.

Can't find an answer to your question? Check the Saturday School Rules Database.

Beginner Questions

Q: Mirari's Wake says "add a mana of any type that land produced." What is a "type" of mana, and how is it different than color?

A: In addition to the five colors, mana can be colorless, and there can be restrictions on how the mana can be used. For example, mana from Mishra's Workshop can only be used to play artifact spells, and this applies to the mana added by Mirari's Wake as well.

Q: Can a black creature with protection from white block a white creature with protection from black?

A: No, it can't. If an attacking creature has protection from a color, it can't be blocked by creatures of that color. It doesn't matter if the blocker also has protection.

Legions Questions

Phage the Untouchable

Q: You have four Laquatus's Champions and a Phage the Untouchable in your graveyard and a Balthor the Defiled in play. Your opponent has 20 life. If you use Balthor's ability and put all black and red creatures from graveyards into play, would the game be a draw?

A: No, you will win the game if you put the abilities on the stack in the correct order. When Balthor's ability resolves, all the creatures are put into play at the same time, and their comes-into-play abilities trigger. The active player puts his or her triggers on the stack in the order he or she chooses, then the non-active player does the same. Since you control all the triggered abilities in this case, you can choose to put Phage's triggered ability on the stack first, then all the Champions' abilities, meaning that the Champions' triggered abilities will kill your opponent before you would lose the game.

Q: Is Mistform Ultimus a Flagbearer? If so, how does that affect my opponent's spells?

A: Mistform Ultimus is every creature type, including Flagbearer. This won't affect the game in any way unless there is a card that has the ability that all the “real” Flagbearers have: “Whenever a spell or ability an opponent controls is put onto the stack, if that spell or ability could target a Flagbearer in play but doesn't, that opponent changes one of its targets to a Flagbearer.”

If something in play has this ability, you'll be allowed to target Mistform Ultimus, but just having creature type Flagbearer has no particular effect.

Q: Do creatures retain their creature types when Humility is in play? What is the creature type of Mistform Ultimus when Humility is in play?

A: Creatures retain creature types when Humility is in play. Mistform Ultimus will still be every creature type with Humility, as the text “Mistform Ultimus is every creature type” is characteristic-setting text and not an ability. Characteristic-setting text is text that sets a characteristic of a card, usually color, land type or creature type.

Onslaught Questions

Q: Can you clarify the Lightning Rift/Ravenous Baloth question from Saturday School #11? I don't understand how you can choose the targets for the Rift's ability before the effect happens. I thought you had to pay all costs for effects to happen. Meaning I thought to choose a target you have to pay the mana first. Can I see which rules refer to this question so I would understand better?
--John Rex

A: Don't confuse mana payments with costs - they're not the same thing at all!

Not all costs involve mana (for instance, Battle Screech's flashback cost is just "tap three creatures").

In the same way, not all mana payments are costs.

Here's how to tell: in an ability, the costs will always be separated off using a colon.

": Lightning Rift deals 2 damage to target creature or player". That would be a cost, if the card were worded that way.

When there's no colon, the ability has no costs - it's all treated as part of the effect, so it's all done when the ability resolves.

This is described in rules 410.4 and 410.5 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: I was reading Saturday School #11 and found the logic in the Astral Slide/Skulking Ghost example questionable seeing how Astral Slide says "may" in its abilities. If the only legal target for Astral Slide is the Skulking Ghost, and using it on it would kill the creature, why would you choose it as a target? It says "may." Just wanted to be clear on that.
--Byron R., Ann Arbor, MI

A: Triggered abilities always go on the stack if their trigger condition is true and there are legal targets. All other choices are made on resolution. The only things that are done when you put a spell or ability on the stack are specified in section 409.1a-f (choosing mode, X, additional costs, targets, how targets are affected, how damage is divided among targets and paying costs). 410.5 says specifically that “may” on triggered abilities is decided when the ability resolves.

So you must choose a target, and then you decide if you want to remove that target from the game when the ability resolves. Unfortunately for Skulking Ghost, the simple act of targeting it is enough to kill it.

Q: I control a Volrath's Shapeshifter, and the top card of my graveyard is a Krosan Colossus. Then I play Backslide on the Shapeshifter. Can I morph it for ? What happens if, while it is face down, the top card of my graveyard becomes an Exalted Angel? Or a creature without morph, like Sengir Vampire? Can Ixidor get me out of this mess?

A: There is no “official” answer to this, but one of the solutions that have been discussed is as follows: You keep tracking the top card of the graveyard. As the first step in turning it face-up, you reveal the card - specifically you reveal its printed values.

So when it's an Exalted Angel, you can turn it face-up for , when it's a Sengir Vampire, you can't turn it face-up at all. (You reveal it and find it has no morph cost, the action fails, and is rewound.)

And when it's one of those things with an in its morph cost, such as Warbreak Trumpeter, you can turn it up for and the ability will work, and will use the X properly.

Ixidor, Reality Sculptor can always turn a face-down Shapeshifter face up.

Q: I was using an Imagecrafter with an Elvish Vanguard to change creatures coming into play Elves so it would get +1/+1 counters. Sorry if I may seem stupid, but is this legal?
--Herman Vanden Bosch, Omaha, Ne

A: No, this doesn't work. Elvish Vanguard's ability can only trigger the exact moment a creature comes into play and only if it comes into play as an Elf. Changing it later with Imagecrafter won't trigger the ability, as the creature is already in play.

Hypnox

Q: I played Zombify on a Hypnox card into play and then Cloned it. Would the Hypnox's coming into play ability still work with the Clone or not?

A: The ability would still work, since Clone copies all the text on the card. Clone comes into play from your hand, so the ability triggers when it comes into play.

Q: Can you explain why, if I steal a creature with Custody Battle and then destroy the Custody Battle, I don't have to give the creature back… but I have to give it back if I steal it with Persuasion and then destroy the Persuasion?

A: The two cards have different types of effects. Persuasion says "You control enchanted permanent". This is a static ability (like Glorious Anthem, for example), so it applies only as long as Persuasion is in play.

Custody Battle says "At the beginning of your upkeep, target opponent gains control of this creature". This is a one-shot effect (like Nantuko Disciple, for example) - so once the ability has been triggered, it doesn't matter what happens to the Custody Battle. (And in exactly the same way, it doesn't matter what happens to the Disciple after it uses its ability).

Q: My opponent is at 1 life and has Worship out. If I play Syphon Soul, do I gain any life?

A: Yes, you do, since Worship doesn't prevent the damage, it just replaces the lower-than-one life total with the player being at 1 life afterwards. The damage is dealt as normal, you gain 2 life, then your opponent is a 1 life (assuming he has a creature in play).

Q: If I activate Mobilization, and in response my opponent uses Artificial Evolution on it to change "Soldier" into "Elf," what kind of token is created when the ability resolves?

A: The type of token created is locked in when the ability is activated and put on the stack. Changing creature types on Mobilization will only affect activations made after Artificial Evolution resolves. So that particular activation gives you a Soldier, and all future activations will produce Elves.

Q: Can I cycle an Akroma's Blessing for free with Fluctuator in play?

A: No, you can't. Fluctuator reduces the cycling cost with up to two colorless mana. It can't reduce colored mana costs.

Q: If I have two Aurifications in play, do attacking creatures receive two gold counters? What happens if one of the enchantments is destroyed? Do I have to remember which gold counters came from which Aurification?

A: If you have two Aurifications, attacking creatures receive two gold counters. Each Aurification says that you remove all gold counters when it leaves play. It doesn't matter which Aurification it came from in the first place.

Q: Is it possible to use two Convalescent Cares to draw two extra cards per turn? Can I mana burn in between?

A: If you still have 5 life or less after the first Convalescent Care's ability resolves, the other one will also let you draw a card and give you three life. Triggered abilities with an “if-condition” check if it's true both when the ability is put on the stack and when it resolves, if it isn't legal when it resolves the ability is countered.

You only mana burn at the end of each phase, so you can't do that between the abilities resolving, but you can play other spells or abilities in between that causes you to lose life, of course.

Q: I have out Grand Melee and Mistform Wall. Am I required to activate the Wall so that it must attack?

A: No, you aren't. Grand Melee only forces creatures that are already able to attack, you are never forced to make creatures able if you don't want to.

Q: Since Aether Charge damage is done by the creature, rather than the Aether Charge, can a Shieldmage Elder prevent damage from a Beast that comes into play when an Aether Charge is on the board?
--Dan

A: This works fine, the Elder can prevent all damage the creature deals, even if other effects cause the creature to deal the damage.

Weird Harvest

Q: If I play Weird Harvest, do I have to show my opponent what I got before he searches his library?

A: Yes, you do. Rule 413.2d in the Comprehensive Rulebook says in part that “If an effect requires both players to make choices or take actions at the same time, the active player makes and announces his or her choices first, and then his or her opponent does (knowing the first player's choices). Then the actions take place simultaneously.”

General / Older Card Questions

Q: If there is a Chill in play, and I play Wildfire via Temporal Aperture, do I have to pay the additional cost of 2 generic mana?

A: You must pay the extra mana. Temporal Aperture lets you play the card without paying the mana cost (in the top right corner of the card), but you still have to pay any additional costs.

Safe Haven

Q: I have a Shifty Doppelganger and a Safe Haven in play. I activate the Doppelganger to bring a creature into play, removing the Doppelganger from the game. I attack with it and before the end of the turn I put that creature into my Safe Haven. If I sacrifice my Safe Haven next upkeep to bring back my creature do I have to sacrifice the creature at the end of the turn to return the Doppelganger back into play?
--Michael Bernhardt

A: When you put the creature into Safe Haven, it loses all memory of what it was before (like all cards that change zones do), and when it returns to play after sacrificing Safe Haven, the creature comes into play without the need to sacrifice it at end of turn. Unfortunately for the Doppelganger, if you can't sacrifice the creature for some reason (such as the Safe Haven scenario you outline), the Doppelganger won't come back. That's what the "if you do" part means in the Doppelganger's text.

Q: Can Seeker of Skybreak use its own ability to untap itself? My brother placed Betrayal on my Seeker, then I used it to untap itself 40-odd times to make him draw his deck, thus he lost from not being able to draw. I thought it was a real crack-up at the time, but he was incredibly angry and disagreed on me winning in such a manner.
--Matthew Field, Victoria, Australia

A: Seeker of Skybreak can target any creature, so it can choose itself as target, and it can untap itself. Playing Betrayal on another player's Seeker is usually a Bad Idea.

Q: I was at 2 and had a Serra Avatar and a Circle of Protection: Red in play. On my opponent's turn, he played Scorching Lava with kicker, targeting the Avatar. After the stack had resolved, where did the Serra Avatar end up? My opponent said that it should be removed from the game due to the effect of Scorching Lava. But I thought it was up to me, because my Avatar has a replacement effect as well.
--Zhaoben Xu, China

A: When the Avatar would be put in the graveyard, two replacement effects try to replace this, and since it's your Avatar you choose the order they're applied in, and thereby where it goes afterwards. You choose whether to remove it from the game or shuffle it back into the library.

Q: If I use Recoup on a Mogg Alarm, can I pay the Mogg Alarm's alternative casting cost of sacrifice two mountains?

A: No, you can't. Recoup says that the flashback cost becomes equal to the mana cost of the card, and you can only play the card from the graveyard paying the flashback cost, not alternative costs.

Q: How does Blood Moon interact with Coastal Tower? Since it is a Mountain, does it come into play untapped?

A: No it doesn't. Coastal Tower has a static ability that modifies the way it enters play, and it's applied before other continuous effects can change it. Coastal Tower will enter play as a tapped Mountain.

Q: In a multiplayer game, one guy tried a combo of Mogg Infestation and Brand, destroying all my creatures and then taking all the Goblin tokens. He said he owns the tokens, but there is no way that can be right! Is it?

A: It is like he says. The Glossary entry for “owner” in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that “The owner of a token is the controller of the spell or ability that created it.” Since he played Mogg Infestation, he controls the effect, and “owns” the tokens, and can gain control of them with Brand.

Nantuko Monastery

Q: Would it be possible to play an Elephant Guide on a Nantuko Monastery during its time as a creature? If so, what would happen to the Elephant Guide after the Nantuko Monastery's time as a creature expired, and would you still receive the 3/3 Elephant token if the Elephant Guide went into the graveyard?
--Philip Swanson

A: You can play creature enchantments on Nantuko Monastery when it's animated. When the Monastery stops being a creature in the cleanup step, Elephant Guide is no longer enchanting a legal permanent and goes to the graveyard. Since the enchanted creature didn't go the graveyard, the ability won't trigger, and no token is put into play.

Q: Can I use Laquatus's Disdain on any spell? I know it won't counter it unless it was played from the graveyard, but I just want to draw a card. It does say "counter target spell."

A: You can only play Laquatus's Disdain on spells played from the graveyard. You always need to read the full clause after the word “target” to see what the target is, on Laquatus's Disdain it is “target [spell played from a graveyard]”.

Q: Can I use Living Wish to get a fifth copy of a card that I already have four of in my deck?

A: If you're playing in a DCI-sanctioned tournament, you can only Wish for a card that's in your sideboard or removed from the game. Since the 4-card limit also applies to the sideboard, it's illegal to have a fifth copy of anything in there.

If you're playing a casual game, anything goes, unless you've decided on special house rules in advance.

Q: I am at two life, and my opponent attacks with a 4/4. I don't block, but activate my Hallowed Healer to prevent 4 because I have threshold. In response, my opponent plays Cremate to make me lose threshold. Do I lose?

A: No, you don't. You only need threshold when you activate the ability. Losing threshold later will remove the ability from the creature, but the activated ability is already on the stack, and won't be affected by this.

Q: Can I attack with Exalted Dragon if I sacrificed a land to something else, like a Zuran Orb or Raze? The wording confuses me.
--John Browne

A: No, you can't. The Oracle text of Exalted Dragon has special reminder text that indicates when you pay this cost “(This cost is paid as you declare attackers.)” You can only pay it as you're declaring attackers, and you must sacrifice a land specifically to pay for the Dragon, you can't pay for two things with the same cost.

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