Saturday School #13

Posted in Feature on February 1, 2003

By Rune Horvik

The Legions questions are rolling in… clarifications of provoke, double strike, and more follow! Send your rules questions to Rune at

Don't see the answer to your question? Check out the Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

Beginner Questions

Arcanis the Omnipotent

Q: If someone has a card that can return itself to its owners hand (such as Arcanis the Omnipotent), then someone else uses Confiscate to take control of it, what happens when the new controller returns Arcanis to its owner's hand? Whose hand does it go to? If it goes to the person who took control of him, when they play it do they still control it without the enchantment?

A: Arcanis returns to the owner’s hand. The “owner” of a card is the player who started the game with the card in his or her deck or sideboard. (Note that "owner" and "controller" mean different things in Magic.) A card can never be in the hand of someone else other than its owner.

When Arcanis leaves play, the enchantment no longer enchants a legal permanent, and is put in the graveyard.

Q: I have a question about the card Hibernation. Hibernation reads, "Return all green permanents to their owner's hand." Does this include Forest cards? How about any land that produces green mana?

A: This does not include Forests or other lands that produce green mana. Lands usually have no color, unless an effect has given the land a color (Lifelace, or activating a Treetop Village). The color(s) of a card are defined by its mana cost. Since lands have no mana cost, they have no color.

Q: I play a Mourning on one of my opponent's creatures. Later in the game, I Terror that creature, but tap out so I can't return Mourning to my hand. Can I still pay one black mana and return it to my hand from the graveyard?

--John Abbott, Bethany, CT

A: No, you can’t. Abilities on permanents (like enchantments) can only be used while they are in play unless they say otherwise. Once Terror destroys the creature, the Mourning has no legal creature to enchant, and is put in the graveyard. You can’t activate its ability in the graveyard.

Q: Do the effects of multiple enchantments stack? For instance if I control three Goblin War Drums does that mean my creatures must be blocked by six or more creatures? Or if I have two Goblin Warrens and pay and sacrifice two Goblins, would I get six Goblin creature tokens?

--Daniel Bedell, Portland, OR

A: Some effects from enchantments add up (like Propaganda’s effect, and Crusade’s), but many don’t; it depends on what they do. Multiple Goblin War Drums effects don’t add up, each card stops a creature from being blocked unless it’s blocked by two or more creatures, and each of the Goblin War Drums is satisfied when the attackers are blocked by two or more creatures, or no creatures.

Each Goblin Warrens has an activated ability with a separate cost, and as with all activated abilities, each activation must be paid separately, and have separate effects.

Q: Does a Worldgorger Dragon protect the cards under it from mass destruction cards such as Armageddon or Wrath of God? I know Wrath would kill the Worldgorger but then would its ability still be in effect and protect the creatures under it until the spell is over?

--Michael Andrews

A: Worldgorger Dragon “protects” the cards removed while it is in play. When you play Wrath of God, all creatures in play are destroyed, and after the Wrath has fully finished resolving, the triggered ability that returns the permanents goes on the stack. The returned permanents won’t be affected by the Wrath.

Legions Questions

Q: If you play Riptide Mangler's ability targeting one of the Onslaught Avatars, like Soulless One, does the Mangler's power change with the Avatar's, or does it stay as it was when you changed it?

A: The Mangler reads the current power of the targeted creature when the ability resolves, and sets its own power to that. The effect gets information from something in the game, and will just get the current value; it won’t change along with the Avatar. This is explained in rule 413.2f of the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: If I put a Mythic Proportions on my Riptide Mangler and play its ability targeting itself, does it become a 8/3 with +8/+8, or stay a 0/3 with +8/+8? If it gets bigger, could I play the ability again to make it a 16/3 with +8/+8? If so, the next turn I could have a 40/11 trample that looks like my sister.

A: If Mangler sets power equal to itself, it reads its own power (8), and sets its power equal to that, it won’t add the Mythic Proportions again. When you calculate a creature’s power (and toughness), you start with the printed value, add modifiers from any counters on the creature, then apply all other effects in timestamp order. Effects that set power or toughness to a specific value will overwrite earlier effects, so the Mangler’s ability will lock the power to 8. Activating the Mangler again will just set the power equal to “8” again.

Similarly, if you had a Mangler with Mythic Proportions on it, and activated its ability targeting an Eager Cadet, the Mangler would become a 1/11. The ability overwrites the enchantment's modification.

Q: When I activate Planar Guide's ability, do return him to the game at the end of the turn or is he permanently removed from game?

--Matt Shoop, Bozeman, MT

A: Planar Guide will be permanently removed (barring Wishes). Planar Guide’s effect only returns creatures that were removed when the ability resolved, and since the Guide itself was removed much earlier to pay for the ability, it won’t be able to return. The cost for the ability is everything before the colon (:), which includes removing the Guide from the game.

Gempalm Polluter

Q: I had a face-down Willbender in play when my opponent cycled Gempalm Polluter with four Zombies in play saying, "lose four life." In response, I unmorphed Willbender changing the target of the Gempalm to my opponent. My opponent called the judge over and asked two questions: (1) Can Willbender change the target of a "cycled card" (such as the Polluter, Solar Blast, etc...); and (2) Can he choose to have Gempalm Polluter cause no life loss in response to my "Willbending", since Gempalm Polluter says MAY have target player lose 1 life for each Zombie in play? The judge decided that the Willbender could change the target, and that my opponent must lose four life because he had already announced the life loss. Was the judge right?

--Dan Brown

A: Willbender can change the target of any ability, and the cards you mention have a triggered ability (“When you cycle…”) when they cycle, so Willbender can change their target.

In your second question, the judge was incorrect. The choice whether the life is lost or not is made when the triggered ability resolves, when the player sees what the final target is (most choices except “mode” and targets are chosen when the triggered ability resolves, not when it’s put on the stack). This is described in rule 410.5 in the Comprehensive Rulebook. Your opponent could have chosen not to lose the life.

Q: Does Goblin Assassin's ability count as a coin flip for cards like Chance Encounter? It seems like the card is worded oddly, and I can't tell if it is intended to circumvent Chance Encounter.

--Rob Wentz, Rochester, MN

A: Goblin Assassin’s ability doesn’t count for Chance Encounter, since there is no winner or loser of the flip. Chance Encounter only counts coin flips that are called for by a card's effect, and only if that flip calls for a winner or a loser.

Q: If I use Sneak Attack to put Phage the Untouchable into play, do I lose? I think Phage is put into play from "hand," but she is not "played" because I didn't pay her mana cost. I'm confused on this matter.


A: You lose. For Phage to have been “played,” the spell card needs to have gone on the stack and resolved like a normal spell. A permanent put directly into play by another effect, like Sneak Attack, does not count as a spell being played.

Q: If I have a Beacon of Destiny in play, and my opponent has multiple attacking creatures, one of which has provoke and lures the Beacon to block, can I react by tapping Beacon of Destiny to choose one target, then untap him (from provoke) and then tap him again?

--Martijn "Naganov" Vermeer, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

A: Yes, this works fine. When the creature attacks, provoke goes on the stack, and a target is chosen. Both players can then respond with spells and abilities before the provoke ability resolves and untaps the creature. Both players can then again play spells and abilities before blockers are declared. If the Beacon is tapped when you declare blockers, it’s not able to block.

Once you tap the Beacon the first time, however, your opponent can choose not to use the provoke ability at all. (Note that the wording of provoke says "may.") If he chooses not to, the Beacon will not untap and not be forced to block anything.

Q: If I turn my Chromeshell Crab face up, can I target a creature that cannot be the target of spells and abilities? Also, if I turn my Chromeshell Crab face up, the ability goes on the stack, and the other player sacrifices his creature in response, does the Chromeshell Crab's ability gets a new target or does he take control of my Crab and I get nothing? Does this work the other way around, if I sacrifice the Crab in response?

--Martijn "Naganov" Vermeer, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

A: The Crab can’t target something that can’t be targeted by spells and abilities, since it is an ability--an ability triggered by turning the card face up.

If you have chosen a target, and one of the targets goes away before the ability resolves, the ability won’t do anything. All exchanges must be legal--you must give something away to get something back. See "Exchange" in the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules.

Q: Can I force an untapped creature to block a creature with provoke?

A: Yes, you can. Provoke doesn’t say that you must target a tapped creature, so any creature can be provoked. Untapping the creature is just part of the effect, so that you can force any creature to block.

Q: How many damage does an unblocked Ridgetop Raptor (2/1 with double strike) deal to the defending player, 2 or 4? If it is blocked by a 2/2, will the second part of the damage go to the defending player?

--Pawel Kuborek, Krakow, Poland

A: An unblocked Raptor deals 4 damage to the defending player, 2 in the first damage step and 2 in the second. If it’s blocked by a 2/2 creature, it will kill the blocking creature in the first damage step, and it won’t deal any damage in the second damage step, because a creature that is blocked can’t deal combat damage to the player unless it has trample. It’s still blocked, even though it killed the blocker.

General / Older Card Questions


Q: I have a Seeker of Skybreak. I play a Betrayal on one of my opponent's creatures. Could I, on the following turn, play a Donate giving control of the Betrayal to my opponent and respond with Enchantment Alteration to move the Betrayal to my Seeker? Is there a possible way to pull off this combo?

A: The trick won’t be able to work like you want it to. The way you describe it will give control over the Betrayal to your opponent while it’s on your creature, and as soon as he gains control over it, it is enchanting an illegal permanent, and will fall off when state-based effects are checked (right after the spell resolves).

Currently, the only way to make this work is to first Donate the Seeker of Skybreak to your opponent, then enchant it with Betrayal (while it still has summoning sickness, so he doesn’t deck you first). You then have to exchange control of the Seeker and Betrayal with your opponent at the exact same time, using the Unglued card Mirror Mirror. In your upkeep, you can tap the Seeker to untap itself enough times to deck your opponent.

There aren’t any other effects that can exchange control of a creature and an enchantment at the same time right now.

Q: If I have Opalescence and Parallax Wave out, can I use my last fade counter from my Parallax Wave to remove itself? What would happen if I removed Parallax Wave with its own fade counter? My friends thought that the Parallax Wave would be removed from play, and since it is now removed from play we can return all creatures that were removed from play by that Parallax Wave, including the Parallax Wave itself. Now that the Parallax Wave come back into play it gets all five of its fade counters back. Is this correct? If not what really happens?

A: This is not correct, because Parallax Wave has errata to say that it can’t return itself if it leaves play. When you use the last counter to remove the Wave, it’s removed from the game, and then everything else that was removed returns. Parallax Wave stays removed “forever.”

Q: My opponent has an untapped Nevinyrral's Disk. I try to Naturalize it but he activates it before the Naturalize kicks in. Is there a way to stop the Disk with Naturalize? Like maybe in response to him using it?

--Edy "Rotlung" Betancourt

A: There is no way to stop the player from activating the Disk if it’s untapped and he has mana to use it. He either has priority to activate it, and does so before you can Naturalize it, or he can activate it in response to your Naturalize. Either way, the effect goes on the stack, and all non-land permanents will be destroyed.

If you only have Naturalize to stop the disk, you need to use it either before the Disk untaps, or when your opponent is tapped out.

Q: If I have three Spined Slivers in play (each Sliver gets +1/+1 for each creature blocking it), do my blocked Slivers get +1/+1 per creature blocking them or +3/+3?

--Fabian Hardy, Las Vegas, NV

A: They get +3/+3. Whenever a Sliver is blocked, the ability of each of the Slivers will trigger, and they will all get +1/+1 for each Spined Sliver.

Q: I have a Library of Leng in play and I play Forbid with the buyback. I discard an Obsessive Search and an Island. I discard the Island to the graveyard, but I pay the Obsessive

Search's madness cost, and discard it to the top of the my library (using Library of Leng's ability). Do I draw it, or the card underneath?

--Marc Missildine

A: First, Library of Leng doesn't affect costs, just effects (results of resolving spells or abilities). Buyback is an additional cost paid when you play the spell, so Library of Leng won't allow you to put those cards on top of the library.

But let's say someone played Unhinge on you, you had the Library in play, and Obsessive Search in hand. For you to play the card with madness, you must choose to use the madness replacement effect, which involves removing the discarded card from the game. You then play it and put it on the stack, so the card never returns to your library, it won’t be “discarded” anymore when you play it. You will draw the top card of your library when Obsessive Search resolves.

Q: If I enchant a Henge Guardian with a Mistform Mask, and use the Mask's ability to make my Guardian a Goblin, is it immune to Orim's Thunder?

A: No, it’s not. Changing Henge Guardian’s creature type doesn’t remove the fact that it’s an artifact, so it’s still a legal target for Orim’s Thunder.

Q: I have Astral Slide in play and my opponent has Lightning Rift in play. I cycle one card targeting my morphed creature and he targets the same creature with Lighting Rift. What will resolve first? What if he cycles a card targeting my morphed creature and I try to save it with Astral Slide?


A: The answer depends on whose turn it is. Both the Slide and the Rift trigger at the same time, then the active player (the player whose turn it is) puts his or her trigger on the stack first, then the other player. After that, the abilities resolve in reverse order. If it’s your turn, Lightning Rift resolves first and damages the creature. If it survives, Astral Slide will remove it from the game. On your opponent’s turn, the reverse happens--the creature leaves play before the Rift can damage it.

Q: In Saturday School #12, you said that the effect on Custody Battle is a one-shot effect. In Rules Q&A, some of the judges said that effects such as Cultural Exchange and Donate are continuous effects with an unlimited duration. Can you clarify this for me? What does all that mean?


A: In fact, all the effects you mention are continuous effects. What I should have said last week was “Custody Battle is just a continuous effect created by a spell, whereas Confiscate’s continuous effect is maintained by a static ability.”

As for the types of effects -

A one-shot effect is something that just happens, such as “Sacrifice a creature”, or “draw a card”, or “Deal damage to your opponent”.

A continuous effect is something that affects things for some amount of time, such as “Creatures can’t block this turn” or “Enchanted creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn”. In some cases the duration is permanent, such as “Target permanent becomes red.” Unfortunately the rules fail to include control-changing effects in this category, but they do need to be there.

A static ability is an ability which generates a continuous effect, constantly. If the permanent with the ability leaves play, the effect ends immediately. This is very different from a triggered or activated ability which generates a continuous effect – once generated, the effect of such an ability is completely independent from the ability itself. Cards like Crusade and Meddling Mage generate static abilities.


Q: If I have a Glarecaster in play, and my opponent attacks with four 5/5 creatures, can I tap 6 mana and kill my opponent? Basically, I'm asking if the "Reverse Damage" effect counts towards ONE source or ALL sources during an attack phase or something like that.

--Aaron Russo, Norwalk, CT

A: Glarecaster will redirect the “next” damage dealt, and since all regular combat damage is dealt at the same time, all the damage will be redirected.

Q: I have Mindslicer and Nantuko Husk in play. My opponent has Wild Mongrel. I sacrifice Mindslicer to Nantunko Husk. Can my opponent respond to that by discarding his hand to Wild Mongrel? Or is there no time to respond to a sacrifice?

A: Your opponent can’t respond to the sacrifice itself, but the triggered ability from Mindslicer is put on the stack, and both players can respond to this. Your opponent has time to discard his hand to Wild Mongrel before the triggered ability resolves.

Q: If I sacrifice a Mindslicer in response to my own Haunting Echoes, do cards in my opponent's hand go to graveyard before Haunting Echoes resolve? Can an opponent counter Haunting Echoes if I make that play, or will he have to discard his Counterspell?

A: Since Mindslicer goes to the graveyard before Haunting has resolved, the triggered ability will go on the stack on top of Echoes, and will resolve first, causing both players to discard their hands before Haunting Echoes resolves. Both players can respond to the triggered ability, so your opponent can counter Haunting Echoes when he sees that he’s about to lose all the cards in his hand.

Q: Does Trap Runner’s ability work on unblockable creatures like Escape Artist or creatures with fear like Severed Legion?

A: Trap Runner can use its ability to block any creature, even unblockable ones or creatures with evasion abilities. If a creature is unblockable, no blockers can be assigned to it in combat, but it can still be blocked by other effects. It even says on the card that Trap Runner can block unblockable creatures.

Q: If a land is turned into a 1/1 creature and shot by Goblin Sharpshooter, does the Sharpshooter untap? In other words, does it count as a "creature" going to the graveyard?

--Russell D. Steen

A: It will untap. The Sharpshooter triggers any time a creature goes to the graveyard, even if it is an animated land or a token. It doesn’t have to be a creature card for the ability to trigger.

Dead Ringers

Q: My opponent casts a Dead Ringers and targets my Anurid Brushhopper and Ancient Spider. I discard two cards to remove the Anurid Brushopper from play until end of turn. What happens now? Does he get to target another creature, or does the spell get countered, or does my Ancient Spider get killed?

A: Since Dead Ringers have at least one legal target, it will resolve, and when it wants to compare the colors of the creatures, it uses the last known information about the Brushhopper. Since the Spider is the same colors as the color the Brushhopper last had, the Spider will be destroyed.

Any time an effect needs information about a permanent that isn’t in play anymore, it will use its last known information. This is rule 413.2f in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: I have a Soul Sculptor out, and use it to turn an opponent's creature into an enchantment. I have an Aura Shards in play. Then I play a creature spell. Is the enchantment destroyed by Aura Shards, or does it turn back into a creature first? The way it is worded on the two cards makes it sound like they happen at the same time.

A: You can’t destroy the creature this way. The Soul Sculptor effect ends as soon as you play the creature spell. Aura Shards doesn't trigger until the creature actually comes into play, which is long after you've "played" the spell (meaning put it on the stack). So by the time you’re asked to choose a target for Aura Shards, the Soul Sculptor effect has ended.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

Don't see the answer to your question? Check out the Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

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