Saturday School #21

Posted in Feature on March 29, 2003

By Rune Horvik

Send your rules questions to level 4 judge Rune Horvik at He answers approximately 30 questions every week.

Can't find the answer to your question? Maybe he's already answered it! Try the Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

See the results from Saturday School #19's Rules Quiz at the bottom of the article.

Rules Clarification

Gempalm Incinerator

Q: Can I use the cycling-triggered ability of Gempalm Incinerator to target Akroma, Angel of Wrath? How about Foothill Guide or Commander Eesha?

A: Gempalm Incinerator can’t target any of these creatures, because they have protection from a quality of the source of the ability.

Akroma has protection from red, and since the Gempalm Incinerator card is red, it’s not allowed to target her.

Foothill Guide has protection from Goblins, and since one of the subtypes of the Gempalm Incinerator card is “Goblin”, it can’t target the Guide.

Commander Eesha has protection from creatures, and since the card type of Gempalm Incinerator is “creature”, it can’t target Commander Eesha.

There was a recent rules update that says that if a permanent has “protection from [quality]”, the protection applies to sources that are permanents with that type and to any sources that aren't in play that are of that type. Previously, protection from creatures would only protect from creatures in play, as creature cards in other zones are just “creature cards”, not “creatures”.

Read the rules for protection in rule 502.7 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Beginner Questions

Q: My friend says that his Psychatog is unaffected by Circle of Protection: Black because it isn't black. I say he is an idiot and Psychatog is black and blue and affected by the COP. Who is right?

A: You are right, You can prevent damage from Psychatog with CoP: Black. Multi-colored cards count as being the color of all the colors in their mana cost, so Psychatog is both blue and black (see rule 203.2 in the Comprehensive Rulebook). When you are asked to choose a source for the Circle to prevent damage from, you can choose any black source, and damage from it is prevented.

Aura Extraction

Q: My opponent is playing an Astral Slide deck while I am playing a mono-green Elf deck. I destroy his Astral Slide with a Naturalize, and on his following turn, he draws an Aura Extraction and plays it saying he can take his Astral Slide from the graveyard and put it back on top of his library. I contend that the only time he can do this is immediately after I play Naturalize and declare my intent to destroy the Astral Slide, and he can not bring it back from the graveyard because it does not specifically say so on the card. Who is correct in this situation?

A: You are correct. Aura Extraction targets an “enchantment”, and “enchantments” only exist in play (in the graveyard, the Astral Slide would be an “enchantment card”, which is different”). Your opponent would have to play Aura Extraction on the Astral Slide before the Naturalize resolved for it to be useful.

Q: Can Uktabi Orangutan be played if there is no artifact to target? Can its owner choose to ignore the effect even if a targetable artifact exists?
--Andrew Currall

A: Uktabi Orangutan can be played even if there is no legal target. Creature spells never have targets when you play them, though many, like the Orangutan, have abilities that trigger when they come into play. These abilities are played, and targets are chosen, when the creature actually enters play, not before.

The triggered ability is put on the stack when a player get priority after the creature enters play, and its controller must choose a legal target if there is one, even if he or she doesn’t want to use it. The ability would have to say “may” somewhere for it to be optional.

Q: Is it true that when your Festering Goblin dies, it has to target a creature for its ability, even if you have to target your own creature? That's what my friend claims, but I think I can choose not to target any creature at all. Who is correct?

A: Festering Goblin’s triggered ability when it goes to the graveyard is mandatory, you have to choose a target for it when it dies. Triggered abilities are put on the stack when a player gets priority after their trigger condition is true, and if there is a legal target, it must be chosen. If the ability had said “you may have target creature get -1/-1” you could choose to not use it, but since it doesn’t say that, it’s mandatory.

Q: My opponent has a False Prophet in play and it is destroyed. When it is destroyed my opponent says that all creatures are removed from the game, including the ones in the graveyards, hands, and decks. I say that only the creatures that are currently in play are removed from the game. Who is right?

A: You are right. Unless an effect says otherwise, it can only see and affect things in play. Since False Prophet removes all creatures from the game, without mentioning a zone, it can only affect creatures that are in play.

Q: My opponent has an Aether Flash in play. Can I play a pair of Plated Slivers at the same time and have them survive?
--Gerall Kahla

A: No, you can’t. You can only play one spell at a time, you can never play several spells simultaneously.

Q: If my opponent has two life, and I deal him 10 damage, does his life reduce to -8 meaning he has to sacrifice four lands to his Zuran Orb, or does he go to 0 meaning he has to only sacrifice one land?

A: A player loses the game when he or is at zero life or less, so your opponent would have to sacrifice lands to Zuran Orb before the damage you want to deal resolves. To survive, your opponent would have to sacrifice FIVE lands – if he sacrifices only four lands, he goes to ten life, then takes ten damage, and then loses the game by being at zero life.

Legions Questions

Root Sliver

Q: I have a Quick Sliver in play. During my turn, I announce that I am playing a Brood Sliver. My opponent plays a Counterspell targeting the Brood Sliver on the stack. In response to the Counterspell, I play a Root Sliver. Since the Root Sliver was played in response to the Counterspell, does it resolve first and come into play before the Counterspell resolves? If so, does the 'in-play' effect of the Root Sliver prevent the Counterspell from affecting the Brood Sliver still on the stack?

A: The stack resolves in LIFO order (Last In, First Out). Since Root Sliver was played before Counterspell, it resolves and comes into play first. When Counterspell resolves, the game sees that Root Sliver is in play, and the Sliver spell can’t be countered, causing Counterspell to Do Nothing. Then Brood Sliver would resolve and come into play.

Q: I had an Akroma, Angel of Wrath and an Angelic Renewal in play. My opponent had an Akroma in his graveyard. He played a Living Death. When my Akroma hit the graveyard, I chose to activate my Angelic Renewal, bringing back my Akroma before his would come into play. He says that I can't use the Angelic Renewal until the Living Death has resolved, but I think that I can activate the instant it hits the graveyard. Who is right? The timing of it seems a little strange...
--Elliott Heintz, Yreka, California

A: You can only play spells and abilities when you have priority, and you never get priority to play something WHILE a spell is resolving. Living Death has to completely resolve before you can use Angelic Renewal, both killing off all creatures in play and returning creature cards from the graveyard to play. You don’t get a chance to activate your Angelic Renewal before your opponent’s Akroma has already come into play.

Q: Say I have a Belbe's Portal in play with the chosen creature type of Dragon. If I play a Kilnmouth Dragon with it, can I still use the amplify ability?
--Martin Koenig

A: Yes, you can. Amplify applies every time the card would come into play, even if it’s from an effect that put it directly into play.

Q: I have a 7/7 Soulless One and a Boneknitter. I attack with the 7/7 and my opponent blocks with Havoc Demon. I put a regeneration shield on the Soulless One with Boneknitter. Now, when the Demon dies and gives all creatures –5/-5, will the Soulless One regenerate? Or is it dying due to a toughness of below 0 and can't regenerate?

A: Soulless One can regenerate. After combat damage has resolved, it’s a 7/7 creature with 5 damage. After Havoc Demon’s ability resolves, it’s 2/2 with 5 damage, causing it to die from lethal damage. Soulless One still has a toughness above zero, it’s the damage that kills it. Damage does not lower a creature’s toughness.

General / Older Cards Questions

Guerrilla Tactics

Q: If I cast a Chain of Plasma targeting my opponent, and he discards a Guerrilla Tactics to 'chain' it back, do I take an additional 4 from the Tactics?
--Keith Stewart

A: You take 4 damage if your opponent chooses to target you, yes. The Chain of Plasma spell is controlled by you, and when it causes your opponent to discard Guerilla Tactics, he can have it deal 4 damage to a target, even if he chose to discard it. All that matters is who controls the spell or ability that caused the discard, not who chose which card was discarded.

Q: What happens when a Tephraderm and a Voracious Cobra meet in combat?

A: Both creatures would die. The Cobra has first strike and deals damage to Tephraderm first. Then two triggered abilities go on the stack, the “destroy the damaged creature” from the Cobra and “deal damage to the creature that damaged Tephraderm” from Tephraderm. The active player’s triggered abilities always goes on the stack first.

If the Cobra is attacking, its ability goes on the stack first, then Tephraderm’s ability. Tephraderm’s ability deals 4 damage to the Cobra, which would die. Then the Cobra’s ability destroys Tephraderm.

If the Tephraderm is attacking, these steps happens in reverse order, but both creatures would still die.

Q: I control a Warrior en-Kor and a Tephraderm. If my opponent plays Shock on Warrior en-Kor, and I use Warrior en-Kor's ability to redirect the damage to Tephraderm, will Tephraderm deal two damage to my Warrior en-Kor or to my opponent?

A: It will deal two damage to your opponent. Redirecting damage means you change where the damage ends up, and it’s dealt directly to the new recipient. You don’t deal damage first to the original target, then move it afterwards. Shock will deal damage directly to Tephraderm, and Tephraderm sees that the damage comes from a spell, causing it to deal damage back to the controller of that spell.

Q: I understand how Helm of Awakening can lower the cost of buyback and kicker along with normal mana costs because they are considered a part of the spell's cost. But how does it affect playing morph creatures face down? Does a Helm of Awakening act like a Dream Chisel?

A: Helm of Awakening will act as a Dream Chisel for face down spells, yes. When you play the face down spell, the play cost of it is , this can be modified by effects that increase or reduce the cost of spells.

Q: Can you cast Artificial Evolution on a face-down creature to give it a creature type, and if so, how does that affect the creature when it's turned face up?

A: When you play Artificial Evolution on a card, you choose one creature type that is changed to another creature type. Since face down cards don’t have ANY creature type, so you can’t give it a creature type like this. Artificial Evolution has a continuous effect which stays on the card “permanently”, and it will apply to the text of the card if it’s turned face up.

Coat of Arms

Q: My opponent has three Goblins and a Coat of Arms in play. I have an Aether Flash in my hand, which I play during my turn. My opponent then plays an Embermage Goblin. Now questions arise: Does it die due to Aether Flash's ability? If so, does my opponent get to search his library for another Embermage?
--Max K.

A: Embermage Goblin will survive. When it comes into play, Coat of Arms’ ability will immediately apply to it, making it 4/4, able to survive 2 points of damage. Your opponent gets the chance to search for another Embermage Goblin, and would be able to do this even if it had died – the ability triggers when it enters play, and it would have to enter play to be killed by Aether Flash’s ability.

Q: If someone plays a creature spell onto the stack and then you play Cease-Fire, does it counter the creature spell?

A: No, it doesn’t. Cease-Fire doesn’t counter spells, it just prevents then from being played. It has no effect on spells already on the stack. For Cease-Fire to be effective, it must resolve before the creature spell is played. Cease-Fire is typically played in a player’s upkeep so the opponent can’t play any creature spells that turn.

Q: I have read about the interaction between Debt of Loyalty and self-regenerating creatures like Drudge Skeletons and Charging Troll on the net. I understand that if an opponent plays Debt of Loyalty on my dying Drudge Skeletons, he will gain control of it if it is regenerated by Debt of Loyalty. But how is it determined which regeneration shield is used to save the Skeleton? If I have only one black mana available to regenerate my creature, when do I have to activate the Skeleton's ability? Before or after the Debt resolves? Or don't it matter? Can I choose which regeneration shield I want to use?
--Espen Oftedal, Norway

A: When something has multiple shields, be it regeneration shields or damage prevention shields, the controller of the affected permanent chooses the order they’re used in. The order the shields are activated in doesn’t matter, you choose which shield is used when your Skeletons die. If you choose to use the Skeleton’s built-in ability to regenerate, your opponent won’t gain control over them.

Q: How do you play Treetop Defense? It is confusing. Can you be attacked in my main phase?
--Will Siefferman, Hansville WA

A: Treetop Defense is a card from Portal, and isn’t a “real” Magic card. Portal cards don’t have any Instants, though there are some Sorcery cards in the set that have different rules for when they can be played. “Interceptors” means “blockers”, so the spell can be played after you have been attacked, before you declare blockers (which only happens in your opponent’s turn). Your blockers can then block as though they have flying.

The Golden Rule of Magic says that whenever a card breaks the rules, the card takes precedence over the rules. Even if you usually can’t play Sorceries on your opponent’s turn, this card can only be played at a specific time in your opponent’s combat phase.

In “real” Magic, this card would have the type Instant.

Q: My friends and I were discussing Fact or Fiction and my friend says that you can make one pile of 5 and one pile of 0. I disagree since the card says "separate into 2 piles" meaning the cards must be divided and put into two separate piles, seeing as a pile with 0 cards in it is nonexistent. Please resolve this for us. Am I right or wrong?

A: You are wrong. You are allowed to have piles of zero cards.

Q: If I play Recoup and target a Blaze in my graveyard, can I play it with X being whatever I pay in mana or does X have to be 0?

A: You get to choose the value of X when you play it. Recoup gives Blaze a Flashback cost of , and when you play Blaze from the graveyard, you put it on the stack and choose X at that time.

Q: If you draw a Shattering Pulse through Temporal Aperture's ability, would the buyback cost be included as part of the spell? And if not, could you pay for it?
--Hy Pailakian, Qc, Canada

A: Temporal Aperture lets you play the card without paying the mana cost, but if there are any additional costs, you still have to pay them like usual. Buyback is an additional cost, and you’re allowed to use it when you play the card with Temporal Aperture, though you would have to pay mana for it.

Coastal Piracy

Q: If you had Guiltfeeder and Coastal Piracy out, and Guiltfeeder attacked and was not blocked, would you draw a card? Can creatures deal 0 damage?
--Jeremy Stevens

A: “Zero damage” is the same as “no damage”, so Coastal Piracy won’t trigger when Guiltfeeder attacks. Creatures dealing zero damage are considered to not deal damage.

Q: Fire Whip says "Fire Whip can enchant only a creature you control." Using Crown of the Ages, can I try to move it onto an opponent's creature (knowing that it will fall off), or can I not even try to move it there?

A: You’re not allowed to move local enchantments to permanents they can’t enchant. This is explained in rule 214.8d of the Comprehensive Rulebook. Likewise, you would not be able to move it to a creature with protection from Red.

Q: Krovikan Horror, a old card from Alliances, has caused a few arguments over at the place I usually play magic. The person who uses it claims that as long as a creature card is above it comes back to his hand. I, as well as another large group of people, claim that the word "directly" means it has to be "right on top of" the card. Could you please sort out this annoying matter?
--Phil Brown

A: A card is considered to be “directly above” another when there are no other cards in-between. If there are non-creature cards between Krovikan Horror and the creature card above it, you won’t be allowed to return it.

Q: What happens when Rogue Elephant with Rancor attacks me and I block it with my Wall of Hope with Inviolability on it. Do I get any damage? Do I gain any life? What happens with the trample damage?

A: Rogue Elephant with Rancor is 5/3, the Wall is 0/3. In combat, the Elephant must assign enough damage to the Wall to destroy it, without taking protection or damage prevention into consideration. Usually, the Wall would be assigned 3 points of damage while 2 damage would trample over to the player. When combat damage resolves, the damage to the Wall is prevented, and never dealt, so the Wall survives, but its triggered ability doesn’t see any damage and won’t trigger. You still take the two trample damage, since it wasn’t prevented.

Q: With the Broodhatch Nantuko, does it have to successfully be dealt damage in order for the ability to activate or can you, for example, ping it with a Chainflinger and then let the ability activation go on the stack and then prevent the damage with a Cleric? Or what about putting a Sandskin on it so it can no longer take damage?
--Matthew Maloughney-Herbel, Canada

A: Broodhatch Nantuko triggers off damage that is dealt – which means “damage that is not prevented”. If the damage is prevented, the Nantuko won’t see it, and its ability won’t trigger. Sandskin on the Nantuko prevents all combat damage that would be dealt to it, so you won’t get any tokens from that, either.

Q: Suppose that I am playing a burn deck and thus have no creatures in play. If I were to play Risky Move, would I be able to gain control of one of my opponent's creatures without having any creatures of my own for him to gain control of?

A: You would be able to do this. In your opponent’s upkeep, your opponent gets control over Risky Move, and has to flip a coin for control over one of his or her creatures. If he or she loses, you gain control over that creature, as the card says.

In your upkeep, you gain control over Risky Move again, and would have to flip for the creature you took over if you still control it… it’s as the card says, “a risky move”.

Rules Quiz Results

Based on Saturday School #19's Rules Quiz.

Would you expect Crimson Kobolds to still be red after Humble has been played on it?

Q: Would you expect Crimson Kobolds to still be red after Humble has been played on it?

A: Yes. The Kobolds’ text defines a characteristic of the card its on (its color), it’s not an ability, and can’t be removed by Humble. Characteristic-setting text is described in rule 402.3 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Assuming its controller has chosen "red", would you expect Alloy Golem to still be red after Humble has been played on it?

Q: Assuming its controller has chosen "red", would you expect Alloy Golem to still be red after Humble has been played on it?

A: Yes. Alloy Golem’s text is characteristic-setting text, even if you can choose the color of the creature. Anything that says that the card “is” a particular type or color is not an ability, and is unaffected by Humble.

Assuming its controller has threshold, would you expect Possessed Centaur to still be black after Humble has been played on it?

Q: Assuming its controller has threshold, would you expect Possessed Centaur to still be black after Humble has been played on it?

A: No. Threshold is a static ability that gets removed by Humble (rule 502.23 in the Comprehensive Rulebook. When the Centaur has the ability, it gives the creature characteristic-setting text, but when the Threshold-ability is removed, the text is not active, and doesn’t apply. The Centaur will be Green.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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