Saturday School #23

Posted in Feature on April 12, 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.

Beginner Questions

Grip of Amnesia

Q: Can Grip of Amnesia be played with no target to counter just to draw a card?
--Giuseppe Fantigrossi

A: No, it can’t. If a spell requires targets, you must be able to choose a legal target when you play the spell. Grip of Amnesia can’t be played without a spell on the stack to target.

Q: I have eight land and a Psychatog in play. I tap all lands to play Upheaval, floating two, and then play my land for the turn, and tap it for Psychatog. Does the Psychatog have haste? I did control it from the beginning of the turn but it didn't stay in play.

A: No, the Psychatog can’t attack. (The ability haste is irrelevant here - nothing you mentioned can give it haste.) You can only attack with creatures you have had continuous control over since the beginning of the turn. When Psychatog is returned to your hand, you break the "continuous control," as it’s no longer in play.

Q: Saprazzan Outrigger says "When Saprazzan Outrigger attacks or blocks, put it on top of its owner’s library at end of combat." Does that mean that even if it gets dealt lethal damage, it still goes on top of its owners library therefore making it almost immortal?
--Ken Avalon, Sydney Australia

A: No, it doesn’t. When you reach the end of combat, after combat damage has resolved, the game looks for the Outrigger in the game zone it was in (in play). Since it’s not there anymore, nothing happens to it. When a card changes zones, for example by going to the graveyard or being removed from the game, the game loses track of it, it’s not the same card anymore.

Q: There are cards that have a global effect, and do not target creatures. For example, Wrath of God destroys Iridescent Angel. Then there is Pernicious Deed, which says "each." My playing circle has been tossing this around for a while. Personally, I think "each" is the same as "target," because Skirk Fire Marshal, pro red, deals 10 damage to each creature and each player. His protection from red and the flavor text imply that his ability targets everything individually. When a card says each, does it count as targeting?

A: A card only targets when it uses the word “target.” The effects that say “each” might as well have said “all,” they work the same way, it’s just a difference in editing. It’s more clear that Skirk Fire Marshall actually deals 10 damage to each creature, not divided among the creatures if it says “each” rather than “all.” Skirk Fire Marshal can survive its own ability, thanks to another effect of protection from red: preventing all damage that would be dealt to it by red sources.

Q: My opponent has a Quirion Ranger in play and one forest. The Quirion Ranger is untapped and he has no other creatures. I target his forest with a Strip Mine. Can he return the forest in play to untap his already untapped Quirion Ranger or does he need to have a tapped creature in play to return the forest to his hand?

A: He can return the Forest. Quirion Ranger doesn’t say that it has to target an untapped creature, so it can target any creature. Untapping an already untapped creature doesn’t do anything in particular, but the player can “rescue” a forest like that.

Legions Questions

Celestial Gatekeeper

Q: My opponent kills my two Birds of Paradise and Celestial Gatekeeper with Wrath of God. I target the two Birds with the Gatekeeper's triggered ability, and my opponent responds with Krosan Reclamation on the two Birds. Should the Gatekeeper be removed from game? I was playing online and the result was not what I expected.

A: No, the Gatekeeper won’t be removed from the game. When an ability is about to resolve, it checks whether its targets are legal. If they’re all illegal (which is the case here, because both Birds have left the graveyard), it gets countered instead of resolving. No part of its effect happens, even the parts that don’t require a target.

Q: I attacked my friend with a Brood Sliver and he declared a 1/1 Cleric as blocker. He then used an ability that sacrifices a Cleric to sacrifice the blocking cleric. My question is that since he sacrificed the Cleric that was supposed to block my Sliver, does the combat damage then get dealt to him or is it as he thinks, is there just no combat damage dealt from my Sliver since the blocking creature is gone?

A: If a creature has been blocked, and the blocker goes away, the attacker ends up dealing no damage (this is explained in rules 310.1d and 310.4 in the Comprehensive Rules). Usually, the only way a blocked creature can deal combat damage to a player is if has trample.

Q: I have a Skirk Alarmist in play with a morph creature (Krosan Colossus). My opponent plays an Infest. As a response, I flip over the Colossus with the Alarmist. Does the Colossus still have to be sacrificed at the end of turn, or does it live because the Alarmist is in the graveyard?

A: You still have to sacrifice the Colossus. When the Alarmist ability resolves, you turn the Colossus face up, and set up a delayed triggered ability (read more about these in rule 406.2 of the Comprehensive Rules) This ability is independent of the Alarmist, and will force the sacrifice to be made even if the Alarmist isn’t in play anymore.

Q: Can you use provoke on a creature if you have Goblin War Drums out? If you can still provoke a creature, does the player need to add a second blocking creature to it because of the Drums?

A: You can use provoke even with Goblin War Drums, in fact, you have to target something with it, even if you’re not going to use it. However, the rules say that a requirement on a creature can only force that creature to block. Other creatures cannot be forced to help out, so the targeted creature can avoid blocking in this case.

General / Older Card Questions

Q: I have Natural Emergence in play. I play a Clone and target my Karplusan Forest, so my Clone becomes a 2/2 Karplusan Forest. I then Disenchant my Natural Emergence. What happens to the Clone? Does it become a normal Karplusan Forest or remain a creature?
--Tim Davis

A: The Clone becomes a normal Karplusan Forest. Clone (and other copy cards) copy the printed version of the card, it doesn’t copy effects that affect the card. Once the effect that animates all the lands goes away, the Clone will just be a non-creature land.

Teferi's Isle

Q: Is it possible for me to play Teferi's Isle on my first turn and then play another on my second turn? During each untap phase one will phase in and the other will phase out, or will they exist simultaneously at some point?

A: This works. Cards phase in and out at the same time, so your two lands will trade places at the exact same time (rule 502.15b of the Comprehensive Rules), and you get to have one in play every turn.

Q: I had Multani, Maro-Sorcerer in play with 6 cards in hand between my opponent and myself. My opponent then casts Time Spiral and says that Multani dies because at one point we don't have any cards, but I disagree because the card discarding and drawing would happen simultaneously. Could you please clarify this dilemma?

A: Multani survives. This is because the toughness of a creature isn’t checked during the resolution of a spell or ability, the game only checks when it has fully resolved the Time Spiral, at which point Multani should be about 14/14. This is true for all state-based effects (rule 420 in the Comprehensive Rules).

One correction - the different parts of Time Spiral do not “happen simultaneously,” so there is a moment when you have no cards in hand. At this time Multani’s toughness will be 0, and (for example) Veiled Crocodile can trigger. But Multani doesn’t die now, because this is still during the resolution of a spell.
Also note that you don’t “discard” your hand with Time Spiral, it’s just shuffled back into the library.

Q: My opponent attacks with his Psychatog. Before blockers are declared I use Spurnmage Advocate's ability to return two cards to his hand and destroy the 'Tog. He empties his graveyard to the 'Tog pumping it up. He claims that his ability goes on the stack first so when my resolves I have no cards to choose from and are therefore unable to destroy the 'Tog and that I then cannot block with Spurnmage since I tapped it before blockers where declared. Can this happen?
--Dan Eckstein, Columbus, KS

A: No, it can’t, though this situation is a bit tricky. Your opponent is the active player, and gets priority after having declared attackers, so he gets to do things first. If he chooses to empty his graveyard to pump Psychatog before passing priority to you, you won’t have legal targets to activate the Advocate, and you may choose to block with it, since it’s untapped.
If your opponent passes priority to you so you can declare blockers with cards left in his graveyard, you can then activate the Advocate targeting Psychatog and two of his cards. This will cause Psychatog to be destroyed even if he responds by removing the targeted cards, because the ability still has one legal target when it resolves (Psychatog) and will affect that as normal.

Your opponent either has to let you destroy the Psychatog, or block with the Advocate, you can’t tap the Advocate without having legal targets for the ability.

Haunting Echoes

Q: In Magic Online, when you play Haunting Echoes you are able to choose which cards you take out of your opponent's library. Sometimes you want to leave in the bad cards. But everybody in my neighborhood says that you have to take everything. I know there's some loophole in the wording. I think it has to do with the word "search." If you "search" you could just "not find" cards you don't want to take. Can you clear this up for me?
--Joseph Banlaki, Connecticut, USA

A: The glossary definition of “search” in the Comprehensive Rules says that “If you're required to search a zone not revealed to all players for cards matching some criteria, you aren't required to find those cards even if they're present.”
You’re allowed to not find cards, this is so that you won’t be penalized in a tournament for failing to search properly, and to avoid having to call over a judge every time to verify that you actually found all the cards possible.

Q: I have Hunting Grounds. An opponent plays Wrath of God. How does this play out with respect to me putting a creature from my hand into play? Is there a way to do this such that I have a creature in play after Wrath resolves?
--Russell D. Steen

A: No. The triggered ability from Hunting Grounds triggers when Wrath of God is played, and goes on the stack on top of the Wrath. This means that it will resolve before Wrath, and any creature you put into play will be destroyed. You have to put the creature into play when the ability resolves, you can’t wait until after the Wrath has resolved.

Q: If I have a Mirari's Wake and a Crystal Quarry in play, and I tap 5 to filter for one of each color mana, does Mirari's Wake cause Crystal Quarry to produce another mana, or does the "filter" ability of Crystal Quarry act only as a filter, and not actually "tapping a land for mana," as Mirari's Wake states?

A: Mirari’s Wake triggers any time you tap a land to pay for a mana ability, so you would get an additional mana of the color of your choice, even if it’s just “filtered”.
Note that if you tapped 5 lands to get mana for the Quarry, Mirari’s Wake would produce extra mana for these as well. You would get a total of 11 mana.

Q: I've got Contamination in play and Nether Spirit in my graveyard. He is the only creature card there. My opponent has a Seal of Fire on the table. It's the beginning of my upkeep and I want to bring my Nether Spirit to play and sacrifice it to my Contamination. Is it possible to save my Contamination before my opponent kills the Spirit with his Seal of Fire?

A: No, it isn’t. Contamination has a triggered ability that goes on the stack at the beginning of the upkeep, and so has Nether Spirit. You can stack the abilities so that Nether Spirit returns to play before the sacrifice must be made, but the sacrifice can only done when that ability resolves. If your opponent destroys your Spirit after it has come into play before Contamination’s ability resolves, you can’t sacrifice it to Contamination, and you have to sacrifice Contamination instead.

Q: I have Exploration and Fastbond in play. Can I choose to play an extra land with Exploration and ignore the Fastbond effect?

A: No, you can’t. Fastbond has a triggered ability that triggers on any land being put into play after the first, regardless of how and why it was played.

Q: If I have a Filth in my graveyard can i use something like Magical Hack to change one of my creature's landwalk?
--Marcelo Risoli, Brasil

A: No, you can’t. As the text “Swampwalk” isn’t written on the creatures in play, Magical Hack can’t change the text on any of them – the creatures just have the Swampwalk ability.
You can’t use Magical Hack (or similar cards) on Filth, either, because you are only allowed to target permanents or spells, not cards in the graveyard.

Q: Is it possible to use Astral Slide to slide out Braids, Cabal Minion during my upkeep so that I don't have to sacrifice anything?

A: No, it isn’t. Braids’ ability goes on the stack automatically at the beginning of the upkeep before any player can play anything. Removing Braids after this point has no effect on the ability on the stack, which will still resolve as normal.
A very similar trick is possible, however. When an effect says it happens “at end of turn,” that means it triggers at the beginning of the end-of-turn step.
Therefore, if you use Astral Slide during the end-of-turn step, the creature has missed its chance to come back that turn... so it will instead come back at the end of the next turn.
This means you can Slide out Braids during your opponent’s end-of-turn step. She won’t be in play during your upkeep, but she will come back at the end of your turn, ready to affect your opponent.
This is known as “Waylay abuse,” named after the card which first exploited it.

Q: If my Custody Battle is returned to my hand while I have control of an opponent's creature, does the creature revert its control back to its owner?
--Chase A. Bollig, Duncan, Oklahoma

A: No, it doesn’t. The player gains control of the enchanted creature “directly,” having control over the creature does not require that Custody Battle is on the creature (unlike Persuasion and similar cards). The last controller of the creature gets to keep it.

Divine Presence

Q: How do the Spheres from Invasion and Divine Presence interact? If I have Sphere of Reason and Divine Presence in play and am hit with a Mahamoti Djinn, how much damage do I take?
--Dirk Tilley, Marysville, WA

A: You take 1 or 3 damage, your choice. Whenever multiple damage prevention or replacement effects try to modify the same thing, the affected player or the controller of the affected permanent chooses the order they’re applied in.
Mahamoti Djinn usually deals 5 damage. If you choose to apply Divine Presence first, damage is adjusted to 3, and then applying Sphere of Reason reduces the damage to 1.
If you choose to apply the Sphere first, damage is reduced to 3, and then Divine Presence can’t affect it, since it only adjusts damage of 4 or more.

Q: Just a quick question about Violent Eruption (and other spells with "any number of targets") and Cowardice. Can I target more than 4 creatures/players with the Eruption, and just have the damage dealt to four or fewer of them, but still leave the others targeted, so it triggers Cowardice on all the creatures targeted? Also, if this can be done, when do I divide the damage? On declaring the spell, with targeting, or upon resolution?
--Greg L.

A: You can target a maximum of 4 targets, you divide the damage and choose all the targets when you play the spell. Rule 409.1e in the Comprehensive Rules says the following: “If the spell or ability requires the player to divide an effect (such as damage or counters) among a number of targets, the player announces the division. Each of these targets must receive at least one of whatever is being divided (for example, damage or counters).” You’re not allowed to target something for zero damage.

Q: I play Ghastly Demise targeting my opponent's Wild Mongrel, and I have 2 cards in my graveyard. Can he discard cards to the Mongrel to make it live?

A: Yes, he can. Ghastly Demise can target any non-black creature, and then it will destroy that creature upon resolution if the creature's toughness is less than the number of cards in your graveyard. So if the Mongrel's toughness goes up, the spell will resolve but not actually kill it.

Note that your opponent could simply counter Ghastly Demise by discarding one card and making the Mongrel black. It would then be an illegal target.

Q: I have a Mirari in play. If I play Channel for 15, can I use 3 of the mana to use the Mirari's ability? Do I lose 15 life again?

A: This is not exactly how it works. When Channel has resolved, it lets you convert life to mana. Copying Channel has no particular effect, you don’t get two mana for each life paid. You can only copy spells with Mirari when they’re played, before they have resolved, so you would never be able to use the mana gained with Channel’s ability to pay for the copy.

Spells copied with Mirari (or Fork) are put on the stack as exact copies of the original, with all the costs paid. The play you probably wanted to achieve would be to pay 15 life (and one red mana) and play Blaze on your opponent for 15. You can then pay 3 more life to get 3 mana, and copy the spell. The copy is already paid for, you don’t have to pay life for the copy. You’ll end up dealing 30 damage to your opponent.

Q: If a morph is countered by Memory Lapse, is it revealed?

A: Yes, it is. Any time a face down spell goes anywhere but “into play” it must be revealed (says rule 504.6 in the Comprehensive Rules).

Q: If I have two Reflecting Pools in play with no other lands, can the Reflecting Pools produce any color mana or can't they produce mana at all?
--Phil S.

A: The can’t produce mana at all. Reflecting Pool can’t produce mana on its own, and neither can multiple Pools without other lands.
Note that this only applies specifically to Reflecting Pools. Reflecting Pool can still tap for blue mana if you have Tolarian Academy in play, even if you don’t have any artifacts. Reflecting Pool looks at all the mana the land could produce under any circumstance, but it doesn’t count other Reflecting Pools.

Storm Cauldron

Q: I have three lands out. My opponent has out Storm Cauldron. Am I able to play Harrow or will the lands return to my hand before I can sacrifice one? Which one happen first, bounce or sacrifice?
--Tony Ferraro, Atlanta, GA

A: You can play Harrow. You put the spell on the stack, and pay the cost, which is 3 mana and sacrificing a land. Storm Cauldron’s ability is a triggered ability, and doesn’t go on the stack until after you have finished playing the spell, meaning that the lands won’t be “bounced” until afterwards.

Q: Can you cast Animate Dead on a creature such as Deadly Insect or Multani, Maro-Sorcerer, and bring to play and keep Animate Dead on it? I said you can't because local enchantments require a target and Multani was the target when it was played.
--Brandon Moore, Council Bluffs, IA

A: You can do this. Abilities on cards only work in play unless they say otherwise, and the Multani and the Deadly Insect card can be targeted when they are in the graveyard.
Animate Dead is a special type of card. It’s played as a global enchantment, and when it comes into play, a triggered ability has you choose target creature card in the graveyard. When this ability resolves, it puts the creature into play, and then becomes a local enchantment that enchants the freshly animated creature.
The untargetability of the creatures doesn’t go into effect until the Animate Dead ability has started to resolve, so it won’t be able to counter the effect. A local enchantment is allowed to enchant an untargetable permanent.

Q: My friend wants to use Mogg Bombers and a Snake Basket to do more than 3 damage by saying that the Snakes come into play at the same time so it would trigger several times (once for each Snake). So my question is, is it possible to get 7 snakes from the basket and do 21 damage by sacrificing the Mogg Bombers?
--Kim, Germany

A: No, it’s not. Mogg Bombers does trigger for each snake, but the ability has a clause that says “Sacrifice Mogg Bombers. If you do…” meaning that you only get to deal damage if you sacrifice it to that specific ability. Only the first triggered ability to resolve will deal damage to the player, when the others resolve, you can’t sacrifice Mogg Bombers anymore, it’s already gone, and no damage will be dealt.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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