Saturday School #29

Posted in Feature on May 24, 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


Q: My opponent attacks with a creature and I play Inspirit on it. Does it still count as an attacking creature, or does untapping an attacking creature remove it from combat?

--Thomas Jones, Orange Park, FL

A: It's still an attacking creature, since the effect of Inspirit doesn't say that the creature is removed from combat. Just untapping the creature won't remove a creature from combat.

Q: I play Wellwisher and finish my turn. Then it's my opponent's turn. May I use the lifegaining ability straight away or I have to wait until my next turn?

--Mauro Calleja

A: You must wait until your next turn. Wellwisher has an activated ability with the -symbol, and rule 214.7a in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that “a creature's activated ability with the tap symbol in its activation cost can't be played unless the creature has been under its controller's control since the start of his or her most recent turn.”

Scourge Questions

Q: Can you explain why errata was necessary on Grip of Chaos? I don't get it.

A: The printed wording triggers whenever a spell or ability was put on the stack. Each time the ability triggers, it gets put on the stack itself, so it would then trigger itself. Hence it would have gone infinite as soon as a spell or ability was played - not a good thing at all. The new wording has an if-clause, so it only triggers on spells and abilities with a single target. The Grip-ability is untargeted, so it won't trigger on itself.


Q: I'll list some things, and you tell me if Stifle will work on them.

--Nathan McCoy, Lakewood, WA

A: First, here's how to tell whether something is a triggered ability: check whether its text uses the word "when" or "whenever", or uses the word "at" followed by a particular time. Such abilities are triggered abilities. Other effects (even ones which use similar words, like "as") are not.

a) The "lose the game" ability if I reanimate Phage the Untouchable.

Yes – the ability is triggered (starts with “when”), so you can counter it.

b) The "switch sides ability" of Karona, False God.

Yes – you can counter the triggered ability that causes Karona to switch sides (it starts with “at”).

c) The storm ability of Wing Shards.

Yes – Storm is a triggered ability. Countering the Storm ability stops the player from putting any copies of the spell on the stack.

d) Kicker on a Kavu Titan.

No – Paying the kicker modifies how the Titan enters play, but it's not a triggered or activated ability.

e) Amplify of a Canopy Crawler.

No – Amplify is a static ability that allows you to reveal cards as the card enters play. It is not a triggered or activated ability.

f) The upkeep cost of Draco.

Yes – It starts with “at”, and is a triggered ability.

g) The delayed triggered ability of Final Fortune.

Yes – Stifle can counter all triggered abilities, also the delayed ones.

h) The mandatory sacrifice of Blistering Firecat.

Yes – it starts with “at”, and is a triggered ability.

Q: If someone cycles a Slice and Dice, what can I stop with Stifle? Is there any way to counter the cycling to prevent Astral Slide from triggering?

A: Stifle can counter either the cycling card draw (which is an activated ability) or the “1 damage to each creature” triggered ability. Note that once the cycling cost has been paid, the two abilities are independent. To stop the damage, you'll have to counter the damage ability; to stop the player drawing a card, you'll have to counter the cycling. One Stifle can't stop both.

As for Astral Slide, its triggered ability works just like Slice and Dice's. Cycling a card will immediately trigger Astral Slide - countering the cycling won't do anything to Astral Slide's triggered ability. You can counter the triggered ability of the Slide, though, to prevent the creature from being removed from the game.

Q: Can Stifle help get a Phyrexian Dreadnought or Lotus Vale into play easier?

A: No. Phyrexian Dreadnought and Lotus Vale have replacement abilities that modify how they enter play – the abilities are not triggered or activated, and can't be countered by Stifle.

Q: Does storm interact with "chain" cards like Chain Lightning or Chain of Plasma?

A: Not really. The Chain copies are put directly on the stack, and aren't “played”, so the copies won't count for storm.

Q: How lenient are the floor rules regarding multiple shuffles? For example, if I play Sprouting Vines or Mind's Desire after a lot of other spells have been played, will I really be forced to shuffle my deck as each storm copy resolves?

--Evan Leal, Santa Clara, CA

A: The Magic rules say that you have to shuffle between each of the shuffles, because spells and abilities may be played in between each search.

In tournaments, you will usually be allowed to skip shuffling for each copy if no player wants to play anything between each search effect resolving, and just shuffle when you have finished all the searches.

Q: I have Vengeful Dead in play. I then kill my opponent's face-down creature and it goes to the graveyard, where it is revealed to be a Zombie. Does my opponent lose 1 life per the ability of Vengeful Dead?

--Neil B. Selby

A: No. Vengeful Dead's ability triggers on something leaving play, and rule 410.10d says that in these cases, you look back to when the permanent was in play to see if anything triggers. At that time, the creature wasn't a Zombie, so Vengeful Dead won't trigger.

Q: I have Decree of Silence in play and my opponent plays Obliterate.Do you put a counter on the Decree?

--Jeremy Moore, Columbus Ohio

A: Yes, you put a counter on the Decree. When the ability resolves, the effect does as much as possible. It first tries to counter Obliterate, which fails, and then puts a counter on the Decree. The effects don't depend on each other.

Day of the Dragons

Q: I have Opalescence in play and play Day of the Dragons. What happens?

--Sean Fletcher, Jaffrey, NH

A: Day of the Dragons comes into play as a 7/7 creature, then the comes-into-play triggered ability goes on the stack. When it resolves, all creatures are removed from the game, including Day of the Dragons. You get an equal amount of 5/5 Dragon tokens. Since Day of the Dragons left play the leaves-play ability triggers, you sacrifice the Dragons in play, bringing the removed cards, including Day of the Dragons into play. The cycle starts again, you have an infinite loop, and unless a player can to break the loop by winning the game, Stifle one of the triggered abilities, or destroying Opalescence or Day of the Dragons, the game will be a draw, as per rule 102.6 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Combos with this include cards like Pandemonium, or Highway Robber, which let a player win the game if you go through enough cycles in the loop.

Q: When Day of the Dragons says remove all creatures it includes token creatures, right? Why when Day of the Dragons leaves play it only returns removed cards? It should also includes "return tokens removed in this way".

--Max Janz

A: There would be no tokens to return. When tokens leave play, they immediately cease to exist, and it's not possible to return them.

Q: The text on Krosan Warchief reads "Beast spells you play cost 1 less to play". Does this include the morph cost of your Beasts?

--Elliot Creager, Princeton, NJ

A: No. Krosan Warchief only reduces the cost when you play a beast spell from (usually) your hand. Turning a creature face-up doesn't count as playing a spell, so Krosan Warchief doesn't affect that cost.

Q: If I attack with Xantid Swarm, is there an opportunity for my opponent to play Wing Shards? If so, what is the point of Xantid Swarm?

A: Yes, your opponent can play Wing Shards in response to the triggered ability, before it resolves.

The ability isn't just there to prevent your opponent from killing your attacker – it will stop your opponent from playing any spells the rest of the turn, even if the Swarm is gone. For example, your opponent won't be able to counter any of your spells for the rest of the turn, or play any spells in your end step, which is a common thing to do.

Dimensional Breach

Q: I play Dimensional Breach, can I play both a land on my upkeep, from my removed cards, than a land in my main phase?

A: Yes, you can. Dimensional Breach just returns a permanent to play, it doesn't use up your regular land drop in the turn.

Q: My opponent controls a Karona, False God and I control a Dega Sanctuary. At the beginning of my upkeep, I gain control of Karona. Will I gain any life from Dega Sanctuary? If I would, will it be 2 or 4 life because Karona counts as a black and a red permanent?

--Chua, Philippines

A: It depends on whether you control another red or black permanent at the beginning of the upkeep. Dega Sanctuary triggers at the same time as Karona's “change controller”-ability, but if you don't have a red or black permanent at that time, the Sanctuary won't trigger at all, even if you gain control over Karona. If the Sanctuary has triggered, you will gain 4 life, because Karona is a red and black permanent.

Q: If I take my opponent's Sliver Overlord with a Temporary Insanity, and then use its control ability on itself, do I keep it at end of turn?

A: Yes, you do. The Overlord's ability will give you permanent control over it, and even though Temporary Insanity's effect ends at the end of the turn, the Overlord's ability will let you keep it.

Q: I attack with Mercurial Kite. My opponent blocks with a 2/3 creature. Damage goes on the stack. I use the morph of a Raven Guild Initiate to return the Kite to my hand. Does my opponent's creature tap and remained tapped during his next untap step?


A: It doesn't tap, and it will untap as usual next untap step. Mercurial Kite has a triggered ability that triggers on the damage being dealt, that is when the damage resolves. If the Kite isn't in play at that time, its ability doesn't trigger.

Q: What happens when Parallel Thoughts leaves play? The way it's worded, there's no special provision for this case, so I presume the unused rest of its pile stays removed. But it's still face down, right? How do Wishes interact with this pile?

A: If Parallel Thoughts leaves play, the cards stay removed forever, with no option to return regularly. The only way to get them back is by using Death Wish or Ring of Ma'Ruf, since these let you get any card from outside the game. You're not allowed to look at cards that are removed from the game face down, so there is no way of knowing if the other Wishes would be able to get the card or not.

Dragon Tyrant

Q: How do double strike and trample interact with each other, as in Dragon Tyrant? Can I assign half of lethal damage to the blocker knowing that double strike will kill it?

-- Adam Morey, Roeland Park, KS

A: Creatures with Double Strike assign their damage in both combat damage steps, and you must assign lethal damage to the creature before anything can trample over to the player. You can assign parts of the damage to the player if the blocker would be destroyed by the rest of the damage. For example, if the Tyrant is blocked by an 8-toughness creature, it would have to assign all 6 points of damage to the blocker in the first damage step. In the second damage step, it could assign just 2 points to the blocker, since 8 damage matches its toughness, and the remaining 4 points of damage can trample over.

Q: When I unmorph my Exalted Angel, will the Dragon Fangs in my graveyard be put on it?

A: No. Dragon Fangs only triggers on creatures coming into play from somewhere that's not in play. Turning creatures face up only changes what a creature already in play looks like, and doesn't count a new creature coming into play.

Q: I activate Oath of Druids and reveal a Dragon Breath before eventually getting a Cognivore. Is the Breath in the graveyard when the Cognivore comes into play?

--Ville Yli-Mäyry

A: Cognivore is put into play at the same time as Dragon Breath. When the game checks for triggered abilities, Dragon Breath sees the Cognivore that came into play at the same time as it entered the graveyard, and it will trigger.

Q: My opponent controls two creatures: a face-up Scornful Egotist and an Imagecrafter. He casts Torrent of Fire targeting me. If I respond by Shocking his Scornful Egotist, do I take eight damage or one?

--Rick Wagner, Ann Arbor, Michigan

A: You take one damage. Torrent of Fire checks the highest converted mana cost when it resolves, and at that time, the Egotist is gone, and the Imagecrafter's converted mana cost is the highest.

Q: If I were to sacrifice a Festering Goblin to a Carrion Feeder when they were the only two creatures in play, would the Carrion Feeder die, or would it become a 2/2, then get -1/-1 and become a 1/1 until end of turn?

A: It would die. The Feeder's ability is put on the stack first, then you pay the cost, sacrificing the Goblin. Its triggered ability goes on the stack on top of the Feeder's ability, and resolves before it. The Feeder would be 0/0 and be destroyed before the other ability resolves.

General / Older Card Questions

Cauldron Dance

Q: My friend plays Cauldron Dance in his deck and he uses it to bring out attackers. But since it can only be played during combat, wouldn't the attackers have already been declared so he can't attack with them?


A: There is a step called “beginning of combat step” that happens in the combat phase before attackers are declared. Playing Cauldron Dance in this step gives you a creature (or two) you can attack with. See sections 306-311 in the Comprehensive Rulebook for more information on the Combat Phase.

Q: A player had four Seedborn Muses out, and he said he could untap his

Prodigal Sorcerer up to four times during his opponent's untap step. Is that right?


A: Technically, the Sorcerer untaps four times, but since no spells or abilities can be played in the untap step, the player wouldn't be able to tap it in between the untaps.

Q: If you discarded a Basking Rootwalla while a Necropotence was in play, could you play it for its madness cost still?

A: No, you couldn't. Madness and Necropotence both have replacement effects that modify the discard. When you discard the Rootwalla, you choose which order to apply them in. Madness replaces "discard" with "discard but remove the card from the game". Necropotence replaces "discard" with "remove the card from the game". No matter what order you apply them in, Necropotence wins, and Madness doesn't trigger.

Q: How much mana do I pay if my opponent plays Rethink against the Willbender that I am playing face down?

A: You need to pay zero extra mana. The converted mana cost of a face down spell is always zero, it doesn't have a printed converted mana cost. The three mana you pay to play the card is an alternate cost to play the card, but it's not part of the “mana cost”.

Wirewood Channeler

Q: Does Wirewood Channeler's ability produce a single color ( i.e. or ) or can it produce multiple types of mana ( i.e. )

A: It produces mana of one color, like it says on the card. All the mana produced has the same color.

Q: What happens when a player controls two or more Pariah?

A: Pariah has a replacement effect, and the controller of the Pariahs chooses which of the creatures that will receive the damage.

Note that each time the player is dealt damage, he or she chooses one of the creatures to put that damage on; it's not possible to distribute the individual points around.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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