Saturday School #34

Posted in Feature on June 28, 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

Twisted Abomination

Q: My friend cycles his Twisted Abomination, then regenerates it for to put it into play. That doesn't seem like it should work. Does it?

A: No, it doesn't. You can only use the regeneration ability when the Abomination is in play, so you can't regenerate it when it's cycled. The regeneration ability does not bring creatures back from the graveyard; it only prevents them from dying while in play.

Q: I have a Wurm token in play and then my friend successfully plays Faceless Butcher, targeting the Wurm token. I later bounce the Butcher back to his hand to get my token, but he argues that it's removed from the game permanently. Who is correct?

A: Your friend is correct. When a token is in any other zone than “in play” it ceases to exist, so when the Butcher removes the token from the game it will never return.

Q: After my attackers have been declared, my opponent activates his Forbidding Watchtower. He says he may then declare it as a blocker before I have the opportunity to tap/destroy it. Is this true?
--Steven Garcia, Newport News, VA

A: This is not true. After any spell or ability has resolved, the active player gets priority to play spells or ability, and you can destroy the Watchtower at that time. Both players need to pass priority without doing anything while the stack is empty for the game to move on to the declare blockers step.

Q: The card Strength of Unity from Invasion says "Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 for each basic land type among lands you control." Now if you have 2 islands and 2 plains out would the creature get +2/+2 or +4/+4?

A: The creature would get +2/+2. There are five basic land types (forest, island, mountain, plains and swamp), and the effect counts how many different types you control, not how many different lands of those types you control. Since you only have two different types (island and swamp), the creature gets +2/+2.

Q: If an Aquamoeba is dealt 1 damage and "switches" later in the turn, will it die?

A: It will die. Assuming no other effects are active, when Aquamoeba switches power and toughness it will be a 3/1 creature with 1 damage. Since it has taken damage equal to its tougness, it will be destroyed from lethal damage.

Scourge Questions

Gilded Light

Q: Can I play Gilded Light in response to being declared the target of a spell or do I need to play it before anything targets me?

A: You can play Gilded Light in response to any spell, and if that spell targets you, it will be countered on resolution, since you are an illegal target at that time.

Q: How would Quirion Dryad's ability work with storm spells like Wing Shards? Does it only get a +1/+1 counter for playing the original spell, or for the original spell plus however many copies that go onto the stack?
--Tom Palmieri, Brooklyn, NY

A: Quirion Dryad only triggers when you play spells (that's when you put them on the stack and pay for them), it doesn't trigger when copies are put on the stack. This means that the Dryad would only get a counter for the original spell, not for any of the storm copies.

Q: I have a Broodhatch Nantuko enchanted with an Alpha Status, and no other Insects in play. My opponent plays Shock on it for 2 damage. It produces 2 Insect tokens. Does the Nantuko die from damage or survive because of the 2 Insects that give it +4/+4 due to Alpha Status?
--Sean Gomes, Montreal, Quebec

A: Broodhatch Nantuko dies. When Shock resolves it's 1/1, and takes 2 damage. Its ability triggers, but before you put the ability on the stack, you check for state-based effects. The game sees that the Nantuko has lethal damage, and destroys it. Afterwards, you put the ability on the stack, and you get 2 Insect tokens when it resolves, but the Nantuko is destroyed long before that.


Q: According to the rules, the game has a "built-in" triggered ability that reads: "At the beginning of your draw step, draw a card." This places a "draw a card" ability on the stack on top of any other abilities that trigger on the start of this step. No player controls this ability and it is placed after all ones controlled by players have been placed. While it is on the stack, if the current player passes priority, would you be able to Stifle the draw a card ability?

A: Under the Eighth Edition rules (which will be public next week) the draw step draw is a special action that happens at the beginning of the draw step, and it doesn't use the stack, so you can't target it with Stifle.

Incidentally, under the current rules, the built-in triggered ability is just uncounterable.

Rule 304.1 in the Comprehensive Rulebook says “...The draw step action can't be countered...”

Q: If there is a Grip of Chaos in play and a Clone is played, does the Clone randomly seek a target to copy?
--Tim Anderson

A: No, it doesn't. Clone's current Oracle text says that you just “choose” something to copy, it's not targeted, and not affected by Grip of Chaos.

Q: What happens if you un-morph Karona's Zealot and chose itself as a target? Presumably damage isn't redirected infinitely, but why not?
--Colin Northway, Victoria, BC, Canada

A: If the Zealot targets itself, nothing visible happens. When the Zealot would receive damage, that damage is dealt to the Zealot instead. Each replacement effect can only replace a particular event once. So, first it will try to redirect the damage. It ends up in the same place, but the effect still knows that it has been applied. Then, the damage gets dealt.

Q: If I use a Dragonstorm for three or four Dragons, and one of the dragons I search for and put into play is a Worldgorger Dragon, do the other two or three Dragons get removed from play, or do they remain in play as they came into play at exactly the same moment as the Worldgorger?

A: Each copy of Dragonstorm is a separate spell on the stack, so any Dragon you have fetched before Worldgorger Dragon will be removed by its comes-into-play ability, but the remaining Dragonstorms on the stack will resolve after this, and will stay in play. The best option is to get Worldgorger Dragon with the first Dragonstorm to resolve, remove all your permanents, and then get all the other Dragons.

Crashing Centaur

Q: If there are 8 cards in my graveyard, including a Dragon Wings, what happens if I play a Crashing Centaur?

A: You get a 5/6 flying, untargetable Centaur enchanted with Dragon Wings. Dragon Wings' return-to-play ability doesn't target the Centaur, it just places the enchantment directly on the permanent. It can enchant untargetable creatures. Local enchantments must be able to target the permanent when they're played, but they don't target when they're moved by other effects.

Q: I have a Carrion Feeder in play, and I play Accursed Centaur. I choose Accursed Centaur as the creature I sacrifice for the triggered ability on it, placing it on the stack. Can I then sacrifice Accursed Centaur to the Carrion Feeder to give it a +1/+1 counter, and then the Centaur's ability no longer fires since the original target is now invalid?

A: This is not how it works. You sacrifice the creature to Accursed Centaur's ability when the ability resolves, you don't lock in what to sacrifice when you put the ability on the stack. Only targets get locked in that way, and the Centaur's ability is not targeted (it doesn't say the word "target"). If you sacrifice the Centaur to the Feeder's ability, you'll have to sacrifice the Feeder to the Centaur's ability, since it's the only creature in play at the time.

Q: My opponent plays Fatal Mutation on my face-down Aven Liberator. I morph the Liberator. Does it's ability trigger, or does it just die? Can I choose to give itself protection from black to save it from Fatal Mutation?
--Barbara Kraft

A: Both abilities trigger when you turn the Liberator face up, but it will still die. The abilities are put on the stack (active player's trigger first, then non-active player's). The order doesn't really matter, protection can't save it in this case, since Fatal Mutation's ability doesn't deal damage, enchant, block or target the creature (those are four things protection interact with).

General / Older Cards Questions

Q: I have a Flagbearer in play, and my opponent controls a Mistform Ultimus, which is, of course, a Flagbearer. But it doesn't have the text. So do I have to target Flagbearers, or does it only apply to him?

A: Even though you both control Flagbearers, only you control one with the "Flagbearer text." So his spells and abilities must end up targeting a Flagbearer (either yours or the Ultimus), but your spells and abilities can target whatever you want.


Q: Can I play cards like Undermine or Absorb targeting cards that can't be countered, like Urza's Rage or Obliterate? If I can, what happens with the secondary effect (you gain 3 life, etc)?

A: You can target uncounterable spells with any counterspell, but the “counter spell” ability will just fail to do anything. Any secondary effects still apply. Undermine will cause the spell's controller to lose 3 life etc. Some effects depend on the spell being countered, though… If you Memory Lapse an Obliterate, the spell doesn't go on top of the library, since the spell wasn't countered.

Q: If I play Obliterate, can my opponent use Thwart to rescue three islands or is Obliterate an illegal target for Thwart? --Daniel Abrantes

A: Your opponent can play Thwart targeting Obliterate, and can return three islands to pay the cost. Thwart will fail to do anything when it resolves, but at least your opponents has some islands to play later.

Q: If I enchant a Basalt Monolith with Power Artifact and filter the mana it produces into a Skyshroud Elf or another similar filter, can I effectively produce infinite mana?
--Andrew, Newport Beach, CA

A: You can produce an arbitrarily large amount of mana like this, yes. Basalt Monolith has a clause that you can't use its own mana to untap itself, but if you use that mana to pay for another mana ability (“filtering it”), you can use the mana the other mana ability gives to untap the Monolith. Since the Monolith gives 3 mana, and you only have to pay 1 mana to untap it, you can create as much mana as you want to.

Q: I had a Story Circle in play and my opponent a Power Surge. In the game, based on a decision from the judge, I had to tap my lands producing mana to the Circle in the end of his turn to avoid the damage from the Surge. In my opinion, I would tap one land for the Circle to prevent the damage from the Surge (it's just one source of damage, isn't it?). Who is correct?
--Ronne Peterson Amaral, Cataguases, Brazil

A: You are correct. Power Surge deals X damage when its ability resolves, and one activation of Story Circle (or Circle of Protection: Red) during your upkeep is enough to prevent all the damage from it.

It is also legal to spend all your mana on activating the Circle at the your opponent's turn so that you have no untapped lands at the beginning of your turn.

Q: If I have a Crystal Quarry and Reflecting Pool in play, can I tap the Reflecting Pool to add to my mana pool without having to pay the 5 colorless mana cost of the Crystal Quarry?
--Thomas Wu

A: Not quite. Reflecting Pool can add one mana to your pool, of any type another land can produce, which means that you can tap Reflecting Pool for one colored mana of your choice.

Chainer, Dementia Master

Q: If my opponent had Chainer, Dementia Master in play and I Cloned him, would it destroy all Nightmares in play?

A: It would. The Clone comes into play as a copy of Chainer, and since the Clone is the most recent Legend, it's put into the graveyard soon afterwards as a state-based effect. This triggers the leaves-play ability of the Clone-Chainer, removing all Nightmares from the game.

Q: I have Glory in my graveyard and the necessary mana untapped (a white and two colorless) to play its activated ability. If I pay the mana cost at the end of turn of my opponent end of turn step will it carry to my end turn? (The same way that the Anurid Brushhopper ability works on end of turn?)
--Brent Vinke

A: No, it won't. They have a difference in wording.

Anurid Brushhopper says “at end of turn” – it's a triggered ability that triggers at the beginning of the end of turn step. If you're already in the end of turn step, it won't trigger until the next end step.

Glory's ability says “until end of turn” – it has a duration. All effects that last until end of turn always wear of in the cleanup step – the very last step of the turn. They never carry over to the next turn.

Q: All I have in play is creatures, lands, and Sacred Ground. I play a Chain of Acid on my opponent's land. He then makes a copy of the spell and destroys my Sacred Ground. So I bounce it back and destroy another of his lands. If he bounced it back again, and destroyed my land, would it come back into play under the Sacred Ground, since everything is on the stack at this point?

A: You won't get your land back. The copies aren't all on the stack at the same time. Here's how it works:

The Chain destroys your opponent's land, your opponent copies it, targeting your Sacred Ground.

(Chain of Acid goes to the graveyard.)

The copy resolves, destroying Sacred Ground, you copy it, targeting a land.

(The first copy goes to the graveyard, and ceases to exist)

The second copy resolves, destroying your opponent's land, your opponent copies it, targeting your land.

(The second copy goes to the graveyard, and ceases to exist)

The third copy resolves, destroying your land. Since Sacred Ground is gone, you don't get your land back.

Trade Secrets

Q: I noticed that Trade Secrets has a very upsetting drawback. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't it plainly say, "Target opponent chooses if you lose or not." If you are playing someone smart, you're dead if you play this. Am I the only one that notices this? Is there some special rule for this card? Please help me.
--Andy Karpovck, Ocala, FL

A: The key is that the player who played the spell chooses how many cards he or she wants to draw each time (it says “you draw up to four cards”). The player can choose to stop drawing cards at any time, avoiding being run out of cards.

Q: Can you please clarify exactly what Mana Maze does? It's got me confused, and I can't figure it out.

A: Mana Maze prevents two spells with the same color from being played in a row. For example, If a player plays a blue spell, no player can play a blue spell until a spell with another color has been played, or the turn is over.

Q: If I used Annex on an opponent's land that has Squirrel Nest enchanting it, do I get to use the Nest's ability?
--Richard Hermogeno, Philippines

A: Yes, you do. Squirrel Nest gives the ability to the land (it says that the land “has” the ability), so the controller of the land is the one who can activate the ability.

Q: My opponent has Darkest Hour out. I play Fleetfoot Panther. Do I have to sacrifice it if there is no green or white creature out to return to my hand?

A: You don't have to sacrifice it (it doesn't say you have to). It's effect says that you have to return a green or white creature to your hand, but if you don't have any no green or white creature, the effect doesn't do anything.

Q: I have a Zur's Weirding and a Words of Worship in play. Zur's Weirding triggers during my draw step and no one pays 2 life. Can I, at that moment, choose to gain 5 life instead?
--Vangelis Kratsas, Athens, Greece

A: Only if you activated the Words before the card would be drawn, and then you have to gain 5 life instead. Both the Weirding and Words have replacement effects, replacing the draw. The affected player chooses the order they apply in, and if you apply the Weirding first, you reveal the card, and any other player can pay life. If no one does, you draw the card, but this draw will be replaced with the effect from Words of Worship. You will gain 5 life, and the card stays on top of your library.

You can't reveal the card and then pay mana to gain life, since you don't get priority between applying the various replacement effects.

You can also choose to apply Words of Worship before Zur's Weirding, then you just gain 5 life, and the Weirding no longer applies, so no card is revealed.

Bomb Squad

Q: If you have two Bomb Squads in play and a creature gets 4 or more fuse counters on it, destroying it, does it deal 8 damage to its controller because of 4 for each?
--Brian Bland

A: It deals 8 damage. Each Bomb Squad will trigger separately, and each ability will try to destroy the creature and then try to deal 4 damage to its controller. The ability doesn't care whether it actually destroys the creature or not. If one part of the effect fails, it carries on and does as much of the rest as possible.

Q: If you have two Mirri's Guiles out during your upkeep, can you look at the top six or just the top three? Can they stack up like that?

A: No, you can't. Mirri's Guile has a triggered ability, and when it resolves, you look at the top three cards and put them back in any order. If you have two Mirri's Guiles, you resolve the first as usual, then you look at the same three cards again. You can't ever resolve two spells abilities at the same time.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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