Saturday School #36

Posted in Feature on July 26, 2003

By Rune Horvik

Editor's Note: Rune had a couple weeks off while I was on leave. But fear not; we're back on our normal schedule now. –Aaron

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

Jareth, Leonine Titan

Q: Does an enchantment on a creature with protection from a color gain protection from that color as the creature does? For example, I have Serra's Embrace on Jareth, Leonine Titan. My opponent targets Serra's Embrace with a Naturalize, and in response I use Jareth's ability and give him protection from green. Does this stop the enchantment from being destroyed?
--Stephen, St. Louis

A: No, it doesn’t. When a creature gains protection, it only applies to the creature itself, not to any enchantments on it.

Q: My opponent attacks me with a Riptide Shapeshifter. I don't block, then he activates it and gets a huge Beast. He says that the Shapeshifter is supposed to be turning into the Beast, so now the Beast is attacking me instead. Is this correct?
--Rich Donegal

A: No, it’s not. While the card’s name and effect can make it seem like the card is changing form, it’s not how the game rules sees it. The Shapeshifter is sacrificed to pay the cost of its ability, then a Beast is put into play from the library. This is a completely new creature, unaware of what has happened before, and it’s not attacking you.

Q: I have a Tribal Golem in my hand and my opponent plays Duress; do I have to discard it? Because the Magic rulebook says that artifact creatures can be affected by whatever can affect artifacts or creatures.
--Boris Restrepo, Bogotá, Columbia

A: You don’t have to discard it. If Duress had said that you must discard an artifact, enchantment, instant or sorcery, you would, but it tells you to discard a nonland, noncreature card, and since the Golem is a creature, he can’t make you discard it.

Q: Could you please explain the difference between the words "each," "all" and "every" as it pertains to protection and targeting and creatures who can't be the target of spells or abilities? I know about the D-E-B-T system for protection but the targeting gets very messy.
--Chris Dodson

A: If a spell or ability uses the word "target", followed by a description of any number of objects, then it targets those objects. A local enchantment spell targets the permanent that it's going to enchant. No other spell or ability targets anything.

The words “each”, “all” and “every” have no special meaning - they don't indicate that a spell is targeted. For instance, Perish says “Destroy all green creatures,” Pernicious Deed says "Destroy each artifact, creature, and enchantment with converted mana cost X or less". Since neither effect uses the word "target," so they don't target anything. They're both able to destroy creatures which can't be targeted (such as Gigapede) and creatures with protection from black (such as Darkwatch Elves).

One minor complication: protection is better than just untargetability, because it can also prevent damage. For example, Starstorm deals damage to “all” creatures. Since it doesn't use the word "target", it doesn't target anything, and it can kill a Gigapede. However, it can't kill a creature with protection from red – protection can prevent all red damage, regardless of whether it's from a targeted spell.

Q: Does my land enchanted with Fertile Ground produce a mana of my choice extra (in addition to its own mana), or does it produce just one mana when tapped?
--Wim Holster, The Netherlands

A: It produces an extra mana of your choice. The land produces its normal type of mana when you tap it, then Fertile Ground’s ability triggers and gives an extra mana. If it had said “instead” it would only produce one mana, but it doesn’t say that.

Scourge / Eighth Edition Questions

Sprouting Vines

Q: There is an Arcane Laboratory in play. I play a spell, and my opponent responds with a Sprouting Vines. Does he get the storm copy even though he is only allowed one spell per turn?

A: He gets the storm copy. Arcane Laboratory only stops you from playing more than one spell per turn, but effects such as storm just put spells directly on the stack without playing them, so they’re not affected.

Q: What happens to tokens in play when someone plays Thieves' Auction?

A: They remain in play, untouched by the Auction. All nontoken permanents are removed, but tokens are not affected by the spell at all.

Q: What happens to my Forests if I play Natural Affinity while I have an Ambush Commander in play?
--Alfrie Romanes

A: All your Forests will be 2/2 green Elf creatures. Ambush Commander first makes them 1/1 green Elf creatures. Natural Affinity then makes them 2/2, but all previous characteristics are kept (the phrase “…that are still lands” means that they keep all former types and subtypes, as per Rule 212.1c in the Comprehensive Rulebook).

Q: Lethal Vapors has an activated ability that costs 0 so that a player can destroy it, but he has to skip his turn. What would happen if someone stifled the activated ability? Would they have to skip another turn in order to destroy it?

A: Playing Stifle on the ability would counter the effect. The only cost of the ability is zero mana, so if the effect is countered, Lethal Vapors remains in play, and no turn is skipped. The player only loses a turn when the ability resolves, not when it’s countered.

Essentially, there's no point in Stifling this ability. The player can simply play it again, for no extra cost.

Soul Collector

Q: I block a Weatherseed Treefolk with a Soul Collector. What happens when they die?

A: Both the creatures’ abilities trigger and go onto the stack when the Treefolk goes to the graveyard. Because of the order they go onto the stack, the non-active player's ability will have its effect first. Afterwards, the active player's ability will fail to work, since it can't find the Treefolk in the graveyard.

Since the Treefolk is attacking in this case, its controller is the active player. So your Soul Collector's ability will "win"; you put the Treefolk into play under your control, and then the Treefolk's ability will do nothing.

Q: I know I can play the cards revealed by Mind's Desire without paying their mana costs, but can I choose to pay if I want to? Like if I flipped up a Stroke of Genius?

A: No, you can’t. Mind’s Desire gives you the option to play the card for free (with X=0), but you can’t usually play cards that are removed from the game, so it’s not possible to play the card any other way.

Q: Can I play Mind's Desire, shuffle my library then play the instant Trickery Charm to rearrange the top four cards in my library before I reveal for Mind's Desire?

A: No, you can’t. When Mind’s Desire resolves, you shuffle the library and remove the top card from the game. There is no opportunity to play spells or abilities during the resolution of Mind’s Desire, so you can’t shuffle and rearrange before you remove the top card.

Q: If my opponent doesn't block my Ridgetop Raptor with One with Nature on it, do I get two lands?

A: Yes, you do. Every time the enchanted creature deals damage to the player you can search for a land, and creatures with double strike deal damage twice in combat.

Grave Pact

Q: I have a Grave Pact in play. An opponent plays Living Death. As my creatures go to the graveyard, they trigger Grave Pact's ability. When does this ability resolve? Will my opponents have to sacrifice creatures just put into play with Living Death?

A: Grave Pact triggers for each sacrificed creature during Living Death’s resolution, but the triggers can’t go on the stack until a player receives priority, which is after Living Death has finished resolving and creatures have been put into play. Your opponent has to sacrifice creatures put into play by Living Death.

General / Older Cards Questions

Q: I have an Intrepid Hero, an Anurid Brushhopper, and a Contested Cliffs. My opponent has a Wild Mongrel. I target my Brushhopper and his Mongrel with the Cliffs, and he discards two cards in response to make the Mongrel a 4/4. I let that resolve, then kill the Mongrel with the Hero. What happens to my Brushhopper?

A: Nothing. Rule 413.2a says in part that “If a target is illegal, the spell or ability can’t perform any actions on it or make the target perform any actions.” Since the Mongrel isn’t a legal target when the Cliffs’ ability resolves, it won’t deal or receive any damage, and nothing happens to the Brushhopper.

Q: Can I use Genesis or Glory if there is a Ground Seal in play?

A: You can use Glory, since it doesn’t target anything, but you will be unable to choose a target for Genesis’ ability, so the ability will immediately be removed from the stack. You can still activate abilities of cards in the graveyard (like Glory and Undead Gladiator) and play cards from the graveyard (with flashback or Yawgmoth's Will) with Ground Seal in play, it only stops players from choosing cards in the graveyard as targets.

Battering Craghorn

Q: My opponent attacks me with a morph that could be a Battering Craghorn. I have my own morph, a face-down Snarling Undorak. I don’t want to flip my guy over just to have it die to first strike. Can I wait until the first strike portion of the damage step is over before morphing, even if there is no actual creature with first strike in play?

A: Not exactly. At the beginning of the combat damage step, while damage is being assigned, the game checks whether any creatures have first strike or double strike. If any of them do, then no other creatures assign damage during that step.

In other words, there's no first strike damage step unless some of the creatures in play have first strike (or double strike). You don't have the option of waiting for the step to finish.

The news isn't all bad, though. Your opponent has to turn his Craghorn face-up before the combat damage step begins. If he waits, then it will be face-down when damage is assigned, so it will miss its chance to strike first.

This means you can afford to wait. If your opponent flips over a Craghorn during the Declare Blockers step, you shrug and let your Undorak die, without wasting any mana. If he doesn't flip it over, then his creature will be face-down when damage is assigned, and will only assign 2 damage. You can then flip over the Undorak, and its 3 toughness will let it survive.

(Note: in this case the Undorak deals only 2 damage instead of 3, since it assigned damage while it was face-down.)

Q: Can I Misdirection my opponent’s Time Walk to me?

A: No, you can’t. You can only use Misdirection target spells with a single target, and Time Walk has no target at all (it doesn’t say “target”). You can Misdirect a Time Warp, though, since it does say target, but it’s a less popular card in the Type 1 format.

Q: At what point would one play Stifle on Mana Drain's delayed triggered ability: When Mana Drain is played or at the beginning of that player's next main phase?

A: At the beginning of the player’s next main phase. You can only play Stifle targeting the ability on the stack, so you need to wait for it to actually trigger and go on the stack before you can Stifle it.

Lake of the Dead

Q: Is it possible for me to play a Lake of the Dead on my second turn, put its ability on the stack, tap it and sacrifice the Swamp already in play to add 5 black mana to my mana pool, then sacrifice the Lake of the Dead for not losing a Swamp to it? Is it also possible to Stifle those abilities?
--James R. Deto

A: “No” to both your questions. The current Oracle wording on Lake of the Dead makes you sacrifice the Swamp before the Lake comes into play. If you don’t sacrifice the Swamp as you are playing the Lake, the Lake never comes into play and you can’t sacrifice the Swamp to the Lake’s mana ability.

You can’t Stifle the replacement effect that happens when you play the Lake since it’s not a triggered or activated ability. You can never Stifle mana abilities since they don’t use the stack – you are never able to target them.

Q: My opponent attacks with Marsh Viper and Swamp Mosquito. If I play Fog, would I get any poison counters?

A: You would get a counter from the Swamp Mosquito, since it triggers on not being blocked. Marsh Viper needs to actually deal damage to give counters, and since Fog prevents the damage, the Viper’s ability never triggers.

Q: Adventurers' Guildhouse says all green Legends gain "bands with other Legends." What does that mean?

A: “Bands with other” is a special ability that’s described in section 502.11 in the Comprehensive Rulebook. It’s a special ability that lets green creatures with the type Legend attack or block as “a band”. The basic principles are that if they attack as a band, the defending player has to block all or none of the band members. If they block as a band, the defending player chooses how the attacking creature assigns combat damage.


Q: I have a Aphetto Alchemist enchanted with an Insolence and a Glarecaster in play. Can I tap my Alchemist to untap it multiple times and stack the damage, and then redirect all the damage to my opponent, or will only the first 2 damage get redirected?

A: Glarecaster only redirects the next damage that would be dealt, and since the damage from the triggered abilities are all dealt separately, you would have to have as many Glarecaster “shields” active as there were triggered abilities from Insolence to redirect all the damage.

Q: Does Recycle trigger when its controller plays a land?

A: It does. It triggers whenever you play a card, that includes both spells played and lands played.

Q: With the card Diamond Valley, can you sacrifice a creature that can’t be the target of spells or abilities?

A: That works. Diamond Valley’s ability doesn’t say “target”, so you can sacrifice any creature you control, even if it’s untargetable.

Q: I played a Crawlspace a few turns back. If I play another Crawlspace, does this mean that instead of two of my opponent's creatures attacking each turn, that now four can attack?
--Cayce Grissom, Paris, Tennessee

A: No, it doesn’t. You’ll have two effects saying that no more than two creatures can attack you. The ability restricts the number of attackers and don’t add up.

Furnace of Rath

Q: I have a Furnace of Rath and a Repercussion out. If I Lightning Bolt my friend's 6/6, would Repercussion deal 6 or 12 damage to him?

A: It would deal 12 to the player. The Bolt deals 6 damage to the creature (doubled from 3), then Repercussion’s ability takes that amount of damage and tries to deal an equal amount to the player. That damage is doubled when the ability resolves, so the player takes 12.

Q: If I change my opponent's Blade Sliver into a Wizard with my Imagecrafter, does it now give all Wizards +1/+0?

A: No, it doesn’t. Unlike Artificial Evolution, Imagecrafter only changes the type of the creature, not the text on it, and since Blade Sliver specifically says that Slivers get the bonus, not “creatures with the same type as itself”, Slivers will still be the creatures getting +1/+0.

Q: If I have a Sacred Ground in play and my opponent plays a Limited Resources, would I be able to get my sacrificed lands back even if there are ten lands in play?

A: Yes, you would. The ability that causes you to put the lands into the graveyard is controlled by your opponent (since he or she controls the enchantment it came from), and you get the lands back, even though you are the player choosing which lands to sacrifice.

Q: While trying out my deck, I used Devastating Dreams and discarded 4 cards at random. One of them was an Arrogant Wurm. Well, I madnessed it into play, but my friend said that it dies because of the damage from Devastating Dreams. If that's true, then why doesn't the Rites of Initiation-Anger-4 Basking Rootwalla combo work?
--Yasu Park, Sydney

A: The difference is that you discard as part of the cost of playing Devastating Dreams, but you discard as part of the effect of Rites of Initiation. (Devastating Dreams says "As an additional cost to play Devastating Dreams, ...", and Rites of Initiation does not.)

Cards with madness discarded to the Dreams must be played before the Dreams resolves (and the Wurm dies), while you can only play the discarded cards from the Rites after it has resolved.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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