Saturday School #37

Posted in Feature on August 2, 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: If an opponent plays a creature and I use Deflection to counter it do I gain control of that creature?
--Angelo Egizio

A: You can't do this. You can only use Deflection to target spells with a single target – for instance, Dark Banishing. Creature spells never have targets. Some creatures, like Nekrataal, have targeted abilities that trigger when they come into play, but this is not a spell. You can't Deflect creatures at all.

Q: If I play Bribery and pull a creature from my opponent's deck, and then he Disenchants my Bribery, does the creature go under his control or is it buried?

A: He can't do that. Bribery is not an artifact or enchantment, so Disenchant can never affect it. Bribery is just a sorcery; it puts a creature into play under your control, and then gets put into your graveyard. Your opponent can destroy the creature with other cards (like Terror) or take it back (with cards like Persuasion), but Disenchant won't work.

Q: I attack my opponent with my Carrion Feeder and he has an Eager Cadet he is able to block with. I have a Terror in my hand and two untapped Swamps in play. My opponent blocks with the Cadet. Can I Terror the Cadet during the declare blockers step and still have the Carrion Feeder do combat damage to my opponent?
--Jim Weible

A: Not if he already has blocked, destroying a blocking creature after it has been declared a blocker doesn't change the fact that the attacker has been blocked, so it can't deal damage to the player unless it has trample. To guarantee that the Feeder deals damage to your opponent, you must Terror the Cadet in the declare attackers step, before you see if it blocks or not.

Q: Can I use the card Ersatz Gnomes to help me bring out Vampiric Dragon by making it colorless if I don't have Swamps or Mountains in play?
--Michael Shamel

A: No, that won't work. You must pay the cost of the spell when you play it, before you can target it with Ersatz Gnomes. You cannot make the spell colorless before it has been successfully put on the stack with the cost paid. Also, making the spell colorless doesn't change its mana cost, it just changes its color.

Q: Player 1 wants to play a multicolored spell requiring black, and has only one Swamp. He taps the necessary lands and then puts his spell on the stack. Player 2 then plays a land destruction spell or ability to destroy Player 1's only swamp. Would this then remove the black mana from Player 1's mana pool and prevent him from playing his spell?
--Jason Brown, Thousand Oaks

A: No, it wouldn't. Spells must be paid for when they are played, and there is not room for any player to play other spells or abilities between the time a player puts the spell on the stack and when he pays for it. When a player has priority, he can tap his mana and play his spell before the other player has a chance to play anything.

Also, if a land taps to produce mana, that mana gets added to the player's mana pool. Once it's there, the mana is no longer associated with the land which produced it: it doesn't stop existing if the land gets destroyed.

Q: I attack with a Shivan Dragon, my opponent does not block but instead taps a Royal Assassin. Does my Dragon still deals its damage before the Assassin kills it?
--Steven Crouch

A: Not if your opponent chooses to destroy the Dragon before it puts combat damage assignments on the stack. There are several steps in the combat phase where the Dragon can be destroyed before it deals combat damage.

Eighth Edition Questions


Q: My opponent put Curiosity on my creature. I then attacked with that creature. It deals damage and we are left to wonder who draws a card. Who draws a card?
--Stefan, Ottawa

A: Nobody draws. It doesn't matter which creature Curiosity gets played on – when it refers to "you", it always means its controller (the person who played it), and when it refers to "an opponent", it always means an opponent of its controller.

So effectively, the card is saying "Whenever enchanted creature deals damage to Stefan, Stefan's opponent draws a card".

Your creature didn't damage you, so the ability doesn't trigger at all.

Q: Can I use Mind Bend to modify a landcycling card? Or is it not considered a permanent until it's in play?
--Ian Fogg

A: You can't play Mind Bend on the ability on the stack. The card is only a permanent when it's in play, not while it's on the stack, the ability is not a legal target.

Q: Do I have to say which lands I'm untapping with Rewind when I play it?

A: No, you don't. The lands aren't targeted by the spell (it doesn't say target), so you just choose the lands when Rewind resolves. This used to be different (under Fifth Edition rules), but from Sixth and later you choose which lands to untap on resolution.

Q: I have out Underworld Dreams, Howling Mine, and Teferi's Puzzle Box. It's my opponent's turn, he has 5 cards in his hand. Will he take 7 or 8 damage?

A: You choose how much damage he takes. Since you control both Howling Mine and Teferi's Puzzle Box, you can decide what order their abilities go onto the stack.

If you put the Howling Mine ability on top of the Puzzle Box, he takes 9 damage (1 from the normal draw, 1 from Howling Mine, 7 from Puzzle Box). If you put them the other way round, he takes 8 (1 from the normal draw, 6 from Puzzle Box, then 1 more from Howling Mine).

Onslaught Block Questions

Q: Can Frenetic Raptor block?
--Ben Rogerson

A: Usually no. It says that Beasts can't block, and it's a Beast itself. But if either of the following occur, it can block:

  • If it changes creature type to that's not Beast, for example using Unnatural Selection, it can block. It will no longer be affected by it's own ability.

  • If it loses the ability, for example through Humble, it can block, since the ability stopping it from blocking no longer exists.

Deftblade Elite

Q: If I put Pariah on my Deftblade Elite and I take combat damage, can I use the Elite's special ability to get rid of the damage?
--Dustin, Poland Springs, ME

A: Yes, you can. Pariah redirects the combat damage to the Elite, and the Elite's ability prevents combat damage to it. Redirected combat damage is still combat damage.

Q: I control Aether Charge and several Beasts. I play Worldgorger Dragon and remove both the enchantment and the creatures. When the Dragon leaves play and the Aether Charge comes back into play with the Beasts, do they deal 4 damage each?

A: Yes, they do. Each permanent coming into play sees all the other permanents coming into play at the same time, and Aether Charge's ability will trigger for each Beast coming into play. This is defined in Rule 410.10a in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: I have two Starlit Sanctums. I tap one to sacrifice a Cleric (using the black ability to target a player), then I tap the other Starlit Sanctum to sacrifice the same Cleric (using white ability this time to gain life). Can I do this?
--Jeff, Vancouver

A: No, you can't. You must pay all the costs of a spell or ability when you put it on the stack, and since the sacrifice is part of the cost (it's before the colon), you must sacrifice the Cleric when you activate the Sanctum the first time. As soon as you've done that, it's in the graveyard, so you can't sacrifice it again.

Q: I have Library of Leng in play and play Wheel and Deal. Can I choose to discard some of my hand to the graveyard and some to the top of my library? Or is it an all-or-nothing situation?
--Terence J. O'Beirne

A: First of all, Wheel and Deal only works on opponents. You can't make yourself discard your hand with it.

But let's say an opponent played Wheel and Deal and you have Library of Leng in play. You choose for each card. Library of Leng affects one discard at a time, replacing it with “put it on the library instead of in the graveyard”. Because it affects each discard separately, you can decide whether to use it for each card you discard.

Q: My opponent has Dark Supplicant and at least two other Clerics in play. Can I Stifle the Scion-fetching ability, letting her sacrifice three Clerics? Or does Stifle counter the sacrifice ability as well?
--Koen, Herent (Belgium)

A: Sacrificing the Clerics is part of the cost (it's listed before the colon), so they will be sacrificed when the ability is put on the stack. Stifling the ability will counter the ability, but costs are not refunded, and the Clerics stay in the graveyard.

Planar Guide

Q: If I have Planar Guide and White Knight out, and my opponent targets my White Knight with Lunge. Do I get damaged and does my White Knight die if I use Planar Guide's ability to remove all creatures from the game?

A: You still take damage, the White Knight does not. Removing the Knight from the game in response to the spell means that it won't be in play when Lunge resolves, so it doesn't take any damage. Lunge has two targets, and even if one target is gone, it will resolve as normal against the other target.

Q: If three Vengeful Dead all die in combat at the same time, how much life does the opponent lose?

A: Each of the Vengeful Dead triggers for each of the other Vengeful Dead that die, and the opponent loses a total of 9 life. Rule 410.10d in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that effects that trigger on permanents leaving play look back in time to determine what triggers, and each of the Dead sees all the Zombies that die at the same time, and triggers for each of them.

Q: I have a Dreamborn Muse and a Lethal Vapors out. I want to sac the Vapors so I can mill my opponent's library more by making him go twice in a row. Can he activate the Vapors in response? This could go on for a while, so is it whoever says it first?

A: He can activate the Vapors in response. This can go on for quite some time, and you can then invoke rule 421.5: “If the loop contains at least one optional action controlled by each player and these actions don't depend on one another, the active player chooses a number. The nonactive player can either agree to that number or choose a higher number.” This basically allows the non-active player (who doesn't have the turn) to choose who skips the most turns.

Q: If you play Final Fortune and then destroy a Lethal Vapors, do you still lose the game?
--George Jones

A: No, you don't. Final Fortune has a triggered ability that triggers at the end of the extra turn it created. If you skip that turn for some reason, Final Fortunes “lose the game” ability won't trigger.

Q: I would like to know if Sand Squid works with Pemmin's Aura as a combo. Would it be possible to enchant Sand Squid with Pemmin's Aura and tap an opponent's creature, then in response untap the Squid with the Aura and do this multiple times tapping the Squid at the end, so that these other creatures don't untap during their controller's untap step or does the Squid has to stay tapped the whole time?

A: This is not a combo. If you untap the Squid in response to its ability, the effect's duration is considered to have ended before it began, so it will only tap the creature. Rule 418.3d in the Comprehensive Rulebook deals with effects that have a duration “as long as” some condition is true. If the condition ends between the ability having been activated and it would be applied, it never starts. It won't last forever.

Grip of Chaos

Q: If I have both Psychic Battle and Grip of Chaos in play and i cast a spell that has a single target (e.g. Lightning Bolt), do I follow the instructions of the enchantment that has a newer timestamp or put them on the stack in timestamp order, so that the enchantment with an older timestamp resolves last?

A: No. Because you control both enchantments, you choose which order to put the abilities onto the stack. So each time a spell is played, you decide whether to randomly select target, then reveal cards to decide who changes it, or vice versa.

Of course, you must choose the order before any of the abilities change the target.

Q: I have a Krosan Warchief in play and a Ravenous Baloth. Can I regenerate the Baloth when I sacrifice it and gain the 4 life with out losing my Baloth?
--Kevin Sanchez

A: No, you can't. You can only regenerate creatures when they are destroyed. It's not possible to regenerate from a sacrifice, see “Sacrifice” in the Glossary of the Comprehensive Rulebook.

General / Older Cards Questions

Q: Can lands put into play with Manabond be used to pay for madness casting costs on the cards discarded?
--Chris Scoggins

A: Yes. With Manabond, you first put all the lands into play, and then you discard the rest of your hand. Your madness triggered ability goes on the stack, then resolves, and shortly afterwards you have a chance to play the spells. By then your lands have been in play for some time, and there's no problem with using them to pay the costs.

Q: I had the enchantment Yawgmoth's Edict in play. My friend was at 1 and played a white spell to gain 4 life. Should he have lost the one life and died before the other 4 was added?

A: He should have lost before he gained the life. Yawgmoth's Edict triggers when a white spell is played, and the ability would go on the stack on top of the spell that was played, and would resolve before it, killing the player.

Q: If you've played Limited Resources and both players have five lands in play, is it then possible for you to get lands into play via other cards (e.g. Harrow, Avenging Druid, Skyshroud Ranger or Terrain Generator)? If Skyshroud Ranger allows you to put a land from your hand into play; is that the same as playing that land?

A: Spells and abilities that put lands directly into play aren't affected by Limited Resources, so all the cards you mention can be used to go over the 10-lands-total limit.

Limited Resources will still affect abilities which let players "play" lands, however. For example, it affects Exploration, Storm Cauldron and Fastbond, and will affect Gazarsgo's Plow from the current You Make The Card.

Q: My opponent has a City of Brass out in play along with three lands and a Roar of the Wurm in his graveyard. He taps all of his lands and casts Roar. In response to his land tapping I play Coffin Purge targeting Roar. He says he gets to play it but for some reason I think City of Brass, unlike most lands, goes on stack and therefore I could grab the perfect chance to steal Roar and mana burn him for 4 damage...Who is correct?
--David Werwie, Pittsburgh, PA

A: If your opponent tapped the lands before announcing the spell (like you said), the triggered ability from City of Brass would go to the stack before can play the Roar, and if you Coffin Purge it, he will have to find some other use for his 4 mana or burn at the end of the phase. He can go around this by first playing the spell, then paying for it, but if he doesn't do it this way, you can Purge the Roar first.

Rabid Wombat

Q: My Seasinger has control of my friend's Rabid Wombat. I then play Blue Ward on the Rabid Wombat. Who has control of the Rabid Wombat and why?

A: You still have control of the Wombat. Seasinger's ability is targeted, but it only checks for legal target at two specific times – when the ability is activated, and when it resolves. After the ability has resolved, you keep control of the creature until either Seasinger is untapped or you lose control of it. It doesn't matter if the Wombat gains protection or otherwise becomes untargetable after the ability has resolved.

Q: How many Scryb Sprites do I need to block and kill a Sengir Vampire with double strike?
--Thomas Pannell

A: Twelve, just like first strike. The Vampire first deals 4 first-strike damage to four of the Sprites blocking it, and grows to 8/8. Then, all creatures assign normal combat damage. The 8 surviving Sprites assign 8 damage to the Vampire, and the Vampire assigns 8 damage back to them. All the Sprites die, but they kill the Vampire before it has a chance to get any larger.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

Latest Feature Articles


January 21, 2022

Boseiju Reaches Skyward by, Emily Teng

In the heart of Towashi is Boseiju, the oldest living tree on Kamigawa and the only remnant of Jukai Forest left within city limits. Boseiju Reaches Skyward | Art by: Zezhou Chen At th...

Learn More


January 21, 2022

The Modern Age by, Emily Teng

For much of Kamigawa's history, power was concentrated in the hands of the elite: the Imperials who ran the Plane with Kyodai's blessings, various warlords, and those who could channel th...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All