Saturday School #42

Posted in Feature on September 6, 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.

Judge Questions

Q: Since you are a level 4 judge, I figured that this would be an appropriate question to ask you. I am looking to become a judge myself, and I know I must find a level 3 or better, but once I have the access to contact that judge, what should I be asking them? Is it like an apprentice thing, where I attend tournaments that he is judging and help him out, and possibly judge a few matches so he can point out my faults and help me become better? Is he my sponsor, so when I am ready to take whatever test I must take, he's the one that gets me through the recommendation process or what?

A: To become a certified judge, you need to judge at least two events under the supervision of a Level 3 or higher level judge, and you must pass a written test evaluating your knowledge of Magic rules and DCI tournament policies. You can get most of the knowledge you need from studying the documents available at, but you also need some practical experience from actual judging to become certified. Learning how to interact with players as a judge is something that can only be learned by working a tournament, and having the Level 3 nearby to evaluate your performance and give pointers is helpful. The written test is normally taken after having judged the two events, and if you achieve the required result, the Level 3 judge will pass your information along to the DCI Judge Certification staff, who will process your test. If you pass, you will be a certified judge.

As a certified judge, you will be eligible for judge rewards based on how much you judge, and it will usually be easier to be "hired" by local organizers to judge their events than if you weren't certified. You still choose your own level of involvement, there is no mandatory service, you can choose how much and how often you want to judge. You're still allowed to play tournaments even if you become a judge, just not the tournaments you work at.

If there isn't a Level 3 judge near you, note that judge certification is offered at all Grand Prix and Pro Tour events, and at most Nationals. We're always looking for more judges to help out at tournaments. For more information see the Judge website at or contact

Beginner Questions

Creeping Mold

Q: I just want to know if I may use Type 2 legal cards (specifically, cards that were reprinted in the Eighth Edition) in Type 1 deck construction. I have a Type 1 deck using Stone Rains and Creeping Molds, but since they have been reprinted in Eighth and therefore are Type 2 legal, my friend says that I can no longer use them in my deck.
--David Alexcis

A: Your friend is wrong. In the Type 1 format, you can use any card that's not specifically banned, regardless of which edition it's from.

You can also use cards from older editions in Type 2 (the official name is "Standard"), as long as the card has been reprinted in a set that's currently legal in the format. (Check here to see what cards are legal in every DCI format.)

Q: I have Circle of Protection: Black. My opponent has Organ Grinder. Can I use Circle of Protection: Black to prevent the life loss Organ Grinder causes? Is "target player loses 3 life" the same as "Organ Grinder deals 3 damage to target player"?
--Juho Heinonen Anjalankoski, Finland

A: No, you can't. A player generally loses life as a consequence of taking damage... but that doesn't mean losing life is the same thing as damage. Circle of Protection: Black can only protect you against effects which explicitly use the term "damage".

Q: I have out an Attrition and any creature, i.e. a Carnophage, and I want to kill 3 creatures. Can I pay 3 black mana and sac my Carnophage three times or do I still need to sacrifice 3 creatures? If this is so why can the Carrionette do this multiple times?

A: You must pay one black mana and sacrifice a creature for each creature you want to destroy. You must pay the full cost of an ability (listed before the colon) each time you want to get the effect (after the colon).

Carrionette is different, because the only cost before its colon is an amount of mana. You can pay this cost as many times as you can afford; Carrionette will only get removed from the game when the first use resolves and has its effect. (And removing it from the game won't disrupt the other abilities you've paid for. If the first part of an effect fails to work, other parts will still try to happen as normal).

Eighth Edition Questions

Urza's Armor

Q: A friend of mine played an old rat deck a long time ago. A few times, he would activate Crypt Rats' ability, using X as 1 and continue to put the abilities on the stack so that he could protect himself from all the damage with Urza's Armor. At the time I didn't question it, but I wasn't familiar with priority rules. After he puts the Crypt Rats ability on the stack, does he pass priority to me? And if I don't put any more effects on the stack, don't they start resolving (killing the Crypt Rats before he can activate the ability anymore)?
--Zachary Hess

A: A player keeps priority until he or she passes, and the player is allowed to respond to his or her own spells and abilities before passing. Your opponent can activate the Rats for one black mana several times in response to each other before passing and resolving them. The Rats would die pretty fast, but the abilities on the stack would still resolve, and since they deal only one damage at a time, Urza's Armor prevents the damage that would be dealt to him.

Q: Does Gaea's Blessing trigger when it's sent to the graveyard when someone pays 2 life to Zur's Weirding?
--Jon Dittert

A: Yes, it does. The card is first revealed, but it's still considered to be in the library. When the 2 life are paid, the card goes straight to the graveyard from the library, and the Blessing triggers, allowing you to shuffle your graveyard back into your library.

Q: I have a Blood Moon and an untapped Salt Marsh in play. Does the Salt Marsh tap for red mana only or is its name just changed to "Mountain"?
--Callum Mckeveny, Cornwall on Hudson NY

A: Ironically, its name is the only thing that doesn't change.

Rule 212.6e in the Comprehensive Rulebook tells you what happens: you end up with a nonbasic land whose name is Salt Marsh. Its type is "Land -- Mountain", and it can tap only for red mana.

Q: My friend plays Pyroclasm and then plays a Natural Affinity in response to his own spell. In response to his Natural Affinity, I play Shock on my Elvish Soultiller. All the animated lands and my Soultiller are then destroyed. Since the text on Natural Affinity states that "all lands are 2/2 creatures" until end of turn, this would include those in my graveyard. So, when my Soultiller goes into the graveyard, may I name "land" as the creature type, thereby reshuffling all my destroyed lands into my deck?
--Al Gritzmacher, Lockport, New York

A: This doesn't work. Natural Affinity's effect only affects lands that are in play (lands in other zones are just "land cards"), so lands in your graveyard could never be considered creatures. Also, "land" is not a creature type, so you can't choose it for Elvish Soultiller. You can only choose creature types that exist in the Oracle: for example, Elf, Wizard, Wall, Island-Fish, etc. Words like 'artifact', 'land', 'black', 'token' and 'uncommon' are not creature types.

General / Older Card Questions

Lightning Rift

Q: I have six lands and a Lightning Rift in play. I cycle a Spark Spray, and try to do 10 damage to my opponent with the Rift. He says this doesn't work. I say I'm paying 1 mana five times. What really happens?

A: When you cycle Spark Spray, Lightning Rift triggers, saying "you may pay . If you do, Lightning Rift deals 2 damage to target creature or player." It doesn't give you the option of paying more than , so you can't make it deal more than 2 damage. Triggered abilities trigger once each per event that triggers them.

Q: I find the wording of Peer Pressure to be confusing in multiplayer. It seems to me that the way the text reads, the following situation could occur: Player A has 1 Elf. Player B has 0 Elves. Player C has 10 Elves. Player A plays Peer Pressure choosing Elves. Because she has more Elves than "any other player" (player B), she then gains control of "all Elves," including the 10 from player C. Does this work? It seems to violate the flavor of the card, and it also seems rather unbalanced. What am I missing? Does "any other player" mean "every other player"?
--Andy, NY

A: "More than any other" means the same as "more than every other". In English, if you say "Did you bid more money than anyone else?", you generally aren't asking "Did you bid more money than at least one person?". The card wording isn't 100% clear, unfortunately – but if your interpretation was correct, it would say "more than another player".

The main reason it doesn't say "every other player" is that it would be misconstrued as "every other player combined." You don't need to have more Elves than all the other players combined; you just need to have more than each of them individually.

Q: I was just wondering about the stack. A sorcery can only go onto an empty stack, as per the Comprehensive Rulebook (212.7A: A player may play a sorcery card from his or her hand during a main phase of his or her turn, when he or she has priority and the stack is empty. Playing a sorcery as a spell uses the stack.) If you copy a sorcery spell, does it go on the stack, or does the copied sorcery start a new stack, seeing as how a sorcery can only go on an empty stack?
--Andrew Trecartin

A: There is never more than one stack. If you copy a sorcery, it goes on top of the stack. The restriction that the stack must be empty only applies if you're playing the spell, usually from your hand; it doesn't apply to spells and effects that create copies or otherwise put spells directly on the stack

Q: Is it possible to use Sylvan Library to get the top 3 cards from Parallel Thoughts and return the extra two on the top of my library? I'm asking because some of the players here are arguing that I can only use Sylvan Library on my actual library. The only argument I can present to them is that the text in Sylvan Library says that I get to draw 2 additional cards and return 2 cards on top of my library afterwards. Am I correct in this?

A: You are almost correct. Sylvan Library tells you to draw two extra cards, and Parallel Thoughts lets you take two cards from your removed pile instead. Then, Sylvan Library asks you to return cards "drawn this turn", but getting cards from Parallel Thoughts doesn't count as a "draw". (Notice that it doesn't say "draw the top card of the removed pile", it simply puts the card into your hand.)

In other words, this is quite a powerful combo. If you use Parallel Thoughts on all three draws, then you won't actually "draw" anything, and you'll be able to keep all three cards.

Q: I have two questions involving effects with Chains of Mephistopheles in play...

1 - What is supposed to happen when a Memory Jar is activated?

A: You first remove your hand from the game. Then you're supposed to draw 7 cards in order. Since you can't discard a card first, you put the top card from your library into your graveyard. You'll end up "milling" yourself for 7 cards in total. At the end of the turn, you get the cards from your original hand back.

2 - What happens when Teferi's Puzzle Box is in play?
--Shannon Harris Brandon, FL

A: You first draw your card for the turn as usual. Then the Puzzle Box triggers, and you put the cards from your hand at the bottom of your library. You're supposed to draw cards equal to the amount you put away, but since you don't have any cards to discard, you have to put that many cards from your library into your graveyard instead.


Q: I played a Necromancy on my Serra Angel. Then on my opponent's turn he plays Faceless Butcher which removes Serra Angel from the game destroying my Necromancy. Now when the Butcher gets killed, will my Serra Angel still be alive when it comes into play?

A: The Angel will still be alive when it comes back. Since it has been removed from the game, it doesn't remember anything about its past existence, and it will behave just like a Serra Angel that has just come into play.

Q: We were discussing whether or not Sulfuric Vortex would work against Worship. My opponent put Sulfuric Vortex out and I had Worship out; I allowed him to deal his damage because it doesn't really matter because I controlled about five creatures. Does my life go back to one during my upkeep? Or is it instantly?

A: Any time damage is dealt to you and you would go under 1 life, you end up at 1 life instead. If you are at 2 life or less in your upkeep, and Sulfuric Vortex deals damage to you, you end up at 1 life. Worship just modifies the end result of your life total after damage, it's not life gain, so Sulfuric Vortex's "player can't gain life"-ability doesn't stop it.

Q: I play Carbonize on a Cabal Archon and my opponent has brought down in the previous round Sigil of the New Dawn. What happens when the Archon goes into the graveyard, is it being removed from the game or my opponent can use the ability of Sigil of the New Dawn and put it in his hand?
--Thanasis Politis, Athens, Greece

A: It's removed from the game. Carbonize has a replacement effect that says that instead of going to the graveyard, the creature is removed from the game. The Archon never goes to the graveyard at all, so the Sigil won't trigger, and he can't pay to bring the Archon back.

Note that if your opponent has one black mana available, he could use the Archon's own ability, to sacrifice it in response to your Carbonize. That way, it goes into the graveyard before the Carbonize has a chance to affect it, and the Sigil will trigger as normal.

Q: If I play Alter Reality on my Nightscape Familar, can I change it to "blue spells and blue spells cost less to play", for a total of minus 2?

A: You can change it like that, but spells will still only cost 1 mana less. It's still just one ability, it can't reduce the cost by more than for any spell. The Familiars only reduce the cost to play spells matching the listed colors by one mana, even if more than one color match.

Ancestor's Chosen

Q: (A) I am at 10 life and have a 5-card graveyard, including Ancestor's Chosen. I play Exhume and, after it resolves, pick the Chosen. I think the effect puts it into play before Exhume hits the graveyard, but does the life gain ability go on the stack before or after the "goes into graveyard" aspect of the Exhume resolves? Does that even use the stack? Would I gain a life for the Exhume, or not?

A: You would gain life for Exhume.

Here's the sequence of events:

  1. Exhume puts the Chosen into play. This triggers the Chosen's ability.

  2. Exhume finishes resolving, and gets put into the graveyard.

  3. The Chosen's ability goes onto the stack. You can respond to it by playing instants and abilities, and they will resolve before it does.

  4. The Chosen's ability resolves, counts the cards in your graveyard, and you gain 1 life for each one. (Usually, this will include Exhume, and any instants you played in response to the ability. It will not include the Chosen itself.)

You can see that Ancestor's Chosen has a triggered ability that uses the stack, since the text starts with the word "when". (The words "when", "whenever", and "at" always denote triggered abilities.)

Q: (B) And what about static abilities? If I Replenish and get Planar Void, is the Replenish removed? Does it work any differently for instants than sorceries?

A: Planar Void does not have a static ability – it begins with "whenever", so it's a triggered ability, just like Ancestor's Chosen.

Anyway – yes, your Replenish will get removed from the game. It doesn't matter whether the spell is an instant or a sorcery: once played, they work exactly the same. Here's the sequence of events again.

  1. Replenish puts Planar Void into play.

  2. Replenish finishes resolving, and gets put into the graveyard. This triggers Planar Void.

  3. The Void's ability goes into the stack, and you can respond to it.

  4. The Void's ability resolves, and removes Replenish from the game.

Q: What happens when I enchant Karona, False God with Custody Battle?
--Jimmy Vu

A: At the beginning of each upkeep, both the abilities of Karona and Custody Battle trigger, and Karona's controller chooses the order they go on the stack. The targeted opponent for Custody Battle is chosen when the ability is put on the stack.

Usually, Karona will be controlled by the non-active player, and regardless of the order the abilities go on the stack, the other player will end up gaining control of Karona.

If the active player controls Karona at the start of the turn, he or she can stack the abilities to either keep Karona or give it away. To keep Karona, put the built-in ability on the stack first, then Custody Battle. Decline to sacrifice a land, and give Karona away. When the other ability resolves, the active player gains control of Karona again. If the abilities are put on the stack in reverse order, the active player will first gain control of Karona, then he or she may sacrifice a land to continue keeping it, or decline to sacrifice and give Karona away.

Q: For triggered abilities that say you "may" do something, like the abilities on Forgotten Ancient, do the abilities still go on the stack when triggered even if you don't want to follow their actions? If they do, is choosing whether to do them or not done when it goes on the stack or when it resolves?

A: Triggered abilities always go on the stack if the trigger condition is true, even if it has a "may" included. You choose whether you want to do the action or not when the ability resolves. This is explained in rule 410.5 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: I recently lost a match and I'm starting to think that I could've won. Here's basically what happened: I had a Circle of Protection: Red on the table with four available mana. My opponent attacked with two Blistering Firecats and after I tapped two mana to prevent the damage from both creatures, he played Flaring Pain and I scooped. I know I could have responded by preventing the damage again with my last two mana, but I can't figure out whether or not it would have mattered. If not, is there any way that I could have survived that turn?

A: It wouldn't have mattered. Once Flaring Pain has resolved, its effect stops all damage prevention from working. The Circle doesn't prevent the damage until it's actually being dealt, which is long after Flaring Pain is active. You can still use the Circle to set up more damage prevention shields, they will just fail to work whenever damage is dealt.

Goblin Warchief

Q: I have a Goblin Warchief in play. I play a Sparksmith and a Goblin Piledriver. They are not countered and make it to play. I declare my attack phase, and my opponent then Shocks the Warchief in response. Since the Warchief is no longer in play, do the Piledriver and Sparksmith lose haste and return to being unable to attack this turn? We were unsure how it works.
--Wadie Shahin, Cary, North Carolina

A: Piledriver and Sparksmith can't attack. They only have haste while the Warchief is in play; if the Warchief is destroyed before attackers have been declared, they will be unable to attack.

Note that you don't actually "declare" your attack phase – when both players are finished with the main phase, you enter the combat phase. Both players may play spells and abilities in the "beginning of combat" step, and when both players are done with this, you go to the "declare attackers" step. Your opponent would usually Shock your Warchief during the "beginning of combat" step.

Q: I thought the converted mana cost of for example Starstorm was 2, the mana cost being . However, when I played Dispersal Shield to counter a Starstorm where X is 4, my opponent suggested that the converted mana cost was 6 since it was on the stack. My highest converted mana cost permanent was 5 and so the counter didn't work. I naturally disagreed. Perhaps you could arbitrate.

A: X in a mana cost counts as zero at all times except when the spell is on the stack. On the stack, X counts as the value that has been chosen for it. So, if you opponent plays Starstorm for 4, the mana cost would be , the converted mana cost is 6, and your Dispersal Shield won't work.

Q: Can a Reckless Embermage cause more damage than it has toughness using its ability? It seems feasible, but I don't want to be cheating, now do I?

A: Reckless Embermage can cause more damage than it has toughness. To do so, you would have to activate it several times in response to its own ability, and when the abilites resolve they deal 1 damage to the target, and 1 damage to the Embermage. The Embermage might be dead before the last damage resolves, but damage is still dealt to the target.

Bubble Matrix

Q: I have a Bubble Matrix in play and block my opponent's Phantom Tiger, does it still lose the counter to prevent the damage even though it will be reduced to zero?

A: Your opponent can choose if it loses the counter or not. When two or more damage prevention effects are trying to prevent damage to the same creature, its controller chooses which one will apply. If he prevents the damage with Bubble Matrix, then the phantom-ability won't do anything - it only applies "If damage would be dealt", but none is.

Your opponent can choose to apply the phantom-ability first, causing the phantom to lose a counter.

Q: I have Dual Nature in play, and play a face-up Exalted Angel, getting a token copy. My opponent later flips up Weaver of Lies, and wants to turn my token Angel face down. Can it be face down?

A: Yes, it can. Any creature with morph can be face down, even if it's not a card. It can be tricky to represent this on the table, but the token can still be treated as a face-down card. Since it is a copy of Exalted Angel, it can be turned face up again for its morph cost of .

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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