Saturday School #45

Posted in Feature on September 27, 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.

Note that the Comprehensive Rulebook may not have been officially updated by the time this column is posted, any rules referenced here that aren't in the rulebook yet can be found in the Mirrodin prerelease FAQ.

Isochron Scepter
Q: I see that I'm allowed to imprint Fire/Ice on Isochron Scepter but I don't understand why. I thought the converted mana cost of that card was 4.

A: The converted mana cost of Fire/Ice is actually "2 and 2". Each side has a separate mana cost, both of which are 2. The Scepter asks if the converted mana cost of the card is 2 or less, and since at least one side says "yes", the card can be imprinted

You're probably confused by the different ways costs are treated. If you do an action based on the mana cost of a split card, you will do that action twice. (For example, Pain/Suffering has mana cost "1 and 4". If you reveal it for Planeswalker's Mirth, you will gain 1 life and 4 life, for a total of 5.)

If an effect tests a split card's converted mana cost for some quality, then it will be satisfied if either side has that quality.

(For example, if somebody casts Void on you when Pain/Suffering is in your hand, you will discard it if the player chose either 1 or 4.)

Isochron Scepter is testing the cost of the card, not using it to do an action, so it will be satisfied if either side has converted mana cost 2 or less.

Confusion in the Ranks
Q: Land isn't one of the options listed on Confusion in the Ranks, so am I allowed to trade a Tree of Tales for a Treetop Village? Or can I only switch it for an artifact?

A: You can trade Tree of Tales for a Treetop Village. Confusion in the Ranks triggers every time a card that has at least one of the types artifact, creature or enchantment comes into play, and the controller can choose to target any permanent that shares any type (including land) with the permanent that came into play. When Tree of Tales comes into play, its controller can choose either an artifact or a land, since the Tree is both of the types.

Q: If a person has only one creature in play and an equipment, can he use that equipment as a "mana dump"? Can he keep equipping that same creature over and over to avoid mana burn? --Brian B.

A: That would work. Equipment doesn't have a restriction that it must be moved to another creature, so as long as you have mana, and priority to play a sorcery, you can equip the equipment to any legal creature, including the one it's currently equipping.

Q: If I were to play any Mirrodin equipment, lets say... Worldslayer, then I were to use Animate Artifact targeting it to make it a creature. Would I be able to equip Worldslayer to itself? Since it would also be an Artifact Creature?

A: Equipment that is also a creature can't equip a creature. This is specifically stated in rule 212.2i of the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: Tooth and Nail… When you pay the entwine cost can you first search for the creature cards then put those two cards into play?

A: You can, and must, do it in that order. Entwine basically replaces the "or" in the text with "and", so both effects happen - and rule 502.32b in the Comprehensive Rulebook says you perform the effects in the order written on the card.

Q: The rules state: "If you pay the entwine cost, choose targets for both modes as you play the spell. When the spell resolves, follow the instructions in the order they're written." Which to me means you must pick your targets as part of the cast regardless of the order at which they appear on the stack. Then how can this be true: "If you pay the entwine cost, you can sacrifice the creature you gain control of with Grab the Reins." Unless Grab the Reins gives you the ability to sacrifice the other players creatures? I didn't see the card say sacrifice one of your creatures so am I correct in believing Grab the Reins allows you to sack the opponent's creature?

A: Grab the Reins with Entwine paid works like this:

  • 1) Play the spell, choose targets. The targets are "which creature to gain control over" and "which creature or player should receive damage".
  • 2) Grab the Reins resolves
  • 3) You gain control over the targeted creature
  • 4) You choose which creature to sacrifice. This is not targeted, and you can choose any creature you control.
  • 5) Grab the Reins damage equal to the sacrificed creature to the second target.
  • The rules for sacrifices (found in the Glossary of the Comprehensive Rulebook) says that you can only sacrifice permanents you control, which means that you can't sacrifice the opponent's creatures.

    Q: Can I pay entwine and kicker costs from spells imprinted on Isochron Scepter? Will it cost me additional mana?

    A: You may pay any additional costs to the spells (such as kicker and entwine). This will cost additional mana, as the Scepter only replaces the mana cost of the card, which is the cost in the top right corner of the card. Any additional costs must be paid separately. This includes costs that aren't optional, like sacrificing an artifact to Shrapnel Blast.

    Q: Can I play an Isochron Scepter, removing Starstorm from my hand and pay the cost when I use the scepter's ability? --Jacob Bruce

    A: No, you can't. You can imprint Starstorm on the Scepter, since its converted mana cost is 2, but when you play it, the Scepter's ability says you can play the copy without paying the mana cost, so you're not allowed to pay . You can pay additional costs, but all "X"-es in the mana cost will be considered zero.

    Q: If Quicksilver Fountain puts a flood counter on an artifact land, is that land still an artifact in addition to being an island? --Cory R. Hartman

    A: Only the land subtype is changed, it keeps all other card types, such as artifact. The land will lose all abilities, and will just be able to tap for blue mana, but it will retain its name and its artifact status. This is described in rule 212.6e in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

    Q: Please explain what happens if I copy my Soul Foundry with Sculpting Steel. Will it make the same creature as the original, can I imprint a new card, or will it not make anything?

    A: Soul Foundry comes into play as a copy of Soul Foundry, with the same text. It can't copy the card imprinted by the original, but it does have the comes-into-play imprint ability, that lets you remove another card from the game. The Scuplting Steel-copy can only make creatures copies of the card specifically removed to it, not of the card removed to the original.

    Scythe of the Wretched
    Q: What happens when multiple creatures are killed at the same time by your creature equipped with Scythe of the Wretched? For instance, if you power your Scythe-equipped Crypt Rats up, killing itself and multiple creatures - does it bring them all back, and which one is equipped with it? --Michael

    A: The Scythe will return all creatures destroyed by the creature equipped with it. This is a triggered ability, and the ability triggers for each of the destroyed creatures. If the creatures died at the same time, you can choose the order the creatures return in by choosing the order of the triggered abilities on the stack. The Scythe will equip each of the returned creatures, one after another, until the next creature comes back, and it will stay on the last creature that returns to play.

    Q: Will Platinum Angel keep me from losing if I reanimate Phage? Which trigger takes priority? -- Ian

    A: Platinum Angel keeps you from losing to Phage's ability. Platinum Angel's ability isn't a triggered ability, it's a static ability that's always on, and it says that you can't lose the game. An effect that says something can't happen always "wins" over an effect that says that something can happen.

    Q: How does Confusion in the Ranks interact with Patriarch's Bidding? Do all creatures come into play at the same time or not? can you play instants between creatures coming into play? which player brings back their creatures first? --Ben Kaufman

    A: All the creatures come into play at the same time, and Confusion in the Ranks triggers once for each. After the Bidding has finished resolving, all those triggered abilities go on the stack, one by one. The controller of Confusion in the Ranks controls all the abilities, so he chooses the order. Each time an ability goes onto the stack, the appropriate player chooses a target for it. (All the creatures put into play with Bidding are in play at this point, so they're all legal targets.)

    Once all the triggered abilities have gone on the stack, they start to resolve, in reverse order. Each one checks for legal targets, and in order for the exchange to be made, the player who chose the target must not control the targeted creature; otherwise the target is illegal and the ability is countered. Similarly, if one of the two creatures has left play, nothing happens, because you can only make an exchange if both permanents are available.

    Ok, that's pretty confusing, so here's an example. Alice has a Thorn Elemental in play, and Bob has Confusion in the Ranks.

  • 1) Bob plays Patriarch's Bidding, returning his Scathe Zombies and Alice's Vine Trellis to play. This triggers Confusion in the Ranks twice.
  • 2) Patriarch's Bidding finishes resolving, and goes into Bob's graveyard.
  • 3) Since Bob controls both abilities (they both come from his Confusion in the Ranks), he can choose what order they go on the stack. He puts the Vine Trellis trigger on the stack first, and Alice is forced to target the Scathe Zombies.
  • 4) He puts the Scathe Zombies trigger on the stack, and chooses to target the Thorn Elemental.
  • 5) All the abilities are now on the stack, so there's a pause - both players can play instants and abilities. I'll assume nobody does.
  • 6) The topmost ability on the stack resolves; Bob's Scathe Zombies get exchanged for Alice's Thorn Elemental.
  • 7) There's another pause; I'll assume nobody plays anything.
  • 8) The second ability tries to exchange the Vine Trellis for the Scathe Zombies. Since Alice now controls the Scathe Zombies, they aren't a legal target, and the ability gets countered.
  • Alice ends up with a Vine Trellis and a Scathe Zombies, while Bob has a Thorn Elemental and a Confusion in the Ranks.

    Q: I have an equipment, like a Sword of Kaldra, equipping a creature, like a Duskworker. When I attack with my Duskworker, does it cause the equipment to tap also? I ask because I also have Mesmeric Orb in play.

    A: Equipment, like local enchantments, do not tap along with the equipped or enchanted creature. Equipment is by default untapped, unless an effect specifically taps it, though nothing special happens to a tapped equipment.

    Q: I have a question about the interaction with Lodestone Myr and Cowardice...does the artifact tapping of the Lodestone activate the Cowardice and thus sending the artifacts back to your hand? If so, does the lodestone get its +1/+1?

    A: Lodestone Myr doesn't interact with Cowardice. Cowardice looks for a creature being the target of a spell or ability, but since the ability of the Myr doesn't say target, it doesn't target. Many cards give effects to themselves without targeting.

    Q: I played in the Mirrodin prerelease and the question came up that if you imprint Domineer on Mirror Golem does it gain protection from Enchantments, Artifacts, and Creatures or only Enchantments? --Brad Martin, Brisbane, Australia

    A: It only gains protection from enchantments. "Enchantment" is the only card type of Domineer, here, "artifact" and "creature" are subtypes of the local enchantment, and doesn't count for the protection being given.

    Mesmeric Orb
    Q: I have a question about Mesmeric Orb and the FAQ. The card text says that the Orb triggers "whenever a permanent becomes untapped", while the FAQ says that "If ten permanents you control untap", it triggers for each. Becoming untapped isn't the same as untapping, correct? Don't all permanents technically untap during their controllers' untap phase, even if they aren't tapped? So, does Mesmeric Orb trigger for untapped permanents during the untap phase?

    A: Mesmeric Orb only triggers on tapped permanents becoming untapped. The Glossary in the Comprehensive Rulebook states that anything that triggers when something "becomes" a state only trigger if it was previously in another state. It will only trigger on permanents going from "tapped" to "untapped" statues, it doesn't trigger for already untapped permanents.

    Q: What if I play Sacred Ground with the new artifact lands, and the next turn, my opponent play March of the Machines, one of the new cards from Mirrodin. Wouldn't that make an infinite loop, my land would be a 0/0 artifact land creature, that would then die, but sacred ground would bring it back into play, then it would die again ad infinitum?

    A: You wouldn't have a loop, as Sacred Ground won't return the lands. March of Machines doesn't destroy the lands, it just turns them into creatures. The lands are immediately destroyed afterwards, since they have zero toughness, but now they are destroyed by a game rule, and not by the effect from the spell. No player controls the game rules, and Sacred Ground doesn't trigger.

    Q: If you use Extraplanar Lens on a land then return Extraplanar Lens to your hand somehow, and play it again and remove a land again are both lands imprinted on extraplanar lens

    A: Only the second land would be imprinted on the Lens. The first land would still remain removed from the game, but once the Lens leaves play, it forgets everything about its prior existence, and doesn't remember that the first land was imprinted on it. When it comes into play the second time, the second land is imprinted on it, but the first land is just removed from the game without any relevant effect on the game.

    Q: What happens to equipment at the end of turn if it's equipped to something like Mishra's Factory? Does it fall off or stay on the same way counters do? --Kenny

    A: Equipment that is equipping an illegal permanent stops equipping the permanent and reverts to being an unequipped equipment. This is specified in rule 212.2i in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

    Q: What happens if i have Shared Fate in play and my opponent's deck runs out of cards? Does anybody lose the game?

    A: With Shared Fate in play, it becomes impossible to lose from running out of cards. Every card draw is replaced with removing a card from the opponent's library from the game, and if there are no card in the opponent's deck, nothing happens, the draw is still replaced, but no card is removed.

    Icy Manipulator
    Q: Can you use Icy Manipulator to tap a Mesmeric Orb at the end of your opponent's turn to "turn off" Mesmeric Orb's ability just like the way you could with Winter Orb?

    A: No, you can't. Winter Orb (and a few other artifacts) have special text saying that they work only as long as they are untapped. Mesmeric Orb doesn't have this text, and is therefore always on.

    Q: If I have a Chalice of the Void in play with one counter, will it prevent my opponent from playing Blaze? I know when Blaze is on the stack its cost is , but in his hand it has a converted mana cost of 1. So can he play a Blaze at me?

    A: He can Blaze you, assuming he doesn't choose an of zero. Abilities that trigger on a spell being played only trigger in the last part of the announcement of the spell, which is after has been chosen and after costs have been paid (rule 409.1i in the Comprehensive Rulebook), and at this time, the value of counts for the converted mana cost.

    Q: What happens if I have Scythe of the Wretched and Sword of Kaldra on the same creature? Will creatures it kills be removed from game, or come back on my side?

    A: If the creature survives the damage, it's removed from the game, otherwise, it returns to play under your control. The Sword's ability triggers on damage being dealt, but if the creature dies from the damage, it's no longer in play when the ability resolves, so it can only be removed if it survives. The Scythe only triggers when the creature goes to the graveyard, so it can only return if the creature died.

    Q: I blocked my opponent's Myr Enforcer with my Bottle Gnomes equipped with Loxodon Warhammer. After damage, I sacrificed the Gnomes. My opponent said I couldn't gain 7 life and I had to choose either 3 or 4. That makes no sense! Why would this happen?

    A: This happens because of how the abilities work. The Warhammer has a triggered ability that only triggers if the equipped creature is in play when damage resolves. If the Gnomes are in play at this time, it takes 4 damage from the Enforcer, and is destroyed, so it can't be sacrificed to gain life. If you sacrifice it before it would be destroyed by the Enforcer's damage, it's not in play when damage resolves, so you can't gain life from the Warhammer's ability. You have to choose either of the methods to gain life, it won't be possible to gain life from both here.

    Q: What happens if my opponent uses Turn to Dust on my Fireshrieker once first strike damage is on the stack? Will I deal normal damage additionally or instead?

    A: It will still deal its damage in the first strike damage step, since this damage already has been assigned. When you get to the normal damage step, the game sees that it has already dealt damage this turn, and it doesn't have double strike anymore, so it won't deal damage in this step.

    Q: If a Slith creature has double strike, does it get two counters if it is unblocked?

    A: It gets a counter each time it deals damage, so it gets two counters if it deals damage in both combat damage steps. The only times it wouldn't get two counters is if the damage it deals in a step is prevented.

    Q: How can I use my opponent's cards and spells when I Mindslaver him when it specifically says in the rules that when I control someone else's turn I don't control his cards?

    A: You don't control his cards, but you control the player, so you can force him to play whichever spells and abilities you choose. You can't play his cards, but you can make the player play them however you want him to. The difference is apparent when you think of cards that say "you" on them, for example Concentrate. You can't play your opponent's Concentrate to draw three cards, but you can make him play it and draw three cards himself.

    Q: Can I use Power Conduit to put a charge counter on an artifact that doesn't use charge counters, like the Conduit itself? What effect will that have?

    A: You can put charge counters on any artifact, but this doesn't have any particular effect unless the card can use charge counters in some way. Charge counters do nothing by themselves, they only do what other spells or abilities say they do.

    Q: Can I play with more than 4 Tree of Tales in my deck?

    A: Only in a limited tournament, like draft or sealed deck, if you manage to have more than four of them. For constructed tournaments, you're only allowed to play with a maximum of four of each card except basic lands. While the artifact lands work a lot like basic lands, they aren't basic lands (their type line says "Artifact Land", not "Basic Artifact Land"), and hence, you can't play more than four.

    Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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