Saturday School #46

Posted in Feature on October 4, 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.

Mirrodin Questions

Q: Concerning the card Cloudpost... If I use Imagecrafter to turn a creature into a Locus, does that aid Cloudpost? Or does a Locus have to be a land subtype to affect Cloudpost's ability? - Noel Johnson

A: Locus is a land type, not a creature type. You can't choose it for Imagecrafter - rule 212.1e in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that you can only choose a creature type which already exists. If there was a way to give something the creature type Locus, then yes, Cloudpost would count it.

Q: Is Cloudpost from Mirrodin considered a new basic land type - essentially can you have more than four in your deck? -- Michael

A: You can't play more than four Cloudpost, Cloudpost is not a new basic land type (and neither is locus). There are only five basic land types, defined by the rules as forest, island, mountain, plains and swamp. There are several extra non-basic land types, such as lair and locus, but only lands that say "basic" in the type line are considered basic. Cloudpost says "Land - Locus", not "Basic Land - Locus".

Q: Can I use Confusion in the Ranks and Leveler to remove my opponent's library from the game?

A: No, you can't. When Leveler comes into play, two abilities trigger: Leveler's built-in ability, and Confusion in the Ranks. Regardless of what happens to the Leveler, the triggered ability refers to "you", meaning the player who controlled it when it triggered.

Culling Scales
Q: If I have Culling Scales and there is only one permanent with converted mana cost , and it can't be the target of spells or abilities, and other permanents costs more - what will happen? -- Dimitiy Remerov, Novosibirsk, Russia

A: Culling Scales can only target the permanent with the lowest converted mana cost (you choose which if there is a tie). If it's not possible to target a permanent with the lowest mana cost, the ability has no legal targets, so it gets removed from the stack and won't do anything.

Q: If my opponent equips his Clockwork Beetle with Sword of Kaldra, will the Beetle remain in play once the counters are removed? Or will the Beetle simply go to the graveyard, leaving the Sword in play, unequipped to a creature

A: The Beetle remains in play. Even if it doesn't have any counters, the Sword raises its toughness above zero, so it avoids destruction, and the Sword remains equipped to the Beetle. The ability that removes counters from the Beetle won't do anything if there aren't any counters to remove.

Q: If my War Elemental from Mirrodin is in play with no counters on it, with a Bloodfire Kavu and Repercussion also in play, and I sacrifice the Kavu using its ability with my opponent having two creatures as well, will my War Elemental live through the 2 damage? If so, why? -- Jacop, California

A: Many things use the stack here, and events happen in this order:

  • 1) The Kavu is sacrificed.
  • 2) The ability resolves, dealing 2 damage to each creature. Repercussion triggers once for you, and twice for your opponent.
  • 3) The game checks for state-based effects, and War Elemental dies, since it has 1 toughness and has taken 2 damage. Your opponent's creatures will also die if they have toughness less than two.
  • 4) The triggered abilities from Repercussion resolve in order, dealing a total of 2 damage to you, and 4 damage to your opponent.
  • The War Elemental's ability never triggers, since the Elemental is dead before Repercussion deals damage to the opponent.

    Note that even if you'd dealt damage to War Elemental and your opponent at the same time - for example, with an Earthquake - the War Elemental would have died. After a spell or ability resolves, the first thing that happens is that state based effects are checked. The War Elemental will be killed by lethal damage before its ability can even go onto the stack.

    Bosh, Iron Golem
    Q: Can Bosh, Iron Golem fling himself?

    A: Yes, he can. Its ability lets you sacrifice any artifact you control, including artifact creatures, and also Bosh himself.

    Q: If I equip Sword of Kaldra to a Spikeshot Goblin and deal what will most likely be lethal damage to a creature with the Goblin, does the targeted creature go to the graveyard and is NOT removed from the game?

    A: This is correct. When the Goblin deals damage to the creature, the Sword's ability triggers, but before the ability is put on the stack, the game checks for state-based effects (in this case lethal damage), and destroys the creature. When the Sword's ability later resolves, it can't find the Goblin where it was (in play) and has no effect.

    Q: Can I use Stifle to counter Leveler's come into play ability and avoid removing my library?

    A: Yes, you can. Leveler has a triggered ability (starting with the word "when"), so it can be countered with Stifle, and you keep your library.

    Q: I have Angelic Chorus in play, then I play a Pentavus. Do I gain life?

    A: Yes, you do. The Pentavus comes into play with 5 counters, and it never exists in play without the counters. The Chorus sees a 5/5 creature coming into play, and you will gain 5 life.

    Q: If Gate to the Aether is tapped, does its effect work.

    A: Its effect works even if it's tapped - it doesn't have text saying it only works when it's untapped. Compare it with Blinkmoth Urn and Farsight Mask, which do have this text.

    Q: I have a question about the Mirrodin card Tooth and Nail. If I pay the entwine cost, can I search for two creature cards from my library, put them into my hand and play them, or do I have to put the two creature cards into play before searching?

    A: Yes, you can do this. In fact, you must search for the creatures before you put creatures into play. When you have paid the entwine cost, you do both the effects in the order listed on the card, basically replacing the "or" with "and".

    Q: Are you allowed to untap Goblin War Wagon multiple times during you upkeep or only once? During a game, someone said that I could untap as many times as I like. I didn't mind at the time because it was a great combo with Viridian Longbow, but I still doubt whether he was right.

    A: You can only untap it once. The War Wagon's ability is triggered (starting with "when"), and goes on the stack at the beginning of the upkeep. When it resolves, it lets you pay 2 mana to untap it. It only asks this once, it's not possible to pay to untap it multiple times during the upkeep.

    Q: Can I play an artifact land and a land on the same turn?

    A: Not under normal circumstances. The rules only let you play one land per turn, and this restriction must be followed even if the land is also an artifact. Cards like Exploration and Fastbond lets you get around this rule.

    Q: I have a question about Damping Matrix. When it says "mana abilities", does that mean abilities that produce mana or abilities that require mana? -- David

    A: A mana ability is an ability that produces mana. Cards like Chrome Mox, Black Lotus, Forest and Gemstone Mine all have mana abilities since their effect produces mana.

    Leonin Scimitar
    Q: I was playing my friend with our Mirrodin decks the other day and he had a creature that was equipped with Leonin Scimitar. He said that if you paid the equip cost over and over again the creature keeps getting +1/+1, and he was keeping it on that creature, so each turn he said it got something like +6/+6 if he paid it over and over again, but I said you coundn't do that. Who is right?

    A: You are right. Each time you pay the equip cost, you can move the equipment from one creature to another. If you choose to move it onto the creature it's already on, nothing much happens. It doesn't matter how many times you play the ability: an equipment card can only equip a creature once.

    Q: I have Lightning Coils in play. I then play Natural Affinity and Pyroclasm. Do I get any charge counters for the dead lands? If not how can I make this work?

    A: You get counters for the dead lands, as they died as creatures, which triggers Lightning Coils. The Coils will get one charge counter for each land that was destroyed.

    Q: If a card has imprint and is returned to your hand somehow and is played again, is the first, second or are both cards imprinted on it. If both are imprinted how does it work with Duplicant.

    A: Only the second card is imprinted. When the card is returned to your hand, it forgets everything about it from before, and the first imprinted card just stays removed without doing anything in particular. When you play the card again, you imprint a new card, which will be the only imprinted card. Duplicant can only have one card imprinted on it, so there won't be a problem.

    General / Older Card Questions

    Words of Worship
    Q: I have Words of Worship in play and highest casting cost of my permanents is 4. If I play Rush of Knowledge, can I activate the Words ability 4 times to gain 20 life?

    A: Yes, this works fine. The Words creates 4 replacement effects that will in turn replace each of the draws with "gain 5 life". An activation of the Words will replace one of the draws, and then the next activation will replace the next draw and so forth.

    Q: I am just wondering something about protection. If a creature has protection from black and is in a graveyard is it still protected from black spells? Example: My friend has an Akroma, Angel of Wrath in his graveyard and I want to animate it with Animate Dead, is that a legal move?

    A: Abilities on creatures usually only work when the card is in play (unless it says otherwise), and this is also the case with protection. In the graveyard, the card has no abilities, and can be targeted with Animate Dead. However, once it comes into play, the protection kicks in, and since it's being enchanted by a black enchantment, the enchantment is put into the graveyard, and Akroma is destroyed again. A better move would be to animate it using cards such as Zombify or Stitch Together, since they don't need to enchant the creature afterwards.

    Q: If I tap Howling Mine with Icy Manipulator, then I'm going to prevent my opponent from drawing. My question is: Does this apply to artifacts with abilities such as when it has "At the beginning of your upkeep" or it should have "as long as it is untapped" just like Howling Mine.

    A: All artifact cards are by default considered "on" all the time, and their abilities work even if they are tapped. There are a small number of cards (including Howling Mine and Winter Orb) that have a special clause, saying "as long as [this card] is untapped", which you can shut off by tapping them, but most artifacts' static abilities don't shut off. Consult the Oracle to see which cards shut off when tapped.

    Q: Is it possible for Willbender to force a spell to fizzle by giving it a new illegal target? i.e. making a "Terror" target a "Mountain?

    A: No, this doesn't work. The rule for changing targets (section 415.7 in the Comprehensive Rulebook) says that you can only choose legal targets when an effect changes a target.

    Q: The printed card text of Orim's Prayer says "If any creatures attack you, gain 1 life for each attacking creature", but the Oracle text says "Whenever a creature attacks you, you gain 1 life". I interpret the card text as: if at least 1 of my opponent's creatures attacks ME (and maybe 2 other creatures attack a third player in the game), I gain 1 life for each attacking creature... this would be 3 life so far. I would interpret the Oracle Text as: if any creature attacks me, I gain a 1 life (not for each creature, only 1 life), because it triggers only once (at the moment, all creatures are attacking me). Maybe you can tell me, which of my guesses (if any) is correct. -- Thomas

    A: The card is functionally identical today as it were when it was printed, but the template for how cards are worded have changed, so the text has been updated. Orim's Prayer triggers once for each creature attacking you, and you gain one life for each creature attacking you (just like it did when it was first printed). For you to only gain one life in total, the text would start with "whenever one or more creatures attack you". See Reveille Squad, for example.

    Q: I have an Alexi's Cloak (which says that target creature cant be the effect of spells and/or abilities). Does that mean the card itself cannot use its abilities, or does that just mean other players' cards? For example, if I were to put it on a Spore Frog, Would I still be able to use Spore Frog's ability? -- Cory

    A: Alexi's Cloak stops the creature from being chosen as a target for spells and abilities, but you can still use abilities that don't target it (abilities only target if they use the word "target"). Spore Frog's ability doesn't say it targets anything, so it's completely unaffected. Note, that some of your own spells or abilities may still be unable to affect the Frog. For example, you can't use Giant Growth on it, because Giant Growth says it affects "target creature".

    Elvish Piper
    Q: I pay enough mana to play Obliterate and use the Elvish Piper's ability. When all is said and done, do I have a creature in play? What if my opponent uses an Elvish Piper's ability in response to Obliterate? -- Rick

    A: The Elvish Piper's ability is used in response to Obliterate, which causes it to resolve before Obliterate. This means that the creature will be put into play before everything is destroyed, and will be destroyed along with everything else. This is true regardless of which player does this. It's not possible to leave the ability of the Piper "floating" so you can put a creature into play after Obliterate has resolved.

    The only way around this is to use an effect which can be used as an instant - for example, Rout or Mageta the Lion. Activate the Elvish Piper, and in response, play Rout as an instant. All creatures will be destroyed; then the Piper's ability will resolve (it doesn't care that the Piper is dead), and you can put a creature into play.

    Q: There has been some debate going around about the card Ensnaring Bridge. Does the card affect base attack power or modified attack power? (i.e. I have 2 cards in hand and my opponent has a 2/2 Goblin that is getting +1/+1 from a Goblin King) Can it still attack?

    A: It can't attack. Ensnaring Bridge looks at the power of the creature as you declare attackers, and if the current power is greater than the number of cards in your hand, like in your example, it can't attack.

    Q: When a Clone dies does it go to the graveyard as a "Clone", or as the creature it is currently copying? For instance: would a Clone of a Penumbra Wurm yield a "6/6 black Wurm creature token with trample" when it died?

    A: Yes, you would get a Wurm token. When a creature dies, the game looks back in time to see what the creature looked like when it was last in play. It sees that it was a Penumbra Wurm with an ability that gives you a Wurm token.

    However, once Clone is actually in the graveyard, it's just a Clone. If you Clone a Wonder or an Eternal Dragon, for example, their abilities won't apply after the Clone dies.

    Ironfist Crusher
    Q: Suppose that player A has an Ironfist Crusher, and the player B has 2 creatures, one with provoke and the other without provoke. If player B attacks with both creatures using provoke on the Ironfist Crusher, can the Ironfist Crusher can block both creatures even if its provokes by one of them?

    A: Ironfist Crusher can block both creatures. Even if it's provoked by one creature, it doesn't say that it can only block that creature, and the Crusher's ability lets it block as many creatures as you want.

    Q: My opponent has Phage the Untouchable in play and we are playing multiplayer. If I play Reins of Power on my opponent, would that trigger Phage's come in to play ability killing both of us?

    A: No, it wouldn't. Reins of Power just makes creatures in play switch sides, they don't leave play and come back into play, they are in play all the time. Phage's ability won't trigger.

    Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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