Saturday School #47

Posted in Feature on October 11, 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: Say I have a Pentavus with three +1/+1 counters on it, and I have two Pentavite tokens in play. If my opponent attacks with 2 creatures, can I block with the two Pentavite tokens, and then sacrifice them to put two +1/+1 counters on Pentavus, without receiving damage from the attacking creatures?

A: Yes, you can. You can play spells and abilities after having declared blockers, and you can sacrifice the tokens to put counters on Pentavus at this time. The attacking creatures are still blocked, and unless they have trample, they won't be able to deal damage to you.

Q: If I have Banshee's Blade equipping a creature, which is later dealt (in combat) exactly the amount of damage necessary to kill it, does it get the charge counter in time to survive?

A: No, it doesn't. When combat damage is dealt, the Blade's ability triggers. Before it goes on the stack and resolves, the game checks for state-based effects, and since the creature has lethal damage, it's destroyed before the counter pumps up the creature. The equipment becomes unequipped when the creature is destroyed, and will still receive the counter later.

Q: If I use Goblin Charbelcher and I don't have any land cards in my library what happens? Do I get decked? Does it cause a loop?

A: If you don't have any lands in your library you reveal all the cards left in the library, then the Charbelcher deals 1 damage for each revealed card. Then you put all the cards back, in whatever order you want.

Even if one part of an effect fails, the other parts will try to do as much as possible. Revealing the land is just a stop condition, it's not a requirement to deal damage (it doesn't say "if you reveal a land…").

Q: I'm confused about creature sacrifice. I was wondering if you can sacrifice a creature for one ability and then another. For example, could I Shrapnel Blast away my Bottle Gnomes and in response sacrifice it to gain three life? Also I was wondering if I could use Welding Jar to regenerate an artifact that I used to sacrifice for a Shrapnel Blast.

A: You can only pay one cost at a time with the sacrifice, so you could either sacrifice the Gnomes to pay for Shrapnel Blast or for the Gnomes' built-in ability - you can't do both.

As for your second question: sacrificed permanents can't be regenerated. Regeneration works by preventing a permanent from being destroyed (either by an effect that says "destroy", or by lethal damage). It doesn't do anything if an effect puts a permanent into a graveyard without using the word "destroy".

Q: I have a question about Sun Droplet: since it doesn't have an activated ability (like having to tap it to gain the life) can you remove all the counters on it since it's still the beginning of the upkeep each time the ability resolves? The same goes for Oversold Cemetery - Can you return any number of creatures above 3 to your hand, or is no longer the "beginning" of the upkeep once any one such ability resolves?

A: You can only remove one counter each upkeep. Sun Droplet has a triggered ability that goes on the stack once at the beginning of the upkeep. When it resolves, you get to remove the counter, but you're only asked once if you want to remove it, so you can't remove more than one.

You can only return one creature for Oversold Cemetery, too. The Cemetery's ability targets, and you get to choose one target when you put the ability on the stack (if you have four or more creatures in the graveyard). When it resolves, you return the chosen creature if you still have four or more creatures in the graveyard, you can't return any creatures other than the target.

Mourner's Shield
Q: I have a question about Mourner's Shield. This is a three part question- 1) Can I remove a card from my opponents graveyard? 2) If I choose an artifact- and then destroy all lands with a Dingus Egg in play - could I prevent the damage? Or does that not work because it's colorless? 3)- Imprint in general- If I remove a Howling Mine this way - does the Mourner's Shield now work as a Howling Mine, giving everyone an extra card each turn?

A1: Yes, you can remove cards from any graveyard, it doesn't say YOUR graveyard.

A2: Imprinting an artifact is generally useless, since artifacts have no color, and nothing can share a color with it then, even if the damage is also colorless.

A3: No, it doesn't. The only thing the Shield references is the removed card's color. It doesn't look at anything else on the card.

Q: Wall of Blood. Can I play this card on turn two, then on turn three drop a Spirit Link and a Rolling Stones, pay 20 life and attack for 20? Does the fact that it just has a colon, but not the tap symbol, mean that you can do it as many times as you want?

A: This almost works - If you pay 20 life to pump the wall up to 20/22 you would be at zero life, and die before you could attack. You can pump it 19 times, to 19/21, then attack and get 19 life back, but your opponent would most likely be alive then. If an ability just uses the colon, not a tap symbol, you can activate it as many times as you can pay for it unless it has other restrictions.

Q: Can I use Sculpting Steel to create a copy of Sword of Kaldra. If so does the "Sculpting Steel - Sword of Kaldra" get destroyed as the Sword is legendary and there cannot be more than one legendary card in play at anytime?

A: You can play Sculpting Steel copying the Sword, but as you say, the copy is also legendary, and the most recent legend is put into the graveyard, and the copy would go away right after it enters play. However, it does still come into play, so it can trigger the abilities of cards like Vermiculos or Serum Tank.

(Just to clarify: there can be more than one legendary permanent in play at the same time, as long as they have different names.)

Artificial Evolution
Q: Last Friday Randy Buehler said that you can make Krark's Thumb not legendary thus being able to have in play two or more of them. He said that you could use Artificial Evolution, but I think he's wrong, legendary is not any more a subtype, it is a supertype, and of course not a creature subtype, right?

Are there any means by nowadays rules to change the legendary status?

A: You are correct - there are no ways using the current cards in print to change a permanent's legendary status (except for cards like Sculpting Steel, which can become legendary by copying legendary permanents).

Animating a Krark's Thumb would just make it a Legendary Artifact Creature with no subtype, and Artificial Evolution wouldn't affect it in any particular way. This was a rules change introduced with Eighth Edition rules, most likely after they had finished playtesting the Mirrodin set. Under the previous rules, this would have worked, but it doesn't any more.

Q: If I were to play a Chalice of the Void, paying 0 as X, would it counter all morph spells, or does their converted mana cost count as 3 while they are on the stack, a bit like X counts as whatever you paid for it whilst the spell is on the stack?

A: A Chalice with X equal to zero would counter all morph spells being played. Creatures played face down has a converted mana cost of zero, the three mana is the alternate play cost, and doesn't count for converted mana cost.

Older/General Card Questions

Wirewood Symbiote
Q: If I have a Wirewood Symbiote and a 1/1 Elf in play and my opponent attacks with a 1/1 Goblin, can I block his Goblin with my Elf and then return it to my Hand so that only his Goblin dies?

A: Yes, you can. In combat, you first assign combat damage, then both players have the chance to play spells and abilities. If you return the Elf to your hand at this time, it won't be able to receive damage, but it will still deal combat damage since the combat damage assignments are already on the stack and can't be changed afterwards.

Q: If I attack with a creature with 0 power and the creature is not blocked, does the opponent still receive "combat damage" in the amount of 0? If so does this trigger "when this deals combat damage to a player" effects.

A: 0 damage is no damage at all. and can't trigger any abilities. This is specified in rule 419.5a in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: With equipment artifacts, does the equipment only equip one creature (like enchant creature spells), or can it equip multiple creatures by itself?

A: Equipment can only equip one permanent. When you pay the equip cost, you equip it to the creature, and if you pay the cost to equip something else, it moves from the first creature to the other, and is no longer equipping the first creature.

Q: One of my friends says that tapped blocking creatures deal no combat damage, and i say that they do. A tapped creature cannot block but if its assigned as a blocker, then tapped (for instace, i block with Infantry Veteran, then use its ablity) what happens?

A: Blocking creature deal combat damage whether they're tapped or not. Under older rules (up until 5th Edition), tapped blockers didn't deal combat damage, but this rule was removed.

Infantry Veteran can only target attacking creatures, but if you used something else - for example, Angelic Page - you could block a 1/2 creature, tap the Page to make itself 2/2, and kill the attacker without losing anything yourself.

Q: If I have a Brass Man out in play, and it is enchanted by Psonic Gift; could I shoot my opponent and keep on untapping it to shoot him more than once during my upkeep?

A: You can untap Brass Man as many times as you like during your upkeep, as long as you have the mana for it. The ability is a regular activated ability with the restriction that it can only be used in the upkeep.

(NB: this is different from Goblin War Wagon. The War Wagon has a triggered ability (it begins with "at"), which triggers only once per turn. Brass Man has an activated ability (it contains a colon), so you can activate it as many times as you can pay for it.)

Q: Suppose you attack me with a Spined Wurm, 2 Grizzly Bears and a Ridgeline Rager and I have an Avatar of Hope in play. I block all 4 of the creatures with my Avatar. Does the Avatar die due to "stacked" power or is the damage dealt separately?

A: The damage is dealt at the same time from the separate sources, and it stays on the creature until the cleanup step at the end of the turn. The Avatar dies any time it has equal or more damage than its toughness, and after all the creatures you mention deal damage in combat, it has taken 5+2+2+1 = 10 points of damage, enough to destroy it.

Q: I'm playing a multi-player game. What happens is I play Shower of Coals (with threshold) and target only one creature. After that I play Radiate on the Shower, making copies for each target in play (creatures, players) and it deals 4 damage to each of these targets, but also destroys all of my opponents because each copy will also deal damage to two of my opponents. Can I do this since Radiate can only target a spell which targets only one target, but I'm only targeting one creature with the original. Or do the copies only target one target as well?

A: Yes, you can Radiate a Shower of Coals which has one target. (Radiate doesn't care how many targets the spell is allowed to have. If you only chose one target, then yes, it's a spell with one target.)

The result is 4 damage to each creature and player. For every player and creature the spell can target, Radiate creates an exact copy of the spell; it doesn't let you make any different choices for these copies, though. Since the original spell had one target, each copy will also have one target, and it will just deal 4 damage to that target.

Q: Say that I Clone a morph creature. In play, the Clone is treated as a creature with morph, and is therefore a legal target for Backslide. I suppose that the Clone will simply be flipped over and become a 'Gray Ogre', but whatever on earth will happen when this face-down Clone is turned face up by either Ixidor, Reality Sculpter or Break Open?

[Editor's Note: Rune received clarification on the question and reposted this new response]

A: When Clone copies the creature with morph, it copies all characteristics it can see, including the morph cost. You can turn it face down with Backslide. While face down, it's a 2/2 "blank" creature, but the Clone still knows what it copied, and you can turn it back up again either by paying the morph cost the original had (since it was copied), or by using Ixidor and Break Open, since these can turn ANY creature face down creature face up. When the Clone is turned face up, it reverts to being what it copied when it first came into play.

Break Open and Ixidor's ability can turn any face-down creature face up, it doesn't look for the morph ability.

Voice of the Woods
Q: I'm unsure of the use of Voice of the Woods' ability. When five Elves are tapped to produce the Elemental do they remain tapped as long as the token is in play, or do the Elves untap in the next untap step. Further more, if they do remain tapped can you simply dismiss the Elemental by untapping the Elves in question? I was just wondering because I like to be as fair as possible so I have been keeping them tapped as long as the Elemental stays in play (as long as it survives), but I still want to know for sure if I am being fair or just cheating myself? Can you enchant tokens?

A: The Elves untap as usual, it doesn't say on the cards that they stay tapped. You pay the activation cost of the ability by tapping the Elves, but after the cost has been paid, you can untap the Elves again in the next untap step (or use an effect which untaps them). Your Elemental will still be in play, and you can then create more Elemental tokens by tapping the Elves if you want to.

Tokens can be enchanted and equipped just like regular creatures.

Q: Since, due to Hurloon Wrangler (from Unglued), removing your pants is a game ability would that mean I could use Mindslaver to force my opponent to remove his pants in a game where Hurloon Wrangler is not in play? What if it is in play? And do they have to be made out of denim?

A: Removing pants is not a game ability, the fact that the pants can be removed is faster than a mana ability is just a ruling, it's not an actual rule. You would not be allowed to force your opponent to remove his or her pants, even if the Wrangler is in play. The material of the pants would not matter.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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