Saturday School #48

Posted in Feature on October 18, 2003

By Rune Horvik

Send your rules questions to level 4 judge Rune Horvik at saturdayschool@horvik.com. 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

Rule of Law

Q: If I have a Decree of Silence and a Rule of Law in play does my opponent get to play another spell after his first one is countered?

A: No, he doesn't. The game knows that the spell was played, even if it was countered and had no effect. Rule of Law only lets you play one spell total in a turn.

Q: If I have Rule of Law or Arcane Laboratory in play, can I play a spell, like Unsummon, and activate my Isochron Scepter on the same turn?

A: No, you can't. Since Isochron Scepter says that you play the spells, they fall under the restrictions of Rule of Law and Arcane Laboratory. You can activate the Scepter after having played a spell, but you won't be allowed to play the copy the Scepter creates.

Q: How do those cards that play copies of spells (Isochron Scepter and Spellweaver Helix) interact with storm? Copies of spells that are put on the stack (as with Mirari) don't count because they aren't played - but what about copies that are played (as those two artifacts do)? Will their storm triggered abilities work? Do spells played by those artifacts count as spells for other storm triggered abilities?

A: Both the cards you mention let you play spells, and they therefore count for storm. If you have played a spell with the Scepter, then play Scattershot, you get to create a storm copy as well. The spells played with the Scepter or the Helix are played just like regular spells, and they will trigger storm.

Q: What happen if I have a Platinum Angel, and my opponent reduces my life to 0 or I deplete my library? Do I continue playing with 0 life or with a depleted library, or is it a draw?

A: You continue to play the game. You can't lose, and your opponent can't win, so you just continue until you win in some way, your opponent loses, the Angel leaves play (so you can lose afterwards) or until the game draws in another way.

Mourner's Shield

Q: I play a Mourner's Shield and I imprint Hanna, Ship's Navigator from my graveyard on the Mourner's Shield. I can prevent all damage from the source of my choice that shares a color with the imprinted card. In this case, would the Shield prevent gold sources of damage or blue and white sources of damage?

A: It would prevent damage from sources that are blue or white (either completely or partially). Gold is not a color in the game, gold borders are just used to indicate that the card is multi-colored. To find the color of a card, look at the mana symbols in the top right corner. A card has all the colors of the mana symbols represented, or colors otherwise specified in the text box of the card.

Q: Lets say I play a Duplicant from my hand. Can I remove one of my opponent's creatures to imprint onto my Duplicant? If so, what if the creature I imprinted was powered up from an ability or equipment, such as a Megatog's sacrificing ability or Sword of Kaldra.

A: You may remove any creature that's not a token from the game, including your opponent's creature. To find Duplicant's power, toughness and creature types, look at what's printed on the card – Duplicant has those characteristics. It doesn't remember anything about what the creature looked like in play, it just uses the basic state of the card.

Q: I have March of the Machines in play, can I play an Artifact Land and use its mana ability before it is destroyed?

A: No, you can't. March of the Machines' effect immediately turns the land into a 0/0 creature when it's in play, and the game rules will cause the land to be put into the graveyard right away (as a state-based effect) before you can use it.

Q: Let's say I have a Chalice of the Void with two counters on it and a Power Conduit. My opponent plays a spell with casting cost of . Can I remove a counter on the Chalice with my Power Conduit to counter his spell?

A: No, you can't. Chalice of the Void only triggers exactly when a spell is played, and only if its converted mana cost matches the number of counters on the Chalice. Responding with removing counters from it won't affect the spell that has already been played.

Q: If I have a Pentavus in play (A) with three +1/+1 counters and two Pentavite tokens. I then play another Pentavus (B) and make 2 Pentavite tokens from it. Can I sacrifice four Pentavite tokens to make Pentavus A a 7/7 creature?

A: Yes, you can. Pentavus lets you sacrifice any creature with the type Pentavite, it doesn't specify that it can only sacrifice “its own”. You're also allowed to sacrifice other Pentavites (for example if you put them into play with Volrath's Laboratory) to Pentavus' ability – all Pentavites are interchangeable.

Q: What would happen if I were to imprint my Soul Foundry with a Clone? Would I be able to Clone a creature in play every time I used Soul Foundry? Also if I were to do the said Soul Foundry Clone combo, then Cloned Phage the Untouchable, would I lose the game?

A: You can imprint Clone on Soul Foundry, and every time the token copy comes into play, it becomes a copy of another creature in play – you can select a different creature each time. If there are no other creatures in play when the token would come into play, you can't select anything, and the token simply disappears.

The token copies are not played from your hand, so if you Clone a Phage, the game sees that you didn't play the card from your hand and you lose when the triggered ability resolves.

Mirror Golem

Q: If I play a Mirror Golem and imprint an Ornithopter onto it, does the Golem have protection from artifacts and creatures or just artifact creatures?

A: It will have protection from artifacts and protection from creatures. Ornithopter has two types, and Mirror Golem gets protection from each of the types.

Q: Pyrite Spellbomb needs red mana to be activated. If it deals 2 damage to a creature with protection from red, what happens? The rules only mentions the source, and the source in this case is colorless (artifact). So my friends say, the damage is not prevented.

A: Your friends are correct – even if red mana was used to activate the ability, the game looks for the color of the source (the color of the card that had the ability). Since this was an artifact, the source and the damage has no color.

Q: If I use Soul Foundry and imprint a Leveler, do I have to remove my library every time I produce a token?

A: Yes, you do. The token copy is an exact copy of the imprinted card, and it has the same comes-into-play triggered ability.

Q: I was wondering how Proteus Staff interacts with creature tokens? Can they be “put on the bottom of a library?” They go to the graveyard when destroyed, but I don't know if they can go to the library.

A: Tokens behave just like creature until they are in another zone of the game than in play. The token is put under the library like a creature, then you perform the rest of the effect. Once the effect of the ability is finished, the token ceases to exist, and vanishes.

You still get to reveal cards from your library and put a creature card into play.

Q: If a creature is equipped with Vulshok Gauntlets, can I attack, and then in my second main phase pay the equip cost to attach it to a different creature?

A: This works fine, you're allowed to move equipment as many times as you can pay for it. Next turn, you can move the Gauntlets back to the original creature and attack with it again, for example, the only creature that doesn't untap like usual is the one that actually has the equipment during the untap step.

Q: I have a question regarding Mirrodin's Lodestone Myr. I was playing in a duel with my friend and he had seven artifacts out and a Lodestone Myr when he attacked me with his 2/2 Myr. I declared no blockers and said I was going to take the two damage, so he pumped his Lodestone Myr with his seven other artifacts making it a 9/9 and said that since I declared no blockers I had to take 9 damage. I would like to now if this is legal or not because from what I have read on the rules damage is locked in after attackers are declared.

A: Your friend is right here. After no blockers have been declared, both players have the chance to play spells and abilities before combat damage is assigned. If the attacker is pumped at this time, it will grow before you get to assigning damage. When both players are finished playing spells and abilities after blocking, then combat damage assignments are made, and locked in.

Synod Sanctum

Q: I use Ray of Command to take control of one of my friend's creatures, then remove that creature from the game using Synod Sanctum. Then I sacrifice the Sanctum to get the cards back. Would the creature stay under my control for the rest of the game, or would it go back to him at the end of that turn. He says it would go back, I say it would be mine for the game.

A: You would get the creature until the game is over, it leaves play or your opponent re-takes control over it. When the creature is removed from the game, it loses all memory, including the fact that it's supposed to return to the other player's side. The Sanctum's “return” ability puts the creatures into play under your control, regardless of who owns them.

Q: Can you unattach equipment from your creatures without using the card Disarm?

A: No, this is not possible. There is no option to unequip a card except using Disarm or by having the equipped creature leave play somehow, either by returning it to your hand, destroying it, removing it from the game or similar.

Q: Can I use Arc-Slogger's ability if I have no more cards in my library?

A: No, you can't. The removal of the cards is part of the ability's cost, since it's listed before the colon on the card. You can't activate abilities of cards unless you pay the full cost – not having enough cards work just like not having enough mana.

Note that if the removal of the cards had been listed after the colon, it would be part of the card's effect, and then you could do this… but since it's part of the cost, you need to be able to remove 10 cards to activate the ability.

Q: I was wondering about how Extraplanar Lens interacts with dual lands (Bayou, Volcanic Island, Underground Sea etc.) If you imprint a Bayou on the Lens will all Swamps and Forests produce extra mana, and likewise, if you imprint a swamp will a Bayou produce extra mana?

A: Extraplanar Lens just looks at the land's name, not its types. Even if Bayou has the subtypes Forest and Swamp, it's still named Bayou, and a removed Bayou doesn't let you tap any other lands but Bayous for extra mana, and vice versa – a removed Swamp lets cards named Swamp produce extra mana, but Bayous will still only tap for one mana.

Q: I have Wall of Blood and Platinum Angel in play. Can I pay more than 20 life for the Wall of Blood?

A: No, you can't. You can't activate an ability if you can't pay its cost. If you have 0 life or less you can't pay any life, since you don't have any – it doesn't matter if it doesn't kill you, you can't pay something you don't have.

Tel-Jilad Stylus

Q: I have a question about the card Tel-Jilad Stylus. When it says "target permanent you own", does it mean any permanent you own, even outside of the game? If it has to be in your hand, in play, or in your graveyard, it wouldn't seem like a very good card, unless you were playing to keep your graveyard empty.

A: In a game, you only “own” cards and permanents that started in your library or sideboard, or they were created by spells or abilities you control, so you couldn't just get any card from your binder.

The other key word here is “permanent” – a permanent is something that is in play, either an artifact, a creature (including tokens), an enchantment or a land, cards in other zones, like your hand, library and graveyard are simply “cards” – not permanents.

The Stylus lets you shuffle anything you own that is in play into your library. A common use for this is to rescue one of permanents that was about to be destroyed, for example if your opponent Terrors your Shivan Dragon, you can put it back in so you can draw it again and play it later. This is most useful if you have other effects that shuffles your library.

You can also use it if you're about to run out of cards, if you have a few cards less left than your opponent in the late game, you can put some of your lands back in your library so you'll live a few turns longer.

Another thing that can be done is that you can put a permanent in play that your opponent has stolen from you back into your library, for example if your opponent has played Confiscate on one of your creatures.

Q: What happens if I have a Shared Fate and then play a Leveler? This would probably do nothing but the opponent can never gets to draw again so does this gets him to deck?

A: You remove your library from the game, and your opponent won't have access to more cards. He still won't lose, as no cards are actually drawn. Shared Fate replaces the draw effect with “remove a card from the opponent's library from the game”, so the original draw goes away, and then the replacement effect does nothing, since it's not possible to remove the card anymore.

Q: If I have a Mindslaver in play and plan on using Sculpting Steel to copy it, can I activate the original Mindslaver before the legendary type removes the Sculpting Steel?

A: This won't work. Mindslaver needs to be in play when Sculpting Steel comes into play to be able to copy it, and when it enters play, the game immediately sees that there are two legendary permanents named Mindslaver in play, and puts the most recent one (Sculpting Steel) in the graveyard (as a state-based effect). You don't have time to activate it before it's destroyed. You can activate the original before Sculpting Steel has come into play, but then Sculpting Steel won't be able to copy Mindslaver, since it's not there.

Q: Can players attack themselves? My friend played Mindslaver on me and made me attack myself with a beefed up Kamahl. Something tells me he is wrong.

A: Your friend was wrong. It's not possible to attack yourself. In the combat phase, the player whose turn it is automatically becomes the attacking player, and the other player become the defending player. The attacking creatures can only deal damage to creatures blocking them, or if they're not blocked, to the defending player. An attacking creature is not allowed to assign damage to its controller. See rule 310.2 and its subsections in the Comprehensive Rulebook for a list of how creatures are allowed to deal damage.

Older / General Card Questions

Q: If a creature with a regeneration ability, let's say Horned Troll, comes into play with Lethal Vapors, can you use its regeneration ability to save it, provided enough mana?

A: Yes, you can. Lethal Vapors's triggered ability tries to destroy the creature once when it comes into play, but if you respond by regenerating it, it'll survive and no longer be affected by the Vapors.

Q: Last week's column states that "Legend" is a supertype and not a subtype. Can you clarify this a little more please? Does that mean I can't use Unnatural Selection to make two of my opponents identical Goblins Legends and thus destroying the newest one anymore?

A: There are two different terms: “Legend”, which is a creature subtype, and “legendary” which is a supertype that can apply to any card type, also non-creatures. A card will always retain the legendary supertype if its form changes (for example if a legendary artifact becomes a creature), but this doesn't automatically give it the creature type Legend anymore. Likewise, a creature with type Legend that changes type, for example to an enchantment (using Soul Sculptor), loses the creature type since it's no longer a creature, and isn't legendary, since you can't give the supertype to a card.

The game still uses many of the same rules for creatures with type Legend and other legendary permanents – there can't be two permanents in play with the same name if they're either Legends or legendary.

The trick with changing all identical creatures with the same name to Legends to destroy all but one of them still works.

Zealous Inquisitor

Q: This happened in a MTGO draft game last night and my opponent felt it was a bug in the implementation (and I'm not convinced). I had a Daunting Defender in play and I attacked with my Zealous Inquisitor into a Sage Aven. I paid the activation to redirect the next damage to the Inquisitor to the Aven, and in the online game, the Aven was killed. My opponent argued that since the Defender was in play, the 1 damage from the Aven should not have been dealt to the Inquisitor and therefore should not have been redirected. I can see that the redirection replacement could take precedence over the Defender's ability, but I was wondering what the exact rule was here that determined the precedence. Is this a timestamp issue with the Inquisitor replacement effect having a later timestamp than the Defender's replacement?

A: The rule you are looking for is 419.9a, which deals with interactions between replacement, prevention and redirection effects. If more than one of these tries to do something to the same event (such as the damage dealt), the controller of the affected permanent (or the affected player) chooses the order the effects are applied in. The “best” way for you would be to do like it happened in the game – you apply redirection before the prevention, and redirect all the damage to the opponent's creature.

You should have been able to choose to apply the prevention first if you wanted to, thereby preventing the points of damage before they were redirected, but as controller of the affected permanent, you should get the choice.

Q: If the converted mana cost of a morph spell is zero, how will it interact with a Pyrostatic Pillar in play? Will the Pillar deal damage every time one is played or are the morph spells not counted?

A: Since spells played face down (with morph) don't have a mana cost, they count as having converted mana cost of zero, which is “3 or less”. The Pillar's ability will trigger, and 2 damage will be dealt.

Q: If I have an Imagecrafter, and I use Artificial Evolution on it to change the type "Legend" to any other type, like "Uncle-Istvan", the Imagecrafter's new ability becomes "Choose a creature type other than Uncle-Istvan or Wall...", so I can make any creature becomes legendary. Is it right? If it's right, what happen with the copies of the creature that are already in play?

A: You can change Imagecrafter like you say to make it able to turn creatures into Legends. This will only have an effect if more than one permanent has the type Legend or is legendary – you can have a Grizzly Bears in play along with a Grizzly Bears that you have turned into a Legend, the Legend Rule only applies if both the Bears had the type Legend, in which case the one that became a Legend last would be put into the graveyard.

Thanks to Mitchell Waldbauer for feedback and proofreading.

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