Saturday School #49

Posted in Feature on October 25, 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.

Beginner Questions

Q: In last week's Saturday School, you said you can play Horned Troll's regeneration ability to save it from Lethal Vapors. I thought you could not use activated abilities unless the creature had been under your control since your upkeep. Am I missing something? - Brandon Speight

A: That restriction, known as "summoning sickness", only applies to abilities that use the tap symbol (and attacking). If an ability doesn't use the tap symbol (like Horned Troll's regeneration), it can be used even the turn the creature came into play.

Q: If I attack with a Giant Warthog, and my opponent blocks with a Wall of Shadows, how much damage does he take? - Jesse Whitehead

A: For most intents and purposes, Trample ignores damage prevention effects. You only have to assign damage to the Wall equal to its toughness - 1. The remaining 4 can be assigned to your opponent. Of course, the Wall can't be killed by this damage, but that doesn't stop the Warthog trampling through it.

Q: I have several friends that believe that "floating mana" means that they can tap lands at the beginning of their turn, before their untap step, to have more mana available. I said that the mana pool empties at the end of each phase, but that didn't fit with the Psychatog/Upheaval deck. Could you clear this up for me? - Preston Thorpe

A: You can float mana freely within a phase, for example, you can tap mana in your upkeep and use it in your draw step, since they're both in your beginning phase. However, it's not possible to do anything but untap your permanents in the untap step, so you can't tap any lands here before you untap - the first chance you have to tap a land is in your upkeep. You mana burn if you have any mana left when the phase ends.

What the Psychatog deck did was to tap a lot of mana, then play Upheaval, floating the remaining mana, then playing Psychatog after Upheaval resolved, still in the same phase. This works fine.

Q: Do local enchantments tap when the permanent they enchant taps? I ask this mostly because I have a nice, shiny Copperhoof Vorrac and this could affect his size in certain circumstances. - Chris Ingersoll

A: Local enchantments (or equipment) don't tap when the permanent they enchant or equip taps, the only way to tap them is to use some other effect to tap them, such as Fire/Ice or other cards. Your opponents' untapped local enchantments gives a bonus to your Vorrac.

Mirrodin Questions

Damping Matrix
Q: With a Damping Matrix in play, can I return an Eternal Dragon from the graveyard to my hand? - Rick Thieleman

A: Yes, you can. Damping Matrix only stops activated abilities from creatures. Creatures only exist in play. In your graveyard, hand and library, the cards are creature cards, which are not affected by Damping Matrix.

Q: If I imprint a card, it is removed from game. Since the Wishes can target cards that are removed from game (as far as I've seen), if I wish back an imprinted card, does that stop the imprinting card from functioning? - Jared Gillis

A: If you wish for an imprinted card, the imprinting card will lose track of what was imprinted. It will behave as if you hadn't used the imprinting ability at all.

Q: I want to get as many 1/1 Pentavites off of my Pentavus as posible, right before I sacrifice the Pentavus to a Forge Armor. Can I take all the +1/+1 counters off of it and then sacrifice the Pentavus before it dies, or do I have to leave one counter on?

A: You have to leave at least one counter on the Pentavus. If you remove all the counters, the Pentavus will have zero toughness, and will be put in the graveyard as a state-based effect before you're able to play Forge Armor.

Q: If I play a Parallel Thoughts and then play a Shared Fate, do I still have the option of drawing from my Parallel Thoughts pile, or am I forced to pull from my opponent's library? - Jim Bradfield

A: You are allowed to take a card from your Parallel Thoughts pile instead. Both Shared Fate and Parallel Thoughts will try to replace your draw, and as affected player, you get to choose the order they're applied in. When you replace the draw with one of the effects, it's no longer a draw, and the other won't apply anymore.

Q: I know that a token creature used to fuel Proteus Staff would definitely let you put another creature from your library into play. What I'm asking is if there are no creature cards in your library, would that create an infinite loop of searching for a non-existing creature card or would it let you stack your whole deck once you get to the bottom? - Brendon Shih

A: When you get to the bottom of your deck, if you haven't found any creatures, that part of the effect stops, since you can't reveal any more cards. You then put all the revealed cards on the bottom of your library "in any order", so yes, you can stack the entire deck. You don't start over searching through your deck again.

Tower of Murmurs
Q: Is it possible to save just a normal artiact like Tower of Murmurs from a Shatter using Loxodon Mender? Because regeneration is a destruction shield and Shatter destroys the artifact.

A: This is possible. Any permanent that would be destroyed can regenerate, but there aren't many effects that can regenerate non-creatures. If you put a regeneration shield on an artifact (with either the Mender or Welding Jar), it will regenerate instead of being destroyed when it's Shattered.

Q: What happens when Duplicant takes the power and toughness of a */* creature, like Ancient Ooze and Cognivore?

A: Duplicant takes on the printed power and toughness (both *), but doesn't get the ability that defines the *, so it counts as zero, like all undefined numbers. This usually means the Duplicant would die.

Q: What if I remove a multicolored card from my hand as part of the casting cost of Chrome Mox? Will it produce multiple colors of mana or will it make me choose which color it will produce?

A: You get "one mana of any of the imprinted card's colors". You can choose from any of the colors the card has, but you only get one mana. Incidentally, removing a card only happens when Chrome Mox comes into play - it's not part of its casting cost. (If the Mox gets countered, you don't lose the extra card.)

Q: I control a creature with Loxodon Warhammer on it, then my opponent plays Grab the Reins to take control of the creature. When he attacks, I say that I gain the life back since I control the equipment but he argues that he gets the life since he controls the creature. Who is right?

A: Your friend is right. Your opponent gains control over the creature, and even if the equipment is yours, it says that the creature "has" the ability "Whenever this creature deals damage, you gain that much life." Since the ability is on the creature, the controller of the creature is the player that gains the life.

March of the Machines
Q: Last week, you said that the only way to unequip equipment is to use Disarm or have the creature leave play, but wouldn't giving the creature protection from artifacts work?

A: This is true - giving the equipped creature protection from artifacts would cause the equipment to become unequipped. An effect that turns artifacts into creatures - for example, March of the Machines - would also work.

Q: Can you move equipment with Damping Matrix in play?

A: No, you can't. Equip is an activated ability, as shown by the colon in its reminder text. The phrase "Equip [cost]" means "[cost]: Move this Equipment onto target creature you control. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery." You can't activate any non-mana activated abilities of artifacts with Damping Matrix in play, and the ability is considered activated even if the keyword itself doesn't have the colon.

Q: If I have a Pentavus in play, and I play Standardize, and change all the creatures on the field into Pentavites, can I sacrifice all my, and my opponents' creatures to make a REALLY strong Pentavus?

A: This would partially work. You can play Standardize and turn all creatures into Pentavites. This will let you sacrifice all your creatures to pump Pentavus. However, you're never allowed to sacrifice your opponent's creatures (think about how powerful Nantuko Shade would be), so they can't be used to boost your creature.

Q: Can I counter the ability of Isochron Scepter? For example, if my friend puts the Scepter out and imprints with a Counterspell, and when I play a spell next turn, he counters, using the Scepter. Can I counter the scepter's ability or the copy, or would I have to use Stifle?

A: To counter the Scepter's ability you would have to use something that can counter activated abilities, such as Stifle, Bind or Rust, but you can let your opponent use the Scepter and play the copy of the Counterspell, and then counter the copy with a regular counterspell-type card. The copy made by the Scepter is also a spell, and can be countered by anything that can counter spells. Incidentally, it's also possible to Stifle the Scepter's imprint ability when it comes into play, which will disable it quite effectively.

Molder Slug
Q: What happens if I have a Molder Slug in play and I can't sacrifice an artifact - Dylan Wine

A: If you don't have any artifacts, you can't sacrifice anything, and nothing particular happens. The ability doesn't say that something else happens when you can't sacrifice an artifact. The sacrifice is mandatory, and you can't choose not to sacrifice an artifact in your upkeep unless you don't have any

Q: Would Taiga, Badlands, Volcanic Island, and Plateau each count as a Mountain for Goblin Charbelcher's double damage effect? - Erick Baker

A: Yes, they would. The Charbelcher looks for a card with the type Mountain since it doesn't say that it must have the name Mountain, and all the dual lands you mention have the type Mountain.

Q: I have a rather interesting question. In previous Saturday School articles, you say that you can make choices as far as which spells your opponent can play if you activate Mindslaver. So, my friend and I were playing and I activated Mindslaver to gain control of his turn. On his turn, I activated the Doomed Necromancer he had in play and returned a Phage the Untouchable he had in his graveyard. He should lose the game, right? - Justin Barnes

A: He would lose the game, yes. Mindslaver works a lot like a "Jedi Mind Trick", you wave your hand and your opponent does anything you say, even if the choice is really bad for him. You can have your opponent activate Doomed Necromancer and reanimate Phage the Untouchable, and he will lose shortly after.

Q: What happens if you control multiple Fatespinners? A friend of mine claims that he can choose the same phase or step twice and thus only miss one phase or step type. Another friend claims that once you are skipping the phase or step, it no longer exists (cf. multiple Blinding Angels), so my opponent cannot choose the nonexistent phase or step to be skipped a second time. - Richard Pennertz

A: If there are multiple Fatespinners in play, your opponent can choose to skip the same phase for each of them; essentially, the result is the same as if one Fatespinner was in play. Each one tells your opponent to choose "draw step, main phase, or combat phase" - it doesn't say there are any restrictions on this choice. And once the choice has been made, every instance of that phase or step is skipped until the end of the turn.

This is different from Blinding Angel, which will make you skip your next combat phase, regardless of which turn that happens in.

Q: If I play Soul Foundry and imprint Broodstar on it, do I have to pay for it or does its affinity kick in?

A: You have to pay for it. Affinity only applies when you play the spell the normal way - and Soul Foundry just puts a token copy directly into play. The converted mana cost the X looks for is always found by looking in the top right corner of the card, affinity and other effects that modify the cost of spells don't apply.

Q: With Marsh Viper and Fireshrieker, does double-strike work to create two effects of depositing poison counters?

A: If the Marsh Viper is unblocked, it will deal damage twice to the opponent, and the ability that applies counters triggers each time, putting on two counters for each ability.

Q: In reading the response about morph creatures and Chalice of the Void a few new questions came to mind. Will a Chalice with 0 counters on it also counter pitch spells like Force of Will? How would the Chalice react with Helm of Awakening, Sphere of Resistance, or any of the medallions or familiars that reduce your spells cost?

A: The Chalice only looks at the converted mana cost calculated from the symbols in the corner of the card to determine if it triggers - it doesn't matter what you actually paid. Force of Will has a converted mana cost of 5, even if you didn't pay any mana for it.

It doesn't take cost modifiers into account either; Helm of Awakening allows you to pay less when you cast a spell, but it doesn't affect the spell's actual converted mana cost.

In fact, the only way a spell's converted mana cost can vary is if it contains an X. For example, a Chalice with 4 counters on it can counter an Illuminate with X = 3, regardless of whether its kicker costs are paid.

Older/General Card Questions

Q: If I were to enchant Raven Guildmaster with Pemmin's Aura, could I then attack several times in one turn, effectively removing their entire deck with 5 or so Islands in play? -Seth

A: Even though you can untap the Guildmaster several times, you usually only have one combat phase, meaning that you can only attack once per turn. The only ways you can have a creature attack more than once per turn would be to use the cards Relentless Assault, Aggravated Assault or Seize the Day, which all add extra combat phases to the turn.

Blood Frenzy
Q: How would Blood Frenzy interact with Viashino Sandstalker - Kenneth Adamczyk

A: If you play Blood Frenzy on your own Sandstalker, then you control both abilities, so you get to decide what happens to it.

At the end of the turn, both the Sandstalker's triggered ability and the delayed triggered ability from Blood Frenzy trigger[snip], and you get to choose which order they are put on the stack.

If you make the Sandstalker's ability apply first, it returns to your hand, and won't be destroyed.

If you make Blood Frenzy's ability apply first, the Sandstalker is destroyed and can't return to your hand.

(On the other hand, if you're casting Blood Frenzy on your opponent's Sandstalker when it attacks, then different players control the two abilities, so the order is decided by whose turn it is. Because it's your opponent's turn, the Sandstalker's ability will go onto the stack first, followed by the Blood Frenzy. They resolve off the stack in the opposite order, so the Sandstalker will be destroyed.)

Q: If I were to get an Unstable Shapeshifter from Tempest into play, and then a Phantom creature comes into play, does my Shapeshifter became 0/0 and die?

More generally speaking, are any kind of come into play abilities put on the stack when a Shapeshifter copies a creature with a comes-into-play ability? - Mikaël Lucas

A: The Shapeshifter copies what's printed on the card when the Phantom comes into play. However, the Shapeshifter itself isn't coming into play, so anything that happens as or when the creature comes into play won't trigger or apply. The Shapeshifter won't copy any counters on the Phantom (it even says so in the reminder text now), and will most likely die.

Q: If I activate Mishra's Factory's ability, making it a 2/2 creature, and then play Copy Artifact targeting the Factory, what happens to the Copy Artifact? Will the copy stay a 2/2 throughout the game? Can I tap the copy for mana?

A: Copy Artifact copies the printed card - not any effects on it - so it will act just like you had played another Mishra's Factory card. It will come into play as an enchantment land. You can animate it (turning it into an artifact land enchantment creature) and tap it for mana as normal.

Copy Artifact can't copy the animation effect, so it won't permanently be a 2/2 creature.

Q: If I cast Decree of Pain and have an Elvish Soultiller in play, do I draw the cards as a result of the Decree before the creature cards are shuffled into my library by the Tiller, or not? - Joseph Sedita

A: You draw the cards during the resolution of the Decree, right after the creatures are destroyed, but before the Soultiller's ability has shuffled the cards back in. You deal with everything the spell does first, and when the Decree has finished resolving, you put the Soultiller's ability on the stack, and later shuffle the creature cards back into the deck. This means you won't draw any of the cards that were in your graveyard from the Decree's effect.

Glacial Chasm
Q: If I have Glacial Chasm and Lethal Vapors in play, can I activate Lethal Vapors' ability 100 times in a row, skip my next 100 turns and never receive any damage. - Brodie McKnight

A: This works fine. The Chasm will prevent all damage that would be dealt to you, and since you don't take any turns, you won't draw any cards or pay any upkeep costs. Your opponent can still win by dealing unpreventable damage (Flaring Pain), making you lose life (Soul Feast), forcing you to draw more cards than you have in your library (Stroke of Genius) or just destroying the Glacial Chasm, but it's not very easy, and your opponent will most likely run out of cards before you take another turn.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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