Can't find the answer to your question? Maybe he's already answered it! Try the Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.
Response to last week's column
Many readers commented that the combo of Glacial Chasm and Lethal Vapors doesn't work, since the opponent can just respond to the 100 activations of Lethal Vapors by activating it 100 times in response. In fact, though, if handled carefully the combo does work. After the opponent activates it 100 times, the first player can activate it another 100 times, and then the opponent can do the same, and so on. In the end somebody has to break the loop. In this case, Magic's infinite loop rules say that the nonactive player basically gets to choose what happens.
So, if you've waited until your opponent's turn before you start skipping turns (for example, if you put the Glacial Chasm into play using an instant like Crop Rotation), then you are the nonactive player, and you can choose to skip 100 turns more than your opponent.
A: This is correct – you can only return creatures from play with Aether Spellbomb (it's meant to function like the card Unsummon). You can't target creature cards in the graveyard with it, because creature cards in the graveyard are cards, not creatures.
Q: With Spellweaver Helix, what happens when you imprint 2 cards with the same name and you play one? Would it go infinite, make two copies (Because it shares a name with both), make one copy, or make nothing? I say it goes infinite because the copy is played just like a regular spells but my opponent said I only get one copy. Who is right?
A: Your opponent is right. Spellweaver Helix can only trigger once for each card (because the spell is only played once), and then it will create a single copy of the other spell imprinted. This copy won't trigger the Helix, as the Helix can only trigger when cards are played, and the copy is not a card.
Q: If I have a Pentavus and I pay five colorless mana to remove all 1/1 Pentavites, does the Pentavus go to the graveyard? If it does go to the graveyard, could I then use a Skeleton Shard or Myr Retriever to bring the Pentavus back to my hand to be played again and on my next turn make five more Pentavites? Can the Pentavites attack the same turn they are made?
A: As soon as you have removed all the 5 counters on the Pentavus, the game sees that it has zero toughness and puts it into the graveyard as a state-based effect. It can be retrieved from the graveyard with any effect that lets you return creature cards or artifact cards from the graveyard, and once you have it back in your hand, you're allowed to replay it, and make more Pentavites using the "new" Pentavus.
Pentavite tokens are still creatures, and follow the rules for creatures, and will therefore have summoning sickness if you haven't controlled them since the beginning of the turn. This means they can't attack the turn you put them into play.
Q: I have a Pentavus in play with three counters and a Sadistic Glee on it, and two 1/1 Pentavite tokens. If I sacrifice the Pentavites for Pentavus to get counters, does the Sadistic Glee trigger so I get two more counters on Pentavus?
-- Martin Orgusaar
A: This works. When you sacrifice the Pentavite tokens, they go to the graveyard (before they disappear), and this triggers Sadistic Glee, which gives an extra +1/+1 counter for each sacrificed Pentavite. These counters are similar to the +1/+1 counters you get from sacrificing Pentavites, and can later be used to create more tokens.
A: Yes, you do. Both the Chalice and the Decree triggers at the same time when the spell is played, and you choose the order they go on the stack, thereby choosing which one resolves first and counters the spell. Note that it doesn't actually matter which one of the abilities counter the spells, as they aren't targeted. Both abilities will try to counter the spell when they resolve, and any side-effects they have (such as putting a counter on the Decree) will still happen.
A: Yes, it does. The enchantments you list have the triggered ability on the enchantment, meaning that when damage is dealt, the ability triggers for the player that controls the enchantment, and that player will gain life. The Warhammer gives the ability to the creature by saying that the equipped creature "has" the ability, and it will trigger for the controller of the creature.
Q: If I had a Rhox with Worldslayer on it deal damage to a player, could I use a Wail of the Nim before the ability resolved to save my creatures? What would happen in the same scenario if I played Wail of the Nim as I declared attackers?
-- Ross Okapal
A: You can use the Wail to save your creatures.
When an effect says it regenerates a creature, it means "The next time this creature would be destroyed this turn, instead tap it, remove it from combat, and remove all damage from it". In other words, the Wail creates a regeneration "shield" on the creatures, which will regenerate the creatures the next time they would be destroyed. It doesn't matter if you have played it before or after Worldslayer has triggered, as long as it has resolved and put the shields on the creatures before Worldslayer's ability resolves.
Q: If a creature equipped with Dead-Iron Sledge blocks or is blocked by another creature, do those creatures deal combat damage to each other before they are destroyed?
A: No, they won't deal any combat damage. The Sledge triggers on the creature blocking or being blocked, and the triggered ability will go on the stack and resolve before damage can be assigned.
When the Duskworker with the Sledge is blocked by Tel-Jilad Archers, both the equipment ability and Duskworker's ability trigger. Assuming you control both the Sledge and the Duskworker, you choose the order they go on the stack, and the smart thing to do would be to put the Duskworker's ability on the stack last so that it will resolve first, in time to protect the Duskworker from the Sledge.
The Archers will still be destroyed, since the ability from the Sledge doesn't damage, enchant, equip, block or target the Archers, which are the 5 things protection protects from.
Q: What happens if Pernicious Deed is activated with artifact lands in play? Do they stay, or get destroyed since they have no converted mana cost?
-- Aaron Jarvis
A: The artifact lands will be destroyed. Cards with no converted mana costs are regarded as having a converted mana cost of zero, and the Deed will always destroy them.
Q: If my opponent plays Armageddon or similar to destroy all lands, can I play Second Sunrise? Can I play Second Sunrise before that the lands are destroyed and apply the effect later to save my lands?
A: For this to work, you need to tap your lands for mana in response to Armageddon. This adds mana to your mana pool, and it will stay there until the end of the current phase, or until you use it to pay for something.
So, you keep the mana in your pool until Armageddon has resolved, and then use it to play Second Sunrise and get your lands back. Playing Second Sunrise before the Armageddon would have no effect in particular unless something else had been destroyed that turn.
Q: How would an artifact that is sacrificed for mana, like a Lotus Petal, interact with spells with affinity? Do you count the artifacts you control when you play the spell, or after you tap for mana (after the Petal is out of play)?
A: You determine what you need to pay for the spell right before you pay for it (see rule 409.1f-h in the Comprehensive Rulebook), so your best option would be to announce your spell, find what you need to pay, then sacrifice the Petal to pay for the spell. The cost is locked in, and doesn't change when you sacrifice the Petal during the announcement of the spell. You are allowed to sacrifice Petal before you play the spell, but then it wouldn't count for affinity.
Q: If I have an equipped creature, but then my opponent gains control of the creature (or the equipment for that matter), does the creature remain equipped as you can only equip your creatures?
A: You're not allowed to play the equip ability to equip creatures you don't control, but equipment is allowed to be attached to creatures you don't control. If an opponent takes control over your creature (for example with Confiscate), any equipment stays on it, but you still control it, and you are allowed to move it to another creature later.
Q: I have Triskelion with Scythe of the Wretched equipped to it and a Goblin Sharpshooter in play. If I take one counter from Triskelion and deal to a target, then deal two damage to itself, then tap Goblin Sharpshooter and kill Triskelion, it comes back, Sharpshooter untaps, then do it over again. Can I do this and how many times can I do it?
-- Andrew Svoboda
A: You can do this. The Triskelion takes lethal damage, which triggers both the Scythe (since it dealt damage to itself) and the Sharpshooter (since Triskelion goes to the graveyard). This brings back the Triskelion, equipped by the Scythe, and untaps the Sharpshooter, and you can start the cycle over again. You can repeat this as many times as you want until your opponent stops you somehow or you choose not to repeat it.
A: Soul Foundry creates a token creature that's an exact copy of a Deranged Hermit, including its mana cost and abilities. You will have to pay during your upkeep, or sacrifice the token.
Q: Mirrodin introduced a new text on basic lands, that is "Basic Land - Island" for example. If I use Mind Bend to change that text "island" to "swamp" for instance, does it means that the island is going to produce black mana?
A: This is correct. Mind Bend, Magical Hack and similar can now change what color of mana a basic land taps for. The text in the type-line of the card can be changed, and the land will tap for the color of mana the land type it has been changed to can tap for.
Note: older basic land cards, which weren't printed with this text, are still treated as though they were.
P.S.: Lands with this text were first printed in Eighth Edition, a few months before Mirrodin was released.
Q: Can you reveal any of the Mirrodin artifact lands in your hand to get mana from Metalworker?
-- Merijn Jonkheer
A: Yes, you can. The artifact lands has the word "artifact" in their type line, so they are artifacts, just like "regular" artifacts and artifact creatures. You can reveal them to Metalworker and get mana for them.
Q: Does Mesmeric Orb's ability trigger in the untap step? I understand that players get their first chance to play spells or ablities only on the upkeep step, does that mean that the Orb's ability can't be Stifled? If it can, will it break the mentioned rule? Do I need to use multiple Stifles for each permanent untapped?
A: Mesmeric Orb triggers any time you untap a permanent, including in your untap step. You can't play anything at this time, and anything that triggers in the upkeep waits until the upkeep to be put on the stack. The Orb's triggered abilities go to the stack at the beginning of the upkeep along with anything else that triggers then, and they can be Stifled just like any other triggered ability. You would need one Stifle for each permanent that was untapped – each permanent triggers Mesmeric Orb separately.
Q: If two Myr Retrievers hit the graveyard at the same time, can each return the other to your hand? Would there be a difference if they did not go to the graveyard at the same time as when they were sacrifice to something like an Atog?
-- Aaron Cameron
A: If the Retrievers go to the graveyard at the same time (for example if someone plays Wrath of God), the creatures first go to the graveyard, then their abilities trigger, and you choose the targets. At this time, both the Retrievers are in the graveyard, and legal targets for each others abilities.
This only works if the Retrievers die at the same time. If you sacrifice the creatures separately, like to an Atog, the ability triggers right away when the creature is sacrificed, and the target to be returned must be chosen then, before you sacrifice the next.
Older/General Card Questions
A: You win when Coalition Victory resolves. Cromat counts as having all colors in its mana cost, so you control a permanent of each color. The text doesn't say that you have to control five different permanents, so one permanent can count for many colors.
Q: I have a Death Pits of Rath and Vampiric Dragon in play. I activated Vampiric Dragon ability and deal 1 damage to one of my opponent's creatures with a toughness more than 1. Due to Death Pits of Rath's triggered ability, the creature is destroyed. Does my Vampiric Dragon get a +1/+1 counter?
A: The Dragon gets a counter. The Dragon knows which creatures it has damaged this turn, and regardless of how they die, the ability will trigger, and the Dragon will get a counter.
Q: Is it possible to tie a game of Magic? I had a creature with Treacherous Link on it and attacked with all my creatures, including it. My opponent only had one blocker and blocked my creature with Treacherous Link, redirecting the damage to me. This was enough to kill me. But the rest of my attackers did enough damage to kill him. Whose damage resolves first?
A: A game of Magic can end in a draw, for example if both players take lethal damage at the same time. In your example, the Treacherous Link has a replacement effect that causes damage that would be dealt to the enchanted creature to be dealt to its controller instead. This damage is dealt at the same time as the other damage, and both players die at the same time.
Q: If I have a Crumbling Sanctuary in play, and at the moment I play Phyrexian Processor I pay 20 life. Will I remove the top twenty cards of my deck, or will I lose 20 life?
-- Manuel Acevedo Alcázar
A: You lose 20 life. Crumbling Sanctuary only replaces damage with removing cards from your deck, it doesn't affect loss of life caused by other costs or effects. Phyrexian Processor doesn't say it's dealing damage to you, so Crumbling Sanctuary has no effect on it.
Q: If there is a Gaea's Cradle in play, and I play a second one, can I gain mana from my Cradle before it is sent to the graveyard?
-- Chris Chan
A: No, you can't. The game checks for state-based before you get priority to tap the land for mana, so the second Cradle will be put into the graveyard before you can use it.
Q: I was wondering what would happen if an activated Mishra's Factory Assembly-Worker or an activated Chimeric Staff was put into the graveyard while I had an Enduring Renewal in play. Would they come back to my hand since they were creatures when they went, or would the Renewal's ability not trigger since they are no longer creatures once in the graveyard?
-- Charlie Stewart
A: They would come back. The cards are creatures when they would be put into the graveyard, and they return to the hand. The replacement effect only looks at what the permanents look like when they would be put into the graveyard, not what they would be in the graveyard.
Q: Suppose my opponent has Worship (with a creature in play) and is at 1 life. Eladamri's Vineyard is in play. When it becomes his turn and he reaches the pre-combat main phase, if he is unable to use up the mana, does he lose?
-- Jeffrey Synn
A: Yes, he will. If you have any unused mana in your pool at the end of the phase, you take mana burn, and this causes a loss of life. This is not damage, and Worship does not affect it.
Q: Your question about Blood Frenzy got me thinking. When exactly does a creature stop becoming an "attacking" creature? You mentioned something about casting Blood Frenzy on your opponents attacking creature. Can I wait for the combat damage to go on the stack, and then cast Blood Frenzy, I will not take 4 extra damage, but the creature will die right? When is the last time that I could legally play a restricted "attacking or blocking" creature on a creature?
-- Cathy Carter
A: A creature stops being attacking or blocking when the combat phase is over. There is a step in combat after combat damage has resolved, called end of combat, and both players can play spells or abilities at this time. If the creatures are still around, they still count as attacking or blocking if they were in combat, and you can play spells and abilities that target attacking or blocking creatures. This means that you can play Blood Frenzy on a surviving attacker or blocker, giving it +4/+0 (far too late to change how much damage it deals) and destroying it at end of turn.
Q: I noticed on Magic Online that Anurid Brushhopper and Astral Slide's ability uses the stack when returning a creature to play at the end of turn. Does that mean I could Stifle it to permanently remove the creature from the game or would the creature try to return again at the end of the next turn?
A: You can Stifle the ability that tries to return the creatures to play, and if you do, you counter the ability, and the creature stays removed for ever. The abilities set up delayed triggered abilities that will trigger once, and if they are countered, the creatures are gone forever, unless you Wish them back.
Q: If a Tim tims a Tim, can the timmed Tim tim the timming Tim before the Tim tims the timmed Tim?
-- Timmy, Power Gamer
A: Tim can tim the timmed tim in response to the other Tim timming it. Both Tims are destroyed.
(Translation: If a Prodigal Sorcerer uses its ability to deal damage to another Prodigal Sorcerer, can the other Prodigal Sorcerer use its own ability to deal damage to the first before the first Prodigal Sorcerer kills it. The answer is: Yes, it can, but destroying the first Sorcerer in response won't stop its ability, and the result is that both the Sorcerers will be destroyed.)
Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.