Saturday School #51

Posted in Feature on November 8, 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

Platinum Angel
Q: What happens if I control a Platinum Angel and my opponent controls his own Platinum Angel and as the games goes on neither angel gets destroyed? Do we play forever? -- Tyler Sheffield

A: If both players have Platinum Angels in play, and no ways to win the game (for example, if you have empty libraries and no useful cards in hand or in play), the players can choose to draw the game and move on to the next game. The other option would be to sit and stare at each other forever, which isn't a good solution, and not legal in tournament play.

Q: If I use Isochron Scepter imprinted with Final Fortune can I use it every turn to give me an extra turn every turn without losing the game?

A: No, you can't, because Final Fortune still makes you lose the game at the end of the extra turn. Isochron Scepter copies all the text on the imprinted card, including the negative effects. To be able to not give your opponent any more turns you need to have a way to not lose the game, such as having Platinum Angel in play.

[Editor's Note: This situation actually came up at Pro Tour New Orleans

Q: I have a Silklash Spider equipped with Loxodon Warhammer and there are two flying creatures in play. When I use the Spider's ability to deal 5 damage to each creature with flying, do I gain 5 or 10 life? What if I've two Loxodon Warhammers equipped, would I gain the same amount of life or double that? -- Jason Ong

A: The Warhammer would give you life for each point damage the Spider deals, which means that the more flying creatures are in play, the more life you gain. If there are two creatures, you would gain 10 life. If you have two Warhammers equipping the same Spider, it would have two separate abilities giving you life, and you would gain twice the amount of life.

Q: What happens if you Radiate a Grab the Reins? Can you even use Radiate on Grab the Reins if you are choosing the second mode of the spell? Does it let you gain control (and then sacrifice) every creature in play if you entwine it? -- Seth Ladd

A: You can Radiate a Grab the Reins if the entwine cost hasn't been paid. If it has been paid, it has two targets and can't be radiated. If you RadiateGrab the Reins using the first mode, you gain control over all creatures in play, and they gain haste. If you RadiateGrab the Reins in the second mode, you target each player and each creature in play with the damage ability, and you must sacrifice a creature for each. This means that you end up sacrificing all your creatures, and you should stack all the copies so that you deal as much damage as possible to your opponent and his or her creatures.

Q: If I have an Illusionary Wall and a Power Conduit in play, can I use the Power Conduit to remove the age counters placed on the Wall? -- Adam Barton

A: Yes, you can. Age counters from cumulative upkeep are counters like any other, and Power Conduit can turn them into +1/+1 counters.

Q: In Mirrodin, all of the artifact lands have the statement "*name of artifact land* is not a spell." What is the purpose of having that statement there? -- Bo Aughtry

A: Artifacts are generally spells, which can be countered, but lands are not spells, and can't be countered. To resolve the confusion on how to play the cards and whether they can be countered or not, it was decided that the artifact lands are played like lands.

The reminder text also clarifies their interaction with Vedalken Archmage; the Archmage triggers only when you play an artifact spell.

Seat of the Synod
Q: What is the interaction between Artifact Lands such as Seat of the Synod and Blood Moon? The lands obviously only produce red mana, but do their types become: "Basic Land - Mountain" or "Artifact Land - Mountain" (which would, logistically, maintain their usage for Shrapnel Blast, Affinity, etc)? -- Mitchell Okun

A: Blood Moon only changes the land type of the land, but it doesn't affect the land's name, its status as an artifact, or the fact that its nonbasic. The land would be an "Artifact Land - Mountain" named Seat of the Synod, and can only tap for red mana. It still counts for affinity, and can be sacrificed to Shrapnel Blast. You can also destroy it with Wasteland.

Q: How do the wishes from Judgment interact with Shared Fate? For example, could my opponent use Living Wish target cards that I removed from his library with Shared Fate? If so, does he get to look at them first?

A: You can only Wish for the removed cards using Death Wish, and then you will get a random card from the removed cards. The reason for this is that the cards are removed from the game face down, and you don't know what kind of cards they are, even if your opponent is allowed to look at them. The only Wish that can get any card without restrictions is Death Wish, so that's the only Wish that can get face-down cards.

Q: Do the Mirrodin cards Goblin War Wagon and Goblin Dirigible count as Goblins for a card like Coat of Arms?

A: No, they don't. Coat of Arms looks for the creatures to share a creature type. The cards you mention don't have a creature type, so they don't count as Goblins. (Contrast them with Goblin Replica; its type is "Artifact Creature - Goblin", and therefore Coat of Arms does count it as a Goblin.)

Q: What happens if I equip a Phyrexian Colossus with Vorrac Battlehorns? -- Steve Luckman

A: Your Colossus will be unblockable by any amount of creatures. The built-in ability says you must block with three or more creatures, while the Battlehorns says it can't be blocked by more than one creature. Any number of blockers will cause an illegal block, so it can't be blocked by creatures. It can still be blocked by abilities such as the one from Trap Runner, though.

Q: If my opponent uses Mindslaver on me and makes me play Index, will I be able to see the cards and the order he puts them back in? -- Chris Groh

A: Yes, you will. It's still you playing the cards and performing all the actions, you just have to do whatever your opponent tells you to. Your opponent will say which order you put the cards back in, and then you do it.

Quicksilver Elemental
Q: If Quicksilver Elemental, Isochron Scepter, and March of the Machines are all in play, could Quicksilver Elemental gain the activated abilities of Isochron Scepter to copy imprinted instant card?

A: You can use the Elemental to copy the ability of the creature-Scepter, but the ability wouldn't do anything, as no cards are imprinted on the Elemental. Imprinted cards are always imprinted on a specific artifact, and copying the artifact or its ability doesn't copy any imprinted cards along with it.

Q: Does Goblin Charbelcher target before or after you reveal cards? Normally you must target first, but Charbelcher's wording suggests otherwise. -- Matt Greene

A: Targets of spells and abilities are always chosen when they are played, regardless of where they appear in the text. Even though there are clauses in the text that do something before the target is affected, you must choose the target as the ability is being played. You don't get to see how much damage is dealt before you choose the target

Q: If you activate Stalking Stones' ability, can it still produce mana? -- Edi Terlevic

A: Yes, it can. Stalking Stones remains a land, and keeps all abilities and characteristics it had before the ability was activated, it just becomes a creature in addition to what it was before. Note that if Stalking Stones is turned into a creature the turn it is played, it won't be able to tap for mana afterwards as it's affected by summoning sickness.

General/Older Card Questions

Q: Can a player pay for regeneration at any time he or she chooses, or must a creature have a reason to be regenerated (lethal damage, destroyed, etc.)? -- Gary Withrow

A: You can usually play a regeneration ability any time you have priority, and this will put up a regeneration shield on the permanent. The shield will last until it gets used, or until the end of the turn. Any permanent can have regeneration shields, not just creatures, and you can make as many shields as you like. If a permanent with a regeneration shield would be destroyed, it's instead tapped, removed from combat, and all damage is removed from it. This is what we call "being regenerated".

Lure
Q: If two creatures are enchanted with Lure and both attack, which one is blocked first?

A: If there are no other restrictions to attack or block, the defending chooses how blockers are declared. Creatures may block either of the Lured attackers, and as long as all the defending player's creatures are blocking one of them, the block is legal. The blockers don't have to all block the same creature.

Q: If my opponent has Eternal Dragon in the graveyard and I have Withered Wretch in play. When he pays to bring the Eternal Dragon to his hand, can I in response pay one mana to remove it from the game? This way he wouldn't get the Dragon back and he's spent his mana? -- Michael Clark

A: You can respond to the Dragon's ability with the ability of the Wretch and remove it from the game before it's returned. The Dragon's ability is activated (indicated by the colon between the cost and the effect), and the cost is paid when the ability is played. The cost is not refunded even if the ability won't have any effect.

Q: What happens if I play Reins of Power while my opponent is attacking and before blockers are declared?

A: All creatures in play switch sides and are removed from combat. Rule 306.2 in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that creatures that change controller are removed from combat. There will no longer be any attacking creatures, so no creatures can block. No combat damage will be dealt in this combat phase.

Q: I have Earthcraft and an untapped land enchanted with Squirrel Nest in play. I then tap the enchanted land to create a squirrel token. Can I tap this freshly made Squirrel to activate Earthcraft's ability, then untap the enchanted land and keep repeating this process to create infinite squirrels and dole out massive amounts of squirrelly mayhem?

A: This combo works. Even if the fresh Squirrels have summoning sickness, they can be tapped to pay for costs on other cards, and you can create a very large amount of Squirrels with just the two cards. This is one of the reasons Earthcraft is banned in the Extended and Type 1.5 tournament formats, and restricted in Type 1.

Q: My opponent has a Sphere of Grace and a Darkest Hour. I attack him with a Wild Mongrel and discard to make it green. I say he should take 3 damage because the Mongrel is now green, he says 1 because it's still black. Who is correct? -- Brent Smalley

A: You are correct. In this case we have two effects that modify the creature's color. You apply these effects in timestamp order (the order they started) - Darkest Hour makes it black, then Wild Mongrel makes itself green. Overall it's green, so the Sphere cannot prevent the damage.

Q: I want to play a Horned Kavu and have no other creature in play... do I have to return it to my hand for itself or can I play it at all? -- Maik Horstmann

A: You can play the Kavu without any creatures in play, but you still have to return a red or a green creature to your hand when it comes into play. In most cases, you would have to return the Kavu itself. Ways to avoid this are either to change the color of the Kavu (using Darkest Hour or similar), change the text on the Kavu (for example, by playing Alter Reality on it twice), play Reins of Power so that you don't control the Kavu when its ability resolves, or counter the triggered ability using Stifle.

Q: I have heard that if I have in play Yawgmoth's Bargain and a tapped Mana Vault I don't take any damage even if I don't untap it. Is it true? -- Giacomo Faden

A: This is true. Mana Vault's current Oracle text says that the ability that deals damage to you triggers at the beginning of the draw step, and since the Bargain makes you skip the draw step, the ability won't trigger. The card text was changed this way from the original text so that you would be able to untap the Vault before the game checks if you take damage or not.

Q: I would like to know if this combination is legal. My friend used Voice of the Woods and Intruder Alarm. He tapped 5 Elves and got a 7/7 Elemental. Then he said that he could untap all of his creatures because of Intruder Alarm's effect. He then continues to tap and untap his elves for the 7/7 elementals. Can this combination work? If yes, he would have infinite 7/7 Elementals.

A: This combination works fine. First all the Elves are tapped to pay the cost of the ability, then the Elemental comes into play and triggers Intruder Alarm, which will in turn untap all the creatures. You can use any untapped Elves to activate the Voice, so this could be repeated as many times as your opponents wants to. There is no such thing as "infinite" Elementals, but he could certainly make "a very large number" of them.

Juggernaut
Q: If I attack with a Juggernaut and my opponent does not block it, and instead uses a Royal Assassin to kill it, can I use a Voltaic Key to untap the Juggernaut in response and counter the Assassin's ability? Regardless if the Juggernaut lives or dies, does it deal damage to the opponent? -- Robert Vroman

A: You can use the Key to untap the Juggernaut. This will cause the Assassin to have an illegal target, and its ability will be countered (since the ability can only target a tapped creature). The Juggernaut will still deal combat damage to the opponent, as the Key doesn't say that the creature is removed from combat when untapped.

Q: Does zero damage count as being damage, or does it count as being prevented (for example a creature has an ability that triggers when it deals damage, and its power is reduced to zero, is zero damage dealt)? -- Kip Knutson

A: Zero damage is equal to no damage, and anything that triggers off damage being dealt won't trigger if all the damage is prevented or if zero damage is dealt. A creature with zero power usually won't deal damage in the combat damage step. This is described in rule 419.5a in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: What if Blood Moon is out and there is a Legendary Land in play like Karakas. Can I play another Karakas that would become a mountain? If Blood Moon is removed from play what happens to the Legendary Lands? Do they both get destroyed or does the on that is timestamped first survive?

A: Blood Moon changes the land type of the nonbasic land to Mountain, but leaves the legendary status and the name intact. This means that when you play a second Karakas the game will see two legendary permanents with the same name, and the most recent one will be put in the graveyard by a state-based effect. This rule works the same both with and without Blood Moon in play.

Q: Can I play with misprint or miscut cards? -- Dima Volevodz

Serendib Efreet
A: As a general rule, you can. However, there are some guidelines. The card must be indistinguishable from the rest of your deck, so if the picture on the back of the card is off-center, you must use opaque sleeves when playing. If there are "crimp marks" on the card (it has been mangled by the machine that closes the boosters), or the card is missing some parts, I would strongly advise against using the card at all.

Cards with misprints on the front are played according to their Oracle text - for example, the Japanese Cursed Scroll has a misprinted activation cost of instead of the correct , it should always played as if it said . Some misprints are more common than the correct versions, such as the Revised Serendib Efreet. It has the picture and card frame of Ifh-Biff Efreet, which has another color. It's still a blue card, even though the card frame is green.

Some cards are miscut to show parts of two different cards on the front. These should be played as if they were the card with the name showing. A top/bottom miscut would be played as if it were the bottom card, a left/right miscut would be played as the right card (since that's the name that's showing).

In all cases, it is preferable to have "good" versions of the cards, and intentionally abusing misprint cards in tournaments is considered cheating.

Q: Can I enter a tournament of a new format and use a card like Story Circle that I have an older version of, but the older version is a different rarity?

A: This is allowed. Tournaments don't look at the rarity of a card, only the name. All cards with the same name are the same, even though they have different artworks or are from different expansions. You can use your Story Circle from Mercadian Masques in today's Standard format tournaments because it has been reprinted in Eighth Edition, even though Mercadian Masques is no longer in the format.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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