Saturday School #52

Posted in Feature on November 15, 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: I have a question about Grab the Reins. After you pay the entwine cost, can you attack with the creature, then sacrifice it and deal the damage, or do you just pay the entwine cost to use one of their creatures instead of yours? -- Charles Sickles

A: You have to perform all the actions on Grab the Reins when it resolves, so you would first gain control of the targeted creature, then choose and sacrifice a creature to deal damage to the other chosen target. You can't attack or do anything else between these two actions, so if you want to attack with the creature you gained control over, you must sacrifice another creature. You can choose to sacrifice any creature you control, you don't have to sacrifice the one you gained control over.

Q: I have a Prodigal Sorcerer in play, equipped with Scythe of the Wretched. My friend has an Ambush Commander. If I tap my Sorcerer to kill a forest, what happens to the Scythe?

A: The forest goes to the graveyard, and the Scythe's ability triggers. When the triggered ability resolves, the forest returns to play under your control, but as it's not a creature anymore, the Scythe can't equip it - it just stays attached to the Prodigal Sorcerer.

Proteus Machine
Q: I have Pentavus in play, and Proteus Machine face down. I then morph Proteus Machine and change its type to a Pentavite. Can I sacrifice it to use Pentavus' 2nd ability and give it a +1/+1 counter, since it doesn't specify whether or not I should sacrifice a token?

A: You can do this. You can sacrifice any creature with the type Pentavite, it doesn't have to be a token since it doesn't specify this in the ability. You can also change the type of a Mistform creature to Pentavite; or, with Artificial Evolution, you could change the text of Pentavus to let it create and sacrifice Elves.

Q: If I have Words of Waste and a Mind's Eye in play, can I play Words of Waste's ability and then Mind's Eye's ability to force my opponent to discard the card he drew during his draw step? -- Rob Jacobs

A: Almost. You can certainly use Words of Waste to skip your next draw to have your opponent discard, and pay for Mind's Eye to set up a draw, which will be skipped. However, your opponent can choose to discard any card from his hand, it doesn't have to be the one he just drew if he has more than one card available.

Q: I have a question about the card Temporal Cascade. Its effect says that you shuffle your graveyard into your library, does that mean I shuffle Temporal Cascade into my library, too?

A: No, it doesn't. The shuffling happens when the spell is resolving, and at this time, the Temporal Cascade card is still on the stack. A spell card doesn't go from the stack to the graveyard until the spell has fully resolved and all its effects have been executed.

Q: If I activate my Oblivion Stone, will it destroy the artifact lands, too?

A: Oblivion Stone won't destroy artifact lands, because they are lands. Oblivion Stone destroys nonland permanents, which means "destroy anything that is not a land". The artifact lands are lands, and will not be affected by the effect. This is described in rule 413.2g in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: When Cathodion is put in graveyard from play, you get 3 colorless mana. If this happens with Cathodion as a blocker, and you can't use the mana right then, does it carry over until your turn, like a mana drain, or do you get mana burn? -- Chad Sanders

A: You get the mana when Cathodion is put in the graveyard, and if you can't use it before the phase ends (in this case the combat phase), you will take mana burn. There is a step in the combat phase after combat damage has resolved (appropriately named the "end of combat step"), where both players can play instants and abilities, so there is still some time to spend the mana.

Q: What happens if the damage from Consume Spirit is prevented - does the player still gain life? -- Adam Pinkston

A: The player still gains life. The two parts of the effect are independent of each other, and the player can gain more life then the amount of damage that was dealt. It would be different if it said "gain life equal to the amount of damage dealt", like the similar card Drain Life.

March of the Machines
Q: My opponent has some artifact lands and a Nature's Revolt in play. If I cast a March of the Machines, what happens to the artifact lands? Do they become 0/0 creatures and die, or does Nature's Revolt keep them 2/2 creatures?

A: March of the Machines says it affects noncreature artifacts - i.e. artifacts that aren't creatures. With Nature's Revolt in play, artifact lands count as 2/2 artifact land creatures, which means March of the Machines can't affect them, and they stay 2/2.

Note that this is true regardless of what order the two cards came into play. We say that March of the Machines depends on Nature's Revolt, because Nature's Revolt can prevent it from applying. This means that we always apply Nature's Revolt before March of the Machines, so the artifact lands always end up being 2/2 artifact land creatures.

Q: I was in a game with a Power Conduit and a Western Paladin enchanted with an Unstable Mutation in play. I tapped the Power Conduit to remove the first -1/-1 counter and replace it with a +1/+1 counter. My friend said that that is not allowed. I just want to know who is right.

A: You are right. You can remove any counter from a permanent you control, including
-1/-1 counters, and put either charge counters or +1/+1 counters on something. You can use this to have Unstable Mutation make your creature grow instead of shrink each turn.

Q: I have a question about Barter in Blood. For this card to be played does every player have to have two creatures so that it won't be countered because of no legal targets, or can only the opponent(s) have the two creatures and it still work? -- Jimmy Cockerell

A: Barter in Blood doesn't have any targets - you see this as the word "target" is not on it. You can play this spell with any amount of creatures in play, and when it resolves, each player has to choose and sacrifice two creatures. If you have only one or two creatures, you have to sacrifice them all, if you have none, nothing in particular happens to you. The optimal time to play this card is when you have no creatures and your opponent has two.

Older/General Card Questions

Q: If I have Dross Harvester in play, do I gain 2 life if it dies?

A: You gain 2 life. Dross Harvester triggers on any creature going to the graveyard, and due to how the game looks for triggered abilities when permanents leave play, it will also trigger on itself. When a permanent leaves play, the game looks back in time to determine if anything will trigger, and since the Dross Harvester was in play at that time, with the ability, the life gain triggers, and you gain 2 life when it resolves. This is explained in rule 410.10d in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: Does regeneration stop all of the damage dealt by Double Strike? -- Steven Quinteros

A: Almost. When a creature regenerates, it is tapped, all damage is removed from it, and it's removed from combat. If a creature blocking a double striker is destroyed from damage in the first damage step and regenerates, it is removed from combat, and the attacking double striker won't be able to assign any damage in the second combat damage step, since the blocking creature is no longer in combat.

Note that this doesn't work if the attacking creature has Trample - all of its damage will hit you in the second combat damage step, because there's no longer a blocking creature to assign it to.

Trolls of Tel-Jilad
Q: The wording on Trolls of Tel-Jilad says "regenerate target green creature", does this mean that I can regenerate my opponents creatures and therefore tapping them?

A: Not quite. The ability means that you can put a regeneration "shield" on any green creature, including your opponent's. The shield itself does nothing until the creature would be destroyed, at which point it'll be tapped and have damage removed instead. The creature isn't "regenerated" until it would die. In the case of your opponent's creatures, you probably want them to die instead of just getting tapped.

Q: If I play an Urza's Blueprints, is it legal to put the Echo cost on the stack during my next upkeep, tap the Blueprints to draw a card, then let Echo resolve and refuse to pay the cost? -- Jonathan Cicci

A: Yes, this is allowed. Under older rules sets (Fifth Edition and earlier), you could not use a permanent's abilities until you had paid any upkeep costs it had, but this was changed with Sixth Edition and later rules. Today, echo is just a regular triggered ability that goes on the stack, and you can respond to it by tapping the Blueprints. When the echo resolves, you can choose whether to pay or not, and sacrifice the Blueprints of you choose not to pay.

Q: Why does the card Floodwater Dam have X twice in its ability's box?

A: This is to indicate that you must pay two mana for each land you want to tap, in addition to the last mana in the activation cost. For example, if you want to tap two lands, you must pay 2+2+1 = 5 mana. If you want to tap three lands, you must pay 3+3+1 = 7 mana, and so forth.

Extra Arms
Q: If an Abyssal Specter enchanted with Extra Arms attacks and is not blocked, how many cards does the defender discard to the specter's ability?

A: Assuming you target the defending player with Extra Arms, he or she will discard two cards.

  • First, when the Specter attacks, Extra Arms makes it deal two damage to the target of your choice. If you target a player, this damage will trigger the Specter's ability and that player will have to discard a card.
  • Next, the defending player declares no blockers, and after that the Specter deals its combat damage. This triggers the Specter's discard ability again, and the player will have to discard another card.
  • Q: I know that Dark Ritual is now of type Instant, but it still produces mana. Can it be countered or does it not go on the stack like mana abilities?

    A: It can be countered. In general, all spells can be countered, even if they produce mana, unless they say that they can't be countered. Only mana abilities don't use the stack, and resolve right away, any spell that gives mana has to be played and resolved like any other spell.

    Q: My opponent has two morph creatures out, face down, and I have Unnatural Selection in play, and I change both of their types to Legend. Does the most recent one of them become buried?

    A: No, it doesn't. The Legend rule (420.5e in the Comprehensive Rulebook) says that legends with the same name are put in the graveyard as a state-based effect, but in this case, the cards don't have names, so they remain in play. The Legend rule only applies if the permanents have names that are identical, but face down creatures are nameless, and won't be affected.

    Q: What happens if i play a card like Parallel Thoughts, Mangara's Tome, or Kyren Archive and after removing cards end up having another player uses Confiscate on it and using the ability. Are you alowwed to have another player's cards in your hand? --Alex Maron

    A: You are never allowed to have another player's cards in your hand, and the texts of the cards you list prevents this from happening.

    Parallel Thoughts says that you may put a card from the pile you removed into your hand, and if you weren't the player removing the cards, nothing happens.

    Mangara's Tome and Kyren Archive both say that cards are put in their owner's hand, so it's usually not a good thing to activate them if you're not the owner of the removed cards.

    Q: I was wondering about costs and Medallions. Suppose I have a Ruby Medallion and 4 mountains in play, and I want to cast Blaze. Can I pay my four mana, and deal 4 damage because the Medallion reduces it by one, or does it not affect costs? --Boyd Stevens

    A: Medallions reduce the total play cost of the spell, so this works. You first choose the value you want to be (in this case 4), then you figure out the cost to play it. Normally this is , but because of the Medallion, it is reduced to , and you only have to pay 4 mana in total.

    Q: How does Dream Halls work with artifacts? Can you discard any card with colorless in the mana cost, can you discard an artifact to play an artifact? -- Jason Burns

    A: This doesn't work. Artifacts are considered colorless (even though the frame is steel gray or brown), and don't have a color. This means that no artifact cards share a color with any other, and you can't use the Dream Halls to play artifacts.

    Ambush Commander
    Q: My opponent has an Ambush Commander in play and 5 forests. I play a Decree of Pain. Can he choose to destroy first his Ambush Commander, and not to sacrifice any of his forests, because they aren't creatures now? Is it the same if I cycle the Decree of Pain?

    A: Decree of Pain destroys all the creatures at the same time, so he won't have any option to destroy anything "first". Both the Commander and all the forests would be destroyed. This also applies if the Decree is cycled - all the creatures will have zero or less toughness at the same time, and will be destroyed at the same time.

    However, note that if he has available, he could respond to your Decree by sacrificing the Ambush Commander to its own ability. This would save the forests, regardless of whether the Decree was being cycled or not.

    Q: If I activate a Grindstone and my opponent turns over the first two cards of their library and they share a color, may I use Elemental Augury to look at the next three cards of their library and arrange them before they turn them into their graveyard. I am under the impression that I can as a fast effect, but I would like a professional answer before I try it with my friends. -- Keith Barrow

    A: This doesn't work. You're not allowed to play any spells or abilities during the resolution of Grindstone. You have to deal with the first cards flipped and all the repeats before anyone gets priority to play anything, so it won't be possible to rearrange the library between the repeats of Grindstone like this.

    Q: Can I kill a 2/2 creature with a Mogg Fanatic in combat?

    A: Yes, you can. You need the Fanatic to either block or be blocked, then put combat damage assignments on the stack. The Fanatic assigns one point of damage to the other creature, and then you respond by sacrificing the Fanatic to deal another point of damage. When combat damage resolves, it is dealt as originally assigned, even if Mogg Fanatic is no longer in play, and the 2/2 creature will die. See section 310 in the Comprehensive Rulebook for full information on how the combat damage step works.

    Q: I played Patriarch's Bidding, naming Clerics. My opponent named artifact creature to bring back his two Solemn Simulacrums. Can he do this? Is artifact creature a true creature type or just a card type?

    A: Artifact creature is just a card type, and you can't name artifact creature to Patriarch's Bidding, you have to name a creature type. Most artifact creatures don\t have a creature type, and aren't possible to return with Patriarch's Bidding. Artifact creatures with creature types have them listed after the words artifact creature, for example, Bottle Gnomes is an Artifact Creature - Gnome, and naming Gnome would return it to play. Solemn Simulacrum has no creature type.

    Q: Can I redirect damage from Warrior en-Kor to Deftblade Elite and use the Deftblade Elite's ability to prevent that damage?

    A: Yes, you can. Warrior en-Kor's ability makes the combat damage to be dealt to something else, in this case the Elite. Deftblade Elite's ability can prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to it, and this includes combat damage redirected by other effects.

    Q: Does Transcendence reverse Loxodon Peacekeeper's abilty? As instead of lowest life now gives the player control, does it become affected by highest life basically? -- Ben Laird

    A: The only things Transcendence do are to switch how you lose, from having zero life or less to having twenty life or more, and it makes you gain life whenever you lose life. Anything else in the game that refers to life totals, life gain or life loss remain unchanged, and the player with the lowest life total is still the player gaining control of the Peacekeeper, even though this player is now the player who is farthest from losing.

    Q: I know that Trap Runner can block any unblocked creature even if the creature is unblockable. I only wonder if Trap Runner uses its ability to block a creature with trample, can the attacking player trample all the damage over to me? What happen when a creature blocking a creature with trample is removed from combat before damage?

    A: If Trap Runner blocks a creature with trample, all the damage will trample over to you. When assigning trample damage, a player must first assign enough damage to destroy the blocking creature before anything can be assigned to the player, but as there is no blocking creature, everything can be assigned directly to the player. The same is true if the blocking creature is destroyed before damage is assigned - all the damage can be assigned to the player.

    Q: In a tournament, I can use cards from any expansion, so long as they have the same name as a card from a legal expansion. Does this mean that I can use the "World Championship Decks" cards in tournament play?

    A: No, it doesn't. The cards in the World Championship decks are not legal for tournament use, you can see this because they have a gold border, and also a different card back. Cards need to have the regular card back, and a white or black border. Unglued cards which have a silver border, are also not allowed in tournaments.

    Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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