Saturday School #54

Posted in Feature on November 29, 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

March of the Machines

Q: Lets say I have a nice set of artifact lands in play with Sacred Ground happily awaiting any land destruction shenanigans my opponent might play. Then, suppose my opponent throws down March of the Machines. What happens?

A: Your lands go to the graveyard. Sacred Ground only returns lands that are being destroyed directly by an opponent's effect, but in this case, the lands are being destroyed by the game rules, right after March of the Machines. March of the Machines is not the spell that destroys the lands, it just makes the lands 0/0. After that, the game checks for state-based effects, and puts the lands in the graveyard, and they won't return to play.

Q: If my opponent has a Mindslaver out, and I have a Mindslaver out, and my opponent sacrifices his to control my next turn, and I sacrifice mine during his turn in response to control my own next turn. Who gets to control it?

A: First of all, this can't happen, as Mindslaver is a legendary permanent, and you can't have two of them in play at the same time. However, if your opponent sacrifices his Mindslaver in your turn, and you play your own Mindslaver, then sacrifice it, it has the effect you look for. You will have two effects giving control over a turn to different players, and this is handled just like if two players had gained control over the same creature, for example. The effects are applied in timestamp order, and the last effect wins out. The last player to achieve control of a turn is the player that will decide what happens during that turn.

Q: War Elemental says, "Whenever damage is dealt to an opponent, put that many +1/+1 counters on War Elemental."Does that mean in multiplayer that every time damage is dealt to any one of my opponents (even if it's not done by me) I can put appropriate counters on the Elemental?

A: This is correct. War Elemental grows every time your opponent takes damage, regardless of who deals it. In a large multiplayer game, your elemental could grow quite fast.

Q: Can I use Power Conduit to remove poison counters?

A: No, you can't. Power Conduit can only remove counters on permanents. Poison counters are special counters that are given to players, not permanents, and they can't be removed by anything but the card Leeches from Homelands.

Q: What would happen at the beginning of your turn if you had two Gate to the Aether in play?

A: Each Gate has a triggered ability, and they go to the stack separately. If you reveal an artifact, a creature, an enchantment or a land card to the first ability, you put it into play, and the next Gate will look at the next card, and put that card into play as well if it matches the criteria needed. If the first Gate reveals an instant or a sorcery card, the card stays on top of your library, and will be revealed again to the second Gate, and nothing special would happen.

Damping Matrix

Q: I was wondering how Damping Matrix interacts with Morph. Can I turn face down creatures face up since the morph ability doesn't use the stack?

A: You can still turn face down creatures face up with Damping Matrix in play. Damping Matrix only stops activated abilities, while the act of turning the card is just part of the morph effect. Activated abilities are identified by the colon between the cost and the effect, morph doesn't have this, and is not affected.

Q: Is it allowed to play an equipment (such as Leonin Scimitar) and keep swapping it between creatures, and since it equips as a sorcery, have each count as a spell for storm effect on cards like Temporal Fissure?

A: This doesn't work like you want it to. While you can equip the Scimitar back and forth between creatures, the "as a sorcery" clause only indicates when you can play it, not that the ability is a sorcery. "Play only when you can play a sorcery" means that you can only play the ability on your own turn, in a main phase, when the stack is empty. It doesn't make the ability a spell (which is what storm counts), and doesn't increase your "spell count" for storm.

Q: I was using Awe Strike imprinted on an Isochron Scepter to prevent my opponent's attacks and gain life each turn. Then he decides to play a Needle Bug and attack with that. When I tried to Awe Strike it, he stated that I couldn't because it had protection from artifacts. I argued that its ability let me play a copy of the imprinted card and that the copy was the source. Is the Isochron Scepter considered the source of the spell imprinted on it?

A: Isochron Scepter is not the source of the spell. The Scepter's ability just creates a copy of the spell, and then the spell is played, using all the characteristics of the imprinted spell. Awe Strike would still be a white spell, and can target Needlebug.

Q: If you played a Chrome Mox, could you imprint Kobolds of Kher Keep or a card with similar text? I don't think that you can, as the card has no text when it isn't in play.

A: You can imprint the Kobold, and the Mox will tap for red mana. Abilities on cards not in play usually don't work, but abilities that set a card's color or type by saying that the card "is" a certain color or type are known as characteristic-setting abilities, and work in all zones. See rule 405.2 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: Can Welding Jar sacrifice itself to regenerate itself?

A: It can try, but it won't work very well. You choose which permanent to regenerate when you activate the ability, then sacrifice the Jar to pay the cost. When the ability resolves, it will try to regenerate the Jar, but since it's no longer in play, nothing special happens.

Q: If a creature equipped with Dead-Iron Sledge is blocked by multiple creatures, are all the blocking creatures destroyed? Is the equipped creature destroyed one time, or multiple times (once for each blocker) in regards to regenerating the equipped creature?

A: All the blocking creatures will be destroyed. The Sledge has a triggered ability that triggers for each creature blocking the equipped creature, and each of these triggered abilities will try to destroy both the equipped creature and the blocking creatures. You would have to regenerate the equipped creature for each blocking creature if you want it to survive.

Glissa Sunseeker

Q: When you use Glissa Sunseeker's ability, does the mana in your mana pool get used to activate the ability, or must it be spent some other way to avoid mana burn?

A: The mana stays in your pool, the only cost to activate Glissa is tapping the card. When the ability resolves, it compares the amount of mana in your pool with the converted mana cost of the target. Afterwards, you can spend the mana as you wish, but if you have unspent mana in your pool when the phase ends, you take mana burn.

General / Older Card Questions

Q: What is an interrupt? I've seen it in Exodus with Ertai, wizard adept, but I don't know what it means.

A: An interrupt is a term used in older versions of the rules, but is now obsolete. Interrupt spells and abilities typically produced mana or countered other spells. In the older rules, to counter or modify a spell in any way, you had to "interrupt" it while it was being played, and this had to be done before instants could be used. Since 6th Edition, all interrupt spells and abilities have changed into instants, which doesn't significantly affect how they work.

Q: My opponent attempts to play an Upheaval, and taps all nine lands he has so he can cast the Upheaval for six and float three mana. I counter with Mana Leak, but he pays the three for the counter. I then again try to counter with a Rewind but my opponent claims that after the Mana Leak resolves, I can no longer counter his Upheaval. Can I counter the same spell twice or has the Upheaval already resolved by the time he pays the mana for the Mana Leak?

A: You can try to counter it again with the Rewind. After a spell or ability has resolved, each player will again have an opportunity to play spells and abilities, and you can then respond with Rewind to counter the spell again. You can try to counter a spell as many times as you want until it has resolved.

Q: What exactly is the ability Horsemanship? I have seen it on numerous red creatures released in the Portal Three Kingdoms set, such as Lu Bu, Master-at-Arms. I have been told that it is somewhat a red cousin to "flying", but I am not exactly sure what it does.

A: Horsemanship works pretty much exactly as flying. Creatures with horsemanship can't be blocked by creatures without horsemanship, but can block both creatures with and without horsemanship.

The cards in Portal Three Kingdoms are based on an old Chinese story, but it didn't make sense to give the characters flying when designing the set, so the ability "horsemanship" was created instead.

Q: I have a sacrificial deck with Oversold Cemetery and Braids, Cabal Minion in it. If I have three or more creatures in my graveyard already, can I sacrifice Braids to herself and then return her to my hand with the Cemetary? I think I could, since they both happen at the same time and I get to stack the abilities in the order of my choice, but I would like your opinion.

A: This doesn't work. Oversold Cemetery has a target, and you must choose the target when you put the ability on the stack, which must happen before you sacrifice to Braids. You can't return anything that isn't already in the graveyard when the upkeep begins.

Q: I have 3 lands in play, can I play Harrow? Meaning, can I sacrifice a land that I usedfor mana to pay the additional cost of sacrificing a land?

A: This works. When you are going to pay for the spell, you have to play mana abilities before paying any additional costs. Harrow doesn't require that you sacrifice an untapped land, so you tap your three mana first, then sacrifice the land, and this can be one of the lands used to pay the mana cost.

Animate Dead

Q: I read in the official rules that all cards that are discarded are sent to the graveyard. If I am forced to discard a card by any sorcery or due to maximum hand size, that card would go to the graveyard, correct? If so, could I still use a card such as Animate Dead or Dance of the Dead on it? Isn't this a quick way to get huge creatures like Baron Sengir or similar out easily? I discard it into my graveyard then play Animate Dead for only 3 mana and bring him into play, much cheaper than spending the normal 8. Is this legal?

A: This is a legal play, and has been a popular strategy since the game was made. It doesn't matter to the game how the card ended up in the graveyard, and you can use Animate Dead to reanimate any creature in your graveyard, regardless if you discarded it or if it was destroyed from play.

Ice Floe

Q: Yesterday, I was playing with a friend of mine and I was keeping his Mystic Enforcer tapped with my Ice Floe. After some turns he reached threshold and he asserted that because Mystic Enforcer gains flying, it's no longer a legal target for my Ice Floe, so he could untap it as normal. Is this right?

A: This isn't right. You only check the target of Ice Floe's ability at two specific times - when the ability is activated, and when it resolves. After the creature has been tapped, the state of the creature no longer matters, only that Ice Floe remains tapped.

Q: If there is a Naked Singularity in play and I tap a dual land, for example a Taiga, what color of mana do I get? If I tap the Taiga wanting to add green mana to my mana pool, do I get black mana instead? Likewise, if I tap the Taiga wanting to add red mana to my mana pool, do I get blue mana instead? So, has my Taiga practically become an Underground Sea?

A: With Naked Singularity in play, a Taiga gives blue and black mana, which is the same as Underground Sea usually taps for. When you tap the Taiga, you choose red or green as usual, and the color you choose will immediately be changed to the type indicated by Naked Singularity’s replacement effect.

Q: I have a Yawgmoth's Agenda in play. If I play an instant from my graveyard, will the instant remain in my graveyard or will it be removed from the game after resolving?

A: It will be removed from the game. Yawgmoth's Agenda has a replacement effect that affects any card that would be put into your graveyard. When you play an instant spell, you put it onto the stack. After the spell finishes resolving, it would normally go back to your graveyard, but the replacement effect removes it from the game instead. This way, you can't play the same card turn after turn.

Q: Let's say I have a Seeker of Skybreak in play, and my opponent has no way of destroying/tapping creatures. Could I tap my Seeker, targeting itself with its ability, and untap it over and over again until my opponent concedes? I know this isn't a very diginified way to win, but if there is no way for him to break the loop, aren't I entitled to use my ability as many times as I'd like?

A: While you technically can play an ability as often as you like if you can pay for it, you would find that people would quickly stop playing with you if you tried to do this. In tournament games, where matches are timed, you are not allowed to waste time just to draw out the game. If you want to repeat an action a large number of times, you can state how many times you are performing the action, and then it happens - but boring your opponent to death is not a valid strategy for winning the game.

Q: I was playing Magic with my friend one day and I had a Thresher Beast with a Lure enchanted on it. I attacked with Thresher Beast and he blocked with 3 creatures. I argued that the Beast is blocked 3 times, once for every creature he had and he had to sacrifice 3 lands. He said that all the creatures block at the same time and he only has to sacrifice one land. Who is right?

A: Your friend is right. Thresher Beast triggers when it "becomes blocked" - this only happens once, when its state goes from "unblocked" to "blocked". For it to trigger three times, it would have to say "becomes blocked by a creature", which means it triggers for each creature blocking it.

Decree of Savagery

Q: I have a question about Decree of Savagery and Natural Affinity. Say you cast Natural Affinity, followed up by Decree of Savagery. All lands in play would turn into 2/2 creatures, then yours would become 6/6's. What would happen at end of turn?Do the lands keep the counters, incase you cast another Natural Affinity (orLiving Terrain, say), or are they removed when the creature lands turn back?

A: When the turn ends, the land-creatures revert back to just being lands. They will still have the counters, but giving +1/+1 to something that doesn't have a power or toughness won't do anything in particular. If the lands are animated again at some other point in time, the bonus will apply again, but the counters don't do anything while the lands aren't creatures.

Q: Can I search for any enchantment with Academy Rector? I was playing with my deck against a friend and I had in play Academy Rector, Phyrexian Ghoul and Birds of Paradise. I sacrified Academy Rector and I searched for Pattern of Rebirth. My friend told me I couldn't get it, I could only find global enchantments. Who is right? Can I only search for global enchantments with Academy Rector or can I search for any enchantement?

A: Academy Rector lets you search for any enchantment card, which includes global enchantments (enchantment and enchant world) and local enchantments like enchant creature cards and so forth. Enchant creature cards don't actually have the word "enchantment" on them, but they still count as enchantments.

Q: Can Chimeric Staff attack when you activate it? It gains summoning sickness right?

A: All permanents get "summoning sickness" when they come into play, but only creatures are affected by it. If you've controlled Chimeric Staff since the beginning of your turn, it will be able to attack when you turn it into a creature. (Turning into a creature is not the same as coming into play.)

Q: Can I use a Distorting Lens to change the color of a Phyrexian Colossus? (I wanted to

make it untargetable for Voltaic Key).

A: You can use the Lens to give the Colossus any color, however, this won't change the fact that it's still an artifact. The new color will overwrite any color it had before, but artifact is not a color, it's a card type, and is not affected by color changes. Voltaic Key can still untap it - it doesn't require that the artifact is colorless.

Black Vise

Q: Does the Black Vise Oracle text mean that once an opponent is chosen, theplayer who gets the damage will not change even if the chosen player becomes the controller of Black Vise using a card like Steal Artifact?

A: This is correct. An opponent is chosen as the Vise comes into play, and is locked in. The ability that deals the damage only refers to "that player", and never changes, even if another player takes control over Black Vise.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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