Saturday School #6

Posted in Feature on November 30, 2002

By Rune Horvik

This week's questions cover a range of confusing cards--from Nurturing Licid to Serra Avatar to Spelljack to Glarecaster.

Send your rules questions in to, and Rune will answer as many as he can!

General / Older Cards Questions

Q: I was wondering what is meant by "floating" lands when you play Upheaval. How can you do something like that without some kind of a spell? It's really annoying me not knowing what the heck they're doing. Most of the people I play against with the Psychatog and Upheaval say they don't even know what it means.
--Sean Olson, Livonia, MI

A: You can use mana abilities and spells that give mana at any time you have priority, even if you're not playing a spell or ability. When you get mana, it is stored in your mana pool, and the expression "floating mana" comes from the concept of "having mana in your pool."

You're allowed to store more mana than you need. If you don't use it up, you'll take 'mana burn' at the end of the phase - but that gives you plenty of time to generate as much mana as you can, cast Upheaval, and then use that mana to play spells.

To use the Psychatog/Upheaval example... Let's say you have eight lands in play. You tap all eight and play Upheaval. Since Upheaval only costs six mana, you still have two mana in your pool after Upheaval resolves. This is what people sometimes call "floating mana." Then you can play a land and tap it, giving you three mana, which is enough to play the Psychatog.

Q: My friend uses Broken Fall in conjunction with Verduran Enchantress, continuously regenerating a creature that isn't threatened by any sort of lethal damage to draw cards. Can you regenerate a creature continuously or only when in response to a lethal damage threat?

A:The rules for regeneration let you set up regeneration shields at any time. You can return the Broken Fall to its owner's hand and replay it, and repeat as many times as you have mana to.

Q: I'm playing a friend and I have one Patron Wizard and four other Wizards in play. He targets one of my Wizards with a Ghastly Demise, and I wish to counter it using the Patron Wizard's ability. Do I have to tap my Wizards all at once? Or can I tap them individually to see if he will pay the extra mana one at a time?
--Richard Uranga, Madera, California

A: You can tap them one at a time and see if your opponent pays before you tap another Wizard.

When the top entry on the stack resolves (The Patron Wizard's ability), the player decides if he or she wants to pay. After it has resolved, both players may play more spells or abilities, and another Wizard can be tapped.

Q: What would happen if someone playing with Serra Avatars in his/her deck were to face someone playing a Grindstone deck? If the deck got down to just four Serra Avatars, and it got Grinded, what would happen?

A: Serra Avatar has a replacement effect, replacing "goes to graveyard" with "is shuffled into the library." You look at the top 2 cards, and see that they're Serra Avatars, and shuffle them back into the library. Since the cards had the same color, you repeat the process. This will loop "infinitely" if there are only Serra Avatars left in the library, and the game will be a draw, caused by rule 102.6 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: Can enchantments tap or be tapped? Let's say I have a Nurturing Licid in play, and my opponent casts Slice and Dice. Can I make my Licid a creature enchantment, move it onto one of my creatures, regenerate that creature, turn the Licid back into a creature, and enchant another?

A: Enchantments can be tapped, though not many effects can do this. When you activate the Licid creature, you tap it and place it on the creature that is enchanted. It will be a tapped local enchantment. This doesn't affect its effect, but if you end the Licid effect before it has had a chance to untap, it will return to being a tapped creature. You can't make it enchant another creature unless you have some way of untapping it.

Q: Is it possible to block with a Licid (Quickening Licid, for example), then change it into an enchantment while combat damage is on the stack without it dying or me taking any damage?

A: You can block with a Licid and then turn it into a local enchantment. When combat damage resolves, it will see that the recipient of the damage is no longer a creature, so the damage won't be dealt.

Q: My Capsize was countered by Spelljack. If my opponent decides to play my Capsize, can he pay an additional 3 to buy it back? If yes, does it go to his hand and he becomes the owner of that card? Would it go to his graveyard after he plays it again from his hand?

A: He can pay any additional costs on the spell, but he needs to pay mana for them. He can pay for the buyback of the Capsize. Buyback replaces "goes to the graveyard of the player who played the spell" with "goes to the hand of the player who played the spell", but since spells go to their owner's (your) graveyard, not his graveyard, this effect won't apply. The Spelljacked Capsize ends up in your graveyard after being played.

Q: I thought about enchanting a creature with both Pariah and Treacherous Link. Now if either the creature or its controller is dealt damage it will be redirected to from the one to the other infinitely! Does this end the game with a draw result?
--Stavros Kontovas, Athens, Hellas.

A: Both Pariah and Treacherous Link have replacement effects, and each effect can only apply once to an event.

If the player would take damage, Pariah would move the damage from the player to the creature, then the Treacherous Link would move the damage from the creature to the player. Since the Pariah has already been applied at this point, it won't move the damage again, the damage stays on the player.

If the creature would take damage, it works the same way in reverse, first the Link moves damage to the player, then the Pariah moves damage back to the creature.

Q: Let's say I have an Unstable Shapeshifter in play and I play a Phyrexian Dreadnought without sacrificing any creatures; the Dreadnought goes to the graveyard. Does the Dreadnought trigger the Shapeshifter's ability (making it a copy of the Dreadnought and giving me a cheap 12/12 trampler)?
--Willem Groothedde, Groningen, The Netherlands

A: Phyrexian Dreadnought doesn't come into play before you sacrifice the creatures. It has a replacement effect that makes you sacrifice creatures right before it would enter play, and if you can't sacrifice enough creatures, it goes directly to the graveyard without ever having been in play. It won't trigger anything that triggers on creatures coming into play in this case. If you dosacrifice enough creatures, your Shapeshifter becomes a copy of the Dreadnought, and since it's already in play, you won't have to sacrifice any creatures to the copy.

Note that the Dreadnought's effect isn't optional. You have to sacrifice creatures until you reach 12 power when it would come into play. If you don't have 12 power worth of creatures, you'll end up sacrificing all your creatures, and the Dreadnought won't come into play.

Q: I have been wondering about this topic for quite some time, so I thought that you could help me: If a creature card, like Goblin Spy, has an ability that never states when it ends, then does it end when that creature leaves play?

A: Effects from permanents only apply while they're in play (or while they're in other zones if they specifically say so). When the Goblin Spy leaves play, its effect stops, and your top card stops being revealed. In the same fashion, a Meddling Mage's effect stops when it leaves play. If you destroy the Mage, you can play the card that was named.

Q: My opponent has a tapped 4/4 creature. During my combat phase, I attack with a Skirk Commando dealing 2 damage to him and 2 damage to the 4/4. Later that turn I cast a Firebolt for 2 damage on the 4/4, but he says combat damage has already resolved and therefore his 4/4 survives. Is this correct?

A: Combat damage has already resolved, but the damage isn't removed until the Cleanup step at the very end of the turn. The 4/4 has 2 damage on it, and takes another 2 from the Firebolt for a total of 4 damage. It will be destroyed from lethal damage.

Q: If I have both a Bearscape and a Ground Seal in play, can I still activate Bearscape's ability?
-- Justin Cardinell, Oxford, MI

A: Ground Seal makes it impossible to target cards in graveyards, but Bearscape doesn't target the cards (it doesn't use the word target). To use Bearscape you simply remove the cards from the game to pay the cost. Ground Seal doesn't stop you from doing that.

You're also allowed to use cards with flashback with Ground Seal in play.

Q: Suppose I control a Rotlung Reanimator and my opponent controls more than two swamps. My opponent then plays Mutilate. Now, the text on Mutilate says "all creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn for each swamp you control". My question is, does this affect creatures that would come into play AFTER Mutilate is cast, thus instantly killing the Zombie token I would get from my Reanimator?
--Ricardo Longo, Salvador, BA, Brazil

A: Tokens generated by the Rotlung Reanimator being destroyed won't be affected, since they weren't in play when the Mutilate resolved.

Mutilate has a continuous effect that modifies the power and toughness of creatures in play. Rule 418.3b in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that "continuous effects from spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities that modify the characteristics or change the controller of one or more cards and/or permanents don't affect cards and/or permanents that weren't affected when the continuous effect began."

Q: I have a Mirari's Wake in play, and a Sungrass Prairie and a forest. I tap the forest for mana, and it gives me two green mana. Then I use one of the two green mana in my pool to activate my Sungrass Prairie. Now the question is: how much mana does the Prairie produce: two or three? I thought two because you use a ability of the land, but you do not actually tap it for mana, but I'm not sure.

A: The land is tapped for mana, it just has an extra cost to get the mana. Mirari's Wake will give one extra mana of a color that the tapped land produced, if it produced multiple colors, you get to choose which of the colors you get. When you tap it, the Prairie produces two mana, the Wake produces one mana (of your choice of green or white), for a total of three mana.

Q: If I use Shifting Sky to change everything in play to blue, and then bring out Llawan, Cephalid Empress, will that keep my opponent from playing any more creatures?
--Mike D, Easton, PA

A: No. "Playing" a creature spell means putting it from your hand onto the stack. Shortly afterwards, the spell will leave the stack and come into play. A red creature spell is red while it is on the stack, and then will become blue when it enters play because of Shifting Sky.

Llawan can only stop cards being "played" - it stops them from being put onto the stack. Shifting Sky only affects cards in play, so it can't apply until afterwards when the spell leaves the stack. In other words, by the time Shifting Sky affects a card, it's far too late for Llawan to stop it.

Q: I assume that you don't have a choice whether or not you play Flametongue Kavu's comes-into-play ability; if that's the case, if there are no other creatures in play is the Kavu obliged to target itself?
--Owen Davies, UK

A: If the Flametongue Kavu is the only creature in play when it comes into play, it must target itself. If there is only one legal target for a triggered ability, it must be chosen, even if it's bad for you.

Note that Faceless Butcher specifically says "other than Faceless Butcher," so it cannot target itself like Flametongue Kavu can. If you play a Butcher with no other creatures in play, it won't remove anything.

Q: If I attack with a phantom creature (say, Phantom Nishoba) and it is blocked by two of my opponent's 1/1 creatures, would it lose two counters or just one?

A: All regular combat damage is dealt at the same time. The phantoms look at "the next time" damage would be dealt, and only see damage being dealt once. Only one counter is lost, regardless of how many blockers there are. Note that if one of the creatures has first strike, and the other one hasn't, the'll deal damage at two separate times, and the phantom will lose two counters.

Q: If I block a large creature, say Towering Baloth, with a Phantom Whelp, will the Phantom Whelp return to my hand or die at the end of combat?
-- Rob Cress, South Dakota

A: The Phantom Whelp's triggered ability returns the card to its owner's hand at the end of combat. The effect looks for the card in the "in play"-zone. If the Whelp is no longer in play (having been destroyed in combat), the effect won't be able to find the card, and it won't be returned to your hand.

Q: My opponent has two Diving Griffins out in play and one of them has a Armadillo Cloak on it. He attacks with both of them and in response I play Orim's Touch with kicker. Does the Orim's Touch prevent all the four damage dealt by the Diving Griffin with the Armadillo Cloak so my opponent doesn't gain any life or does the Orim's Touch prevent the two damage dealt by the Diving Griffin without the Armidillo Cloak and two damage dealt by the Diving Griffin with the Armadillo Cloak so my opponent gains two life?

A: Orim's Touch sets up a damage prevention shield, preventing the next 4 damage to you. When multiple sources deal damage to you at the same time, you choose which points of damage are prevented. If you prevent all the damage from the Griffin with Armadillo Cloak, your opponent won't gain any life from the Cloak, since prevented damage isn't dealt.

Q: The card Voracious Cobra reads "First strike. Whenever Voracious Cobra deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature." So if Voracious Cobra is in combat with another creature without first strike, will the Cobra receive combat damage?

A: First strike damage is put on the stack before regular damage. Anything triggering off the first strike damage will be put on the stack and resolve right after this, before regular damage is put on the stack. The Cobra's effect will destroy the other creature before it can deal damage back.

Q: My friend claims that he can use an Aether Burst to target a card in the graveyard because the Burst does not say he can't. I'm pretty sure he's wrong, but can't find the reference in the rules. Can he do this? --Tom Rich, Dexter, Michigan

A: Aether Burst targets creatures, and creatures only exist in play. A creature card that's not in play is just a "creature card," and can't be targeted, since it's not a creature.

Rule 217.5b in the Comprehensive Rulebook says in part "... Only permanents are legal targets for spells and abilities, unless a spell or ability (a) specifies that it can target a player or a card in another zone, or (b) affects an object that can't exist in the in-play zone, such as a spell."

Q: I have just tapped two lands to cast a two-mana creature. My opponent plays the instant Cease-Fire, so I can no longer play creature spells this turn. Do I take two mana burn from the tapped lands? Is the creature spell countered and go to my graveyard or stay in my hand? Or does the instant spell take effect first making the creature spell just unplayable and the mana I tried to tap not tapped in the first place? Please explain.

A: To play a spell, most players would put it on the table, then tap their lands to pay for it. Your question suggests this is what you're doing. In that case, don't worry - your opponent can't interrupt the spell like this. He's unable to play Cease-Fire until you've finished playing your spell. And if he waits, and plays Cease-Fire when you've finished, it still won't affect that spell - Cease-Fire won't do anything to spells you've already played.

Cease-Fire (and similar spells like Orim's Chant) cannot be used to counter spells. If your opponent announces a spell, it is already considered "played." Cease-Fire and Orim's Chant are best played during people's upkeep step so that they can't play spells in their main phases.

Q: If I have Vernal Equinox and Thran Turbine in play, can I use the 2 Turbine mana for playing a morph creature face-down during my upkeep? I don't think the three mana cost of morph is the cost of the spell, since the converted mana cost of a morph spell is 0. Am I right?

A: No. You aren't allowed to use the mana from Thran Turbine for any aspect of playing spells. You can't use this mana at all when you're paying for a spell, including mana costs, alternative costs and additional costs.

Onslaught Questions

Q: The card Entrails Feaster has an ability that allows you to remove a creature in a graveyard from the game. My questions are (a) I know I can remove a creature card from my graveyard, but can I remove one from an opponents? And (b) Can I remove more than one during my upkeep?

A: You can remove a creature card from any graveyard, it doesn't say it's just from your graveyard. The ability is a triggered ability, it only triggers once at the beginning of the upkeep, and you only get the option to remove one card.

Q: My friend has a Glarecaster in play and I attack. He spends 6 mana to activate Glarecaster. He does not assign blockers and says that all the damage that was dealt to him is redirected. I think that the damage is only from one source because it says, "The next time damage would be dealt." Is he right, or am I?

A: He is right. Glarecaster looks at the next "time" damage is dealt, and since all regular combat damage is dealt at the same time, it's all redirected to the new target. First strike damage is dealt before regular damage, though, so if some of the attacking creatures have first strike, only that damage will be redirected.

Q: How can I attack with lands I've animated using Kamahl, Fist of Krosa? Creatures need to be under my control since the beginning of the turn in order to attack, and when I use Kamahl, the creatures are just coming into play.

A: Changing lands to creatures with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa doesn't make creatures "come into play." The permanents are already in play, they only change form. You won't be able to attack with a land played this turn, but if you change older lands they can attack just fine when they have been turned into creatures.

Q: If I have only a Solar Blast in hand and I cycle it and deal 1 damage to a creature that would make me discard when it dies (a Screeching Buzzard that already had 1 damage on it, for example), should I put the "draw a card" effect on the stack, then the 1 damage to creature? When the stack resolves in reverse order, the buzzard dies activating the graveyard effect (new effect on the stack and I don't discard, having no card in hand) and then I draw. Or the opposite, the one damage on the stack first, then the draw, which means that I draw and then discard when the Buzzard dies and activates the graveyard effect? Or can I choose the stack order?

A: Abilities that trigger off cycling are put on the stack after the ability that triggered them. First the cycling "draw a card" is put on the stack, then the "deal one damage" from the trigger. The stack resolves in reverse order, so the Buzzard with 1 damage dies to lethal damage. The Buzzard's trigger will then go on the stack, causing you to discard a card, before you finally draw the card from the cycling effect.

Q: If I give +2/-1 with Crown of Suspicion to a 2/2 creature, can I kill it by giving another +2/-1 if I sacrifice the Crown? Same thing for Crown of Vigor that gives +1/+1. If I attack with a 1/1 creature enchanted with Crown of Vigor (now a 2/2 creature), does it become a 3/3 creature if I sacrifice the Crown?

A: When you sacrifice the Crown, the original effect from the Crown stops applying, since the Crown isn't enchanting the creature anymore. The 2/2 creature will still be a 4/1. The same goes for the other example, the 2/2 is a 3/3 with a Crown of Vigor, when you sacrifice it to give +1/+1 to all creatures, the original effect doesn't apply anymore, and it'll still be a 3/3.

Q: The card Catapult Squad reads "Tap two untapped Soldiers you control: Catapult Squad deals 2 damage to target attacking or blocking creature." Can Seeker of Skybreak be used to tap a single Soldier twice for the effect, or are 2 actual Soldiers required?
--Doug Tabb, Streamwood, IL

A: No. You can't start playing an activated ability when you're halfway through playing another one. Seeker of Skybreak can't be used until the Catapult Squad's whole cost has been paid. You need to tap two separate Soldiers.

Q: With Future Sight out, can I play a card as a morph from the top of my library?

A: Yes, you can. Future Sight lets you put the card on the stack and play it as it were in your hand, and you can use Morph when you play creature spells. Your opponent could make a very qualified guess what the face down card is, of course.

With thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

Rune will answer more of your questions next week and every week here at "Saturday School." You can search past Saturday School questions using our Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

Send your rules questions to

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