Saturday School #65

Posted in Feature on February 14, 2004

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.

Darksteel Questions

Q: Can I play Reshape for two Blue mana, then sacrifice an artifact to get an artifact land like Seat of the Synod?
-- Michael Root

A: You can do this. Artifact lands count as artifact cards, even though they are lands as well. They can be affected by anything that affects artifacts.

Q: If I turn a basic land (or non-basic land) into an artifact using a Myr Landshaper, would it be considered an "artifact land" for the purpose of Tanglewalker's ability? Also, if my opponent activates a Stalking Stones, since it is now has types "artifact, creature, and land", would this count as an "artifact" land for the Tanglewalker's ability?

A: Both the examples above give permanents that qualify as “artifact lands”. Any permanent that is both an artifact and a land is considered to be an artifact land.

Q: Mycosynth Lattice and March of the Machines: What do these cards in combination do to lands? Do they just die?
-- Jonathan Lee

A: This is correct. Mycosynth Lattice turns all permanents to artifacts, and March of the Machines turns all artifacts to creatures. Since lands have a converted mana cost of zero (says rule 203.1 in the Comprehensive Rulebook), they will be creatures with zero toughness, and go to their owner's graveyard. This will also apply to new lands entering play later, unless some effect (like Glorious Anthem) increase their toughness above zero. Mark Gottlieb wrote an article about this combo.

Q: What happens if a creature equipped with Skullclamp becomes a target of Grab the Reins (with entwine)? Who would draw cards? Is it the Skullclamp's controller or the controller of the spell Grab the Reins?
-- Neil Cruz

A: The player who controls Skullclamp gets to draw the cards. Grab the Reins only changes controller of the creature, not the equipment, so if you steal your opponent's clamped creatures with Grab the Reins, your opponent will be the player who draws the cards.

Q: I have 2 Pristine Angels and I attack my opponent with them. I want to cast Echoing Courage to give them both 2/2, but am unsure if I will be able to target them due to their ability of untapping when I play a spell and having protection from everything when untapped. Do they get the pump?
-- John Merrill

A: You can pump them if you choose not to untap them. You need to first declare the Angels as attackers, then you can play Echoing Courage. You can choose not to untap the Angels, and then they get boosted. This means that the Angels won't have protection, of course, unless you use another spell to untap them later.

Darksteel Colossus
Q: If a Darksteel Colossus gets countered and I own the Colossus, can I shuffle it into my library? I think that "put into a graveyard from anywhere" includes the stack.
-- Zhaoben Xu

A: This is correct – regardless of the reason the Colossus would be put into the graveyard, be it discarding, effects such as Millstone or it being countered, the Colossus is shuffled into the library instead. The only way to get the Colossus into the graveyard would be to remove the ability that shuffles it from the card before it goes to the graveyard, for example by using Humble or Humility.

Q: If my friend attacks with a Krosan Cloudscraper and I block with my Darksteel Colossus will my creature just take lethal damage and survive or will its toughness be reduced to 0 and go to my graveyard.

A: A creature's actual toughness is not reduced when it takes damage. The game just knows how much damage it has taken, and if the creature has damage equal to or greater than its toughness, it is destroyed by lethal damage. Being indestructible means that it isn't destroyed by lethal damage, so your Colossus will just take the damage, and survive.

Q: A situation came up in a game that confused us. I had a Jade Statue and a Neurok Transmuter in play. At the beginning of combat I activated the Statue, making it an artifact creature and swung in, and my opponent played Shatter before blockers were declared. I used the Transmuter's ability to make it 'not an artifact' to save it and it got through for damage, but at end of combat, Jade Statue stops being a creature. But it's also 'not an artifact' until end of turn. Is it just a blue Permanent of no type? Can a card with no type exist in play?
-- Dustin Harms

A: The Jade Statue would just be a blue permanent with no type at all. There is nothing in the rules that prevent a permanent with no types from existing, it's just not very often it happens.

Q: If there are no charge counters on Aether Vial, can I activate it to play morph creatures face down without paying their mana cost?
-- Val Alba

A: No, you can't. You can only use morph to play creatures face down, you can't use morph with effects that put creatures directly into play.

Wurm's Tooth
Q: I have Wurm's Tooth in play, and neither I nor my opponent have out any creatures. When I play Biorhythm, does each player's life total immediately go down to zero, and then I gain 1 life?

A: This is not what happens. When you play Biorhythm, you put it on the stack and pay its cost. Then Wurm's Tooth triggers, and when it resolves, you gain life. Finally, Biorhythm resolves, counts the creatures in play, and sets your life totals to this number. As neither of you have creatures in play, you will both be at zero life, and the game will end in a draw.

Q: If I imprinted a Raven Guild Master on a Death-Mask Duplicant, would the Duplicant have the milling effect of the Guild Master or does the imprint only refer to keyword abilities?
-- Donald Wayne Johnson

A: Death-Mask Duplicant would not get the Guild Master's ability, it can only gain the abilities listed on the card (flying, fear, first strike, double strike, haste, landwalk, protection, and trample).

Mirror Golem
Q: If I imprint Mirror Golem on a Death-Mask Duplicant, will the Duplicant have protection from artifacts and creatures? It seems like it would, since those are the types of the cards imprinted on the Duplicant.
-- Nick Short

A: This is not correct. Mirror Golem only has protection from the card imprinted on it, and nothing is imprinted on a card that is not in play. Death-Mask Duplicant would just get a “blank” protection-ability that wouldn't do anything useful.

Q: I've got an imprint question. Every imprint card printed except for Panoptic Mirror refers to "the" imprinted card (imprinted on itself), but the mirror says that “you may copy an imprinted instant or sorcery card...”.
Would it be possible to cast a Chrome Mox and imprint it with a Lightning Bolt, then cast a Panoptic Mirror and use the Mirrors' ability to copy the Bolt on Mox?

A: This doesn't work. Rule 502.34b in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that the phrase "imprinted [type] card" means the card of that type that's imprinted on the permanent. It can't refer to cards imprinted on another permanent.
Usually Chrome Mox only allows one card to be imprinted on it, but Panoptic Mirror can have multiple ones imprinted on it so it uses “an” to indicate that you can choose between them.

Q: I've been wondering about the Pulses from Darksteel. When do they return to hand? Take Pulse of the Tangle for example. I play it to produce a beast and my opponent has a creature, it wont' return, right? What happens after he casts another creature on his turn (so I have 1 creature, he has 2)? Will the Pulse return to my hand? The people here are arguing that the Pulse only returns to my hand if I cast it when my opponent already has more creatures. What happens if it gets countered?
-- Alex Gervacio

A: The Pulses return to your hand as the last part of their resolution. After the main effect happens, the Pulse checks if it should return or not, and if the condition is true (like your opponent having more creatures), the Pulse returns immediately to your hand instead of being put in the graveyard. If the condition isn't true (like in your example), the Pulse goes to the graveyard and stays there, it won't check again if it should return, it only does this while the spell is resolving.
If the Pulse is countered, it can't return to your hand, it's put directly into your graveyard without having any effect.

Q: My friend and I were recently discussing which card(s) would be good with Spellbinder. I suggested that you could imprint Savage Beating on Spellbinder, and then attack with a Cephalid Pathmage for an infinite number of combat phases. He agreed because Spellbinder says when equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, and Savage Beating says play only during Combat Step, but does not specify when in combat. Would this combo work? And if so could you also entwine the Savage Beating if it is imprinted?

A: This combo would work. You can play Savage Beating at any time during the combat phase, from the beginning of combat, before attackers are declared until the end of combat, after combat damage has resolved. You can pay the entwine cost of Savage Beating any time you play the spell, and Spellbinder says that you play the copy of the imprinted card. As the entwine cost is an additional cost, you still need to pay mana for it, only the “regular” mana cost, in the corner of the card, is free.

General/Older Card Questions

Q: I'm not clear on the timing of state-based effects. If I remove both +1/+1 counters from the Spike Feeder, leaving it 0/0, can I sacrifice it before it dies? What if I remove the last counter in response to sacrificing it?
-- Jay Treat

A: State-based effects are checked every time a player gets priority (any time a player has the opportunity to play something) and at the end of the cleanup step at the end of the turn. At this time, if any state-based effects apply, they are immediately dealt with. If the Spike Feeder has a toughness of zero or lower, it is put in its owner's graveyard.
If you remove both the counters so the Feeder is 0/0 it will die immediately, and you can't sacrifice it to anything.
Sacrifices are done either as payment for a cost or as part of an effect, and you can't respond with activating the Feeder's ability at this time.
Read more about state-based effects in section 420.5 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: I have a question about Isochron Scepter. Can the copied spell imprinted on the scepter be subject of effects like the ones created by Chill for imprinted red spells? Can a creature with protection from green can be targeted by an imprinted Giant Growth? In the truth, the question is: Does the copy keep its original color or is just an artifact ability that is colorless?
-- Ronne Peterson Amaral

A: Isochron Scepter only creates a copy of the imprinted card, and it copies all the characteristics, including color. After the copy is made, you can play it. If the imprinted card is red, you need to pay two mana extra with a Chill in play, and you can't target a creature with protection from green with a copy of a green spell.

Sulfuric Vapors
Q: If I have two or more Sulfuric Vapors in play and I play Lightning Bolt, does the Bolt do four damage or more? A: It deals more. Each Sulfuric Vapors has a replacement effect that wants to increase the damage the Lightning Bolt deals. They are applied in the order the player chooses, and they use the result from previous increases when they are applied. The first Sulfuric Vapors would increase the Bolt's damage to 4, the second to 5 and so forth.

Q: I have a Glorious Anthem in play. Then I play Clone and don't clone anything. Does Clone live? Also, if it does live, and I play another Clone and clone the first, is it just a 1/1 or a 2/2? How about a third? A fourth?

A: A Clone that's not copying anything will survive if other effects boost its toughness above zero. You apply all power and toughness modifiers before figuring out if it lives or dies, and Glorious Anthem's effect will increase the toughness of the Clone to 1 the very instant it enters play.
Cloning a creature will just copy the printed values of the card, it won't copy any effects on it, which means that it will only copy the 0/0 power/toughness, which will also be increased to 1/1. The same goes for later copies.

Q: I was just wondering if you can transfer equipment from one creature to another by paying its equip cost, or does it stay on that creature until its death.

A: You can pay the equip cost of equipment to move it to another creature any time you could play a sorcery, even if it's already equipped to something.

Wall of Souls
Q: If Wall of Souls is dealt combat damage more than its toughness, does it do the equal amount of damage back to the attacking opponent or only damage equal to its toughness?
-- Vincent Valentine

A: It deals damage equal to the damage dealt to the Wall. A creature can take more damage than its toughness, and will be destroyed from lethal damage shortly after. The game knows how much damage was dealt to the Wall, and it will return the same amount of damage.

Q: If I play a Tooth and Nail without paying the entwine cost, do I have to announce to my opponent which option I'm using at casting time?
-- Kevin Oaks

A: Yes, you do. For spells and abilities with different modes, and entwine, you must announce which mode you use when you play the spell. You can see that a spell or ability has different modes if its text begins with “choose one –“, you must make this choice when playing the spell or ability.

Q: If my Thorn Elemental has double strike (from a Fireshrieker) and it gets blocked, can I assign one the first strike damage to the creature and the normal damage to my opponent?
-- David Coughlin

A: You can do this. You can choose whether the Thorn Elemental deals damage directly to the defending player or to the blocking creature each time it assigns damage, even in the same combat phase.

Awe Strike
Q: Several creatures attack me, and I Awe Strike one of them, but the damage of the other creatures would be enough to reduce me to 0 life. Do I get the life back from Awe Strike so I return my life total to above zero again before I lose?
-- Fabian Brand

A: Yes, you do. Awe Strike's effect prevents the damage and gives you life at the same time, as the combat damage resolves. You would gain the life before you check for state-based effects (like losing the game), and if the life gain puts you above zero, you survive.

Q: Are you always allowed to use sleeves on your cards in a tournament, or can your opponent demand that you play your cards without sleeves?
Can you play cards with significant play wear if they are in sleeves and with opaque backing?
-- Mike Steele

A: You are always allowed to use sleeves on your cards, unless the sleeves are marked or damaged. Your opponent can't demand that you play without sleeves. Only a judge in the tournament can tell you to remove your card sleeves if there is anything wrong with them, and if this happens you would have the option of replacing the sleeves.
Your opponent can ask a judge to inspect your sleeves for markings, but doing so at random without having any real reason for this can lead to penalties for unsporting conduct in the tournament.
You can play cards that are significantly worn as long as you use opaque (non-transparent) card sleeves, as long as the cards are “whole” and can't be distinguished from the other cards in your deck while in the sleeves.

Thanks to Lee Sharpe for feedback and proofreading.

Latest Feature Articles


January 24, 2022

Where to Find Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Previews by, Wizards of the Coast

It's time for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty previews! To help our readers and preview seekers, we've created this handy guide to preview season. January 27 at 9 AM PST is when everything begins...

Learn More


January 21, 2022

Boseiju Reaches Skyward by, Emily Teng

In the heart of Towashi is Boseiju, the oldest living tree on Kamigawa and the only remnant of Jukai Forest left within city limits. Boseiju Reaches Skyward | Art by: Zezhou Chen At th...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All