Saturday School #66

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: I have an untapped Thunderstaff in play. If my opponent attacks me with three creatures, can I prevent one damage from each creature (similar to what Urza's Armor did) or can I only prevent one damage from one creature?

A: Thunderstaff prevents one damage from each creature that deals damage to you, and since each creature in combat deals damage separately, one damage from each unblocked attacker will be prevented.

Q: My opponent has 5 swamps in play and I activate my Myr Landshaper during my turn to make one of those swamps an artifact land. If I play Echoing Ruin on the targeted swamp, will all the other swamps be destroyed or just the swamp I targeted with the Myr?

A: Only Swamps that are also artifacts are destroyed. Echoing Ruin's effect tells you to destroy "all other artifacts with the same name as" the target. Just having the same name isn't enough, they must also be artifacts.

Q: I've got a question about Spincrusher. Does Spincrusher get its +1/+1 counter after combat or during? If its ability triggers before damage is done, can I place the counter on Spincrusher to do an extra point of damage?

A: Spincrusher's ability triggers when it blocks, so it gets the counter when the ability resolves, in the declare blockers step. This is before combat damage is assigned, so it will deal the extra point of damage to the creature it.

Q: Can you Stifle the "shuffle back into the library" requirement of the Darksteel Colossus if it is put into the graveyard from play? I guess I am wondering if the word "if" indicates it is a triggered ability.

A: You can't Stifle that ability. Triggered abilities start with the words "at", "when" or "whenever" (a few cards have them in the middle somewhere instead).
Darksteel Colossus has a static ability which gives a replacement effect, you can see this since it uses the word "instead". This can not be Stifled.

Q: If there's a Planar Void in play, and my Darksteel Colossus goes to the graveyard, does the Colossus return to my library or is it removed from the game?
-- Matthew James Rowley

A: It returns to your library. The Colossus has a replacement effect (you can see this because it uses the word "instead"), and it replaces the event of going to the graveyard completely with being shuffled back in. Since the Colossus goes directly from play to the library, it never goes to the graveyard, and the Planar Void's ability never triggers, since the trigger event never happens.

Q: If I have a Leonin Shikari and Lightning Greaves in play, and my opponent were to play a card like Firebolt on one of my creatures, could I just move the Greaves onto that creature and protect it?

A: Yes, you can. If the targeted creature is not a legal target when the spell tries to resolve, the spell will be countered and have no effect.

Q: If you Animate Dead an indestructible creature and the animate dead gets destroyed, does the creature still go back to the graveyard? The current wording of Animate Dead implies that it would be "destroyed", which means it lives to fight another day.

A: This is correct. Animate Dead tries to destroy the creature when it leaves play, and since destroy-effects don't work on indestructible creatures, the creature just remains in play.

Q: If I have an Arcbound Reclaimer in play can I remove both of its counters and then have it target itself, or will it not be in the graveyard before I assign a target for its ability?
-- Rob Chase

A: This doesn't work. You always choose the targets of an activated ability before you pay the cost, so you must choose what to return (the target), before you pay the cost of removing the counter. At this time, the Reclaimer is still in play, and can't be chosen for its own ability.

Q: What happens if I lose a modular creature, like Arcbound Worker, and in response to me targeting an artifact creature for the ability, my opponent turns it into a blue non-artifact creature with Neurok Transmuter? My friends and I have decided that the counters don't go anywhere, but I'm not sure.

A: This is correct. The modular ability that triggers when the Arcbound Worker leaves play is targeted, and can only target an artifact creature. The legality of the target is checked again when the ability resolves, and if it's not an artifact creature then (in this case, it's just a creature, not an artifact), the ability is countered and does nothing, so the target doesn't get any counters.

Q: If I have an Arcbound Ravager and an Arcbound Slith, can I sacrifice the Ravager to put a +1/+1 counter on itself, then put two 1/1 counters on the Slith?
-- Lucas Neverinsky

A: This doesn't work. Here's how it plays out:

  1. You play the sacrifice ability, and sacrifice the Ravager. It goes on the stack and waits to resolve.
  2. This triggers the Modular ability, which goes on the stack.
  3. The Modular ability resolves. It gives the Slith one counter, because that's how many the Ravager had last time it was in play.
  4. The sacrifice ability resolves, and does nothing – since the Ravager is no longer in play, there's nothing for it to put counters on.

Q: What happens when one of the Pulses, like Pulse of the Forge, is imprinted on a Panoptic Mirror? If the trigger executes as true, do you get a copy of the Pulse in your hand?
-- Ben Mann

A: Technically, you gets a copy of the Pulse in your hand, however, since it's just a copy, and not a real card, it ceases to exist right afterwards (says rule 420.5j in the Comprehensive Rulebook) when the game checks for state-based effects. You won't be able to use the copy for anything while it's in your hand.

Q: If I cast a Furnace Dragon, can I then sacrifice all of my artifacts to my Atog or Megatog before they are removed from the game, if so, do I still get the reduction in casting cost for the affinity?

A: Yes, you do. To play the Dragon, you put it onto the stack and you pay its cost. It doesn't matter what happens to your artifacts after that: the Dragon's cost has been paid, once and for all.

Q: What happens when Mycosynth Lattice is in play and a player plays a Furnace Dragon?
-- Jovan Latag

A: First of all, all permanents in play will be artifacts and help reduce the cost to play the Dragon. When the Dragon comes into play, it's immediately changed into an artifact creature by the Lattice's effect, and, if you played the Dragon from your hand, the triggered ability will remove all artifacts from the game, which will be all permanents, including the Lattice and the Dragon itself.

Q: What happens if Mycosynth Lattice and Titania's Song are in the play at the same time?

A: Two things can happen, depending on the order they came into play.
The short answers first:
If Mycosynth Lattice came into play first, all permanents are artifact creatures. Permanents that were already creatures keep their power and toughness, permanents turned into creatures by Titania's Song have power and toughness equal to their converted mana cost (which causes lands to go to the graveyard, having zero toughness). The creatures have no abilities. Because Mycosynth Lattice has lost its abilities, they still retain their color, and you won't be able to spend colorless mana as it were colored mana.

If Titania's Song came into play first, only "regular" artifacts become creatures with power and toughness equal to their converted mana cost. Because Mycosynth Lattice has lost its abilities, they have no abilities. All other permanents are unaffected.

The long answers (may induce headaches):
Rule 418.5 and its subsections in the Comprehensive Rulebook are used to determine why this happens. Continuous effects are applied in different "layers" in a specific sequence.

Titania's Song (TS) has a type-changing ability that applies in layer 4. Mycosynth Lattice's (ML) first ability is a type-changing ability that is applied in layer 4, its other abilities are applied in layer 5 (but will end up not applying in this case).

ML's effect changes what TS applies to, and TS changes the existence of ML's effect. This means that the effects are considered to depend on each other, and are applied in timestamp order (rule 418.5c).

If ML comes into play first, all permanents first become artifacts, then TS changes them to artifact creatures that lose all abilities. This includes ML, so the ability that makes permanents colorless and lets you spend colorless mana as colored mana is removed, and don't apply.

If TS comes into play first, its effect changes all non-creature artifacts into artifact creatures with no abilities, and this includes ML. Since ML has no abilities anymore, it has no effect at all.

Older/General Card Questions

Q: If I use Synod Sanctum to remove a morph in play, then I sacrifice Synod Sanctum and return the previously morphed card into play, does it have to come into play morphed again, or can I play it face up? I noticed you stated earlier that "when the creature is removed from the game, it loses all memory" and wonder if this applies to this situation.
-- Matt Oldy

A: It does. Cards are always put into play face up by default, you are only allowed to use the morph ability when playing the card the usual way, not when the card is put into play by other means. Since the card is put directly into play, it's put in face up, regardless of its state when it was removed from the game.

Q: If I have multiple Noble Purposes out, do I gain life equal to the damage my creatures deal multiple times. For example two Noble Purposes causes me to gain 2 life for every one point of combat damage any of my creatures deals?
-- Chris Hayslett

A: Yes, you gain life for each Noble Purpose in play. Each Noble Purpose has a triggered ability that triggers when the stated condition (damage being dealt) is true, and each of the separate abilities will give you life when they resolve.

Q: Okay I have a card called Inertia Bubble, and my question is: When you play the card can you play it on an artifact creature? And if you permanently tap it can it attack?
-- Aja Tagge

A: You can play Inertia Bubble on any artifact. Artifact creatures (and artifact lands) count as artifacts, so yes, they are legal targets.
Tapped creatures can't attack or block, so if you play it on a tapped creature, the creature will never be able to attack again. If you play it on an untapped creature, it will be able to attack only once, and after that will stay tapped forever.

Q: If a player plays Duress, and I play Deflection, changing the target back to the player who played it, do I get to see the player's hand and choose a card (nonland and noncreature) to discard from his or her hand?

A: No. First of all, this isn't a legal play. Duress says "target opponent", so it's never allowed to target the person who played it – only his or her opponents.

Even if that wasn't true, Deflection can only change one thing: the spell's target. All other parts of the spell, including the choices about which card to discard, are still made by the spell's controller.
So, the player would reveal his or her hand (according to errata, everyone gets to see it), then choose a noncreature nonland card from it, then discard that card.

Q: If my opponent has an Isochron Scepter in play with a Boomerang imprinted on it, and I play a Chalice of the Void with 2 counters, would the Chalice continually counter the Scepter because my opponent would be playing a spell for 2 mana (just not paying its casting cost) and the Chalice would counter all spells for 2 mana?

A: This is partially correct. Chalice of the Void with 2 counters would counter all the copies of Boomerang, since Boomerang (and copies of it) have a converted mana cost of 2. However, if you imprint something that has a converted mana cost of 1 (like Shock), this won't be countered by the Chalice. The Chalice only looks at the converted mana cost of the spell, not what you pay to play it (and technically, you pay zero mana for the spell, the activation cost of the Scepter is not relevant for Chalice of the Void)

Q: I was playing against a Proteus Staff recently and I wanted to know how a few things work. Is it true that my opponent can cast the Staff and activate it before I have a chance to Shatter it? Also if in response to the activation I destroy the targeted creature, does any of the Staff's effect then take place?
- Tom Artis

A: Your opponent will usually play Proteus Staff in his or her own turn, since it's an artifact. After the Staff has resolved and come into play, the player who has the turn (the active player) gets priority to play spells and abilities, and the Staff can then be activated before you have the change to do anything. Shattering it after it has been activated won't stop the effect from happening.
The Staff targets the creature that is to be put on the bottom of the library. If the target goes away before the ability resolves, it no longer has any legal targets, and the ability is countered and has no effect.

Q: For the card Invulnerability and any other cards with the buyback option, if I pay the buyback cost and the spell is countered, does that still mean the card goes to the graveyard?

A: Yes, it does. Buyback means that the card returns to the owner's hand after the spell has resolved, but if the spell is countered, it has no effect at all, and the buyback won't take place. The card goes to the graveyard as usual.

Q: Shepherd of Rot's activated ability states that each player loses 1 life for each Zombie in play. Does this mean that each Zombie is a source of damage or is Shepherd of Rot a source of damage?
If this is so and you had Urza's Armor out, would all damage dealt by the activated ability of Shepherd of Rot be prevented since each point of damage is coming from one Zombie?
-- Stephen McNally

A: There is no damage involved here. Shepherd of Rot simply says that players lose life. It doesn't use the word 'damage', so it doesn't count as damage, and Urza's Armor has no effect on it.
If an effect does cause damage, it will make it clear what is dealing that damage. For example, Pyroclasm says that "Pyroclasm deals 2 damage to each creature", so it's a single source of damage. Wave of Retribution says "Each creature deals to itself damage equal to its power", so it's many separate sources of damage.

Q: If my opponent plays a Worldgorger Dragon and I play Humility, does he get his permanents back when the Dragon leaves play?
-- Sean Murphy

A: No, he doesn't. Since the Dragon doesn't have any abilities when it leaves play, it's ability doesn't trigger, and your opponent's permanents stay removed from the game.

Q: I'm controlling my opponent's turn through Mindslaver. In my hand I have Override and in his hand there is a spell card. I make him play the spell, and in response I play Override. I do not control any artifacts. May I make my opponent choose "not to pay 0 mana", so that the spell will get countered?
-- Roberto Zunino

A: Yes, you may. There is always an option to not pay for an optional effect, even if it asks you to pay zero mana. Since you make all the decisions for your opponent, you can choose to have him not pay the zero mana, and the spell is countered.

Q: What happens if I have Humility in play, and my opponent plays Replenish with two Opalescences in his graveyard?

A: The order they come into play doesn't matter; if there are two Opalescences and a Humility in play, all enchantments and creatures are 1/1 creatures with no abilities.

Rule 418.5a in the Comprehensive Rulebook details the order to apply continuous effects. Of the available effects here, the Opalescences have to be applied first, since they change the type of a permanent, making all enchantments creatures. After that, you apply Humility's effect, causing all creatures (including Humility and both Opalescences) to lose their abilities, and finally turn all creatures into 1/1 creatures.

(PS: If Replenish puts two enchantments into play and their timestamp order does matter (for example, Humility and Levitation) then 418.5e says that the active player gets to choose what order they apply in.)

Q: My question concerns the Mephitic Ooze and the Nim Lasher from the new Mirrodin block. Both say that they get +1/+0 for each artifact in your control. My question is, with every new artifact that you play, do they gain that +1/+0 or are the artifacts you have in play already the only artifacts that count?

A: Both the Ooze and the Lasher have static abilities that continuously modify their power. The abilities are always active and update the power whenever the number of artifacts changes.

Q: My question regards the card Shahrazad. If, when I play the card, one player has less than seven cards in his library, does he lose upon not being able to draw a full first hand? What if both players have less than seven cards in their library?
(Michael Lane

A: If a player is unable to draw seven cards when the subgame begins, that player loses the subgame, and subsequently half his or her life total in the main game. If both players are unable to draw seven cards, both players lose the subgame, which is a draw. Since no player won, both players lose half their life totals in the main game. The cards from the subgame are shuffled back into the main game library afterwards, and the main game continues,

Q: If I play Mana Clash and reduce my opponents life to zero (or less) do I have to play out the rest of the coin flips to see if I also survive, or does the game somehow check his life total between flips?

A: The game only checks your life totals when it checks for state-based effects, which is between spells and abilities, not during resolution. You have to play it out until it stops (when both players flip "heads" at the same time), even if your opponent would lose earlier. This means that you can risk losing as well.

Thanks to Lee Sharpe for feedback and proofreading.

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