Saturday School #67

Posted in Feature on February 28, 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: If I use a Neurok Transmuter to make an opponent's creature become an artifact creature then Domineer it, will I lose control of it at the end of the turn when it ceases to be an artifact again?
-- Josh Liller

A: You lose control of the creature when the Transmuter's effect ends. Domineer can only enchant artifact creatures, and when the game checks for state-based effects, Domineer goes to the graveyard since it enchants an illegal permanent.

Thought Dissector
Q: I have a question about Thought Dissector. I paid 3 mana to have my opponent show the top 3 cards of his deck. None of them were an artifact and we didn't know what to do with the cards he revealed. At first we thought they went to the graveyard, but the way the card is worded it sounds like that only happens if an artifact is revealed. Could you clarify?
-- Aaron Ording

A: The revealed cards go to the graveyard. If no artifact cards were revealed, "the rest" of the cards will be all the revealed cards, which all go to the graveyard.

Q: Can I put a Skullclamp on an Arcbound Worker and then use a Shrapnel Blast to do 5 points damage and draw 2 cards?
-- Diego Ranzani

A: No... at least, not unless you put extra counters on the Worker, or use another effect to increase its toughness.
When you put Skullclamp on a creature with 1 toughness, the creature dies immediately, before you have a chance to play a spell or do anything else.

Q: If my friend has Molder Slug in play and I have a Neurok Transmuter, can I activate the Transmuter during his upkeep to turn one of his creatures into an artifact? Will this force him to sacrifice the creature?

A: You can activate the Transmuter in his upkeep, for example in response to the Slug's triggered ability. Molder Slug's ability triggers each upkeep, even if there are no artifacts in play, and if you respond by turning a creature into an artifact, your opponent will have to sacrifice that creature if that's the only artifact he controls. If he controls any other artifacts he still gets to choose, of course.

Mycosynth Lattice
Q: I read about Titania's Song/Mycosynth Latticelast week. But what happens if both permanents came into play simultaneously via Second Sunrise?
-- Rosario Maij

A: When multiple permanents come into play at the same time, the active player (the player whose turn it is) gets to choose which of the cards are timestampedfirst of the permanents.
The timestamp is used to determine which effect is applied first when there are multiple continuous effects that can be applied at the same time.

Q: If I have a Mycosynth Lattice in play and I have 10 or more permanents in play, would I be able to play a card like Broodstar for free? -- Stephen Kovalcik

A: You won't be able to pay it for free. The mana cost for Broodstar is , and affinity can only reduce the colorless portion of the mana cost. Even if you can pay the colored mana with any mana, that part of the cost will not be reduced, so you will still have to pay two mana for your Broodstar.

Q: When the opponent plays Mycosynth Lattice and than activates Grindstone, must I put my whole library in the graveyard? I don't think so because they must share a color to repeat the effect, and because they are both colorless they don't share a color... but my opponent doesn't think so.
-- Gideon Lang

A: You are correct. Cards that don't have a color don't share a color, and won't repeat Grindstone's effect. This is true for "regular" artifacts and lands as well.

Gemini Engine
Q: I am just wondering if the Twin for the Gemini Engine is affected by summoning sickness. It would seem like a hard to use card if it is. -- Caleb Davis

A: The Twin actually has summoning sickness, since you haven't controlled it since the beginning of your turn, and it doesn't have haste. The reason it can still attack is that the Engine's effect puts it into play as an attacking creature. Summoning sickness only stops a creature from being declared as an attacker in the declare attackers step, but since the creature is put directly into play as an attacking creature after attackers have been declared, this is bypassed.

General/Older Card Questions

Q: How small can a deck be? I've read 40 in the old rulebooks but some of the other players say it's 60.
-- Reeve Shields

A: For tournament play, constructed decks that you bring from home must be at least 60 cards. For limited tournaments such as sealed deck and drafts, you are allowed to play with as few as 40 cards in your deck. There is no maximum deck size, the only requirement is that you need to be able to sufficiently shuffle your deck in maximum three minutes before a game.

Q: I would like to know what a charge counter is, and what it can be used for?
-- Jesse Roy James II

A: A charge counter is a named counter, like any other. All sorts of different counters exist in Magic – death counters, plague counters, web counters, etc.
In itself, a charge counter does nothing, but some cards use it for special things. What the counter does will always be specified on the card if it has any effect. For example, having 20 charge counters on Darksteel Reactor causes you to win the game, removing charge counters from Serum Tank lets you draw cards, removing charge counters from Sun Droplet lets you gain a life and so forth.

Do or Die
Q: If your opponent only has one creature in play and you play Do or Die, do they have to destroy that creature or can they pick the pile with no creatures in it? Also when you make the two piles and the opponent is about to choose is he allowed to look though each pile and see what creatures are in them or does he have to pick one without knowing? Can I play Do or Die on creature cards that say protection from black?
-- Dave Evangelisti

A: In general, Do or Die is not useful against a player with only one creature in play. You have to make two piles, so there will be a pile of one and a pile of zero creatures, Your opponent can choose the pile of zero creatures to be destroyed, causing the spell to have no visible effect.
Both the piles are revealed to all players all the time, and the targeted player may look through the piles before making the choice.
Protection is only useful against four things, D.E.B.T.: damage, enchantments/equipment, blocking, and targeting. Do or Die isn't an enchantment or an equipment card, and isn't a blocking creature, so those are out. It targets a player, not any creatures, so that's irrelevant. And it doesn't deal any damage. Since it doesn't do anything that protection affects, protection has no effect.

Q: I was wondering if Mana Clash deals damage to a player multiple times, will each one be prevented by Urza's Armor? Also, would Mana Clash activate Farsight Mask multiple times?
-- Michael Nerman

A: The answer is yes to both questions. Mana Clash deals damage every time a player flips "tails" on a coin. All the damage is dealt separately, and Urza's Armor will prevent the damage each time.
Similarly, Farsight Mask will trigger for an opponent's Mana Clash each time it deals damage to you, and this is each time you flip "tails".

Faerie Conclave
Q: The situation is this: I attacked with two Faerie Conclaves, and my opponent played Tangle. I said the Conclaves untap during my next untap step, but my opponent said, since they were once creatures, they don't untap. Who is right?
-- Sean Campbell

A: Your opponent is right. Tangle looks at the creatures that are attacking when the spell resolves, and says "those two things don't untap". The phrase "each attacking creature" is just used to determine a set of permanents that won't untap, regardless of which type they have in the untap step.

Q: If my friend attacks with a 5/6 creature, and I block with my 6/6 Clockwork Dragon, will the dragon die when the counter is removed?

A: Yes, it will. It will then be a 5/5 Dragon with 5 damage on it, and when the game checks for state-based effects (right after the counter is removed), the Dragon has lethal damage and is destroyed.
(Of course, if you have 3 mana, you could save it by putting an extra counter on.)

Q: If I have a Damping Matrix in play, is it possible to activate a Chromatic Sphere? I guess you can, as it is a mana ability, but can you still draw the card?

A: You still get to draw the card. Drawing the card is part of the mana ability, and happens at the same time as you get the mana. Since the mana ability can be played, the card can also be drawn.

Synod Sanctum
Q: If Synod Sanctum is destroyed, then brought back, is it still able to bring back the cards it took out of the game?

A: No, it isn't. Once a card leaves play, or changes zone in general, it forgets all about its previous existence in the other zone, and doesn't remember which cards it removed anymore. When the artifact comes back, it's a "new" artifact that hasn't any removed cards associated with it. The previously removed cards just stay removed from the game.

Q: Culling of the Weak from Exodus is a mana source. Does this mean it stays in play, like an enchantment, or leaves play after you sacrifice a creature?

A: It only has an effect once. Mana source is a card type that is no longer use, all cards that have the type mana source are treated as instants in the current rules. Instants have an effect when they resolve, and then go to the graveyard.

Soulgorger Orgg
Q: I'm at 11 life, play Soulgorger Orgg and lose 10 life, then enchant it with Teferi's Curse. Would I gain 10 life each time it phases out or do I lose all but 1 life each time it phases in?
-- John Bare

A: You gain 10 life each time it phases out, but you don't lose any life when it phases in. The rules for phasing (section 502.15 in the Comprehensive Rulebook) say that only permanents that phase out trigger leaves-play abilities, permanents that phase back in don't trigger comes-into-play triggered abilities.

Q: If I play Reanimate on Verdeloth the Ancient, can I play the kicker cost and get tokens?
-- Aaron Cliborne

A: No, you can't. You can only pay kicker (and entwine) when you play the card as a spell, not when you put it directly into play through other means.
spell, not when you put it directly into play through other means.
If you had actually 'played' the card (for example, using Yawgmoth's Will or Spelljack) then yes, you could have paid the kicker cost.

Q: Do I get priority between the resolutions of two spells? For example I cast something that goes on the stack. My opponent responds with a Brainstorm or Impulse-like spell to look for a Counterspell or similar card. Can he still counter with that Counterspell my unresolved spell on the stack?
-- Vladimir Pastircak

A: This is legal. After a spell or ability has resolved, both players have the opportunity to play spells or abilities. The next spell or ability on the stack doesn't resolve until both players have passed priority in succession, and it's legal to use a card drawn from an effect to counter a spell further down on the stack.
(You may be remembering an older rulebook. In the past (more than 5 years ago), this was not possible; countering a spell used to require 'interrupting' it, which could only be done immediately after it had been played. Nowadays, interrupts like Counterspell have become instants, making the rules much simpler.)

Mana Short
Q: Can Mana Short be used to counter a spell?
Example: Player A plays Shivan Dragon, Player B plays Mana Short. Player A's mana pool is empty. What happens to the Shivan Dragon? Does it go to the graveyard or will it go back to its owner's hand?

A: Mana Short can't counter any spells. When a player has priority, he or she can play spells and abilities. No other player can do anything during this process. In your example, player A gets to pay the cost of the Shivan Dragon before player B can do anything about it. Once the Dragon is paid for, the player's lands are probably tapped and his mana pool is probably empty anyway, so Mana Short will have no effect at all.
You can use Mana Short to stop players from playing spells if you play it before the player has the chance to play the spell. If you play Mana Short in your opponent's upkeep, when he's not able to play creatures, he will be unable to play his Dragon. If the player has priority and can pay for his spell, Mana Short can not be used to stop this.

Q: For the "hidden" enchantments from Urza's Saga, like Hidden Spider, do they still count as enchantments when they become creatures? The reason I ask this is that cards like Copy Artifact and other cards like that state that they are in fact both artifacts and enchantments and the "Hiddens" are creatures and makes no mention that they still are enchantments.
-- Ken Landry

A: The Hidden enchantments change type completely – they don't say that they are still their old type. Hidden Spider is just a creature when an opponent has played a creature with flying. The wording "this is still a..." means that it keeps its old types, but in general, when a permanent changes type, from artifact, creature, enchantment or land to another type, they become just that type and loses all the old types.

Crafty Pathmage
Q: Once you target a legal creature with Crafty Pathmage can you then boost its power before damage resolves and still keep it unblockable?
-- Scott Faulds

A: Yes, you can. The Pathmage's ability checks the power of the creature only at two specific times – when the ability is activated, and when it resolves. After the ability has resolved, the creature is unblockable until the end of the turn, regardless of changes in its power.

Q: I have a question that I have been wondering about for a long time. Hopefully this will be the last Phage question you will have. If I attack with my Phage the Untouchable and my opponent chooses not to block it, and uses Glarecaster's ability and redirects it to me, am I dead?
-- Brad

A: Yes, you are. Glarecaster redirects damage dealt to you and your creatures to a targeted creature or player. The damage is never dealt to the original recipient, but only to the target, and if Phage was supposed to deal damage to your opponent, Glarecaster can redirect that damage to you instead. The damage still counts as combat damage after it's been redirected. Therefore, you have been dealt combat damage by Phage, and you lose the game.

Q: Does Exhume target creatures, i.e. do the players have to target creaures in the graveyard when the player cast the spell or do the players wait until the resolution of the spell?
-- Guillaume Rodrigue

A: Exhume doesn't target (it doesn't have the word "target" anywhere), so nothing is chosen when the spell is played. When it resolves, the players perform the stated effect, they each choose a creature to return and put it into play. When both players are supposed to choose something at the same time, the active player always chooses first, then the non-active player choses, and then both things happen simultaneously.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers and Lee Sharpe for feedback and proofreading.

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