Saturday School #70

Posted in Feature on March 20, 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 Withered Wretch in play, equipped with a Skullclamp. My opponent plays Unforge targeting Skullclamp. It's obvious that my creature is destroyed, but do I still get to draw the cards, I'd say yes, since the spell resolves as one and not step by step, or does the phrase "if ~this~ WAS equipped...." change that?
-- Marc F. Bindel

A: You don't get to draw any cards. The key here is that the creature and the equipment are not destroyed at the same time – they happen in order. Skullclamp is destroyed first during the resolution of Unforge. The damage is then deal, but the creature doesn't die from it until the next time a player gets priority, which is after the Unforge has resolved. The Wretch no longer is equipped at this time, Skullclamp's ability doesn't trigger because it's not in play anymore.

Q: If I use Neurok Transmuter to turn a creature into an artifact, can the creature block creatures with fear?
-- Jason Embuscado

A: Yes, it can. Turning a creature into an artifact with the Transmuter makes it an artifact creature just as good as creatures with "artifact creature" printed on them, and if there's nothing else that prevents the creature from blocking, the Transmuted creature can block an attacker with fear.

Mycosynth Lattice
Q: If I have four Cloudposts in play and a Mycosynth Lattice in play could I tap all of my Cloudposts, play Consume Spirit and deal 14 damage to my opponent and I gain 14 life?

A: Yes, you could. Mycosynth Lattice lets you use any mana as any color mana, so you could use your colorless mana as black mana for Consume Spirit. When the spell resolves, it deals 14 damage to the target, and you gain 14 life.

This would be different if we talked about Soul Burn, though. You can spend any mana and call it red or black when playing the spell, and when it resolves, it deals X damage. However, the life-gain part of Soul Burn looks at the color of the mana spent, and since the mana spent was colorless, you wouldn't gain any life – the mana is only "spent" as being of a certain color when playing the spell, but when looking back, the effect sees that the mana really was colorless.

General/Older Card Questions

Q: If I Fork a Pulse spell from Darksteel, and the qualifying condition is met when the Fork copy resolves do I return Fork to my hand?
-- Nathanael Love

A: No, you don't. Unlike the original printing, Fork does not become the copied spell anymore. The current Oracle wording of Fork puts a copy of the spell on the stack when Fork resolves, and then Fork goes to the graveyard. The copy does check for the return condition when it resolves, but as it is a copy and not a card, it will cease to exist when it goes to your hand.

Sacred Ground
Q: I control Sacred Ground and artifact lands. My opponent casts Akroma's Vengeance. Do I keep my artifact lands?
-- Anthony Vargas

A: Your lands are destroyed, but they will return to play. Akroma's Vengeance destroys all permanents that are artifacts, including artifact lands. Sacred Ground then sees that a land you control was put into the graveyard by a spell your opponent controlled, and will return the land to play. Permanents with multiple types have the properties of all its types – in this case the artifact land will be destroyed because it's an artifact, but will return because it's a land.

Q: If my opponent and I both have 5 life points and we both have a Disciple of the Vault out while five artifacts are destroyed... who would lose if it was my turn? I'm guessing that I would win since I have priority during my turn.

A: In this case, you would lose. Both your Disciples trigger five times each when the artifacts are destroyed (I'm guessing to an effect like Shatterstorm, which destroys the artifacts at the same time). When a player gets priority after the spell has resolved, all the triggers are put on the stack, and as active player, you have to put your triggered abilities on the stack first, then your opponent puts his or her abilities on the stack. The abilities then resolve in the opposite order. Between each of the abilities resolving, the game checks for state-based effects, one of which is checking if you have zero or less life. Since your opponent's abilities are on top of yours, your opponent's abilities will resolve first, and you will go to zero first, and will lose the game, even if you have enough life loss to win waiting farther down in the stack.

Q: Does an effect that says 'target player discards a card' force them to discard a card at random, or of the player's choice? Sometimes the card says at random and sometimes it says the player's choice, so I'm confused on which it is when it doesn't specify.
-- Jason Hall

A: The wording you give means that the targeted player can choose a card to discard. A discard is only random if it specifically says so – the default is that the player who discards chooses what to discard - just like a player who sacrifices a permanent can choose what to sacrifice.

Q: If I attack with Somnophore, can I only choose a creature which is untapped, or can I also choose an already tapped one?

A: Somnophore's ability lets you target any creature (it doesn't say that the creature has to be untapped). The chosen creature won't untap in the untap step as long as Somnophore is in play, even if the creature was already tapped when it was chosen.

Q: I recently got into an argument with a "professional" Wake player. Me and quite a few people from the boards agreed that you could Mirari a Decree of Justice. The "professional" in question says you can't. Also I'm assuming that if you can Mirari Decree, then you can Mirari an X-spell.
-- Richard Rabold

A: You are correct here – you can use Mirari's ability to copy any instant or sorcery spell you play, even if it has an X (It will use the same value for X). However, the most popular use of Decree of Justice is the cycling ability, which makes 1/1 Soldier tokens. Using cycling is not playing the spell, and this can't be copied. It might be that the professional in question was thinking of this.

Q: Can Quicksilver Elemental copy abilities more than once, like taking Arcbound Slith's ability 5 times then dealing combat damage with the Elemental and getting 5 +1/+1 counters?
-- Tom Huber

A: In general, yes, Quicksilver Elemental can copy activated abilities more than once. However, Arcbound Slith doesn't have any activated abilities, so it can't be copied like this. An activated ability always uses the template "cost: effect"; the Slith has a triggered ability (starting with the word "whenever"), and the modular ability, which is a static ability modifying how the card enters play, and a triggered ability when it leaves play. None of these can be copied by Quicksilver Elemental.

Abandon Hope
Q: Can I play Abandon Hope paying 0 for , just to get a 'free' peek at my opponent's hand?
-- Robert Gonzalez

A: You can choose 0 for the X here, since it doesn't say that X must be greater than 0. Doing this means that you don't discard any cards, and you look at your opponent's hand and choose "no cards" to discard – you only get to look.

Q: My friend has a dual land (ie. Tropical Island) and I play a Vision Charm choosing to change islands to swamps. Can he still activate the land for a green mana?

A: No, he can't. When an effect changes the land type of a card to a basic land type, it loses all other abilities and land types, and this causes the Tropical Island to just be a Swamp (named Tropical Island)

Q: I'm playing against my friend and I Reanimate a Platinum Angel when I'm at 6 life. Would I die from losing life or would I stay alive? I think I should live because of the period between the effects but my friend won't rest until he know for sure. Please give my friend closure.
-- Thomas Butler

A: You will stay alive at -1 life. You put the Angel in play and lose the life when Reanimate resolves. You don't check your life total until after the spell has resolved, and when the check is made, the Angel is in play, saying that you can't lose, even if your life total is negative.

Q: If you set cards aside with Necropotence, can you play them before you discard down to 7?

A: Yes, you can, as long as they're instants. Necropotence has a triggered ability that triggers "at end of turn", which is the beginning of the end-of-turn step. After getting the cards, you will get priority to play spells and abilities, and you can use any instant spells you got from Necropotence – you don't discard until the cleanup step with is the last step in the end phase.

Q: What happens if I play Gaea's Blessing targeting my opponent and three cards in his graveyard and he plays Gilded Light in response? The only illegal target is then my opponent, so I guess I'll at least draw a card, but will the three cards be shuffled into his library?
-- Espen Oftedal

A: The cards won't be shuffled back in. Rule 413.2a in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that an illegal target can't perform any actions, and since the spell says that the player shuffles the card in, this can't be done if the player is not a legal target when the spell resolves. The spell is not countered, since some of the targets are still legal, so you still get to draw the card.

Q: If I Intuition for three copies of Gaea's Blessing, do the two that hit the graveyard trigger?

A: Yes, they do. Intuition reveals three cards from the library, and one of them goes to your hand, the two others go to your graveyard. The cards are still in your library when revealed, and the ability to shuffle the graveyard into the library triggers for each of the Blessings.

Q: When Hesitation is in play and an opponent plays a spell, do you have the choice to counter it or does the effect of countering and sacrificing Hesitation take place whether you want it or not?

A: Hesitation's ability triggers automatically when the opponent plays a spell, and will be sacrificed when the ability resolves, there is no choice involved (it doesn't say that you "may" sacrifice Hesitiation).

Q: Can Vedalken Engineer be used to pay Echo costs of artifacts (like Urza's Blueprints)? I'm thinking no, since Echo is neither an activated ability, nor "playing" the artifact.
-- Noel Johnson

A: This is correct. Echo is a triggered ability that triggers in your next upkeep after the permanent came into play, it's not activated or playing a spell.

Q: Would an Ivory Mask prevent the effects of a Black Vise or The Rack? Does it depend at all on which came into play first?

A: Ivory Mask is not able to stop Black Vise or The Rack, since these effects are not targeted (according to the Oracle wording of the cards). They both let you choose an opponent as they come into play, but don't use the word target, and in the upkeep, they refer to "that player", also not targeted.

Q: If I declare an attack with Guiltfeeder and then use Maze of Ith on it before blockers are declared, does it still count towards making my opponent lose life?
-- Justin Koh

A: Your opponent will still lose life. Maze of Ith only prevents combat damage and untaps the creature, it doesn't remove it from combat, and it's still attacking. Guiltfeeder's ability triggers when blockers are declared, and it is attacking and not blocked. This will trigger and cause the defending player to lose life, even if Guiltfeeded doesn't deal combat damage.

Q: I was wondering about Heedless One from Onslaught. Do you count the Elves when it comes into play... and it stays that way? Or does it get bigger every time an Elf comes into play?

A: Heedless One has a static ability that constantly updates its power and toughness. Any time the number of Elves change, Heedless One's power and toughness changes along with it.
This is specifically known as a characteristic-setting ability, since it sets its own characteristic using this ability, and is evaluated before any other modifiers to power and toughness – effects from Humility and Sorceress Queen will always overwrite and ignore this ability.

Q: My opponent attacked me with two 1/1 Goblins and a 1/2 Goblin, and I blocked all three with my 13/13 Broodstar (with no enchantments or anything), killing them. He said I could only block one of them with the Broodstar. Is blocking multiple attacking creatures with one legal, or do you have to have a special enchantment or ability that allows them to block multiple creatures?

A: Your opponent was correct – usually a defending creature can only block one attacker (though several creatures can block the same creature if they want). To be able to block multiple attackers with one creatures, the creatures would need to be enchanted by Entangler or have a similar ability.

Q: For tournaments, what does the "Swiss Draw" format mean?

A: Swiss Draw is the most common tournament system used by the DCI, and is used at all major premier events. Tournament using this system has a number of rounds usually determined by the number of players. In each round, players are paired with an equal number of match points (or as close as possible). Each match win gives 3 points, a draw gives 1 point, and a loss 0 points. You will usually play against someone with as many wins as yourself in the tournament, so you'll be paired against someone at your own level. You are allowed to play all the rounds of a swiss tournament, even if you lose all your matches, you are not eliminated until the event is over. Some tournaments have a playoff for the players with the most points at the end of the swiss rounds.

Q: I am a casual magic player and I want to start playing in tournaments. Could you explain the types (Type 1, Type 2, Extended)?
-- Walter Schuck

A: The tournament formats limit which cards you can play in a tournament. You can see a full list of which cards are allowed in each format here.
In general: Type 1 allows all card sets. A few cards are banned (not allowed), and about 50 cards are restricted (only one of each) because the cards are considered too powerful or unbalanced to allow in multiples.
Type 2 is officially known as "Standard", and is the constructed format used for Nationals and Regionals as well as many FNM tournaments. Standard only allows cards printed in the latest basic set (currently 8th Edition) and the latest two blocks of expansions (currently the Onslaught Block and the Mirrodin Block).
Extended is a format which allows about half of cards currently printed – anything from Tempest and later is allowed, though a few cards are banned.

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

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