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There is a rule (410.10d) in the Comprehensive Rulebook that deals with abilities that trigger off permanents leaving play. It says that the game will "look back in time" to determine what triggers. This means two things: it will only look at abilities that existed before the permanents left play, and those abilities will see what the permanents looked like before they left play.
So in last week's example, Akroma's Vengeance destroys Sacred Ground and the lands at the same time. The game looks back to determine triggers, and sees that Sacred Ground was in play, and that some of the destroyed permanents were lands. Sacred Ground triggers for each land being destroyed.
The ability doesn't require that Sacred Ground is in play when the ability resolves for the land to return - once triggered, the ability is independent from the source.
The same reasoning explains why Disciple of the Vault can cause life loss when artifacts are destroyed at the same time as it (through Akroma's Vengeance or Obliterate), and why when March of the Machines is in play, destroying an artifact will trigger Dross Harvester or Goblin Sharpshooter.
-- Christian Hill
A: The sacrificed lands don't trigger Disciple's ability. Death Cloud, unlike Akroma's Vengeance, has you sacrifice the permanents in a specific order, separated by the word "then". Since creatures are sacrificed before the lands, the Disciple will be in the graveyard when the lands are sacrificed, and its ability won't trigger.
Q: What kind of mana is made with Mycosynth Lattice's ability? Is it colorless mana, is it mana that acts as all or any color, or do you choose an individual color? You said [last week] that the if you use Soul Burn that you would gain no life, but if the mana is "any color" wouldn't you gain the life?
-- Brian Maudie
A: Mycosynth Lattice doesn't make mana, and has no effect on how other cards make mana. Therefore Cloudpost will still tap for colorless mana, Mountains for red mana, and so on. The Lattice's effect merely lets you ignore certain restrictions when you spend mana.
In the case of Soul Burn, this means you can ignore the clause that says "Spend only black and/or red mana on X", because you're allowed to spend all mana as though it were black and/or red mana.
However, Soul Burn also says "You gain life equal to the damage dealt, but not more than the amount of spent on X". Since you're not actually spending mana at this point, the Lattice has no effect. When Soul Burn looks back to see what mana you spent, it will see the truth.
(All "as though" effects work this way. As another example, Giant Spider may block "as though" it has flying. This lets it ignore the restriction of Treetop Rangers, but it doesn't make it a valid target for Wing Snare.)
A: No, you don't. Darksteel Brute isn't coming into play at this point, it only changes type. Abilities that trigger on something coming into play only trigger if the permanent wasn't in play before, they don't trigger on cards changing type.
General/Older Card Questions
A: The color of a land has no influence on which color mana it produces. Lands are usually colorless, and using Chaoslace on a land to turn it red doesn't change that an Island taps for blue mana.
If a land has a basic land type, it can automatically tap for the appropriate color of mana - turning an Island into a Mountain with for example Reef Shaman will cause it to tap for red mana instead. Changing a land into a basic land type will usually cause a land to lose all other abilities unless it says otherwise.
Q: If I pay to move an equipment from one creature to another, and in response my opponent deals damage to the targeted creature, destroying it, does the equipment stay on the original creature or does it unattach itself?
-- Jon Slocombe
A: It stays on the original creature. The effect of equip is to move the equipment from the original location to the targeted creature, and if the target is illegal when the ability resolves, the ability is countered, doing nothing, and the equipment doesn't move.
Q: Can you play enchantments on your opponents? For instance, could I play Glorious Anthem and put it into play under their control?
A: No, you can't. You can only put permanents into play under your control. You can play local enchantments (like enchant creature spells) on your opponents' permanents, but you are still the controller of the enchantment.
If you want to give permanents to your opponent, try using the card Donate, which does this, for a cost.
-- Darryl Gardner
A: Shrapnel Blast goes on the stack first. The first thing you do when you play a spell is to put it on the stack, then you choose target, and finally you pay the cost. Paying the cost of sacrificing the Stinger triggers the modular ability, and this goes on the stack on top of Shrapnel Blast.
Q: I am currently building a TwelvePost deck. If I entwine a Tooth and Nail, and search for a Furnace Dragon, do I get to destroy all artifacts? Furnace Dragon says only to destroy all artifacts when played from your hand.
A: Furnace Dragon's ability will not trigger in this case. Furnace Dragon, Hypnox and a few other creatures only trigger if you play them from your hand. This is referring to playing the cards as spells - i.e. putting them on the stack and letting them resolve normally. Any effect that puts them directly into play, like Tooth and Nail, Elvish Piper or similar will not trigger this ability.
Q: I use Grinning Totem to search my opponent's library for a creature card and put it face up in front of me. Can I then use Elvish Piper's ability to put that creature into play? I argued that I can use Piper to "Put a creature card from my hand into play" since the Totem treats the card "as though it were in your hand". My opponent feels that "as though it were in your hand" is not the same as "in your hand".
A: Your opponent is correct. When an ability says that you can do something "as though" something else applies only to the stated action. Grinning Totem lets you play the card (i.e. play it as a spell) as if it were in your hand, but you are not allowed to discard it, or cycle it, or put it into play with Elvish Piper, because it's not actually in your hand.
A: You have to regenerate it five times. Activating Pestilence costs , and puts an ability on the stack that deals 1 damage to everything. Each activation is separate, and each ability is a separate source of damage. The game checks for state-based effects between each ability resolving, and you will have to regenerate for each of the activations. The source of damage is the same, but it's dealt at different times.
Q: I have a Kavu Recluse and seven lands (mountains and swamps only) in play, and a Stratadon in my hand. If I use the Recluse's tap ability and turn one of the lands into a forest, does that land "count" as a forest to Stratadon? In other words, can I play it for 7?
A: You can play it for 7. Changing a land's type to a basic land type makes it count for the appropriate type, and since you now have 3 different basic land types in play, the cost to play Stratadon is reduced by 3.
Q: I have a question about the Mirrodin card Trash for Treasure. I was wondering if you could bring back to play the artifact you just sacrificed. Since the sacrifice is in the casting cost, it is a bit confusing. I think that you have to announce the spell and its target, then pay the casting cost but I'm not sure.
-- Tony Caron
A: You can't bring back the artifact you just sacrificed. When playing a spell, you always choose the targets before paying any costs, and you can't choose a target that isn't there yet. The full procedure and order of events when playing a spell can be found in section 409.1 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.
-- Brian Conley
A: This works. The color of an ability from a permanent is considered to be the color of the permanent it comes from, it doesn't matter which color the activation cost is. The green Assassin is allowed to target and destroy Akroma.
Q: How does the last part of Ghostly Wings' effect work? Does it mean any creature with an enchantment on it?
A: No, it wouldn't since Manabarbs only triggers when the lands are tapped for mana, Mana Short just turns the cards sideways without activating them.
There is a card similar to Mana Short called Drain Power, which would cause Manabarbs to trigger. Drain Power forces the targeted player to play a mana ability from each land before emptying the mana pool, and this will trigger Manabarbs.
-- Max Anderson
A: The creatures keep their counters and become 1/1s. Counters are not abilities, so Humility cannot remove them.
While Humility is in play, it directly sets the power and toughness of all creatures. This will always overwrite any counters on the creatures. The counters are still there, they will just not have any visible effect.
The modular ability itself has two functions - one puts counters on the creature as part of it coming into play, the other lets you put counters on another creature when it leaves play.
The first part affects how the creature comes into play - i.e. it applies just before the creature comes into play. Humility can only affect creatures in play, so it can't stop this ability applying. New modular creatures that come into play will still get counters as normal. (They won't actually affect anything until Humility is destroyed, of course.)
The second part is a triggered ability, which Humility can remove. If a Modular creature dies when Humility is in play, its counters will die with it.
Q: My question involves Spreading Algae, and if an effect can remove it from the game (out of the graveyard) before it returns to my opponent's hand. Specifically, I have a Withered Wretch in play, and my opponent has enchanted one of my swamps with Spreading Algae. Can I respond to the return to hand effect by using the Wretch's ability before it returns to my opponent's hand?
-- John K. Vanek
A: Yes, this works. You can respond to Spreading Algae returning to play by removing it from the game.
When Spreading Algae is put into a graveyard, its triggered ability triggers and goes onto the stack. While it's waiting to resolve, you can activate Withered Wretch and remove it from the game. Since Spreading Algae isn't in the graveyard when the ability resolves, the ability is unable to return it to play.
Note that the same is not true for Darksteel Colossus. It has a replacement effect ("instead"), not a triggered ability ("when"), so it can never actually be put into a graveyard.
Q: It's the beginning of my opponents turn. I use my Puppeteer to tap one of his creatures, and then use my Norritt to force my opponents creature to attack. Since it's tapped it can't so my Norritt would destroy it, right?
A: Right. Norritt destroys the creature if it didn't attack this turn, it doesn't matter that it wasn't able to attack at all. There is an exception for creatures that came into play this turn, but otherwise, Norritt will destroy the creature at end of turn if it didn't attack, regardless of reason.
-- Sean Patrick Flaherty
Q: My question is on the card Head Games. When I play Head Games, the target of the spell puts his hand on top of his library, then it says "Search that player's library for that many cards. The player puts those cards into his or her hand, then shuffles his or her library." Does this sentence mean that I get to look through his library and choose which cards go into his hand (but I don't get too see what cards I put into his hand, essentially putting random new cards into his hand), or do I get to look at the cards I put in his hand?
A: You can look at the cards. When an effect tells you to search something, you are allowed to look at the cards to confirm that they are the cards you want. Head Games lets you go through the opponent's library and give him a new hand of your choice (usually not very good for him).
This is especially amusing when you follow up with Mindslaver.
Q: If you have seven 0/1 tokens in play and the Viridian Longbow in play, can you reequip the Longbow to all tokens and use the its ability to deal damage to that player, with each of the tokens, even though it calls for it to tap?
-- Melinda Doyle
A: You can do this, provided you have enough mana. You can move equipments any time you could play a sorcery, so you can equip the Longbow to a token, tap the token, deal the damage, then move the Longbow to another token and repeat the process.
Viridian Longbow gives the creature the ability to tap, it doesn't tap itself, so as long as you equip it to an untapped creature, that creature can tap to damage a target.
A: Yes, it can. Cauldron Dance only has one target. (The second effect doesn't use the word "target", so it doesn't target anything.)
Remember that the new target must be in the same player's graveyard, since the new target must be legal.
Q: If Cursed Scroll is activated, and the player who controls it declares a card that appears in their hand multiple times, can damage be dealt if the target player chooses any of those cards with the same name, or does the player have to distinguish each card from the other?
A: Cursed Scroll only looks at the name of the card, and if a card with the correct name is chosen, damage is dealt. You can't name "Worship from Urza's Saga" and not deal damage if the Worship from 8th Edition comes up.
A: This is not right. Recoup can only target sorceries, and Pulse of the Forge is an instant. It still wouldn't work if it had been a sorcery, because flashback is a replacement effect that removes the card from the game any time the card would leave the stack, so when the Pulse's effect tells your friend to return it to his hand, the flashback would remove it from the game instead.
-- Matt Frogner
A: It deals no damage. Goblin Charbelcher only deals damage equal to the number of nonland card revealed, which means that the Mountain doesn't count. The double of zero is zero.
Thanks to Laurie Cheers and Lee Sharpe for feedback and proofreading.