Saturday School #72

Posted in Feature on April 3, 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.


Tooth and Nail

Last week, I answered a question regarding putting Furnace Dragon into play with Tooth and Nail. My answer was that Furnace Dragon's ability doesn't trigger because it's not played from your hand. A comment I got from many was that Tooth and Nail says right on the card that you "put it into play from your hand", so it should trigger.

However, it does not. The key here is not the part of the sentence that says "play from your hand", but the part that says "put into play". Abilities that trigger when the card is "played from your hand" only trigger when the card is played as a spell, from your hand. Effects that put the card directly into play, like Tooth and Nail, Elvish Piper, Show and Tell, Hunted Wumpus and similar put the card directly into play without it being played as a spell, and in these cases, the abilities of Furnace Dragon, Reiver Demon, Hypnox and Palinchron won't trigger.

Darksteel Questions

Q: I was reading Furnace Dragon and I noticed an absence of the words "in play" (referring to the artifacts being removed). Is this implied, or is Furnace Dragon eating decks, hands and graveyards too.
-- Nick Simpson

A: This is implied. By default, effects can only apply to permanents, unless the instruction's text states otherwise or they clearly can apply only to something another zone. Furnace Dragon's ability when it comes into play does not do anything to artifacts that aren't in play.

Darksteel Brute
Q: When Darksteel Brute is turned into a creature, does it suffer from summoning sickness?
-- Michael Beretovac

A: Only if you haven't continuously controlled the permanent since the beginning of your turn. A permanent only has "summoning sickness" if you haven't controlled it since the beginning of your turn, it's not necessary that it has been a creature the whole time.

Q: Can Thundercloud Elemental tap Pristine Angel, therefore making it a target for destroy spells/abilities?
-- Jules Lipton

A: Assuming Pristine Angel has had its toughness reduced to 2 first somehow, for example by using Infest, this would work. Thundercloud Elemental can tap all creatures, including an untapped Pristine Angel. This is because these cards affects "all" creatures, and don't target the Angel specifically. Protection from [quality]; only does four things, abbreviated D-E-B-T:

1) Damage from [quality] sources is prevented
2) Can't be Enchanted or Equipped by [quality] enchantments or equipment
3) Can't be Blocked by [quality] creatures
4) Can't be Targeted by [quality] spells or abilities

Neither Infest nor the Elemental doesn't do any of these things, and the Angel's protection doesn't stop it from becoming smaller and tapped.

Q: I have a question regarding Myr Landshaper's ability. If the Landshaper targets a basic land with its ability and makes it an artifact land, is the resulting land basic or nonbasic until the end of turn, for the purpose of determining the amount of damage done by Price of Progress?
-- Curtis Wasson

A: The land will still be basic. Currently, nothing can add or remove supertypes such as "basic" from a permanent, and making the land an artifact in addition to a land won't change the fact that it's still basic.

Q: Is a Plains which has become an artifact land through the use of Myr Landshaper's activated ability still a copy of the other Plains in play/library? For purposes of say, Splinter?

A: Myr Landshaper does not change the name of the land it changes to an artifact. Splinter only looks at the name of the card to determine if you can remove the card from the hand, library or graveyard, and all "regular" Plains can be removed as long as the one targeted is a legal target for Splinter when it resolves.
Echoing Ruin is different, since it will only destroy other artifacts with the same name as the targeted one – it only destroys Plains that are also artifacts.

Q: My friend equips a Whispersilk Cloak onto his Redwood Treefolk. On my turn, I use Creeping Mold to destroy Whispersilk Cloak. That's legal, right?
-- Ben Nypaver

A: This is legal. Whispersilk Cloak only makes the equipped creature untargetable – the Cloak itself can still be the target of spells and abilities.

Q: I have a question about Rebuking Ceremony. Can the artifacts targeted be in the owner's graveyard? Also, am I correct in believing that the two artifacts can have two different owners?

A: Only artifacts in play can he targeted. By default, a spell can only affect permanents in play unless it says otherwise, and only artifact cards in play are "artifacts" – in the graveyard they are only "artifact cards".
Rebuking Ceremony can target any two artifacts in play, they can be controlled by different players, and will return to their respective owners' libraries.

General/Older Card Questions

Siren's Call
Q: I have played Stasis, and my opponent's creatures are tapped. Then, at the beginning of combat, I play Siren's Call. Does Siren's Siren's Call affect all the tapped creatures (except Walls and creatures affected by summoning sickness)?

A: Siren's Call affects all non-Wall creatures without summoning sickness, and will destroy them at the end of the turn if they didn't attack. It doesn't matter if they had no chance to attack.

Q: I have a Voice of All in play. When I played it from my hand, I chose black as its color to gain protection from. Then I "slid out" the Voice of All with Astral Slide. When it came back into play at end of turn, I chose red as its color to gain protection from. When it "slid out" did it lose its protection from black? Or does it now have protection from black and red?
-- Matt Morse

A: It only has protection from red. When a permanent leaves play, it loses all memory of what it was before, and the Voice no longer remembers that it once had protection from black. When it returns to play it is a new permanent, and only the new choice matters.

Q: Until what step do you have to play Wing Shards to be able to still force the attacking creature to be sacrificed? For example, my opponent declares an attacking creature, I declare no responses. The player then pumps up his creature before damage is on the stack. After the creature is pumped and before damage on the stack, can I then play Wing Shards and force him to sacrifice the creature?
-- Chris Sanchez

A: If Wing Shards resolves before damage is put on the stack, your opponent has to sacrifice an attacking creature, and it won't be able to deal damage.
The Combat phase has the following steps, and you can play Wing Shards in any of them:

  1. Beginning of combat
  2. Declare attackers
  3. Declare blockers
  4. Combat damage
  5. End of combat

You want to play Wing Shards in step 2 or 3, while the creature is attacking, before damage is on the stack.
In step 1, no creatures are attacking, so Wing Shards won't have any effect.
Combat damage assignments go on the stack at the beginning of step 4, so playing Wing Shards here won't stop the damage from being dealt.
In step 5, combat damage has resolved, so damage can't be stopped, though you can play Wing Shards here to destroy an attacking creature that survived combat.

Aura of Silence
Q: In a recent game between a friend and me, we ran into an interesting problem. I was playing my Affinity deck and he put an Aura of Silence into play. Our question is, how does this affect Affinity's cost reduction? Example: I, with 8 Artifacts in play, want to play a Myr Enforcer. Would the Enforcer cost me 1 or 2 to cast?
-- Chris Marchand

A: Myr Enforcer would cost to play. When determining the cost to play a spell or ability, you start with the the mana cost, activation cost, or alternative cost, add all cost increases, then subtract all cost reductions.
In this case, you start with the mana cost (7), add the extra cost from Aura of Silence (2), and then subtract the reduction from affinity (8) for a total play cost of .
If a cost somehow ends up being negative, it's considered to be zero.

Q: I have a Coat of Arms in play, does it affect my opponent's creatures too?
I have Caltrops in play, does it deal 1 damage to my creatures when they attack?
-- Dimitris Vohaitis

A: Both the cards you mention affect all creatures, both yours and your opponent's, since they don't say otherwise. Coat of Arms will give a bonus to any creature in play, and it counts all creatures in play to determine how large the bonus is. Caltrops deals 1 damage to a creature if it attacks, this applies to your attacking creatures in your turn, and your opponent's creatures when they attack.

Q: I have a Chlorophant in play. Do I put on counter on each turn (turn 1: a single 1/1 counter, turn 2: two 1/1 counters etc.) until I get threshold, when I put on two a turn?
Or, do I put a single 1/1 counter onto it the next upkeep after it comes into play, and one more when I reach threshold?

A: Chlorophant gets a counter each turn if you don't have threshold, and two counters when you have threshold. It has a triggered ability that triggers each upkeep, and when you have threshold, it gets another triggered ability that puts on a second counter that upkeep.

Relic Bane
Q: I don't understand Relic Bane. If you enchant an opponent's artifact, wouldn't you lose 2 life each turn? It says "your" upkeep, so I would think it refers to the person who played it.

A: Relic Bane gives an ability to the enchanted artifact, and "you" will then refer to the controller of the artifact. If something says that a permanent "has" or "gains" an ability, the game sees the ability as being "on" that permanent, and any references to "you" will refer to that permanent's controller. Relic Bane is black's way to deal with artifacts, it can't destroy artifacts, but can hurt the controller for having it in play.

Q: Is it possible to play One with Nature on an opponent's creature, and if so, when it deals damage do you or your opponent get to search your deck for a land?
-- Simon Ray-Jones

A: You can enchant your opponent's creature with One with Nature, and you get to search for a land when it deals combat damage to a player. One with Nature's text doesn't say that the creature "gains" or "has" the ability, so "you" will refer to the controller of the enchantment here, not the controller of the creature.

Q: How do cards like Vile Deacon and Reckless Ogre (from Exodus) interact with Ensnaring Bridge? Does their bonus keep them from being able to attack?
-- Conrad Corbett

A: Ensnaring Bridge checks the power of creatures wanting to attack as attackers are declared – if a creature has greater power than the number of cards the Bridge's controller has in his or her hand, the creature can't attack. The bonus from the Deacon and the Ogre does not count here, as they trigger when the creatures attack, and don't go on the stack and resolve until after attackers have been legally declared. Ensnaring Bridge only affects the declaration of attackers, after a legal attack has been declared, the creatures can get bonuses afterwards and still be attacking.

Wirewood Symbiote
Q: Can I return an Elf I control with the ability of Wirewood Symbiote without untapping a creature?
-- Sebastian Narvaez

A: No, you can't – the ability is not optional, and you must choose a creature to be untapped to return the Elf to your hand. However, you are allowed to choose any creature as target, also an untapped one, or even the Elf you are returning to your hand. Since you choose targets before paying costs, you can target the Elf you are returning, then pay the cost of returning the Elf. The ability will then be countered on resolution because the target is gone, which is what you wanted to accomplish.

Q: Can you counter the effect of a cycled card? For example, I cycle Decree of Pain and want to deal 2 damage to all creatures, can my opponent counter this with a Counterspell? Actually I guess my question is: is cycling a spell?

A: Cycling is an activated ability, not a spell, and can't be countered by anything that can only counter spells. It can be countered by things that counter activated abilities, like Stifle or Bind, but not by Counterspell or Mana Leak, since they can only counter spells.
The "cycling" ability is the one that lets you draw a card. The "creatures get -2/-2" part of Decree of Pain is a triggered ability that triggers when cycling is activated, and this ability can only be countered by something that counters triggered abilities, which is currently only Stifle.

Q: Can I target Skulking Ghost or Tar Pit Warrior with Pyroblast to destroy it? How about Red Elemental Blast?
-- Ari Lipkin

A: Pyroblast can target any permanent, and can be used to destroy a Skulking Ghost or a Tar Pit Warrior – "if this is blue" is only checked on resolution and is not part of the targeting requirement. Red Elemental Blast is different, since it says that it targets a "blue permanent" – and it's not allowed to target non-blue permanents.

Yawgmoth's Will
Q: Is it possible to play Yawgmoth's Will and then cast a Firestorm using the cards in your graveyard to pay the discard cost?

A: This is not possible. A discard can only be done with cards that are actually in your hand. Yawgmoth's Will only lets you play the cards in your graveyard (like regular spells) as though they were in your hand, they can't be used as though they were in your hand for other purposes.

Q: How does trample work against first strike? Say I attack with Yavimaya Ants and my friend blocks with Talon Sliver - does it still deals its damage?

A: Yavimaya Ants won't deal any damage in this case. All creatures with first strike (and double strike) assign and deal their damage before creatures without first or double strike, and if the other creature is destroyed by the damage from the first striking creature, it won't be able to assign any damage in the regular combat damage step, as it is no longer in play. This goes for all creatures.

Q: If I have a Glorious Anthem in play and an Angelic Chorus, and I play a 1/1 creature like Suntail Hawk, would I gain the 1 life from its toughness or would I gain 2 life because of 'Glorious Anthem'?

A: You would gain 2 life. Glorious Anthem has a static ability that applies to the creature as soon as it is in play. Suntail Hawk will have a toughness of 2 before the triggered ability from Angelic Chorus resolves, and the extra bonus is included when you check its toughness.

Wooden Sphere
Q: Let's say that I have in play any of these cards: Ivory Cup, Crystal Rod, Wooden Sphere, Iron Star or Throne of Bone, and a lot of untapped lands. If my opponent plays a spell of the required color, can I spend a lot of mana to gain a lot of life or just one for each spell played?

A: You can only gain 1 life for each of the spell's colors if you have one of each artifact in play. Each of the artifacts has a triggered ability that triggers once when a spell of the appropriate color is played, and when the ability resolves, you have the option of paying to gain 1 life. You only get to do this once per artifact per spell.

Q: If you play Control Magic on a creature, it can't attack right away, correct? It came into play on your opponent's side, thus it is affected by summoning sickness.
-- Peter Pham

A: This is correct. When a creature changes controller, it will have "summoning sickness", as it hasn't been under it's controller's control since the beginning of his and her turn. This means that it can't attack or use activated abilities with the -symbol.

Q: If I have a creature such as Whispering Shade, which can gain +1/+1 if you pay mana, is there a limit to the number of mana you can pay this way. Pit Imp states that it can't gain more than 2 "in that way", so does this infer that there isn't a limit to others like this?

A: Correct. In general, activated abilities can be used as many times as you can pay their cost, and Whispering Shade's ability can be activated as many times as you can pay . Abilities that tap to activate can usually only be used once; you need to have a way to untap the permanent it's on before it can be used again.
Only abilities that specifically say that they have a limited number of uses have a limit.

Disciple of the Vault
Q: I have a friend who believes Disciple of the Vault's ability allows him to sacrifice any artifact any time to have me lose life, and when I read the card I belived that artifacts had to die naturally. Is he right or am I?

A: You are correct – Disciple of the Vault doesn't let you destroy or sacrifice anything in itself, it just lets you cause life loss to your opponent when something else causes an artifact to go to the graveyard.

Q: Can I sacrifice the same three forests I use to bring out Primeval Force?

A: You can do this. You pay the mana cost of Primeval Force when you play the spell, and you don't sacrifice the forests until it comes into play, much later. You can sacrifice any forests you have, including the tapped ones you used to play the spell.

Q: If I were to use Firecat Blitz this turn, and I use Day of the Dragons the same turn, do the 5/5 red Dragon creature tokens go out of play as the card (Firecat Blitz, say)? Or do the tokens go out of play after the enchantment is out of the game?

A: The Dragon tokens remains in play until Day of the Dragons leaves play. When Day of the Dragons comes into play, it removes all the creatures you control from the game and replaces them with 5/5 Dragon tokens. These are completely new creatures and have no relation to the creatures that left play except how many you get. Effects that applied to the creatures that were removed do no apply to the Dragons that came into play.

Thanks to Lee Sharpe for feedback and proofreading.

Latest Feature Articles


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


January 21, 2022

The Modern Age by, Emily Teng

For much of Kamigawa's history, power was concentrated in the hands of the elite: the Imperials who ran the Plane with Kyodai's blessings, various warlords, and those who could channel th...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All