Saturday School #73

Posted in Feature on April 10, 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: Do the Pulses from Darksteel go to the graveyard before bouncing back to the player's hand or is there time to play a spell or an ability such as Withered Wretch's to remove the spell before it goes back to my opponents hand? -- Ray Hickey

A: If the "return to hand" condition is true, the Pulse card returns to the player's hand before it has finished resolving, and never hits the graveyard at all. It's not possible to use cards such as Withered Wretch or Scrabbling Claws to remove the card before it returns.

Gemini Engine
Q: When Gemini Engine attacks with its attacking Twin, does Talon of Pain get one or two charge counters put onto it? -- Daniel Martin

A: It gets two counters. Talon of Pain gets a charge counter for each source that deals damage to the opponent, and Gemini Engine and the Twin are different sources of damage, even if one is created by the other.

Q: In a recent game, I had a Hum of the Radix in play, and my opponent had played an Aether Vial several turns before. He tapped the Vial, with 4 counters, to play a Arcbound Crusher. What happens with the Hum; does he have to pay the extra mana as he plays the Crusher, or does it get around the Hum completely? -- Marc Haynes

A: He doesn't have to pay anything extra. Hum of the Radix only affects spells as they are being played, and Aether Vial doesn't "play" the card as a spell, it just puts it directly into play, which is not affected by the Hum.

Q: I read in last week's Saturday School about Rebuking Ceremony, and I was thinking about my days at the prerelease of Darksteel, where I was lucky enough to draft it. During play when I played Rebuking Ceremony, I asked my opponent who gets to decide the order of the artifacts to be placed on top of the library, him or me, but we weren't sure -- Trevor Bumgardner

A: The player who owns the cards chooses the order they go on top of the library. It's not a problem if different players control the artifacts, as they go on top of separate libraries, but if one player owns both artifacts, that player chooses the order they go on top of the library, and as the library is hidden from the opponent, he or she doesn't have to reveal the order to the opponent. This is true any time multiple cards go on top or bottom of a library at the same time (says rule 217.2d in the Comprehensive Rulebook).

Q: If my opponent has a Chalice of the Void with 4 counters on it in play, can I still play Last Word to counter his other spells? -- Arthur Tan

A: This works. Chalice of the Void will trigger when you play Last Word, but when the triggered ability resolves, it will fail to counter Last Word. When one effect says something can happen and another says it can't, the "can't" effect always wins.

General/Older Card Questions

Q: Does equipment tap along with the creature it's equipped to when you declare that creature as an attacker? For example, if I have a Lodestone Myr equipped with two Leonin Scimitars and I attack, can I tap the Scimitars to make the Myr a 6/6 instead of a 4/4? Can I tap the equipment during combat or do I have to do it before I declare attackers?

A: Equipment doesn't tap when you attack, just like local enchantments. The only way to get equipment tapped is to use a spell or ability that taps them, for example by using Lodestone Myr. It doesn't make any difference to the equipped creature whether the equipment is tapped or not, so you can get an "extra" bonus by tapping the equipment with Lodestone Myr.

You an activate the Myr's ability any time you have priority, but to be able to deal more damage, you must have activated it before combat damage is put on the stack.

Blinking Spirit
Q: Say I block a Crash of Rhinos with my Blinking Spirit, then, before combat damage is resolved, I bring the spirit back into my hand. Do the full 8 points of combat damage go to me, do I take no damage, or do I only take 6 (since the spirit would have taken 2, and the 6 would roll over)?

A: This depends on when Blinking Spirit is returned to your hand. You can either return it after blockers are declared, before combat damage assignments are put on the stack, or after damage has been assigned.

If you return the Spirit before combat damage is assigned, your opponent can assign the full amount of damage to you, as there is no blocking creature to assign damage to.

You can also wait until after damage has been assigned - in that case, your opponent must assign at least 2 points of damage to the Spirit before anything can trample over. You can then return the Spirit, and this does not change the assigned damage in any way, the 2 damage that was supposed to be dealt to the Spirit just goes away. The damage your Blinking Spirit assigned back to the Rhinos would also be deal, even if the Spirit is no longer in play - after the amount of damage has been assigned, it doesn't matter if the attacker or blocker leaves play afterwards; the damage is still dealt as originally assigned.

Q: If there is a Desolation in play, do I sacrifice a land for every land I tapped for mana? For example, if I tap four lands to play Wrath of God, do I have to sacrifice 4 lands at the end of the turn? If there are two Desolations in play do I take double the damage for tapping a plains? -- Richard Nettle

A: With one Desolation in play, you only have to sacrifice one land at the end of the turn, regardless of how many lands you tapped for mana. Desolation's ability triggers at the end of the turn, and when it resolves, it determines which players tapped lands for mana earlier in the turn, and forces those players to sacrifice a land, and dealing 2 damage to players who sacrifice a Plains.

If there are two or more Desolations in play, the check is done when each of the triggered abilities resolves. Damage is only dealt for a Plains sacrificed during that particular ability's resolution, and you only get 2 damage for sacrificing a Plains. If you sacrifice multiple Plains, you take 2 damage for each, of course.

Q: I was wondering, if I have Lightning Greaves in play with 2 creatures and I switch it back and forth between them over and over, would it affect cards with storm such as Brain Freeze or Dragonstorm because equip is played as a sorcery?

A: No, it wouldn't. The phrase "equip only as a sorcery" is a short form for "play the equip ability only any time you could play a sorcery". The equip ability is an activated ability that has a special restriction on when it can be played, but it's not a sorcery, and doesn't count as a sorcery, or a spell, for anything that looks for that.

Q: I have Arcbound Ravager in play and my opponent entwines Reap and Sow targeting my Great Furnace. In response, I sacrifice the Great Furnace to give my Arcbound Ravager a +1/+1 counter. Does my opponent still get to search his library for a land? -- Brian Grimmer

A: No, he doesn't. If the entwine cost is played, Reap and Sow is a spell with a target, and any spell with a target is countered if all its targets are gone or otherwise illegal when it tries to resolve. It doesn't matter that the second part of the spell is untargeted, the whole thing is one spell, and without legal targets, it gets countered on resolution.

Callous Oppressor
Q: I have a Callous Oppressor with Pemmin's Aura enchanted on it. Cleric is the chosen creature type. My opponent has two Exalted Angels in play. I tap my Oppressor to take one of them, then, without letting the ability resolve, I use Pemmin's Aura to untap it, and tap to gain control of the secondnd Exalted Angel. Would this let me gain control of both of the Angels, or can I only control one of them at a time? -- Scott Foster

A: You can only control one creature at a time with Callous Oppressor. So-called "tap and hold" abilities, which have a duration "as long as…" some condition is true, needs the condition to be true all the time, even if the ability hasn't resolved yet. If the Oppressor is untapped before the ability resolves, the effect never happens. When you untap the Oppressor after having targeted the first Angel, the "tapped" condition isn't true anymore, and the ability will be unable to gain control over that target. You will only gain control over the second Angel. This is explained in rule 418.3d in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: I had a question about Yawgmoth's Will. Because it refers to "cards" in the graveyard (as they are no longer spells or permanents), could you play your land for the turn from the graveyard?
Also, could you play the cycling ability on cards from the graveyard?

A: You can play a land from your graveyard assuming you haven't played your land for the turn already. You are usually allowed to play one land per turn, and if you have resolved a Yawgmoth's Will, this land can come either from your hand, or your graveyard (but not both, unless you have Fastbond or another effect that lets you play multiple lands in a turn).

You can't cycle the cards from your graveyard, as part of the cost of activating cycling is discarding the card from your hand - this is not "playing a card", so you can't do that.

Q: What would happen if I had Enduring Renewal in play and my Serra Avatar was sent to the graveyard? Does it get reshuffled into my library or returned to my hand? -- Jon Ruseski

A: You get to choose where the Avatar goes. Both Enduring Renewal and Serra Avatar has a replacement effect (indicated by the word "instead") that replace going to the graveyard with going somewhere else. In these cases, the controller of the affected object (here, the Serra Avatar) chooses the order they are applied in. When one of the replacement effects is applied, the card is no longer going to be put into the graveyard, and the other one won't do anything.

Q: My opponent has Rotlung Reanimator and another Cleric in play, then he used Dark Supplicant's ability to sacrifice three clerics (he only has Rotlung, Supplicant, and the other Cleric). Are all three Clerics sacrificed at the same time? Does this mean he can get only one 2/2 zombie token, or does he gets three tokens? -- Andrew Alcantara

A: He would get three tokens. All the Clerics are sacrificed at the same time, you first choose the three Clerics, then sacrifice them to pay the cost. Using game rule 410.10d, the game looks back in time to see what triggers, and Rotlung Reanimator triggers for itself and anything that leaves play at the same time, creating a token for each.

Blanket of Night
Q: When Blanket of Night is in play, do all mana-producing lands tap for black mana as well as their normal color? Also, does a Swamp with a Blanket of Night in playcount as 2 Swamp for the purpose of figuring out the power and toughness of something like a Nightmare or Angry Mob? -- Rachael Stanton

A: Blanket of Night makes all lands have the type "swamp" in addition to their other types. Having the type "swamp" gives the land the additional ability of tapping for black mana, but this is a separate ability that can be used instead of the lands' "regular" mana abilities, it can't be used at the same time.

Having a land type twice doesn't make the land count twice for Nightmare or Angry Mob - each of these cards count the number of land permanents in play with the given type, not how many times the type exists on the permanents. Being a "double swamp" isn't any different from being a regular Swamp.

Q: In regards to tapping permanents; if my opponent is attacking with a Copperhoof Vorrac, could I tap a bunch of my creatures or artifacts that don't have tap abilities to keep the Vorrac's power down? -- Adam Kemptar

A: No, you can't. You can't randomly tap permanents for no reason - you need to either use abilities of the permanents, or spells, to tap the permanents.

Q: Are artifact creatures legal targets for Dead Ringers? My friend says that since they are colorless they aren't a color the other isn't but I say that since they need a color they can't be targeted. Please clear this up. -- Tim Craig

A: Artifact creatures are legal targets for Dead Ringers. Since artifacts usually have no color at all, they won't have a color the other targeted artifact doesn't have, and they will both be destroyed. Dead Ringers doesn't say that the targets need to have a color - just that they aren't of a different color than the other.

Q: Since the Sliver Overlord costs one of every color does that mean that it is a red, white, green, black, and a blue creature? If so would a death spell like Annihilate or Terror work on it?

A: Sliver Overlord counts as being of all colors, since it has each color mana in its mana cost (a creature's color is by default the colors in its mana cost). This means that you can destroy it both using Slay (which destroys a green creature) and Execute (which destroys a white creature). However, Annihilate and Terror won't work. Both of these destroy a nonblack creature, and since Sliver Overlord is black, you aren't allowed to target it with those spells.

Q: If a player plays an enchant creature spell on a creature, and the creature is burned in response can the enchant creature spell be retargeted or does it countered and put into the graveyard?

A: It's put into the graveyard. You have to choose the target for a local enchantment spell when you play it, and if the target is destroyed, removed from play or is otherwise an illegal target for the enchantment when it resolves, the enchantment is countered on resolution, and is put into its owner's graveyard. You don't get to choose a new target.

Q: Can I refuse to pay for a cumulative upkeep cost and just let the card die? -- Jordan Kucharski

A: Yes, you can. "Cumulative upkeep [cost]" means "At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice this permanent unless you pay [cost] for each age counter on it". You are allowed to choose to not pay the cost, and sacrifice the permanent instead.

Tel-Jilad Chosen
Q: Could you explain exactly how this works - the following is a cut and paste from Adrian Sullivan's article this week. "[Tel-Jilad] Chosen is a bit more complicated [than Darksteel Ingot and Darksteel Brute]. You can't target the Chosen in the first place so for the rest of the game your Scales are going to be able to stick around and go to work on anything your opponent lays down that is cheaper than whatever you have that can't be broke." -- Dan DeFrate

A: Culling Scales has you choose a target that is a "nonland permanent with the lowest converted mana cost among nonland permanents in play". But, since Tel-Jilad Chosen has protection from artifacts, you can't choose it as a target. If there is anything else that has the same or lower converted mana cost, you have to choose that as a target - you usually want to choose your opponent's permanents. If there is no other permanents that cost the same, or less, than the Chosen, you are not allowed to choose anything at all, and the ability is removed from the stack, doing nothing, but Culling Scales remains in play, waiting for new targets later in the game.

Q: If I have a Dragonspeaker Shaman in play, will a card like Dragonstorm cost less?

A: No, it won't. Dragonspeaker Shaman reduces the cost of "Dragon spells" - this means creature spells with the type Dragon - not any spell with the text "Dragon" in the name or in the text box.

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