Saturday School #8

Posted in Feature on December 14, 2002

By Rune Horvik

Comment on last week's column

There was a question last week involving Glacial Chasm. The person asking the question indicated that he got himself down to –35 life with it in play. First, you can't pay the upkeep with life you don't have. Second, Glacial Chasm only prevents damage, it does not prevent loss of life, and it doesn't keep you alive if you're at zero life or less. The same goes for Soul Echo; you can't replace the life paid for the Chasm's upkeep by removing echo counters instead.

Beginner Questions

Q: I played Darigaaz's Charm to kill my opponent's Mystic Crusader. He says that Mystic Crusader can not die because is he protection from red and black. I say that Darigaaz's Charm is a gold card and it will take 3 damage and die. I want to know if Darigaaz's Charm deals 3 damage to Mystic Crusader.
--John K., Silver Spring, MD

A: Darigaaz's Charm can't kill--or even target--a Mystic Crusader. A spell's color(s) are defined by the colors in its mana cost (the symbols in the top right corner). The Charm has the symbols , so it is a black spell, a red spell, and a green spell. The gold card frame indicates that the spell has more than one color; gold is not a color in the game. A creature with protection from a color cannot be targeted or damaged by spells or effects of that color.

Q: I played Arrogant Wurm and next turn my opponent plays a Flametongue Kavu and deals 4 damage to my poor Arrogant Wurm. In response I play Giant Growth on the Wurm. The problem is that the damage stays on the creature until the discard phase that is after the end of turn. Now, end of turn, my Wurm loses is growth and dies. Or not?

A: There is no such thing as a "Discard Phase" anymore. It has been replaced with the "End Phase" which consists of the "End of Turn Step" and the "Cleanup Step". In the Cleanup Step, the active player discards down to maximum hand size, then all damage from creatures and all effects that last "until end of turn" effects end at the same time. The damage from the Flametongue Kavu and the bonus from the Giant Growth wear off at the same time, so the Wurm will survive.

Q: Can you respond to attacking creatures by tapping them with cards such as Flood and Nomad Decoy? My friend insists it's possible.
--Adrian Lin, Hong Kong

A: As part of declaring attackers, you tap your creatures. This all happens at once, so spells can't be played in the middle of it.

However, he's free to use the Decoy any time before you declare the attackers. This will tap the creatures, and they'll then be unable to attack. You have to say that you want to enter your attack step and give him the chance to tap your creatures.

Q: In your Saturday School #6, you said something about how cards like Cease-Fire and Orim's Prayer are best played during another player's upkeep. I was taught that you cannot play spells during upkeeps. Can you please explain?

A: Any player may play instant spells and abilities during any upkeep, though you're not allowed to play sorceries, permanent spells (artifacts, creatures, or enchantments) or lands. These can only be played in your own main phases, when the stack is empty.

Onslaught Questions

Q: I have Words of Worship out. I activate it during my upkeep, and in response my opponent casts Plagiarize. Would I gain 5 life or would he draw a card?

A: Both cards have replacement effects that will try to replace the same event, so the affected player (who would normally draw the card) chooses which order they apply in. Since you are the affected player, you choose either to gain 5 life or to let your opponent draw a card. When you have applied one of the effects, there is no draw to replace anymore, and the other effect would wait for the next draw to be replaced.

Q: I activate Contested Cliffs targeting my Anurid Brushhopper and my opponent's Leery Fogbeast. After the effect resolves, can I discard two cards to save my Anurid while still killing his Fogbeast?
--Tim Shaffer

A: No, you can't. When the effect has finished resolving, the game checks for state-based effects, and creatures with lethal damage are put in the graveyard before any player gets priority to do anything.

Q: If I keep using Aggravated Assault to accumulate main phases and combat phases (thank to an army of Elves), will Eladamri's Vineyard add GG to my pool at the beginning of each of these new main phases? They are all technically "pre-combat."
--Jaakko Heiska

A: "Pre-combat main phase" means the first main phase of a turn. Getting more main phases afterwards (along with more combat phases) does not change this, you don't get mana from the Vineyard in any other main phases.

Q: Does cycling count as a discard? Can you activate a Spirit Cairn after cycling a card, and get the 1/1 white Spirit?
--Kayvan Hazemi, Los Angeles, CA

A: Cycling is an activated ability, and the cost to activate it is whatever cost is listed and discarding the card. It will trigger Spirit Cairn, and you can pay to put a Spirit token into play. Read about Cycling in the Comprehensive Rulebook, rule 502.18.

Q: If my opponent and I each have a Spirit of the Night in our graveyards and I play Patriarch's Bidding and we both choose Legend to bring our Spirits back, which gets to stay or are they both destroyed? I guess my question is, "What happens if two Legends are put into the play at the same time?" I assume it has something to do with the stack, but could you help me out.
--Taylor Tan, SF, California

A: If two Legends with the same name are put into play at the same time, they will both be put in the graveyard as a state-based effect when a player gets priority after resolution. None of the Legends have been in play longer than the other, so they both go away.

Note that it's enough that just one player chooses Legend with Patriarch's Bidding, since each player will put all creatures of each chosen type into play.

Q: Can I use Night Soil to remove a creature that was just placed in the graveyard but will be put back into its owner's hand with Sigil of a New Dawn?

A: Yes. This will stop the Sigil from returning the card. With the Sigil in play, a creature going to the graveyard will trigger its ability. You can use the ability of Night Soil in response to the triggered ability and remove the creature card from the game, but when the triggered ability resolves, it will fail to find the creature card in the graveyard, and the card won't be returned. Sigil of the New Dawn only looks for the card in the graveyard, and can't find the card in other zones.

Q: I attacked with Elven Riders and the opponent chose to block with his Silklash Spider. I thought that was not possible since it says "Elven Riders can't be blocked except by creatures with flying" but the judge, who also was unsure, said he can block since it has "Silklash Spider may block as though it had flying." Could you please clarify this for me?

A: A creature that can block "as though it has flying" is treated exactly as if it had flying for the purpose of declaring blockers. This means that the game will see it as a flying creature when blockers are declared, and it can block the Elven Riders. It doesn't have flying for any other purpose, so Hurricane or other effects that affect flying creatures can't affect it. Also see "As Though" in the Glossary of the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: If Future Sight is in play, and Gaea's Blessing is on top of my library (thus, revealed), and I decide to play it, does the spell resolve AND the Gaea's Blessing effect trigger? In other words, is Gaea's Blessing considered to be put into my graveyard from my library if I play it with the help of Future Sight?
--Roger Henri

A: The Gaea's Blessing card is moved to the stack when it's played, and when it resolves, it's moved from the stack to the graveyard. Since the card didn't move directly from the library to the graveyard, the ability won't trigger, and you won't get to shuffle your graveyard into your library.

Q: I'm interested in the interaction between Living Death and Wretched Anurid or other creatures with "comes into play" effects. Is this a case of the active player assigning a timestamp? For instance, if I play the Living Death and my opponent has Wretched Anurid in the graveyard, can I give the Anurid the earliest stamp so they take the maximum damage from it?
--Robert Johns, Oak Harbor, WA

A: When you play Living Death, all the creatures are put in to play at the same time. Even though the active player sets all the timestamps, these are only used when determining interactions of continuous effects. Wretched Anurid has a triggered ability when it comes into play, and this looks at everything that came into play at the same time to determine what triggers. The Anurid will see all the creatures being put into play at the same time as itself, and its controller will lose 1 life for each other creature.

Q: I am attacking my opponent with three Beast tokens (4/4), and he blocks them all with Ironfist Crusher (2/4). I cast Sylvan Might on one of the tokens, making it a 6/6 trampler, so how much trample damage goes through? Damage gets dealt all at once, but I was reading that only lethal damage has to be dealt, and the rest is trample. This has started a huge debate in my household; please help.

A: When an attacker has trample, its controller has to assign at least enough damage to deal lethal damage to all the blockers; anything left can be assigned to the defending player. When determining lethal damage, the game takes all other creatures dealing damage at the same time into account (but not any protection or damage-preventing effects). You're allowed to deal more than lethal damage to the blocker if you want, it could be useful if you suspect the opponent has damage prevention effects.

In your specific case, the 2/4 Crusher blocks two 4/4 beasts, and a 6/6 trampler. The non-tramplers have to assign all their damage to the blocker, for a total of 8 damage. Since this is more than lethal damage, the trampling creature can assign all its damage (6 points) to the player. If you want, you can assign more to the creature, and less to the player.

Q: If I have an Imagecrafter and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, can I use the Imagcrafter to make a creature (say a Snapping Thragg) a "land" and use Kamahl, Fist of Krosa to make it a 1/1?
--Nick Summit, NJ

A: This is not possible. When you choose creature types, you are required to choose a type that already exists. There are no cards of type "Creature – Land" in the game, so you're not allowed to choose "land".

Q: I control a Glarecaster and five Goblins, one of which is a Skirk Fire Marshal. If I was to set off my Skirk Fire Marshal for a global 10 damage to Glarecaster, me, and my opponent(s), does activating Glarecaster's ability redirect 10 damage from either me OR Glarecaster, or is it going to redirect 20 damage from both me and Glarecaster to my desired target?

A: Glarecaster redirects all damage that is dealt to it and its controller at the same time. All the damage from Skirk Fire Marshal is dealt at the same time, so the 10 damage to you, and the 10 to the Glarecaster would be redirected to the chosen target.

Q: I was wondering if I cast Blatant Thievery and then Radiate on it, would I gain control of all my opponent's permanents?
--Kenny Wang, New Orleans, LA

A: Radiate can only target spells with a single target, so this works only in two-player games. In a two-player game, Radiate would copy the spell towards all the legal targets, which are all your opponent's permanents.

In a game with more than one opponent, Blatant Thievery has more than one target, and hence cannot be targeted with Radiate.

Q: Does Aven Brigadier give "Bird Soldiers" +2/+2?

A: A creature with multiple creature types matches anything that refers to either of its types. Aven Brigadier has two abilities, one that gives Birds +1/+1, and another that gives Soldiers +1/+1. Each of these will match Bird Soldiers, for a total of +2/+2 bonus. It would have been different if it said "All Birds and Soldiers get +1/+1", since this is only one ability, it could only give the bonus once.

General / Older Card Questions

Q: My friend has a Squirrel Nest and a Squirrel Mob in play. His opponent has out an Engineered Plague on Squirrels, so the Mob is 1/1. If my friend plays Coat of Arms, will the Squirrels he makes with the Nest survive, or do they die to the Plague?

A: The Squirrels will survive. Both Engineered Plague and Coat of Arms have continuous effects modifying the power and toughness of all the Squirrels. These are applied as the Squirrel token is put into play, and they're both applied before you see the final power/toughness. When the token comes into play, it receives -1/-1 from the Plague, and +1/+1 from the Coat (since the Squirrel Mob is in play), and the token will be 1/1. The Squirrel Mob will also receive the bonus from Coat of Arms in addition to its own effect, making it 3/3.

Q: During my upkeep, can I sacrifice Nether Shadow to Fallen Angel one billion times to make it very big? My judge friend says that you cannot do that because you can only use the Shadow's ability once a turn. The only thing is that that it does not say that on the card or in any rulebook that I have read.
--Nick Reynolds, Penobscot Maine

A: Nether Shadow has a triggered ability, which triggers "at the beginning of your upkeep." Your upkeep can only begin once per turn, so the Nether Spirit can only resurrect itself once each turn. "At the beginning of your upkeep" indicates a triggered ability, which is clearly explained in the Comprehensive Rules.

Q: Can you play a Mox Sapphire with a Mishra's Workshop if there is a Nether Void in play?

A: No, this doesn't work. Mishra's Workshop can only be used to pay for the spell's mana cost and any additional costs. Nether Void doesn't give the Mox an additional cost, it has a triggered ability that will counter the spell after it's been played if the extra payment isn't made. You can still play the Mox, but Mishra's Workshop can't be used to pay for Nether Void's triggered ability--it's not paid when you play the Mox, it's paid afterwards.

Q: If my opponent (foolishly) activates his Psychatog's ability many times all at once to remove his entire graveyard from the game, and I respond with Honor the Fallen, will the creature cards still pump the Psychatog, or will they be removed, and some of the abilities countered? What if I use Tormod's Crypt?

A: Removing the cards from the game is the cost to use the Psychatog's ability, and when a player has priority, he or she can activate as many abilities as he or she wants before the opponent gets priority to respond. The cards are removed when the ability is put on the stack. Therefore, the Psychatog player is allowed to activate it many times and remove all the cards before the opponent has the chance to play Honor the Fallen or Tormod's Crypt.

If the opponent has priority and plays either of the cards, the Psychatog player can also activate the Psychatog and remove the cards in response, before Tormod's Crypt or Honor the Fallen resolves. Either way, the Psychatog still gets pumped.

Q: Aluren is in play. My opponent has a Mesmeric Fiend in play, trapping a Cavern Harpy. I cast Chain of Vapor on the Mesmeric Fiend. What order do the effects go on the stack (Cavern Harpy returns to hand, Chain can be used on another permanent)? Who will get priority once both the Fiend and the Harpy are back in their owners' hands? (More pointedly, can the Fiend simply be replayed before the Harpy, stealing the Harpy again?) Does any of this change depending on who the active player is?
--John P. Cataldo, Somerville, MA

A: Yes, he can trap your Harpy again, regardless of whose turn it is, unless he has another creature in play to return with the Harpy's ability.

Events take place in this order:

1) Chain of Vapor resolves. It returns the Fiend to its owner's hand, and puts a copy of Chain of Vapor onto the stack. (Assuming your opponent wants it to, of course The copy's targets are chosen now, so the Fiend and the Harpy are not legal targets).

2) Mesmeric Fiend's ability goes onto the stack.

3) Spells may be played.

4) Mesmeric Fiend's ability resolves, putting the Cavern Harpy into your hand.

5) Spells may be played; active player has priority. If the Fiend is played first, the Harpy can be played in response, but unless there is something else to return, the Harpy will have to return itself so the Fiend can trap it. If the Harpy's ability returns another creature, that creature is eligible to be trapped. If the Harpy is played first, it has to return itself or another creature that can in turn be trapped by the Fiend. (The Fiend can also be played in response to the Harpy or the Harpy's triggered ability being put on the stack, but that's usually a very bad play, since neither the Harpy nor the creature potentially returned will be available to trap then).

6) The copy of Chain of Vapor (if there is one) resolves.

Q: Can't Thran Turbine be used to pay echo costs? Isn't echo an additional cost, so your answer to a previous Thran Turbine question would imply that echo cannot be paid by the mana from Thran Turbine?
--Bryan Jenkins

A: Thran Turbine can be used to pay echo costs. Echo is not an additional cost, it's a triggered ability that asks you to pay mana (it doesn't use the words "additional cost"). There are no restrictions on using Thran Turbine to pay for triggered abilities.

Q: Let's say that my opponent has a Dwarven Shrine out. I play Fiery Temper on him and use the Mirari to make a copy of it. If I have one Fiery Temper in my graveyard, does the Dwarven Shrine deal 4 damage to me (2 damage from the Fiery Temper and another 2 damage from the copy of it) or just 2 damage?
--Sam London, Los Angeles CA

A: Dwarven Shrine only triggers on spells being played, and won't trigger on copied spells, since these are put directly on the stack without being "played". You would take 2 damage from the Shrine because of the other Fiery Temper in the graveyard, but the copy doesn't trigger the Shrine at all.

Q: If I have a Blastoderm in play and I play a gating spell such as a Horned Kavu or a Sparkcaster, can I return the Blastoderm to my hand? Horned Kavu says, "When Horned Kavu comes into play, return a red or green creature you control to its owner's hand." Most people say this is targeting the Blastoderm, but the text says "return". Can I return it or not?
--Alex P. Utah

A: You can return it. Gating just ask for you to choose a creature of the appropriate color and return it to your hand. This doesn't target (it doesn't use the word target), and you are allowed to choose the Blastoderm.

Q: Engineered Plagueis in play and set to "Elves." What happens when I play a Wood Elves? Similarly, if Engineered Plague is set to "Horrors," what happens when I play Mesmeric Fiend?
--James McLeod

A: Triggered abilities trigger as soon as the game see the trigger event, and go on the stack when a player gets priority, after having checked for state-based effects.

With Engineered Plague set to Elves, the Wood Elves would come into play as a 0/0 creature, the ability triggers, and then they die to the state-based effect of having zero toughness. When a player gets priority, the triggered ability is put on the stack, and you get to search for a land when it resolves.

With Engineered Plague set to Horror, the Mesmeric Fiend comes into play as a 0/0 creature, and the comes-into-play ability triggers. The game checks for state-based effects, and the Fiend is put in the graveyard, triggering its leaves-play ability. When a player gets priority, you get to put the two triggers on the stack in the order you choose, so you may either remove a card permanently, or remove a card and return it straight away.

Q: I have been playing around with the new Astral Slide deck recently, and it started me wondering about some things. Now, since "end of turn" only goes on the stack once, you can effectively "slide" out an opponent's creature as a reaction to the end of his turn, ensuring that it will always have summoning sickness, or "slide" it out at the end of your turn, so that it will never be there during his turn. My question is this: can I use Nantuko Shade or Nantuko Husk's abilities in the same way, putting them on the stack as a reaction to the end of turn, effectively pumping them until the end of the next turn?
--Tyler Desrosiers, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

A: You can't do what you suggest. There is a difference in things saying "at end of turn", which triggers only at the beginning of the end step, and things that have a duration "until end of turn", which last until the cleanup step, the last step of the turn. Effects that last "until end of turn" will never carry over to the next turn.

Q: If I have a Phyrexian Dreadnought in play, and I play Copy Artifact attempting to copy the Dreadnought, do I sacrifice creatures for the Copy or not? I've asked this on the Magic forums with little resolution.
--Daniel Snyder, Ontario, Canada

A: You don't have to sacrifice any creatures. Copy Artifact chooses what to copy right as it's being put into play, while the Dreadnought's sacrifice is only done before it would come into play. Since it's being put into play already, the game won't see the sacrifice effect, and Copy Artifact will come into play as a 12/12 artifact-creature-enchantment.

With thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

Rune will answer more of your questions next week and every week here at "Saturday School." You can search past Saturday School questions using our Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

Send your rules questions to

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