Saturday School #83

Posted in Feature on June 19, 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.

Fifth Dawn Questions

Energy Chamber
Q: If I have Energy Chamber and a Blinkmoth Nexus, can I stack the Chamber's ability and make the Nexus into a creature to use Chamber's ability to put a +1/+1 counter on the Nexus?
-- Dennis Xiao

A: This won't work. Energy Chamber's ability is modal (meaning that it tells you to "Choose one—"), and you have to choose which mode to use when you put the ability on the stack at the beginning of the upkeep. Each mode has a different type of target, and the target must be legal both when it goes on the stack and when it resolves for the counter to go on the artifact.
Regardless of which mode you choose, you can't target Blinkmoth Nexus, as it's not an artifact when you choose target.

If you had another artifact card in play that could change form, like Guardian Idol, you would only be able to target it with the charge counter mode, since it wouldn't be a creature when you put the ability on the stack, and if you responded to the ability by turning it into a creature, the target would not be legal when it resolved, and you wouldn't get to put a counter on it at all.

Q: Are the 2/2 colorless Pincer tokens created by Summoning Station artifacts since they are already colorless, or will I need to enlist the help of a Mycosynth Lattice to make them artifacts?
-- Thomas Fairbank

A: You will need Mycosynth Lattice or some other way to turn them into artifacts. A colorless permanent isn't automatically an artifact; it needs to specifically say that it is an artifact to be one.

Q: What happens if I Millstone my opponent and one of his cards is Beacon of Immortality? Is he allowed to shuffle it back into his or her library?
-- Robert Zawrel

A: No, he's not. Shuffling the Beacon into the library is part of the spell's effect, but this does not apply at any other time. The Beacon will only shuffle itself into the library during the resolution of the spell.

Razormane Masticore
Q: I have a question about Razormane Masticore. I've talked to many players and some judges about which I have to do first in the draw step. Do I draw first or can I deal damage to target creature first if I wish to? All of my friends say that dealing damage comes first but I think I draw first and then deal damage according to the rulebook. Which is correct?
-- Natchapon Pouengchareonpong

A: You are correct. Since the 8th Edition rules were introduced, drawing the card in your draw step is a Special Action that happens at the beginning of the draw step, before anything else is put on the stack. You will always draw the card before dealing damage with the Masticore. This used to be different under older rule sets (where the draw went on the stack, and you could choose the order).
The current rule for how the draw step works is 304.1 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: My friend (who is also a level 2 judge) says that to activate Conjurer's Bauble's ability you have to have a card in the graveyard. He says that you need to have a target because it checks for one. I say he is wrong because you have the ability to target zero objects. So if you say "I want to place zero cards on the bottom of my library," it has to check for 0 targets. There have been many times in draft were I would play it on turn one and wish I could use it to draw the card.

A: You are correct in this case. Conjurer's Bauble says that you may put "up to" one target card from your graveyard on the bottom of your library, and this may be either zero or one. You can still draw a card even if you choose to have no targets for the ability.
Note that if you choose to have a target, and the target goes away before the ability resolves (for example by using Coffin Purge on it), the ability will be countered by not having a legal target, and you won't get to draw a card.

Q: How does an effect that raises the mana cost of spells, such as Trinisphere, interact with sunburst? If I control a Trinisphere and want to play a Pentad Prism, I would have to pay three mana instead of two. Can I pay and have the Prism come into play with three counters on it?

A: Sunburst looks at the mana paid to play the spell, including any modifiers to the cost to play it, and if anything has increased the cost, the extra mana you have to pay is also included in the mana that counts for sunburst. In your example, Pentad Prism will come into play with three charge counters, since you played three different colors of mana to play it.
If anything lowers the cost to play the spell, like a Helm of Awakening, this can reduce the maximum number of counters you can get, since you won't be able to pay as much mana for the spell.

Avarice Totem
Q: Last week, Jason Caudill wrote in about a neat little trick you can do with Avarice Totem. I was wondering if I could target my own permanent with the Totem, respond by targeting one of my opponents permanents, then respond to that by targeting my Totem with my Tel-Jilad Stylus, putting it on the bottom of my library, so even if my opponent had 5 mana he couldn't use the Totem for the short while he had it?
-- William Cadiz

A: This wouldn't work. An "exchange" only happens if you give something away to get something from the other player. If one of the permanents to be exchanged isn't there anymore when the exchange would take place, nothing happens. If you use Tel-Jilad Stylus on the Totem before the exchange has taken place, the exchange will fail, and you won't gain control of the targeted permanent.

Q: Does putting a Stasis Cocoon on a mana-producing Myr stop it from tapping for mana, since tapping is an activation cost? Does this also work with artifact land?
-- Travis Metzger

A: Putting Stasis Cocoon on an artifact will stop any activated abilities from being played, including mana abilities. Activated abilities are worded "cost:effect", and no such abilities on the artifact can be played.
Artifact lands have the ability ": Add [mana] to your mana pool", which is an activated ability, and is therefore stopped by Stasis Cocoon.
Damping Matrix is another card that stops activated abilities from being played, it makes a special exception for abilities that make mana, Stasis Cocoon does not.

Q: I'm little confused about Doubling Cube. Does the cube also double the mana used to activate it? Meaning, if I start out with 6 mana in my mana pool, do I end up with 6 mana again or 9?

A: You end up with 6 mana. Doubling Cube only doubles the mana that's left when the ability resolves. You first pay 3 mana to activate the ability, leaving you with 3 mana, which is then doubled to 6.

General/Older Card Questions

Minion of the Wastes
Q: I have a question regarding the interaction between Minion of the Wastes and Lich's Tomb. Would I have to sacrifice permanents when paying for the Minion's power and toughness?
-- Cory Thomas

A: Yes, you would. Lich's Tomb triggers on anything that causes you to lose life, including damage and paying life to pay a cost. You pay life for the Minion as it comes into play, then Lich's Tomb triggers and has you sacrifice as many permanents as the life you paid. The Minion is in play when you make the sacrifice, and if you paid more life than you have total permanents, you end up having to sacrifice them all.

Q: Is it possible to let Smokestack's ability to sacrifice permanents resolve before putting another soot counter on it, or do I have to first put a soot counter, then sacrifice the given number of permanents?

A: The controller of Smokestack gets to choose if he sacrifices permanents before or after putting on the new soot counter in his own upkeep. Smokestack has two abilities that trigger at the same time, putting on a counter and sacrificing permanents, and since you control both of them, you choose the order they go on the stack.
If you put the "put on a counter" ability on the stack first, then the "sacrifice" ability, the sacrifice-ability will resolve first, so you sacrifice less permanents. If you want to sacrifice an additional permanent, you can put the sacrifice-ability on the stack first, so the counter is put on Smokestack before you sacrifice.

Q: If I imprint a Grid Monitor on a Soul Foundry, will I still be allowed to put more than one copy of the creature token into play, or am I only allowed one Grid Monitor token in play at a time?
-- Justin Davidson

A: You can put as many tokens into play as you wish. Grid Monitor only stops you from playing spells the normal way, using the stack. It does not prevent you from putting creature cards or tokens directly into play using effects, like Soul Foundry, Tooth and Nail or Elvish Piper. These effects are not playing creature spells, so they are not affected.

Q: Does tapping a land for mana count as breaking the "both players pass in succession" rule? Specifically, if it is my second main phase and I do nothing, then pass, and then my opponent taps lands and also does nothing, do I get a chance to respond before the mana burn takes place?
-- Matt Marr

A: To "Pass in succession" means that all players just pass priority without doing anything at all in between, including abilities that don't use the stack, like tapping mana and turning cratures face up with morph. If both players pass in succession with an empty stack, the game moves to the next step or phase, but in your example, you do not pass in succession. You pass, then your opponent plays a mana ability before passing. This means that instead of moving to the next phase, you get priority back, and you may play more spells and abilities.

Q: At what point is it legal to counter Bribery? Do I have to counter this spell before my library is searched, or could I counter it after a creature card is picked?

A: If you let your opponent start searching, you're too late to counter Bribery.
You can counter spells at any time between putting them on the stack (i.e. when the mana cost is paid) and their resolution. As soon as a spell starts to resolve, it's too late to counter it, since you aren't able to play anything then until it has finished resolving.

Q: If I Brain Freeze my opponent for 18 cards and he has only 15 do I automatically win the game?
-- Ryan Ludden

A: No, you don't. Players don't lose the game when the library is empty – only when they are asked to draw from the library, and can't do so. Brain Freeze does not cause the player to draw any cards: the cards are simply put into the graveyard. Nothing special happens if the player is unable to put more cards into the graveyard, and your opponent will stay alive until the next time he or she would draw a card, which may be the next draw step.

Q: In the Portal set, the "instant" card type was changed to "sorcery", but as I understand it, it functions exactly the same way as an instant. When using Portal cards along with other expansions, how should these be treated?
-- Christopher Colton

A: As you say, Portal does not have any instants, and since the cards are sorceries, they can only be played in the players' own main phase when the stack is empty. There are a few exceptions, like Mystic Denial. It says that it can be played in response to another player's spell, which is a very "instant" quality.
You can check out the Portal Oracle on the Oracle Page for wordings for how the cards would be worded if they were "real" Magic cards.
Remember that Portal cards are not legal for use in sanctioned tournaments unless the card has been reprinted in a legal set.

Calming Licid
Q: Whenever I pay to end a Calming Licid's ability, does it become a tapped creature (since it was tapped when it became an enchantment)?

A: Ending the effect does not change its tapped or untapped status. When you turn a Licid into an enchantment, you tap it; and in your untap step, you untap it along with all your other permanents.
So if you made the Licid into an enchantment this turn, it will usually still be tapped when you end the effect. If you have taken any turns since you made it into an enchantment, it will usually be untapped when you end the effect.

Q: If I cast Mind's Desire after playing 4 previous spells that turn, can I play instants like Brainstorm after each copy but before the next copy resolves? If so, can I choose to have the original copy resolve last and then create more copies for each spell cast between the original copies?
-- Johnny Rodriguez

A: When the storm ability resolves, it puts a copy of the spell on the stack for each spell played previously this turn. These are separate spells on the stack, and you can respond between each, for example with Brainstorm.
The storm copies won't put more spells on the stack, since these were put directly on the stack without being "played" as a spell. Playing spells between each copy won't cause there to be more copies, although the storm-count will increase for later spells you play with storm.

Q: I have a question about how Bounty Hunter works with creatures with morph. Because the creature isn't black, Bounty Hunter can put a counter on it, but what happens if the creature is turned face up? Does it lose the bounty counter? If it doesn't, then the Bounty Hunter can kill it even if it was black, right?
-- John Sanko

A: You are correct. Bounty Hunter can put a counter on the face down creature, since it doesn't have a color. The counter stays when the creature is turned face up, it is the same permanent, and there is no special restriction that the counter can't be on a black creature, the Bounty Hunter just can't put it on a black creature.
The ability that destroys a creature with a bounty counter doesn't care about the creature at all, it can destroy any creature with a bounty counter.

Q: If my opponent plays a creature that has a triggered ability when it comes into play, can I do any fast effects after the creature comes into play but before the ability is triggered? For example, could I destroy it without the ability triggering?
-- Karl Utermohlen

A: This won't work. Abilities that trigger when something comes into play trigger the moment it comes into play, and go on the stack when a player gets priority, before anyone can play any spells or abilities in response. You can't stop the ability from triggering, although you can of course counter it with Stifle or other spells or abilities before the creature's comes-into-play ability resolves.

Ritual of Subdual
Q: Does a Mycosynth Lattice effectively get around a Ritual of Subdual?

A: Yes, it does. Ritual of Subdual says that all your lands tap for colorless mana, but Mycosynth Lattice lets you spend any mana as though it were mana of any color, so you can still play spells and abilities that require colored mana.

Q: If I play Mana Chains on a creature, can I play another one to give the creature two cumulative upkeeps? Or does the second just replace the first?

A: Each Mana Chains will give a separate cumulative upkeep-ability to the enchanted creature, and each will have you put an age counter on the permanent and then pay the upkeep cost for each age counter on it.

Since the Cumulative upkeep on Mana Chains is , the creature's controller would have to pay for the first Mana Chains, then for the second (or sacrifice the creature). If the creature is still in play the next upkeep, the first Mana Chains would have the controller pay , then the second would cost , and so forth.

Q: If I cast Clone and copy a Darksteel Colossus, will the ability from Dragon Wings return it to play from the graveyard enchanting my Clone? I was confused because Clone costs , and the exact copy from Clone costs eleven mana?
-- William Stewart

A: Dragon Wings will return to play and enchant the Colossus Clone. Clone is put into play as an exact copy of whatever it copies, and the game will see it as another Darksteel Colossus that comes into play, with a mana cost of 11. This causes Dragon Wings to trigger, and it returns to play.

Q: Can Thicket Elemental's Kicker ability be paid and played more than once upon its arrival in play? It always creates an uproar when I'm playing my Elemental.

A: A Kicker cost can only be paid once, and it's paid when you play the spell. It's not possible to have Thicket Elemental put more than one extra creature into play with its ability.

Results of last week's poll:

When did you start playing Magic?
2001-2002 (7th Edition Rules)322722.2%
1993-1994 (Original/Revised Rules)259017.8%
2003-2004 (8th Edition Rules)237616.4%
1995-1996 (4th Edition Rules)233716.1%
1999-2000 (6th Edition Rules)203414.0%
1997-1998 (5th Edition Rules)195613.5%

A spell (for example, Tooth and Nail) is putting Dracoplasm and Sutured Ghoul into play simultaneously. “As” they come into play, Dracoplasm makes you sacrifice creatures, and Sutured Ghoul makes you remove cards from your graveyard. ?

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

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