Saturday School #84

Posted in Feature on June 26, 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

Eyes of the Watcher
Q: If I have Eyes of the Watcher in play, then I play Serum Visions and pay for Eyes of the Watcher's effect, do I get scry 4, or scry 2 and then scry 2 again?

A: You get to scry for two cards twice, but you won't get to look at four cards at the same time.
Eyes of the Watcher's ability triggers off Serum Visions being played and goes on top of it on the stack. When it resolves, if you pay, you get to look the top two cards of your library and put either of them back on top or on the bottom of the library. Then Serum Visions resolves. You draw the top card of the deck, then you get to look at the two cards are on top of the deck now, and put them back on the top or bottom of the deck.

Q: I have a creature equipped with Grafted Wargear in play. Can I sacrifice the creature by equipping the Grafted Wargear onto the creature again?
-- Dong Sui

A: This won't work. The Wargear only becomes unattached (and triggers) when you move it somewhere else – moving it onto the creature it's already attached to isn't moving or unattaching it, and you won't have to sacrifice the creature.

Q: I was attacking with a few creatures and one of them was a Tangle Asp. My opponent blocked my Tangle Asp with a Quicksilver Behemoth. The Tangle Asp's ability says to destroy the blocking creature at the end of combat, but the Quicksilver Behemoth says to return it to it's owner's hand at the end of combat. We had no way of knowing which ability happened first. Our quick fix to this was to just flip a coin, but we wanted to know the real way to do this.
-- Ryan Coonan & Spencer Salo

A: The Behemoth would return to its owner's hand. When multiple abilities trigger at the same time, the active player puts his or her abilities on the stack first, then the non-active player puts his or her abilities on the stack. Then, they resolve off the stack in the opposite order.
Since you were attacking, you are the active player, and Tangle Asp's ability would go on the stack first. Your opponent would then put the Behemoth's ability on the stack. You resolve the last ability first, and Quicksilver Behemoth returns to your opponent's hand. The Tangle Asp's ability won't be able to do anything, since the Behemoth is no longer in play.
If the situation is reversed, with Quicksliver Behemoth attacking and Tangle Asp blocking, the abilities would go on the stack in the reverse order, and the Behemoth would be destroyed before it could return to its owner's hand.

Devour in Shadow
Q: I have a question regarding Devour in Shadow. If I play it on my opponent's Ornithopter, and he puts 5 +1/+1 counters on it with his Arcbound Ravager in response, will I lose 2 or 7 life when Devour in Shadows resolves?
-- Tim Martens

A: You lose 7 life. When Devour in Shadow resolves, you perform the actions stated in the order they are printed on the card. First the creature is destroyed, then you lose life equal to the creature's toughness. Since the effect asks for information from a something that is no longer in play, it uses the last known information from the creature, and the last known toughness was 7, which is the amount of life you lose. You don't use what is printed on the card, and the life you lose is not locked in when you play the spell.
The rule about using last known information is 413.2f in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: Can Vulshok Sorcerer ping anything first turn because it has haste? Or is haste only for attacking.
-- Dennis Jayt

A: Vulshok Sorcerer can use its "ping" ability the turn it comes into play because it has haste. Usually, you can't use activated abilities that have the tap symbol in its cost or attack with creatures you haven't controlled since the beginning of your turn, but having haste lets you ignore both of these.

Q: If you play a card with Fist of Suns, what is the color of that permanent?

A: A permanent has the color of the mana symbols in its printed mana cost. For example, Serra Angel is a white creature because its mana cost is .
You can pay for it with Fist of Suns, or with Mycosynth Lattice, or even get it for free with Summoner's Egg, but it would still be white.

Blinkmoth Nexus
Q: Regarding the Energy Chamber/Blinkmoth Nexus combo last week, could I activate the Nexus's ability at the end of my opponent's turn? The Nexus would then be an artifact creature when the Energy Chamber's ability triggers. Does this work? Why or why not?
-- Mike Claerhout

A: This doesn't work. Blinkmoth Nexus is a creature "until end of turn", and this type of effect always ends in the cleanup step, which is the very last step of the turn. You can't activate the Nexus after the cleanup step, as you are already in the next turn at that point. Under no circumstances is it possible that an effect that lasts "until end of turn" is carried over until the next turn.
(Effects that trigger "At end of turn" can be carried over to the next turn, in order to prevent Lifeline and Ball Lightning from producing an infinite loop. This does not apply to effects that last "until end of turn".)

Q: If I have out a Sylvok Explorer but my opponent has no lands, does it produce colorless mana or nothing?

A: It won't be able to produce any mana. If your opponent has no lands, the Explorer can't see any mana abilities that produce colored mana, and it won't be able to produce any mana. The same is true if your opponent's lands can only generate colorless mana.

Q: I was wondering how far the Clock of Omens ability stretches. Can I tap the Clock itself as one of the 2 artifacts? Does its ability still function since it doesn't require tapping? Can I tap an equipment that's equipped, and still retain the benefits of it?
-- Jared Honek

A: Clock of Omens lets you tap any two untapped artifacts you control to untap an artifact, and you can use the Clock itself as one of them, or any two other artifacts. The ability works even if the Clock is tapped, any artifact that "shuts off" when tapped will specifically say so in its Oracle text (see Winter Orb, Howling Mine and a few others). Most other artifacts are always "on".
You can tap untapped equipment to pay for the Clock's cost as well, it doesn't matter for the equipment's effect if the equipment is tapped or not.

General/Older Card Questions

Neurok Transmuter
Q: My opponent plays an Oxidize on target artifact creature I control. Can I use my Neurok Transmuter to change it into a blue creature in response?
-- Meng-Yih Sum

A: Yes, you can. The ability that turns the creature blue also removes the artifactness from it, and since the creature is no longer a legal target when Oxidize tries to resolve, Oxidize gets countered.

Q: My friend has an Arcbound Worker in play, and I Shock it. In response, he regenerates it. Do the counters remain on the Worker or do they "fall off?"
Does the same thing apply to equipment (i.e. regenerating a creature that is going to die with equipment on it)?
-- Milton Le

A: The counters remain on if the creature regenerates, and so do enchantments and equipment. Regeneration is an effect that replaces "being destroyed" with "remove damage on the creature, tap the creature and remove it from combat" instead. It does not cause the creature to leave play or lose counters, enchantments or equipment.
Regeneration is described in rule 419.6b in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: I have a problem with opponents using decks composed of foreign cards from places like Japan and or Korea where the titles aren't distinguishable from one another. I run a "Shared Fate" deck and when it comes to reading my opponents cards, I can't, even with the Oracle Text sitting right there next to me. Can I require my opponent to provide photocopies of the foreign cards with their Oracle text next to them for my reference?
-- Adam Lindley

A: No, you can't. All Magic cards are allowed for tournament play in all areas, including cards not in your language. In a tournament, you can ask the tournament judge for the wording of the cards. The judge is supposed to have access to the Oracle which contains the wordings of all the cards, and he or she should be able to tell what the cards are and what they do, based on their picture or other identifying factors. For non-tournament play, you can agree to whatever you want with your opponent, but if your opponent is intentionally being problematic and unhelpful, remember that you aren't forced to play against him or her.
You can find the Oracle on the Oracle Page.

Dawn Elemental
Q: If I have a Dawn Elemental in play and use it to block Darksteel Colossus, is there any damage that will trample through to me or is all of the damage absorbed by the Dawn Elemental?
-- Holly Wilson

A: The Dawn Elemental will absorb 3 damage, and you will take the remaining 8 damage. When your opponent assigns damage (puts damage on the stack), he or she must assign "lethal damage" to the blocking creature, and the rest will trample over. Lethal damage is always the creature's toughness minus the amount of damage assigned to it; it doesn't take into account Dawn Elemental's ability or anything else.
When combat damage resolves, Dawn Elemental's ability will prevent all damage assigned to it, but any other damage is dealt as assigned.

Q: If I play Coercion and choose Pulse of the Forge in my opponent's hand, can he play it in response and brings it back in his hand, so my spell was useless?
-- Alan Juilland

A: No, he can't. You don't choose a card for Coercion until it resolves. At that point you look at your opponent's hand, pick a card, and make him discard it right away. He isn't able to play anything in the middle of this process.
If he chooses to play the Pulse before Coercion resolves, his Pulse will resolve first, and return to his hand. In other words, Coercion will still be there waiting for it! He can't get the Pulse to be on the stack while Coercion is resolving.

Q: Say I have seven Islands in play. Can I announce a Tangle Golem spell and then use Crystal Spray to change him to have affinity for Islands and play him for free?
-- Allen Farquhar

A: You can't do this. You must pay for the Golem as part of playing it, and this must be done before you can target it with Crystal Spray. If you aren't able to pay for the spell, the announcement is illegal and the card goes back to your hand.
You don't have a chance to play Crystal Spray on a spell before paying for it. And after you pay for the spell, Affinity doesn't matter anymore.

Q: Let's say I play a Spellbinder, imprinting a Giant Growth on it. If the equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, would the Giant Growth activate and deal 3 more damage to the player, or would it activate after the player took combat damage?
-- Andrew Jonas

A: Giant Growth would pump the creature after the player took the damage. Spellbinder's ability triggers when it deals combat damage to the player, which is when the damage resolves. You can then play Giant Growth without paying the mana cost, but since the damage is already dealt, you can't deal more combat damage this way.

Q: When I use Serum Powder should I reveal it (or even my entire hand) to prove that I had it? Or when I remove the cards from the game are they removed face up anyway, eliminating the problem?
-- Matt D. Brown

A: When using Serum Powder's ability you have to remove your entire hand from the game, and this is always done face up, revealed to all players, unless it says otherwise. Your opponent will be able to verify that you actually had a Serum Powder by just looking at the removed cards.

Q: I have a Blinkmoth Nexus and a Sacred Ground in play. The Nexus is activated and is a 1/1 creature, and is being targeted by a Spikeshot Goblin for 3 damage. Shouldn't the Nexus come back from graveyard due to Sacred Ground's effect?
-- Alekos Athanasiadis

A: No, it shouldn't. Sacred Ground returns lands that are put into your graveyard from spells or abilities that your opponents control, but in this case, it is not the actual ability that puts the card in the graveyard. The Goblin deals 3 damage to the Nexus, and then the game checks for state-based effects, and since the Nexus has lethal damage, it's put into the graveyard by a game rule, which is not controlled by either player.
Sacred Ground can return lands that are destroyed directly by a spell or ability, but not animated lands that are destroyed because of lethal damage or having zero toughness.

Vedalken Engineer
Q: If you have a Mycosynth Lattice in play and any morph creature face down can you activate the Vedalken Engineer to pay for the morph cost on your creature? Because technically it is an artifact, but is its ability considered to be an activated ability or is it not an activated ability because it doesn't use the stack?

A: You can't use the Engineer to pay a morph cost. This is because the Engineer's mana can only be used to pay for spells, or for activated abilities. Activated abilities are always written in the format "cost: effect", and morph does not follow this pattern. Morph is a static ability that lets you pay a cost when you could play an instant, but it's not an activated ability, and you can't pay for it with Vedalken Engineer, and it is not affected by Stasis Cocoon or Damping Matrix.

Q: With Platinum Angel, it is possible to have negative life and not lose. What happens to your life total if you have, say, -14 life, and you play Soulgorger Orgg? What happens when the Orgg is destroyed?

A: Nothing would happen to your life total when you play Soulgorger Orgg. Its effect tells you to lose all but one life, but since your life total is already below 1 life, you can't lose any more life to put you at 1. Your life total would remain unchanged, and since you didn't lose any life when the Orgg came into play, you won't gain any life when it leaves play, either.

Blacker Lotus
Q: What do they mean with ": Tear Blacker Lotus into pieces"?
-- Stina Ljungkvist

A: It means exactly what it says – as part of Blacker Lotus's effect, you must destroy the card by ripping it apart. This means that you will usually only be able to use this card once in your life, so you should make sure that it's in an important situation.

Results of last week's poll:

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. Do you expect to be able to sacrifice a creature and remove that creature from your graveyard, so that it counts for both effects?

Answer to be revised.

It's your turn and the only card in your hand is Prosperity. You play it with X = 1, so that each player simultaneously draws a card. Your opponent uses Words of Waste, so that you draw a card and simultaneously discard the card of your choice.

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

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