Saturday School #9

Posted in Feature on December 21, 2002

By Rune Horvik

Rune will have the next two weeks off for the holidays, but keep sending your questions in to He'll be back in January with more answers.

Beginner Questions

Q: I play Lightning Surge directly on my opponent, and he used a Counterspell card. But on Lightning Surge it says "that damage can not be prevented." Is he allowed to do that?

A: He's allowed to do that. When Lightning Surge says "this damage cannot be prevented", it only applies to effects which use the word "prevent". So for example, it can't do anything against a card like Equal Treatment, which alters the amount of damage dealt, but doesn't "prevent" anything. Counterspell doesn't use that word either, so it can stop a Lightning Surge from dealing damage too.

Q: I have Meteor Shower and my friend says it deals twice the damage because the mana cost is . The text says deal X+1 damage among any number of creatures and/or players. Does the second X stand for more damage or what?
--Ray Hnatkovich

A: When playing a spell with X in the cost, you must first choose a number for X. Every X on the card is then treated as though it were that number.

So for example, suppose you play Meteor Shower and choose X to be 4. Its cost becomes - i.e. - and the X+1 damage becomes 5 damage.

(Incidentally: Meteor Shower is most often used with X = 0. You simply pay R to deal 1 damage to something.)

Q: I have a question about the Venomspout Brackus's ability. It says that it can deal 5 damage to target attacking or blocking creature with flying, but since this requires the Venomspout Brackus to tap, can this only be used against my own attacking creature, or is there some rule that allows me to tap it during an opponent's combat stage?

A: It can be used against any attacking creature, also your opponent's. Both players are allowed to use activated abilities at several stages in each player's combat phase, also your opponent's:

1) In the beginning of the combat phase

2) After attackers have been declared

3) After blockers have been declared

4*) After first strike damage assignments (if applicable)

5*) After first strike damage has resolved (if applicable)

6) After combat damage assignments

7) End of combat, after combat damage has resolved

A creature is considered "attacking" in steps 2-7 if it has been declared as an attacker. A creature is considered "blocking" in steps 3-7 if it has been declared as a blocker.

Q: If my friend uses Dromar, the Banisher's ability and returns all green cards to my hand, what do I do with tokens?

A: Dromar returns all green creatures to their owners' hands, and tokens are creatures as well, they're also returned. When the game sees tokens that aren't in play, the tokens cease to exist.

Q: If my graveyard is empty and my opponent casts Grip of Amnesia on a spell that I play, can I remove my empty graveyard form the game in order to fizzle the counter?

A: You can remove an empty graveyard for Grip of Amnesia's effect. The effect doesn't look at the actual cards in the graveyard, removing "all cards in the graveyard" works even if there are no cards there.

Q: What happens to a regeneration shield if it is unused? Does it resolve at end of turn, causing a tap, or does it fade away?
--Chris LeSauvage, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

A: An unused regeneration shield just goes away when the turn is over. This has no effect on the game.

Onslaught Questions

Q: I read that comes-into-play effects trigger, even if the creature dies immediately, like a Wood Elves to a Engineered Plague. So if my opponent has an Engineered Plague set to "Cat" and I play a Firecat Blitz with Mana Echoes in play, why don't I get the colorless mana bonus?
--Rick Bergstrom

A: You don't get the bonus because the creatures aren't in play when the triggered ability resolves. The creatures are counted when the ability from Mana Echoes resolves, and since there are no creatures in play that shares a type with the creature that triggered the ability, you don't get any mana.

Q: Say my opponent has an Aven Brigadier out in play and I play a Mistform Dreamer. Can I make the Mistform Dreamer become a Bird Soldier? All my friends say I can't but I think you are allowed to as long as that creature type exists.
--David Werwie, Pittsburgh, PA

A: Bird Soldier is not a creature type; it's two creature types. (A creature type is only ever one word.) Since Mistform Dreamer's ability asks for "the type of your choice", you're free to pick either Bird or Soldier, but you can't have both.

Q: If, in response to me playing Cruel Revival, my opponent gives his creature protection from black or bounces the creature to his hand, does the Cruel Revival still resolve and allow me to return a Zombie creature card from the graveyard to my hand?

A: The Cruel Revival still resolves, and you can return a creature. When a spell has multiple targets, and at least one is legal when the spell resolves, the spell will resolve as normal against the legal target, while the illegal targets are unaffected by the spell. A spell is only countered if all targets become illegal before the spell resolves.

Q: Can I use Astral Slide to slide out Blistering Firecat or Ichorid at the end of my turn, not have it come back until the end of my opponent's turn, and not have to sacrifice it on his turn (due to the fact when it comes into play the "end of turn step" has already happened), thus having a ready creature on my next turn?

A: Yes. You can Slide out the creatures at the end of your turn (after their abilities have triggered but before they have resolved) so they come back at the end of your opponent's turn. They will come into play after at-end-of-turn triggered abilities have triggered, so you don't have to sacrifice them, and they'll be ready for your next turn.

Q: You have a Blistering Firecat face down; you attack and morph it. If you later play Backslide on it, do you have to sacrifice it at the end of turn? I was thinking you wouldn't have to but was wondering.
--G. Bohnert

A: If the Blistering Firecat is face down when the End Phase begins, the game won't see that it has the ability, and you don't have to sacrifice it.

Q: Say I have two Exalted Angels in play and my opponent plays Innocent Blood. I decide to sacrifice one but in response to me targeting it I decide to use Astral Slide to remove it from the game. Would that be a legitimate move or would I have to slide both out of the game to work around the effects of the sacrifice?

A: You would have to Slide out both to avoid sacrificing a creature. Innocent Blood is not targeted, the effect asks you to sacrifice one of your creatures in play when it resolves, and after you choose the creature, it's sacrificed right away before anyone can respond. If you just Slide out one of the creatures you have to sacrifice the other.

Q: What exactly does the targeting when Death Match triggers? If my opponent controls a Phantom Centaur, and I play a non-black creature, can I use Death Match's effect to give the Centaur -3/-3?

A: You can't target the Centaur. The ability is triggered from Death Match, so the triggered ability will be black, and isn't allowed to target creatures with Protection from Black.

Q: I have Words of War and two Howling Mines in play. Since they are three separate effects I can draw a card, look at it, and then decide whether to use the Words for the next two draws, right?
-- Erik Drabløs, Trondheim, Norway

A: This works. You are allowed to play instant spells and abilities between your regular draw and each of the Howling Mine abilities resolving, so you can draw card, then choose to use the Words for the next card if you want.

General / Older Card Questions

Q: Scenario: I attack with Jareth, Leonine Titan. Opponent blocks with 9/9 Krosan Colossus. I activate Jareth's ability--protection from green. Opponent casts Flaring Pain. Question: Does Jareth live or die?
-- Arnold Lao

A: Jareth dies. Flaring Pain stops all damage prevention, and one of Protection's effects is that it "prevents all damage", this part will no longer work with Flaring Pain in effect.

Q: My opponent plays a spell, and I play Tolarian Winds in response. I have 6 cards in my hand, including a Circular Logic. Do the other 5 cards in my hand count as being in the graveyard if I play Circular Logic with madness to counter my opponent's spell? What if i used Read the Runes or Frantic Search instead of Tolarian Winds?
--James Owens, Across the Board Games, Cedar City, UT

A: The cards are in your graveyard when you play the Circular Logic. You can only play the Circular Logic after Tolarian Winds has resolved, so all the discarded cards will be in your graveyard at this time. The other cards work the same way, Circular Logic can't be played until the effect that caused you to discard it has resolved, and cards discarded at the same time will be in the graveyard at this time.

Q: Can I sacrifice a creature to activate Recurring Nightmare, then return the same creature to play?

A: No, you can't. You must choose target (which creature to return) before you pay costs (sacrifice the creature), you have to choose something to return that's in the graveyard before you sacrifice your creature.

Q: Can someone play Harrow and get a Tundra, or Tropical Island, or Badlands, or any other of the original dual lands? Harrow clearly says you can look for BASIC lands; the comprehensive rules say that dual lands are TREATED like basic and non-basic lands, but then just as clearly says "They are not basic lands." So, can I Harrow for my Taiga or Underground Sea?
--Christopher Carbone, Boston, MA

A: There is a difference between "is a basic land" and "has a basic land type". To determine whether a land is basic, simply look at its name. Tropical Island's name is "Tropical Island": this means it's not basic, and Harrow can't fetch it.

However, Tropical Island does have two basic land types. If a card refers to a particular land type (e.g. Land Grant, which lets you search for a "forest card"), it will be able to fetch a Tropical Island.

Q: In Saturday School #7, you say that using Humble on a creature overrides continuous bonuses, counters, and enchantments on it. I remember back in Fifth Edition reading that using a Sorceress Queen to turn a creature into a 0/2 overrode only its base power and toughness, so using the Queen on the 7/5 Titania's Chosen in the example would make it a 6/6, not a 0/2. Have the rules been changed so that Sorceress Queen now overrides all previous bonuses and turns the creature into a 0/2 despite any enchantments, counters or other bonuses on it? Or does Sorceress Queen work differently than Humble for some reason?

A: The rules have been changed. Base Power and Toughness is now only set by the printed values, copy effects or token-generating abilities. You start with base Power/Toughness, apply counters, then all other effects in timestamp order. Sorceress Queen and Humble will "fix" the Power and Toughness to the given values in their place in the sequence, then later effects are evaluated.

Q: If I have a Noetic Scales in play, and my opponent has no cards in hand during his upkeep, but two 1/1 creatures and one 2/2 creature, can he take creatures back into his hand one at a time until the power of the remaining creatures is equal to or greater than the number of cards he has taken back? For the example above, could he take back both the 1/1 creatures and leave the 2/2 in play?
--George Yeltatzie, Susanville, CA

A: No, he can't. When the triggered ability from Noetic Scales resolves, the game looks at the player's hand size, and then all creatures with power greater than that number is returned at the same time.

Q: Let's say I play Roar of the Wurm and then my friend targets the token with Reality Ripple. What happens to the token, does it gets destroyed or it just phases out as a regular creature?
--Miguel Roldán, Guatemala

A: When the token phases out, it ceases to exist. Whenever a token is not "in play", it ceases to exist as a state-based effect. This also happens when it phases out.

Q: My opponent has a creature that can become untargetable, say a Morphling, and I have an Urza's Rage, which can't be countered. I play Urza's Rage and target the Morphling. In response, he pays U to make it untargetable. His ability resolves first, making the Morphling untargetable. The Urza's Rage, with its target now illegal, is countered. But Urza's Rage can't be countered. Does the Morphling die?
---Steve House, IL

A: The Morphling lives. Urza's Rage says it can't be countered by spells or abilities, but it can still be countered by the game rules. If Urza's Rage doesn't have a legal target when it resolves, it will still be countered.

Q: Can Karakas return itself (or any other non creature legendary card) to owner's hand? Or just Legend-type creatures?
--Kirk Schulz

A: Karakas can just return creatures with type Legend. "Legend" means "Creature with type Legend", it doesn't mean other Legendary permanents.

Q: My friend is playing a Goblin deck and just played Goblin Recruiter putting 4 goblin cards on top of his library. He then activated his Moggcatcher to put a Goblin Ringleader into play. We both have different opinions about what happens. I believe that the whole ability will resolve first, therefore shuffling his library before he gets to reveal cards from the top of library. He thinks that putting the Ringleader into play will instantly make him reveal the 4 goblins and putting them into his hand before he gets to shuffle his library. Who is right? Or if we are both wrong what will happen?

A: Your friend is wrong. The Moggcatcher's ability must fully resolve before you can put the Ringleader's ability on the stack or play any other effects. The library must be shuffled before Goblin Ringleader can reveal the top 4 cards.

Q: I have a Temporal Aperture in play and activate it, shuffling my library and revealing a Palinchron. I choose to play it. I know the spell can be countered since it's being played and not put into play. My question is this.... if the Palinchron resolves, does the "untap seven lands" CIP ability trigger or not. Also, which spells with the "untap X lands" clause do not have the "if you played ~this~ from your hand" errata?
--James, Seattle, WA

A: Palinchron wasn't played from your hand (it was played from the library), so you won't get to untap any lands for it.

Only the following cards have abilities that only work if they're played from your hand: Cloud of Faeries, Great Whale, Hypnox, Iridescent Drake, Karmic Guide, Palinchron, Peregrine Drake, Priest of Gix and Treachery. Other cards, like Rewind, work if they're played from any zone.

Q: My friend plays an Ivy Elemental with Mirari's Wake in play. I destroy Mirari's Wake using Disenchant, then play Essence Leak on his Ivy Elemental. Seeing as how he had tapped his 9 total lands to make the Ivy Elemental a 17/17, he can't possibly pay it's mana cost. However, he says that the X mana cost of the Elemental is 1 colorless and one green mana, even though he originally paid 18 mana total. Who's right?
--Beau Gris, Gibsons, BC Canada

A: Your friend is almost right. The Mana Cost of a card is defined by the symbols in the top right corner of the card. The rules also say that while the card is in any other zone than the stack, X is zero, regardless of how much mana was paid originally. The card is in play, so the Mana Cost of Ivy Elemental is just

Q: If I have Recycle out, and then Worldly Tutor for a Nimble Mongoose, will I draw the Mongoose, or do I draw then put the Mongoose on top of my library?

A: You draw first, then put the Mongoose on the library. Recycle triggers when you play a card, and will always be put on the stack on top of the spell that triggered it. The triggered ability (draw a card) resolves before the original spell, so you draw before you search.

Q: If you copy a Cunning Wish (or any other wish) with Mirari can you get two cards from your sideboard and only have your sideboard have fourteen cards instead of fifteen?
--Andy Aguirre

A: You can get cards with a copied Wish and end up with fewer cards than fifteen in the sideboard. You're only required to have exactly fifteen cards in the sideboard when the game starts, effects in the game (Wishes, Ring of Ma'Ruf) can modify this later.

Q: My opponent goes first and plays a Ghazban Ogre. Then on my turn I play a Black Vise. Now when it becomes my opponent's turn again, who would get the Ghazban Ogre?
--Kyle McElreath, Riverside, Rhode Island

A: Assuming this happens at the beginning of the game, and you start the game with the same life total, he would keep the Ogre. The Ogre only triggers if you have different life totals (it has an "if-clause" right after the trigger, an additional condition that must be true), so its ability would not go on the stack this turn, even if Black Vise would deal damage shortly thereafter.

If life totals are different, the active player (who has the turn) puts his or her abilities on the stack first. The Ghazban Ogre ability will go on the stack first, then the Black Vise ability. When the Black Vise ability resolves, your opponent takes damage if he or she has more than 4 cards in hand. Then the Ghazban Ogre ability resolves, if the opponent has more life than the controller, he or she gains control over it.

Q: Say I had an Intruder Alarm in play and I played a Thundermare. Would my Thundermare's ability activate before the Intruder Alarm does?
--Antonio Ghilgiotty, Woodbridge, NJ

A: You choose the order the effects happen, or rather, you choose the order the triggers go on the stack, since they trigger at the same time and you control both abilities. If you put Thundermare on the stack first, then Intruder Alarm, Intruder Alarm will first untap all creatures, then Thundermare taps all other creatures. If you put Intruder Alarm on the stack first, then Thundermare, Thundermare will tap all other creatures first, then Intruder Alarm will untap all the creatures.

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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