School’s Almost Out!

Posted in Feature on December 11, 2004

By John Carter

Send your rules questions to Magic Rules Manager John Carter. Can't find the answer to your question somewhere else, like the Magic Comprehensive Rules? Maybe he's already answered it! Try the Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

The year is drawing to a close, and Saturday School is almost out for winter break. The last two weeks of the year will be re-running favorite pieces from 2004. This version of Saturday School has been in session since August, so this for this column we'll having some tasty tidbits from Magic's past instead of a revival from the last several months.

On with the Show

Q: Bloodthirsty Ogre says "T: Put a devotion counter on Bloodthirsty Ogre.” If I have another Bloodthirsty Ogre in play, can I put a devotion counter on the one I didn't tap? --Joe L.

A: You put a devotion counter only on the Bloodthirsty Ogre you tapped. Objects that refer to themselves by name refer only to that object [CR 202.2].

*Extra*: Sometimes people will use shorthand to clarify this concept. That's where you'll see spoilers or card lists that say stuff like “counter on this” or “counter on ~”.

Nezumi Shortfang
Q: I was recently told that Nezumi Shortfang's ability "fails" when your opponent has no cards to discard. How is this possible? --Dan H.

A: Using Shortfang on an opponent's empty hand does flip him into Stabwhisker the Odious.
The “fails” statement is unclear, but perhaps not entirely wrong. Here's the specific ability: "Target opponent discards a card. Then if that player has no cards in hand, flip Nezumi Shortfang.” The ability is actually two separate items. First you discard, then there's the flip possibility. If the opponent has no hand, then the discard portion fails (I prefer “does nothing”). But the ability keeps going and checks the second part. The second part sees no cards in the opponent's hand, and so Nezumi flips. The only way the ability would be countered is if the “target opponent” were an invalid target on resolution.

*Extra*: Whoever told you this, they may have been thinking of the other black flip card, Nezumi Graverobber. In the Graverobber's case, you can't play the ability unless you can choose a valid “target card”. And if that target were invalid on resolution, the Graverobber's whole ability would be countered.

Q: If my opponent attacks me with two creatures and I play Blind With Anger on one of them, can I use one to block or activate an ability? Also am I able to target a creature that is attacking because it just tapped? --Nikk P.

A: Yes, you may use Blind With Anger on an attacking creature whether it's tapped or not. If you do so before blockers are declared, you can block with the creature. Because it has haste, you'll also be able to use its abilities (even ones with the Tap symbol) if you can pay the costs.
Questions like this one come up frequently. The thing that seems to throw people is that phrase “Untap target…” The thing to remember is to look at the whole text. In particular, notice “Untap target nonlegendary creature”. The targeting restriction is after the word target… “nonlegendary creature” in the case of Blind With Anger. The untap portion is merely an instruction on what to do with the “target nonlegendary creature”. Being tapped or untapped has nothing to do with a creature's targetability. Untapping an untapped creature will “do nothing”, but it doesn't stop you from gaining control of the creature and it gaining haste until end of turn.

True Confessions

Long-Forgotten Gohei
Q: Does Long-Forgotten Gohei reduce the cost of Spirit spells?

A: No, LFG only reduces Arcane spells and pumps Spirit creatures. Rules people who should listen to their own advice and read the card are surely feeling sufficiently humble at this point.

Q: How does Oathkeeper, Takeno's Daisho work again?

A: Oathkeeper returns cards that are Samurai, not cards that were Samurai. There is a rule in Magic regarding the rules of English [CR 413.2b]. The rules of English cover the use of pronouns by specifying that the closest preceding noun is the word being referenced by a given pronoun. So in the English construction of “Whenever equipped creature is put into a graveyard from play, return that card to play under your control if it's a Samurai”, the “it” actually refers to “that card” and not to the “equipped creature”. Thus, a proper reading of the card would indicate that the event only looks for an equipped creature going to the graveyard, and the actual return to play of what was the equipped creature would be based on the card in the graveyard being a Samurai (regardless of its creature type(s) when it left play).

Moving On

Q: I was wondering, If I was to use Clone and target a legendary creature, say, Keiga, the Tide Star, the Clone becomes Keiga, and they end up killing each other with the new legend rule. However, if after I cast Clone and targeted Keiga, and bounce Clone back to my hand, will Keiga still die and give its controlling effect? --Seifer K.

A: Cloning a Legendary creature will cause both of them to be put into their owner's graveyard [CR 420.5e]. In Keiga's case, this will cause both the original and the Clone controller(s) to stack their triggered abilities in APNAP (active player – non-active player) order. (i.e. the active player chooses a creature, then the non-active player chooses a creature. If both players choose the same creature, the active player will get it in the end.)
As for bouncing the Clone back to your hand, you won't be able do this. Clone comes into play as a copy of Keiga, and before anyone can play spells or abilities, state-based effects are checked. Two Legendary Keigas are in play, so they both die, immediately.

*Extra*: Do note that Clone is not actually targeted. You chose the creature as Clone comes into play. This lets you Clone untargetable creatures. It's an odd way to get rid of Multani, Maro-Sorcerer, but it works.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Q: Say you control Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Meloku the Clouded Mirror… Can you Meloku two lands, play those two lands for Azusa, bounce and replay Azusa (with an Unsummon, for example), and then bounce and replay two more lands since Azusa left play and came back? --Lambaz

A: Yes. Playing lands based on Azusa is based purely on that exact Azusa. If she bounces and returns, she will not know that you'd used her previous self to play extra lands. With your normal land drop, you could play up to five lands on your turn in the scenario above.

Q: Case 1: Each of all five colors of Zuberas are in play while a Wrath of God goes off. What do you get from the Zuberas Effects? Case 2: Same number of Zuberas but with Devouring Greed this time? --Edward L

A: The result is the same in each case: you get each zubera effect set to five. There are two things to remember. First is that Wrath of God or Devouring Greed will send all the Zuberas to the graveyard simultaneously. The fact the triggers stack and are separate does not mean the answer they'll get is different.
Second is that the zubera triggers wait until the trigger resolves to figure out how many zubera have gone to the graveyard. So even if the zubera go to the graveyard sequentially (instead of simultaneously), it's only as the triggers resolve that the total is counted. Around R&D the favorite seems to be sacrificing a zubera to a Nantuko Husk and then responding to the triggered ability by sacrificing another zubera. If you do this, let's say, five times before any of the triggers resolves, each trigger will see that five zuberas were sent to the graveyard.

Q: How does Soulshift interact with Wrath of God? Can I return freshly dead creatures to my hand? --Conrad C.

A: Yes, Soulshift can return creatures destroyed at the same time as the Soulshifting creature The thing to remember is that the creatures go to the graveyard as one event, and the Soulshift trigger doesn't go onto the stack (and you don't choose its target) until a player gets priority. When the trigger gets stacked, the creatures that just died are in the graveyard awaiting targeting.

Q: I play Otherworldly Journey on my opponent's Arcbound Ravager with four counters on it; would it come back with five counters or one counter? --Kyle S.

A: The Ravager returns with two counters. One counter comes from Otherworldly Journey, and the second comes from the Ravager's own modular ability.

*Extra*: Since they're both +1/+1 counters, the modular ability will be able to put the Otherworldly Journey counter on another creature if the Ravager dies. Modular doesn't care where the +1/+1 counter comes from so long as it's there.

Q: Could I use Shunt to avoid my creatures getting targeted while Horobi, Death's Wail is in play? –Justin

A: No, by the time you can play Shunt, the creature will already have been targeted, Horobi will have triggered, and the ability will be on the stack.

Q: Can I tap artifact creatures and artifact lands to boost my Lodestone Myr?

A: Yes. You can also tap artifact enchantments (Copy Artifact), Equipment, and the Lodestone Myr itself.

*Extra*: Lodestone's ability doesn't have the tap symbol in it, so you can use it right away. This includes doing things like blocking with the Myr and tapping itself to make it a 3/3.

Q: If I have Fecundity out and I sacrifice a Sakura-Tribe Elder to get a land, do I draw a card before or after the land search takes place?

A: You draw first. Here's the breakdown: you activate the Elder's ability and put it on the stack. To pay for it, you sacrifice the Elder. This triggers Fecundity, which goes on the stack soon afterwards. These abilities then resolve in reverse order, so you draw the card and then search for a land.

Q: I have a Blasting Station and Fecundity out and I play a Beacon of Creation. I use the Blasting Station, sacrificing all of my insects, one at a time. Do I shuffle the Beacon into my library before or after I draw cards due to the Fecundity? --Matt W.

A: The Beacons shuffle into your deck as part of their resolution, long before you'd begin sacrificing to Blast things. The way it would work is: begin resolving Beacon, put tokens into play triggering Station, shuffle Beacon back in, finish resolving Beacon, stack many Blasting triggers from the tokens. Next you activate the Station and sacrifice an Insect, draw a card from Fecundity, deal 1 damage, untap the Station, and repeat.

Q: I was playing with my friend, and I had out an Empress Galina. He played a Memnarch. He tapped mana to make Galina an artifact and take control of it. I tapped Galina to take control of his Memnarch. Who got whose creature? --William S.

A: You'll get Memnarch, and he will get Empress Galina. Once the abilities are activated there's not much you can do to stop them. Gaining control of one is not based on still controlling the other.

*Extra*: Since Galina isn't naturally an artifact Memnarch would have to make her one before his control ability can be used. Unless your opponent has a ton of mana, you could have responded to the “make an artifact” ability with Galina's ability. Your opponent would have to have seven mana to reactivate the make ability and then use the take ability, or you'll wind up with Memnarch and a Galina who has been turned into an artifact.

Q: When sacrificing the Darksteel Colossus to Living Death is it shuffled mid-resolution of the spell or after resolution? --Adam

A: The Colossus's ability is a replacement effect – it gets shuffled back into your library instead of being put into your graveyard. This happens at the same time as it would have been put into the graveyard, so it happens in mid-resolution, right before putting the removed creature cards into play.

Moving Back

Soul Sculptor
Q: We ran into a confusing situation last night. One player used the Soul Sculptor's ability to turn a Hidden Gibbons (which was at that time a creature) into an Enchantment. The question then arose - Do the Gibbons become a creature when another creature comes into play or when someone plays and instant, or both? --Andy K.

A: The Gibbons will unhide when the next creature is played. Soul Sculptor's ability reads in part “becomes an enchantment and loses all abilities…” Losing all abilities includes losing the ability to unhide when an instant gets played.

Q: What happens when you enchant Ageless Entity with an Armadillo Cloak? –Skye

A: Ageless Entity will be a 6/6, trampling, spirit-linky, grows on life gain guy. Let's say he's blocked by a 2/2. You could assign 2 to the creature and 4 in trample to the player. When the damage resolves, the Cloak would trigger. When you gain life from the Cloak, the Ageless Entity would trigger. This would eventually result is a 12/12 Entity.

*Extra*: Do note that if the Entity is blocked by a 6/6, you'll gain the life, but the Entity will be dead before it gets +1/+1 counters.

Q: What happens if Treacherous Link and Pariah are on the same creature? --Daniel M.

A: The short answer is “seemingly nothing”.
The long answer is that each replacement applies only once [CR 419.6a], redirecting the damage. If the creature would take damage, Treacherous Link sends it to the player and then Pariah sends it back. If the player would take damage, Pariah sends it to the creatures, and then the Link sends it back.

Cuts and Questions

Q: What is a legal cut? Someone told me three cards is the minimum cut. I couldn't find a definition of cut in the rules. --Ken Y. and Joseph S.

A: The technical minimum would be one card. The DCI Universal Tournament Rules defines Cutting as follows:
Cutting: One time only, removing a single portion of a deck and placing it on top of the remaining portion without looking at any of the card faces. Anything more than this one cut is considered a shuffle.”
A “single portion” is any number of cards greater than zero and less than the size of the deck. You'll often see a traditional cut where the bottom section is put on the top. You'll also see what's called a Scarne cut—the middle section of the deck is pulled out and placed on top of the deck instead.

Q: I once saw a toll free number I can call for rules. Am I still able to call it, and what is it? --John

A: I walked over to our phone support guys to get the answer straight from Brian Z. Here's what he has to say: “Wizards of the Coast offers free rules support via email, and phone. If you have a rules question that needs answering, feel free to contact the rules support team using the email form found at, or by phone, Mon-Fri 7am-6 pm Pacific Standard Time (inside the U.S.) at 800-324-6496, or (outside the U.S.) at 206-624-0933.”
These guys will help you during the week, but if you have a question for Saturday School, just use the “Respond via email” link below. Another great resource is the Q&A Forum on the WotC Message Boards.

That's all for this week. Just around the corner we have the Saturday School's final days of 2004. Best of luck.

Class dismissed.


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