Saturday School #16

Posted in Feature on February 22, 2003

By Rune Horvik

In our ongoing mission to get the rules to make more sense, the gurus would like a little information from you, the players. Which of these answers would you give, if you were asked?

Please have a go at answering, even if you're not sure which is the right answer. (Especially if you're not sure.)



Can Unsummon target something in your graveyard?No it can't. Unless an effect specifically refers to something outside play, it will only affect things in play.No it can't. A "creature" only exists in play: in your graveyard it's just a "creature card".No it can't, for both the above reasons.Yes it can.

Coastal Drake

Can Coastal Drake target something in your graveyard?No it can't. Unless an effect specifically refers to something outside play, it will only affect things in play.No it can't. A "Kavu" only exists in play: in your graveyard it's just a "Kavu card".No it can't, for both the above reasons.Yes it can.


I goofed last week.

The question was “How can I get my opponent to deck himself with Trade Secrets?”

It does work with the Alpha card Word of Command, so the right answer would be:

A: You can't make it work using your own Trade Secrets. The way to do this is to hope that your opponent has a Trade Secrets in his hand (possibly using Jester's Mask on him to make sure he has it in his hand), and then force him to play the card using Word of Command. Since you played Word of Command, you make all the decisions, and you can choose that he draws four cards every time you draw two cards. Since you are the target of the spell, you can choose that this is repeated as many times as you like. If your deck has at least half the number of cards your opponent's deck has, he will run out of cards before you do.

This still depends on your opponent having Trade Secrets in his deck, and you need to play with Word of Command. This situation won’t come up very often.

Beginner Questions

Q: How does protection work?

A: Having protection from [quality] has four properties, abbreviated D-E-B-T:

1) Damage from [quality] sources is prevented

2) Can't be Enchanted by [quality] enchantments

3) Can't be Blocked by [quality] creatures

4) Can't be Targeted by [quality] spells or abilities

For example, a creature with protection from red has all damage to it from red sources prevented, can't be enchanted by red enchantments, can't be blocked by red creatures, and can't be targeted by red spells or abilities.

Anything that does not do one of these four things, like Obliterate for example, will still affect the creature.

Q: If I have a Nova Cleric and I use his ability (destroy all enchantments), does this includes destroying all enchant creatures? (Because a friend told me that an enchantment and an enchant creature were different.)
--Omar L.

A: It includes all “enchant creature” cards (and all other local enchantments). Enchantments and cards saying “enchant something” are different in some regards, like anything that says “enchant something” must have a legal permanent to enchant when you play it, but they are all enchantments, and can be affected by anything that affects enchantments.

Mistform Sliver

Q: A friend of mine has an Illusion deck. He uses Illusions to change his creature types into Beasts (until end of turn) then he uses Aether Charge to deal damage each time he changes a creature type. Is this allowed? Does a Beast come in to play each time he changes the creature type?
--Nico Cleine, Netherlands

A: This doesn't work. To “come into play,” the card needs to not have been “in play” before. Changing creature types doesn't cause cards to come into play, they are already there, they just look like something else when their type has been changed

Q: If I sacrifice Mogg Fanatic to Goblin Grenade, will it do 5 damage or 6?

A: It will deal 5 damage, just like Goblin Grenade says. The Goblin Grenade and the Mogg Fanatic ability are two separate effects. To make each one happen, you have to pay its cost. If you only sacrifice one creature, then you can only pay for one cost. (It's just like any other type of cost. For instance, to play two Shocks, you would need to pay two red mana, not just one.)

Q: I have an Aether Flash. My opponent plays a Prodigal Sorcerer and then uses a Counterspell on my Aether Flash's ability and says my Aether Flash is destroyed. Would my Aether Flash be destroyed?

A: This is not a legal play, so your Aether Flash would stay in play. Counterspell can only target spells, which are usually cards played from your hand. Aether Flash has a triggered ability, which comes from a permanent in play, and this can not be countered by Counterspell.

Q: If I attack with an Iridescent Angel and my friend has Aurification out, does my Angel becomes a Wall? I said since Aurification is white and Iridescent Angel has protection from all colors, shouldn't it be unaffected by Aurification because it is white? If not then please explain why.

A: Aurification can affect Iridescent Angel because the ability doesn't damage, enchant, block or target the Angel. Aurification says to put a counter on it, and doesn't use the word target, so it's not stopped by protection.

Q: If I have Light of Day and Darkest Hour out on the field, and I play Akroma, Angel of Wrath, will she stay as a white creature because she has protection from black? If this isn't so, are there any ways that creatures can escape the combined effects of Darkest Hour and Light of Day?
--Grant Stewart, Yucaipa, California

A: Akroma will become a black crature, and won't be able to attack because of Light of Day. Since Darkest Hour's effect doesn't target Akroma, it turns all creatures black, it can affect Akroma like any other creature. The best ways to escape the effect of the combo is to get rid of one of the enchantments (using Disenchant), change the color of the creatures (using a color changing spell like Chaoslace or an ability like Caldera Kavu or Tidal Visionary), or change the color words on either of the enchantments using cards like Alter Reality).

Legions Questions

Rockshard Elemental

Q: My opponent attacks with Rockshard Elemental, and I block with Talruum Champion. Does the Champion's ability to remove first strike also work on removing the first strike portion of double strike? Or are they considered as different keywords and the Elemental remains unaffected?

A: The abilities use different keywords – removing first strike does not affect double strike in any way, so Rockshard Elemental still gets to deal damage twice.

Q: If I control a Phage the Untouchable and another 4-power creature, like a Bane of the Living, that both damage my opponent simultaneously and he plays an Embolden or another card that prevents 4 or more of the next damage, what happens? How do you determine where the "next" damage comes from?
--Michael Errante

A: Whenever you have active damage prevention shields (like from Embolden), the affected player (or the player who controls the creature if the shield is on a creature) chooses which damage to prevent if not all the damage can be prevented. Since the creatures deal a total of 8 damage, and your opponent can prevent 4 damage, he can choose which points of damage are prevented. He will most likely choose to prevent the damage from Phage so he doesn't lose the game.

Q: I have a Swooping Talon on my side. I want to attack with it. My opponent controls an Smokespew Invoker with the capability to use it. I attack with the Talon, pay 1 to have it lose flying, and provoke the Invoker to block. My opponent responds by activating the Invoker's ability, affectively making it a 0/3. I let this ability resolve and then cycle Gempalm Avenger to give all soldiers +1/+1 and first strike. This is where the controversy in opinions sparks. I say that his Invoker dies from receiving lethal first strike damage, the Talon being a 1/4. His objection is that my Talon is a 0/4, letting his Invoker live. Which of our opinions is correct?

A: Your opponent is correct. The Talon will be –1/3 when the Invoker's ability resolves. While its power counts as zero for any effects, the game still knows that it's –1 for the purpose of raising or lowering it, so giving the Talon +1/+1 afterwards will just make it 0/4. It will deal no damage to the Invoker. See "Number" in the Glossary of the Comprehensive Rules.

Q: How many times can you play Whipgrass Entagler's ability for one creature? Can you, for example, play it a second time if the controller pays for the first time?

A: You can play the ability as many times as you can pay for it, and yes, they are cumulative. If you target a creature twice, its controller will have to pay twice as much. However, the payment is made as attackers or blockers are declared, and you can't play any abilities at this point. Once the payment is made, activating the ability again won't stop the targeted creature from attacking or blocking. All activations of the Entangler are paid for at the same time.

Q: Can you use Whipgrass Entangler's ability after someone has declared an attack to prevent them from attacking with creatures they have declared?
--Tym Larson

A: No, you can't. All costs to attack are paid as you are declaring attackers. Imposing additional costs to attack or block after this time has no effect. Additional costs for blockers work the same way.

Q: If I attack and kill a blocking creature with my Scion of Darkness, and still trample over to do damage to my opponent, can I have the Scion target the creature I just killed?
--Adam Hoover

A: Yes, you can. All damage is dealt at the same time, then creatures killed in combat are put in the graveyard, then the triggered ability goes on the stack, and a target is chosen. You are allowed to target a creature just killed.

Havoc Demon

Q: If I block my opponent's Symbiotic Beast with my Havoc Demon and he Shocks the Demon before damage dealing, which means both creatures will die simultaneously. Which ability will have priority? To put it simpler, do the Insect tokens die too?

A: In this case, the Insects live. The Beast and the Demon are destroyed at the same time, and they both have abilities that trigger when they are put in the graveyard. The active player's triggers are always put on the stack first, then the non-active player's, and the effects resolve in reverse order. Since the Symbiotic Beast is attacking, its controller is the active player, and the “put 4 tokens into play” effect will resolve after the “all creatures get –5/-5 until end of turn, and put the tokens safely into play. If the situation was reversed, with the Demon attacking and the Beast blocking (assuming it could block a flier), the Insects would be put into play before the Demon's effect happened, and they would die.

Q: What happens when my Essence Sliver blocks Phantom Centaur? Do I still gain life or not? And if Toxin Sliver was out, would the Phantom Centaur die?
--Joel McCarthy

A: You won't gain the life, since the Centaur prevents the damage. Damage that is prevented is never considered “dealt”, and won't trigger Essence Sliver, Toxin Sliver or anything that happens “whenever damage is dealt”.

Q: If you have Windborn Muse in play and your opponent has Commander Eesha, is Commander Eesha affected by Windborne Muse's ability?

A: Commander Eesha is still affected by the Muse, since the Muse's ability doesn't damage, enchant, block or target it. Windborn Muse's effect affects all creatures, and doesn't use the word target, so your opponent will still have to pay for the Commander to attack.

Q: One of my favorite cards is Fevered Convulsions. If someone plays Daru Stinger and reveals two Soldiers it comes into play as a 3/3. If I use Fevered Convulsions' ability on it, is it a creature with two +1/+1 counters and a -1/-1 counter, or a creature with just a +1/+1 counter on it? In other words, does it still deal two damage when tapped, or do the +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters cancel out each other and make it deal only one damage?

A: Plus and minus counters are different, and Daru Stinger will have two +1/+1 counters and one –1/-1 counter. The counters don't cancel each other out, so it will deal two damage when you tap it.

General / Older Card Questions

Q: Since Defense of the Heart resolves at the beginning of your upkeep, do any creatures brought into play that have upkeep costs require the cost be paid? Examples are Devouring Strossus, Endless Wurm, or Draco.

A: Defense of the Heart only triggers at the beginning of the upkeep (like creatures with upkeep costs). The ability of Defense of the Heart goes on the stack, and when it resolves, it brings creatures into play. At this time, you're far past the beginning of the upkeep, and the upkeep costs of the creatures you mention (and most other cards) won't trigger. The “beginning of the upkeep” only happens once per turn, abilities trigger then and are put on the stack. After this, no other “beginning of upkeep” abilities can trigger again until the next upkeep.


Q: Stratadon is a creature with a 10 colorless mana cost. What is its "in play" converted mana cost, 10 or 10 minus the number of different basic land types I control? If an opponent uses Death Mutation on it, does he receive 10 tokens or fewer?

A: The converted mana cost is always found by adding up the numbers and symbols in the corner of the card. Stradadon's converted mana cost is always 10, regardless of how much you paid for it and which lands you control. Using Death Mutation on Stratadon will produce 10 tokens.

Q: When a token creature goes into the graveyard, does it add to the power and toughness bonus granted by Exoskeletal Armor? If I have a 7/7 Phyrexian Devourer in play with Exoskeletal Armor on it, and a token dies, what happens?

A: Not much happens. Exoskeletal Armor says it counts creature cards, so it will completely ignore tokens. (Tokens never count as cards - even the special "token cards" don't count as cards, as far as the game is concerned.)

Q: I have a Phyrexian Negator on the board and my opponent Lightning Bolts it, can I sacrifice Negator to itself to stop myself from having to sacrifice anymore permanents?

A: If the Negator survives the effect that damages it, you can sacrifice it as one of the permanents, but the number of permanents to sacrifice is locked in when the ability starts resolving, and you can't get out of sacrificing more permanents if you sacrifice the Negator “first”. Also note that if the Negator is destroyed from the damage, it's destroyed before the triggered ability resolves, so you have to sacrifice a number of other permanents.

Q: If I have Wonder in my graveyard and my opponent plays a Mystic Decree, do my creatures have flying or not?

A: The answer would depend on the timestamps of the effect (the order the effects started). The effect that started last will “win”. If Mystic Decree came into play after Wonder was put in the graveyard, your creatures don't have flying, if Wonder was put in the graveyard after Mystic Decree came into play your creatures have flying. See rule 418.5d in the Comprehensive Rules.

Q: This might be an obvious one to answer, but in the case of Dralnu's Crusade with Festering Goblin, would the Festering Goblin then count as two Zombies (for the purposes of Soulless One, etc.) due to having creature types "Zombie Goblin Zombie." I admit this might sound a bit absurd, but I can't seem to find the rules stating that a creature can't have the same creature type twice; given that Dralnu's Crusade states specifically that all Goblins are Zombies "in addition" to their normal creature types.
--Josh Carrigan, Macomb, Illinois

A: Yes, the Festering Goblin will be a Zombie Goblin Zombie, but this has no noticeable effect on the game. Effects that count the “number of Zombies” and such always count the number of permanents that have the characteristic, not how many instances of the characteristics exist. The “Zombie Goblin Zombie” Festering Goblin is still just one permanent.

Q: If Tempting Wurm is played and I am holding Wirewood Savage and Towering Baloth, can I draw a card if the Wirewood Savage is played first before the Baloth? Also, if this is the case, if the card drawn is a creature, can I play it with Tempting Wurm's ability?
--Tim Wiersielis

A: Yes, you can draw a card, but you can't use Tempting Wurm to put it into play. The sequence of events is:

1) Tempting Wurm puts the Savage and the Baloth into play. (Note that there's no order - Tempting Wurm puts everything into play simultaneously.)

2) The game checks whether any abilities triggered. Yes, there's one - Wirewood Savage is in play right now, and it can be triggered by the event which just happened.

3) Tempting Wurm's ability finishes resolving.

4) Wirewood Savage's ability goes onto the stack, and waits to resolve.

5) People can play instants and abilities.

6) Wirewood Savage's ability resolves, and you draw a card. But it's far too late to use the Wurm's effect on it.

Q: If someone gains control of a creature via Phyrexian Infiltrator, can he attack with it right away? I tell him that he can't because the creature has summoning sickness. The other player says that it doesn't have summoning sickness because he exchanged control of it and therefore it never "came under his control." He won't take my word for it, but he'll probably take yours, so if you could be so kind as to put this in Saturday School, I would greatly appreciate it.
--Jibo San

A: The rules require that you must have controlled a creature continuously since the beginning of your turn to attack with it, unless it has haste (Rule 308.1 in the Comprehensive Rulebook). If a player gains control over a creature during a turn, it can't attack that turn if it doesn't have haste.

Q: I attack my opponent with Arcanis the Omnipotent and he blocks with a Grotesque Hybrid. In response to damage assignments going on the stack I pay the cost and bounce the blue pit-fighter to my hand, saying that the three damage will kill the Hybrid while my Legend goes safely to my hand. The problem lies in the fact that the Hybrid destroys whatever he damages. My opponent tells me that either both die or both live. I say his Hybrid only assigned his 3 damage, like mine, but what he assigned damage to, Arcanis, is no longer in play once the assignment goes from the stack to the creature. Who's right? How does this battle play out?

A: You are right in this case. Each creature assigns 3 damage to the other, and then Arcanis goes away. Rule 310.4 in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that the damage is dealt as originally assigned, even if the creature dealing damage is no longer in play, its power has changed, or the creature receiving damage has left combat. If a creature that was supposed to receive damage is no longer in play or is no longer a creature, the damage assigned to it isn't dealt, so the Hybrid's ability won't trigger (and destroying something not in play doesn't work either).

Transmute Artifact

Q: What happens if I play Transmute Artifact with no artifact in play?

A: Transmute Artifact's current Oracle text says that you must sacrifice an artifact as an additional cost when you play the spell, and if you can't do this, you're not allowed to play the spell in the first place.

Q: If my Wall of Nets blocks Kjeldoran Frostbeast, will my Wall of Nets' ability trigger first, or will Kjeldoran Frostbeast destroy my Wall before it is removed from the game?

A: Both the creatures have delayed triggered abilities that trigger are put on the stack at the end of combat. The active player always put his or her triggers on the stack first, and since the Frostbeast is attacking, its controller is the active player, its ability goes on the stack first, and resolves last. Wall of Nets' ability will resolve first and remove the Frostbeast from the game, but the Frostbeast's ability will resolve shortly thereafter and destroy the Wall, bringing the Frostbeast back.

Q: I have 7 cards in my graveyard and one of them is a Gloomdrifter. I then play a Zombify targeting the Gloomdrifter. Do I have threshold when Gloomdrifter comes into play. Or is Zombify not in the graveyard yet leaving me with 6 cards there? Please explain.

A: You don't have threshold when Gloomdrifter comes into play. Spell cards go to the graveyard as the last part of resolution, and when Gloomdrifter is put into play, the Zombify card is still on the stack, and you have 6 cards in the graveyard, so the ability won't trigger.

Q: My friend has a Weatherseed Treefolk in play, and my other friend has a Withered Wretch. The Treefolk's ability says that when it goes to the graveyard it comes right back to its owner's hand. The question is, if the Treefolk is killed, could it be removed from the game by the Wretch or would the Treefolk's ability take priority and come back to his hand making the Wretch unable to remove it?

A: Yes, Withered Wretch can remove the Treefolk from the game permanently. Weatherseed Treefolk has a triggered ability that goes on the stack when it's put into a graveyard, both players can then respond to the ability. If the Wretch is activated in response to the triggered ability, it can remove the Treefolk from the game before it returns to the hand.

Bonus Question

Q: You people seem to know all the rules exactly, especially Rune. Did you read the entire rulebook?
--Cory Spitzer, Elizaville, New York

A: The secret is that I cheat a lot by looking up rules when I need to. Sure, I have read the whole document, but it's been quite some time since I read if from the beginning to the end. The Comprehensive Rulebook is a very long and pretty dry document, and doesn't make for good bedtime reading, unless you want to fall asleep fast. I mostly use the electronic version of the rulebook, and search it for the rules I need, for example when writing this column. I don't have all the rules and numbers committed to memory.

[From Laurie the proofreader]: I don't like reading the rulebook, it's hard work. I originally learned all the details by asking questions, not by reading it. And nowadays, I just remember how everything fits together. Sometimes I wonder just how much of my brain Magic takes up...

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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