Saturday School #56

Posted in Feature on December 13, 2003

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.

Mirrodin Questions


Krark's Thumb

Q: How does Krark's Thumb work with multiflip cards such as Fiery Gambit? Would you get just one extra flip over the effect of the card or would you flip twice for every time you would have flipped normally?

A: Krark's Thumb’s replacement effect replaces each coinflip that would happen with two flips and the choice to keep one. So, you first flip two coins and keep one, and if you choose to keep a winning flip, you can then flip two coins and keep another and so forth, until you choose to stop or have to keep a losing flip (which can happen if you lose both the flips).

Q: If I have Krark's Thumb in play and I play Mana Clash. In what order do we flip? Do I choose to ignore one of my coin after my opponent flipped his and can make my decision based of what his flip ended up with. Or don't I see what he flipped before I have to ignore one of my coins?

A: You flip at the same time. You flip two coins, your opponent flips one. You get to see the result of all the flips before you decide which flip to keep for yourself.

Q: I have a question concerning Chance Encounter and Krark's Thumb. If you were to flip 2 coins and win both, would you put 2 counters on chance encounter? I know that Krark's Thumb says to ignore one, but doesn’t that mean for the result of the coinflip?

A: You ignore the flip completely, as if it never happened. The ignored coinflip doesn’t count for any triggered abilities, and you don’t get to put a counter on Chance Encounter for it, even if you win it.


Quicksilver Elemental

Q: If I were to pay for Quicksilver Elemental's ability twice targeting two different creatures, do the abilities gained by both creatures stay?

A: Yes, they do. The ability doesn’t say that the Elemental loses any abilities, so it just adds more abilities to itself.

Q: I play Stalking Stones on my turn, pay 6 mana and turn it into a 3/3 artifact creature. It resolves. Stalking Stones says it's still a land. Can I attack? Can I tap it for mana?

A: You can’t attack with it or tap it for mana if it’s a creature and you haven’t controlled it since the beginning of your most recent turn. All permanents have summoning sickness, but only creatures are affected by it. You can usually tap the Stones the same turn as you played it, but once it’s turned into a creature, you are unable to use any of its activated abilities with the tap symbol if it has summoning sickness.

Q: What happened if I activate Liar's Pendulum with no card in my hand? Can I draw a card because he can't name an empty hand?

A: When you activate the Pendulum you name a card, and the opponent has to guess if you have the card or not. Since you have no cards in hand, you obviously don’t have the named card. You get to draw the card if your opponent guesses that you do have the card (since this is wrong), but in most cases, your opponent will make the right guess without any problems.

Q: After I play Sculpting Steel choosing Urza’s Armor I play March of the Machines. What is the power and toughness of that scrupture: 3/3 or 6/6?

A: It’s 6/6. Sculpting Steel copies all the characteristics of the Armor, including the mana cost. When in play, if Sculpting Steel has copied something, the mana cost is completely replaced by the mana cost of what it copies. See rule 503.2 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.


March of the Machines

Q: Can combat damage deal to something that no longer a creature, or example if I return March of the Machines to my hand after damage is on the stack? Are my artifacts put into the graveyard?

A: If a creature that was supposed to receive combat damage (or any kind of damage) is no longer in play or is no longer a creature, the damage assigned to it isn't dealt. The damage simply goes away, and nothing special happens. Your artifacts remain in play. See rule 310.4c in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: If I cast Vulshok Battlemaster, and my opponent casts Shock in response, does the Battlemaster go to the graveyard before the Equipment gets attached? I'm assuming yes, since the Shock will resolve on the stack before the triggered comes-into-play" ability of the Battlemaster.

A: The Battlemaster’s ability goes on the stack, and will go to the graveyard before the ability resolves if it’s Shocked in response. The ability will still resolve, but as the equipments have nowhere to move, they remain where they were. See “Move” in the Glossary of the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: If an equipment is animated via Karn or anything else, can it then equip itself?

A: No, it can’t. Rule 212.2i says that if an equipment has been turned into a creature, it can't equip anything. (And if it's already equipping something, it falls off.)

Q: If I remove a local enchantment from the game using Synod Sanctum, what happens to it if I return it to play by sacrificing the Sanctum? Do I get to choose a target for it to enchant, or does it come into play not enchanting anything and then go to the graveyard as a state-based effect?

A: You get to return the enchantment wherever you choose. This doesn’t target (only spells and abilities ever target anything; your local enchantment just goes straight into play without being a spell) - so for example, you're free to put it onto an untargettable creature like Deadly Insect. If there is no legal permanent to enchant, the enchantment remains removed “forever”, you won’t get to put it into play later. Note all the removed cards are put into play at the same time, so you aren’t allowed to enchant something that comes into play at the same time as it.

(Note: although you can put it onto a Deadly Insect, you can't put it creature with protection. Protection from [quality] includes the effect "Can't be enchanted by [quality] enchantments.")

Q: I play a Viridian Shaman, and the only artifact in play is my Tree of Tales. My friend says that I have to destroy it because it is the only artifact in play, but I disagree. Who is right?

A: Your friend is right. The Shaman has a triggered ability that goes on the stack when it comes into play, and if there is a legal target, you must choose one, even if this is a bad choice for you. The ability isn’t optional, and if your artifact land is the only artifact in play, you have to choose it as a target.


Chalice of the Void

Q: If I put out Chalice of the Void where X is 0, are basic and non-basic lands countered?

A: No, they aren’t. the Chalice only triggers when you play spells, and lands aren’t spells, don’t use the stack, and can’t be countered, even their converted mana cost is seen as zero.

Q: I’m confused about the text on Blinkmoth Urn. It says that if its not tapped, you can add mana to your mana pool equal to the number of artifacts in play. Does that mean I can use an Icy Manipulator to tap it to prevent my opponent from getting that mana.

A: Yes, it does. The Urn has a triggered ability that goes on the stack if the Urn is untapped in the beginning of the player’s precombat main phase. It has an “if-condition”, and this must also be true when the ability resolves for the ability to resolve, and if you tap it before it would resolve, the ability won’t do anything.
Note that the Urn’s ability uses the stack, and can be responded to, even if it gives mana. This is because it’s a triggered ability that doesn’t trigger off an activated mana ability, such as tapping of a land.

Q: If my opponent blocks one of my creatures with Jareth, Leonine Titan, making it a 11/14, and then in my second main phase I play Duplicant and imprint Jareth, will my Duplicant be a 4/7 or an 11/14?

A: It will be 4/7. Duplicant only reads the printed power/toughness of the card, and doesn’t count any modifiers it had when the creature was in play. It also doesn’t count any other abilities on the card, so imprinting a Broodstar would make Duplicant a 0/0.

General/Older Card Questions

Q: When a Serra Avatar is put into the graveyard does its ability trigger in a way it could be responded to by Scrabbling Claws or similar? If not, does it truly make a deck immune to traditional deck-out decks that use Millstone/Grindstone and such?

A: Serra Avatar has a replacement effect (indicated by the word “instead”), which fully replaces the action of going to the graveyard. This means that instead of putting the card in the graveyard, you shuffle it into the library, and the Avatar is never in the graveyard at all. This means that you can never remove it with spells or abilities that remove cards from the graveyard, and it won’t trigger any abilities that see it going to the graveyard, such as Soul Net.
Serra Avatar can make the game harder to win with Millstones etc, but remember that when the deck is down to just a few cards, you can just let the player draw the cards instead of milling them, and the player might lose by drawing out that way.



Q: If a player has Cowardice, can he or she announce a spell such as Shock, target a creature and then not pay for the spell? I'm relatively sure this doesn't work, but it seems almost possible.

A: This doesn’t work. The steps for how to play a spell or ability can be found in the Comprehensive Rulebook sections 409.1a-i, and abilities that trigger on spells being played triggers only after the costs have been successfully paid, in the last step. If you aren’t able to pay for a spell or ability, the entire announcement is reversed, and nothing can trigger off this.

Q: Can Lion's Eye Diamond be used to pay a madness cost?

A: Yes, it can. You can activate Lion’s Eye Diamond, discard your hand and get 3 mana of any color. If you discarded any cards with madness, like an Arrogant Wurm, madness triggers and goes to the stack, but you get the mana right away, like with any mana ability, so you have the mana available when the madness ability allows you to play the card.

Q: Can the wish cards go for cards that are restricted even though there is one in your deck already? Can it go for a fifth copy of a card that you already have four of in your deck? And can you put three additional copies of a restricted card in your sideboard in tournament play?

A: In tournament play, which is the only situation where bans and restrictions count, you are only allowed to wish for cards that are removed from the game or in your sideboard. Deck restrictions affect your deck and sideboard combined, so if you have four copies of a card in your deck (or one copy of a restricted card), you can't put any others in your sideboard.

In casual play, you can get any card, and restrictions don’t really matter, so you’re allowed to get another Black Lotus if you have one, or you can get a fifth copy of a card you already have four of.

Q: If I have a Spike Soldier in play, and I were to remove one +1+1 counter from it for the +2+2 counter. Could I then remove one of those and in theory have a continuous supply of counters, eventually giving my Soldier so much power that nothing could do anything to it? Or did you guys see that way back in Stronghold and change the wording so you couldn’t?

A: This trick never worked; and no, the wording hasn't been changed. When you remove the counter from the Spike, it doesn’t actually get a +2/+2 counter on it, it just gets an effect that says it gets +2/+2 until the end of the turn, and you can’t remove this to pump it further. Also, if it had got a +2/+2 counter, you couldn’t have removed it anyway, as the ability only allows you to remove +1/+1 counters, and counters that give different modifications are not the same.


Illusions of Grandeur

Q: If I donate my Illusions of Grandeur to my opponent, does he lose 20 life when it leaves play? Also, if the cumulative upkeep is up to 8 when I Donate Illusions of Grandeur does my opponent have to pay 8 or sacrifice it his next upkeep or does it start again at 2?

A: Illusions of Grandeur’s ability triggers for the person that controls it when it leaves play, so if your opponent has gained control of it, he will be the one to lose 20 life when Illusions leaves play.
Cumulative upkeep is tracked with counters, and these don’t reset even if Illusions changes controller. If the last paid upkeep was 6, your opponent would have to pay 8 mana in his next upkeep if he controls it then, or sacrifice it and lose life.

Q: I have an Exploration in play and I used it this turn (having played a second land). Later in that turn I use Words of Wind to return two permanents to my hand, and I return Exploration and a land. I play Exploration again. Can I play an additional land?

A: Yes, you can. When you play Exploration again, this is a “new” Exploration, which has the effect of letting you play an additional land. It doesn’t look at anything else you have done this turn, so you’re free to play the land you returned again.

Q: I was wondering, if there is a Standstill in play and I play Replenish, would the Standstill be sacrifice at the initial casting of the Replenish, and then come back into play when the Replenish resolves?

A: Yes, it would, if it’s your Standstill. Standstill triggers when you play Replenish, and the ability goes on the stack on top of Replenish. It’s sacrificed when the ability resolves, and each of your opponents draws three cards. When Replenish resolves, all enchantments in your graveyard return to play.


Eternal Dragon

Q: Can you landcycle a card when you don't have any of that basic land in your library?
For example, can you plainscycle an Eternal Dragon if you know that you don't have any Plains in your library?

A: You can landcycle even if you don’t have any lands of the appropriate type in your library, even if you don’t have any lands at all. Landcycling only has two requirements when you activate it - paying the mana cost and discarding the card. When it resolves, it tells you to search for the land, and if you don’t have any, the effect simply doesn’t do anything. You can also choose not to find anything, even if you do have a land of the type. You can always voluntarily choose to not find anything when you're told to search for a specific card or card type.

Q: My opponent has Cephalid Shrine in play, and I have 4 copies of Firebolt in my graveyard. If I play one with flashback, would the Shrine count the one I am playing and counter it unless I pay 4 mana, or would I only have to pay 3?

A: You only need to pay 3. Cephalid Shrine counts the number of copies in the graveyard when the ability resolves, and at this time, the Firebolt you played is on the stack. All spells are placed on the stack when they are played, so it would no longer be in your graveyard.

Q: If Quicksilver Dragon becomes the target of a spell or ability, and is the only creature in play, or the only other creatures cannot be target of spells/abilities, can you use its activated ability?

A: You can use the ability, but when the ability resolves, you are asked to select a new target, and if there are no other legal targets at that time, you can’t change the target, and the ability doesn’t do anything. The Dragon remains targeted.



Q: If you have an Abundance in play, and you choose “land“ but you do not find a land cards does that mean you lose the game or does it mean that you can stack the deck with Abundance's ability?

A: If you don’t have any cards of the chosen type left in your library, you go through your entire deck, and then stop. You won’t have a card to put into your hand, but you still get to put all the revealed cards under your library in the order you choose, basically letting you stack your deck.

Q: What does Bureaueracy from Unglued actually do?

A: This card works like this... At the beginning of the next player's upkeep, he or she will pick a simple verbal or physical action such as clapping his or her hands. At the beginning of his or her upkeep, the next player (you in a two-player game) must clap his or her hands and then add another action--for example, saying "Yabba Dabba Doo." At the beginning of his or her upkeep, the next player claps his or her hands, says "Yabba Dabba Doo", and then adds a new action.
This little game continues until someone messes up the order, at which point the controller of Bureaucracy sacrifices the card and the player who made the mistake loses all the cards in his or her hand.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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