Saturday School #59

Posted in Feature on January 3, 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.

Q: I have a question about Mulligans. My play group plays with a rule that says if you have no lands in your opening hand, you may Mulligan and draw seven cards again instead of the usual six. If I play a deck with no lands at all, using only Moxes and other artifacts for mana, could I mulligan until I have my first turn kill combo in my hand? Can I basically topdeck and automatically win by Mulliganing untill I have the cards I want in my hand?
-- Gilan Salehi

A: If you use these rules, that would certainly be possible, however, in DCI-sanctioned tournaments, we have a different Mulligan rule. You're allowed to take a Mulligan at the start of any game, and then redraw your hand with a card less, regardless of how many lands you had in it. You can repeat this until you have no cards left in your hand.
Many years ago, the DCI had an all-land or no-land Mulligan rule, much like the one you use, but you could only use this once per game, and it's no longer in use at tournaments.

Q: I was playing in an unofficial tournament at school and my opponent had a Tangle Wire and a Smokestack in play. I put the Smokestack on the stack first and the Tangle Wire next, so I could just sacrifice the tapped permanents, but he said that he could choose the order because he controls the artifacts - but I said I choose because I'm the one being affected by it. Who is right??
-- Eric Glenn

A: Your opponent was right here. Triggered abilities are controlled by the player who controls the permanent they come from, and if your opponent controls both Smokestack and the Tangle Wire, he can choose the order they go on the stack, usually in the worst possible order for you.


Consume Spirit

Q: What happens if I use a Deflection on a Consume Spirit back so it targets the caster? Would he take the damage, then lose the game before he gained the life or would he be damaged, then gain the life at the same time, and live to fight on?

A: He would survive. He would momentarily lose the life, and then go back up again. The game only checks for lethal damage when you have priority, the next time would be after Consume Spirit has resolved, at which point the player is still alive.
The player did go down in life, though, and abilities such as the one on Opal Avenger would still trigger.

Q: Say I have Blood Moon and a Goblin Charbelcher both in play. If I activate the Goblin Charbelcher's ability and stop at a nonbasic land such as Great Furnace, would the Great Furnace then be considered a Mountain that would deal double the damage from the Goblin Charbelcher?
-- Drew Stofferahn

A: You won't deal double damage. Blood Moon only affects lands in play (in your library, they are land cards and are not affected), and the Great Furnace is still a Great Furnace, a non-Mountain card.


Sword of Kaldra

Q: If I have a Sword of Kaldra and a Viridian Longbow equipped onto a single creature, and tap to do the 1 damage to one of my opponent's creatures, does that creature get removed from the game?

A: Yes, it does, unless that damage destroys the creature. The Longbow gives the creature the ability to deal damage, and the Sword's ability triggers of any kind of damage the creature deals, also the one dealt because of the Longbow.
If the damage destroys the creature, it will be in the graveyard by the time Sword of Kaldra's ability resolves and the ability can't find”it to remove it from the game.

Q: If I have global effects out (like Howling Mine, Larceny and Megrim), and my opponent has an Ivory Mask out, will he be effected by the enchantments or does the Mask protect him?
-- Brian Reeves

A: Ivory Mask only prevents you from being targeted – it doesn't stop any spells or abilities that doesn't use the word “target”. All the cards you name have effects that aren't targeted, so you would still be affected by them.

Q: Can a creature that Elvish Piper's ability is bringing into play be countered with a card like Counterspell?
-- John Kinyon

A: No, it can't. The Piper has an activated ability that can be countered by cards like Stifle, Bind or Interdict, but it's not a spell, so it can't be affected by cards that only counters spells.

Q: Can Tradewind Rider's ability be used if the two other creatures you tap hasn't been under your control since your turn began?
-- Torgeir Cook

A: Yes, it can. As long as Tradewind Rider itself doesn't have summoning sickness, you can tap any creatures you control to activate it along with the Rider. Summoning sickness only stops you from using built-in abilities that require tapping, you can still tap them to help pay for other cards' abilities.

Q: If there is a Chill in play, and I play Fireblast sacrificing two mountains, do I have to pay the additional cost of 2 generic mana?
-- Thaigo Portes

A: Yes, you do. Fireblast's alternate play cost only replaces the regular mana cost, you still have to pay any additional costs that are imposed by other effects, so you must pay 2 mana in addition to sacrificing the mountains.


Erratic Explosion

Q: I play an Erratic Explosion and the first card I draw is Disintegrate, what is the converted mana cost of Disintegrate in this instance?
-- P Shields

A: The converted mana cost of Disintegrate when it's not on the stack is 1, the is then treated as zero. X only counts for the converted mana cost when the spell is on the stack, not at any other time.

Q: If I equip Viridian Longbow to Phage the Untouchable, can I tap Phage to deal damage to a player and win the game? I know it says combat damage on Phage, but I was wondering if I used the ability during combat, would this work?
-- Brandon S

A: No, this won't work. “Combat damage” is only dealt during the combat damage step of the combat phase by attacking creatures and blocking creatures. It doesn't include damage dealt by spells and abilities during the combat phase.

Q: If I have a Peat Bog and a Zuran Orb in play and I use the last counter on Peat Bog, could I respond and sacrifice Peat Bog to gain 2 life?
-- Bill Finlay

A: No, you can't. When using the ability, you perform the actions in the stated order, ending with the check for number of counters on the land, and if there aren't any counters, the land is immediately sacrificed, during the resolution of the ability, at which point you can't use Zuran Orb or play any abilities.

Q: If my Oath of Druids has revealed my entire library and no creature was found, will a Gaea's Blessing removed this way still put my graveyard back into my library? Does that copy of Gaea's Blessing get included?

A: Gaea's Blessing will put the entire graveyard back in the library, including itself. The Blessing triggers when it's put in the graveyard, and the ability goes on the stack when the Oath's ability has finished resolving. At this time, all the cards that are in the graveyard are shuffled back in the library, and this will include the Blessing as well.



Q: If I have an Upwelling in play, and I have a Snowfall in play, can I tap my Islands for the additional mana, then keep it in my mana pool, sacrifice Snowfall and use the stored mana for anything, or does it still have the "mana restriction"?

A: Mana stored in the mana pool knows what “type” it has, and also any restrictions on it – this is noted when the mana is generated. You can only use the Snowfall-mana for paying cumulative upkeep, and this is still true if the Snowfall leaves play.
This also applies to other usage restrictions like the one on Mishra's Workshop or Thran Turbine.

Q: Would split cards count as two cards for defining Magnivore's (or Cognivore's) power and toughness? Let's say I only have Assault/Battery in my graveyard and Magnivore in play, would it be a 2/2 or a 1/1 creature?
-- Eduardo Köster

A: It would be a 1/1 creature. Split cards are single cards with two card faces on them, and an effect that would count the number of cards with a particular type would only see one card, even if both the sides have the type asked for.

Q: If you use Mischiveous Quanar's ability can you copy ANY spell that is allowed or just ones that have been played that turn?

A: You can only copy spells that are on the stack (this is the only zone where “spells” exist), and once a spell has finished resolving or been countered, it's removed from the stack. This means that you can only use the Quanar to copy spells that have just been played but haven't resolved yet.

Q: Would placing a Regeneration on a creature with fading let me keep the creature after the fading ability is done or would it still go to the graveyard regardless?
-- Robert Fedorchuk

A: The creature would still go to the graveyard. When a creature with fading doesn't have any counters, and you try to remove a fade counter, it's sacrificed (put directly in the graveyard), and it can't be regenerated from this. You can only regenerate from effects that destroy it, such as lethal damage or effects that use the word “destroy”.


Darkest Hour

Q: I play Darkest Hour, making all my creatures black. Next turn I cast a Repentant Vampire, and I have threshold. The card says that when I have Threshold he becomes white. What color is the Repentant Vampire now? Is it black because of Darkest Hour or not?
-- Albert Hogenberg

A: The Vampire would be black. When you determine a card's characteristics, you start with any characteristic-setting abilities that set the permanents own characteristics and the apply external effects in timestamp order, and this means that Darkest Hour will always overwrite the color of the Vampire. The Vampire's own color-setting ability will be evaluated first even if you lose and gain threshold – it's still from “itself”

Q: On Animal Magnetism it says that an opponent chooses a creature card from the revealed cards, do I get to choose who that opponent is, if it was in a multiplayer?
-- Michael Cronly

A: You would get to choose which opponent chooses your card, yes. It could be any of your opponents, but just one of them. Your teammates would not be considered opponents in a team game, of course.

Q: Can a card like Flash Counter, which says "counter target instant spell", counter a Rout if the additional cost is paid?

A: No, it can't. Flash Counter looks for an instant card, that is, a card with “instant” in the type-line. Paying the extra cost on Rout lets you play the card at a time you usually can't, but it doesn't change the fact that it's still a sorcery, which isn't a legal target for Flash Counter.


Soul Collector

Q: Can Soul Collector steal Elephant tokens when it deals lethal damage to them? My brother says no, because they leave the game as soon as they hit the graveyard. But I think it does, because it even if it is removed, it still hits the graveyard at one point.

A: Your brother is right. The tokens do go to the graveyard, but then they immediately cease to exist, which means that they can't return to play anymore, because they are gone. The ability still tries to put them into play, but will fail because there is nothing to return.

Q: My question is about Rootwater Thief. Say I'm playing a game with my friend who has a brand new deck with a secret strategy that he won't tell anyone about. I play Rootwater Thief, deal damage to him and pay the two mana to activate its discard ability. Do I now get to search through his entire deck and see all of his cards (thereby probably ruining his secret strategy) or do I have to search with a specific card in mind?

A: You choose which card to remove during the search, you don't have to name a card first, then go look for that card. You get to look at all the cards first, then make up your mind to which card to remove.

Q: Some artifacts and creatures have activated abilities that use a different color of mana from the card. What color do the abilities count as?
-- Mel Nance

A: Abilities don't have a color, anything that cares about the color (such as protection) look at the color of the source (the permanent or card the ability comes from). Which color is used to activate the ability doesn't matter. A red card which activates an ability using green mana still can't target anything with protection from red, but it can target something with protection from green.

Q: If my opponent attacks with a creature, can I cast Bloodscent on it to force my opponent's untapped creatures to block it?
-- Martin Annandale

A: No, you can't. While you can play Bloodscent on it, only the defending player's creatures are able to block – the attacking player's creatures can never block in combat. Playing Bloodscent on your opponent's attacking creature would force all of your creatures to have to block it.

Q: If I have an Anarchist in my graveyard, and use a Zombify to reanimate it, can I use the Anarchist's comes-into-play ability to get the Zombify back to my hand?
-- Olof Dahl

A: Yes, you can. The ability triggers when it comes into play, but you don't choose a target until you get priority to put the ability on the stack. This is after Zombify has resolved and gone to the graveyard, so you can choose to return it.


Lord of Tresserhorn

Q: Can I play a Lord of Tresserhorn if I have no creatures in play? -- John Beck

A: Yes, you can, but you usually don't want to. When it comes into play, it forces you to sacrifice two creatures, and you have to do as much of the effect as possible. You have at least one creature in play (the Lord), and you have to sacrifice it unless you sacrifice something else.

Q: I don't understand Soul Link. If enchanted creature deals damage and is dealt damage; do you gain X life for damage dealt and Y for damage received, or is it your choice of X or Y?
-- Kim Lahaie Day

A: You gain life for both. Soul Link's current Oracle wording has split the printed text into two abilities that trigger separately. One ability triggers when the creature is dealt damage, and the other triggers when it receives damage, and you gain life for both.

Q: If I flip Chaos Orb onto the playing area and it touches no cards, is it still destroyed?
-- Mary Silverman

A: It's still destroyed. The current Oracle wording of Chaos Orb has you destroy it as the last part of resolution, even if you don't hit anything with it.

Thanks to Lee Sharpe for feedback and proofreading.

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