Saturday School #60

Posted in Feature on January 10, 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.


Decree of Silence

Q: Can I remove a depletion counter from Decree of Silence with Power Conduit? Which counters can I remove with Power Conduit?
-- Jovan Latag

A: Yes, you can remove any counter from any permanent you control to pay the cost of Power Conduit. This can be power/toughness-modifying counters like a +1/+1 counter, or any named counter like a depletion counter, fade counter or a charge counter.

Q: Can Unnatural Selection change the creature type of a creature without a type (e.g. a land affected by Natural Affinity)?
-- Jean-Philippe Leconte

A: Yes, it can. Unnatural Selection (and Imagecrafter and similar cards) say that the targeted creature's type becomes the chosen type, and it doesn't require that the creature has a type from before. It targets the creature, not it's type, and you can use the card to give a creature type to creatures that usually don't have a type, like animated lands and artifact creatures.


Null Rod

Q: Are artifact Lands, such as Ancient Den, affected by Null Rod?

A: Yes, they are. Null Rod stops all activated abilities from artifacts, even mana abilities. It doesn't matter that the card is also a land, being an artifact causes it to be stopped by Null Rod.

Q: I've been a casual MTG player for a while, but never played seriously (like in tournaments). I have read a lot of articles that refer to the sideboard, but I'm not really sure what that is. Can you explain it to me?

A: In tournaments, you are allowed to have a number of cards you can swap into your deck after the first game. The sideboard often consists of cards that are only good against certain deck types, but are useless against others. For example, a Circle of Protection: Red is only good against red decks, so you can keep the card in your sideboard for the first game, and if your opponent plays red, you can swap it in for the later games in the match.

In constructed tournaments, the sideboard must always have exactly 15 cards, which can be swapped in one-for-one with the cards in the deck. You can't add cards without taking cards out.
In limited tournaments, like draft and sealed deck, the sideboard consists of all the cards you have received which aren't used for the main deck, and you can add or remove cards to your deck as long as the main deck has at least 40 cards.

Before a the first game against an opponent, you must reset your deck to the original configuration, though, and put all your sideboard cards back – you are not allowed to use your sideboard cards in the first game of a match.

Q: I would like to know if token are affected by summoning sickness.
-- Elijah Teal

A: Tokens, like all creatures, are affected by summoning sickness. If you haven't controlled them since the beginning of your latest turn, you can't attack with them or use any of their abilities that use the tap symbol. The only difference between a token and a “real” creature is that tokens aren't cards, and they cease to exist completely after they have left play.


Lord of Tresserhorn

Q: If Lord of Tresserhorn comes into play, are each of its costs separate or are they all one giant triggered ability? In other words, can you use one Stifle to counter all three of Lord of Tresserhorn's come into play abilities?
-- Alex Ji

A: Lord of Tresserhorn has a single triggered ability that triggers when it comes into play, and you can use one Stifle to counter the entire ability. You can see that it's one ability because all the effects are listed in the same sentence after the trigger condition (coming into play). If each cost had said “When Lord of Tresserhorn comes into play” separately, they would be separate abilities that would be independent of each other.

Q: I recently purchased what I thought was a Beta Berserk, but when it arrived I realised that it was in fact an Alpha version. My question is this: Is it legal to play an Alpha card in a deck that includes cards from other sets?
-- Jacob Hammer

A: You are allowed to use Alpha cards in tournaments as long as they are indistinguishable from the other cards in your deck, this is accomplished by using opaque card sleeves so you can't see the back of the cards. If you're using transparent sleeves, or no sleeves at all, you can only play Alpha cards if all your cards are from Alpha.

Alpha cards, from the first edition of Magic, have slightly rounder corners than all the later editions, you can see the difference in this edition of Magic Arcana.

Q: I have Culling Scales in play, it's the only non-land permanent in play at the beginning of my upkeep. Do I have to destroy it? If not, is Culling Scales' ability optional?

A: Culling Scales' ability is a triggered ability which triggers automatically at the beginning of your upkeep, and it must target a permanent in play with the lowest converted mana cost, even if this is not good for you. If the Scales is the only permanent with the lowest cost, it will have to target itself, the ability is not optional, it doesn't say that you “may” destroy the permanent.


Living Death

Q: When Living Death is played, can a Nekrataal destroy creatures entering the game the same time as itself?

A: Yes, it can. Living Death puts all the creatures into play at the same time before checking for triggered abilities, and targets are chosen after the creatures are all in play.

Q: Can creatures with flying block creatures without flying?

A: Yes, they can. While creatures without flying can't block creatures with flying, creatures with flying can block both flying and non-flying creatures (you could say that they swoop down to block creatures on the ground). This usually makes creatures with flying better in combat. Some flying creatures, like Ascending Aven have restrictions that they can only block other flying creatures, but these will all say so on the card.

Q: I am inquiring about the ability of the Mind's Eye card. Is it a triggered ability or an activated ability? Seems like it could be triggered because its ability can only be used when your opponent draws a card, but it could be activated because you have to pay one mana to use this ability. The card itself exactly states: "Whenever an opponent draws a card, you may pay . If you do, draw a card." I'm asking this question because I wanted to know if this cards ability could be used while a Damping Matrix is in play.
-- Kris McKinney

A: Mind's Eye has a triggered ability, you can see this because it starts with the word “when”. Triggered abilities start with the words “at”, “when” or “whenever”. Activated abilities use the format cost: effect, and this is not the case for Mind's Eye.
Some triggered abilities have you make a payment (like Mind's Eye or Lightning Rift), but these are just effects that happen when the ability resolves, and are not affected by Damping Matrix.

Q: If two Eater of Days (From Buehler's article 1/9/04) come into play on the same side on the same turn, do you skip the next two turns or the next four?
-- Jeffrey Synn

A: You skip 4 turns. Each Eater of Days has an ability that cause you to skip two turns. When you're told to skip turns, the game remembers how many turns you're supposed to skip, and skip them as they are coming up. Each “skip” will cause you to skip different turns, you can't skip the same turn with two different “skips”.



Q: When you have a card that has multiple targets, such as Firestorm or Shower of Coals, can you target the same thing multiple times? For example, if on your first turn you put down a Mountain, then play Firestorm and discard the rest of your hand, can you do 5 damage to your opponent 5 times?

A: No, you can't. When a spell or ability has multiple targets, you are required to select different targets for each – you can't target the same thing twice.

Q: I was wondering if an opponent's creature with forestwalk would be unblockable if I had a Bayou in play (with no forests under my control). Since the Bayou counts as a forest, does the forestwalk work, or does the land have to actually be a forest for unblockability?
-- Roland van Liew

A: It would be unblockable. Landwalk looks for the land type among the defending player's land to determine if it can't be blocked, and since the Bayou has the type “forest”, the attacking forestwalker can't be blocked.


Form of the Dragon

Q: If I have two copies of Form of the Dragon in play, does that mean that I have 10 life instead of 5, and can I deal the 5 damage twice?
-- Ryan Foulkes

A: Almost. The damage-dealing ability triggers for each of the Forms at the beginning of the upkeep, and each will deal 5 damage to the target. However, the second ability sets your life total to 5 at the end of turn, so your life total will just be set to 5 twice, you don't go to 10 life.

Q: I have a question about Beacon of Destiny. Would it be possible to select “creatures” as the source and take all the damage from multiple attacking creatures your opponent controls?
-- Tim Jennings

A: Not exactly. When something asks you to choose “a source”, you can choose a single creature (or other permanent), a spell on the stack, or anything referred to by a spell or ability on the stack. You can't choose “all creatures” as the source, you can only choose one of them.


Plated Slagwurm

Q: Can my opponent target Plated Slagwurm a) when it is being played and there is a Counterspell against it b) while it is in my graveyard c) while it is in my hand and library.
-- Trevor Fassbinder

A: Plated Slagwurm's ability, only works when it's in play – the card can still be targeted when it's on the stack, in your hand, in your library or in the graveyard.
In general, abilities function only while the permanent with the ability is in play, unless it specifically says otherwise or it sets the characteristics of the card (like color, power or toughness). See rule 402.8 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: With Cardboard Carapace from Unglued, could you just print off a bunch of copied pictures from the website and have it be huge?
-- Ranna Hansen LeVoir

A: No, this wouldn't work. It only counts actual cards, not printed copies you have made yourself.

Thanks to Lee Sharpe for feedback and proofreading.

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