Saturday School #61

Posted in Feature on January 17, 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.

Darksteel Preview Questions

Q: I have a question about Arcbound Slith and the new "modular" mechanic. The reminder text says "When it's put into a graveyard, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature." My question is how many counters will this be. Will it always be one or will it be the number that were on the creature when it goes to the graveyard. It seems that if it is the former you could get four counters by moving the three it starts with off with a Power Conduit, then get three more when it goes to the graveyard.
-- Josh McWaters

A: You get to move all its +1/+1 counters, regardless of how they got there. If the Slith has gained more counters through some effect, you also get to move these to another artifact creature when it goes to the graveyard.


Final Fortune

Q: If I played Final Fortune, then Eater of Days, would I lose the game when the end of my turn comes or would I just lose one turn instead of two?

A: You would just lose one turn, not two. The Eater of Days tells you to skip two turns, and if the next turn you would normally take is the extra Final Fortune turn, that is the first turn that is skipped. Since you only lost the game at the end of that turn, you don’t lose if you don’t take that turn, but skip it instead.
An effect that says to skip one or more turns doesn’t lock in which turn(s) to skip on resolution. The game simply waits until such a turn would be taken, and then skips it.

Q: I was just wondering if equipping an Auriok Steelshaper with Skullclamp would kill him, or does his ability kick in at the same time and save him?
-- Brett Karhinen

A: The Steelshaper’s ability would let it survive. The ability is a static ability that always works when its condition is true (when it’s equipped), and when you calculate the toughness of the Steelshaper, the +1 bonus would effectively negate the -1 from the Skullclamp.

Q: If I have something to take control over a card (Peer Pressure, Memnarch, etc) and I take over a creature that has equipment on it, would I get the equipments along with it?

A: Yes, for a while. The equipments remain equipped to the creature, and their effects would still apply, however, you don’t gain control over the equipments themselves, and your opponent is free to move them to other creatures he controls once he has priority to play sorceries again. You can’t move the equipments anywhere, as you’re not their controller.

Mirrodin Questions


Thought Prison

Q: If Thought Prison is destroyed by Shatter or similar, does the card "held prisoner" return to the owners hand or does it go to the graveyard?
-- Conner Russell

A: Neither. The imprinted card is removed from the game, and Thought Prison doesn’t say that anything happens to the card if Thought Prison leaves play, so the card just remains removed forever, not doing anything in particular.

Q: If I have a Platinum Angel and Murderous Betrayal in play, once I am on 0 life can I still activate the Murderous Betrayal as its says, "half your life" rather than a specific amount?

A: Yes, you can. While you can’t pay amounts of life higher than zero, you can still pay half of zero, which is zero.


Sculpting Steel

Q: If I have a Sculpting Steel in play (copying another artifact), and I play another Sculpting Steel and choose the one in play, will it be a copy of the artifact that is copied by the first Sculpting Steel, or will it be a useless artifact?

A: It will be a copy of whatever the first Sculpting Steel copies. When Sculpting Steel becomes a copy of something, it stops being a Sculpting Steel and becomes for all purposes whatever it copies. The second Sculpting Steel will not see another “Sculpting Steel” in play, just whatever it copies, and becomes a copy of that.

Q: I wonder how the timing of Barter in Blood (each player sacrifices 2 creatures) resolves. I play online, and when I play this card, the game asks ME to sacrifice 2 creatures before my opponent chooses, which gives my opponent an advantage in certain situations - he can choose creatures to sacrifice based on what I sacrificed.

Another situation: in one game I had (only) Disciples of the Vault in play, and my opponent had artifact creatures. I played Barter in Blood thinking that all the creatures get sacrificed together and my disciples would deal damage to him. This was not the case; I sacrificed my Disciples and so they were gone when my opponent sacrificed his artifacts and nothing happened. Is that how that is supposed to happen?
-- Todd Brown

A: The sacrifices are supposed to happen at the same time, but whenever choices are to be made by both players at the same time, the active player has to choose first. It is correct that your opponent gets to wait and see what you choose before he chooses what to sacrifice. However, even though you choose first, once all the choices have been made, the creatures are sacrificed at the same time, and this would cause the Disciples to trigger off the artifacts leaving play at the same time.
This is a bug in Magic Online at the time this is written. The creatures are erroneously sacrificed as soon as they are chosen.


Scythe of the Wretched

Q: Scythe of the Wretched doesn't have the errata on the bottom of it that all the rest of the equipment has. Does this mean you can equip it on an opponents or a teammates creature?
-- Eric Golke

A: The text that is “missing” is not errata – it’s reminder text that is there to remind you how the ability works. It is not rules text, and has no real effect on the game. On some cards, especially rare cards with a lot of text, the reminder text is dropped to make space for all the other card text. The equip ability is defined in the Comprehensive Rulebook (rule 502.33), and only lets you equip creatures you control, even if it doesn’t say so on the card.

General/Older Card Questions

Q: If I cast Chastise on an opponents Nightmare, how much life would I gain?
Zero because the * is equal to zero, or the current power of the Nightmare? Likewise, if you cast a Duplicant on it, would the Duplicant die if I have no swamps?
-- John K. Gordon

A: You gain life equal to the power the Nightmare had when it was last in play. At that time, was equal to the number of swamps in play, and you gain that much life. If a spell or ability about a property of a permanent that is no longer in play, the game uses the last known information about that property.
The Duplicant with a Nightmare imprinted would go to the graveyard regardless of how many swamps are in play, as it only copies the power, toughness and creature type on the imprinted creature, and the power and toughness are undefined, and treated as zero. Duplicant does not copy the ability that sets the value of the *.

Q: Can an ability countered with Stifle be played again?
-- Angel Corona Mariño

A: Yes, it can, assuming you have resources to use it again. For example, if Troll Ascetic’s regeneration ability is countered, it can be activated again if you have more green mana. It's different, of course, if the activation cost involves tapping or sacrificing the card - you can't easily do that twice.

Q: Can I enchant Kjeldoran Royal Guard with Sandskin, choose not to block any of my opponent’s creatures and have all damage dealt to Kjeldoran Royal Guard instead, so the damage is prevented and neither I nor the Guard takes any damage.
-- Steven Page

A: Yes, you can. Sandskin prevents all combat damage dealt to the creature it enchants, and the redirected damage is still combat damage, it’s just dealt somewhere else than originally assigned.


Cabal Therapy

Q: Could you please elaborate further more why I can’t respond to Cabal Therapy once its caster has named a card? I once had an opponent who used this "rule" against me during our match. He said that I should have played the cards that he had named (like Incinerate) before Cabal Therapy went onto the stack but I could not just agree with him because how could I respond to something which is not on the stack?
-- William Bustamante

A: Your opponent was almost right, but used some wrong terms. When he plays Cabal Therapy, he only does three things - puts it onto the stack, chooses you as a target, and pays . After this, he must give you an opportunity to respond to it.
Once you've made all the responses you want, the spell resolves and performs the instructions in its text box; he names a card, you reveal your hand, and you discard all cards with that name. You cannot do anything in the middle of this process, so your only opportunity to play spells is before the card gets named.

Q: My friend played Fabricate so that he could search for an artifact. I responded with Fork, hoping to search through my own library. He argued that since Fabricate is a sorcery, the Forked copy would target HIM, thus allowing him to search for a second artifact. I argued that even though it's a sorcery, Fork can legally copy it and play it - and I can use it for myself. We read through all of the rulings we could find, including the Comprehensive Rulebook - we aren't satisified with any answer that we have found. Nothing seemed definitive to us.
-- Ryan Sittler

A: You would get to search for an artifact, because you control the copy Fork creates. Fabricate uses the word “you”, and “you” is always the controller of the spell. Since you put the Fork-copy on the stack, you control this spell, and will let you search for an artifact, not your opponent.

Q: What happens if you discard more cards to a Firestorm than there are potential targets? Say you cast it on your first turn for 5 and there is only the option of choosing yourself and your opponent?

A: When you play the spell, all targets of the spell must be legal. When playing Firestorm, you first choose the number of targets, then which targets to hit, then you pay the cost, including discarding the cards. If you choose five targets, and there are only two legal targets, the spell is illegal and is reversed – it goes back to your hand without being played. You don’t get to discard any cards unless you choose a legal number of targets, and then you only get to discard that many cards.

Q: What does the Y in Fireball’s mana cost do and mean?

A: The Y works just like an X, except it’s used for a different value. Fireball’s current Oracle text says that it deals X damage divided equally among Y plus one targets, so for example, if you wanted to divide 6 damage among 3 creatures (dealing 2 to each), you would have to pay + X () + Y (), for a total of . If you just want to hit one target, you can let Y be equal to zero, a Fireball for 6 damage to one targets costs .


Verdant Force

Q: Verdant Force reads "During each player’s upkeep, put a Saproling token into play. Treat this token as a 1/1 green creature." Does this text mean that each player gets a token during his upkeep or does it mean that only the controller of Verdant Force gets a token during everyone’s upkeep?
-- Kevin Carney

A: The controller of Verdant Force gets a token during each player’s upkeep. A triggered ability is controlled by the player who controls the permanent is on, and if you control the Force, you get all tokens it creates. The current Oracle text of Verdant Force shows this clearer – “At the beginning of each player's upkeep, you put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play under your control.”
It would be different if it had said “at the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player puts a Saproling token into play under his or her control”, this specifically says that the current player gets the token, not just the controller of the permanent it’s on.

Q: Can you copy (using Mirari or Fork) the copied spells from an Isochron Scepter?

A: Yes, you can. The spells created and played with the Scepter are played and use the stack like regular spells, and can be copied as well.

Q: What would happen if I had a Jareth, Leonine Titan in play with protection from black and it was destroyed in my opponent’s precombat main phase, and my opponent attacks with Scion of Darkness? Would he be able to reanimate it or would he have to wait until the effect wore off?

A: He would be able to reanimate it, as all effects on a permanent stop when the permanent leaves play. Your Jareth in the graveyard has no knowledge of what it was like in play, and does not have protection from black anymore, which means it’s a legal target for Scion of Darkness.


Hunted Wumpus

Q: When Hunted Wumpus comes into play, each player may put a card from their hand into play... does that mean that mana costs are ignored, and the cards are played, or does each player need to pay the mana costs?

A: The Wumpus’ ability puts the cards directly into play without the cards being “played”, and you can’t pay any costs of the cards, even if you want to. This means that you can’t pay the X for Krakilin or similar creatures, and you can’t pay any kicker costs, if they have any. The creatures can’t be countered either, since they go directly to play without being played.

Q: I have an Ancient Ooze in play with two other creatures that have converted mana costs of five and six, making the Ooze an 11/11 creature. If I sacrifice the Ooze to Bloodshot Cyclops's ability, would it deal 11 damage or zero because of the "*"?
-- Shawn Wheeler

A: It would deal 11 damage. The game deals damage to the sacrificed creature’s power, and since that creature is no longer in play, the game uses its last known power, which is 11.

Q: Are snow-covered lands considered basic lands, or non-basic lands? I know that a creature such as Legions of Lim-Dul can't walk through a non-snow-covered Swamp. Does that mean if you had all Snow-covered Swamps in your deck, would you be immune to the effects of Filth or Bog Raiders? Also, could you use more than four snow-covered lands, or are they restricted to four just as other non-basic lands are? Would I be able to search for one with Land Tax? Is it a mountain if Blood Moon is in play?
-- T. J. Geise

A: Snow-covered lands are basic lands (it even says so in their current Oracle text), and you can play with as many of these as you want in a deck. They are not affected by Blood Moon, and you can get them with Land Tax. They still have the properties of their basic land type, though, and a Snow-covered Swamp is still a swamp, and creatures with swampwalk are still unblockable.



Q: If I play Prosperity with X equal to 60, and my opponent has 50 cards left in his library and I have 40 cards left in my library, do I lose when I cannot draw what would be card number 41 or does the game just end in a draw? I ask this because I would run out of cards before he would, would I be dead before all the card drawing was done.
-- Chris Ross

A: The game would end in a draw. You each try to draw 60 cards, but can’t do this, so you just draw all your cards from your library. Then the game checks for state-based effects after the spell has resolved, and you have both been unable to draw a card since the last check for state-based effects, so you both lose, drawing the game. You don’t check for state-based effects such as being unable to draw cards during the resolution of the spell, you check after the spell has fully resolved.

Q: A player has Form of the Dragon in play. There is nothing in play to target with the Form, and the opponent plays something that makes it so he cannot be the target of spells or abilities, such as Ivory Mask. Does the player with the Form of the Dragon have to target himself and lose?
-- Caleb Durward)

A: Yes, he does. Form of the Dragon has a triggered ability that goes on the stack automatically at the beginning of the upkeep, and it’s not an optional ability (doesn’t say “may”), and a legal target must be chosen if there is one, even if that target is yourself, and you lose the game because of it.

Q: Scalpelexis says "If two or more of those cards have the same name, repeat this process." Does the repeat happen again if two or more of the second set of four cards match?

A: Yes, it does. To repeat the process means to repeat it all, removing four cards and then repeating again if two or more cards have the same name.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers and Lee Sharpe for feedback and proofreading.

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