Saturday School #75

Posted in Feature on April 24, 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 Questions


Surestrike Trident
Q: If I have my Skyhunter Cub equipped with a Surestrike Trident, and I use the "unattach" ability on the Trident would it deal 3 damage or 2?
-- Justin Prescott

A: It would deal 2 damage. Surestrike Trident's ability goes on the stack, and reads the power of the creature when the ability resolves. Since the Cub is not equipped at that time, it has a power of 2, and that is the amount of damage the Trident will deal.

Q: Say I Dismantle a permanent with X counters on it, can I choose to put that many +1/+1 counters on my Darksteel Brute even though I haven't turned it into a creature?
-- Michiel Valcke, Belgium

A: Yes, you can. You can choose to either put +1/+1 or charge counters on a permanent – you can put either type on anything you want, even though +1/+1 counters on permanents that aren't creatures don't do anything. If the permanent becomes a creature later, the counters will apply at that time, giving the bonus.
(Note that other cards, such as Power Conduit, don't work this way.)

Q: I managed to play 2 Eater of Days on the same turn. Do I have to skip my next four turns?
-- Vasco Prazeres

A: Yes, you do. Each Eater of Days cause you to skip two turns when it comes into play, and the game keeps track of how many turns you're supposed to skip. You can't skip the same turns twice; once you've skipped a turn, it doesn't exist, so it can't be skipped again. See rule 419.6f in the Comprehensive Rulebook.


Thought Dissector
Q: Is it legal for me to activate Thought Dissector's ability, and then Boomerang it to my hand so that it won't get sacrificed if an artifact card is revealed from an opponent's library?
-- Ryan Westhoff

A: Yes, it is. After the ability has been activated, both players may respond with spells and abilities. If an artifact card is revealed when Thought Dissector's ability resolves, the ability can't do anything to the Dissector as it's no longer in play, but this is not a problem – the ability doesn't require that it is in play. The rest of the ability happens as stated on the card.

Q: My friend played a Slith Ascendant and equipped it with a Banshee's Blade. The next turn he attacks me, and I can't block. He says that he does 3 damage to me because he can use the counters he gets for attacking me in this turn already. Is this true?
-- Yehudi Greveling

A: This is not true. Here's the sequence of events:

1) Slith Ascendant attacks.
2) Nobody blocks.
3) Slith Ascendant assigns combat damage equal to its power: i.e. 1 damage.
4) Combat damage resolves; Slith Ascendant deals 1 damage.
5) The abilities of Banshee's Blade and Slith Ascendant both go onto the stack and wait to resolve.
6) If Slith Ascendant has taken 1 combat damage, it dies.
7 and 8) The abilities of Banshee's Blade and Slith Ascendant resolve, and make it bigger (assuming it's still alive, of course).

General/Older Card Questions


Goblin Sharpshooter
Q: If I play Wrath of God with an untapped Goblin Sharpshooter and three other creatures under my control, and my opponent has four creatures under his control at the time, can I deal 8 damage to him with my Sharpshooter? Do creatures go to the graveyard at the same time or do I get to choose the order in which they go?

A: You won't be able to deal 8 damage. When Wrath of God resolves, the creatures go to the graveyard at the same time, each player can choose the order of the cards in their graveyards, but they leave play at the same time. This will trigger the Sharpshooter's untap ability eight times, but since the Sharpshooter is destroyed as well, it won't be possible to untap it - the untaps won't happen until after the Wrath has resolved.

Q: If a Voracious Cobra has a Lure effect on it does it kill all blockers or only two of them?

A: Usually, it can only destroy two of the blockers. Voracious Cobra's ability triggers when it deals combat damage to a creature, and since it only has a power of 2, it can only deal damage to two blockers (you can't deal fractional damage in combat, and zero damage does not trigger the ability). Only the damaged creatures are destroyed.
There are some cards, like Thicket Basilisk, that would be able to destroy all the blockers. Abilities that trigger "whenever this becomes blocked by a creature" would trigger for each blocking creature, not just the ones damaged.

Q: I have a Furnace of Rath and play a Lava Dart targeting a Samite Healer an opponent controls. In response my opponent taps his Samite Healer to prevent the damage. Will it deal 0 or 1 damage to the Samite Healer, will it die or not?

A: The controller of the Healer chooses whether it lives or dies. Furnace of Rath has a replacement effect (indicated by the word instead) that modifies the damage as it is being dealt, and Samite Healer has a prevention effect that works the same way.
When multiple replacement and prevention interact, the controller of the affected permanent (in this case the Healer) chooses the order they are applied in. Your opponent can either choose to have the damage doubled first (to 2) and then prevent 1, or the 1 damage can be prevented, and the double of zero is zero – so the Healer would live.
Section 419 in the Comprehensive Rulebook deals with replacement and prevention effects.


Northern Paladin
Q: In Revised the creature type of the Northern Paladin was 'Paladin', but in 7th Edition it changed to Knight along with the other Paladins. If I have a Coat of Arms in play and I have some Knights in play but I have older Paladins, would they get the bonus, or do I need new ones for them to be Knights?
-- Eric Guaquil

A: The Knights would get the bonus (and so would the Northern Paladins). All Northern Paladins are now Knights, regardless of when they were printed. The document known as the Oracle, found at, has the up-to-date wordings that are used for the cards in tournament play, and all cards with the same name are played the same way.

Q: If I have a Iridescent Angel in play, can I play a Vesuvan Doppelganger copying the Angel's abilities? Since the Angel has protection from all colors it shouldn't be targeted.
-- Bruno Filipe

A: (Note that Doppelganger's current Oracle wording is rather different from the one printed on it. You can see it at the bottom of the autocard window that pops up when you click the card name.)
Yes, you can play the Doppelganger and copy the Angel. You choose what to copy as the Doppelganger comes into play, and this ability doesn't target anything – you can choose any creature in play, even if it has protection or is untargetable.
However, the Doppelganger also has a triggered ability that lets it change form again in your upkeep. That ability targets the creature it's going to copy, so the Angel can't be copied.

Q: Stasis says that you must pay during your upkeep or destroy Stasis. Can I pay more then once? For example if Mana Flare is in play when I tap land for to pay the upkeep cost.

A: You are only asked to pay the cost once, so you can't pay it more than once. The current Oracle wording on Stasis is "At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Stasis unless you pay ". This triggers when the upkeep begins, and when it resolves, you can pay the cost. It's not an activated ability that you can pay as many times as you want to.


Keldon Warlord
Q: My opponent has a Keldon Warlord and five Goblins and attacks with his Warlord. I tap my Sorceress Queen targeting the Warlord, what is the Warlord's power and toughness?
-- Julian Hinojoza

A: The Warlord is 0/2. Keldon Warlord has a characteristic-setting ability that sets its own power and toughness. The effect from this is always evaluated before any modifiers. Sorceress Queen's ability has a continuous effect that will set the Warlord's power and toughness at 0/2, regardless of how many creatures your opponent has in play.

Q: I was wondering how Innocent Blood would work, since it doesn't say anything about sacrifices a creature in your hand or in play? Can he either sacrifice a creature in his hand instead, or can he sacrifice a card in play instead of his hand or only in play?

A: Normally, a spell only affects things in play. To affect anything else it would have to say so explicitly, by referring to a "spell", or a player's hand, etc.
See also the Glossary entry for "Sacrifice" in the Comprehensive Rulebook, which says "To sacrifice a permanent, its controller moves it from the in-play zone directly to its owner's graveyard. A player can't sacrifice something that isn't a permanent."

Q: If I use Grab the Reins on a creature with equipment on it, can I sacrifice the equipment to Krark-Clan Stoker?
-- Cory Waxman

A: No, you can't. You can only sacrifice permanents you control, and while you control the creature, the equipment on it is still controlled by your opponent, and you're not allowed to sacrifice it.


Aven Cloudchaser
Q: My question involves cards like Sundering Titan, Aven Cloudchaser, and Decimate. It was my opinion that for these cards to be played at all you had to allow their ability to resolve. In other words, if there wasn't an enchantment in play, you couldn't play the Cloudchaser, and if there wasn't one basic land type out there to be destroyed by the Titan he had to stay in your hand until there was. Failure to find all the 'targets' for these abilities caused the spell to fail. I've realized through reading articles here at that this can't be true. What is the truth to the matter?
-- Alan W. Holt

A: The difference lies in the difference in card types.
Instant and Sorcery spells, like Shock and Decimate, must always have legal targets to be played – you can't play these without having legal targets. Similarly, local enchantment spells like Giant Strength target the creature they're going to enchant; if no creatures are in play, you can't play Frog Tongue just to draw a card.
However, artifact, creature and global enchantment spells don't have targets. Some permanents, like Aven Cloudchaser and Nekrataal, have abilities that trigger when they come into play, but they don't care about these abilities when you play the card. The abilities don't go on the stack until the spell has resolved and the permanent has come into play, which is also when the targets are chosen. If you don't have a legal target to choose at this time, nothing special happens, and the permanent is still in play.

Because the targets of permanents' triggered abilities aren't chosen until the permanent come into play, you are allowed to play spells that create permanents, even if there aren't any legal targets for the ability when the spell is played.

Q: If I play Living Terrain on a land, for example a Forest, can I still produce green mana from it? Or will it be only a creature with subtypes Treefolk and Land?
-- Bugra Kaan Yildiz

A: It can still produce mana. Living Terrain turns it into a creature, but explicitly says that it's still a land. Since it's still a land, it's still a Forest, and it will still have the built-in forest ability of tapping for green mana.


Pyrostatic Pillar
Q: If I activate an Isochron Scepter, will the copy from the Scepter trigger a Pyrostatic Pillar?
-- Jesse Robb

A: Yes, it will. Isochron Scepter creates a copy of the imprinted card, and it has the same converted mana cost as the original (even if you don't pay it when you play the copy). Since the imprinted card has to have a converted mana cost of 2 or less, so will the copy, and when you play the copy, Pyrostatic Pillar will trigger.

Q: Do copies of spells, as from an Isochron Scepter, trigger goes to the graveyard effects as from Jinxed Ring?
-- Jesse Robb

A: No, it won't. Jinxed Ring only triggers when cards go to the graveyard, and the copies created with Isochron Scepter are not cards, they are only copies.

Q: If I played a Carrion Feeder, and then played the white enchantment Entangler, can the Carrion Feeder now block?
-- Tyler Gallant

A: No, it can't. Whenever something says that something can be done, and something else says that it can't, the can't always wins. Even if Entangler says that Carrion Feeder may block any number of creatures, the Feeder itself says that it can't block at all. This is rule 103.2 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.


Invoke Prejudice
Q: I play a blue control deck that has no creatures at all, and I play Invoke Prejudice. Does Invoke Prejudice do anything at all if I don't control a creature?
-- Fletch Clarke

A: Yes, it does. Since you don't control any creatures, none of your opponent's creature spells can share a color with them. Your opponent will have to pay extra mana for his creature spells or they will be countered.

Q: I have a question about the Prophecy card Thrive. What if I only have 1 creature and I pay 3G. Will all the counters go on that 1 creature?
-- Luca Contenta

A: This won't work. When you play the spell, you first choose the value of X, then you have to choose X targets. If you don't choose X different targets, the announcement is illegal, and you have to back up. You can either choose a lower value for X (in this case 1), or not play the spell at all.
Compare this with Spoils of War, which does what you want – it tells you to "distribute" +1/+1 counters among any number of target creatures.

Q: I have a Nefarious Lich and a Confessor in play, and enter my cleanup step with 8 cards in my hand. When I discard a card, the Confessor's ability triggers and I chose to gain a life, which causes me to draw due to Nefarious Lich. Do I then need to discard another card, or can I end my turn with 8 cards in hand?

A: You will need to discard another card. If anything triggers in the cleanup step, you get priority to play spells and abilities to be able to deal with the triggered ability (and so will your opponent). When both players pass on an empty stack, there will be another cleanup step, and you have to discard again. You won't be able to end your turn with 8 cards in your hand.
Section 314 in the Comprehensive Rulebook explains the cleanup step of the turn.


Royal Assassin
Q: I attack with Fog of Gnats, and once I declare attackers, my opponent taps his Royal Assassin to kill my Gnats. In response, I regenerate the Gnats, but since I have already declared the Gnats as attackers, they should continue to deal their damage as usual even after regenerating. He can't kill my Gnats in response to it attacking, because in order for it to be tapped to be a legal target it already has to be attacking. Normally a creature would die to this, but I regenerated... so what happens?

A: Your Gnats won't be able to deal damage. As you say, you attack with Fog of Gnats, and this causes them to become tapped. Your opponent can then destroy them with Royal Assassin. You can regenerate the Gnats so they won't be destroyed, but regenerating a creature means three things: Instead of it being destroyed, it becomes tapped, all damage is removed from it, and it's removed from combat.
Since the Gnats have been removed from combat, they are no longer attacking, and won't assign any combat damage in the combat damage step.

Q: I attacked my friend with a Raging Goblin, and my friend blocked with his Battlefield Medic. He then tapped the Medic to heal itself as it blocked. Can blocking creatures tap for their abilities, and if they can, are still considered to be blocking?

A: The answer is yes to both questions. After blockers have been declared, both players will have the chance to play spells and abilities, and you can even use the abilities of the blocking creatures. There is no difference if the blocker is tapped or not after it has been declared as a blocker, it is still blocking, and will still deal combat damage to the creature it blocks. This used to be different in older rules.

Q: What happens if I play a Scattershot on my Fungusaur (assuming that I played a few spells before so I have a few storm copies of Scatterhot)
It says the damage is dealt first, but since all copies and put on the stack and resolve one by one, Fungusaur won't die from the first Scattershot and thus get a counter, takes another point of damage and gets another counter and so on? Or am I wrong?
-- David Vlaminck

A: You are correct. When the first Scattershot copy resolves, the Fungusaur's "get a counter"-ability triggers, and goes on top of the stack. This means that the next ability to resolve makes the Fungusaur bigger, before the next Scattershot copy resolves. This will repeat until all the Scattershots have resolved, and your Fungusaur is quite large.

Q: Since the rules say that the cost of a spell is paid after the spell is announced, can I announce a spell that I do not have enough mana to pay for so the spell will be countered and go to the graveyard to be reanimated?
-- Wilson Beard

A: That isn't what the rules say. The cost is actually paid during the announcement of the spell – as the last part before the spell is considered to be played. If you aren't able to pay for a spell when you are playing it, the entire announcement is reversed, and the card goes back to your hand (or whichever zone you were playing it from). The spell is not played at all, and won't be countered or go to the graveyard.

Results of last week's poll:

Would you expect the Bears to be 1/2?
Yes. 3462 29.8%
Only if Crusade was played after Humble. 1831 15.7%
Only if Crusade, OR Purelace, OR both, were played
after Humble.
1684 14.5%
No. 1355 11.7%
Only if both Crusade AND Purelace were played after
1327 11.4%
Only if Purelace was played after Humble. 1241 10.7%
I don't have the faintest idea. 728 6.3%
Total 11628 100.0%

You guys are pretty evenly divided here. And the correct answer was...
Only if Crusade was played after Humble.

Clearly, Elaine Chase was right - Humble does have the potential to cause lots of confusion. In fact, the correct answer to this question has changed over the course of Magic's history.

Up to October 1997: Yes.
According to the rules at this time, when an effect set power or toughness directly, it did so before any effects that raised or lowered it.
Humble wasn't around at this time, of course. The most common example was Sorceress Queen.

October 1997-September 2003: Only if Crusade, OR Purelace , OR both, were played after Humble.
The printing of Humility provoked a major change in the rules for continuous effects. Now effects were applied one after another, in the order that they started. If one effect could change what an earlier effect did (as Purelace can change what Crusade does), the list got reordered to make the earlier effect come later.
Example: Suppose the cards were played in the order Crusade-Humble-Purelace. These would have been reordered to Humble-Purelace-Crusade, because Crusade needs to know the results of Purelace. The result: we would have applied Humble first, making the Bear 0/1. Then, Purelace would have made it white, and then Crusade would have made it 1/2.

September 2003-present: Only if Crusade was played after Humble.
With 8th Edition came another big change to the rules. These days, continuous effects are applied in a series of "layers". Effects that change power and toughness are in the final layer; effects that change colors are in the layer before it.
Example: Suppose, as before, the cards have been played in the order Crusade-Humble-Purelace. First we apply Purelace, because it's in a lower layer. Then, Crusade and Humble are applied in the order they started - Crusade makes the Bear 3/3, and then Humble replaces that with 0/1.
The order of the layers can be found in rule 418.5a in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

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

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