Saturday School #76

Posted in Feature on May 1, 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


Savage Beating
Q: I was curious about the wording on Savage Beating. Say I attacked with two creatures and my opponent chose to block only one. Then I cast Savage Beating. Is my opponent allowed to block again with that one creature that blocked in the previous combat phase if it didn't die?
-- Travis O'Connor

A: Yes, he is. Any untapped creature can be declared as a blocker when blockers are declared, even if it also blocked in an earlier combat phase. If it survived the first combat phase, it can block in the second combat phase as well. Note that damage on creatures isn't removed until the cleanup step at the end of the turn, so the creature may die from accumulated damage over the combat phases.

Q: Can you use Stalking Stones' ability over and over to prevent mana burn from cards such as Blinkmoth Urn?
-- Mary Shannon Carver

A: Yes, you can. You can activate the ability as many times as you can pay for it. Note that since the ability costs , you must pay the full amount whenever you activate it, you can't make partial payments to get rid of 3 mana, for example.

Q: If a modular creature, such as Arcbound Worker, is removed from the game with a card like Day of the Dragons or Altar's Light, what happens to the counters?
-- Robert Alper

A: The counters just go away. Creatures with the modular ability can put the counters on another artifact creature when they are put into a graveyard, but when the creature is removed from game, modular doesn't trigger, and the counters just go away.


Voltaic Construct
Q: Can you use a Voltaic Construct's untap ability to save an attacking artifact creature from a Royal Assassin?
-- Mathew Gilbert

A: Yes, you can. The target for Royal Assassin's ability is "target tapped creature", and if the target isn't tapped when the ability resolves, it is countered and has no effect.

Q: What happens when Darksteel Brute is blocked by a creature with first strike, like Wall of Razors? Does it kill the Wall or drop out from combat for having lethal damage, even if still stays in play?
-- Mauro Lemos

A: The Brute will deal lethal damage to the Wall, and the Wall will be destroyed. Indestructible cards ignore lethal damage, and remain in combat. This is different from creatures that regenerate. A creature is removed from combat if it regenerates, but indestructible creatures just ignore the damage, and will deal damage back to the first striking wall.

Q: If another player attacks me, using Predator's Strike, can I in response use Hallow to stop the 3 damage that would be dealt to me and gain life instead, since that spell would be the cause of the trample damage?

A: This doesn't work. Hallow only prevents damage that is directly deal by the spell, not damage caused indirectly. The targeted creature is the source of the damage, Predator's Strike doesn't deal any damage on its own that can be prevented.

General/Older Card Questions


Dark Banishing
Q: If a spell, like Dark Banishing, asks you to target a nonblack creature in play, can you target an artifact creature?

A: Yes, you can. 'Nonblack creature' means a creature that isn't black. Artifact creatures are colorless, so they aren't black (or any other color).

Conversely, if a creature is black as well as another color – like Spiritmonger, for example – then Dark Banishing can't target it. If it's black, then it isn't nonblack.

Q: My friend and I got in an argument about Willbender versus a Gempalm Polluter. If I turn the Willbender face up and use the all-mighty "Change target of spell or ability". Can I hit him with his own Gempalm?
-- Andrew Worthington

A: Yes, you can. Gempalm Polluter's ability is a triggered ability, and it has one target (a player). Willbender lets you choose a new target for the ability, and this can be your opponent. He is still its controller of the spell, though, and your opponent is the one who decides whether the ability will cause any life to be lost when the damage resolves - so you will usually not be able to have your opponent lose any life.

Q: If a player has 2 Daru Spiritualists in play, a Lightning Greaves, and a Starlit Sanctum, can he switch the greaves back and forth a billion times between them and sacrifice one to gain infinite life?
If so, how did Magic allow this to occur, I would think they would frown upon combos like this.
-- Steve Hrad

A: This is a legal combo. The equip cost for Lightning Greaves is zero, and you can pay this any time you could play a sorcery. The Spiritualists' abilities trigger when they become the target of the equip ability, and will increase their toughness by 4 (each triggered ability increasing the toughness by 2). Doing this a billion times will increase their toughness by four billion, and Starlit Sanctum can then make you gain four billion and one life (you can't gain "infinite" life – you have to say exactly how many times you're doing the combo).
This has not been deemed a "too powerful" combo, as it is a four-card combo, and all colors have inexpensive ways of dealing with it (counterspells, creature removal or artifact removal can stop this combo at any time). Most good decks will usually have some way of dealing with either the creatures or the artifact.

(For extra fun, try using About Face on the Spiritualist, and then the black ability of Starlit Sanctum)


Soulless One
Q: I have a 4/4 Soulless One in play and my opponent has a Rotlung Reanimator. I attack with my Soulless One and my friend blocks with a 2/2 Zombie token (already produced by the Reanimator while another Cleric died). The token dies and goes in a graveyard. Does my Soulless One stays a 4/4? Does the token stay in the graveyard, or is the token just removed from the game?

A: The Soulless One will be a 3/3 creature. When the Zombie token goes to the graveyard, it immediately ceases to exist. Also, Soulless One counts any Zombie creature in play, but only Zombie cards in the graveyard – and as tokens aren't cards, they wouldn't count even if they did stay in the graveyard.

Q: If Quicksilver Fountain puts a flood counter on a Cloudpost, does it retain its "add to your mana pool for each Locus in play"-ability?

A: No, it doesn't. When a land is changed to a basic land type, and the effect doesn't say that it keeps its old types, the land will lose all its old abilities and will just have the default ability of an island – to tap for one blue mana.
This is explained in rule 212.6e in the Comprehensive Rulebook

Q: If i attack with a Butcher Orgg, can I divide his combat damage even to creatures which can't be the target of spells and abilities? Does the term "divide combat damage to any number of creatures" include the targeting of them?
-- Martin Glotzbach

A: Butcher Orgg can divide its damage among any of the opponent's creatures, even untargetable ones. The ability doesn't use the word "target" anywhere, so it's not targeted.


Consume Spirit
Q: What would happen if I imprinted Consume Spirit on a Spellweaver Helix? If I play another Consume Spirit, will I have to pay more mana to pay the X on the second? What happens if I don't pay?
-- Alexandre Veiga

A: Imprinting Consume Spirit, or any other X-spell, on Spellweaver Helix is generally a bad idea. When you play spells without paying their mana cost, the only value you are allowed to choose for X is zero, and the copy will not be able to deal any damage.
This is explained in the Glossary of the Comprehensive Rulebook under "X".

Q: If I use Bribery to bring out my opponents Leveler, do I lose my library?
-- Keith W. Immel

A: Yes, you do. Since you play Bribery, you put the creature into play under your control, and any triggered abilities on the creature will trigger for you. Leveler will force you to remove your library from the game. It's a wise idea to keep a Stifle close by if you plan to use Bribery to get your opponent's Leveler.

Q: Can I regenerate my opponent's creatures to remove them from combat? For example with a Welding Jar or one of the Beast regenerators?
Could 8th Edition Regenerate be used like a poor man's Arrest with upkeep?
-- Kenneth Ko

A: You are allowed to regenerate your opponent's creatures, but this won't have the effect you want. Activating a regeneration ability just puts a "shield" on the creature, and the creature won't tap and be removed from combat until it would actually be destroyed – it does not happen right away.


Scythe of the Wretched
Q: If my opponent has a creature with Shade's Form attached, and I kill this creature with a creature I control that is equipped with Scythe of the Wretched, who gets to control it when the creature comes back into play from the graveyard?
-- Richard Townsend

A: Who controls the creature would depend on whose turn it is when the creature goes to the graveyard. Both the Scythe and Shade's Form trigger at the same time, and the active player (the player whose turn it is) has to put his triggered ability on the stack first. Then the non-active player puts his ability on the stack, and the non-active player's ability will resolve first. The first ability to resolve will put the creature into play, and then the other ability won't be able to do anything, since the creature can't be returned from the graveyard anymore.
Since you control the Scythe, and your opponent controls Shade's Form, he will get the creature if it's destroyed in your turn, and you will get the creature if it's destroyed in your opponent's turn. Note that the Scythe won't become attached to the creature if it's brought back because of Shade's Form.

Q: If a player activates Auriok Bladewarden to give another creature +1/+1, and I respond by playing Shock on the Bladewarden, which is then destroyed, does the target creature still get +1/+1, or +0/+0, since the Bladewarden no longer has any power? -- David Schulman

A: The creature will get +1/+1. Whenever a resolving spell or ability asks for information about a permanent that no longer is in play, it will use the last known information about that permanent. Since the Bladewarden's last known power is 1, the creature will get +1/+1.

Q: If I play Grab the Reins on a Broodstar to gain control of it, and I have no artifacts, does that mean that Broodstar's toughness goes to zero and it dies?
-- Ty Brown

A: Yes, it does. Broodstar's power and toughness are equal to the number of artifacts its controller controls, and when you become the controller, it will count your artifacts instead of your opponent's artifacts. You have no artifacts, and Broodstar will be put into its owner's graveyard for having zero toughness.


Q: Shared Fate has removed a Capsize from my opponent's library. If I play it and pay the buyback cost, does it go back to my hand, go back to my opponents hand, or does it go into my opponent's graveyard?
-- Darryl Gardner

A: It goes to your opponent's graveyard. The phrase "Buyback [cost]" means "You may pay an additional [cost] as you play this spell. If you do, put the spell into your hand instead of into your graveyard as it resolves." But, since spells go to their owner's graveyard when they finish resolving (Rule 413.2h), it never tries to go to your graveyard, and the buyback effect doesn't do anything in particular.

Q: With a Seedborn Muse in play, will my creatures untap during my opponent's turn if I cast a Blinding Beam on my opponent?
-- Daniel Albert

A: The creatures won't untap. Blinding Beam says that the creatures don't untap in the next untap step at all, and since Seedborn Muse untaps the permanents in the untap step, Blinding Beam's effect would still keep them tapped. The creatures can be untapped at any other time, though, so Awakening (which untaps permanents in the upkeep) or Dream's Grip can still untap them.

Q: I would like to know if Shivan Oasis, a nonbasic land that counts as either a mountain or forest, is considered a red permanent. Is this enough to be a red permanent for Ceta Sanctuary to let me draw another card or not?
-- Dan Caporizzo

A: No, Shivan Oasis is not red. It's also not green. In fact, even Mountain and Forest cards aren't red or green. All lands are considered colorless, and Ceta Sanctuary will ignore all of them (unless you've used a spell like Chaoslace to explicitly give them a color, of course.)
If you had a real red-and-green permanent in play – e.g. Yavimaya Barbarian – then yes, Ceta Sanctuary would see both of its colors, and would let you draw two cards.

One other thing – Shivan Oasis doesn't actually count as a mountain or a forest, either. You can tell, because it doesn't have those words written anywhere on it. It's just a land that happens to produce red and green mana, so it cannot be affected by spells like Acid Rain or Volcanic Eruption.


Sea's Claim
Q: We've had this ongoing argument about whether or not Sea's Claim changes the card's name to Island. I think it only changes type, but the name stays the same. Can you please clear up this subject?
-- Jeff Armstrong

A: The name doesn’t change. Changing a card’s land type to a basic land type only changes the land subtype, gives it the appropriate mana ability, and removes any other abilities the card previously had. It doesn’t affect the name or any other card types the card has.

PS: having said that, a land's name isn't used very much. It only matters if the land is Legendary, or if an effect such as Sowing Salt explicitly refers to it.
(Effects like "Destroy target island" don't say they're referring to the land's name, so they're looking at the type of the land. They will happily destroy lands that have Sea's Claim on them.)

Q: If Blood Moon is in play, can I use Dwarven Blastminer's ability to destroy Cloudpost?

A: Yes, you can. Blood Moon changes all nonbasic lands' types into mountain, but it doesn't turn it into a basic land. Currently, nothing can turn a nonbasic land into a basic land. "Basic" is a supertype that is only found on the lands Forest, Island, Mountain, Plains, Swamp, and their Snow-Covered variants. Any other land is nonbasic, and can be destroyed with Dwarven Blastminer.

Q: I play Grindstone, and my opponent is playing an artifact deck. Does grindstone still work if he flips either two artifacts or two lands? Does it continue?

A: Grindstone does not repeat if two lands or artifacts are put into the graveyard by its ability. For the ability to repeat, the cards must share a color, and cards that don't have a color (lands and artifacts) don't share a color.


Dominating Licid
Q: If I use Control Magic on a Dominating Licid, can I then use that Licid to gain control of another creature?
-- Brent Crobarger

A: This won't work. You can activate the controlled Licid's ability to try to take over another creature, but when the ability resolves, the Licid stops being a creature and turns into an enchantment instead. This causes Control Magic to fall off (it can only enchant creatures), and you stop having control of the Licid. The original owner will then have control of the Licid again, and also the creature the Licid enchants.

Q: If an opponent plays a Taj-Nar Swordsmith, pays 2 for X, and searches his library for an equipment without finding one, will he take mana burn?
-- J. Aaron Bellamy

A: No, he won't. The mana is paid in order to perform the search, and if the search fails, nothing particular happens. The paid mana is not refunded if nothing is found.

Results of last week's poll:

Yawgmoth's Will and various similar cards say "You may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand". This only lets you play those cards (as spells); you can't cycle them, or count them towards the power of a Maro, or otherwise treat them as though they were in your hand.

Have you ever made this mistake, and/or had to ask how such cards actually worked?
No. 6406 79.3%
Yes. 1676 20.7%
Total 8082 100.0%

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

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