Saturday School #78

Posted in Feature on May 15, 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.

Fifth Dawn Questions


Wirewood Herald
Q: When I Skullclamp my Wirewood Herald, causing it to die, do I draw 2 cards first or search for an Elf first? My friend says draw first, but I say search first, because if you draw first then you can help narrow down what you should search for, say if you drew a Heedless One, you wouldn't need to go search for one, which would be unfair. Who is right?
-- Mike Cohodes

A: You're both right, in a way. Both the abilities of Skullclamp and the Herald trigger at the same time, when the Herald is put into the graveyard. Since you control both of them, you can choose which order the abilities go on the stack, and you can either search first, or draw first.
If one player controls all the triggered abilities, that player chooses the order. If there had been an ability that was controlled by another player involved, for example a Creature Bond, the active player (the player whose turn it is) would have to put his abilities on the stack first, then the nonactive player put his abilities on the stack. They resolve in the opposite order, so the nonactive player's effects will happen first.

Q: Can I use Vedalken Engineer's ability to play equip abilities?
-- Peter Burczyk

A: Yes, you can. The equip-ability is an activated ability (it's templated cost:effect), and you can use the mana from the Engineer to activate this.

Q: If I play Sculpting Steel and copy a Darksteel Colossus in play, then sacrifice the copy (originally the Sculpting Steel), sending it to the graveyard, does Sculpting Steel get shuffled back into my library?
-- Daniel Blanchard

A: Sculpting Steel is shuffled back into the library. While in play, it acts as an exact copy of what it copies, and it has all the abilities of the original. The ability to shuffle it back in is active when it would be put into the graveyard, so it will still apply. Sculpting Steel reverts to being just Sculpting Steel when it leaves play, but the shuffle-ability will already have shuffled it back into the library when this happens.


Talon of Pain
Q: I'm playing a multi-player game with five opponents. I have one Megrim, one Mindslicer, and one Talon of Pain in play. Then my Mindslicer is put into the graveyard. My five opponents collectively discard fifteen total cards. Megrim triggers and does damage fifteen times. How many counters does Talon of Pain receive? One, five, or fifteen counters? I think the answer is fifteen, but I'd like to be sure.

A: Talon of Pain receives fifteen counters. Talon of Pain triggers each time a source other than itself damages an opponent, and Megrim triggers each time a card is discarded, separately for each card. Opponents will be damaged fifteen separate times, and the Talon gets 15 counters.

Q: Can you use Aether Vial to put creatures which have an X in their mana cost, such as Ivy elemental, into play? If so, what would be the value of X?
-- D. Zedan

A: You can use the Vial to put these creatures into play, but as you're not paying the mana cost, the X will be zero. To do this you must have exactly one charge counter on the Vial. You're only allowed to choose the X in the mana cost when you play the spell in the normal way, not when you put the card directly into play through other means.

Fifth Dawn Preview Questions

15: Equipping may be done only when you could play a sorcery. With a Vedalken Orrery in play, the times at which "you could play a sorcery" are altered. Does this mean that you can equip as an instant with Orrery in play?
-- David Chapman

A: No, it doesn't. Vedalken Orrery changes the times when you can play nonland cards. Using the equip ability is "playing an activated ability", not "playing a card", so it's not affected.
The Orrery doesn't specifically say that it modifies the rules for playing sorceries, so any abilities that can be played when you could play a sorcery are not affected – even though playing actual sorcery spells are affected, since these are nonland cards.


Crucible of Worlds
Q: What will be the interaction between Crucible of Worlds and Seismic Assault? Will you be able to do infinite damage by discarding lands that already are in the graveyard?
-- Bruno Siracusa

A: There is no real interaction here. The Crucible lets you play land cards as though they were in your hand. This means you play the cards – i.e. put them into play as your special once-per-turn action. It doesn't let you do anything else with them.
Seismic Assault's ability doesn't "play" the land, it lets you discard the land to pay the cost of the ability.
With the Crucible, you can play the lands from your graveyard after you have discarded them (though only one per turn, usually), but you don't get to return them to your hand so you can discard them again.

Q: What would happen if have a Cloudpost or a Temple of the False God in play and I would play a Joiner Adept. Do the lands have both abilities?

A: Joiner Adept gives the lands an extra ability, and you can either tap the land for it's regular ability, or you can use the ability the Adept gives, and tap it for any color. They don't combine, though, so you must either tap Cloudpost for colorless mana equal to the number of Locus in play, or one mana of any color, you can't get colored mana for each Locus.

General/Older Card Questions

Q: If I enchant a Voracious Cobra with an Arcane Teachings, will it be able to estroy creatures? The card text says "whenever Voracious Cobra deals combat damage". Would the damage from using Arcane Teachings tap-ability destroy the creature?
-- Adam Cornish

A: The creature would not be destroyed. Arcane Teachings gives the ability to the creature it enchants, so it would be the creature that deals the damage, but the Cobra's destroy-ability only triggers from dealing combat damage, which is the damage dealt by attacking and blocking creatures in the combat damage step – this does not include damage from other spells or abilities (even if they are used in combat).
If you use Lowland Basilisk instead of Voracious Cobra, this works – Lowland Basilisk triggers on all damage the creature deals, not just combat damage.


Furious Assault
Q: I have a Furious Assault in play, then I play a War Elemental, will I have to sacrifice the War Elemental or does the damage from Furious Assault happen first?

A: You won't have to sacrifice the Elemental. Furious Assault triggers when you play the creature spell, which is long before the creature spell resolves and comes into play. The opponent will have taken 1 damage, and War Elemental will stay in play.

Q: In Saturday School #76 [link] you answered a question about a Shocked Auriok Bladewarden, and that the targeted creature would still get the bonus, even if the Bladewarden had left play. What would happen if a different effect, such as Death Pulse, was used on the Bladewarden?
-- Nick Crook

A: In this case, the Bladewarden would not give a bonus to the target. When the ability resolves, it asks for information about the creature's power, and since it's not in play, it uses the last known information. When the Bladewarden died, its power and toughness were both negative, and these numbers are treated as zero for the purpose of Auriok Bladewarden's effect.

Q: I am confused about the wording on the card Common Cause. I was wondering if it applies to only your creatures or not. And if not, how does this card work, does it look at the creatures each player has in play and determine if they all share a color, and if so they get +2/+2... or is there some other way this works?
-- Matthew Stark


Common Cause
A: Common Cause looks at all nonartifact creatures, and if there is a color that they all share, they all get the +2/+2 bonus. It affects both your creatures and your opponent's.

Suppose one player only has a red creature, and the other only has a red-and-green creature. Common Cause sees that they share a color, red, so both creatures get +2/+2.

Suppose you control a red-and-black creature, a green-and-black creature, and a red-and-green creature. Although each creature shares a color with each other creature, there isn't a single color that they all share. Nothing gets the bonus.

Common Cause works best for you if your opponent plays only artifact creatures, or no creatures at all.

Q: If I have a Spawning Pool in play, and my opponent uses a Strip Mine to destroy it, can I turn it into a creature and then regenerate it so that it won't be destroyed? What if my opponent uses his Strip Mine in response to me making my Spawning Pool into a creature, can it then be destroyed?

A: Strip Mine's effect is a "destroy"-effect, and the destroyed permanent can be regenerated. Turning the Spawning Pool into a creature and regenerating it would work fine, and so would using Welding Jar on it.
Using Strip Mine in response to turning Spawning Pool can destroy it, since it doesn't have the regeneration ability until it becomes a creature. However, if you have mana available, you are allowed to respond by activating the Pool again, and then regenerate it before the Strip Mine ability resolves.

Q: If Predatory Hunger or Sadistic Glee is on a creature, and the enchantment is destroyed, do the +1/+1 counters stay?
-- Conrad Corbett

A: The counters stay. Both Predatory Hunger and Sadistic Glee say to put the counters on the creatures, and they're not tied to the enchantments – once the ability on the enchantment has triggered, it's independent of the enchantments.
Note that not all cards work this way – for example, Momentum and Banshee's Blade put their counters on themselves. When these cards leave play, the creature will no longer get the bonus.


Q: If I have a Necrite attacking, can I sacrifice it before blockers are declared, since it's "unblocked" until blockers are declared? Or is it neither blocked nor unblocked before blockers are declared?
-- Conrad Corbett

A: You can only use Necrite's ability after blockers have been declared (including no blockers). An attacking creature becomes "unblocked" after no blockers have been declared for it, you can't play its ability before this step. See rule 309.2f in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: If I have Future Sight in play, can I keep on playing cards from the top of my library. For instance, if I played a creature spell from the top of my library, could I play another card if it was next on top of my library, or do I have to wait till next turn?
-- Scott Graham

A: Future Sight lets you play the top card of your library, and there is no restriction to how many times it can be used. If you play the top card, and another card you can play is revealed, you're allowed to play that card as well. This does not change the rules for when you are allowed to play certain cards, though, for example, you're usually not allowed to play two lands in a turn, or in your opponent's turn.

Q: If I play Flametongue Kavu, can it be countered by Confound?
-- Mathijs Janssen

A: No, it can't. Confound can only counter a spell that targets one or more creatures, and the Flametounge Kavu doesn't target anything when it's a spell. You only choose the targets for its ability when it comes into play, and then the Kavu is a permanent, not a spell, which means that you can't target it with Confound.

Q: Does Gilded Light or Ivory Mask stop you from losing life from Disciple of the Vault?

A: Yes, it does. The Disciple says that target opponent loses the life, and if you can't choose a legal target when the ability goes on the stack (for example with Ivory Mask is in play), the ability is removed from the stack and will have no effect.
The target also needs to be legal when when the triggered ability resolves, so you can also use Gilded Light in response to the ability, which will counter the ability when it tries to resolve.

Results of last week's poll:

I have in my mana pool. Can I play the Rolling Thunder in my hand to do 0 damage to one Skulking Ghost, and cause it to be sacrificed?
Yes. 13214 86.4%
No. 2073 13.6%
Total 15287 100.0%

The correct answer to the poll is "no". When you distribute damage among "any number of targets", each target must receive at least one point of damage. If X is 0, there is no damage to distribute, so Rolling Thunder cannot have any targets.
This is from rule 409.1e in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

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

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