Saturday School #81

Posted in Feature on June 5, 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

Soul Foundry
Q: If I imprint an artifact creature with sunburst, like Skyreach Manta, on a Soul Foundry and use its ability to make a creature token, will it get the counters?
-- Benny Meisels

A: No, it won't. You pay mana for the activation of the ability, but this puts a token directly into play - it's not played as a spell. Sunburst won't see that you have paid a mana cost for a spell, and the creature won't get any counters.

Q: I have a Lantern of Insight in play, and I'm playing Serum Visions. We understand that the drawn card is in full view of everybody, but what about the card from scry? Usually the first card of the scry is revealed, but is the second card revealed or not?
-- Benjamin Souben

A: The Lantern will at any time reveal the card that is on top of the library, but while you look at the cards using scry, the cards are still in your library, and the second card is not revealed to the other players. If you choose to put the second card on the bottom of the library or keep it as the second card, the other players won't get to know what it is, it will only be revealed if you choose to put it on top of the library.

Q: What happens if a player has only one card in his library (for example Beacon of Immortality) and an effect makes that player shuffle his library (or shuffling that card into his library, after he has played it)? Does he have toshuffle a single card? Does that action counts as "shuffling one's library" for cards like Psychogenic Probe?
-- Amos Scisci

A: If an effect tells you to shuffle your library, it's considered a shuffle even if there is just one card. A shuffle will randomly arrange the cards in your library, and this is doable even with just one card – the outcome just won't be very random. Psychogenic Probe will trigger any time a spell or ability causes you to shuffle your library, and even shuffling a single card will trigger the Probe.


Vedalken Shackles
Q: My question is regarding Vedalken Shackles. If I use it to take control of a creature, and a few turns later the Shackles is destroyed, will I keep the creature permanently or will it go back to its owner?
-- Jim Agnus

A: It goes back to its owner. You only keep control of the creature as long as the Shackles are tapped, and when the Shackles are no longer in play, they are no longer tapped (or untapped, for that matter), and the effect ends. The control effect ends, and it will return to the owner.

Q: If I use Magnetic Theft, I can equip my opponents' creatures with my equipment, correct?

A: Correct. Magnetic Theft lets you put any equipment on any legal target. Equipment can be attached to any creature, also the opponent's, but the equip ability has a restriction that you can only equip your own creatures. Other effects, such as Magnetic Theft or Vulshok Battlemaster can put equipment on other creatures, and this is allowed by the rules.

Q: If I play Vanquish on a blocking creature, will the damage go through or will my attack still be blocked?
-- Alexis Leung

A: Your attack will still be blocked. Vanquish can only be played on a creature that is blocking, and the attacker is still considered to be blocked, even if the blocking creature is destroyed before combat damage is assigned.
Note that if the attacker has trample, you will be able to assign all its damage to the player if the blocking creature isn't there when you assign damage.


Mycosynth Golem
Q: Does Mycosynth Golem's ability to give other artifact creatures affinity double up with creatures that already have affinity? For example, does a Frogmite cost 2 less to play (instead of its original 1 less) for each artifact in play if Mycosynth Golem is in play?

A: Yes, it does. If a spell has multiple instances of affinity, they all work to reduce the cost of the spell. If Frogmite has affinity for artifacts twice, each artifact in play will reduce the cost to play it by 2 mana.
It doesn't matter if they don't have affinity for the same thing, either – with Mycosynth Golem in play, a Razor Golem has affinity for plains and artifacts, and will get a reduction in play cost for all plains and artifacts.

Q: If I imprint Beacon of Tomorrows on Panoptic Mirror, do I keep on going for ever without my opponent having his turns?
-- James Ciarlo

A: Yes, you do, if your opponent doesn't have a way to stop it. Your combo can be stopped by destroying the Mirror, and the Beacon-copies can still be countered, so your opponent can counter the Beacon-copy to take another turn. If your opponent is tapped out or has no cards when you start taking the extra turns, odds are good that you have a "lock" that will let you win the game.

Q: How exactly does the negative power/toughness work with Spinal Parasite, does it die if you only pay colorless?

A: This is correct. If a creature in play has a toughness of zero or less, it's put into its owner's graveyard by a state-based effect. If the Parasite doesn't have a way to boost its toughness above zero (either by paying colored mana for it, or by having cards that boost its toughness in play), it will not stay in play for long after resolving.


Fold into Aether
Q: Can I use Fold into Aether to counter my own spell and put a Darksteel Colossus from my hand into play for free?
-- K. Lindsay

A: Yes, you can. You're allowed to counter your own spells, and using Fold into Aether to do so will let you put a creature card into play, as you were also the controller of the countered spell. Note that you have to actually play a spell to be countered first – a spell can't target or counter itself.

Q: How is it possible to get more than one damage out of the Goblin Cannon. According to the rules text you would sacrifice it after one damage. Shouldn't the sacrifice be resolved as part of the damage?

A: The sacrifice is part of the effect, but the damage will still go through even if the Cannon isn't in play anymore when the ability resolves. You are allowed to respond to each "ping" by activating the Cannon again, and only when the first activation resolves is the Cannon sacrificed. You won't be able to sacrifice the Cannon when the rest of the activations resolve, but this is not a requirement for the damage to be dealt.

Q: My friend attacks with a Fangren Hunter, and I block with a Leonin Squire equipped with a Sparring Collar. I put first strike damage on the stack, and then paid the ability to move the Collar off of the Squire and onto another creature. I think that it now deals normal combat damage as well, thus dealing a total of four damage to the Hunter, killing it. He doesn't think that this is right, but I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't. Does it?
-- Jack Bradley and Drew V.

A: This doesn't work. If a creature loses first strike between the first strike combat damage step and the regular damage step, it doesn't get to do damage again. Rule 310.5 in the Comprehensive Rulebook says that "In the second combat damage step, surviving attackers and blockers that didn't assign combat damage in the first step, plus any creatures with double strike, assign their combat damage." The Squire has already dealt its damage, and won't get to deal damage again, since it doesn't have first strike.

The reverse doesn't work either – if you give a creature first strike after the first strike damage step, the creature still gets to deal damage in the regular combat damage step if it didn't deal damage before. You can't prevent a creature from dealing damage by equipping it with Sparring Collar.


Tooth and Nail
Q: If I were to play a Tooth and Nail (with the entwine cost paid) and search for and put an Eternal Witness into play, could I then return the same Tooth and Nail that searched for the witness to my hand?
-- Brent Burdine

A: Yes, you can. Eternal Witness' ability triggers when it comes into play, but it doesn't go on the stack until a player would get priority, which is after the Tooth and Nail card has been put into the graveyard. You are allowed to target and return the card when you put the ability on the stack.

Q: Does Doubling Cube's effect count as a mana source?
-- James McClelland

A: Yes, it does. It is an activated ability that adds mana to your mana pool, and is therefore a mana ability, according to rule 406.1 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: For the Sunburst mechanic, if a card costs two mana, am I allowed to spend on it, or am I limited to just spending any two colors? I'm just trying to understand if I can get 5 counters on a Pentad Prism while playing it.
-- Mike Kremen

A: You're not allowed to spend more mana than it costs to play the spell, so usually, you can only use two different colors of mana to play Pentad Prism, which will only give two colors of mana. However, if something has changed or increased the cost, you may be able to pay more. For example, with Trinisphere in play, you have to pay three mana for the spell, and if you spend three mana of different colors, sunburst will see this and give you three counters. Likewise, if you have Fist of Suns in play, you replace the cost you're supposed to pay with one of each color, and paying the alternate cost will count for sunburst.


All Suns' Dawn
Q: If I cast All Suns' Dawn which allows me to return up to 1 card of each color from the graveyard, and I have two Vindicates as well as a Blazing Specter in my graveyard, can I return all three (Blazing specter as red, a Vindicate as white and a Vindicate as black)? Does this work, or am I forced to only select one because they all count as black.
-- Scott McKay

A: You can return all three. All Suns' Dawn has you go through each color in order, and select a card that has that color. You can do as you say – first select one Vindicate as white, no blue card, the other Vindicate as black, Blazing Specter as red, and no green card.

Q: If I use Condescend, and my opponent pays the X mana, do I get to scry for 2?
-- Eirik Mortensen

A: Yes, you do. Scry is just another effect of the spell, and as long as Condescend resolves, you get to scry. Your opponent paying the mana does not counter the spell, and does not stop the scry from happening.

General/Older Card Questions


Q: Since Skullclamp is banned, what happens if you are playing in a draft and get a Skullclamp in the booster?
-- Jonathan Chan

A: Skullclamp is currently only banned in Standard and Mirrodin Block Constructed – you are still allowed to use the card in other formats, like Type 1, and in Limited formats like drafts and sealed deck.
The only cards to have ever been banned from limited formats are ante-cards, like Contract from Below. If a banned card in limited appears in a booster, the card is immediately replaced with a random card of the same rarity before proceeding.

Q: If I have Llawan, Cephalid Empress in play, can I use Blind Seer to change the color of my opponent's creature spells to blue so that the creatures can't come into play?

A: No, you can't. Llawan only stops your opponents from playing blue creatures (putting them on the stack), but once the spell has been legally played, changing the color of the spell won't do anything. The restriction only works as your opponent is playing the spell.

Q: I have Ward Sliver in play with protection from white. My friend plays Wrath of God. Do all my Slivers die, or are they protected.
-- Jim Wannamaker

A: All your slivers will be destroyed. Protection from [quality] only does four things, abbreviated D-E-B-T:

1) Damage from [quality] sources is prevented
2) Can't be Enchanted or Equipped by [quality] enchantments or equipment
3) Can't be Blocked by [quality] creatures
4) Can't be Targeted by [quality] spells or abilities

Wrath of God doesn't do any of these things (it destroys "all" creatures, without targeting or doing damage), and is not stopped by the protection, even if it's a white spell.


Platinum Angel
Q: If you have a Platinum Angel in play, you're at -10 life and you activate Lurking Evil's ability. Will your life be -5 or -15?
-- Danny Chong

A: A: Your life total will be -10. Most negative numbers in the game are considered to be zero, except for effects that change that value (by lowering or raising it). Lurking Evil's activation is not an effect that changes your life total - rather, it asks what half your life total is, and then you may pay that amount of life. The negative life total is seen as zero, and you can activate Lurking Evil by paying zero life, half of zero is zero. This is from rule 104.2 in the Comprehensive Rulebook.

Q: What exactly happens if Weatherseed Treefolk is destroyed by a blocking Soul Collector?
-- Jonathan Nilsson

A: In this case, since Soul Collector is blocking, the controller of Soul Collector gets to put the Treefolk into play under his or her control.
Both Soul Collector and the Treefolk have abilities that trigger when the Treefolk is put into the graveyard. The active player (the player whose turn it is) puts his or her triggered abilities on the stack first, then the nonactive player puts his or her abilities on the stack.

Since Soul Collector is blocking, the Treefolk's controller must be the active player, and the Treefolk's "return to hand" ability is put on the stack first. Soul Collector's ability is then put on the stack above it, and will resolve first, putting the Treefolk into play. The Treefolk's ability will then fail to do anything, since the Treefolk is no longer in the zone where the ability expected to find it – if a card changes zones, it's no longer tracked by the ability. The rules involved are 410.10 (changing zones) and 410.3 (how to order triggered abilities)

The situation would be reversed if the Treefolk was blocking, then the card would be returned to its owner's hand before the Soul Collector's ability could put it into play.


Second Sunrise
Q: I have a question concerning Second Sunrise and Atog. Second Sunrise says that "each player returns to play all artifact, creature, enchantment, and land cards that were put into his or her graveyard from play this turn." For example, I play the card at the beginning of my turn, and all my creatures are put into the graveyard during combat. Would my creatures come back into play because Second Sunrise says "from play this turn"?
If I have an Atog in play and played Second Sunrise before that, would I be able to sacrifice artifacts and have them come back again?

A: This does not work. Second Sunrise has a "one-shot effect", it does something once when it resolves, and then the effect is over. Second Sunrise returns all the permanent cards that were put into the graveyard earlier in the turn, but when it has finished resolving, the spell is finished. Cards going to the graveyard later in the turn won't return, Second Sunrise does not set up an effect that will continuously return cards to play.

Q: I recently bought a Eureka, because it sounded amusing. One suggestion that was made to me was to use it with Recycle. My question is, with Recycle in play, does Eureka let me play as much of my deck as I wish?
-- Rob Chase

A: No, it doesn't. Recycle triggers when you play a card, and this means either to play the card as a spell, or to put a land into play using the regular "play a land" action. Eureka puts cards directly into play during its resolution, and putting the cards into play doesn't use the stack, and won't trigger Recycle. Eureka will let you put all the cards you have in your hand into play, but you won't get to draw any more.


Echoing Ruin
Q: If I have Sculpting Steel in play copying an artifact that is still in play, and my opponent plays Echoing Ruin destroying the original artifact, does the Sculpting Steel copy get destroyed as well?

A: Yes, it does. Sculpting Steel becomes an exact copy of the original, taking on all the printed characteristics of the card, including the name. The Sculpting Steel in play has the same name as the artifact it's copying, and Echoing Ruin on either of them will also destroy the other.
This also means that if you have a second Sculpting Steel in play, copying something else, it will not be destroyed if you target the first Sculpting Steel. They are not named Sculpting Steel while in play, unless you have chosen to not copy anything with them.

Q: I play Tooth and Nail and pay the entwine cost, searching my library for Darksteel Colossus and Clone. When I put the Darksteel Colossus into play first, is it a legal choice for the Clone? Or do both creatures come into play simultaneously?

A: You can't copy the Colossus with Clone. The cards are put into play at the same time, and you have to choose what to copy before actually putting it into play, which means that the Colossus is not a legal choice at this time. You can only copy something that is already in play.

Results of last week's poll:

You play Sculpting Steel, paying with three different colors of mana, and choose to copy a Skyreach Manta. What counters do you expect Sculpting Steel to receive when it comes into play?
Three +1/+1 counters, because it's copying an artifact creature. 5660 36.8%
The same counters as the Skyreach Manta it copied. 4941 32.1%
No counters, because the spell itself doesn't have the Sunburst ability. 4548 29.5%
Three charge counters, because it isn't a creature card itself. 244 1.6%
Total 15393 100%

The right answer for this was "no counters" – because as written, sunburst is an effect of a spell, not of a card coming into play. It only happens if the resolving spell has the Sunburst ability, and Sculpting Steel does not have sunburst.

However, to clarify the interaction between Sculpting Steel and sunburst, the Rules Team has modified the rules for sunburst. If you play Sculpting Steel to copy an artifact creature with sunburst, the copy will get +1/+1 counters based on the number of different colors of mana used to pay Sculpting Steel's total cost. If you play Sculpting Steel to copy a noncreature artifact with sunburst, the copy will get charge counters based on the number of different colors of mana used to pay Sculpting Steel's total cost.

This means that in the situation above, Skyreach Manta will get three +1/+1 counters.

The Rules Team will release this rules update, with some other clarifications, later this month, look for it at the Rulings and Errata page. You should play it like this for now - the full rules text will be out soon.

Thanks to Lee Sharpe and Jeff Vondruska for feedback and proofreading.

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