Published on 07/30/2007

Helter Skelter

or, Time Is Like a Monkey on My Head

Cranial Translation
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Note: This article is over two years old. Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes. Proceed with caution.

[Editor's note: As you'll read in a moment, most of us involved with making CI work were in Baltimore this weekend for US Nationals. This is why you're seeing the article go live a couple hours later than normal. We think we covered the contents of the CI mailbag; if you read the article and don't see your question here, drop us a line and let us know. With that said, read, learn, and enjoy! -Dr. Tom]

Hi gang! On the Tuesday immediately before US Nationals, we suddenly came to the awful realization that all four CI writers, as well as previous writers Thijs, Brian, and Jeff, are out of town this weekend, mostly for US Nationals. While it's exciting that we all actually have some sort of lives, it makes this article "fun" to write!

So, we're taking turns answering these questions largely in our breaks from the event floor. We're also answering a couple in advance so we don't explode and die - see if you can tell which we answered when!

The questions that didn't come from any of the assorted events in Baltimore all came from our mailbag, which, of course, suddenly became very popular just as we all got very busy. So yes, send in your questions! Send them all! AAAAALL! (Just don't be upset if we can't answer you right away. We really do love you. Just not enough to constantly check mail on vacations.)

Q: My opponent has a Teferi in play. At the beginning of my upkeep, I remove the last time counter from my suspended Riftwing Cloudskate. Teferi stops it from being played, but if during my main phase I play Sudden Death on Teferi, does my Cloudskate get played?

A: Nope - suspend's "Play Me!" trigger only triggers when the last counter is removed, and it only gives you the ability to play the spell when the counter is removed. You can't wait around for a better time to play the spell, even if you're unable to play it when you're instructed to.

Q: If my opponent Delays my Call of the Herd, does the Elephant token it creates when it's finally played have haste?

A: That fits the flavor of suspend and of Call of the Herd very well, but in this case, function triumphs over flavor and elephants. The spell is a sorcery spell, even though it'll make a creature eventually, and because it's not a creature spell, it won't have haste.

Q: My opponent played Psychotic Episode on me, and I played out my hand in response. Does he have to move the top card of my library, or can he choose nothing?

A: Choosing is not searching; the "fail to find" concept only applies to searching, and if there is a legal choice for choosing, that choice must be made.

Q: I attack with a Scryb Ranger, then pass priority to my opponent. He flips up a Vesuvan Shapeshifter, copying the Scryb Ranger. Since morph doesn't use the stack, do I ever get priority again before we move to the declare blockers step?

A: You do indeed! Even though morph doesn't use the stack, you still take a special action - and by doing so, you give up priority and then get it immediately back. (Rule 408.1c) Since both players haven't passed priority in succession, it's not time to end the step yet!

Q: If I own a suspended card (other than Deep Sea Kraken) with one counter on it and I start my next upkeep, is there any way a spell with split second can stop that card from being played?

A: Well, there's Timebender. That's about it. Or if that suspended card is Pardic Dragon.

If it's Timebender, he can respond to the split second spell by turning it up and adding some counters before you take off the last counter. Same with Pardic Dragon - he can make you add counters.

But once you take off the last counter, there's no way anything with split second can be under the "play me" trigger on the stack, and anything put on top of it will resolve first and won't be an issue.

Q: I read that you can only put a land card from your hand into play with a Sakura-Tribe Scout in your own turn and not your opponent's. This can't be right, can it?

A: That must have really been about Skyshroud Ranger, which is in Tenth, and does have the "when you could play a sorcery" restriction. The Sakura-Tribe knows no such silliness! You can play the ability whenever you want!

What you read could also be confusion with a new rule that says explicitly that lands cannot be played if it's not your turn - but you're not playing a land with the Ranger and Scout, you're putting a land into play.

Q: Can we sanction 2HG Time Spiral Block tournaments? What about 2HG Legacy?

A: You can indeed do both. Two-Headed Giant can be sanctioned for any format that one-on-one Magic can be sanctioned (with the caveat that 2HG draft has been taken down until the DCI Reporter software is updated to handle it). Although 2HG constructed formats tends to be extremely degenerate, especially with storm in the format. Also remember that the Unified Deck Construction rules apply too 2HG constructed formats, which sounds problematic in Vintage. No fighting over Moxen!

Q: My Paladin en-Vec is a Pariah, and I have a hellbent Demonfire coming at me. What happens now?

A: Demonfire's fire splashes off of you onto the Paladin, and then the Paladin feels warm and tingly. Then he realizes, "Oh my god I'm on fire," screams like a little girl, pops, and becomes bratwurst. Demonfire says that its damage can't be prevented, and protection tries to do just that - prevent the damage. Normally you'd have a problem targeting the Paladin, but your opponent solved that for you with Pariah. Isn't he nice?

Q: Is writing down my opponent's deck while I Extirpate him slow play?

A: That depends. Are you doing it slowly?

If you can write down the deck in a timely fashion, it's fine. Use shorthand and ignore lands, for example. And be very, very quick about it.

And the usual caveat - I can't speak for all judges here, and what you consider "quickly," they may consider "sloooow."

Q: My opponent played Sudden Shock on my face-down creature. I turned it up, and Willbender-ed the Shock to his Troll Ascetic. Can he regenerate it before it dies?

A: Regeneration is indeed an activated ability, and Sudden Shock thumbs its nose at activated abilities. It doesn't care whose abilities it holds off, and will happily make its controller cry. The Troll can't be regenerated, and it dies. In a fire.

Q: A player announces that he's going to pay for a Slaughter Pact, accidentally taps for it, then draws a card. His opponent realizes a turn later that he couldn't have paid for Slaughter Pact because he had no way to produce black mana. Backing up is out of the question, but is it a Game Rules Violation (only a warning, move along), or Missed Trigger with a warning the Pact making him lose?

A: This is very similar to playing Wrath of God for - and it is not a missed trigger, since he obviously did not miss it.

So it's definitely a Game Rules Violation warning. Now how to fix it? Note that the "resolve the trigger with the default" is only specified for Missed Trigger penalties. Since that's not what happened, it shouldn't be applied. And thus the player escapes the Pact's payment demands.

Of course, if the judge thinks he did this intentionally, the player will still not lose the game to the Pact. He'll lose the game for being disqualified from the tournament. What a consolation.

Q: My opponent and I realize he forgot to pay a Pact three turns ago. I remember reading something about forgotten triggered abilities only being put on the stack immediately if they're caught within a turn cycle ... so does he lose the game?

A: He does. The "turn cycle" concept only applies to forgotten triggers that 1) have a visible affect on the game, 2) are not optional, and 3) do not specify a default option. In the case of #1, the invisible affect is assumed to have happened. In the case of #2, an optional action is assumed to not have been taken. In the case of #3, the default option is immediately resolved without regard to normal timing rules and without regard to how long ago it was forgotten.

Q: What exactly happens when both players have a Platinum Angel in play and no way to get rid of each other's?

A: Neither player can be forced to attack or otherwise get rid of his Angel. As long as cards are being drawn, they also can't be forced to admit that their deck can't handle the Angel. But once all the cards are gone, and it's obvious that no further actions can make the game move on, the players must intentionally draw the game and start a new one.

Q: Can I Body Double Phage the Untouchable without her touching me in mean ways?

A: If you play the Body Double from your hand, you'll be fine. You played that object from your hand, even though it got a face-lift as it entered play.

Fun fact: Wearing metal and silk will protect you from the storyline Phage. But not the card Phage.

Q: I have out a Dormant Sliver and a Hivestone. If I play a non-Sliver creature, will I draw a card?

A: You will. Continuous effects will all apply before the game checks to see what should have triggered. First the Hivestone will ensliver your creature, and then the Dormant Sliver will slip it some drugs and make it drowsy. Why does being drugged and drowsy make it smarter? Ask the Psychotrope Thallid.

Q: If I play a land with Exploration out, and then Exploration is bounced, can I play another land?

A: Did you announce that the first land was played for Exploration's allowance? If you didn't, it's assumed that you played that land as your land drop for the turn. But if you said "I play this land for Exploration," then you still have your normal land drop to use.

Q: Does Pithing Needle stop me from suspending the named card?

A: Nope, suspend is not an activated ability - it's a special action like morph. It just looks sorta like an activated ability, but it's missing the all-important colon ( : ).

Q: If I have Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir out, can I suspend a creature in response to a split second spell?

A: It sounds like you could, but you can't - you can take special actions in response to split second, but you can only suspend stuff when you could otherwise actually play it. You can't play the spell with split second's restrictions, so you can't suspend it, either.

Q: My opponent Delayed my spell, and I have Rule of Law out. Do I have to play that spell when the last time counter comes off?

A: You do. Suspend doesn't nicely ask you to play the spell, it holds you up by the ankles and smacks you around demanding that you play it.

Q: What happens to stuff I suspend in the main game when I go into a subgame? What about stuff I suspend in the subgame when I go back into the main game?

A: There used to be a complicated answer that was all sorts of odd, but the rules have changed. The suspended cards from the main game do not and never would be seen from the subgame, but suspended cards from the subgame - and all cards removed from the game from the subgame - will now be shuffled into your library at the subgame's conclusion. This is a change with Tenth Edition rules from previous rules that would keep those cards removed.

And that's all we have time to answer before publishing! For those of you who just got back from Baltimore (or Birmingham or Seoul, let's not forget the UK and South Korean Nats this weekend), we hope you had lots of fun. If you didn't go, why not? :(

And if you're still in Baltimore, watch out for the partying judges about the time this article goes live.

-Your Cranial Insertion Team

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.


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