Published on 02/27/2006

When Tournaments Attack

or, Greek Cows Say "µ"

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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.

We've spent the last few weeks of Cranial Insertion covering Gruul and declaring things other than vows of eternal love. (Come on, we're Magic players. We declare attackers and blockers. That's plenty of commitment.) Now we can get back to normal!

Except we haven't discussed tournament issues in a while. So I'm going to torment you all with tournament-ish questions. But fear not - I'll toss in a couple card questions, too.

"But I don't play tournaments!" you say? Well, read anyway. I'm funny. And I have about 3.5 hours to write this article, and Moko is chasing my cats around with a moldy banana on a stick, which means it'll be odd.

Not all ledgewalkers intended
to be where they are.
Don't drink and walk!
Q: Would I get in trouble if I brought a pint of vodka to a tournament and sipped throughout?

A: Probably. Are you sharing?

This comes down to local laws, the regulations of the event's site, and the tournament officials' discretion. The DCI does not specifically ban booze, but it does ban actions that are sure to cause unnecessary distractions. As well as disruptive players dancing on the table.

[Note that, for large events like GPs, Nationals, and Pro Tours, the DCI does forbid alcohol in the event hall, and all event staff are responsible for enforcing this. It is reasonable to presume that your local events will use similar standards. -Ed.]

Q: What if I just slip out between rounds for a cocktail?

A: That's generally okay, as long as you don't come back reeking of alcohol or dancing on tables. Because really, you're not as good a dancer as you think you are. Now take your pants off your head.

Q: Can I use Story Circle set to Green to stop Silhana Ledgewalker's damage?

A: You can. Story Circle just asks you to choose a source, and since it does not explicitly say "target" (and, yes, it's not an Aura on the stack), it does not target.

Q: I'm at 4 life and my opponent is at 8 life. Can I cast Pulse of the Forge targeting him, see if he responds, and then ping myself with Frostwielder if he doesn't?

A: Nope, you're going to have to gamble on this one. After you play the Pulse, you get priority back. Then you can do other things, like hit yourself in the face with Frosty. If you don't do anything but pass priority, and then your opponent declines to do anything and passes priority again, the Pulse will resolve and wind up in the graveyard instead of your hand.

Q: Can't I respond to the Pulse damage on the stack?

A: The damage from Pulse of the Forge doesn't use the stack -- just the spell. Only combat damage uses the stack, and it doesn't even really do that. You just put combat damage *assignments* on the stack, and it resolves just like the Pulse does.

Q: How many rounds will there be in the tournament?

A: That depends on the number of players. For those of you who enjoy the evil, evil subject called "mathematics," the number of rounds in a tournament can be expressed as "log-base-two of N rounded up, where N is the number of players and N is less than 129." (When you have more than 129 players, things get messy for no apparent reason other than "The DCI says so.") Yea, for I have uttered unspeakable horrors, and must now wash my mouth out with soap. Look at this pretty chart.

8 Players = 3 Rounds
9-16 Players = 4 Rounds
17-32 Players = 5 Rounds
33-64 Players = 6 Rounds
65-128 Players = 7 Rounds
129-226 Players = 8 Rounds
227-410 Players = 9 Rounds
More than 410 Players = 10 Rounds and Cthulhu eats you.

Q: If I have Pursuit of Knowledge in play and I play Compulsive Research, can I skip all three draws? If I do, what happens with the discards?

A: You can certainly skip all three draws to load up your Pursuit. But now you need to finish doing what Compulsive Research tells you and discard two cards or a land card (or one card if it's the only card in your hand (or no cards if your hand is empty!)). Do note that you can't sacrifice Pursuit of Knowledge until after you've made those discards.

Q: Can I put Wurmweaver Coil on Academy Researchers when they come into play?

A: Nope, no cheating! The Researchers aren't green, so the Coil can never be put on them. You can't even drop a Coil on it to get the Aura in your graveyard. Not that that would make a lot of sense, but we've learned that you lot tend to do very, very silly things in pursuit of rules questions.

Q: I have 5 Forests in play, a Living Lands, and a Coat of Arms. Will my forests get the coat of arms bonus for being the same creature type?

A: They need to get a creature type from some other effect if they want some pump. Living Lands will animate the Forests, but it will not give them a creature type -- and "Forest" is never a creature type, even if it's the subtype of a land that just happens to be a creature, too.

Q: I saw a new line in the rules:

"If an effect of the copy refers to objects used to pay its costs, it uses the objects used to pay the costs of the original spell."

Does that mean that if I copy a Seed Spark paid for with WWGG, I'll get lots of extra Saprolings?

A: No, you won't. This little line in rule 503.10 clears up situations like sacrificing a creature to Fling, since the sacrificed creature is an object. The fact that you spent Green mana, though, is not an object and won't be copied.

Scaramouch! Scaramouch!
Will you do the fandango?
Q: I have an Imaginary Pet and an Aetherplasm out. My opponent attacks with a Loxodon Hierarch. I block it with the Aetherplasm and put a Spawnbroker into play. If I exchange control of the Pet and the Hierarch, what happens? Is the Hierarch removed from combat? Is the Imaginary Pet now attacking?

A: Somehow, I can not read your question without imagining an Imaginary Pet, Aetherplasm, and Hierarch doing little pirouettes around each other. Therefore, I believe the answer is, "A fish."

In other news, losing control of a creature is one of the few ways to remove it from combat, so the Hierarch is now performing ballet in front of your shocked and appalled Spawnbroker instead of trying to punch you in the face. Your Imaginary Pet, suddenly the figment of someone else's imagination, is sitting there blinking and likely about to jump back to your hand -- he doesn't suddenly enter combat.

Q: If I play an Urza's Rage with the kicker, and I have Djinn Illuminatus in play, do my replicated copies have the kicker bonus?

A: Indeed they do! Mucho pain!

Quote from "CompRules":
503.10. To copy a spell means to put a copy of the spell onto the stack; a copy of a spell isn't "played." In addition to copying the characteristics of the spell, all decisions made when the spell was played are copied. These include mode, targets, the value of X, and optional additional costs such as buyback. *snip*

Kicker is one of those optional additional costs such as buyback. Funny that they mention buyback being copied, when copies of spells going back to your hand are fantastically useless.

Q: Oops, I signed up for a new DCI membership card and forgot that I already had one. What do I do?

A: You must summon the mighty power of Andy Heckt to merge those two numbers into one. For Andy's power is indeed mighty; we suspect it comes from his long hair. Andy can be summoned by sacrificing a 3.5-day-old earthworm at the stroke of midnight on a rainy day, or by emailing andy.heckt at

Q: The mulligan rules say to shuffle your hand into your deck and draw six cards; so if I'm using the Gerrard Vanguard card, I'll discard my three cards and draw six?

A: No. Not quite. Not at all, in fact. The Comprehensive Rules describe a normal game of Magic; tossing in oddities like Vanguard alter how they work, and "draw six" becomes "draw one fewer card than you had before".

The Comprehensive Rules mention "draw six" in rule 101.4, but if you look over at the Floor Rules, rule 115 doesn't mention drawing six cards. So that'll be tonight's homework: Go download the Floor Rules and read them.

Q: Can I tell my opponent everything that I'm doing in the form of a song?

A: ...

Q: You put Kokusho in, you pull Kokusho out,
You put Kokusho in, and SBEs kill them both!
Triggered abilities on the stack and pass priority?

A: Okay, stop that.

That is a surefire way to have your opponent howling for a judge to make you shut up. This is another area that falls under the "Don't cause a disturbance" rule of sporting conduct -- if you've been sharing your vodka like a good Magic player, then perhaps it won't be a disturbance after all and everyone will enjoy it.

Coming soon: Magic: the Singalong.

Okay, I stole that joke from
#mtgjudge. It's funny.
Q: Will a modular counter fall off a Blinkmoth Nexus?

A: Depends on how hard you shake it.

A +1/+1 counter will happily sit on a non-creature permanent. I suppose it whistles to pass the time. Then, one glorious day, the permanent (Blinkmoth Nexus, in this case) comes to life again! And that counter resumes its duty of adding to the creature's power and toughness.

Q: Who would win a Jello-wrestling match: Serra Angel, or Akroma, Angel of Wrath?

A: Moko, Moko, why hast thou forsaken me?

* Woapalanne tosses that letter into the shredder.

Okay, we're done for today. If you look through the Cranial Insertion archives, you may notice that two special occasions are coming up soon: Our 50th article and our one-year anniversary! Fan art may be sent to .

Until next time, watch out for singing Magic greeting cards!

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ

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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