Published on 12/09/2013

Sealed for Freshness

Cranial Translation
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At Grand Prix Toronto,
1603 players had their fates sealed
by their sealed pools.
Welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion! The weekend before last, there was a record-breaking Grand Prix in Toronto, and I was there as a judge. The format was Theros Sealed, so as a souvenir from that trip, I am bringing you a big bag of questions about Theros Sealed. I wanted to bring you poutine, too, but Moko ate it all.

If you have any Magic rules questions you'd like us to answer, please send them to or tweet us short questions to @CranialTweet. As always, you will receive an answer from one of our authors, and your question might show up in a future article.

Q: If I cast a Boon Satyr as a creature last turn, can I pay the bestow cost now to attach it to a creature?

A: No, that's not possible. Bestow is not an activated ability like equip on Equipment. It's an alternative cost to cast the card, and once it's on the battlefield, it's too late to cast it.

Q: If I cast Warriors' Lesson on Akroan Crusader, will the token come out in time to also be targeted by Warriors' Lesson?

A: Not even close, sorry. The Crusader's heroic ability won't even go on the stack, let alone resolve, until after you've finished casting Warriors' Lesson. At the time the token hits the battlefield, you're way past the point of choosing the targets for Warriors' Lesson.

Q: Can I cast Hunt the Hunter if my opponent doesn't control any green creatures just to give my creature +2/+2?

A: No, you can't do that. Hunt the Hunter requires two targets, and you can't cast a spell without a full complement of required targets.

Q: My opponent controls a Felhide Minotaur that's enchanted with a bestowed Erebos's Emissary. He activated the Emissary's discard ability, and I respond by destroying Erebos's Emissary with Ray of Dissolution. Does his Minotaur still get +2/+2 instead?

A: Yup! The ability on the stack is independent from its source, so it will still resolve even if Erebos's Emissary is destroyed in response. Since the game needs information about Erebos's Emissary when the ability resolves, it checks the last known information from when the Emissary was on the battlefield. At that time, it was an Aura and your opponent's Minotaur was its enchanted creature, so the Minotaur gets +2/+2.

Q: If I control Prophet of Kruphix, can I cast bestow Auras like instants?

A: Absolutely! The Prophet's ability isn't tied to paying a particular cost for the spell, so it can be combined with an alternative cost. Also, the card doesn't stop being a creature card until after you've put it on the stack and checked that you have permission to cast it, so it's not a problem that it stops being a creature spell during the process of casting it.

Q: Does first strike work in a fight?

A: It does not. First strike changes the rules of combat, but a fight is not combat. For the same reason, abilities like flying, trample, and double strike are equally meaningless in a fight. Fighting does cause damage, though, so abilities that affect what damage does or how it's dealt, such lifelink, deathtouch, or protection, do apply to damage that's dealt in a fight.

Q: Can a tapped creature fight another creature?

A: Sure! Fighting just means that two creatures deal damage to each other, and the rules for the fight keyword don't require that the creatures be untapped. The spell or ability that causes the fight might have targeting restrictions, but none of the currently existing fight spells and abilities require that the involved creatures are untapped.

Really, five weeks in a row?
This isn't funny anymore!
Please, make it stop!
Q: I target my opponent's delicious Daxos of Meletis with a mighty Magma Jet, and my opponent responds with a gross Gods Willing to give Daxos protection from red. Do I still scry?

A: Nope. Gaining protection from red makes Daxos an illegal target for Magma, and since he is Magma Jet's only target, the spell is countered on resolution and none of its effects happen.

Q: If I don't control a creature, can I cast Rescue from the Underworld without sacrificing a creature?

A: Not a chance. Sacrificing a creature is part of the cost to cast Rescue from the Underworld, and you can't cast the spell without paying that cost any more than you could cast Lash of the Whip without paying any mana.

Q: I attacked with my Yoked Ox that has a Boon Satyr bestowed on it. My opponent blocks and kills the Ox. When the Satyr becomes a creature, is it tapped or untapped?

A: It's untapped because it was never tapped in the first place. Players often turn the entire pile sideways when they attack with an enchanted/equipped creature, but in reality only the creature is tapped while the stuff that's attached to it remains untapped.

Q: I cast Portent of Betrayal on my opponent's Agent of the Fates. Does that trigger the Agent's heroic ability so that my opponent has to sacrifice a creature?

A: No. You only control Agent of the Fates once Portent of Betrayal resolves. At the time you cast Portent of Betrayal, you didn't control the Agent yet, so its heroic ability didn't trigger at all.

Q: If I target my Battlewise Hoplite with Gods Willing, do I scry 2?

A: Not really. Casting Gods Willing triggers the heroic ability, which goes on the stack above Gods Willing, so you'll scry 1 from the heroic ability, and then you'll get another scry 1 from the resolution of Gods Willing. This produces a similar result as scry 2 if the top card of your library is a brick, but if the card on top of your library is good enough to keep there, this is just as useful as a single scry 1.

Q: If my Thoughtseize is countered, do I still lose 2 life?

A: Nope. Unlike the sacrifice of a creature for Rescue from the Underworld, the life loss from Thoughtseize is part of its resolution rather than an additional cost to cast it. When a spell is countered, none of its effects happen, so your life total is safe.

Q: Can I counter my own spell with Swan Song to get the token?

A: Certainly! Swan Song can target any enchantment, instant, or sorcery spell, and it doesn't put any restrictions on who controls the spell it's targeting. If you target your spell, you're the controller of the spell, so you get the Bird token.

Q: What happens If I enchant Centaur Battlemaster with Ordeal of Nylea?

A: Aura spells are spells with a single target, so the Ordeal triggers the Battlemaster's heroic ability. This means that the Battlemaster gets three +1/+1 counters, and then the Ordeal resolves and attaches itself to the Battlemaster. However, you don't sacrifice the Ordeal right away. The "if it has three or more +1/+1 counters on it" clause is not a triggered ability in itself, but part of the "Whenever enchanted creature attacks" trigger. That ability hasn't triggered yet, so the Ordeal stays on a little bit longer.

When a problem comes along
You must whip it
Q: If I control Whip of Erebos, will I gain double life from Gray Merchant of Asphodel's enter-the-battlefield ability?

A: No. Lifelink only applies to damage, and the Merchant isn't dealing damage with its enter-the-battlefield ability. While damage to a player usually causes that player to lose life, loss of life is not the same as damage. Only effects that use the words "deal" and "damage" actually cause damage to be dealt.

Q: In a Sealed tournament, what do I do with the cards from my sealed pool that I don't use in my deck?

A: Keep them! Along with any number of basic lands you may desire, those cards make up the sideboard that you may use to swap cards between your main deck and sideboard in between games of your matches. Just remember to return your deck to the original composition you registered on your deck list for the first game of each match.

Q: Can I look at my sideboard during a game?

A: Sure! Just make sure to keep the cards physically separated from the cards that are in the game. Mixing sideboard cards into an ongoing game would lead to an awkward situation that may be difficult to fix.

Q: I want to build alternative decks from my sealed pool so I can switch to an entirely different deck between games of a match. Can I write down the decklists of my alternative decks and refer to them during sideboarding?

A: Yes, that's allowed. Between games of a match, players are allowed to refer to a brief set of notes that they prepared before the match began.

Q: Do I have to say anything if my opponent forgets to scry for Thassa, God of the Sea?

A: No. Thassa's scry ability is a triggered ability, which you can identify by the words "when," "whenever," or "at" in the ability. Since it's a triggered ability that's controlled by your opponent, you have no responsibility to ensure that it happens. If you want the trigger to happen, you can point it out to your opponent or call a judge, but it's perfectly legal not to say anything about it.

Q: Do I have to say anything if my opponent forgets to scry for Magma Jet?

A: Absolutely! Unlike Thassa's scry, Magma Jet's scry is not from a triggered ability. Triggered abilities are the only element of the game that are only their controller's responsibility. In everything else, you and your opponent have a shared responsibility to ensure that the game is played correctly. The scry on Magma Jet is not optional, and if you notice that your opponent is not performing a mandatory part of a spell or ability, you are required to point that out.

Q: Last turn, I attacked with a creature that's enchanted with Ordeal of Nylea. I put a third +1/+1 counter on the creature, but I forgot to sacrifice the Ordeal. What happens if I realize this now?

A: You should call the judge, and then the judge will decide what happens. As we learned a few questions ago, putting a +1/+1 counter on the creature and sacrificing the Ordeal is part of the same trigger. Since you resolved part of that trigger, this is not a Missed Trigger infraction, but rather a Game Rule Violation. Also, since your opponent allowed you to commit an infraction, he has committed Failure to Maintain Game State. The penalties for those infractions are Warnings. As far as the remedy is concerned, there are two possibilities here. If it's not too disruptive to do so, the judge will rewind the game to the point of the error. If too much has happened since the error, there are a couple of partial fixes in the Infraction Procedure Guide, but none of them are applicable here, so the judge would have to leave the game state alone.

Speaking of leaving things alone, it's time to leave for today. According to my rotation schedule, this is my last article for 2013, so I wish you happy holidays and a safe and happy transition into the year 2014, and I'll see you again next year!

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.


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