Published on 04/07/2014

Prepare for the Journey

or, Don't Stop Believing

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Sorry, but only the first
+1/+1 counter flies free.
It's always a little sad when I realize that I'm writing my last article before a new set comes out. The current set won't be the new hotness anymore; it'll be replaced by something bright and shiny and awesome leading to a whole flood of questions on new cards, interactions with old cards, new decks, a rejuvenated player base...

On second thought, it's not sad at all. Get ready for Journey into Nyx! Preview season starts today, as I'm sure most of you know. But not in this article, so don't get your hopes that far up.

But while players hold their breath in anticipation, and turn quite blue because JOU is still a couple weeks away, they still ask us questions. "How do they do that while holding their breath?" you ask? No clue. Must be magic.

If you've got more questions for us, send them over to to be lovingly chewed upon by our zombie chimp secretary, or shoot over a short, quick question to @CranialTweet.

Q: Can a planeswalker use its ability the same turn I cast it?

A: Yes - the "summoning sickness" rules apply only to creatures, and only affect , , and attacking. Planeswalkers aren't creatures, and their loyalty abilities aren't any of those three things anyway, so they'll be perfectly happy to do a thing on their first turn.

Q: Does Supreme Verdict destroy Blood Baron of Vizkopa?

A: Blood Baron will indeed explode. Protection stops four things, handily acronymized as DEBT: damage, enchanting (and equipping, now), blocking, and targeting. Supreme Verdict deals no damage, has no targets, doesn't enchant anything, and doesn't block anything - I hope those last two were super obvious - and protection doesn't stop destroying.

Q: What happens when I cast Fated Infatuation on an Artisan of Forms?

A: Its ability triggers and goes on the stack on top of Fated Infatuation. It'll resolve first, and you'll get to copy something - let's say, Charging Badger. Now it's a Charging Badger with the Artisan's heroic trigger. Fated Infatuation resolves, and you copy it. Normally, as Carsten covered last week, copying it means to pretend you're making a Xerox copy, but copy effects are the exception: they'll get copied, too, leaving you with a token Charging Badger with the heroic trigger.

Q: How do Blood Moon and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth interact?

A: This is the archetypical example of dependency in the layer system! Both apply in layer 4, the type-changing layer. Applying Blood Moon removes the ability from Urborg, so you have to apply Blood Moon first. After that, Urborg has no ability, so we're done applying effects: nonbasics are Mountains, basics are just what they are.

Ruric Thar, and many of the Gruul,
are actually quite intelligent and well-spoken.
They just prefer beatings rather than books.
Q: If I Fling Ruric Thar, the Unbowed at my opponent, do I get hit too?

A: You won't. A spell doesn't become cast until you finish all of the steps, including paying all of the costs. Ruric Thar is sacrificed before that, so it's not around to trigger and you escape his creatures-only demands.

Q: I cast Sphinx's Revelation with Courser of Kruphix out and my opponent says I have to show him all the cards I draw. Is that right?

A: That's right. Card draws are discrete game events, and the game state updates between each event. One of those events is revealing the top card of your library, so each one will be revealed before you draw it. It's simpler physically to pick up those cards and show them all at once instead of slowly, slowly showing and drawing.

Q: Will a Wear // Tear on top of my library have Counterbalance counter a Vendilion Clique?

A: If you cast Wear // Tear fused, its converted mana cost is 3. But when it's not a fused split spell on the stack, its converted mana cost is both 1 and 2. 1 and 2 add up to 3, but that isn't the converted mana cost. It'd counter a Sanctuary Cat or Squire since they have a converted mana cost of 1 and 2, but not Vendilion Clique.

Q: Does Bile Blight chew up a field of morphs?

A: It won't. Creatures without a name don't have the same name - they have no name. It'd be like saying that you and I have the same pet velociraptor. (Mine is actually a utahraptor.)

Q: I managed to cast Rise of the Dark Realms in a five-player game and took all the things! But then I died. :( Where do all the things go?

A: They'll all go to exile. In terms of controlling things when you leave the game, everything you own goes away with you, then everything giving you control of a thing stops doing that. You don't own these creatures, and there's nothing giving you control of them - you're their default controller since they entered under your control. Left out and ignored by these first steps, they get booted into exile.

Q: My opponent targets his green creature with Fall of the Hammer. What color do I name for Gods Willing to save my creature?

A: Either green or red will work. If you name green, Fall of the Hammer tells the creature to deal damage, and that damage is prevented. If you name red, Fall of the Hammer can't make the creature deal damage to your now-illegal target in the first place. This makes naming red more foolproof for edge cases that... will never happen. Yay!

Q: I keep seeing players treating Detention Sphere like it's an Aura, putting it on top of something still on the battlefield. Is that okay?

A: There are no rules for how objects in other zones need to be placed on the game table, so that's legal. It does, however, cause some confusion. Plenty of players forget that Detention Sphere is not an Aura! The target permanent leaves the battlefield, entirely, gone, ciaociao, and will re-enter as a brand new one. When it's sitting right in front of you the whole time, that's only a natural misthinking. For best results, move Detention Sphere and the card it's got inside off to the side.

Q: Can I use Urza's Incubator to bestow my Spirits for less?

A: Nope. The second step of casting a spell causes the Spirit to become a noncreature Enchantment—Aura, and by losing its type "creature," it also loses its creature type. When you get around to determining costs, it's not a Spirit and it's not a creature, so the Incubator won't apply.

Q: I control Pain Seer and copied a Heliod, God of the Sun. Can I choose not to apply vigilance and tap it to attack?

A: Abilities aren't optional just because they're usually good for you but now they aren't. Vigilance isn't optional, so that Pain Seer isn't going to be seeing much pain.

Rite of Replication for more math problems.
Q: I attack with two Archangel of Thune. How many counters do my creatures get?

A: They'll all get four. Each Angel dealing damage causes one trigger for each Angel, for a total of four triggers. Even though all of the damage is simultaneous so all of the life is gained at once, multiple creatures with lifelink do cause multiple triggers of "when you gain life" due to rules making that clear.

Q: My opponent only put one counter on all of his creatures when he attacked with two Archangels of Thune. Do I have to correct him?

A: Nope! At any level of play, it's acceptable to not point out your opponents' triggers. At Regular REL (FNM and such), your opponent may still get his trigger if he notices it later - that's up to the judge - so don't count on the game state not changing if you try to game the system like this.

Q: Do I get to draw a card if I kill Spirit of the Labyrinth with Electrolyze after I draw for turn?

A: You'll try to draw a card during the resolution of Electrolyze, but the Spirit's still there! It won't die until state-based actions are checked after Electrolyze is done resolving. It'll be there, mortally wounded but alive, to stop you from drawing.

Q: Can I cast an Aura targeting a God if that Aura's mana cost gives it the devotion it needs to be a creature?

A: Targets for Aura spells are chosen while casting an Aura, before it's on the battlefield. The God won't be a creature yet, so it's not a legal target.

Q: Will two Prophet of Kruphix give me a double untap so I can float mana in between?

A: Prophet of Kruphix doesn't have a trigger to act between; it just modifies how the untap step works. Multiples are entirely redundant, and your stuff will still just untap once.

Q: My opponent's running low on cards and activates Jace, Architect of Thought's [-2]. Can I make a 3-0 split so he either mills out faster or gets nothing?

A: Yes, piles can be empty. It's not very intuitive and usually not a very smart play, but it's legal for those rare cases where it might be the exactly correct thing to do.

Q: Is there any benefit to putting two Madcap Skills on one creature?

A: Yes, it gets +6/+0 instead of +3/+0! That's huge! Other than that, no. Blocking the enchanted creature with two creatures satisfies the restrictions on both Skills. You don't need two for each one.

Q: Where can I find the Comprehensive Rules? I want to read them so I can study.

A: You can find them on the Wizards of the Coast site or by clicking the "More Resources" link on the left of every page on our site. However, note that the Comprehensive Rules is not a study tool any more than a dictionary is a study tool. It's not meant to be read straight through! For studying, reading over rules questions on forums and reading our articles is far superior, while using the Comprehensive Rules as a resource to further your understanding of the answers.

Q: Can we sanction a cube draft?

A: All players in a sanctioned draft must receive the same sealed product - emphasis on sealed here! Even if you wrap up the packs in your own wrapping, that won't count.

That's all for this week! I'll see you again when we're in the star-strewn twilight realm of the gods. Perhaps there shall be a wheel.

Until next time, enjoy preview season!

- Eli Shiffrin

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.

Just double checking: For the fall of the hammer question,
Everlasting torment, leyline of punishment, skull crack, and unstable footing would all be examples of of the edge cases where naming green wouldn\'t help right?

#1 • Date: 2014-04-07 • Time: 14:41:27 •
For the Wear // Tear question, could someone explain the difference between counterbalance and dark confidant counting the converted mana cost? I've heard dark confidant would call the CMC 3.
#2 • Date: 2014-04-08 • Time: 09:50:00 •
Eleite: Dark Confidant DOESN'T count CMC 3....he does count CMC 1 AND CMC 2....and You lose life for each.
#3 • Date: 2014-04-09 • Time: 06:39:31 •
Just double checking: For the fall of the hammer question,
Everlasting torment, leyline of punishment, skull crack, and unstable footing would all be examples of of the edge cases where naming green wouldn\'t help right?

#4 • Date: 2014-04-11 • Time: 06:37:08 •

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