Published on 05/25/2015

Smashing Records

or, Prepare for Magic Weekend

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

For Modern Masters 2015, Wizards
made a funeral pyre of the MMA
GP—Vegas tournament records.
It feels like Modern Masters 2015 has been public forever, but this weekend is the big day: MM2 releases, and three Grand Prix around the globe each attempt to individually set new records and collectively set a stunning new benchmark for "big" tournaments. For those like me who can't make it to any of them, or for the die-hard fans doing both, MTGO releases MM2 a day early, with events on Thursday and less expensive concessions.

This is likely the most complex limited format for interactions, leaving Time Spiral block or the original Modern Masters as the only real challenger, so make sure you read the official Release Notes and Carsten's article last week for tons of useful information. This week, I'll be dipping back into the mail bag for the other formats as well.

Got more questions about MM2, DTK, TPR, or perhaps other TLAs, send them in to or send short questions for short answers to @CranialTweet. We'll get you an answer, and you'll get fame and glory when your question appears in a future article!

(Fame and glory not available where prohibited by law. Ask your primary care physician if fame and glory are right for you. If feelings of contentment last for more than four hours, consult a medical specialist.)

Q: Are Modern Masters 2015 cards legal in Standard?

A: Only if they're in an otherwise Standard-legal set. MM2 is not part of the Standard rotation, so old cards like Tarmogoyf aren't legal in Standard. Reprinted cards in Standard are legal from any printing, so you can play with a Raise the Alarm from M15, MM2, MRD, or either of Elspeth's duel decks in a Standard tournament.

Q: Will Magic Origins be legal in Standard?

A: Yes - the unusual naming convention has caused a fair number of people to assume that it's a supplementary product, but it's not. It's the final core set, and like every core set before it, it'll be legal in Standard.

Q: What rotates when Magic Origins comes out? What about Battle for Zendikar?

A: ORI won't cause any rotation. Only the September-ish set does now, and starting with "Tears," the March-ish set will as well. BFZ will come in and kick out Theros block and M15, leaving KTK, FRF, DTK, ORI, and BFZ in Standard. "Tears" starts the new rotation you've probably heard about, where it will remove KTK and FRF, but leaving DTK and ORI both in with BFZ and "Sweat."

Q: I Vedalken Shackles a Thassa, God of the Sea. I don't have 5 devotion to blue. Do I keep Thassa? What if I untap Shackles?

A: Vedalken Shackles's ability only cares that the target is a creature, and only cares about its power, at two points: when you select the target, and when it begins to resolve. Once it's resolved, you'll control it for as long the Shackles remain tapped.

There's a common misconception that a control effect ending is an active "give it back" rather than a passive "stop controlling it." There's no reason at all that the effect can't end, and it does. You don't give control because the card doesn't say to give control. You just stop controlling it and then the game's "determine the controller" mechanisms take over to give Thassa back.

Q: Will a copy of Purphoros, God of the Forge trigger the original Purphoros before the legend rule takes one out?

A: Yup! In order for two Purphoroi to be on the battlefield, they must have entered the battlefield. If the new one has entered the battlefield and is a creature, then it's triggered the old one's ability. One of them will go away before that trigger makes it to the stack, but that doesn't matter now that it's triggered.

Q: Can Swan Song target itself to get me a 2/2 Bird for ?

A: There aren't a whole lot of absolutes in the game, with just about every rule being broken by some other rule or card. But here's one hard and fast absolute: A spell can never, ever target itself. You won't be able to turn your turning into birds into birds.

Q: Is there time to put an age counter on Dystopia but remove it with Power Conduit before I have to pay?

A: Sadly, your dreams of a never-ending dystopia
are not to be. No player may take voluntary actions in the middle of resolving a spell or ability, so the best you'll be able to do is keep the upkeep down to one age counter every turn by removing the counter right after paying.

Q: Does Huntmaster of the Fells transforming get me back a Deathmist Raptor?

A: Even though turning a creature face up and transforming a creature use the same physical action, they are entirely separate game events with no relation, and neither will trigger abilities that watch for the other. Your Raptor's going to be staying in the graveyard a little longer.

Amusingly enough, both of these actions are nicknamed "flipping," which is the actual game term for yet a third game action with no relation mechanically nor physically to these two.

Q: Does Vesuvan Shapeshifter get a counter if I turn it up copying Den Protector? Does it get me a card back?

A: Because you didn't turn it face up for a megamorph cost, it won't get a +1/+1 counter. However, Den Mom's trigger doesn't care about what cost was paid, or whether any cost was paid, so it'll trigger just fine and bring back a card from your graveyard.

Q: When I activate Gilder Bairn targeting Fertilid with two counters, does Hardened Scales apply twice or just once?

A: Just once. In Magic, "for each" doesn't loop through sequential events unless it absolutely has to. The default is that it's just establishing a value to use for a single event - in this case, determining how many of what kinds of counters to put.

Q: Does Nettle Sentinel untap right away if I use it to convoke Chord of Calling?

A: It will! You tap it during the process of casting Chord, and then once you're done casting the green spell, Nettle Sentinel's ability triggers.

Q: Can Narset Transcendent rebound a Temporal Trespass?

A: Not very well, she can't. Her ability can give it rebound, but then the spell's own effect exiles it while you're following its spell abilities during resolution, so it's never put into your graveyard as it resolves. That means that rebound's replacement effect never gets to apply, and its delayed triggered ability is never created. Narset had better just leave the timey wimey shenanigans to Sarkhan.

Q: If Soulflayer flays a Shadowmage Infiltrator, will it have fear? It's not listed, but the MM2 card has it as a keyword.

A: Sadly, Soulflayer doesn't get to flay all the keywords it wants off of souls. It only gets exactly what it says. Fear appears in supplementary products reprinting old cards, but it's not a keyword printed in Standard-legal products or on new cards, so new cards that have a long list of keywords definitely won't include it.

"Heeeeey guys sup?"
Q: What exactly is Progenitus protected from?

A: Everything! Yay!

"Protection from everything" is actually a special variant of protection. You don't have to figure out what "everything" is. It means that:

1) All damage that would be dealt to it is prevented.
2) Nothing may be attached to it.
3) No creatures may block it.
4) It can't be the target of spells or abilities.

Those four points are just the functions of protection with the "of the given quality" stripped out. You don't try to put anything into there in their place to represent "everything," just take out the qualifications.

Q: Will Marchesa, the Black Rose return creatures exiled by Anafenza, the Foremost's second ability?

A: Anafenza has a replacement effect, using the if-would-instead construction. It replaces one event entirely with another. That means that rather than die, your creatures are exiled. Their death never happened. Marchesa's triggered ability (denoted with "when") can't trigger at all since the event didn't occur.

Q: I cast Progenitor Mimic and copied Ulamog's Crusher, got a couple tokens, and then my Mimic got killed. If I bring it back and copy the token, one of the players thought it'd have two copy triggers. Is that right?

A: Disturbingly enough, yes. Abilities gained as part of a copy effect, like Progenitor Mimic's trigger, are themselves copiable. All of the copies have the trigger, which is why it has the "isn't a token" escape clause - exponentially cloning things is how you create Aesops about responsibility, not something you do for six mana. This means that if you Clone one of the tokens, that copiable value will be copied. Clone isn't a token, so its trigger will actually fire. Now, if you use Mimic rather than Clone, it gains a new trigger and copies the old trigger, and each triggers independently like every triggered ability ever. Each gets you a shiny new token ready to crushinate your enemies.

Q: Can soulshift get back a card with changeling?

A: It can. When soulshift was first printed, Spirits were always creatures, but the definition of the keyword in the rules (and the reminder text printed on the card) doesn't care about the cardtype, only the subtype. Tribals with changeling are Spirits, so they're legal targets.

Q: Do I draw for the turn before or after Monastery Siege?

A: Before, always before. The draw-for-turn happens as a turn-based action as the draw step begins, then the Siege's trigger is put onto the stack and will resolve a bit later.

Q: How is Emrakul, the Aeons Torn's protection different from "protection from all colors"?

A: The "spells" part is very important. When you cast a permanent card like a creature or enchantment, it's a spell while it's on the stack, but then it resolves and stops being a spell. This means, relevantly, that Oblivion Ring can be cast, and then resolves, and its trigger can target Emrakul - the source of the trigger is a permanent, not a spell, so Emrakul is not protected. A cycled Choking Tethers can tap Emrakul, even though it couldn't tap a creature with protection from instants (or rather the creature with protection from instants).

In most normal cases, it's closer to "protection from colored instants, sorceries, and Auras," but that's longer and not as awesome.

Q: My friend says you can dash a creature then block with it because it doesn't bounce until the next turn's end step. That isn't right, is it?

A: It's not. "The next end step" is the next one to happen, which will be in the current turn if you're not already in that turn's end step. "The next turn's end step" is the proper templating for what your friend is thinking of, although that phrase exists on zero cards.

Q: If my Necroskitter kills a Simic Initiate, do I get it back?

A: You do! Two state-based actions apply to the little Initiate at once: it has +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it, and it has 0 toughness. Both happen simultaneously. Since Necroskitter has a "dies" trigger, it looks back in time to before the event to determine whether it should trigger. The dying was simultaneous with the counter removal, so "before the dying" is also "before the removal," and it had a -1/-1 counter then, so it triggers.

That's all for now. Enjoy your Magic this weekend, wherever it happens, and if you're participating in one of the gargantuan events, make sure to take care of yourself. Soon enough, it'll be time for Origins and all of the wildness of the final core set.

Until next time, may you be visited in your drafts by foil Goyfs!

- 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.

In the Vesuvan Shapeshifter/Den Protector question: After you've done the actions described, if you take the option to turn it face down again, would you then have the ability to megamorph it back up and get the counter (since while it's face-down it's copying Den Protector)?

I almost have my head wrapped around the copy/morph interactions but not quite.
#1 • Date: 2015-05-25 • Time: 00:31:55 •
No, but not because of anything to do with the copy rules or the morph rules. Vesuvan Shapeshifter says that it stops being a copy when its turned face down.
#2 • Date: 2015-05-25 • Time: 04:37:59 •

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