Published on 06/22/2015

Midsummer Night's Game

or, Stop That, Sun

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Nice time of year to
visit New Zealand.
Did you know that "Midsummer" is actually the beginning of summer, as far as calendars tend to mark it, on the estival solstice? So even though you've got two months of blazing torpor ahead, it's midsummer now, so you can pretend it's halfway over! If you live in the southern hemisphere, lucky you. Then again, after the last winter here in New England, I should probably appreciate the warm weather.

Anyway, it's time for some rules questions! We've got a good number from Modern Masters 2015 and Dragons of Tarkir drafts and more goodies from Commander. Still got questions? Send them in to or on Twitter @CranialTweet for short questions. It won't be long now before we start handling questions from the very last Core Set.

Q: My opponent paid for Yasova Dragonclaw's ability, then I gave my creature protection from green. He thinks he gets his mana back, is that how it works?

A: Not exactly, but pretty close. Your opponent can't spend the mana in the first place, so he's just rewinding the illegal action. Yasova's ability targets, and like everything else that targets, it's countered if all of its targets are illegal. The cost to pay is not a cost to put the trigger on the stack - there's no such thing. Costs associated with triggers are always paid as the trigger resolves, and since the trigger doesn't resolve, the mana can't be paid.

Q: Melek, Izzet Paragon is my commander. The top card of my library is an instant. Can I start to cast it, see the next card down, and then decide whether or not to finish casting it? That feels pretty unfair.

A: That feels like it's super duper unfair because it's not legal. While you're in the process of casting a spell and the top card is revealed, changing the top card won't cause the new top card to be revealed until you're done casting the spell.

Q: I picked up one of the Magic Origins sample decks from my local store. Can I toss a Reave Soul [Note for our readers who wish to remain spoiler-free - Reave Soul is an upcoming ORI card previewed in the linked article.] in my Standard deck?

A: Nope - ORI cards aren't legal in Standard until the set is released. Only the two Eternal formats (Vintage and Legacy) allow cards that weren't part of a given series of set releases.

Q: What about an Origins card in the sample packs from current Standard that's being reprinted?

A: Those are fine. The golden rule of "card name is all that matters for legality" holds even for previews of reprints.

Your deck is a bird.
Q: I'm allowed to spend three minutes shuffling between games, right?

A: Wrong. The rules used to define three minutes as the maximum before you were definitely performing too slowly, but even then, deliberately going slowly to burn up the clock would get you disqualified for stalling. Removing the references to some arbitrary number of minutes allows more leniency from judges trying too hard to be by-the-book while also taking away a false path of "oh but that's okay" that players might walk down before finding themselves in deep trouble.

Q: What does Blood Moon do to lands like Rakdos Carnarium?

A: Rakdos Carnarium is already pretty bloody, and now it's even bloodier. First you look at the replacement effect, "enters the battlefield tapped." This is applied without regard for continuous effects that'll modify it after it enters, so it'll still enter tapped. Put it onto the battlefield, apply continuous effects, and wham, it's a Mountain. A tapped Mountain. And by virtue of gaining a basic land subtype, it loses all of its abilities. Then you go to check for triggers, and no triggers exist - it lost em. So you won't have to bounce a land, but you won't get any mana this turn and later you'll just get red mana.

Q: What does Cloudshift do with a manifested Lightning Bolt?

A: It'll exile it. Then it'll try to return it, but that's illegal. Lightning Bolt is face up now, and instants can't enter the battlefield. Lightning Bolt stays in exile watching the game go on without it. Poor sad Lightning Bolt.

Q: Two Savage Knuckleblades are attacking me. I block one with Typhoid Rats, and I have a Tragic Slip in hand. Can I let the Rats die, then kill the other Knuckleblade before it kills me?

A: You're getting knuckled to the face, sadly. All regular combat damage is dealt at the same time, so there's no time that your Rats or the blocked Knuckleblade is dead that you're still alive.

Q: If Narset Transcendent gives rebound to a spell with rebound, will it rebound twice?

A: Both rebound replacement effects will want to apply to the resolving spell, but once one has applied, the other can't. Only the one that applied creates the delayed trigger to cast it during your next upkeep, and you can't cast the same card twice anyway, so you'll only get to cast it once.

Q: What are the rules for how prizes are broken down between each ranking at FNMs or PPTQs and stuff?

A: None. There is complete anarchy. Fires in the streets, gnashing of teeth, cats and dogs living together. Well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but there seriously aren't rules. Organizers are expected to do their research to meet the standards of their players, and players are expected to vote with their wallets if the organizers don't.

Q: All the fight cards I see lately say that your creature fights an opponent's creature. Domri Rade doesn't say that, and I could make my creature fight my Hornet Nest. Has that been changed?

A: It hasn't. Errata in Magic is only rarely functional, and never because of a shift in design philosophy like this. If there's ever any doubt, you can always find the official Oracle text (the card's wording after any given errata) at the Gatherer on Wizards's website.

Q: Does hexproof stop deathtouch or first strike?

A: It doesn't. Hexproof only stops spells and abilities that target a creature, which neither deathtouch nor first strike do. There is no such thing as "implicit targeting" in the game - something either explicitly says uses the word "target," says so in its reminder text with the explicit word "target," or it does not target.

Q: Can I cast Thrive with X=5 and target the same creature five times?

A: Nope, that'd be flourishing, not thriving! For any instance of the word "target," something either is or isn't the target. It can't be the target multiple times for one word "target" - you need the word to appear multiple times like Common Bond to do that.

Q: Kolaghan's Command is choosing Shatter and Shock, Shatter targeting my Spellskite and Shock targeting my Delver of Secrets. I remember spells double-targeting Spellskite didn't work, is that the same here?

A: What you're remembering is the same "target" issue that Thrive has, usually cropping up in the form of Electrolyze or something for Spellskite. Changing targets can't make targets illegal, so you can't make Spellskite the target a second time for a word "target." But when "target" is used multiple times, like a Command, you can target Spellskite with each instance of "target," making this a legal way to save your Delver. Spellskite will be destroyed, then the damage mode just won't do anything since the recipient of the damage isn't there anymore.

Not legal in Standard.
Q: What are the rules on having foils in my deck?

A: The same rules as any other card. Four max per English name, sixty cards minimum, legal in the format, and most relevantly, not distinguishable from other cards by sight or touch when face down. Foils are more likely than normal cards to violate that last point by warping and curling, but that's not entirely unique to foils. If anyone tells you there are rules about what percentage of the deck should be foil, or how many copies of a card can be foil, that person is greatly misinformed.

Q: You said last week that you can't pay megamorph for a face up creature, but can I activate it twice in response to itself to get two counters?

A: That'd be pretty nifty, but no. Turning a creature face up isn't an activated ability, so you can't respond to it at all. It's a special action that you can take any time you have priority, and then you can't take any voluntary actions until you're done performing it and the creature's now face up.

Q: Do I have time to activate Sigiled Starfish before I draw a card on the turn after I cast it?

A: You do! No player may take actions during the untap step, but during the upkeep step you do get priority before moving on to the draw step, even if nothing happens in the upkeep step otherwise. You've controlled your wiggly little Starfish since your most recent turn (ie, this one) began, so you can activate it in your upkeep.

Q: If I can kill Dragonlord Silumgar in response to the trigger, what happens?

A: Nothing. The ability resolves, and tries to create a control-change effect with a duration. But since the duration has already expired, the effect isn't created at all in the first place. The targeted permanent never changes control for even an instant.

Q: Does Devoted Druid go infinite with Melira, Sylvok Outcast?

A: Melira looks like she'd tell the Druid "Go ahead, do it, it's okay," but she's actually telling him "No! You can't has!" The cost of activating the Druid's untap ability is putting a counter on it, and thanks to Melira, that's impossible. If you can't pay a cost for a thing, you don't get wanton doings, you just can't do that thing.

Q: When I attack with Savage Ventmaw, do I have to remember to announce the trigger right away, or can I not mention it until spending the mana is relevant?

A: The window you can go without mentioning the mana is infinetesimal. The first time you pass priority after the trigger resolves, you must acknowledge that you have mana floating in your mana pool. In a normal pace of play, this means that after attacking, prompting for blockers or damage indicates that you've gone past the point where you had to mention your mana, and having not done so, you've missed your trigger.

That's all for this week, but come back next Monday for a batch of goodies from Callum. It probably won't be quite as exciting as an article written from the floor of Grand Prix–Las Vegas, but it's still Callum being awesome.

Until next time, may all your dreams be faerie-free!

- 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.

Regarding implicit targeting, what about auras? They target, but they don\'t generally say so on the card or have reminder text. Obviously the actual rules for auras include the word \"target,\" but they seem to be an exception to the rule that if it doesn\'t literally say \"target,\" it doesn\'t.

Last edited on 2015-06-22 00:37:47 by relsqui
#1 • Date: 2015-06-22 • Time: 00:20:59 •
Auras have a static keyword ability "Enchant (object)", which is shorthand for what the Aura can and cannot target. Just like Flying and Trample aren't fully explained on cards, the Enchant keyword contains all the explicit targeting information without always spelling it out and using up precious card space.
#2 • Date: 2015-06-23 • Time: 19:28:16 •

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