Published on 08/28/2017

Just a Phase We're Going Through

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Cards with phasing look weird.
And...whoa, we're back. So last week, when Charlotte phased out, she didn't just phase herself out - she phased out the CI headquarters and everyone in it. So we were trapped in CI headquarters for a week, with no food, no water, and (most importantly) no internet. There's probably a reason why Wizards hadn't printed a new card with phasing in 20 years - they tend to muck up the space-time continuum. But the important thing is that we're back, and we have more Commander 2017 shenanigans to discuss this week.

Remember: if you have any rules questions, you can send them in to us. You might even see your question used in a future article. If you have a short question, you can Tweet us at @CranialTweet. And if you have a longer question, feel free to e-mail us at

Q: So, back to Teferi's Protection. How exactly does phasing work?

A: Wow, here's an ability that I don't think anyone ever expected to see again. Phasing is an ability from the early days of Magic, so let's quickly describe what phasing is. When something phases out, we treat that permanent as though it doesn't exist. Unless a spell or ability specifically mentions a phased out permanent (like Time and Tide), it's not affected by anything. It's still on the battlefield, just nothing affects it. It won't be destroyed by Wrath of God, exiled by Final Judgment, or bounced by a Cyclonic Rift. When a permanent phased out under your control, it will remain phased out until the beginning of your next untap step, when everything you controlled when it phased out will phase back in (this is before untapping permanents, so they'll phase back in, then untap).

See, that wasn't so bad.

Q: What about tokens? I hear there was some rules change involving phased out tokens.

A: Yep, there was. But let's do a quick history lesson. Up until a couple of years ago, a permanent that phased out actually went to a different zone (the aptly-named "phased-out zone"). Since that was a zone change, and since tokens cease to exist once they're not on the battlefield, it made sense for a phased out token to cease to exist. But when Magic 2010 came out in 2009, they changed how phasing works: instead of moving the phased out card to another zone, it stayed on the battlefield, but gained the phased out status. But they held onto the rule that said a phased out token would cease to exist.

But since they brought back phasing for Teferi's Protection, they re-examined some of the rules involved and decided that it didn't make much sense anymore to have a token cease to exist when it phased out ,so that rule was removed. Now, tokens can phase in and out without any issues.

Q: I've stolen a few cards from my opponent's hand with Kheru Mind-Eater, but I haven't had a chance to play them yet. Then my opponent kills Kheru with Consuming Vapors. Can I still play the exiled cards?

A: Nope. You only have the ability to play the exiled cards as long as the Mind-Eater is on the battlefield. Once it leaves the battlefield, its effect ends and while you can still look at the cards, you won't be able to play them. Even if you replay Kheru Mind-Eater, the Mind-Eater that's on the battlefield now is a different permanent than the one that exiled those cards, and the Mind-Eater only lets you play cards that it exiled, not cards exiled by any other Mind-Eater.

Q: How exactly do I secretly choose an opponent with Stalking Leonin?

A: You need some way to choose an opponent that everyone can verify and can't be changed later. The easiest way to do that is probably write it on a piece of paper that can be revealed when you activate the ability (similiar to how people handle hidden agendas in Conspiracy sets). There are some other ways that it could be done, but just writing it down on a piece of paper is probably going to be the easiest.

Q: I attach Curse of Vitality to one of my opponents and I attack them. Will I gain 2 life or 4 life?

A: Only 2 life. When the enchanted player is attacked, you will gain 2 life, and if an opponent is attacking them, that opponent will gain 2 life. You are not your own opponent, so you'll only gain 2 life if you attack the Cursed opponent, not 4 life.

Q: I'm attacking with Balan, Wandering Knight, who has my lone Bloodforged Battle-Axe attached to it. My Balan goes unblocked, and after first strike damage is dealt and I get a copy of the Battle-Axe, I activate Balan's ability to attach the other Battle-Axe to Balan. Will Balan be able to deal combat damage during the normal combat damage step?

A: Yes he will! After his ability is done resolving, he now has two equipment attached to him, so he has double strike. When we move on to the normal combat damage step, since he now has double strike, he will be able to deal damage again (and you'll get two more copies of the Battle-Axe as well). Now the question is "How many Battle-Axes can one Cat carry around?"

Cards with phasing do weird things.

Q: I'm in a four player game, and my Vindictive Lich just died. I'm a nice guy, and I don't want to target all three of my opponents. Do I have to choose all three modes?

A: Nope, you don't. You have to choose one or more modes, and each mode has to target a different opponent. But there's nothing that says that you have to maximize the number of modes if you can. If you have three opponents, but one of them is one you'd rather remain friends with, you can choose only two modes, and target only two of the opponents, and leave the third opponent unaffected (and probably in your good graces).

Q: I cast New Blood, choosing to steal my opponent's Pack Rat. I choose to change the creature type "Rat" to "Vampire". Will that change the card's name to "Pack Vampire"?

A: No it will not. An effect that changes the subtype in this way won't affect the card's name, even if the chosen type is in the card's name. While your new Vampire Pack Rat will count your Vampires instead of Rats, its name will not be affected, so its name is still "Pack Rat", not "Pack Vampire".

Q: I'm in a multiplayer game, and my opponent is attacking me with a giant Tyrant's Familiar. I cast Portal Mage, and I want to make their Familiar attack my other opponent, who controls a Ghostly Prison. Will the controller of the Familiar have to pay to attack the other player?

A: Nope, they're going to avoid the Prison tax. Ghostly Prison only applies to creatures that are declared as attackers. When you're reselecting who the Familiar is attacking, it's not being declared as an attacker at the new player or planeswalker, and since it's not being declared as an attacker, the controller of the Familiar will not have to pay the Prison tax to attack your other opponent.

Q: Licia, Sanguine Tribune is my commander, and has already been cast twice this game. Earlier this turn, I cast Feudkiller's Verdict, and now I want to cast Licia. How much will it cost to cast?

A: It will cost to cast Licia. When we're determining the cost to cast the spell, we apply cost increasers first, then we apply cost reducers. So we start with the base cost of . This is the third time you're casting Licia from the command zone this game, so that cost is increased by , making the cost . Then we apply Licia's cost reduction effect, and since you've gained 10 life this turn, the cost is reduced by , bring the total cost down to .

Q: I have a Kindred Boon in play, and I've used its ability to put divinity counters on some of my creatures to make them indestructible. Then my opponent gets rid of the Boon. Are my creatures still indestructible?

A: Nope, they're no longer indestructible. Divinity counters themselves have no abilities. The Boon has a static ability that gives creatures you control with a divinity counter indestructible, but that ability only works as long as the Boon is on the battlefield. If the Boon leaves play, then your creatures are no longer indestructible (although note that the divinity counters remain on your creatures, so if you can replay the Boon, your creatures will become indestructible again).

Q: I have an Izzet Chemister in play, and I've exiled a few cards with it. But then it's bounced back to my hand via Cyclonic Rift, and I recast it. If I activate the second ability once it returns, can I cast cards that were exiled when it was originally on the battlefield?

A: No you may not. The Chemister that's on the battlefield now is a different permanent that was on the battlefield that originally exiled those cards. Since the Chemister that's on the battlefield now is considered a different permanent, it doesn't have access to the cards that were exiled before it left play. Your Chemister is going to have to start all over, exiling new spells, if you want its second ability to do anything.

Q: I have a Boneyard Scourge and a Deathbringer Regent in play. My opponent destroys them both with a Rout. Can I pay to return the Scourge to the battlefield?

A: Not from the Regent dying, you can't. The Scourge has to be in the graveyard when the other Dragon dies in order for its ability to trigger. It will not trigger if it dies at the same time as another Dragon, since it's not in the graveyard yet when the other Dragon dies. The Regent won't trigger from the Regent that dies at the same time as itself, but it will trigger when your next Dragon dies.

Un- cards with phasing are very weird.

Q: I just cast Kindred Dominance. Can my opponent wait to see what creature type I'm going to choose before they try to bounce one of their creatures with Into the Roil?

A: Nope, they won't know. You don't choose a creature type until the Dominance is resolving. By that point, it's too late for anyone to respond. Your opponent is free to cast Into the Roil before the Dominance resolves, but they'll have to do so before knowing what creature type you'll name and what creatures will be destroyed by the Dominance.

Q: During my last turn, I cast Disrupt Decorum and goaded my opponent's creatures. On their turn, they cast Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury. Can they attack me with Kolaghan?

A: Yes they can. The Decorum only goads creatures your opponents control when it resolves. It won't affect a creature that enters after it resolves. While the rest of your opponent's creatures will have to attack another opponent if able, Kolaghan is not affected by the Decorum. If Kolaghan wants to attack you, it's going to be able to attack you.

Q: I have Phage the Untouchable in play, and I target it with Fractured Identity. Will my opponents lose the game?

A: They will. When the Identity resolves, it exiles your Phage, then each of your opponents will get a token copy of Phage. The token copies were put onto the battlefield, not cast from their hand, so Phage's "lose the game" ability will trigger for each one and each of your opponents will lose the game.

Q: I have Edgar Markov in play, and I cast Captivating Vampire. In response to Edgar's trigger, my opponent casts Crackling Doom forcing me to sacrifice Edgar and putting him into the command zone. Will I still get a vampire token when the trigger resolves?

A: No you will not. While the trigger can trigger if it's in the command zone or the battlefield, when a card changes zones, it becomes a new object. The Edgar that's in the command zone now is a different card than the Edgar that was on the battlefield earlier, and since it triggered from the battlefield, it will only care if Edgar is still on the battlefield when the trigger resolves, not if it's in the command zone, so you won't get a token.

Q: I just played Crimson Honor Guard, but I haven't gotten around to casting my commander yet. Will my Honor Guard deal damage to me if I don't control a commander?

A: Ayep, it will. The Honor Guard treats every player the same. If you don't control a commander when your end step begins, its ability will trigger and you'll take four damage. You probably should remember to cast your commander before you play the Honor Guard.

Q: How does Mathas, Fiend Seeker work with Bounty Hunter?

A: They work pretty well together. Both cards use bounty counters, and counters with the same name are interchangeable. While only bounty counters added via Mathas' ability will give the creature the dies trigger, Bounty Hunter just sees a creature with a bounty counter on it. It wasn't there because of the Hunter's first activated ability, but to Bounty Hunter, a bounty counter is a bounty counter. You'll be able to put a bounty counter on a creature with Mathas' trigger, then kill the creature with Bounty Hunter's second activated ability (and then draw a card and gain 2 life because of the trigger given to it by Mathas).

Q: I have a Hellkite Charger in play with Shifting Shadow attached to it. During my upkeep, my Charger is destroyed by the trigger and I reveal Vulshok Refugee. What happens?

A: You revealed a creature card, so you'll put the Refugee onto the battlefield. Then the Shadow tries to attach to the Refugee, but it can't since the Refugee has protection from red. After the ability is done resolving, we check state-based actions, and because the Shadow is now an aura on the battlefield that's no longer attached to anything (the Charger was destroyed, and it couldn't attach to the Refugee), Shifting Shadow goes to the graveyard.

That's all for this week. See you all next week!

The fixing of tokens and phasing removes a shenanigans side case that happened to me once. When a thing phases out, Equipment, Auras, and Fortifications (all one of them) phase out "indirectly" because they're attached. If these were attached to a token, under old rules, they would stay phased out because they only phase in with the thing they're attached to. So I guess that's good that it's fixed.
#1 • Date: 2017-08-28 • Time: 07:34:10 •

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