Published on 04/30/2018

Visiting the Oracle of Dominaria

or "How I Learned to Stop Redirecting and Love the Target"

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Not quite the oracle I was thinking of.
Greetings fellow travellers, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion as we continue our trek through Dominaria. Our visit to Magic's ancestral home has brought with it a big shake up to the rules regarding dealing damage to planeswalkers, so today I'm on my way to see the oracle of Dominaria to help explain these rules changes and this massive Oracle update. Let's hope that the oracle will give us some clarity in this brave new world.

If you'd like to send us some rules questions for our own rules gurus to answer, send them to us via email at moko@cranialinsertion.com or tweet them at us @CranialTweet; you'll get an answer and possibly see your question in a future article.


Q: Wait, so what's going on here? I heard something about a planeswalker redirection rule going away?

A: That's correct. The planeswalker redirection rule was a rule that allowed players to redirect noncombat damage that would be dealt to an opponent by a source they controlled to one of that opponent's planeswalkers instead. For example, I cast Lightning Bolt targeting my opponent. When it resolves, I can have that damage be dealt to that opponent's Saheeli Rai instead of the opponent. Don't worry too much about all of the details, though, because as of last Friday, that rule no longer exists.



Q: OK, that seemed kind of complicated, I guess, but how am I supposed to deal damage to my opponent's planeswalkers now? I can still attack them, right?

A: Yes, you can still attack your opponent's planeswalkers directly with creatures; that hasn't changed. But if you want to deal noncombat damage to planeswalkers now, you have to do so directly rather than through redirection. In the example from the last question, you can now cast that Lightning Bolt targeting Saheeli Rai directly.



Q: Was I not able to just target planeswalkers directly before? I know that I've seen players do that at tournaments.

A: Kind of. There was a shortcut in the Magic Tournament Rules that allowed players to do things like say "Bolt your planeswalker" and have it mean that they're targeting the planeswalker's controller and redirecting the damage when Lightning Bolt resolves.



Q: But Lightning Bolt doesn't say that it can target planeswalkers on it. So why can it target them now?

A: Ah, but you see, it does. As part of this rules change, a whole lot of cards got changes to their official card text, also called their Oracle text. A card's current Oracle text can always be found in the Gatherer database, and if you check there you'll see that Lightning Bolt's rules text now says "Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to any target." This means that it can target planeswalkers directly, in addition to creatures and players.




Not quite Lightning Bolt,
and not quite any target
Q: So if Lightning Bolt can deal damage to any target, can I target my opponent's Sol Ring with it? I know it won't do anything, but can I do it?

A: No. When a spell that deals damage says that it would deal damage to "any target", it means target player, target creature, or target planeswalker. These are the only things that can be dealt damage and so the game rules prevent you from targeting other permanents or game objects with these spells.



Q: So a lot of cards are changing, right? How will I know what my old cards do anymore?

A: Like I said before, the best way to be sure is to check the cards wording on Gatherer. Outside of checking specific cards, there are a few rules for what cards are changing here:
  • Spells and abilities that previously dealt damage to "target creature or player" now deal damage to "any target".
  • Most spells and abilities that previously dealt damage to "target player" now deal damage to "target player or planeswalker."
  • Most spells and abilities that previously dealt damage to "target opponent" now deal damage to "target opponent or planeswalker". (Yes, these spells can now target your own planeswalkers if you really want them to.)
  • These rules hold true for spells and abilities with multiple targets as well as those with a single target.
  • Exception: Cards that deal damage to a player or opponent based on game information relating to that player, such as the number of cards in their hand or the number of nonbasic lands they control, can still only target players as planeswalkers don't have these characteristics.




Q: What about non-targeted effects that deal damage to players? Can those not damage planeswalkers anymore?

A: In general, no. Spells and abilities that deal damage to each players or opponents but don't target them, such as Earthquake or the triggered ability of Eidolon of the Great Revel haven't changed and now just do exactly what they say that they do, i.e. dealing damage to those players and ignoring planeswalkers. (There is one special exception to allow for Vial Smasher the Fierce to a planeswalker controlled by the randomly selected opponent.)



Q: What about cards that prevent damage? Can they target planeswalkers too?

A: Yes, cards that prevent or redirect damage have received the same changes as cards that deal damage. Just follow the same rules listed above for damage and check the Oracle text of any cards you're not sure about.



Now that we've talked all about the Oracle changes related to damage, let's get back to more normal questions about Dominaria!



Q: I control Jhoira's Familiar and I go to cast Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp with his ability by tapping the Familiar. How much mana do I pay?

A: You'll have to pay in addition to tapping Jhoira's Familiar. Zahid's first ability is an alternate cost and so Jhoira's Familiar can still reduce the mana portion of the historic Djinn's cost.



Q: If I control both Leyline of Singularity and Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, do I get to draw a card whenever I cast a permanent spell?

A: No, this doesn't work. Leyline of Singularity's effect only applies to nonland permanents on the battlefield. It doesn't apply to permanent cards in other zones or permanent spells on the stack and so it won't cause Jhoira to trigger for any extra spells you cast.



Q: I control Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive and I attack with Identity Thief. Will Identity Thief still be unblockable once it's a copy of the creature it exiled?

A: Tetsuko's ability will only apply to Identity Thief if its power and/or toughness are 1 or less in its new state. Tetsuko's ability only matters when your opponent is declaring blockers, so if Identity Thief exiled a 3/3 creature for example, then it can be blocked normally by your opponent.



Q: Can I cast Jaya's Immolating Inferno targeting my opponent all three times?

A: No. Each of the targets for Jaya's Immolating Inferno have to be different. It can only target the same creature, player, or planeswalker once. In general, you can only target the same thing with a spell or ability once for each instance of the word "target" in its text.



Q: If I have Helm of the Host on Naru Meha, Master Wizard, can I cast a spell before the Helm's ability goes on the stack and make the token copy it?

A: No, this doesn't work. At the beginning of combat on your turn, Helm of the Host's ability triggers and goes on the stack before anyone gets priority. This means that there's no way for an instant or sorcery spell to be on the stack at the time that the token copy of Naru is created. Casting a spell after the Helm trigger goes on the stack won't work either since the spell will have resolved by the time that the token is created.




Remember to always put your best faces forward.
Q: Help! My opponent exiled my Squee, the Immortal with Ixalan's Binding! Can I cast Squee from exile, or is he stuck there indefinitely?

A: Don't worry, Squee can't be gotten rid of that easily. You're allowed to cast Squee here and Ixalan's Binding can't do anything about it. Why? Because all you need to start casting a spell is permission to do so, and Squee's own ability gives you permission to cast him from exile. The "don't cast this" restriction of Ixalan's Binding wouldn't be considered until later in the casting process and by the time it would apply, Squee is already on the stack and therefore no longer bound by that restriction. (You wouldn't be able to cast Squee if there were two Squees under two Ixalan's Bindings, though.)



Q: If I don't control any tapped lands when the delayed trigger from Teferi, Hero of Dominaria's +1 ability resolves, do I have to untap my opponent's tapped lands?

A: Yes, you do. While this seems weird, it actually makes sense. To untap a permanent is to change it from a tapped state to an untapped state. This means that you can't untap a permanent unless it's tapped, and so Teferi's trigger forces you to untap two lands that are actually tapped even if you don't control them. (You can avoid this problem by just tapping two lands before the trigger resolves, of course.)



Q: If I return Bojuka Bog to the battlefield with Fall of the Thran's trigger, can I exile my opponent's graveyard before they get to return any lands to the battlefield?

A: No, this doesn't work. When you're resolving Fall of the Thran's chapter II/III trigger, each player chooses the lands that they'll return and then all of those lands enter the battlefield simultaneously. Bojuka Bog's trigger goes on the stack once the chapter ability has finished resolving, after your opponent has already returned their lands. (If you return Bojuka Bog to the battlefield for chapter II, they won't have lands to return for chapter III, though.)



Q: If a creature is enchanted with both On Serra's Wings and Deep Freeze, what does it look like? What abilities does it have?

A: The order in which the two auras became attached to the creature matters here. Whichever one is newer will win in terms of granting or removing abilities. If Deep Freeze is newer, then the creature won't have flying, vigilance, or lifelink from On Serra's Wings. If On Serra's Wings is newer, then it will have those abilities.
In all cases, the enchanted creature will be legendary, blue, and a Wall in addition to its other colors and types. It will have defender and won't have any of its printed abilities. Its base P/T will be 0/4 and it will get +1/+1 on top of that, so it will be 1/5 unless something else is affecting its P/T.



Q: If Traxos, Scourge of Kroog is untapped, then tapped again, will it now untap as normal during its controller's untap steps?

A: No. Traxos never untaps with your other permanents during your untap step.
Traxos's second ability is exactly the same as Traxos having "Traxos enters the battlefield tapped" and "Traxos doesn't untap during your untap step" as separate abilities. They're just combined into one ability to conserve space on the card.



Q: If a spell has a kicker cost of X, e.g. Verdeloth the Ancient, could it be kicked for 0 to trigger Hallar, the Firefletcher's ability?

A: Yes. A spell is kicked if the intent to pay one or more of its kicker costs is announced when it's cast. Since Verdeloth doesn't say that X can't be 0, you're allowed to choose to kick Verdeloth with X=0 on its kicker cost and this will still trigger Hallar's ability.



Q: Can the from Elfhame Druid's second ability be used to pay the normal, non-kicker cost of a spell if you kick it with other mana?

A: There's no such thing as paying specifically for a spell's kicker cost. Mana from Elfhame Druid's second ability can be spent on any spell as long as that spell is kicked. The mana contributes to paying the total cost of the spell which includes both the printed mana cost and the kicker cost.
For example, if you control three Islands and Elfhame Druid, you can cast Grow from the Ashes kicked by using mana from Elfhame Druid's second ability and your three islands.



Q: Damping Sphere is on the battlefield and I cast Bloodbraid Elf, cascading into Destructive Revelry. Does it cost me to cast Revelry and blow up the Damping Sphere?

A: Yes, you have to pay . While cascade allows you to cast the spell without paying its mana cost, you still have to pay any additional costs of the spell, including costs imposed by cards like Damping Sphere or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben as well as the spell's own nonmana costs.



Q: If a player puts two of On Serra's Wings or In Bolas's Clutches on separate nonlegendary creatures with the same name, do the creatures have to go away or is there a way that the legend rule can apply to the enchantments and get rid of them, causing the creatures to no longer be legendary and stay on the battlefield?

A: You'll have to put one of the enchanted creatures into the graveyard, along with the aura on it. (You can also get rid of both auras if you really want to.)
When state-based actions are checked, all appropriate state-based actions are applied simultaneously, so you'll have to apply the legend rule to both the enchanted creatures and both of the legendary auras. You have to ditch one of each at the same time. There's no weaseling out of it because the creature suddenly stops being legendary when you apply the legend rule to the auras.



Thank you for joining me on this trip to visit the Oracle. I hope you've gained some perspective on this major change to the rules and also learned a bit more about the cards you love along the way.
As always, you can read more Q&A from me over at my blog at magicjudge.tumblr.com and Carsten will be back here with more enlightening answers for you all next week!

- Charlotte


 

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