Published on 01/17/2011

Snow-Covered Goyf

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Pretty much what Long Island looks like
right now. I'm gonna say those creepy giant
facesare natural snow-drifts... but I'm gonna
avoid the hell out of them anyway.
As I'm writing this, I'm busy preparing for the first big blizzard of 2011, which wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't still chipping ice off my walkway from the last big blizzard of 2010 a few weeks ago. Nothing warms me up like answering rules questions (except maybe a giant Stream of Life - you're welcome, Vorthoses!), so let's tap the Snow-Covered Long Island for and get to some of your rules questions.

And send in some more rules questions to , they'll keep us warm, and we promise not to use any of them to stoke the fireplace.

By the way, for all you judge-hopefuls looking to study the latest rule documents, you may have noticed that they're no longer at their old location. Every rule document short of the comprehensive rules can be found on the shiny new rules and documents page here. The comprehensive rules can still be found here in the file format of your choice for reading... but not printing. Don't print them unless you hate your printer and ink/toner cartridge.

Q: Does Blazing Archon prevent my planeswalkers from being attacked in the same way that Ivory Mask prevents them from being Lightning Bolted?

A: Your opponent's creatures will ignore your Archon and be able to charge at your planeswalker. The difference between Blazing Archon and Ivory Mask effects is that while burn spells must target you and then be redirected at your planeswalker, creatures don't attack you and then redirect their combat damage at your planeswalker. They just attack your planeswalker directly.

Q: Can I respond to my opponent declaring he's going to dredge Golgari Grave-Troll in his draw step?

A: Normally, things that make a player draw cards go on the stack, but drawing a card for your draw step is an exception to that. The last chance you'll have to exile his Grave-Troll is during his upkeep, because once he goes into his draw step, it's too late. And while it's fine for your opponent to say "I'm going to dredge the Grave-Troll back", he doesn't actually dredge anything until the draw event happens. You can't respond to replacement effects, so you'll need to respond to the spell or ability that's going to let him draw a card.

Q: When we get our hands back from a popped Memory Jar at the end of the turn, do we get a chance to play instants from our original hands?

A: Yup! At the beginning of the end of turn step, Memory Jar's delayed triggered ability goes on the stack. It resolves and everyone gets their original hands back, but that doesn't close out the turn. Each player has to pass priority without doing anything for the turn to end, so everyone will get priority in turn order again.

Q: Looking through a box of Portal Three Kingdoms cards, I noticed some old sorceries like Champion's Victory that seem to only be playable during an opponent's turn. So what are they now? Sorceries with flash? Instants? Just plain sorceries?

A: P3K was a freaky set, and has some freaky errata to bring them up to speed with modern templating. There were no instants in P3K, but there were some sorceries playable only during an opponent's turn. As an introductory set, this was good to introduce the concept of instants to players without mucking up their brains with the complex timing rules. That's totally uncastable under current rules barring something like Leyline of Anticipation, so they were made to be instants since that just makes sense.

Q: If I've got multiple Myr Battlespheres attacking and eight Myr tokens sitting on the sidelines that I want to tap, do both of my Battlespheres get +8/+0 and deal 8 damage to the defending player?

A: You'll get eight power and 8 damage from your Myr, total. When your Myr Battlespheres attack, their abilities trigger and you can put them on the stack in any order you wish. When each one resolves, you can tap any number of Myr you want in order to boost their power and damage-dealing capabilities. But when the next one goes to resolve, the Myr you tapped for the first ability will be unavailable unless something untapped them in the meantime.

Q: I attack my opponent's Koth of the Hammer with my Mulldrifter, then swap it out for a Ninja of the Deep Hours via some ninjutsu trickery. Who's the Ninja attacking, my opponent or Koth?

A: Your Ninja will use the momentum generated by the Mulldrifter to do some fantastic mid-air acrobatics and keep on charging at Koth. Ninjas follow their own code, but planeswalkers have one too: it's called the comprehensive rules, and here's what it says about all this business:

702.46c A ninjutsu ability may be activated only while a creature on the battlefield is unblocked (see rule 509.1h). The creature with ninjutsu is put onto the battlefield unblocked. It will be attacking the same player or planeswalker as the creature that was returned to its owner's hand.

Q: Farseek can fetch out even non-basic lands like Hallowed Fountain, but can I pay 2 life and have them enter the battlefield untapped?

A: The Ravnica duals normally enter the battlefield tapped, and "normally" is what matters here. Farseek puts lands onto the battlefield tapped as well, and paying 2 life won't change that. The Rav-duals don't come in untapped if you pay 2 life, they come in tapped unless you pay 2 life. It's an important distinction!

This is probably one of those cards
Magic's creative team are
kicking themselves for using up such a
great card name.
Q: Earlier in the game, my opponent stole one of my creatures with Volition Reins, but now I've drawn one of my own Reins and want to steal my creature back. I announce Volition Reins, and he asks me what my target is. Which one will get me my creature back, targeting his Volition Reins or targeting the creature?

A: Either one will do! When you take control of his Volition Reins, the "you" in Volition Reins is now referring to you, the controller of the Aura. Or you could skip the middle-man and slap your Reins right on the creature, and your control-changing effect will win since it's the latest to be created. Either way, should your Volition Reins leave the field, your opponent's going to get your creature back.

Q: If my opponent used Sorin Markhov's ultimate on me, and then after I let that resolve I pop Mindslaver to gain control of my own turn, would I be the one doing my turn, or would he?

A: Just like a battle where multiple players keep playing Volition Reins on the same creature, the latest turn control-changing effect takes precedence too, so you'll end up controlling your own turn and things will work as though nothing crazy happened.

Q: Since Volition Reins untaps the permanent it steals, if I steal a creature with it, can I attack with it that turn?

A: Nope! Untapping a creature doesn't give it haste - if Volition Reins gave the permanent haste, it'd say exactly that. I've actually been getting this question a lot at FNM lately, I guess drafting blue is getting popular!

Q: I cast Fanning the Flames with buyback, and then Reverberate it. Will both Reverberate and Fanning the Flames be returned to my hand?

A: Reverberate doesn't become a copy of the spell it's targeting, it just creates a copy of the spell on the stack. Even though the copy of the spell copies everything about Fanning the Flames, including the fact that its buyback cost was paid, it won't matter. Returning a copy of a spell to your hand doesn't accomplish anything, since it'd just cease to exist the next time state-based actions were checked.

Q: Can I give my opponent a poison counter when I cast Vector Asp if I control a Hand of the Praetors?

A: Nope. Vector Asp doesn't have infect, just an activated ability that gives it infect. You can't activate this ability from anywhere but the battlefield, so there's no time in which you can activate the ability to give it infect in time for Hand of the Praetors to trigger. But your Phyrexian Robo-Snake gets bigger when you do give it infect later, so it's still got that synergy at least.

Q: I haven't played in many, many years. Do artifacts with continuous abilities like Howling Mine and Winter Orb still "turn off" when they become tapped?

A: That depends! Howling Mine and Winter Orb still work as you remember them, because they were errated to work like that under the new rules. Way back in the day, "continuous artifacts" had their abilities turn off when they became tapped. Using Twiddle to tap down your opponent's Winter Orb was a viable tactic back then, and so was playing Twiddle! (Crazy times!)

The original Mirrodin block brought back this flavor of tapped artifacts not working with some of its cards, such as Blinkmoth Urn, Genesis Chamber, and Trinisphere, but those artifacts and ones like it specifically said it's how they worked in their printed text. In general, tapping an artifact doesn't stop it from working.

Q: Since Rhystic Cave now says its ability can only be activated when its controller could cast an instant, can I respond to it by playing a Lightning Bolt?

A: Rhystic Cave's ability is weird and terrible at the same time, but it's still a mana ability. As it doesn't use the stack, you don't get priority to cast spells or activate abilities. Strangely enough, players will get the chance to activate mana abilities of your their own in order to pay to stop Rhystic Cave from generating any mana.

Q: I'm trying to cast a Pithing Needle with a Mishra's Workshop, but my opponent Spell Pierces it. Can I pay for the Spell Pierce with the two mana I have floating from the Workshop?

A: Spell Pierce doesn't tack on to the cost to cast spells, it creates an effect that says "pay or your non-creature spell is countered!". As Spell Pierce's effect isn't part of casting an artifact spell, the mana generated by Mishra's Workshop can't pay the Spell Pierce tax.

Q: By sacrificing Braids, Cabal Minion to herself during my upkeep, I've now got her under a Mimic Vat. Can I use it at the beginning of my opponent's upkeep to pop out a Braids, and force him to sacrifice a permanent?

A: That won't work, because Braids won't be on the battlefield for her triggered ability to trigger when it normally would, at the beginning of that player's upkeep. What you can do though is make a Braids clone during your end step. She won't be sacrificed until the beginning of that turn's end step, so she'll be gone by the time your upkeep comes along.

A one-card combo... in that it can
basically only be used to keep itself alive.
Q: Can a Reveillark bring back a Knight of the Reliquary that's in my yard, or does the Knight work like Tarmogoyf?

A: Sure! Reveillark can bring back Knight of the Reliquarys all day. Tarmogoyf has a characteristic-defining ability, and those function in all zones. If there's more than one other card type besides creature in the yard, Reveillark won't be able to return Tarmogoyf. But Knight of the Reliquary doesn't have a CDA, it just has a static ability that only functions while it's on the battlefield.

Q: I Scapeshift into a bunch of lands, including some Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles. With the Valakut triggers on the stack, my opponent plays a Cryptic Command to bounce my Prismatic Omen. Since Valakut already triggered, I say that he's still taking a bunch of damage, but he says he's not taking any because I no longer control enough Mountains. Who's right?

A: Sadly for you, Valakut has one of those "intervening if" triggers. You can tell because it's written "When/Whenever/At [trigger event], if [condition], [effect]." Intervening if conditions must be true for the ability to trigger and also still be true when the ability goes to resolve. If it's not true when it tries to resolve, the ability just pops off the stack and doesn't do anything.

Q: Can Consuming Vapors target a player who controls no creatures when it rebounds, or am I forced to target myself if my opponent sacced his only creature last turn and didn't play another one?

A: Not playing a creature seems like a good idea when you know you're going to be on the receiving end of a rebounding Consuming Vapors, but it doesn't mean it won't stick you with the rebound anyway. Consuming Vapors targets a player, and if it targets a player who doesn't control a creature when it resolves, they just won't sacrifice anything. Of course, you can always just not cast it at all since rebound's trigger has a "may" clause.

Q: I control a Lodestone Golem, and my opponent casts a Force of Will for its alternate cost, paying the extra for Lodestone Golem. If I Mana Drain it, how much mana do I get in my next main phase?

A: Mana Drain is better than Counterspell. And even when it costs , it's still better than Cancel! I'm starting to think that card's not exactly fair.

Barring copy effects that change one object into another, the converted mana cost of an object can never change. Whether you pay full price for a Force of Will (something I have to constantly remind myself I'm able to do whenever I have one in my hand and five mana available) or get it for the bargain price that most people do, its converted mana cost is always 5.

Q: My opponent has a Morphling out, but only one blue mana. I go to Lightning Bolt it, and in response he activates its shroud ability. In response to that, I Lightning Bolt it again. Does it die?

A: Oh it's definitely dead. Activating an ability that gives a creature shroud isn't the same as the creature actually getting shroud. When you cast your second Bolt, Morphling's activated ability is still on the stack, so it hasn't given Morphling shroud yet. Morphling dies, then its ability resolves, but at that point it's too late to save it.

Q: Other than Leeches, can anything remove poison counters from a player? Do Vampire Hexmage or Clockspinning do the trick?

A: Nothing else besides the old obscure card Leeches will drain you of the poison that's built up in your bloodstream, and if you've been paying attention to Mark Rosewater, it doesn't look like we're going to get anything that'll do that in the near future. Try as hard as you'd like, but you're not a permanent, and neither Vampire Hexmage nor Clockspinning will let you ditch those poison counters.

Q: Can I look at the cards I've drafted during a draft?

A: That depends on the REL level of the event. At FNM or a normal sanctioned draft at your store, sure - as long as you don't have a pack of cards in your hand. At Competitive or Professional RELs, such a PTQ top 8 or a Pro Tour draft, you'll only get a short time to review your picks between opening each pack, so you'd better have a good memory of what you're drafting.

Well hopefully I can dig myself out of this mess in time for the Mirrodin Besieged prerelease! Carsten will be here next week, but if you'll excuse me, I need to grab my shovel and get back out there.

About the Author:
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.


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