Published on 05/28/2012

Sound the Horns!

(or, what's that buzzing noise?)

Cranial Translation
简体中文 繁體中文 Deutsch Español Français Italiano Pусский

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

May your cup runneth over
Ah, summer. The weather is warm, the birds are singing, and the air is full of the sound of... buzzing? Yup, that's right, World Cup fever is on the rise! Magic World Cup fever, that is; a few days after you read this, I'll be packing up my vuvuzelas and hitting the road to help judge my local region's qualifier. So let's sound the horn of, well, whatever a vuvuzela is the horn of, and answer some rules questions.

And as always, if you've got questions, please send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: I've been hearing a lot about some new ruling involving Cavern of Souls. Did something about it change? What's going on?

A: Cavern of Souls is a pretty cool card, but it had the potential to cause some confusion if you just tapped it for mana without announcing which ability you were using; your opponent might have no way to know whether you'd made your creature uncounterable, which isn't exactly fair. Plus, if you'd forgotten to use the second ability, asking you to clarify might give you an even bigger advantage by letting you just pretend you'd used it correctly.

Initially, judges were instructed that players would need to indicate in some way that they were using Cavern's second ability. But that's been changed; policy going forward is very simple — if you're casting a creature of the appropriate type using mana from Cavern of Souls, then that creature spell is uncounterable even if you don't say you're using the Cavern's second ability.

Q: If I cast a Nearheath Pilgrim, can I choose to pair it with one of my opponent's big creatures so I won't take any damage from it?

A: Nope, and there are two problems here. One is that soulbond only works with creatures you control, so you can't pair Nearheath Pilgrim with one of your opponent's creatures. The other is that lifelink says the creature's controller gains the life; giving lifelink to your opponent's creature would cause him to gain life from it.

Q: If Gideon Jura is turned into a creature, and he gets Cloudshifted, does he die when he comes back since he lost all his loyalty counters?

A: Nope! It's true that any counters that were on Gideon will disappear when he gets exiled, but he'll come back with a very healthy six. This is because a planeswalker always enters the battlefield with a number of loyalty counters equal to its starting loyalty, no matter what's causing it to enter the battlefield.

Q: All my creatures are indestructible thanks to Avacyn, Angel of Hope, and I block a 4/4 with my Emancipation Angel. Then Avacyn gets Capsized; does my Emancipation Angel die?

A: Unfortunately, once Avacyn's gone your creatures get emancipated from their indestructibility, And the Emancipation Angel still has 4 damage marked on it until the end of the turn, which is enough to kill it at the next state-based action check.

Did you know that there are only two Cups in all of Magic?
Q: I'm attacking with two creatures. My opponent wants to flash in Hollowhenge Spirit, remove one of the attackers from combat and block the other. Then he wants to Peel From Reality the Hollowhenge Spirit and the creature it's blocking. Does that work? I thought you couldn't cast spells before damage was dealt anymore?

A: Yup! Players get a lot of chances to cast spells in combat; there's an opportunity before attackers are declared, another before blockers are declared, another before combat damage happens, and one more afterward, before the combat phase ends. So he can flash in the Spirit, declare it as a blocker, then Peel it away right afterward. It's true that there used to be another opportunity to cast spells, between combat damage being assigned and being dealt (what old-time players called "damage on the stack"), and it was removed with Magic 2010, but that doesn't stop this particular trick from working; it just stops any combat damage from being dealt.

Q: I have Spellskite and a planeswalker, and my opponent casts a Lightning Bolt targeting me. Is there any way I can find out if he's going to send the damage to my planeswalker before I decide whether to use Spellskite?

A: Nope. Although it's legal for your opponent to say "Bolt your planeswalker" as a shortcut for "target you, redirect the damage", the choice doesn't technically have to be made until Lightning Bolt is resolving and dealing its damage, at which point it's too late to try to respond.

Q: If I have Wolfir Silverheart paired with my Huntmaster of the Fells, and Huntmaster transforms, does that break their bond?

A: A pair created by soulbond can only be "broken" if you lose control of one of the creatures, if one of them leaves the battlefield, or if one of them stops being a creature. Transforming Huntmaster into Ravager of the Fells doesn't do any of those things, so the Silverheart and the Ravager are just going to high-five each other over getting that much more frightening.

Q: So Cloudshift can save my creature from a targeted removal spell, but I've heard something weird about how it works against Oblivion Ring; if I Cloudshift the target, does my opponent just get to choose another one?

A: It depends on when exactly you cast the Cloudshift. When Oblivion Ring is a spell on the stack, it isn't targeting anything; only its triggered ability on entering the battlefield requires a target. So if you Cloudshift while Oblivion Ring is still a spell waiting to resolve, then your opponent can choose any target he likes (including the creature you just Cloudshifted!) when Oblivion Ring enters the battlefield and its ability triggers. If you Cloudshift in response to the trigger, though, your creature will be fine.

Q: I have Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and a bunch of 1/1 flying Spirit tokens. My opponent casts a Corrosive Gale for 1. What happens?

A: Gisela will keep all your Spirits alive. Her second ability says to round up when preventing damage, and half of 1, rounded up, is 1. So she'll end up preventing all the damage Corrosive Gale would deal to your creatures.

Q: My opponent's at 4 life, and I want to cast Banefire to kill him. Just to be safe, I do it for 6. In response he casts Faith's Shield, and says that he'll live because its fateful hour ability kicks in and gives him protection from red. How can that be, if Banefire's uncounterable and the damage can't be prevented?

A: There's a neat trick here, because Banefire actually says it can't be countered "by spells or abilities" when X is 5 or greater. But as soon as your opponent gets protection from red, he becomes an illegal target for Banefire, and the rules of the game step in and counter it, which is perfectly legal.

Q: If I have Sheoldred, Whispering One, and I attack my opponent's planeswalker instead of him, does that mean he can block even if he has a Swamp?

A: Judging from her art, Sheoldred could wear a lot of boots, and all of them are made for walking. And here they're going to walk all over your opponent's planeswalker; your opponent's still the one who'd need to do the blocking, and Sheoldred's swampwalk ability says he can't do that.

Q: I heard someone say that triggered abilities are colorless. Does that mean Zealous Conscripts' ability could be used to steal a creature with protection from red?

A: Not quite. A triggered ability on the stack is defined by the rules as having only one characteristic — its text — so the Conscripts' triggered ability isn't actually red. But protection doesn't look at the characteristics of an ability; it looks at the characteristics of the ability's source. In this case, the source is Zealous Conscripts, which is red, so a creature with protection from red can't be targeted by the ability, and they'll just have to take out their zeal on some other permanent instead.

Q: If my opponent has a creature enchanted with Demonic Appetite, and I steal that creature with Zealous Conscripts, what happens? Does it make a difference if I steal the Demonic Appetite instead?

A: Either way, that creature's suddenly going to go from demonically hungry to perhaps just a bit peckish. Demonic Appetite's "enchant creature you control" means that the controller of the creature and the controller of Demonic Appetite need to be the same player; if they're ever not — due to a control change of the creature, or of Demonic Appetite itself — then the next state-based action check will send Demonic Appetite straight to the graveyard for being attached to an illegal object.

Q: I know that if my opponent has an emblem from Elspeth, Knight-Errant, then Sudden Spoiling won't take away indestructibility from his creatures. But what if he has Avacyn, Angel of Hope instead? What about the Marit Lage token from Dark Depths?

A: "Indestructible" isn't an ability, so it isn't something that can be removed by losing abilities. "Permanents you control are indestructible" is an ability, though, and Sudden Spoiling can take that away from Avacyn. Similarly, "this creature is indestructible" is an ability, and Sudden Spoiling can take that away from Marit Lage, so if you find a way to deal her 20 damage she'll sink right back into the depths as she gets destroyed.

But a chalice is a cup, right?
Q: I was watching coverage of the Pro Tour, and saw a player who had Spectral Flight on one of his creatures. When he attacked, he tapped the creature and the Spectral Flight. Is that right?

A: Technically, no; tapping the creature doesn't tap any Auras or Equipment attached to it. But players often just turn the whole pile of cards sideways, and that's usually fine since it doesn't normally cause any ambiguity and the tapped/untapped status of an Aura or Equipment isn't often relevant. If it is relevant or causes confusion, then it can be sorted out, but fortunately that doesn't happen often (especially with Auras — only a couple have abilities that make tapping them relevant).

Q: I have a Delver of Secrets that's transformed into Insectile Aberration, and I attack. My opponent casts Moonmist, then blocks with his Young Wolf. Is that legal?

A: Yup! That Insect is pretty aberrant, since its type line says it's also still a Human. So even though it doesn't have any ability to transform back into Delver of Secrets on its own, Moonmist will see it's a human and transform it. Then, since it no longer has flying, Young Wolf can block it (and Moonmist will also prevent the damage Delver would deal to it).

Q: I have Mother of Runes and a big Knight of the Reliquary. My opponent has one blue creature and one green creature; is there any way I can use Mother of Runes to guarantee my Knight doesn't get blocked?

A: Nope. No matter which color you give the Knight protection from, the creature of the other color can still block it. And once a legal block has been declared, giving the Knight protection won't cause it to be un-blocked; all it'll do is prevent any damage the Knight would be dealt by its blocker.

Q: If I have Flayer of the Hatebound, and I reanimate a Stormblood Berserker in my graveyard, can I stack the triggers to make sure my Berserker gets counters from bloodthirst?

A: Sadly, your Berserker will have to go thirsty. Bloodthirst isn't a triggered ability; it's a replacement effect that modifies how the creature enters the battlefield. So it'll be checking whether your opponent has been dealt damage before Flayer's trigger even gets onto the stack, and long before that trigger deals any damage.

Q: How would Heartless Summoning interact with a hybrid mana cost like Reaper King? Would it not reduce the cost since those are colored mana symbols instead of colorless?

A: If you do it right, it'll make your Scarecrow a bit more affordable! When you're casting a spell with hybrid mana symbols in its mana cost, one of the very first things you do is announce how you'll pay for each symbol, and you do that before taking into account any effects that reduce costs. So if you choose the generic-mana half for at least one of the symbols in Reaper King's mana cost, Heartless Summoning will see a generic-mana cost it can reduce.

Q: In my draw step, I draw a Terminus, and I'd really like to cast it as a miracle, but I don't have any way to make white mana. I know I can't wait until my main phase to try to play a land, but if I have a Marsh Flats is there any way I could fetch a Plains in time?

A: Sure. Miracle is a triggered ability that triggers when you reveal the card; you don't cast the card (and thus you don't have to pay its cost) until that trigger resolves, and it's perfectly legal to respond to the trigger by cracking Marsh Flats to go get a Plains.

I'm starting to get a bit out of breath from blowing on this vuvuzela while I type, so I'm going to give it a rest. If you happen to be at the World Cup qualifier in St. Louis next week, feel free to come up and introduce yourself, and don't forget to come back next Monday for another issue of Cranial Insertion, as Carsten goes over the ins and outs of the new Planechase release!

- James Bennett

About the Author:
James Bennett is a Level 3 judge based out of Lawrence, Kansas. He pops up at events around Kansas City and all over the midwest, and has a car he can talk to.

Regarding tapping of auras and equipment:
This is something that should not be encouraged or even allowed, especially at Pro Tour level. There are a lot of cards that interact with other permanents tapping or untapping - and that's just in Standard!
Auras do not tap when the creature they're attached to is declared as an attacker nor do equipped equipment unless there is another effect that does so.
There are cards that count permanents untapping, number of tapped/untapped permanents, and abilities or costs that use tapping/untapping of permanents. Your untapped Auras and Equipment would be valid targets for such effects. Encouraging tapping of Auras and Equipment incorrectly should not be taken lightly at Pro Tour level as it is a critical error in maintaining a correct game state. I'm surprised they let that one slip.
#1 • Date: 2012-05-28 • Time: 10:57:19 •
As a general matter of philosophy, if two players are playing in a way that might seem unclear or ambiguous — or even flat wrong — to a spectator, but both players clearly understand the game state and the game state they believe exists is legal, then there's nothing for a judge to do. If someone actually started miscounting a tapped Spectral Flight for something that cares about tapped permanents, then sure, we'd step in. But otherwise there's really no more harm to this than there is to letting players say things like "attack with Batterskull" when what they really mean is "attack with the Germ token Batterskull is attached to".
#2 • Date: 2012-05-28 • Time: 20:35:47 •
I guess that makes sense. Rather than disrupt the flow of the game, you're making the assumption that both players understand what they're doing. So no education involved, just keeping a wary eye open in case something does count or involve those permanents.
I just worry about the amount of things that do involve tapping/untapping in the game. And I always think about fixing potential bad habits early on. With Frost Titans in Standard, it could be important.
#3 • Date: 2012-05-29 • Time: 06:05:14 •
While things like Frost Titan may tap permenants, it's pretty rare that the aura being tapped or not is going to be relevant.

Really the only thing I can think of in standard that may have an effect is something like Tezzeret turning an Equipment into a creature. But even then 99.99% the time it's safe to just assume it was untapped before that happened.
#4 • Date: 2012-05-29 • Time: 12:17:37 •
You wouldn't need to deal 20 damage to a sudden spoiling-ed marit lage since she'd be a 0/2.
#5 • Date: 2012-05-29 • Time: 19:53:16 •
Zitat (nyth):
There are a lot of cards that interact with other permanents tapping or untapping - and that's just in Standard!

Name one. :) I can only think of one, and it sees zero play.
#6 • Date: 2012-05-30 • Time: 22:22:12 •
Captain of the Mists, Deceiver Exarch, Due Respect, Frost Titan, Ghostly Touch and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. Those are the main ones that play around with non creature permanents but there are others that do stuff. I know the logic behind reprimanding people, but am just curious about proper education. Maybe it doesn't have a place at tournament level.
#7 • Date: 2012-06-04 • Time: 08:42:25 •
Those all tap permanents, but none of them care about whether a noncreature permanent is tapped or untapped.

Magic is a game played by people. People do not like nitpicks even when those nitpicks have serious meaning. They like meaningless nitpicks even less. :/
#8 • Date: 2012-06-04 • Time: 15:48:51 •

Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!