Published on 07/02/2012

Born on the Fourth of July

(or, ooh, look at the explosions!)

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Please be careful with your fireworks;
you don't want to end up like this guy
OK, it's not quite the Fourth yet, but June is behind us, and July has arrived. In just a couple more days, we'll be celebrating Independence Day in the US, so let's start the party a little early and celebrate independence from rules confusion by answering some questions!

And remember that if you've got a rules question you'd like to be freed from, you can send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to moko@cranialinsertion.com , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet, all of which will get you answers and possibly even get your question featured in a future article!



Q: My opponent's got Grave Pact and only one creature, with a Grafted Wargear attached. He says he can pay the Wargear's equip cost to unequip it, in order to get the sacrifice effect and trigger his Grave Pact. Does that work?

A: Your opponent seems to have gravely misunderstood how the equip ability works. In order to activate the equip ability of Grafted Wargear or any Equipment, he has to choose a legal target to attach the Equipment to; this means he can't "un-equip" by choosing nothing. He could activate the ability, targeting the creature the Wargear is already attached to, but that won't help him either. In that case, the Wargear just sits right where it is; it doesn't unattach or reattach, and its sacrifice ability won't trigger.



Q: If I use Qasali Pridemage's ability to blow up a Mimic Vat, what happens? Will there be an opportunity to imprint and copy the Pridemage?

A: Yup! Sacrificing Qasali Pridemage is part of the cost to activate its ability, so you have to do that up-front. This triggers Mimic Vat, and that triggered ability will go on the stack on top of the Pridemage's ability. So Mimic Vat's ability will resolve first, and its controller will get a chance to imprint Pridemage, and make a copy if they feel like it, before the Pridemage's own ability finally resolves and destroys the Vat.



Q: If my opponent casts Pillar of Flame targeting my Marrow Bats and I regenerate in response, what happens? Will Pillar of Flame still exile the Bats?

A: Nope. Pillar of Flame only tries to do something if the card's going to be put into a graveyard from the battlefield (that's what "die" means). But since the Bats regenerated, that never happens: regeneration prevents destruction and all the side effects of destruction, so Pillar of Flame doesn't see anything to do other than twiddle its thumbs and hope for a chance later in the turn.



Q: I'm building a Commander deck around Teysa, Orzhov Scion. If I have both Celestial Dawn and Darkest Hour in play, will my creatures be both white and black so that activating her first ability will trigger the second? What if I have one of those, and a Painter's Servant naming the other color?

A: Effects that change colors usually just replace the pre-existing color(s) of the things they're affecting. So with Celestial Dawn and Darkest Hour, you'd get white or black but not both (depending on the order in which they applied). Painter's Servant illustrates the exception to this, though: because it specifically says "in addition to their other colors", it just adds a new color without replacing any old ones. So if you want to go crazy with Teysa, Painter's Servant is the way to do it!




She brings her own fireworks to the party.
Q: If I have Nature's Revolt and an Essence of the Wild, and I play a Forest, what happens? Does the land become a copy of Essence of the Wild?

A: Your Forest may have a secret herbal essence (my favorite shampoo!), but won't have a secret wild essence. The ability of Essence of the Wild is a replacement effect, and to see whether it would apply to a permanent that's entering the battlefield the rules don't do a whole lot of snooping around to find out if that permanent will end up being a creature. Specifically, they don't look at any continuous effects from other cards that'll apply to the card on the battlefield. So as that Forest is entering the battlefield, Essence of the Wild doesn't "know" that it'll turn into a creature and doesn't do anything to it.



Q: I have a spell that'll kill my opponent, but he's got a Manabarbs, and tapping all those lands would kill me! Isn't there any way I can get around this?

A: There is, if you're casting an instant. What you can do is tap the appropriate lands, putting the Manabarbs triggers on the stack, then cast the instant in response. So long as it finishes off your opponent, the game will end before Manabarbs ends you. This will only work for casting an instant, though; other types of spells can't be cast when there's a triggered ability waiting on the stack (and if you tap mana during the process of casting, the Manabarbs triggers end up on the stack on top of the spell).



Q: I have a Verdant Catacombs. My opponent is controlling me with Mindslaver, and says he wants me to activate the Catacombs but not get a land. Is that legal?

A: It is. Whenever something tells you to search in a hidden zone — like a hand or a library — for cards with specific qualities or characteristics, it's always legal to say "I couldn't find one" regardless of whether there are actually any cards matching those qualities. Verdant Catacombs specifies "a Swamp or Forest card", rather than just "a card", so it's legal not to find one even if there are Swamps or Forests in the library. You will still shuffle your library, though, because the search happens even if it doesn't find anything.



Q: I have a Kuldotha Forgemaster combo deck that gets out Blightsteel Colossus really fast. But my opponent put Pacifism on my Colossus! If I sacrifice it to activate Forgemaster's ability again, will it be back in my library in time to search it back out? Or does his trigger have to wait until after I search with Forgemaster?

A: You can go fetch Blighty again and see how your opponent likes him now that he's not pacified. Even if Blightsteel Colossus' shuffle effect were a triggered ability, it would resolve before Kuldotha Forgemaster's ability does. But in this case it's not actually a trigger; it's a replacement effect that changes "put this in your graveyard" to "reveal this and shuffle is into your library". This doesn't use the stack at all, and technically happens right in the middle of activating Kuldotha Forgemaster's ability (though it's OK to finish that up before physically shuffling your deck, just to keep things from getting confusing).



Q: I've got an emblem from Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, and a Mana Leak in my hand. My opponent casts a spell I really want to counter, but he still has three lands untapped after paying for it. Is there any way I can abuse the emblem to Mana Leak twice?

A: So long as you've got enough mana available to cast Mana Leak twice, sure! Your opponent's spell can't resolve untless both of you pass priority in order with it on top of the stack. So you can cast Mana Leak and he can pay for it; Mana Leak is put in your graveyard and Tamiyo's emblem triggers. That ability goes on the stack on top of the spell, returns Mana Leak to your hand, and you can cast it again; this time, since your opponent doesn't have three more mana to pay, it'll counter his spell.



Q: Can I use Somberwald Sage to produce mana to ninjustu in Ninja of the Deep Hours?

A: Nope. Somberwald Sage will only help you cast a creature, and ninjutsu isn't casting; it's an activated ability that happens to put a creature card onto the battlefield.



Q: If I'm playing EDH with Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon as my commander, and I've got him imprinted on a Mimic Vat. If the Mimic Vat gets blown up, can I send Skithiryx back to the command zone?

A: You only get the choice of sending your general to the command zone at a moment when it would be put into your graveyard or sent to exile. Here, your general's already in exile and isn't being sent anywhere, so poor Skittles will just have to stay there unless you've got some other way to fish him out of the exile zone.



Q: I'm working on a green/black Modern deck, and I'm playing both Shriekmaw and Chord of Calling. If I evoke the Shriekmaw, is there any way I can tap it to convoke the Chord before it dies?

A: Yup! Sacrificing an evoked creature is just a plain old triggered ability, and you're free to respond to it the same as any other triggered ability. So you can let the Shriekmaw enter the battlefield, triggering "sacrifice me" ability, then respond with Chord of Calling and tap the still-living-for-now Shriekmaw to help convoke it.



Q: My opponent attacks with a creature equipped with Bladed Pinions. If I use Urborg on it, does it actually lose first strike, or does the Pinions give it right back?

A: This is a pretty simple layers question; you have two effects which each want to add or remove abilities, so they're in the same layer. In that case the most recent effect "wins". In this case the most recent effect is Urborg (which was activated after the Bladed Pinions was equipped to the creature), so the creature doesn't have first strike anymore.




Great flavor text, or greatest flavor text?
Q: I have Prismatic Omen and two lands, a Plains and an Island. If my opponent casts a spell and I target it with Evasive Action, how much does he have to pay?

A: He'll need to pay the full five; the various "domain" abilities don't care whether you actually have five different lands, just how many basic land types there are among the lands you do have. And Prismatic Omen is making sure each of your lands has all the basic types, so Evasive Action sees that and asks your opponent to pay five mana to keep his spell from being countered



Q: If my opponent has Bridge from Below in his graveyard, and my animated Mutavault dies, will the Bridge get exiled? Or will it just see that Mutavault is a land in the graveyard?

A: He's going to end up with a bridge to nowhere; any sort of triggered ability that looks for creatures leaving the battlefield just cares whether they were creatures when the left, not whether they're still creatures wherever they went. So Bridge from Below's second ability will trigger, and it'll exile itself.



Q: If I restart the game with Karn Liberated and get two lands that I'd exiled with him, can I cast a Serra Avenger immediately since I took more than three turns before Karn went off?

A: The restarted game doesn't have any memory of what happened before Karn, or of turns taken before the restart. So you're on your first turn of the game, and you'll have to wait a bit to start avenging.



Q: My opponent has a Phantasmal Dragon; I know if I cast Smother on something with CMC greater than 3 it'll get countered, but can I just do that to make the Dragon's "sacrifice me" trigger happen?

A: In order to cast a spell in the first place, you have to choose something legal for each of its required targets. If you don't or can't, the spell doesn't get cast at all; the game actually rewinds automatically to just before you started to cast the spell, so the Smother never gets cast, never targets the Dragon and the Dragon's ability never triggers.



Q: If my opponent has a Cavern of Souls naming Human, and taps it to cast a Dark Confidant, can I still flash in Venser, Shaper Savant? Or does Cavern stop that? What if I Remand instead? Will the Confidant go back to his hand, and will I draw a card?

A: Cavern of Souls only prevents countering of the spell, and nothing else. And Venser isn't trying to counter a spell, he's just bouncing the spell off the stack and back to hand, so Cavern doesn't do anything to stop that.

Remand is a bit trickier. You can legally cast it targeting the Confidant, and when Remand resolves it'll do as much as it can. It can't counter the Confidant, and since the Confidant isn't countered it won't be returned to your opponent's hand. But you'll get to draw a card.



Q: So, my opponent and I each have Laboratory Maniac. If he has more cards in his library than I do, is there any way I can win by casting Prosperity? Or at least the game to be a draw?

A: You will get to laugh maniacally, and win the game! The first important thing here is that whenever something tells a player to draw multiple cards, it ends up being a series of individual draws (so "draw two cards" is really "draw a card, then draw a card"). So Prosperity will generate a series of card draws, one after the other, until someone's drawing from an empty library and their Maniac causes them to win.

The second important thing is that when both players are told to draw cards, they don't draw their cards simultaneously. Instead, as with most things in Magic, the active player draws the correct number of cards, then the non-active player draws the correct number of cards. Which means that (since presumably you're casting Prosperity on your turn) you'll complete all your card drawing before your opponent does, so if you made that Prosperity big enough to get you drawing from an empty library, you'll win.



Q: My opponent has a Sun Titan, and two Phantasmal Images that are copies of it. If I cast Sever the Bloodline targeting the Titan, will it get the Images, or do they not have the same name? Will it trigger their sacrifice abilities instead of exiling them?

A: You'll get to exile ALL the things! A copy of a creature is a full copy, including name, so the Images are all currently named "Sun Titan". And they're not being targeted by Sever the Bloodline (remember that something isn't a target unless it's actually referred to by the word "target"), so their sacrifice abilities won't trigger and Sever the Bloodline will exile them all.




That's all I've got for this week, and I'm itching to go watch some fireworks, but never fear! Eli will be back next week with another installment of Cranial Insertion, featuring a first look at rules questions from the Magic 2013 Core Set!

- 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.


 
jskura
In regards to the Teysa, Orzhov Scion question, Painters Servant would be a great choice, however, it is currently banned in Commander
#1 • Date: 2012-07-01 • Time: 23:15:35 •
awkwardfire
well yes, but commander is at its heart a very casual format. many playgroups don't mind ignoring painter's servant if you're not grindstoning everyone or something of that nature.
#2 • Date: 2012-07-02 • Time: 09:23:41 •
wicketlink
I think a better answer to the Prosperity question was \"make X somewhere between your cards and his\".

(I\'m pretty sure he meant for the libraries to be opposite sizes)

Last edited on 2012-07-02 15:38:14 by wicketlink
#3 • Date: 2012-07-02 • Time: 15:32:57 •
danielctw
Quote:
The second important thing is that when both players are told to draw cards, they don't draw their cards simultaneously. Instead, as with most things in Magic, the active player draws the correct number of cards, then the non-active player draws the correct number of cards. Which means that (since presumably you're casting Prosperity on your turn) you'll complete all your card drawing before your opponent does, so if you made that Prosperity big enough to get you drawing from an empty library, you'll win.


Hmmm... I always thought that both will end in draw when this happens if they have the same library size. Thanks for brightening this up
#4 • Date: 2012-07-04 • Time: 20:04:32 •
Katastrophe
Quote:
Hmmm... I always thought that both will end in draw when this happens if they have the same library size. Thanks for brightening this up
A draw game is normally correct. But that question involved a Laboratory Maniac, who has a weird static ability.

Setup: two players, both with two cards left, and Prosperity for 4. First both players draw 2, then both lose together the next time state-based actions are checked.

Same setup, but both players also have a Laboratory Maniac. Prosperity turns into:

Spoiler:

- Active player draws a card.
- Active player draws a card.
- Active player draws a card.
- Active player draws a card.
- (Next) player draws a card.
- (Next) player draws a card.
- (Next) player draws a card.
- (Next) player draws a card.

Because static abilities are "always on" the active player will with the Maniac will win during the resolution of Prosperity. Specifically, at the third step. Draws 4-8 never happen since the game has ended.
#5 • Date: 2012-07-07 • Time: 01:25:43 •
AluminumAngel
Yeah, the Laboratory Maniac thing was the only one I missed! :(

I stupidly just thought of the Maniac\'s ability as a state-based effect (as per the effect which normally causes you to loose when you draw out your library). Probably a common error. (Excepting that the situation never actually comes up, so I suppose that makes it an uncommon error.)
#6 • Date: 2012-07-08 • Time: 23:26:19 •
Eli
Zitat (AluminumAngel):
Yeah, the Laboratory Maniac thing was the only one I missed! :(

I stupidly just thought of the Maniac's ability as a state-based effect (as per the effect which normally causes you to loose when you draw out your library). Probably a common error. (Excepting that the situation never actually comes up, so I suppose that makes it an uncommon error.)

Among people who want to try to win and lose simultaneously, it's actually a really popular common error. >_> (There is no way in the current rules to actually win and lose simultaneously; the rule about what to do if it happens is for when such a way pops up one day, which it probably will.)
#7 • Date: 2012-07-09 • Time: 00:40:58 •
cjshrader
Well now danielctw, be careful.

If you and I both have 5 cards in our library and I prosperity for 6, the game will be a draw. That's because it is a state based action that checks after the spell is fully resolved, and it sees that both of us tried to draw on an empty library so we both lose simultaneously, meaning a draw.

Laboratory Maniac is a little different. It is a replacement effect that *replaces* your attempt to draw a card off of an empty library with you winning the game. In that case you're just fine, but you end up winning the game in the middle of the spell resolving.
#8 • Date: 2012-07-09 • Time: 07:45:18 •
 

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