Published on 01/16/2006

My Lips Are Sealed

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Should auld acquaintance be forgot? Let's hope not, because then you might not read this column anymore! I hope everyone had an awesome new year and didn't resolve to do the impossible. Extended season is, sadly, behind us already, and the current PTQ format is sealed deck. We're going to field a few questions about sealed deck first, then jump into a smorgasbord of other fun things.

As always, send your rules questions to us via email at . You'll get a quick answer, and we might even use your question in a column. The only easier way to get your name in print is to release a sex tape!

Q: I've noticed that all the upcoming PTQs are sealed deck. As someone who's only played 60-card events so far, what is sealed deck?

A: You take a deck and glue all the cards together. Whoever drips the least glue wins.

Ok, not really. In Constructed tournaments, you bring your own deck to the event. In sealed deck events, you're given the cardpool with which to build your deck right there at the event. You'll get a tournament pack of the most recent large expansion (Ravnica, in this case), and two boosters of the current expansions (Ravnica only until Guildpact officially hits the streets in early February). With those 75 cards, plus lands, you'll construct your deck for the event.

Hey, nice open.
But wait! Those may not be the cards you actually play with. To discourage people from tampering with their cardpools (which is punishable by a DQ without prize and a suspension, in case you were tempted), most sealed events do a deck swap. Here's how it works: you register the cards you received on a sheet given to you by the judges. There are two columns: one marked "Played," and the other marked "Total." If you opened two copies of Galvanic Arc, then you put a "2" in the "Total" column. Once you've done that for all the cards you've received (and for the love of Great Cthulhu, don't put a "0" down for cards you didn't get), you'll hand in your cards and the decklist to the judges.

Once the judges have all the decks, they will randomly give them back out. It's possible you might get your own deck back this way. If you do, that's fine. The chances of it happening are pretty slim, but it does happen. The cards you got back in the deck swap are the cards from which you'll build your deck. First, verify that whoever registered the cardpool did so accurately. After you've done that, you need to make a deck that's a minimum of 40 cards (including basic lands, which the venue will provide). Mark the cards in your deck in the "Played" column; everything else becomes your sideboard.

Bonus: At Prereleases for the second and third sets of a block, you'll get an extra booster pack of the new set to use. This is done so that you have as many new cards as you do cards in the large expansion. The purpose of a Prerelease is to give you a chance to see and play with the newest cards, after all.

Q: I heard you don't have to sideboard one-for-one in sealed. Is that true?

A: It is, and it's also true in booster draft. Your deck must be a minimum of 40 cards when you present it to your opponent at the start of each game. Unlike Constructed, when you sideboard, you do not have to do so on a one-for-one basis. In the 60-card world, your sideboard must always be 15 (or 0) cards. In Limited formats, your sideboard can be any size, so there's need to force you to swap cards out evenly.

Q: One of my good cards was damaged out of the pack. What do I do?

A: This is one of the few cases when you can play in a sanctioned event with a proxy. The head judge, at his discretion, may issue a proxy for a card which was damaged out of the pack. The judge will use a marker and write the card name, mana cost, and relevant rules mumbo-jumbo on a basic land. If the proxy would ever come into play, you should replace it with the original card to minimize confusion.

And now, on to questions dealing with other formats.

Q: My opponent is at 1 life, and I have 0 cards in my library. If I sacrifice my Kokusho to my Greater Good, who wins the game?

A: You do. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. What happens is this: you activate Greater Good by sacrificing Kokusho. That puts Greater Good's card-drawing ability on the stack. However, Kokusho's leaves-play ability triggered when he was sent to the graveyard, and will go onto the stack once Greater Good's ability is on. Since the Kokusho trigger is the top object on the stack (presuming no responses), it will resolve first, and your opponent will die when his life total falls below 0. State-based effects will cause him to lose well before the card-drawing ability of Greater Good can resolve.

1, 2, 3, 4 . . .
Q: I've got a question about Erayo, Soratami Ascendant. What happens in the following situation: I play a Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, and Nantuko Shade. My opponent plays Force of Will to counter the Shade. After that, I play Erayo. Does he flip or not, and why?

A: He does not. The spells played in this turn were: (1) Lotus Petal, (2) Dark Ritual, (3) Nantuko Shade, (4) Force of Will, and (5) Erayo. For Erayo's ability to trigger, it must be in play when the fourth spell of a turn is played. That means Erayo must be one of the first three spells played in a turn.

Q: Second situation with Erayo:

Me: Swamp, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Erayo.
Opponent: Force of Will to counter Erayo.

Is Erayo countered? Or does it flip before the Force of Will resolves?

A: Erayo is countered. Spells on the stack cannot flip. Remember that Erayo must be in play when the fourth spell of a turn is played. If the spell Erayo is still on the stack, it doesn't matter how many spells get played in the turn. Also, anything which targets a flip card will continue to target it after it flips, unless the spell or ability specifically targets creatures.

Q: I activate Mortipede's ability and move to the combat phase. My opponent plays Master Warcraft. Does his ability to now choose blockers override Mortipede's ability, which makes all creatures block?

A: No. Master Warcraft only changes who chooses attackers and blockers. It has no effect on any legalities or illegalities associated with attacking and blocking. In this case, Mortipede's ability forces all creatures to block. Your opponent cannot make another choice here, since he must meet as many blocking requirements as possible to have a legal block. Master Warcraft is like Mindslaver in that it can't make a player choose any course of action which would be illegal.

Q: I have an Eight-and-a-Half-Tails in play, and enough mana to use its abilities. My opponent controls a Seal of Fire. If he sacrifices the Seal to try and kill my 8.5 Tails, can I use the abilities to save him?

A: I'm afraid your Fox Cleric is getting his tails burned off. You can use 8.5's ability to give a creature (himself, in this case) protection from White until end of turn. However, the Seal of Fire is no longer in play, since it has to be sacrificed as its activation cost. Therefore, the Seal of Fire is not a valid target for 8.5's other ability, so he can't save himself from it.

Bonus: You can target the Seal of Fire spell while it's on the stack and make it White. If you do, it'll come into play as a White permanent and remain one until end of turn. If your opponent isn't aware of this and tries to use it to kill your 8.5 Tails, he's very able to protect himself in this case.

Q: It's the beginning of my opponent's upkeep. He has no cards in hand, two copies of Squee, Goblin Nabob in his graveyard, and I control The Rack. How much damage does he take?

A: Bzzzzt! Zap! Those are the sounds of a Lightning Bolt, meaning your opponent is taking 3 damage. Both Squee and The Rack have abilities which will trigger at the beginning of your opponent's upkeep. As the active player, his abilities will go onto the stack first, followed by yours, as the non-active player (the APNAP rule). The Rack will resolve first, dealing 3 damage to your opponent. After that, your opponent will have the option to return a pair of Goblin Nabobs to his hand.

Bonus: If the sound effects had been "Zap! Biff! Pow!" then you would have been watching the campy 1960s Batman TV show. Holy non sequiturs!

Seek and ye . . . don't have to find.
Q: This has probably been asked before, but I want a definitive answer. My opponent played Gifts Ungiven and found only two cards, which he said I had to put in his graveyard. But Gifts says to search for four cards. Can he do this?

A: He can indeed. To see why, let's look in the Comp Rules, under the glossary definition of "search."

If you're required to search a zone not revealed to all players for cards of a given quality, such as type or color, you aren't required to find some or all of those cards even if they're present; however, if you do choose to find cards, you must reveal those cards to all players. Even if you don't find any cards, you are still considered to have searched the zone.

If you're simply searching for a quantity of cards, such as "a card" or "three cards," you must find that many cards (or as many as possible). These cards often aren't revealed.

So, in the case of Gifts Ungiven, your opponent is searching for cards with a given quality – in this case, different names. Because of that, he can choose to find anywhere from zero to four cards with Gifts. If he finds one or two cards, then you have to send those to the graveyard.

Now, if you're searching your library for a quantity of cards with no specific qualities, then you must find that many cards, if you have that many in your library. If you play Diabolic Tutor and have at least one card left in your library, you have to find a card. If you play Intuition and have at least three cards in your library, you have to find three cards.

Searching and not finding is often a difficult concept for players to understand. They say it's counter-intuitive. I can't say I disagree, honestly, even though I'm used to the rule and it makes sense to me. However, the rules clearly say what you can do when you search, and all the rules you need to handle these situations are directly above.

Q: How does Celestial Kirin work with the Shoals?

A: We'll use Shining Shoal here, since it's another White card. Celestial Kirin will trigger whenever you play a spirit or arcane spell. Shining Shoal is an arcane spell. Its mana cost equals ww plus x. For X, you may pay additional mana, or you may remove a White card in your hand from the game. If you want X to be 3, you can pay , or remove a Waxmane Baku from the game. Either way, the converted mana cost of this Shining Shoal will be 5. When the Celestial Kirin's triggered ability resolves, it will destroy all permanents with a converted mana cost of 5.

Q: My opponent has taken two of my lands with Annex. If he plays Wildfire, can he sacrifice the Annexed lands?

A: Certainly. You may own the lands, but he controls them because of the Annexes. Wildfire makes you sacrifice four lands, and you can only sacrifice things you control. Your opponent may indeed choose to sacrifice the lands he has taken from you.

Remember the days of mono artifacts?
Q: I'm fuzzy on the timing of the main phase and combat phase with effects like Icy Manipulator. I've seen people re-equip equipment after their opponent has tapped one of their potential attackers. What's going on?

A: To pinch a line from Cool Hand Luke, what we've got here is failure to communicate. The ideal time to use a tap effect on an opponent's attacker is during the beginning of combat step. This is doubly true of equipped attackers, since equipment cannot normally be equipped during the combat phase.

However, if the exchange goes something like this . . .

A: Declare my attack.
B: Icy that guy with the Jitte.

When is the Icy ability being activated? Unless the player can specify when he's doing it, then the game has to proceed from the last point at which both players agree. In this case, that would be A's main phase. He wants to end his main phase and go to combat, which is clear from his statement. B, however, is very ambiguous in his statement. When he's using his Icy is never specified. Because of that, a judge would have to presume it's still A's main phase. The creature would become tapped, and then A would receive priority. And since it's still his main phase, he could do things like move his equipment around.

Bonus: As a judge, I would be lenient on this at low-REL events like FNM and store tournaments. However, at GP Trials, PTQs, and above, it should be enforced to the letter. Just remember the beginning of combat step, and all will be right with the world.

Q: I'm sure this has been asked before, but I'm not clear on it. Is it possible to Twincast a Twincast? Does this create a loop? Does the world end?

A: If the world does end while you're doing this, it won't be because you started stringing your Twincasts together. To do this, you'll need a spell on the stack and a pair of Twincasts in your hand, but it works. We'll call the spell already on the stack X.

Play Twincast 1, targeting X.
Play Twincast 2, targeting Twincast 1.
Twincast 2 resolves, creating Twincast 2a.
Twincast 2a targets Twincast 1.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

Note, however, that this does not create a mandatory loop of any kind, as all the actions are optional. You can always choose X as the spell to copy, which will break the "infinite Twincast" scenario. If you want to keep copying Twincasts, you can choose a number of times to do it, and then it will happen that many times.

Bonus: Remember that Twincast creates copies of spells which are put onto the stack. Chaining your Twincasts together is thus quite ineffective at upping your storm count.

Q: I was playing a woman who had brought her toddler with her to FNM. She spent literally 50% of our game time trying to keep him for going crazy and/or crying. We split the first 2 games before we were called for time, stalemated. We both agreed that the game had degraded to who would get decked first (which she would), but she called a draw because time and extra turns ran out. Could I have called her for stalling during the match, or had I missed my opportunity?

A: There's no good answer to this question, really. If you sit there and let her fuss with her child and essentially waste time on the clock, then you're hurting yourself, which is what happened here. If you try to get her cited for slow play, then you're being insensitive to a woman with an infant, and maybe keeping her from coming back to play FNM there again.

That said, you should have tried to get her cited for slow play during the match. Once it's over, it's too late to say that a person was playing slower than he/she should have been. The reality of the situation is that all players are required to play at an appropriate pace at all times. Slow play warnings are used to move the game along when one player is taking too much time; a player felt to be deliberately playing slowly to milk the clock can be DQ'ed for stalling. I don't think the woman in this situation was stalling, but I think you definitely have a case for slow play.

If you call a judge for slow play in a case like this, explain the situation. Say that you feel the match should get extra time because your opponent has been forced to play slower than normal because of the child. It's a reasonable case for a time extension at an event like FNM, and I feel most judges would issue one in this instance.

I also feel most responsible judges would realize that the toddler is going to be a time sink during every round, and it's not fair to the other players. A judge couldn't give a time extension every round because of the toddler. Players need to be able to complete their matches on time. Either the head judge or the TO would need to explain to the woman that a small child is a distraction to the other players, but also causes her to play slower than she should, which does a disservice to everyone else in the room. It may sound harsh, but I think the best course of action is to tell the woman that she can't continue to bring the toddler with her if she wants to play FNM. Young children like that really have no business being in a game store for any length of time. If the parents are pushing a stroller around while they're shopping, that's fine. But for a toddler to be in a tournament setting for hours is unfair to everyone involved. Including the toddler.

Q: How can we run our own sanctioned events?

A: I'm glad this question was asked. Sanctioning events is an excellent thing to do for your playgroup. If you regularly have eight or more players getting together to draft, or at least eight getting together to play some Constructed, then you should look into sanctioning events.

First, you should go to the DCI sanctioning homepage. There, you can read up on the basics of sanctioning, as well as read about what you have to do to sanction your events. There are some documents there you should read, and they'll require a PDF reader. Also, if you're going to be the organizer, you have to be at least 18 years old.

Here are the first steps to getting your event sanctioned, taken from the DCI's PDF called "Running DCI Events Is Easy."

DCI Events—Step by Step, from Sanctioning to Reporting
1. Fill out a copy of the Tournament Sanctioning Application.
• Complete the DCI Sanctioning Application that applies to the appropriate game.
• Be sure to provide all the contact and event information you can, because your event will be listed in our website's searchable upcoming events calendar. You may submit your sanctioning application to the DCI via fax at (425) 254-2987, or by mail at:

DCI Tournament Sanctioning
P.O. Box 1080
Renton, WA 98057

2. Shortly after sanctioning your event, you will receive:
• An Event Report Summary customized by DCI staff for the event you're scheduling;
• A copy of the Tournament Organizer's Handbook, which you should use as a reference for running DCIsanctioned
events; and
• A pad of DCI Membership Application Cards for players who are new to tournaments.

The Sanctioning Application is available online. Typical response time to faxed or mailed-in sanctioning applications is two weeks. Faxing is recommended.

Once you've run some events this way, you may want to start doing them regularly. Maybe your group wants to get together and draft every Wednesday. In that case, you should look into becoming an official Tournament Organizer. There's a test you have to take, but once you pass it, you can sanction events online, thru the TO portion of the DCI homepage. It's a simple process, and you'll have your sanctioning information in a matter of hours.

Bonus: In Soviet Russia, event sanctions you!

Q: Does this mean I could then bring FNM to my area?

A: Not unless you own a game store. FNM is available only to stores WOTC has certified as Premier Stores. Game stores can apply to WOTC to become Premier Stores, which gives the store several benefits. WOTC will want to know which games you sell and run, and they'll want some general information about your store, including pictures. Once a store is a Premier Store, they can get events like FNM, as well as place orders for cards directly from WOTC. This is often slightly cheaper than going thru other distributors. Premier Stores can also run Release events when new sets come out, and can run the Arena league year-round.

That'll do it for this installment of Cranial Insertion. Next week, we have our first look at the new Guildpact set. I doubt you'll want to miss that one. Take care.

Tom Fowler
Level 2 DCI Judge
The occasionally great state of MD, USA, North America, Earth

About the Author:
Tom is a Level 2 judge who frequently works in the MD, DC, and PA areas. He is also an active player, and has written articles from both perspectives. Tom has judged numerous Pro Tours, but would like to make it there as a player at least once.


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