Published on 09/24/2012
Standard's Last Gleaming
or, You Spin Me Right Round
By Eli Shiffrin, Carsten Haese, and James Bennett
This Article from: James Bennett
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 email@example.com , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.
Q: I'm playing Legacy, and my opponent's running a miracle control deck. I've got Aether Vial with two counters, and a Tidehollow Sculler in my hand. When he reveals a Terminus, is there any point when I could Vial in the Sculler and take it? If I do, will he get to cast it as a miracle?
A: Your opponent is miraculously not going to terminate all your dudes. Miracle involves a triggered ability that triggers as he draws (and reveals) the Terminus. Since he's drawn it, it's in his hand and you can Vial/Sculler in response to the trigger to take it, and since it isn't in his hand anymore he doesn't get to cast it.
Q: So I want to Redirect my opponent's Prey Upon. Since I now control it, can I have the second target also be one of his creatures?
A: Not quite. While Redirect gives you the ability to change the targets of Prey Upon, it doesn't give you control of Prey Upon, so the "target creature you control" and "target creature you don't control" are still interpreted from your opponent's point of view. But, on the bright side, you can still rearrange things so that his puniest creature fights your biggest and beefiest one, which isn't all bad.
Q: How do the Ravnica "shocklands" work with effects that put a land into play tapped? Say, if I Farseek for a Temple Garden, can I pay 2 life to get the Garden untapped?
A: You can pay 2 life if you really want to... but it won't change anything. Temple Garden (like all the "shocklands") says it enters tapped if you don't pay life; it doesn't say anything about entering untapped if you do pay life. So when you pay, you're just getting rid of one thing that's trying to tap it; any others, like Farseek's effect, will still be there and will still cause it to be tapped.
Q: I have a Ninja of the Deep Hours in my hand, and I attack with one of my creatures; if my opponent doesn't have any creatures to block with, how can I know when my attacker becomes "unblocked" without asking my opponent whether he's declaring a blocker (and so potentially giving away that I want to Ninja him and letting him figure out in advance what to do)?
A: This is an area where real life gets in the way a bit. In a perfect world, it would be clear all the time which step of combat the game was in, and as soon as the game moved into the declare blockers step your attacker would be considered unblocked and fair game for ninja hijinks. But in reality, there's no magic indicator to show that, even when he doesn't currently have any creatures that could block (he could have one with flash in his hand, for example). So you just have to ask, or hope that your opponent says something to make it clear the game's moved on. This may mean he suspects a trick up your sleeve; you ninja some, you lose some.
A: You'll get to rage all over ALL the lands! Once an ability is on the stack, destroying or removing its source doesn't counter or prevent the ability in any way. So you won't have a raging Myojin on the battlefield anymore, but all the lands will get blown up just the same.
Q: If I have two Glimmerposts and two Cloudposts, and I Ghostly Flicker the two Glimmerposts, how much life do I gain?
A: You'll post a very healthy 8 life. The two Glimmerposts re-enter simultaneously, and both of them trigger. When those triggered abilities resolve, there are four Loci on the battlefield, so you get four life from each trigger, for a total of 8.
Q: There's a Pillar of Flame coming at my (un-transformed) Delver of Secrets, and in response I give the Delver some Mutagenic Growth to save it. But my opponent says my Delver will still die at the end of the turn when the Growth wears off; is that right?
A: Your little buddy will live to delve another day! Both damage, and any "until end of turn" effects, wear off at the same moment, in the cleanup step of the turn. So Delver goes from being 3/3 with 2 damage marked on it straight to being 1/1 with zero damage marked on it, and neither one of those situations is lethal to it.
Q: When I use mana from Boseiju, Who Shelters All to pay the suspend cost of Arc Blade, does it make Arc Blade uncounterable?
A: Boseiju's ability only makes a spell uncounterable if you use the mana to cast a spell, and suspending isn't casting. You will eventually cast the spell when the last time counter comes off, but at that point you're casting it without paying its mana cost. So you're not spending any mana to cast it, let alone mana from Boseiju, and it won't get the uncounterable bonus.
Q: Is a spell like Lingering Souls multicolored because of the black in its flashback cost? And if it's not, could I play it in a mono-white Commander deck?
A: A card's colors come from the colors of the symbols in its mana cost, plus any color indicators (like the ones on the "night" side of double-faced cards) or characteristic-defining abilities that set color. So Lingering Souls is a white card, not a white and black card. But keep in mind that Commander doesn't look at color; instead it uses what's called "color identity", which takes into account all the mana symbols on a card. Which means Lingering Souls' color identity is white and black, so you'd only be able to play it in a deck with a commander who was also both white and black.
Q: If I tap Sensei's Divining Top to activate its second ability, and in response my opponent steals it with Memnarch, what happens? Does the Top still get put on top of someone's library? And if so, whose library?
A: It does, and it'll go onto your library. Sensei's Divining Top says to put it on top of its owner's library, and you are and always will be its owner, no matter who currently controls it. And besides that, a card you own can never be put into any other player's library, or hand or graveyard, only into yours.
Q: If I have a Soul Net that I've animated, say with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, and someone casts Wrath of God, what happens? Does the Net trigger at all since it's not a creature after it dies? And can I have my other creatures go into the graveyard before it so it'll at least see them die?
A: All the creatures will be put into the graveyard simultaneously, but that won't stop you from netting some life along the way. The rules for abilities that trigger on things leaving the battlefield (among other types of triggers) are set up so that the game can "look back in time" a little bit to figure out that a bunch of stuff just died, and there was something which cared about that. Which effectively means that Soul Net will "see" itself die as a creature, and will also see all the other creatures that died with it, and it'll trigger that many times.
Q: If I have multiple copies of Smoke, how do they interact? Can any creature untap?
A: Each copy of Smoke just says that the maximum number of creatures a player can untap in their untap step is 1. Adding more copies of Smoke doesn't reduce that number, it just hammers home the "one and only one" point a bit. So even if you and your opponent each have four copies of Smoke out, you'll each get to untap one creature during your own untap steps.
Q: My opponent attacked me with an Undead Alchemist and I didn't block. One of the cards it milled was Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre; will Ulamog shuffle back into my library, or will my opponent get a Zombie token?
A: As the girl in the commercial says: why don't we have both? When Ulamog hits your graveyard, both its shuffle ability and the Alchemist's token-making ability will trigger. Since it's your opponent's turn (presumably, since he's attacking you), Alchemist's trigger will go on the stack first, then Ulamog's. Ulamog's ability will resolve first and shuffle, and then Alchemist's ability will resolve. That ability doesn't target the card in the graveyard, so it isn't countered; it just does as much as it can. In this case, that means making a token, since it can't find Ulamog anymore to exile it.
A: While you and your teammate may be BFFs, unfortunately your creatures can't be. In 2HG you share a life total and a poison total, but not anything else; you still control your creatures, and your teammate still controls his creatures, which means soulbond — which only works with two creatures that you control — can't hook up your creatures with your teammate's.
Q: If Wild Evocation reveals a spell with X in its cost, like Volcanic Geyser, do I have to cast it with X=0? What if it's a spell like Ertai's Meddling that says X can't be zero?
A: Wild Evocation doesn't let you choose not to cast the spell you reveal, and whenever you cast a spell without paying its mana cost, X must be zero. The only exception is the "if able" part of Wild Evocation's ability; you still can't choose not to cast, but if it's simply illegal for you to cast the spell, you don't cast it at all. In the case of Ertai's Meddling, not only can you not legally have X=0, you also can't legally cast it without a spell to target. In that case, you don't cast the spell, and it just stays in your hand.
Q: If my opponent only has one creature, and I'm attacking with Hateflayer, can I use Hateflayer's ability to kill his creature before he blocks? If I do, will Hateflayer still attack?
A: Your opponent's really going to hate you for this. First of all, there is a chance to cast spells and activate abilities in the declare attackers step, after you've declared attacking creatures; Hatflayer is tapped at that point, so you can pay the cost of its ability by untapping it, and it'll hit whatever you choose to target. And untapping an attacking creature doesn't cause it to stop attacking; it just makes it an untapped attacking creature. So not only will your opponent lose his potential blocker, he'll also get flayed for 5 points of combat damage.
Q: I've got a Flagstones of Trokair in play. Can I play a second one, tap both for mana in response to the legend rule, then go get my two Plains?
A: The "legend rule" is a state-based action; it doesn't use the stack, it can't be responded to, and you can't do anything at all before it kicks in, not even tapping a land for mana. So you could tap the first Flagstones before you play the second one, and keep that one mana floating, but there's no way to get a second mana from the other Flagstones, because as soon as you play it both of them will die before you get a chance to do anything else.
Q: Does Ground Seal make it impossible to pay the cumulative upkeep on Jötun Grunt?
A: Nope; a spell or ability only targets if it has the word "target" in its rules text or in the definition of one of its keywords. The Grunt doesn't use the word "target", so it's not targeting any cards in graveyards and Ground Seal won't interfere with it.
Q: If I have an Island, a Plains, a Swamp, a Mountain and a Forest in play, plus a Cloudpost and a Desert, will Tribal Flames deal seven damage?
A: While I'd certainly be interested to hear the story of how your deck works to get those lands in play, it's still only going to Flames for 5. While there are other land subtypes in Magic (like Locus and Desert) Tribal Flames says it only counts the basic ones, and there are only five basic land types in the game.
Q: If I control Garruk's Horde and the top card of my library is Zoetic Cavern, can I morph the Cavern? What if I have Oracle of Mul Daya instead?
A: Though it seems weird, the Horde will let you morph Zoetic Cavern off the top. Morph checks the legality of casting based on how the card would look face-down, and a face-down Zoetic Cavern is a 2/2 creature, which Garruk's Horde says you can cast from the top of your library. Oracle of Mul Daya won't work, though, because it only gives you permission to play lands, not cast things. So with Oracle, you could play the Cavern as a land but not morph it (and with Garruk's Horde you can morph the Cavern but not play it as a land).
I'm starting to get a bit dizzy from just the thought of impending rotation, so I'll call that a wrap for this week. But don't forget to tune in next week when Eli will be back with a very special Return to Ravnica-themed episode of Cranial Insertion!
- 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.