Published on 06/12/2006

And Thou Shalt Come to Judge

or, At Least Try to Judge

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Hi y'all! Tom and I are gearing up for the excitement that is Pro Tour: Charleston, so I'm spending a bit of time on the east doing things that in no way promote my goal of global domination that you can't prove I have planned. So rather than just lecture you and waste time that I could be using to train my elite squadron of squirrels that may or may not exist, we'll see how much you've picked up so far!

Try to work out the answer to the following questions, and once you've made up your mind, click the "Spoiler" tag to reveal the secret wisdom of the ancients. And don't forget to email all of your rules questions to – we'll get a whole lot of questions from the Pro Tour to bring up here, but we want your FNM and casual questions, too!

The ugliest amulet in Magic?
Q: During an Ice Age / Alliances / Coldsnap draft, a player opens Amulet of Quoz What can that player do?

A: The answer is...

A: Ask a judge to replace it with another Ice Age rare.
B: Not play it at all.
C: It can't go in the deck, but it'll be in the sideboard in case something like Death Wish appears in Coldsnap.
D: Force all opponents to ante.

The cold, hard answer is
B, Nothing!

Since ante can not be used in any sanctioned event, any card that says "Remove ~ from your deck before playing if you're not playing for ante" can not appear in your deck or sideboard – like Relentless Rats, "deck" refers to your entire decklist here. It'd be marked down for purposes of registering a deck, but could not be fetched.

Q: A player plays an entwined Solar Tide, and his opponent has only Disciple of the Vault and four Myr Enforcers in play. How much life will the player lose from Disciple triggers?

A: The answer is...

A: None. The Disciple dies before the Enforcers.
B: Four. The Disciple and Enforcers die in the same event, so the game looks back in time for things that would trigger.
C: One. I regret that I have but one life to give against Raffinity.
D: The Solar Tide player chooses whether the Disciple dies before or after the Enforcers.

And the solar-powered answer is
A, dead Disciples tell no tales!

If something like Wrath of God wiped all five creatures at once, there would be much pain. But Solar Tide kills the Disciple first, and then kills the Enforcers as a separate event. (It will always happen in this order; you can't reverse the order of the entwined choices no matter how much you want to.) Since these are two distinct events, rule 410.10d does not apply.

Q: A player plays Maga, Traitor to Mortals spending 13 for X. In response to its comes-into-play ability, his opponent uses Voyager Staff to remove it. What happens?

A: The answer is...

A: Maga's ability is removed from the game with Maga.
B: Maga's ability does not use last-known information since Maga was not put into a graveyard and the opponent loses no life.
C: Maga's ability uses last-known information to make the opponent lose 13 life.
D: Maga uses the Voyager Staff to do the cancan.

And the answer is
C, Maga eats you!

Whenever an effect needs to know something about an object that's not there anymore, it'll call up that object's last-known information. It doesn't matter how the object left play – it only matters that the game can't say "Hey Maga, how many counters do you have?" anymore and has to rely on what it last saw.

The stick is love.
Q: A player somehow manages to get Boros Fury-Shield imprinted on an Isochron Scepter. Can he get the deals-damage ability?

A: The answer is...

A: Only if he punches his opponent as an additional cost to play the spell.
B: Only if he chooses to pay for it instead of playing it without paying its mana cost.
C: Only if he pays R to activate the Scepter.
D: No, never.

And the answer is
D, Never knows best!

If something allows you to play a spell without paying its mana cost, you do not have the option to pay its mana cost. Since you play it without paying its mana cost, you can't possibly have paid R in playing it unless something else like Sphere of Resistance or Trinisphere forced you to pay some mana.

Q: Can you activate Giant Slug to give it Plainswalk and then have Concerted Effort pass that ability to everyone else?

A: The answer is...

A: No. The Slug's upkeep ability will always happen after Concerted Effort's.
B: No. Concerted Effort's intervening if clause will cause it not to trigger at all.
C: Yes. Stack the delayed trigger on top of the Effort trigger.
D: Yes. Plainswalking slugs can do whatever the hell they want.

And the answer is
C, walk, slug, walk!

Activating the Slug during your opponent's turn will create a delayed trigger for the beginning of your upkeep, which is the same time that Concerted Effort will trigger. So you can stack them however you like, and put the Slug on top. Effort will always trigger, since it doesn't follow the "At/When/ever X, if Y, Z" formula of an intervening if clause.

Q: Do artifacts have what is informally known as "summoning sickness"?

A: The answer is...

A: Yes, but it doesn't matter.
B: No, it's an artifact, not a creature.
C: Yes, but it only if it's an artifact creature.
D: Yes, but it only matters if that artifact is or becomes a creature.

And the answer is
D, always!

The power to use the tap symbol and attack is only restricted in creatures, so it doesn't matter or apply to noncreatures. But if something comes into play and then becomes a creature, it'll suddenly start to matter.

Note that "summoning sickness" is only an informal term. The rules have been modified to just say that a creature without haste can't attack or use tap-symbol abilities unless it's been under its controller's control since the beginning of his most recent turn. However, since this doesn't have a short and simple term, "summoning sickness" is still widely in use causing some questions the wordy rule doesn't.

For example, nothing technically "has" summoning sickness, so none of the answers are strictly correct. ¬_¬

Q: Jinxed Choker is sitting around with no charge counters on it. Then a player plays its ability! What happens?

A: The answer is...

A: They have to choose which mode to use when playing the ability, and removing a counter is an illegal choice.
B: They can choose to add a counter or remove a counter, giving it a negacounter.
C: They can choose to add a counter, and can not choose to remove a counter.
D: They can choose to add a counter or remove a counter, but removing one does nothing.

And the cursed answer is
C, pile on those counters!

This ability isn't modal since it doesn't say "choose one" on it; you just make a choice upon resolution. And when you have to make a choice, you can not make an illegal choice. There are no counters, so you can't choose to remove one. (See rule 413.2c)

The Blessing goes into a
special class with licids.
Q: Does Gaea's Blessing trigger if chosen for Gifts Ungiven?

A: The answer is...

A: Yes, it's put into your graveyard from your library.
B: No, it's put into your graveyard from the revealed zone.
C: No, it's put into your graveyard from play.
D: Yes, it was in your library since the last time state-based effect triggers were checked.

And the answer is
A, that unholy card triggers!

There is no "revealed zone". Sorceries are never in play. The card is in your library the whole time, you're just revealing it a little.

I have no clue where answer D came from. I just strung together random Magic words.

Q: What happens to your Sacred Foundry if you play Celestial Dawn then Blood Moon?

A: The answer is...

A: Moko eats it.
B: You have a Land -- Mountain that taps for white mana.
C: You have a Land -- Mountain Plains that can only tap for white mana.
D: You have a Land -- Plains that taps for, of course, white mana.

And the sacred answer is
B, Urza's Sunglasses in reverse!

Time stamps come into play here, since you have two independent effects playing with your land. First Dawn makes it a Plains, then Moon makes it a Mountain. The Dawn does obliterate the Mountain subtype, even though it's already a Plains, and the Moon overwrites the Plains with Mountain. However, due to Dawn, it still produces white mana when tapped.

Q: A player uses Elvish Piper's ability to put a creature card into play. In response, his opponent makes him discard a card, which happens to be a creature card. The Piper's ability then resolves, and the player puts nothing into play. Can he do that?

A: The answer is...

A: Yes, he can lie about a hidden zone and choose to not put a creature card into play.
B: Only if he actually has no creature cards in hand. Judge!
C: No, the creature card to put into play is chosen upon announcement.
D: No, the player must draw a stick figure creature on a blank card and put it into play.

And the answer is
B, this ruling is weird!!

Yes, this is a rule that may require a third party to verify it. If you have a creature card in hand, you must put it into play, even if it's Phage the Untouchable or something you don't want in play yet. While you can lie about hidden zones ("I have seven Counterspells in my hand.") you can't lie about them when the game wants to meddle with them.

Q: Does Nightscape Familiar reduce the flashback cost of Deep Analysis?

A: The answer is...

A: Yes, you're playing it, so it'll be cheaper.
B: No, it only reduces the cost if you're paying the mana cost.
C: No, it is not a blue and red spell, it's only a blue spell.
D: Yes, so you'll end up having to pay U and 2 life.

And the flashy answer is
A, everyone loves a saving!

But you won't save as much as option D, since the Familiar doesn't deal with life in any way, shape, or form. Nor does it have a life. It just sits on the couch eating popcorn and watching soap operas all the time. Flashback is an alternative cost to play the spell, though, so you'll get to pay one less.

Q: Player A and player B both have zero cards left in their libraries. Player A plays Words of Wisdom during his upkeep. Who loses?

A: The answer is...

A: Player B loses first because he's the nonactive player.
B: Player B's lose-the-game trigger goes on the stack second, so he loses first.
C: Player A loses because he draws first.
D: Both players kick the bucket at the same time, draw!

And the answer is
D, everyone dies!

I hope you discarded B right away because losing due to being unable to draw is a state-based effect and not a triggered ability. Like other state-based effects, it's not checked until a player would receive priority (after Words resolves here). The exact text of the SBE makes it clear:

Quote from "CompRules 420.5g":
A player who was required to draw more cards than were in his or her library since the last time state-based effects were checked loses the game.

So that will cover both players. Shuffle up!

Q: Player A plays Piracy, and player B allows it to resolve. Then player B wants to tap two of his lands to play Shrapnel Blast, but A wants to tap those same two lands to play Fiery Conclusion. Who gets to do it?

A: The answer is...

A: Both players may tap the land for mana.
B: Player A.
C: Player B.
D: Who cares, someone's taking five damage either way.

Arr, the answer be
B, A!

Isn't that a confusing answer?

Since A just had a spell resolve, A has receive priority again. While it's true that mana abilities don't use the stack, you can only play mana abilities when you have priority, during the announcement of a spell, or when a spell or ability asks you to pay mana. A has priority, so A gets to tap down the land.

Q: Who can you tell to stop watching your match?

A: The answer is...

A: Nobody.
B: Spectators.
C: Judges.
D: Opponents.

And the commanding answer is
A, no one at all!

Okay, this is actually another trick question. You are actually supposed to make requests for people to go away from your match through a judge instead of asking them yourself. But realistically, you can ask spectators to go away without yelling for a judge, and then call a judge if they don't.

And if you ask a judge to go away, you've better have a veeeery good reason for that suspicious behavior.

You can certainly ASK your opponent to go away, but odds are he won't listen.

And that's a wrap! How did you do? Think you're ready to take the judge test? (If you're already a judge, I hope you're friggin well ready to take the judge test again...)

We'll be back soon with fun tales of excitement and super shiny foil cards. If you're heading to Charleston later this week, make sure to look for Tom and me, and our awesome++ rules editor Brian; we'll be wearing stripes.

Until next time, remember: Don't make six flights in the space of a week, it kills your sinuses.

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.


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