Published on 01/26/2015

Manifestly Obvious

or, The Morph Things Change

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

The Manifestival is ancient Tarkir's
biggest holiday.
Welcome back to the past of the future! Fate Reforged is on the shelves and on card tables worldwide, and it's time to delve a bit deeper into the set. This week we'll be taking an in-depth look at one of the new mechanics that's been generating a ton of rules questions: manifest!

For an overview of how manifest works, as well as the other mechanics of Fate Reforged and answers to some common questions, be sure to check out the set's official release notes; once again we'll have some overlap between our article and those notes, but it's always a good idea to read through them thoroughly.

And if you've got some questions to which answers haven't manifested this week, remember you can always get in touch with us by emailing questions to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: Ixidron turned all my creatures face down. But now I can just pay their mana costs to turn them face up again, right?

A: Nope. While it's true that when a card is manifested, you can (if it's a creature card) turn it face up for its mana cost, Ixidron doesn't manifest anything. So unless some of your creatures have morph (in which case you can turn them face up for their morph costs), they're all going to stay face down.

Q: Suppose I have a Huntmaster of the Fells, which has transformed into Ravager of the Fells. If I cast two spells to transform it back into Huntmaster, will Mastery of the Unseen trigger and gain me life?

A: Mastery of the Unseen only triggers when a permanent you control is turned face up, but Huntmaster/Ravager didn't do that; it was face up before, and is still face up now (face up/down status is separate from which face of a double-faced card is currently up).

Q: So can a double-faced card ever be face down? How would that even work, since everybody can see the back and know what it is?

A: It can now! Previously, anything which tried to turn a double-faced card face down would fail. But thanks to manifest, now it can happen. When a double-faced card is face down, it's treated the same as any other face down permanent — 2/2, colorless, nameless, no text — and if it gets turned face up, then by default its front face (the one with the sun symbol in the upper left) will be up. And hopefully you're either playing your double-faced cards in opaque sleeves, or using checklist cards to represent them, because if you're not you've got bigger problems: your deck contains marked cards!

Q: I've manifested a Thassa, God of the Sea, but my devotion to blue is only 3. Can I still turn her face up for ?

A: You certainly can. The Theros-block Gods do have abilities which can make them not be creatures, but those abilities aren't taken into account when determining if they're creature cards for the purpose of turning face up from being manifested.

Q: Can I cast Wildcall for just to manifest a card with zero counters?

A: That sounds like a pretty tame call to me, but it's still perfectly legal — any time a spell wants to forbid you choosing 0 as the value for X, it will say so on the card. Wildcall doesn't say that, so choosing X=0 (and thus paying ) is fine.

Less ideal than actual manifesting
Q: I manifested a Hewed Stone Retainers, and now I want to pay to turn it face up. Do I have to cast another spell first?

A: You don't, because you're not trying to cast the Retainers — you're just taking the special action of turning it face up — and so restrictions on when you could cast it don't matter.

Q: I control a manifested Jeskai Barricade enchanted with Jeskai Runemark, and I attack with it. My opponent blocks with an Ambush Krotiq. If I pay to turn the Barricade face up, does it become unblocked? Or does it get removed from combat entirely since it can't be attacking anymore?

A: No, and no. Restrictions which would prevent a creature from attacking (like defender) or being blocked (like flying) are only checked at the time attackers and blockers are declared; once the declaration is complete, the game no longer checks those things, and it won't make any difference if the creature later gains some ability that would have prevented it from attacking or being blocked. So you'll have a 2/6 flying defender that happens to be attacking, and is being blocked by a creature without flying. Isn't manifest fun!

Q: I have a manifested Channel Harm, and my opponent is attacking me with Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury and Mardu Scout. Can I block the Scout with Channel Harm, then flash in Jeskai Barricade, return Channel Harm to my hand, and cast it targeting Kolaghan?

A: You can, and your opponent might wish you hadn't. There's no limit — other than your ability to pay for everything — to how many spells you can cast during combat, or even during a single step of the combat phase, and that includes during the declare blockers step after you've declared your blocking creatures. So you can declare your manifested Channel Harm as a blocker, then use the Barricade to bounce it and cast it all in the declare blockers step, resulting in no damage being dealt to you and 5 to a now even-more-furious Kolaghan (but only 5 — since the Scout's only blocker is gone, it won't assign or attempt to deal any combat damage).

Just remember to reveal Channel Harm as it moves from the battlefield to your hand, and remember that this means your opponent will know it's coming!

Q: In a Commander game, I cast Ghastly Conscription targeting my opponent, but her commander is in her graveyard. How does the shuffling of the cards work with the fact that we need to know when she's been dealt commander damage?

A: You'll still shuffle the cards before manifesting them — since Ghastly Conscription tells you to do that — but you'll still need to keep track of which of those face down cards is your opponent's commander, and the fact that it is a commander is public information.

Q: I have a manifested basic Island. If I cast Shifting Loyalties, can I exchange it for a creature, or do I have to exchange it for a land?

A: You'll get a creature! While face down, your Island isn't an Island and isn't a land; it's a creature, so that's the card type you can exchange it for.

Q: I manifested a Monastery Mentor, then attacked with it and Flamerush Rider and used the Rider's ability to make a token copy or the Mentor. Can I pay , turn them both face up, and get two Monk tokens for each spell I cast during combat?

A: Not quite. You can pay and turn the original Mentor face up, but your token isn't face down; it's a face up copy of what the Mentor looked like while face down, so it is and always — for its entire brief existence during the combat phase — will be just a nameless, colorless, textless 2/2.

Q: What if I instead used Supplant Form to bounce my face down Monastery Mentor? Since the Mentor gets turned face up as it leaves the battlefield, that means the token would be a copy of the face up Mentor, right?

A: A face down card doesn't actually get turned face up as it leaves the battlefield, it just gets revealed to all players (so that everyone can verify that it was legal to have it face down). Which doesn't actually change what it was the last time it was on the battlefield, so Supplant Form will make a face up token that's a copy of the face down Mentor, which once again will be a nameless, colorless, textless 2/2.

Q: I control a Courser of Kruphix and cast Ethereal Ambush. Does my opponent get to know what both of the manifested cards were, or only the one that was on top to begin with?

A: Your opponent will know both cards. To resolve Ethereal Ambush, you essentally manifest your top card — causing the next card in your library to be revealed — and then manifest the new top card. Your opponent also gets to know which manifested card was the first one, and which was the second one; you don't get to shuffle them around and hide which one is which.

Q: I manifested a Wardscale Dragon and attacked with it. My opponent cast a Sandblast targeting it. Since turning something face up is a fast action that doesn't use the stack, I can pay , turn the Dragon face up and counter the Sandblast, right?

A: You can turn the Wardscale Dragon face up, but it won't affect Sandblast at all: the process of casting it is already complete and Sandblast is on the stack, so Wardscale Dragon is will just prevent your opponent from casting any further spells, at least until the Sandblast resolves and kills off the Dragon (and remember that you can't interrupt or prevent the process of casting a spell, so once you know your opponent wants to Sandblast there's no way to make the timing work out to prevent it). In the future, consider packing some counterspells to protect your Dragons!

Q: If I manifest a Goblin Heelcutter, can I turn it face up for and get it back into my hand at the end of the turn?

A: Manifest just tells you that you can turn the creature face up for its mana cost. Which, in the case of Goblin Heelcutter, is . Manifest doesn't say anything about letting you pay any alternative costs, so is the only cost you can pay and your Heelcutter won't be doing any dashing.

Q: I have a manifested Frost Walker. Can I cast Hunt the Weak targeting it and my opponent's Arashin Cleric, then in response to Hunt the Weak turn it face up without having to sacrifice it?

A: You can, though your opponent might give you a frosty look for doing this. At the time it became a target of Hunt the Weak, your Frost Walker wasn't a Frost Walker (it was a nameless, colorless, textless 2/2) and didn't have the "sacrifice me" ability. And when it turns face up after Hunt the Weak is on the stack, it doesn't become a target again, so its ability won't trigger. When Hunt the Weak resolves, the Walker will get a +1/+1 counter and then deliver a frosty beating to your opponent's poor Cleric.

Q: What if instead I control a Temur War Shaman and just turn my manifested Frost Walker face up? Will the Walker have to be sacrificed because of the War Shaman's trigger?

A: Nope! The thing to remember here is that not everything which is affected by a spell or ability is a target; only things which are explicitly referred to using the word "target" are targets. And Temur War Shaman only uses the word "target" to refer to the creature your creature will fight, so it's not targeting your Frost Walker and you won't have to sacrifice it.

Why not manifest it instead?
Q: My opponent has no cards in his library and controls a Laboratory Maniac. Is it legal for me to Reality Shift the Maniac? If so, what happens?

A: It's perfectly legal — casting Reality Shift just requires that you be able to choose a target creature, not that its controller has a card in their library to manifest as a replacement for it. And when Reality Shift resolves, it does as much as is possible: it exiles the Maniac, then doesn't cause anything to be manifested. And, most likely, you'll get to laugh maniacally as your opponent loses the game the next time he'd have to draw a card.

Q: I have a manifested Great-Horn Krushok and my opponent just cast Friendly Fire targeting me. Can I wait to see what card will be revealed from my hand before deciding whether to turn the Krushok face up?

A: Although you can turn a face down creature face up at a lot of times, including some times when you couldn't otherwise do much (like, for example, when a spell with split second is on the stack), "in the middle of another spell resolving" still isn't one of those times, because ultimately what you need to turn something face up is priority, and you don't get priority while a spell is resolving. So you'll either need to turn the Krushok face up before Friendly Fire starts to resolve, or take your chances, let it completely resolve, and hope you reveal a card with converted mana cost 1 or less.

Q: I just won a game where I didn't cast any creatures with morph but I did manifest some cards. If I don't reveal them, what happens? Do I still get a Game Loss?

A: First of all, at Regular enforcement level — which is used for FNMs, prereleases and many other types of events at your local game store — there's no formal penalty at all, just a reminder that you're supposed to reveal those cards (and you'll have to reveal them, if it's still possible to do so). At Competitive and Professional enforcement, failing to reveal the cards is just a Warning now (this changed after Khans of Tarkir was released, but before Fate Reforged was released, and is included in the updated policy documents published for Fate Reforged), and again you'll reveal the cards if possible. The only way you can get a more severe penalty is if you've forgotten to do this multiple other times during the same tournament — in which case the penalty can upgrade to a Game Loss — or if a judge determines you knew you were supposed to reveal but deliberately didn't in order to gain some advantage, in which case you'd be disqualified from the tournament.

I think this week's manifesto is long enough, but be sure to check back next week when Carsten will forge on with another issue 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.

Regarding question 9:
Can't its owner move the Commander into the command zone when Ghastly Conscription tries to move it to exile? Or is that not allowed because it goes to exile face-down (albeit from a public zone)?
#1 • Date: 2015-01-26 • Time: 09:31:22 •
Then you don't shuffle it, and it's still one of "those cards" that gets manifested from the command zone. Same result!
#2 • Date: 2015-01-28 • Time: 20:53:43 •
I\'m playing with hidden answers, and I couldn\'t figure out the Courser of Kruphix / Ethereal Ambush question. I\'m not disagreeing with your answer, but I\'m curious. Where in the rules should I have looked to determine the answer?

Last edited on 2015-02-04 00:03:14 by AluminumAngel
#3 • Date: 2015-01-30 • Time: 00:10:32 •
This is the rule:

701.31d If an effect instructs a player to manifest multiple cards from his or her library, those cards are manifested one at a time.

Since they're manifested one at a time, there's a brief time where the second card is going to be the top card of the library and needs to be revealed via the Courser before it gets manifested.
#4 • Date: 2015-01-30 • Time: 00:40:56 •

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