Published on 06/13/2005

Enchantments Don't Dance


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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

We find ourselves in yet another exciting installment of Cranial Insertion, where we stick fluffy bunnies in your head. Returning from the Netherlands last week, Moko spotted Jeff's DCI shirt floating in the Atlantic, so we've ascertained that we did in fact leave him in Atlantis. Oops. Hopefully he's getting his game on down there.

It's that time of the month again. No, not that one. The one where we deal with more basic rules issues. We didn't get too many basic questions, so we're also going to toss in some unusual combo questions. Some combos win you the game when they go off. Some don't actually work (Mark Gottlieb's infamous "Bombos"). And then some completely blow the game up.

AKA "Spork".
Q: If I play a Twincast targeting itself, would that create an infinite loop?

A: If you could, and there were no other spells on the stack, it would. However, you can't even do that.

Quote from CompRules:
415.6. A spell or ability on the stack is an illegal target for itself.

So no infinite Twincast loops for you.

Q: What if I Twincast a Tooth and Nail and then Twincast the Twincast and change the copy's target to the first Twincast? Can that repeat forever?

A: Closer, but no cigar. Since there is another spell for your second Twincast to target, you will eventually have to target it to end the loop. Look at the stack:

Twincast B (targeting Twincast A)
Twincast A (targeting Tooth)

Twincast B resolves, and creates a copy of Twincast A. This copy includes the original target - the Tooth & Nail. You can change the copy to target Twincast A again, but even if you counter the Tooth and Nail, you'll eventually have to choose to not change the target of the copy (it defaults to the no-longer-existent Tooth).

Q: Does Ragged Veins work with an indestructible creature, or does the creature not even take damage?

A: That is indeed a fun way to cause repeated misery. Our indestructible friends won't ever die from their damage, but they still take it.

Quote from CompRules:
If a permanent is indestructible, rules and effects can't destroy it. Such permanents are not destroyed by lethal damage, and they ignore the lethal-damage state-based effect (see rule 420.5c).

Damage isn't prevented, it's just ignored when the game wants to kill it. Do note that for the purposes of trampling, you only have to assign what would normally be lethal damage (if it weren't indestructible), so a Darksteel Gargoyle with 300 damage on it blocking a 4/4 trampler won't be very effective at all.

Q: I played a spell, then my opponent said "I do the Top trick," and ended up countering my spell. What exactly did he do?

A: This is really something that you want answered as soon as it happens. Ask him to explain, and if his explanation isn't good enough, call a judge.

In this case, it sounds like a well-known trick. You activate the Top's ability to draw a card, and in response, activate its "Look at the top three" ability. You look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order, and then the "draw a card" resolves. You draw the top card, and put the Top on top. This can help you fetch a counterspell from up to three cards down, which is what it sounds like he did.

Q: Say my opponent has an Erayo, Soratami Ascendant in play that has already flipped to Erayo's Essence. What happens when I cast Tendrils of Agony if my opponent has already played three spells this turn?

A: When you play the Tendrils as your first spell, the opponent's Erayo and your storm both trigger. Storm goes on the stack first since you must be the active player, so the countering ability resolves first, but it doesn't matter – either way, the storm trigger resolves, giving you three copies. Getting rid of the original won't stop the storm copies from going on the stack – he'd have to counter the storm trigger to do that.

Q: If I use Shifting Borders to snatch my opponent's Mountain with a Genju of the Spires on it, can I turn it into a creature and beat him down with it?

A: Nope, no living mountain for you! You see, while you just stole his property deed, his still controls the trailer – er, enchantment – sitting on it. You can't fire up that baby since you don't control it, but at least he won't be whacking you in the face with it anymore.

He can still activate the Genju to animate your mountain, though – and then he can kill it to get his Genju back in his hand and put it on a new mountain to continue the face-whackery.

Q: I don't control a Demon. My opponent hit my Raving Oni-Slave with an Otherworldly Journey, so do I lose 3 life?

A: Not only that, you lose six life – three when it leaves and three when it gets back! Otherworldly Journies are bad things for Oni-Slaves to take; they have to purchase extra seats on the plane. I think you're confusing the "leaves play" trigger with the more common "is put into a graveyard from play" trigger. But look at this:

Quote from CompRules:
Leaves Play
A permanent leaves play when it moves from the in-play zone to any other zone.

So when the Slave is removed from the game, it has left play. When it's bounced to your hand, it has left play. When your opponent steals it, it hasn't left play, but that's prime time to hit it with your own Otherworldly Journey!

o/~ Dále a tu cuerpo alegría, Macarena o/~
Q: If there's an Opalescence in play, can I use Corpse Dance to pull a Worship out of my graveyard?

A: Enchantments don't dance. They have two left feet. In fact, that's the title of this article for no apparent reason other than that the phrase strikes me as amusing. I don't need a good reason, though. I have a zombified chimp.

Opalescence only turns enchantments into creatures, though. Enchantments, by definition, only exist in play – everywhere else, they're enchantment cards or spells. As of yet, no enchantment card is also a creature card, and Worship definitely isn't. Even though it'd be a creature if it were in play, it's still just a plain ol' enchantment card in the graveyard, so the Corpse Tango Line will have to dig a little deeper to find a new member.

Q: Can I use Look at Me, I'm R&D and Mana Screw to turn 1 to 0 and then flip coins over and over until time runs out or I have 1,000,000 mana, whichever comes first?

A: I think your thumb will snap before either of those happen. Luckily, you probably won't need to flip any coins at all. Since it costs 0 to activate the ability, and there's no effect at al if you lose, you can take a little shortcut. Just say "I activate Mana Screw over and over until I have ONE MILLION MANA." Make sure you raise your pinky to your mouth as you say this. Your opponent can't even interrupt you, since it's a mana ability! Gleemax ahoy!

I said "probably" in the second sentence up there. If there are any cards in play that care if you win or lose a flip, or flip heads or tails, then you might need to manually flip some. With Chance Encounter, you wouldn't – since nothing happens if you lose, you could flip until you're set to win the game.

However, if there were a theoretical card that said "Whenever a player loses a coin flip, that player loses 1 life," you'd have to manually flip to see if you'd lose life or not. Most likely, you'd die before you hit one million mana that way.

This situation isn't directly handled in the CompRules, but it's a judge call – there's no reason you can't take the shortcut and not actually flip, since Chance Encounter is the only card in Magic that cares about the results of outside coin flips.

Q: The Saviors of Kamigawa Player's Guide says that if you Splice Evermind onto a Glacial Ray, the Ray is blue. But I read somewhere else that that's not true. Which is correct?

A: The guide is wrong. An overexcited editor slipped it in before the Wizards rules team got to the question. The official ruling is that characteristic-setting abilities are *not* copied during splicing, so your Ray is still a red spell.

Q: I play Hail of Arrows for 4 to hit all four of my opponent's 1/1 attackers. If he plays Giant Growth on one in response, can I instead deal all four to that one?

A: Nope, you're a little late for that. Here's the fifth step of playing a spell:

Quote from CompRules:
409.1e If the spell or ability affects several targets in different ways, the player announces how it will affect each target. If the spell or ability requires the player to divide or distribute an effect (such as damage or counters) among one or more targets, or any number of untargeted objects or players, the player announces the division. Each of these targets, objects, or players must receive at least one of whatever is being divided.

So you need to split up those arrows while you're playing the Hail, and you can't redistribute it later.

o/~ If I only had a brain o/~
Q: What is this "Golden Rule" I keep hearing about?

A: "Do unto others as thou wouldst have done unto ye."

Oh wait, you mean the Golden Rule of Magic.

There are actually four parts. To sum them up: Card text wins over rules, "can't" wins over "can", ignore impossible actions, and the APNAP rule – "Active Player, then NonActive Player."


Gleemax says you choose targets. The rules say the controller chooses targets. You choose targets.
Platinum Angel says you can't lose. Door to Nothingness says you lose. You don't lose.
Kemuri-Onna says to discard. You have no hand. You ignore it.

I just mentioned the APNAP rule up there in the storm question, and you'll hear about that one the most, mostly because it's the only one that people don't think about as part of the Golden Rule.

Q: When I splice a Glacial Ray onto another Glacial Ray, how many cards will my Cloudhoof Kirin mill?

A: Only two. Keep in mind that splicing only adds text – nothing else. It doesn't change the converted mana cost, color or card types.

Q: If Presence of the Wise is the last card in my hand, can I cast it for two life?

A: Nope, you'll just look pretty... unwise. The first step of playing a spell:

Quote from CompRules:
409.1a The player announces that he or she is playing the spell or activated ability. It moves from the zone it's in to the stack and remains there until it's countered or resolves.

So when you play the Presence, it bids your hand a fond farewell, leaving you empty-handed. It resolves, sees your empty hand, and gives you a big fat nothing. Ungrateful sorcery.

Q: Is Goblin Cohort and Mass Hysteria a combo?

A: Sure thing! The goblin only cares that you played a creature spell that turn if it's going to attack. It doesn't care when, or if it was the creature spell in question. Although this means that Aether Vial, Goblin Cohort, and Mass Hysteria isn't exactly a combo, since you're not playing the Goblin then.

Q: One of the "You Make the Card 3" suggestions included giving a player protection from a color. But a player isn't a creature. How could the rules handle that?

A: Simple – the rules change. I don't know exactly what changes they'd make, but the CompRules aren't carved in stone. They change every four months. New abilities are added, some old abilities are changed, sometimes entire sections are revamped. Right now, the rules can't handle a non-permanent with protection, but it doesn't take too much imagination to see how that could be fixed.

Q: Can I Fireball my Sekki, Seasons' Guide for 10 to get 10 tokens, or can I only get as many tokens as I move off of Sekki?

A: You can overburn Sekki for extra babies. You mentioned moving the "tokens" off of Sekki, but that's not quite how it works. For one thing, tokens represent a permanent, while counters like these +1/+1 counters mark an object. While you are, in flavor, pulling off parts of his body and plopping them into play, the rules see it differently.

Quote from Oracle:
If damage would be dealt to Sekki, prevent that damage, remove that many +1/+1 counters from Sekki, and put that many 1/1 colorless Spirit creature tokens into play.

"That many" refers to the amount of damage both times; the second "that many" doesn't refer to the number of counters removed. So if you zap Sekki for 10 when he has one counter, the one counter is removed (the game tries to remove 9 more, but hey, look at that shiny Golden Rule up there!) and then ten tokens are dropped into play. The new tokens aren't the same counters that came off Sekki, although most players will just move the pile of pennies off the spirit and into play.

And that'll wrap it up for this week. Be sure to check back next week for another one of Thijs' explanation articles, as he delves into the magical language of loooove!

Until next time, keep on dancing!

-Eli Shiffrin, L1 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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