Published on 06/22/2009

Freedom is Slavery

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

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What a time it is to be a Magic player! The next revolution in rules technology is right around the corner, along with sharp revisions in how Core Sets are produced. Not only that, but there's a great selection of tournaments to attend this year, in locations all over the world!

I rarely have time to play anymore, but even I'm trying to squeeze in some drafts. There's no doubt: Magic is a lot of fun.

It's also fun getting your questions that you've sent to and bequeathing knowledge and enlightenment. Keep in mind that we're here for you on current cards and rules. We don't have the new rules in front of us yet, nor the new cards, so please hold your questions on those until they're published.

With that in mind, let's get started by revisiting a combo from last week:

Q: With the Helm of Obedience + Leyline of the Void combo you mentioned last week, I can shut that down with a Darksteel Colossus, can't I?

A: Not really. When Dr. Colossus comes up, you have two replacement effects that can be applied: the Leyline is trying to exile him, while his own ability wants him back in the library. Since it's your Colossus, you get to choose which one to apply, every time he pops up.

Eventually you'll work your way down to a library that has just the Colossus in it, and you could keep the Helm churning forever on that one card as long as you choose to apply the right replacement effect. Unfortunately for you, the loop rules say that you can't keep the loop spinning forever if you can make a different choice that will end the loop. You'll eventually have to send Dr. Colossus away.

Q: I suppose it's the same with Gaea's Blessing, too. :(

A: That also doesn't work, but for a slightly different reason. Gaea's Blessing has a triggered ability, not a replacement effect. With the Leyline sending cards into exile instead of the graveyard, the Blessing will never trigger at all.

Q: What happens if there's a Crovax, Ascendant Hero in play, and I play a second one?

A: Well, once the second one comes in, there are two state-based effects that need to be applied. The two Crovax look at one another like matter/antimatter copies in an old sci-fi movie and annihilate each other, thanks to the legend rule. Simultaneously, all the nonwhite creatures who otherwise have 2 toughness realize they're not tough enough after all, and they go straight to the graveyard.

Q: If I use Cauldron Haze to give my Spectral Lynx persist, the Lynx dies and comes back with a counter, and I get rid of the counter somehow, will it come back again if it dies again?

A: When the Lynx dies and comes back the first time, it becomes a new object, so it won't have the persistence it got the first time around. If it dies this time it'll stay dead.

Q: What happens if I give persist to a card that already has persist?

A: Not much. Both instances of persist will trigger, but when the first trigger resolves, it'll move the creature card to a different zone, and the second trigger will lose track of it. The second trigger won't do anything when it resolves, even if you manage to put the same physical card back in the graveyard.

Q: I was wondering if I can use Simic Guildmage to move an Instill Energy around and get extra uses out of it.

A: Not so much. The activated ability has a restriction that lets you play it only once per turn. Even if you're having the Guildmage pass it around, the game will know if the ability has been played this turn, and it won't let you do it more than once.

You can't share the haste very effectively either, since it only works if the creature has haste when it's declared as an attacker. I guess if you've got a bunch of creatures with abilities that came into play this turn, you could pass the Energy around so you can tap them all, but you probably have better things to do.

Q: If I have Dueling Grounds and attack with a Gemini Engine, am I going to get an attacking token, a token that sits on its laurels since it can't attack, or will I even get a token at all?

A: When "attack" and "block" are used as verbs, it refers to declaring attackers or blockers. Dueling Grounds makes it so you can't declare a set of attacking creatures that includes more than one creature. If you get more attackers afterward, like with your Gemini Engine, the Dueling Grounds won't stop that from happening.

Q: Does having Knighthood wreck my Muraganda Petroglyphs?

A: Knighthood gives your creatures first strike. First strike is an ability, and the creatures that have it are ineligible for the Muraganda Bonus.

Q: If I have a Fastbond and an Exploration in play, can I play a land using Exploration without taking damage?

A: Fastbond has a triggered ability that triggers whenever you play a land that wasn't your first of the turn. It doesn't matter whether you're using Fastbond's other effect, Exploration, or even your regular land drop; if it wasn't the first land you played this turn, Fastbond will make you pay for it in blood.

Q: My opponent evoked a Mulldrifter, and I used a Scar on it before he made the sacrifice, because I also have a Necroskitter. When I get the Mulldrifter, do I get it as an evoke Mulldrifter, or just a regular one?

A: The Mulldrifter coming into play under your control didn't have its evoke cost paid; it's a different object now. No sacrifice will be required.

Q: I gave a Regrowth in my graveyard flashback with Recoup. Can I use Regrowth to return itself from the graveyard?

A: The first thing you do when you play the spell is to move it from whatever zone it's in to the stack. Then you'll choose a target; but now the card you want isn't in the graveyard, so it's not a legal target.

Q: If I have a Shared Animosity and then play Rude Awakening with its entwine cost, do all my lands share the same creature type? What creature type are they?

A: Rude Awakening doesn't grant those lands a creature type, so they just don't have one. They can't share a type with one another if they don't have any, so they won't be sharing their Animosity either.

Q: Suppose I have two Loxodon Warhammers on my Exalted Angel. How much life do I gain when I hit with her?

A: Assuming her power hasn't otherwise been modified, she'll deal 10 damage, so you'll have three lifelink triggers that each gain you 10 life, for a total of 30. Keep in mind that this answer is probably going to change when Magic 2010 is released, since the rules are changing, and some cards that now have lifelink might have a slightly different ability going forward. Ask again in a few weeks!

Q: I want to use Phyrexian Splicer to give my EDH general shadow, but I'm confused by the wording. When do I make the choice of what ability I want? Does there have to be a creature with shadow on the board for me to use the ability?

A: The original wording's a little weird, but the Oracle clears it right up. The abilities you're possibly yoinking from one creature to another are modes for the ability, and you choose a spell or ability's modes before you choose its targets. If you're going for shadow, you need a target creature with "that ability," so yes, you'll need a creature that already has shadow before you can sneak in your general damage.

Q: I've got a Cloudstone Curio and I play Patagia Viper without paying . Is there a way for me to save the Viper?

A: Sure! All you have to do is put the "make snakes" ability on the stack above the "sacrifice me" ability. The little snakes will trigger the Curio, and that will let you bounce it before you have to sacrifice it. Saved by the baby snakes!

Q: Can Sakashima the Impostor mostly-copy a Progenitus?

A: Sakashima's mostly-copy ability doesn't target, it merely calls for a choice. You can choose Progenitus, which is probably the best thing ever to almost-copy, especially if the original is yours too. :hydra:

Q: So I've got a Curse of the Cabal that's coming off of suspend this turn, which would normally be great, except that my opponent has Kaervek the Merciless, which means it's going to hurt me more than it hurts him. Can I choose not to play the spell?

A: The suspend ability has a trigger that fires when the last time counter comes off, and it instructs you to play the spell. There's no "may" in there, so you have to play the spell unless you can't for some reason.

Q: Did I mention that there's a Thorn of Amethyst in play?

A: There's your out! You can't play the spell if you don't have the mana to pay the additional cost. And you have mana only if it's sitting in your mana pool. You might have untapped lands available, but you won't be required to tap those for mana if you don't want to.

You may want to consult a tree surgeon.
Q: My opponent has a Nettlevine Blight on my Sower of Temptation, with which I am controlling his Spectral Lynx. At the end of my turn, when I have to sacrifice the Sower, can I put the Blight on his Lynx, and then have it spread to stuff he controls?

A: I love the idea of sending your opponent's Blight rampaging through his creatures and lands. Unfortunately, you can't do that. You'll perform the instructions in the order they're written: sacrifice, then attach. As soon as you sacrifice the Sower, her control effect ends and you won't be able to attach the Blight to the Lynx because you don't control it.

Q: If I play Decree of Pain when I have Elvish Soultiller and a boatload of other Elves, do I get to shuffle the Elves in before I draw so that I can draw a bunch of them back?

A: The Soultiller triggers when the boat is emptied by a burst of agony, but it can't do anything with the trigger until Decree of Pain has finished resolving. You'll fill your boat with cards before you get to shuffle the Elves back into your library.

Q: I've been reading about the upcoming rules changes, and I don't like them at all. Can I just play using the rules I've always used?

A: In a tournament sanctioned by the DCI, the current version of all rules documents apply, including the Magic Comprehensive Rules. With the Magic 2010 prerelease, the new rules will be in effect for all DCI tournaments. If you don't like the new rules, you're free to ignore your home games. Deliberately ignoring the rules in a tournament will incur some serious penalties, so don't do it.

That said, though, it's worth giving the new rules a test run before you give up on them. Try them out in your home games and see if you can get used to them. Keep in mind that the new rules aren't effective until the Magic 2010 prerelease, so don't use them in DCI tournaments until then.

I'll sign off now, wishing each of you some happy planeswalking, now and in the ages to come!


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