Published on 10/12/2009

Deadly Questions, Priceless Answers

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Opalescence + Card = Rules Question
Zendikar's out in full force, and the more people play with the new cards, the more questions they have. The month or so after a new set comes out, our inbox is flooded with rules questions from players trying to figure out how new cards interact with each other and with older cards. October is like Christmas here in Cranial Insertion land, because we love answering your rules questions just as much as we love Magic.

And speaking of questions, keep sending them in to ! Our article questions come from our experiences out in the field judging, from people asking us questions at tournaments, but most of them are questions you all sent in!

Q: If there's an Opalescence on the field and I cast a Journey to Nowhere with no other creatures in play, is the game a draw?

A: Unless someone has a creature with flash they're willing to play, it is. Journey to Nowhere will keep removing and returning itself forever, without anything to stop it. Note that if there's another creature in play, you can't draw the game with Journey to Nowhere. You'll just say "I'm blinking Journey out a few million times" and then the game will continue as normal, or as normal as it can with Opalescence in play.

Q: I have a Pacifism in play on my opponent's creature, and he casts a Day of Judgment. Can I play Cobra Trap now for its "trap" cost?

A: Nope! While Pacifism was put into your graveyard, it was sort of put there indirectly by your opponent. Once Day of Judgement blows up the world, Pacifism is just kind of sitting around there not attached to anything. Then a split second later, state-based actions put it into your graveyard because Auras in play attached to nothing do that sort of thing.

Q: Why does the token created with Zektar Shrine Expedition stick around until the end of the next turn? That doesn't seem like the other red hasty X/1s at all.

A: It doesn't! What you're reading wrong is a recent change in templating. The "beginning of the next end step" isn't the end of the next turn's end step, it's literally the next end step. And unless something completely out of the ordinary happens, the next end step is the one at the end of the current turn.

Q: With Oracle of Mul Daya in play, can I just keep playing lands off the top of my library forever? The first ability says I can play an additional land, but the third one says I can play the top card of my library if it's a land....

A: Even if something says you can play a land, you can't if you've already used all your land plays for the turn. You can only play one additional land with the Oracle, and it doesn't matter if the extra land is from your hand or the top of your library.

Q: Can I Doom Blade an Iona, Shield of Emeria before my opponent chooses black?
A: Sorry, but Iona's ability isn't an enters-the-battlefield trigger, it's a replacement effect that takes place before she's actually on the battlefield. By the time she's a legal target for Doomblade, you can't even play Doomblade. Ironic, isn't it?

Q: If my Harrow is countered, do I still need to sacrifice a land?

A: You'll sacrifice a land even before anyone has a chance to counter Harrow, so yes. Sacrificing a land is part of the cost to cast the spell, and all that's done before anyone gets priority.

If you do find more than four,
let a judge know!
Q: The only elves in my Standard deck are Nissa's Chosens, and all four are in play. Can I activate Nissa Revane's first ability even though there's no more elves in my library?

A: Sure - you can always fail to find when searching your library for a card with any specific qualities. I'm sure you have some good reason for not gaining 8 life though!

Q: If I resolve a Warp World and get two Ob Nixilis, the Fallens with a bunch of lands, do I get to make my opponent lose any life?

A: Yep! The Ob Nixilii are going to die, but not before their abilities trigger. Once something's triggered, it'll go on the stack and resolve even though its source isn't around anymore.

Q: In response to Vampire Lacerator's trigger, can I burn my opponent down to 10 or less life so I don't lose 1 life?

A: Yep! Vampire Lacerator's triggered ability checks your opponent's life total when it resolves. If it's higher than 10, you'll lose a life.

Q: During a game, my opponent attacked me with two Hedron Crabs as a joke. Can I play Inferno Trap for its alternate cost after the combat damage step to show him what I think of his joke?

A: Oh I'm sure you're real fun at parties. No, you can't do that - creatures with zero power don't assign any damage in the combat damage step.

Q: Can I use Trapfinder's Trick to nab a Nameless Inversion out of my opponent's hand?

A: Nope. Nameless Inversion has every creature type, but not every instant type. Similarly, you can't use Trapmaker's Snare to search your library for a Chameleon Colossus.

Q: If I have three Roil Elementals on the field, play a land, and have them all target the same creature, what happens if one of the Elementals die?

A: The others will still be holding the creature to your side of the field. Even though one Roil Elemental's control effect has ended, the others haven't!

Q: My opponent is about to pop a Quest for the Holy Relic, and I think he's going to grab a Whispersilk Cloak to put on one of his creatures. Can I Lightning Bolt the creature after I see the Cloak, but before he puts it on a creature?

A: Nope, the searching, finding, and putting on a creature all happens during the resolution of the Quest's ability, so you don't have priority to kill whatever he decides to put the Cloak onto.

Didn't I see these guys in Half-Life 2?
Q: What happens to the creatures Gomazoa was blocking if it leaves play in response to its ability?

A: The creatures get shuffled into their owners' libraries. When the game asks what the "creatures it's blocking" are, it doesn't find the Gomazoa in the zone it should be in... so it'll use its last known information.

Q: So what happens if Gomazoa leaves combat, for example if it's Doom Bladed and then a Regenerate is cast on it?

A: The ability will still do as much as possible. Gomazoa has left combat, so it's not blocking anything anymore. But the ability also puts Gomazoa on top and shuffles it in, so it'll go ahead and do that.

Q: I have a Quest for Pure Flame out in a multiplayer game and cast something that damages multiple players at once, like Volcanic Fallout. Does it get multiple counters, or just one?

A: Even though the damage was dealt all at once, there were multiple events. The Quest will get a counter for each opponent damaged.

Q: If I steal my opponent's Bloodchief Ascension with three counters on it somehow and he [card]Naturalize[card]s it, who loses 2 life and who gains 2 life?

A: No one gains or loses anything from this. Bloodchief Ascension is destroyed first before Naturalize wraps up and goes to the yard. Also, Bloodchief Ascension triggers off things that go to the yard "from anywhere". Unlike things that say "from play", "from anywhere" triggers don't look back in time to see what should've made them go off, so you won't benefit from Bloodchief Ascension dying at all.

Q: I use Sorin Markhov to steal my opponent's mind. Can I peek at his sideboard now?

A: Nope. While you can see everything he can see in the game, sideboards are still off limits since they're not in the game. You also can't make him get you a soda.

Q: If my opponent commits a Looking at Extra Cards infraction, he has to shuffle his library as part of the fix. Does that put a counter on my Cosi's Trickster?

A: Haha, that'd be nice! We even wondered this ourselves for a while. But no, fixes for penalties aren't considered part of the gamestate, so nothing in-game "sees" what happens.

Q: When my opponent cascades off a Bloodbraid Elf and doesn't hit anything for a few cards, does shuffling the not-cascade-able cards on the bottom put a counter on my Cosi's Trickster? What about if he doesn't have anything with converted mana cost three or less in his library at all, so he'd need to shuffle the entire library?

A: No on both cases. The key word here is "randomized"; the cards put on the bottom aren't shuffled. Even if he doesn't hit anything at all, he'll randomize his library. It might look like shuffling, and sound like shuffling, but it's not shuffling.

Q: How does Luminarch Ascension work in Two-Headed Giant? Say I have shroud for whatever reason, so one of my opponents launches a Lightning Bolt at my teammate's head. Damage is dealt to him, but my share of the life total also goes down since my total is equal to half my team's rounded up. Because it went down, is that a change in life total and I won't get a quest counter?

A: This is one of those rare occasions when math isn't useful (in your face, Mrs. Stallone, my fourth grade math teacher!). It makes it look like you lost life, but you didn't - your teammate did. Your share of the life total shrunk, but you didn't lose anything.

Q: During this upcoming sealed deck PTQ season, if I open a "priceless treasure" card like a Black Lotus when registering my deck, do I get to keep it?

A: Cards you open in a deck swap that don't have the set you're playing with's expansion symbol on them aren't actually part of the limited card pool, so you don't have to pass it with the rest of the cards you opened. Since they're not part of your pool, you need to pass them to the nearest judge---er, just kidding, you get to keep them for yourself.

And that's it for me this week. Come back next week when Eli takes a crack at your questions!

About the Author:
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.


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