Published on 10/03/2005

That One with All the Pictures

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Ravnica brought us lots of interesting new cards, rules, and interactions between them, so it looks like Cranial Insertion will cover mostly cards from the new set for a bit. The new Oracle and Comprehensive Rules are raising some dust, too. All questions are welcome at .

Q: What happens if I try to use the dredge 2 ability to get my Moldervine Cloak back while there's only one card in my library?

A: If you'd read the reminder text for dredge as though it were written in proper Magicese, then you'd find out that in this situation, it would let you mill one card, and return the dredge card to your hand. The word "exactly" that appears in the reminder text doesn't actually matter, because the "if you do" part wants to know if you tried to mill exactly two cards from your library, not if you succeeded (see rule 419.5b).

But reminder text isn't necessarily written in Magicese. You can find the actual rules behind the keyword ability in the Comprehensive Rulebook, or in the Ravnica FAQ [.doc file]. In the case of dredge, the reminder text is slightly shorter than the actual version, but the difference was apparently big enough to make it go from six to five lines in the text box.
From the CompRules:
As long as you have at least N cards in your library, if you would draw a card, you may instead put N cards from the top of your library into your graveyard and return this card from your graveyard to your hand.
This makes it clear that if you don't have enough cards in your library, you're not even allowed to try and use dredge.

Q: Can I find Overgrown Tomb with Sakura-Tribe Elder?

A: The Tomb's type line reads "Land - Swamp Forest". This tells us that the card has:
  • supertype(s): none;
  • type(s): land;
  • subtype(s): both Swamp and Forest.
(Because these subtypes are associated with the type "land", they're also card "land types".) Compare this to a normal Forest, which says "Basic Land - Forest":
  • supertype(s): basic;
  • type(s): land;
  • subtype(s): Forest.
An effect that looks for a "basic land" (like the Elder) only cares about cards that have the basic supertype, so they can't get you one of the Ravnica duals. Likewise, a "nonbasic land" is a land that doesn't have the basic supertype.

The term "basic land type" on the other hand refers to , which is a subset of the set of land types (i.e. the subtypes associated with lands). The cards Farseek and Perilous Forays allow you to find land cards that have one or more of those subtypes.

Q: My opponent controls an untapped Tattered Drake and has one black mana open to regenerate it. If he blocks my Skyknight Legionnaire, can I use Gaze of the Gorgon to destroy his Drake twice so that he can't pay for the regeneration the second time?

A: You can do that, and you don't even need to jump through iffy timing hoops for it. You need to play Gaze before combat damage is dealt. Then, when the damage is dealt, both his Drake and your Skyknight will receive lethal damage and regenerate. Regeneration removes a creature from combat, so the Skyknight will no longer be blocked by the Drake at that point. But the Gaze's delayed triggered ability ("At end of combat, ...") doesn't care about that. it will destroy all creatures that blocked your Skyknight at any point in time during that turn. So the Drake gets turned to stone and dies for the second time that combat, but this time for good.

Q: I cast Lightning Helix on one of my opponent's creatures, and he responded by giving that creature protection from Red with Bathe in Light. My oppenent said that my spell wouldn't deal damage and I wouldn't gain life either. But shouldn't he also give his creature protection from white for that to happen?

A: No, your opponent was correct. Protection from Red means, among other things, that the creature can't be the target of red spells and abilities. Lightning Helix is a Red spell. It's also a White spell, but that doesn't make it any less a Red spell as well. Because the Helix's only target is now illegal, the spell is countered as soon as it tries to resolve, and it won't do anything.

Q: I'm at 1 life. My opponent attacks me with Coalhauler Swine, and I block with Dromad Purebred. Do I survive?

A: Both creatures in question have triggered abilities (which you can recognize by the word "whenever") that trigger when they are dealt damage. When combat damage is exchanged, they trigger simultaneously. In such a situation, the active player puts the abilities he controls on the stack first (in any order he chooses, if he controls more than one), followed by the inactive player. It's your opponent's turn, so the Swine's ability goes on the stack first, and the Purebred's goes second. If there are no responses, the top item on the stack resolves, and you gain 1 life. Next, you and your opponent will both receive 1 damage from the Swine. Of course, you are safely sitting at 2 by then, so you survive.

Q: Me and my opponent are both at 2 life, and he attacks me with two Dimir House Guard which I can't block. I target one of them with Boros Fury-Shield, paying :symr::symw::symw: for it so that I get the entire effect. How does that work out?

A: That works out great, for you at least. If :symr: was paid for it, Boros Fury-Shield does two things: it sets up a damage prevention shield that prevents any combat damage the targeted creature would deal, and it deals damage to that creature's controller. The important point here is that this damage is dealt right away, as the spell resolves. Your opponent gets the final 2 to the head, ending the game right there before the prevention part would matter.

This is very different from "damage redirection" (see Razia, Boros Archangel for an example). Such an effect causes damage to be dealt to its new destination by replacing another damage event. The altered damage would still be dealt at the same time and by the same source as it would have been dealt without the redirection. The only thing that changes is where the damage is headed. The Fury-Shield, on the other hand, creates its own damage event, so that the damage is dealt both at a different time and by a different source.

Q: In the Ravnica FAQ [.doc file], the second point under Molten Sentry is
* If a creature that's already in play copies Molten Sentry, it becomes a copy of whatever Molten Sentry already is (either a 5/2 creature with haste or a 2/5 creature with defender).
I thought copy effects didn't care about continuous effects, except for the ones that were copy effects. So why would the result of the Sentry's continuous effect get copied in such a situation?

A: That would be correct according to the old rules, but the Comprehensive Rules have been updated on October 1, 2005. Yes, that's just a few days ago (unless you're reading this article in the archives). You can find an overview of the changes here (prepared by Lee Sharpe). The update includes changes for Ravnica (the keywords, guild mana, targeting libraries, for Mirage (phasing, the substance keyword), big changes to the rules for continuous effects, and small changes to lots of other things, like an additional state-based effect and this little thing:
From the CompRules:
503.2. When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s characteristics (name, mana cost, color, type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, and toughness) and, for an object on the stack, choices made when playing it (mode, targets, the value of X, whether a kicker cost was paid, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on). The “copiable values” are the values that are printed on the object, as modified by other copy effects, plus any values set for face-down spells or permanents [highlight]and any values set by “comes into play as” abilities[/highlight]. Other effects (including type-changing effects) and counters are not copied.
This change affects the long-forgotten Primal Clay too.

Q: If I Copy Enchantment an Aura with a comes-into-play ability like Galvanic Arc, does that ability trigger?

A: Yes, it does. Copy Enchantment is a perfect copy of the Arc the entire time it is in play, because it becomes a copy as it comes into play. That's early enough to trigger "when ... comes into play" abilities.

Q: I control Doubling Season, and hit my opponent for 5 with Szadek, Lord of Secrets. Do I get double the counters and double the mill effect?

A: Both the "that many"s in Szadek's text refer to the amount of combat damage that would be dealt. The combat damage event will try to put five counters on Szadek and mill five cards from your opponent's library instead of dealing actual combat damage. Then Doubling Season comes with a second replacement effect and causes ten counters to be added instead, but the number of cards milled that turn isn't affected. With Szadek tripling in size each turn, can you really complain?

Q: Does Surge of Zeal affect creatures that come into play after it is played?

A: Surge of Zeal -- and all radiance cards for that matter -- will lock in what they affect when they resolve. Creatures that come into play later won't be affected. Changing the colors of things after the radiance spell or ability resolves doesn't change anything either. As Eli explained last week, Incite Hysteria needed errata to fall in line with other radiance cards.

Q: I play Flame Fusillade. After it resolves, my opponent steals one of my men with Flash Conscription and tries to ping with it. Does the stolen creature still have the ping ability, or did it lose the ability when it changed control?

A: Just like in the answer above, changing the conditions required for the ability to be granted after the ability has already been granted doesn't affect what has the ability. All permanents you controlled when Flame Fusillade resolved received the ability to ping and will keep it until end of turn, even if you lose control of them before then.


-Thijs van Ommen, The Netherlands

About the Author:
Even though I'm not a judge, my interest in the rules of the game is the main reason for me to play. You'll usually find me answering questions in the rulings forum. I'm mostly a casual player: the only tournaments I visit are prereleases.


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