Published on 12/18/2006

Deck the Halls with Rules Questions

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Only six shopping days left until Christmas! If you're like me, you've gladly eschewed fighting the mobs at various department for the joys of shopping online. No lines, no mad rushes for the latest console, no pushy salespeople, and you can shop in your pajamas – it's a winner all around. My mother told me something she wanted this year, specifically hoping I couldn't find it online. Of course, I found it online after an entire minute of searching. Take that, Mom!

In the spirit of gift-giving, we here at CI have a gift for you, our loyal and awesome readers. This week, we'll be doing another popular quiz edition, where you get to pick the answer you think is best and see how well you did. Isn't interactivity fun? Remember, there's only one right answer to all of the questions, even though there will be more than one that seems correct. Tally up your score if you want to; the important thing, as always with this column, is that you learn from it.

So we can have more spiffy quizzes in the future, keep sending us your questions at . We'll ship you an answer, and we'll probably use the question here in the column. You can show it to all your friends, point at the question, and say, "That one is mine!" (Note: we are not responsible for any friends you lose when doing this.)

On with the quiz!

Q: My opponent suspends two Rift Bolts on his turn. On my turn, I play Meddling Mage, naming Rift Bolt. Can he play the Rift Bolts when suspend triggers during his upkeep?

A. No, Meddling Mage prevents him from playing any card named Rift Bolt. The Rift Bolts will remain removed from the game.
B. Yes, because you don't actually play the cards which are being "unsuspended."
C. No, Meddling Mage prevents him from playing any card named Rift Bolt. The Rift Bolts will go to his graveyard.
D. Yes, but he has to carefully stack the suspend triggers with the Meddling Mage's triggered ability.
E. Yes, but only if he does the Lithuanian rain dance first.

And the answer is ...

It's A: no Bolts for you!

Meddling Mage says he can't play Rift Bolt, so he can't play Rift Bolt. The Rift Bolts will remain removed from the game with no suspend counters on them. Remember that suspend's "play-me" trigger instructs you to play the spell, so something that prevents you from playing that particular spell (or from playing spells in general) will mean the suspend spells get to hang out in the RFG zone for the rest of the game. Meddling Mage's you-can't-play-this-spell ability is static, which removes D from the running.

Q: I have Compost out, and I destroy one of my opponent's Zombie tokens created by Rotlung Reanimator. Do I get to draw a card?

A. Yes, since a black card went to the graveyard.
B. No, because tokens don't go the graveyard; they cease to exist whenever they would leave play.
C. No, because a token is not a card, meaning Compost will not trigger.
D. No, because the token has no mana cost, so the game doesn't know it's supposed to be black when it hits the graveyard.
E. Yes, because smelly zombies belong in compost heaps.

The envelope, please ...

C, tokens != cards.

Tokens can go the graveyard, but they will cease to exist the next time state-based effects are checked. Tokens going to the graveyard will trigger any goes-to-the-graveyard triggered abilities ... except those which look for actual cards, like Compost's. A token is never a card, even if a Magic card is used to represent it. Take a look at this:
200.1. When a rule or text on a card refers to a "card," it means a Magic card with a Magic card front and the Magic card back. Tokens aren't considered cards—even a card that represents a token isn't considered a card for rules purposes.

Where's my Prerealese art!?
Q: If I flashback a Dread Return to put my Gleancrawler back into play, will the creatures I sacrificed be returned to my hand?

A. No. Gleancrawler was not in play when those creatures were sacrificed, so it didn't "see" them go to the graveyard.
B. Yes. Gleancrawler returns all creature cards put into your graveyard from play this turn, even those that went there before it came into play.
C. No, since sacrificed creatures can't be returned to play.
D. Yes, but only those three creatures because they went to the graveyard right before Gleancrawler returned to play.
E. No. You damn kids and your instant gratification need to learn what sacrifice really means!

Can you glean the answer?

B, isn't Gleancrawler fun?

While it's true that most abilities that return dead creatures have to "see" them go the graveyard, Gleancrawler's does not. When its triggered ability resolves, it will return all creature cards that were put into your graveyard from play this turn. If you lost a creature during your upkeep, Gleancrawler gets it back. Combat casualties go back to your hand to try their luck in the red zone again. Not bad, eh?

Q: What happens if you Trickbind the replicate trigger of a spell like Gigadrowse?

A. No copies will be made, even though their costs have already been paid. The original spell is unaffected.
B. No copies will be made, even though their costs have already been paid. The original spell is countered also.
C. Because Replicate is also a static ability, it can't be targeted by Trickbind.
D. Nothing. The copies have been paid for and will still resolve.
E. Your opponent will glower at you as you snicker at your own cleverness.

And the answer is ...

A, and there are no refunds or warranties on spent mana!

Replicate does also refer to a static ability, but it's also a triggered ability, and that can be countered with spells like Stifle and Trickbind. The static ability lets you pay the replicate cost as an additional cost when you play the spell. When you've finished playing the spell, the triggered ability creates a copy for each time the replicate cost was paid. If that triggered ability is countered, no copies will be made, meaning your opponent spent a lot of mana for nothing.

Q: It's the beginning of my upkeep, and I have a Liege of the Pit, Teferi, and a few other creatures. I respond to the Liege's trigger by playing Ixidron, turning all my other creatures face-down. Will I still have to sacrifice a creature for the Liege's ability?

A. No. What Liege? It's a face-down creature with no abilities now.
B. No. There is no longer a creature named Liege of the Pit in play, so the ability will be removed from the stack.
C. Yes. The game knows which face-down creature was the Liege.
D. Yes. The ability is on the stack and will resolve even if the source is no longer in play.
E. Yes. Even demons have to eat.

Turn the answer face-up.

D, the Liege is still hungry.

The Liege's ability went onto the stack at the beginning of your upkeep. Unless that ability gets countered, it will resolve, even if the Liege is no longer in play, or has decided to wear a faceless 2/2 cloak. Note that the Liege's sacrifice ability is not optional; since you have a few creatures, one of them will have to become a snack for your now-puny demon.

Worst name since Port Inspector
Q: Does Detainment Spell stop the mana abilities of a creature like Llanowar Elves?

A. No, mana abilities cannot be targeted or countered.
B. Yes, since the card's text makes no exception for them.
C. No, because mana abilities aren't activated.
D. Yes, because the card stops abilities.
E. No, because Detainment Spell is a crappy name for a card, and cards with crappy names don't work.

Don't detain the answer!

B, no mana for you!

Most auras which prevent activated abilities from being played will make an exception for mana abilities. Detainment spell contains no such exception in its text, so it prevents activated abilities from being played, too. D is almost right, except the card doesn't stop abilities in general, just activated abilities.

Q: I have a Werebear without threshold, and my opponent targets the bear with Sorceress Queen's ability. Later in the same turn, I get threshold. Is the bear still a 0/2?

A. No. Threshold has a later timestamp, so it will apply.
B. Yes. Sorceress Queen's ability continually overwrites power and toughness.
C. No. The threshold bonus is in a later sublayer, so it will always apply after Sorceress Queen.
D. Yes, but only until end of turn.
E. No. Much like cards with crappy names, cards with awful puns in their flavor text don't work.

The answer might be unbearable. Hahaha, get it?

C, Threshold trumps Sorceress Queen.

Remember that in the power/toughness layer of continuous effects (layer 6), you determine the creature's P/T by starting with the base values and then applying, in order:

6a. Characteristic-setting abilities.
6b. Anything that doesn't apply in c, d, or e.
6c. Effects from counters.
6d. Effects from static abilities which modify, but don't set, power and/or toughness.
6e. P/T-switching effects.

So, like we did with Sudden Spoiling a few weeks back, let's work thru the progression. We start the bear's base P/T of 1/1.

6a. Nothing
6b. Sorceress Queen makes the bear 0/2.
6c. Nada.
6d. Threshold kicks in, adding +3/+3.
6e. Zilch.

The result is that the bear ends up as a 3/5. When Sorceress Queen's ability wears off, it will be a 4/4.

Q: OK, similar situation. I have a Werebear and threshold. My opponent uses the ability of Vhati il-Dal to give my bear a toughness of 1, then he Shocks it. Does the bear die?

A. Yes. Its toughness is 1 and it takes 2 damage.
B. Yes. Vhati's ability has a later timestamp than threshold, so the bear's toughness will be 1.
C. No. Threshold constantly checks, and always gives the bear +3/+3.
D. No. Threshold applies in a later sublayer than Vhati's ability.
E. Yes. Vhati is much cooler than a stupid bear.

Are you tired of layer 6 yet?

D, threshold also owns Vhati.

Again, let's go thru the progression, starting with the bear's base P/T of 1/1.

6a. Nothing.
6b. Vhati sets the bear's toughness to 1. Because Vhati's ability actually sets the toughness to a certain value, it can't apply in 6d, and has to go into 6b.
6c. Zippy.
6d. Threshold gives the bear +3/+3.
6e. Nothing to see here.

Because threshold will apply after Vhati's ability, the bear will remain a 4/4, and will shrug off a measly 2 damage being pointed at it.

Q: A Phyrexian Totem that's a creature gets a +1/+1 counter from something. What happens to that counter when it reverts to being just an artifact?

A. It falls off. Artifacts cannot have +1/+1 counters on them.
B. It falls off. Noncreature permanents cannot have +1/+1 counters on them.
C. It stays on, and the Totem is a 1/1 creature until it "animates" again.
D. It stays on, even though it doesn't mean anything when the Totem isn't "animated."
E. It falls off. Phyrexians are allergic to +1/+1 counters. Ah-choo!

Yawgmoth knows the answer.

The Father of Machines knows the answer is D.

While +1/+1 counters only mean something to creatures, a creature that becomes a different type of permanent will keep its counters. Auras with enchant creature and equipment will become unattached, but counters will remain. Here's the relevant rule:
212.1b. When an object's type changes, the new type(s) replaces any existing types. Counters, effects, and damage affecting the object remain with it, even if they are meaningless to the new type.

Bonus: When the Totem becomes a creature again, it will be a 6/6. It's a 5/5 in 6a, then gets the boost from the counter in 6c.

o/~ Angels we have heard on high...
Q: I control an Angelic Chorus and a Crusade. I then play a White Knight. How much life will I gain from Angelic Chorus?

A. 2, because Crusade's continuous effect is not applied until the White Knight actually comes into play.
B. 2, because Angelic Chorus' triggered ability resolves before Crusade's.
C. 3, because the Knight enters play as a 3/3.
D. 3, because Crusade's triggered ability resolves before Angelic Chorus'.
E. 2, because you should be playing the superior Black Knight, n00b.

And the chorus sings the answer ...

C, which rhymes with 3.

Continuous effects are applied as part of a permanent coming into play. The Knight will enter play as a 3/3 because of Crusade, Angelic Chorus will trigger, and when it resolves, you will gain 3 life. (You actually gain life equal to the Knight's power as the trigger resolves, but we'll presume it's still 3.)
418.2. Continuous effects that modify characteristics of permanents do so simultaneously with the permanent coming into play. They don't wait until the permanent is in play and then change it. Because such effects apply as the permanent comes into play, apply them before determining whether the permanent will cause an ability to trigger when it comes into play.

Q: Similar situation. I control an Angelic Chorus and a Crusade still. Now I play a Daru Stinger, choosing to reveal 3 soldier cards for the amplify ability. How much life do I gain from Angelic Chorus this time?

A. 1. The Stinger enters play as a 1/1, then gets its amplify and Crusade bonuses after the Chorus has triggered.
B. 2. The Stinger comes into play as a 2/2 because of Crusade, but gets the amplify bonus after the Chorus has triggered.
C. 3. No reason other than to have these range from 1-5, really.
D. 4. The Stinger comes into play as a 4/4, but since it's already gotten the benefit of one continuous effect, the other wait until after the Chorus has triggered.
E. 5. The Stinger enters play with the amplify and Crusade bonuses.

Do I need to amplify the answer?

This time, E wasn't the joke! Instead, it was the right answer.

When a permanent would come into play, you do three things:

1. Apply replacement effects
2. Apply continuous effects
3. Check for triggered abilities

Amplify is a replacement effect. The text for amplify is:
502.27. Amplify

502.27a Amplify is a static ability. "Amplify N" means "As this object comes into play, reveal any number of cards from your hand that share a creature type with it. This permanent comes into play with N +1/+1 counters on it for each card revealed this way. You can't reveal this card or any other cards that are coming into play at the same time as this card."

502.27b If a creature has multiple instances of amplify, each one works separately.

And how do we know it's a replacement effect?
419.1b Effects that read "[This permanent] comes into play with ... ," "As [this permanent] comes into play ... ," or "[This permanent] comes into play as ... " are replacement effects.

So, we start with the Stinger as a 1/1, apply replacement effects (amplify makes it a 4/4), apply continuous effects (Crusade bumps it to 5/5), and check for triggered abilities (the creature itself has none, but Angelic Chorus will trigger). Ergo, you'll gain 5 life.

Q: I have an Azorius Chancery and a few other lands in play. I play Vesuva, choosing to copy the Chancery. What happens?

A. Vesuva comes into play as a copy of the Chancery, except its name is still Vesuva. It will come into play tapped and you'll have to return a land to your hand.
B. Vesuva comes into play as a copy of the Chancery, including its name. It will come into play tapped and you'll have to return a land to your hand.
C. Vesuva comes into play tapped. You won't return a land since Vesuva doesn't copy the Chancery until it's already in play. Its name is still Vesuva.
D. Vesuva comes into play tapped. You won't return a land since Vesuva doesn't copy the Chancery until it's already in play. Its name is Azorius Chancery.
E. Vesuva copies the creature except it's still blue ... wait, we weren't talking about the Doppelganger? #$%&!

Here's a copy of the answer.

B, Vesuva is a most capable doppelganger.

Vesuva comes into play as a copy of Azorius Chancery. The name of a permanent is a copiable value, so Vesuva will be going by Azorius Chancery until it leaves play. Because it's a copy of the Chancery, Vesuva will have the "karoo" triggered ability that requires you to return a land to your hand.

Q: My opponent plays a face-down creature spell. If I want to Spell Burst it with buyback, how much mana do I have to pay?

A. . The converted mana cost of a creature spell played face-down is defined to be 0.
B. . Because a face-down creature has a mana cost of 0 play, it has a mana cost of 0 on the stack.
C. . The opponent paid :3mana: for the face-down creature spell.
D. . The mana cost of a creature spell played face-down is defined to be 3.
E. . If your opponent is too much of a ninny to let you see his spells, they must cost :0mana:.

(0): unmorph this answer.

A, 0 is my hero.

Here's why.
502.26a Morph is a static ability that functions in any zone from which you could play the card it's on, and the morph effect works any time the card is face down. "Morph [cost]" means "You may play this card as a 2/2 face-down creature, with no text, no name, no subtypes, no expansion symbol, and no mana cost by paying rather than its mana cost."

It has no mana cost while on the stack; the payment of :3mana: is an alternate play cost. Because the face-down creature spell has no mana cost, The X on Spell Burst will be 0, and when you tack on buyback, you get .

Q: After the cut to Top 8 has been made, one of the final eight players gets disqualified. What happens?

A. Nothing. The player is DQed and the event continues with seven players in the Top 8.
B. The 9th-place player is moved into the Top 8, since you have to have eight players once you make the cut.
C. No player is added but, to be fair, the Top 8 is repaired randomly, with one of the players receiving the bye.
D. No player is added; new Top 8 pairings are made so that the 1st-place player gets the bye.
E. Six other players are DQed randomly until only one remains.

Don't cheat by looking early ...

A, the T7 it is!

It might sound intuitive to always have eight players in the Top 8, but no one gets added if there is a DQ after the cut has been made. What if the 9th-place player has left? Do you go down to 10th? What if he left too? That's one of the big reasons you don't add anyone to the Top 8 once the cut has been made. Here's another one, from UTR 26:
If a player withdraws from a tournament after a cut has been made, such as a cut to the Top 8 in a Pro Tour Qualifier, a player is not advanced to replace the player who withdrew.

It actually covers players who choose to drop, but the same principle extends to players who are DQed (or unwillingly dropped, if you prefer).

That's all we have for this week. Tally up your score if you want. Remember, the important thing is to learn something. If you missed a question, or even a few, that indicates areas of the rules you might want to study a little closer. Maybe that can be a new year's resolution for you?

Next week: Santa comes down the chimney, only to find that Moko has stuffed the CI fireplace full of bananas.

-Tom Fowler

About the Author:
Tom is a Level 2 judge who frequently works in the MD, DC, and PA areas. He is also an active player, and has written articles from both perspectives. Tom has judged numerous Pro Tours, but would like to make it there as a player at least once.


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