Published on 08/10/2009

Lightweight Liquids

or, No Deliberate Heavy Metal This Week

Cranial Translation
[No translations yet]

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Summer in Arizona.
It's been a metaltastic last couple weeks, but I'm not a huge metal fan and thus the spree must end. Alas. On the plus side, I've still got a bunch of questions for you to read and answers for you to learn from, so it's not a total loss. And I'll probably say a couple things that can be construed as metal references... but I'm also familiar with some metal bands... so you'll have to wonder whether the reference is deliberate! Hah!

Got more questions? Sure you do. Fire them off to and we'll let you know the answer before everyone else! You may even get the question published in a future edition of Cranial Insertion.

With no further ado, let's follow the rotting monkey down the road and read some questions.

Q: If a creature has trample and deathtouch and Lure, is 1 damage to each blocker all I need to assign before going through to the player?

A: Nope. Deathtouch does not affect the definition of "lethal damage" (CR 704.5g) and nothing in the trample rules says that deathtouch is special in this regard, (CR 702.17) nor in the deathtouch rules (CR 702.2). Anyone saying otherwise – and I've heard that a great many people are saying otherwise – is unfortunately misinformed.

Q: Is Drowned Catacomb an Island and a Swamp since it makes both colors?

A: Nope. The type line says "Land," and nothing more, so it is merely a land. No subtypes. A land's types are determined only by the type line, not by the types of mana it produces.

Q: Can I cast Silence before my opponent untaps?

A: Not on his turn you can't. No player receives priority at all until the upkeep step, after the untap step, and then he gets priority first after any waiting triggers go on the stack.

Q: What happens if I attack with two Prized Unicorns? Does the universe explode?

A: Maybe! But exploding universes aside, the two Unicorns set up two blocking requirements per creature. If both requirements for one creature can be met (hi Palace Guard!) then that creature must block both. Otherwise, each creature must meet one of the requirements and block one of the two Unicorns.

Does anyone else miss the template?
Q: Is it legal to cast Fireball for 0 and target a couple Illusionary Servants?

A: Sure, Fireball can have any number of targets so long as you've got the mana to spend on having 'em. Some spells, like Electrolyze, won't let you have more targets than whatever's being distributed, but Fireball does not distribute – the game rounds down, and so that's done later and not subject to the "must receive at least one of whatever's being distributed" rules.

Q: Can I use Harm's Way to send a Black Knight's damage back at itself?

A: Send its damage somewhere else? Sure. At itself? Not so much. The "where does the damage go?" part is targeted, so you can't target Black Knight with it. But the "a source of your choice" part does not target (nor damage, attach, or block), so you can pick Black Knight as your source and smack its controller.

Q: Can I Clone a Great Sable Stag?

A: Similar to the above question, Clone does not damage, attach to, block, or target Great Sable Stag as it enters the battlefield, so the Stag is indeed cloneable, barring local laws or regulations to the contrary regarding genetic manipulation technology.

Q: If I Hallow a Ball Lightning as a spell, will the damage be prevented when it swings this turn?

A: It sure will! CR 400.7b handles this handily – it says that a prevention effect applied to a permanent spell will still apply to the resulting permanent. In general, the stack-to-battlefield transition is an exception to the normal "changing zones makes it a new object" rule. The resulting permanent is the same object as the spell it was.

Q: If I use Glamerdye to change the text on Great Sable Stag as a spell so it has protection from red instead of black, can I Doom Blade it now?

A: This is another situation that falls under the above caveat that stack-to-battlefield is the same object, one handled by CR 400.7a. Effects that change the characteristics of permanent spells carry over to the resulting permanent as well.

Q: I block with Protean Hydra and then cast Fog. Can I let my Hydra still take some of the damage so it gets counters back?

A: You can, for a certain value of "some." When multiple replacement or prevention effects want to replace or prevent the same chunk of damage, the controller of the object being damaged chooses an order for those effects. Once you apply Fog or the Hydra's effect, the other won't apply anymore. So if you block a 2/2, you can choose to let the Hydra lose two counters temporarily or not, but you can't choose to let it lose just one. The replacement is all or nthing.

If the Hydra is blocked, rather, by two 2/2 creatures, you get into a situation where both effects want to replace all combat damage at once, and not the damage "from a source," so your Hydra will lose 4 or 0 counters - 2 isn't an option.

Q: What happens first if I devour Kitchen Finks with Caldera Hellion, the damage or the return of the Finks?

A: When you receive priority after the Hellion resolves, two things have triggered since the last time you had priority: the Finks went to the yard, and the Hellion entered the battlefield. Rather than worry about which one technically happened first, we can just look at CR 603.3b that tells us that the order doesn't matter! Since both happened since the last time you had priority, you can order them as you like. I'd rather suggest putting the Finks's trigger on first so the damage will be dealt before it comes back.

Q: I remember reading that if Mutavault were hit with Peppersmoke and then reactivated, it would be 2/2 again. A judge ruled otherwise and said the rules had changed – is that right?

A: The rules did change. Check out our article on layers for the gritty details, but the short version: anything that sets power and toughness is applied before anything that modifies power and toughness, regardless of which effect started first.

Q: I have some questions about Harm's Way and planeswalkers. What if I swing at you and you redirect 2 damage to me – can you make it hit my planeswalker?

A: Oh boy, here comes rule 306.8. Only noncombat damage can be redirected; even though the damage may feel a little like it's coming through Harm's Way, the damage is still from the creature and it's still combat damage. There is another issue, though...

The most dangerous collision in the game:
rules complexity and playability.
Q: What if I Lightning Bolt you and you use Harm's Way to send it back at me?

A: Only damage from a source controlled by a player's opponent can be redirected to that player's planeswalker. Harm's Way does not change the source of damage at all, only where it goes. Since you control Bolt, its damage redirected to you cannot then be redirected to your planeswalker. (The same is true of combat damage above, but the "this is combat damage" bit is more important there.)

Q: I cast Char on my opponent and want to redirect his 4 damage to his Garruk and my 2 damage to him via Harm's Way. Can I do that?

A: Remember that big earlier in this article when I mentioned competing replacement effects? Well, well! The planeswalker damage redirection effect is another one that falls into this along with Harm's Way's effect. So we're going to have competing replacement effects going on, except now we need to introduce three new elements to this:

1) Applying one redirection effect may cause others to no longer apply or to be able to apply where they could not apply before.

2) Once a redirection effect has been applied, it won't re-invoke itself or change what it's doing.

3) Where more than one redirection effect is waiting to apply to a single event, and more than one player is being dealt damage, the choices are made in APNAP order.

So, given APNAP order matters, we need to first consider whose turn it is. If it's your turn (you're the one playing Char and Harm's Way, remember), you'll have to apply Harm's Way's effect first. Now Char is dealing 6 damage to your opponent – you can have the 6 dealt to him, or to Garruk, but you cannot split it.

If it's your opponent's turn, things just got interesting. First, he applies the planeswalker damage redirection effect. Let's say that you chose to redirect the damage: now Char is set to deal 4 damage to Garruk and 2 damage to you. Now you apply Harm's Way, and Char is set to deal 4 to Garruk and 2 to your opponent. The planeswalker redirection effect doesn't pop back up and say "hey, I already applied, so you have to send that damage to Garruk" – it will, however, apply to these 2 points of damage to which it didn't previously apply and you can choose to redirect them to Garruk as well if you so wish, or you can leave them heading for your opponent.

Q: If I name Boggart Ram Gang with Runed Halo, can he attack my planeswalker?

A: Sure. Your planeswalker is not you, and creatures attack planeswalkers directly with no redirection shenanigans. Runed Halo won't do anything at all in this situation other than encourage the Ram Gang to go at the walker rather than you.

Q: Lifeline says to return the first creature – does that mean the first one put into a graveyard this turn?

A: No, it means the first one referred to in the ability, since the ability refers to two creatures, neither of which is targeted. Lifeline will trigger and return any number of creatures that die while another creature is watching.

Q: How do we resolve Hive Mind in a six-player game without our heads exploding?

A: Paper. Seriously. Use paper and write this down.

You start off with one spell on the stack. Then the first other player in APNAP order – the player whose turn it is, unless that player cast the spell, in which case we go to the next player in turn order – puts his copy on the stack, writes down that on the paper and what the spell targets, and so on going around the table. Once all of this happens, players can cast spells, triggering Hive Mind yet again. Remember that after each copy resolves, cross it off the paper and then players can cast yet more spells, possibly adding more paperwork. It can get quite messy, but as long as it's written down, you can resolve it without forgetting things.

Q: Will Warp World and Polluted Bonds let me do hilarious things to my opponents?

A: Sadly not. Lands enter the battlefield simultaneously along with artifacts and creatures, but enchantments always come last sequentially. Simultaneous entries will see each other and trigger, so you can use Ankh of Mishra and Zo-Zu the Punisher, but sequentially later entries (you can tell by the word "then" on Warp World) will not trigger on earlier entries.

Q: In 2HG, can my creatures form a band with my teammate's creatures?

A: Sure. The section on banding (702.19) and the instance where attackers band (508.1e) don't list any restrictions on banding only with creatures controlled by the same player. They say you can band with any attacking creature, so go for it.

Q: What should I do if I go to draw a card, and accidentally lift up the card under it and see what it is?

A: Call a judge, of course! Always call a judge – don't just try to fix things by yourself.

The judge should resolve this as a Looking at Extra Cards infraction. This means to issue a caution or warning, depending on the Rules Enforcement Level, and then determine what of the library is legally known. For instance, cards known to be in the top due to Sensei's Divining Top or scry or on the bottom due to Hallowed Burial must remain where they are. If the top card that you looked at is not in a legally-known position, then it's shuffled into the other cards not legally known.

Q: Is pile shuffling legal or not?

A: It's legal to use, but it is not considered randomization according to the Magic Tournament Rules 3.8. You can pile shuffle to break clumps and count your cards, but then you must actually shuffle your cards in addition, or you'll be facing severe penalties for Insufficient Randomization or possibly even cheating.

Well, we've eaten up a lot of pixels today, in no small part due to Harm's Way. Hopefully you've learned plenty about the rules and our favorite little nasty uncommon from M10. Join us next week when Paskoff takes the helm again and uses it as a drum.

Until next time, drink three glasses of rules each day.

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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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