Published on 02/07/2022

1,200 Years Ago and Counting

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This was a long time ago.

It almost feels like 1,200 years ago was the last time I played standard with cards from Kamigawa. Though in reality, they were still legal in standard until October of 2006 (a measly 16 years ago). I wouldn't become a Magic Judge for a whole year after that! So in honor of Kamigawa's mighty return, let's look back at some of those old cards from our first visit to the old dynasty.

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Q: My opponent controls Horobi, Death's Wail. Is it a bad idea for me to activate and equip ability or configure ability on one of my equipment?

A: This would be a bad idea, because it will kill your creature. Most of the time if you want to check if an ability or spell has a target, you look to see the the ability or spell has the word target in its text. However, there are a few spells and abilities that hide the word target in their rules. When you cast an Aura, it has a target. When you pay a equip cost or a configure cost, they each have a target.

Q: If I cast Gifts Ungiven can I choose to find only 2 cards? And if I do what happens to them?

A: You may choose to find any number of cards between 0-4, when resolving Gifts. If you find 2 or more cards, the opponent must choose 2 to put into your graveyard. If you find only 1, the opponent must choose to put it into your graveyard.

Q: If I activate Minamo Sightbender paying to make my Soratami Seer unblockable, then Giant Growth the Seer, can it be blocked this turn?

A: It can not be blocked this turn. Sightbender only cares that it's target's power was equal to or lower than when the ability was activated and when it resolved. If the power changes to above X later in the turn, it will still be unblockable.

Q: My opponent channels Arashi, the Sky Asunder from their hand to kill all my flyers. Can I use Counterspell to stop this from happening?

A: Sadly, you can not. Channel is an activated ability from the hand, not casting a spell. It can be stopped by a spell like Squelch since in counters an activated ability.

You thought Zendikar had the craziest waterfalls.

Q: If I target my opponent's Sculpting Steel(which is currently a copy of Uba Mask) with my Splinter, which card do I search their library, graveyard, and hand for, Sculpting Steel or Uba Mask?

A: You search out cards named Uba Mask. It will use the Sculpting Steels last know information (or as it last existed on the battlefield) to determine what cards can be searched up.

Q: I control a Gutwrencher Oni is wielding a Runed Stalactite and no other creatures. Does the Oni still make me discard a card during each of my upkeeps?

A: It no longer hungers for cards from your hand, it's satisfied by its inner Ogre.

Q: I have a Genju of the Fields enchanting my Plains. If I activate its ability 4 times, and then attack with the enchanted Plains unblocked, how much life will I gain?

A: You will gain 8 life. Each time you activate the Genju's ability, the Plains becomes a 2/5 spirit creature and gain the ability "Whenever this creature deals damage, its controller gains that much life", it will end up with 4 copies of the triggered ability, and each will trigger separately when the Plains deals damage. As each trigger resolves you will gain 2 life, with 4 triggers, you gain a total of 8 life.

Q: I control Humble Budoka and my opponent activates the remove shroud and hexproof ability of her Arcane Lighthouse. Since Humble Budoka literally doesn't say "shroud", is it still safe from being targeted?

A: The Budoka is not safe. The written out ability it has, has been Oracled to being Shroud. On older cards like this, many have been changed to say something similar to how they would be written if new today, even if they have never been printed with the new text. This is called "oracle text". It helps standardize Magic Cards, and prevent a ton of weird corner cases in the rules. You can check the oracle text of any magic card by going to the following website

Q: Heartless Hidetsugu is my commander. If I'm at less then 40 life, and each of my opponent's is at over 40 life, can I win the game by activating my commander's tap ability only once?

A: You can not. Losing the game from Commander damage only counts combat damage. Heartless would have to deal 21 combat damage to a single opponent to cause that player to lose the game.

Q: I currently have seven cards in my hand, and control a Akki Underling with one damage marked on it. My opponent then casts Wheel of Fortune. Does the Akki die when I discard my hand to Wheel of Fortune?

A: It lives. Being destroyed for having equal to or more damage than a creature has toughness, is a state-based action. State-based actions are check before each player gets priority (priority means having the chance to cast spells activate abilities) and at-least once during the cleanup step. Players do no get priority while a spell is resolving, and therefor no state-based actions are checked while a spell is resolving. By the time Wheel of Fortune fully resolves you will likely have 7 cards in hand, then state-based actions will be checked, and the Akki will have 2 toughness and be fine.

Q: How does Reverse the Sands work in a 4 player game?

A: Assuming your life total is 10, one opponent is at 20 life, one opponent is at 30 life, and the last opponent is at 40 life, you choose a life total to be assigned to each player, but one player must be assigned 10, one 20, one 30, and one 40. Once you assign a life total to a player that player gains or loses X life to hit that number as one event (i.e., if you assign 40 life to yourself, you will gain 30 life in one shot). These assignments do not have to be direct swaps, and you can assign one or more players the life total they started with.

Each player who can't gain life, can't be assigned an amount of life greater than they started with. A player that can't lose life, can't be assigned an amount of life lower than they started with. If a player has an ability that increases or decreases an life gain or life lose, those abilities do modify how much life they gain or lose.

Q: I'm playing Commander, and I am still at 40 life when I cast Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant, will it flip immediately after it enter the battlefield?

A: It will! This card doesn't care if you have more than your starting life total, just that you have 30 or more now. Cards like Chalice of Life do pay attention to formats that having a starting life total different than 20.

Q: My opponent controls Umezawa's Jitte with 7 charge counters on it and no creatures. Can they remove all 7 charge counter to gain 14 life, even though it is not equipped to a creature right now?

A: Yes, they can. Jitte doesn't grant a creature the ability to remove charge counters to do one of three things, that is just an ability Jitte itself has.

Kamigawa has some scenic mountains.

Q: I control a Vine Kami which is wielding my O-Naginata. My opponent cast's Hideous Laughter and then claims my O-Naginata falls off my Kami because it's base power is now lower than 3. Is this true?

A: It will stay equipped in that scenario. The Vine Kami is a 5/2 and keeps it's weapon handy. The creature's power needs to be 3 or greater (before benefiting from the O-Naginata) to become equipped, but once it is equipped it can use the bonus from the O-Naginata to keep it attached. To make O-Naginata become unequipped for being too small a power, it need to be at 2 or less total power after all bonuses and reductions including the bonus from the O-Naginata.

Q: My opponent controls an Orb of Dreams and I play a Godless Shrine. Can I still pay 2 life to have it enter the battlefield untapped?

A: You can pay the life if you like, but it will still enter the battlefield tapped. Two different abilities are trying to make the land enter tapped. The Orb and the Shrine's own ability. The Shrine has a built it work around for its own ability, but has no effect on other abilities that try to make it enter tapped.

Q: I currently control two Brothers Yamazaki, if I get a third one on the battlefield, do I lose one or two of them to the Legendary rule?

A: You lose two of your choice. The ability they have stops function if the number of them you control is different then two. Once you have three or more, the rule fully applies to all of them, and you must put all but one into your graveyard all at once.

Q: My opponent controls Ninja of the Deep Hours and I control a Night of Souls' Betrayal. What happens if I cast a second Night of Souls' Betrayal?

A: Last question, we discussed state-based actions. The legend rule is a state-based action. Creatures being put in the graveyard for having zero or less toughness is another. Immediately after the second Night of Souls' Betrayal enters the battlefield, the game will check ALL state-based actions. It will simultaneously find both of the above state-based actions and complete both, before any player could respond. Therefor, both the Ninja and one Night of Souls' Betrayal will be put into their owner's graveyards.

Q: I'm confused by the mana cost of Orochi Hatchery. How does this card work?

A: The Hatchery has a double in its mana cost. You have to pay the same amount into both s (you can't pay into one and into the other). However much you pay for both s individually is how many charge counter it will have (i.e. if you pay 5 twice, it will have 5 charge counters).

Q: My opponent controls Ayumi, the Last Visitor. What in the world is "Legendary Landwalk"?

A: It's a variant of the landwalk ability (like Forestwalk or Mountainwalk). A creature with Forestwalk can't be blocked by a player that controls any forests. A creature with Legendary Landwalk can't be blocked by a player that controls any Legendary Lands.

Q: I control Nezumi Graverobber and my opponent has no cards in their graveyard. Can I active the Graverobber to flip it?

A: If the opponent has no cards in their graveyard, you can not activate Nezumi Graverobber's ability because the ability needs a target.

I think I'm done peering down memory lane. Time to look forward to some new Kamigawa (and rats riding motorcycles!) If you have questions about the new cards or any of the old, we are here to help.

Until next time,

- Justin Hovdenes AKA Hovey
Level 2 Magic Judge
Rapid City, SD


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