Published on 07/18/2022

Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions

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We are heading into the new Regional Championship Qualifier season. These events are held locally and qualify the winner to play in even more prestigious events. The RCQ's for short are either Modern events or Pioneer events, so today let's dig into some common rules questions that pop up in Modern.

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By using the data from, I've found what appear to be the nine most popular decks in Modern. For each deck I will answer two rules questions that are common for that deck, and list the current percentage of the meta that the deck reportedly takes up.

Deck #1 - Izzet Murktide - 13% of the meta

Q: My opponent controls a Hangarback Walker that was cast for 4 mana last turn. Can I steal it using Archmage's Charm?

A: You can. Hangarback's mana value is 0 in all zones except the stack. On the stack, it's equal to X times two.

Q: I've just exiled one instant and one sorcery to cast a Murktide Regent, but before it resolves my opponent flashes in Dress Down. Will the Murktide still enter with two +1/+1 counters on it?

A: Your dragon will sadly be missing its +1/+1 counters. Rule 614.12 of the Comprehensive Rules covers this, but the basics are, if it won't have its replacement ability once it's on the battlefield, it won't benefit from it while it enters. This is the same reason a land like Ketria Triome enters untapped if there is a Blood Moon on the battlefield.

Deck #2 - Hammer Time - 7% of the meta

Q: My opponent is just about to put the third lore counter on their Urza's Saga. They draw a card for the draw step, say "tap the Saga for mana, and then go search for the free artifact". They now claim they can use the mana they made to cast Stoneforge Mystic. Is that true or should the mana have disappeared during the draw step?

A: Urza's Saga is Saga enchantment. When any chapter of a Saga triggers, you can respond to the trigger before it resolves. A Saga doesn't go to the graveyard until the last chapter's trigger resolves. Sagas trigger when they enter the battlefield and immediately after the draw step finishes, which means during your first main phase. This gives you just enough time to make a mana before the Saga gets sacrificed on the third chapter, and you can use that mana to cast sorcery speed spells like artifacts, creatures, enchantments, etc.

Q: I have a The Reality Chip attached to a creature. If I try to cast March of Otherworldly Light from the top of my library, can I see the next card down on top of my library before determining how much mana or in what way to pay for the of March?

A: You can not. Rule 401.5 from the Comprehensive Rules tells us that you can't see the next card until you have fully paid all costs and made all choices.

Deck #3 - 4-Color Yorion - 6% of the meta

Q: Currently my graveyard has an artifact, a creature, and a planeswalker. If I cast Traverse the Ulvenwald, will I be able to grab a creature or any land since I'll have the fourth card type (sorcery, from Traverse the Ulvenwald resolving) in my graveyard?

A: No, you can only find a basic land, since you fully resolve Traverse the Ulvenwald before putting it into your graveyard.

Q: Can I cast a Prismatic Ending for only one to exile my opponent's 4/4 Rhino Token that was made by Crashing Footfalls?

A: Yes, you can! Tokens that are not copies of normal cards have a mana value of 0. Tokens that are copies have the same mana value of what they are copying, unless otherwise stated by the ability that made the token.

Deck #4 - Cascading Rhinos - 5% of the meta

Q: What is the mana value of Bonecrusher Giant while it's in my library or in exile?

A: Its mana value is 3. You may be slightly confused by split cards such as Dead // Gone, which have a mana value equal to both halves added together everywhere but on the stack. Bonecrusher Giant only has the stats of Stomp when you cast Stomp and only while it is on the stack.

Q: My opponent controls a Chalice of the Void with zero counters on it. If I cast Force of Negation paying its alternate cost (pitching a blue card), will it get countered by Chalice since I paid no mana to cast it?

A: It will not get countered. Force of Negation has a mana value of 3 no matter how much mana you actually paid to cast it.

Deck #5 - Yawgmoth's Calling - 5% of the meta

Q: If I sacrifice Young Wolf to Eldritch Evolution can I put Grist, the Hunger Tide onto the battlefield?

A: Yes, you can! While it's in your library, Grist is (also) a creature card.

Q: How does the infinite combo with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician and Geralf's Messenger work?

A: You'll need a second undying creature such as Young Wolf or Strangleroot Geist, and as long as one of your two undying creatures doesn't already have a +1/+1 counter, you can loop the undying creatures until you or your opponent runs out of life. It looks like this:

Activate Yawgmoth paying 1 life and sacrificing Messenger. Put the -1/-1 counter on Young Wolf and draw a card. Messenger returns with a +1/+1 counter, opponent loses 2 life. Young Wolf loses its +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters to the annihilation rule.

Activate Yawgmoth paying 1 life and sacrificing Young Wolf. Put the -1/-1 counter on Messenger and draw a card. Young Wolf returns with a +1/+1 counter. Messenger loses its +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters to the annihilation rule.

Rinse and Repeat. Essentially, for each 2 life you pay, target player loses 2 life and you draw two cards.

You can kill any opponent who has less life then you by repeating this combo. To kill someone who has more life than you, you will need help from a card like Blood Artist.

Deck #6 - Amulet Titan - 5% of the meta

Q: I currently control Amulet of Vigor and the only card in my hand is Simic Growth Chamber. If I resolve Cultivator Colossus's enter the battlefield trigger, can I make infinite mana?

A: No, you can't. Once you begin resolving Cultivator's trigger, you can't make mana, cast spells, activate abilities, or put new triggered abilities on the stack until the ability fully resolves.

Let's assume that the top two cards of your library are Selesnya Sanctuaries, and the third card is some nonland card. If you put that Growth Chamber onto the battlefield, you would draw a card, put that Sanctuary down, draw a card, put that the second Sanctuary down, then draw the nonland card. Now the Cultivator's ability has fully resolved. Before anyone gets priority, three triggers will be put on the stack, requiring you to return a land to your hand for each of them.

Q: I discard Boseiju, Who Endures to destroy my opponent's Urza's Tower, can that player put a Wastes onto the battlefield from their library?

A: They can't. Although Wastes is a basic land, it doesn't have a basic land type, such as Plains, Swamp, Island, Mountain, or Forest.

Deck #7 - 4-Color Elementals - 5% of the meta

Q: How do the Eternal Witness plus Ephemerate shenanigans work?

A: When Ephemerate is cast off of its rebound ability, if you target your Eternal Witness, the Witness will "blink" and the Ephemerate will be put into the graveyard. Then you put the Witness trigger on the stack and you can target the Ephemerate that was just placed into your graveyard, allowing you to do this again.

If you immediately Ephemerate the witness again, the Ephemerate will get exiled so it can rebound next turn, so you would have to return something else to your hand with the Witness.

Q: I control three Risen Reefs, then I cast and resolve Omnath, Locus of Creation, causing each Risen Reef to put a land from the top of my library onto the battlefield, triggering Omnath three times. After all that resolves, if I play my first land for the turn, what does Omnath's trigger do?

A: On the fourth, fifth or any later triggers in the same turn, Omnath's ability does nothing.

Deck #8 - Mono Red Burn - 5% of the meta

Q: My opponent is currently at 16 life, and they're attacking me with a Inkmoth Nexus with nine +1/+1 counters on it. If I Deflecting Palm the Inkmoth's damage to the opponent, did I just kill my opponent with infect?

A: Sadly, no. Deflecting Palm prevents the damage, then deals an equal amount of normal damage itself. However, your opponent is now at 6 life, which is only two Lightning Bolts away from death.

Q: If my opponent blocks my Goblin Guide with a Sanctifier en-Vec, but before damage I resolve Skullcrack, did I just kill the Sanctifier?

A: You did! Since damage can't be prevented, the part of Protection from Red that would keep the Sancifier from taking damage from the red Goblin is shut off this turn. It now trades with the Goblin, instead of only the Goblin dying.

Deck #9 - Urzatron - 4% of the meta

Q: I've just cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and my opponent responds by Counterspelling it. My opponent says I don't get Ulamog's trigger, but I thought I still do. Who is right?

A: You are correct. Ulamog has a cast trigger, which still happens even if he gets countered. The only normal way to stop the cast trigger is to counter the triggered ability itself.

Q: My opponent has only three lands with basic land types, namely a Plains, an Island, and a Stomping Ground. The only land I have with a basic land type is a Forest. When I resolve the trigger from my Sundering Titan entering the battlefield, can I choose each basic my opponent controls once and the Stomping Ground twice, or am I forced to destroy my own Forest?

A: You can choose the same land once for each different basic land type it has, so your Forest is safe.

May this list of questions help you be prepared for your next Modern tournament. Until next time.

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


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