Published on 10/23/2023

Go To An RCQ, Show Your Strength

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My strength is your weakness.
Over the last two weeks I've head-judged an RCQ in Montana and one in my home state of South Dakota. These Modern events have given me a few rules questions sprinkled throughout this article. These are Competitive events that award an invite to the Dreamhack Regional Championship being held in Denver early next year. I hope to be on staff for that event, and if you see me there, don't be shy about saying Hello.

If you have Magic rules questions, we would love to answer them and might even include them in an upcoming article. For short questions, you can send them to our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and if you have a longer question, you can send it to our e-mail at .

Q: My opponent is currently at 10 life. If I attack my opponent with two 3/3 Beast tokens and my opponent blocks one of them with his Death's Shadow, does the Shadow get big enough to survive the combat damage in time?

A: Yes, it does! All combat damage from these three creatures is dealt simultaneously, then after damage is dealt state based actions are checked, by which point the Shadow has grown to be a 6/6 with 3 damage marked on it. Note that the Shadow only dealt 3 damage during this combat.

Q: My opponent has cascaded into Living End and I have a Containment Priest in my hand. My opponent claims there is no point I can cast the Priest to prevent Living End from reanimating creatures. Is this true?

A: They are correct.

If you cast Priest before Living End resolves, the Priest will get sacrificed with the rest of the board, then all creatures exiled by Living End will enter the battlefield, which means Priest is dead before creatures enter the battlefield, so Priest has no effect.

If you wait to cast the Priest after Living End resolves, then it missed the time to affect the creatures brought onto the battlefield by Living End.

Worse yet, if you flash out Priest and kill it somehow so that it's in the graveyard when Living End resolves, it still won't affect the number of cards put on the battlefield by Living End as Priest's ability is a replacement effect and therefore can't "see" other cards put on the battlefield at the same time.

Q: I control Uncivil Unrest, Jeska, Thrice Reborn, and an attacking Bear Cub with a +1/+1 counter on it. Before attacking with the Bear Cub, I used Jeska's +0 ability to triple the Bear's damage. If my opponent doesn't block the Bear Cub, how much damage will it deal?

A: The Bear Cub will deal 18 damage. It's power is 3 with the +1/+1 counter. Then it has two replacement effects that try to increase the damage. It doesn't matter the order in this case as both multiply the damage, so we will get to the same result, but it's worth noting the player being injured chooses the order these replacement effects will be applied.

3x2=6, then 6x3=18
3x3=9, then 9x2=18.

Q: My Gisa, Glorious Resurrector exiled my opponent's Bear Cub because it died blocking my Hill Giant. During my opponent's turn, they target Gisa with Asphyxiate. I respond by Momentary Blinking her. As my turn begins will I get a decayed Bear Cub?

A: You will not. When a permanent leaves the battlefield and then returns, no matter how short the time, it is considered a new object and loses any connection to its previous existence on the battlefield.

In short, because you blinked Gisa, she forgets she exiled the Bear Cub.

My strength is in being well armed.
Q: I control Puresteel Paladin which is currently wielding Lucille. I then equip Sword of Light and Shadow onto the Paladin. When I attack with the Paladin, how much damage does it deal if it goes unblocked?

A: The Paladin will only deal 4 damage. Once the Paladin gains Protection from Black, that makes Lucille "fall off" as a creature with protection from black can't have black Equipment attached to it.

Q: My commander is Anikthea, Hand of Erebos. If I have her make a copy of Necromancy from my graveyard, what happens to the Necromancy token?

A: The Necromancy token enters the battlefield as a 3/3 black enchantment creature Zombie. Then its triggered ability resolves, turning it into a 3/3 black enchantment creature Zombie Aura, pulling a creature from a graveyard onto the battlefield, but it fails to attach the Necromancy token to the creature, because a creature can't be attached to anything. As soon as the trigger is done resolving, the game places the Necromancy token in the graveyard for being an Aura that's not attached to anything. Once this happens, this triggers the "When Necromancy leaves the battlefield, that creature's controller sacrifices it" ability, making you sacrifice the creature you reanimated.

Q: On my last turn, I upgraded my Evolved Sleeper into a 2/2 Human Cleric. After this, my opponent placed a Cursed Role on it during their turn, using Croaking Curse. It's now my turn again. Can I activate Evolved Sleeper's first ability? And if so, what will it look like?

A: Yes you can, and when that ability resolves, it will become a 2/2 Human Cleric.

Evolved Sleeper's first ability works in layer 4 (type changing) and Layer 7b (P/T setting). Cursed Role works in layer 7b. When multiple effects try to apply in the same layer, they are usually applied in timestamp order. Older timestamps first, newest timestamps last. So Sleeper starts out as a 1/1 as those are its printed stats. Then we apply the oldest effect, the original activation of the first ability, making it a 2/2. Then the next effect is the 1/1 from Cursed Role. Then the youngest effect, the most recent activation of the first ability, making it a 2/2 again.

Q: Same set up as the last question. Can I activate the Evolved Sleeper's second ability? And if so, what will it look like?

A: Yes you can, and when that ability resolves, it will become a 3/3 Phyrexian Human Cleric with a deathtouch counter.

Evolved Sleeper's second ability works in Layer 4 (type changing), Layer 6 (adding//removing abilities), and Layer 7b (P/T setting).

Sleepers second ability doesn't care what size the Sleeper is, just that it is a Cleric to have any effect. Cursed Role doesn't remove abilities or change a creature's types, so you can still activate that second ability since the first one was activated earlier.

We again do timestamp order for determining the end power and toughness. Printed stats of 1/1, turns to 2/2, then Cursed Role makes 1/1, and then in the end the effect from the second ability wins as it has the most recent timestamp, making it a 3/3.

Q: I control two copies of Tribute to the World Tree and two copies of Branching Evolution. If I cast Bear Cub, how many +1/+1 counters will it end up with and will I draw any cards?

A: The Bear will have eight +1/+1 counters and you will draw 1 card. Branching Evolution is a replacement effect and World Tree is a triggered ability that adds +1/+1 counters or draws you a card.

When the Bear enters the battlefield, both World Trees trigger. The first World Tree will attempt to put two +1/+1 counters on the Bear, this will be increased to four +1/+1 counters by the first Branching Evolution, and then the second Branching Evolution will double this to eight +1/+1 counters. By the time the second World Tree trigger tries to resolve, the Bear has way more power than 3, so you draw a card from it.

Q: If I attack with only Kaalia of the Vast putting a Baneslayer Angel onto the battlefield attacking with Kaalia's trigger, will this trigger my Horn of the Mark?

A: This will not. You have to declare two or more creatures attacking the same player to get the Horn to trigger. Creatures put onto the battlefield attacking were not declared as attackers.

Q: In a game of Commander I have three opponents. I attack each of them in the same turn with three 1/1 Saproling tokens. Does this trigger my Horn of the Mark once or three times?

A: Three times! When you declare an attack, it trigger once for each opponent who is attacked by two or more creatures.

Q: My opponent controls Damping Sphere and I control Nyxbloom Ancient. If I tap my Ancient Tomb for mana, how much mana does it make?

A: Its your choice of or . Both Nyxbloom and Damping Sphere want to replace with making a different amount of mana, and since each can apply even after the other has both will get to have an effect in the end.

Since you are affected by the event being replaced (the amount of mana made) you get to choose the order in which the two replacement effects are applied.

If you apply Nyxbloom first, you will triple to , which then gets dropped to a single by Damping Sphere.

If you apply Damping Sphere first, you will cut in half to only , which then gets tripled to by Nyxbloom.

Q: I'm not sure why, but I've always played with my lands on the left side of my battlefield. I had an opponent tell me that it's against the rules, and that I have to play with my lands in the back. Is this true?

A: That depends on the rules enforcement level. In casual games and at Regular REL, you may place your cards on your portion of the table as you see fit so long as it's clear what cards are what and you're not hiding some cards by placing some cards over others. However, at Competitive and Professional REL, the tournament rules specify a mandatory game layout that includes "lands in the back" among other requirements.

Q: My opponent casts Farewell so I respond by phasing myself out with Teferi's Protection. My opponent chooses all modes for Farewell and claims they still exile my graveyard. Is this true?

A: They do still get to exile your graveyard. You don't "phase out", only your permanents do. While under Teferi's Protection, your library, your hand, your graveyard, and you can still be affected by things that don't target. Examples include exiling all graveyards, each player discards X cards and/or draws X cards, and each player mills X cards.

My strength is my adaptability.

Q: I control Precursor Golem and its two 3/3 Golem tokens. If I target Precursor Golem with Sublime Epiphany choosing the copy target creature mode and the draw a card mode, can I choose different modes with the two copies of Sublime Epiphany?

A: So this is a whole lot of no. With the modes chosen, you will make no copies as the spell has two targets, the Golem and a player to draw a card. It is possible to cast Sublime so that Precursor copies it. You could:
A) choose only the copy target creature mode
B) choose only the "Disperse" mode
C) choose the "Disperse" mode and the copy target creature mode with both modes targeting the same golem

But in these three cases, you can't change the modes chosen for the copies. If you copy a spell with modes on the stack, you can't change the modes.

As a side note, if you chose option C, each Golem will be "bounced" and you will still make the copy using its last known information. Although the target is gone by the time the copying part of the spell begins to resolve, the spell has already started resolving, so loss of target doesn't stop the Sublime Epiphany from resolving.

Q: I control Brenard, Ginger Sculptor and three Bear Cubs. My opponent casts Day of Judgment. Does Brenard still make three gingerbread Bear Cubs, even though he is dying along with them?

A: He does! He sees them dying with him, and still makes the copies even though he will be in the graveyard by the time the gingerbread Bear Cubs are made. Like a good chef, he does a lot of prep work beforehand.

Q: If I control Mortuary and cast Clone choosing to copy my Gyruda, Doom of Depths, can I infinitely mill all other players?

A: If you play it right, yes you can.

1) Place Gyruda or Clone in the graveyard with the legend rule
2) Put Gyruda's enter the battlefield trigger on the stack with the Mortuary trigger above it.
3) Put Gyruda or Clone on top of your library with the Mortuary trigger.
4) Each player mills four cards, including the Gyruda or Clone you just placed on top of your library. Choose to reanimate the Gyruda or Clone.
5) You're back at step 1. Repeat until all players have empty libraries.
6) To exit the loop, put the Mortuary trigger on the stack with Gyruda's enter the battlefield trigger above it.
7) Mill from an empty Library, failing to reanimate a creature.
8) Put Gyruda or Clone on top of your Library with the Mortuary trigger.
9) Pass turn and win the game as each opponent in turn order draws from an empty library.

Q: My opponent attacks me with three Bear Cubs while I'm the monarch and I control an Emberwilde Captain. The opponent currently has four cards in their hand. Is it possible for me to use the Aetherize in my hand to increase the damage Emberwilde does to greater than 4?

A: You can. When the opponent attacks with the three Bears, the trigger for Emberwilde goes on the stack. The trigger only counts the number of cards in your opponent's hand as it resolves. Before it resolves, you can cast Aetherize returning all three Bears to the opponent's hand. Emberwilde's trigger will then resolve seeing seven cards in your opponent's hand, dealing 7 damage to them.

Q: I control Parallel Thoughts and my library has been entirely milled out by my opponent. If there are no more cards exiled by Parallel Thoughts, can I still have it replace my draw so I don't lose the game for drawing from an empty library?

A: Yes, you can. Parallel Thoughts replaces your draw with putting a card from exile in your hand. It doesn't require that this action actually puts a card in your hand to replace the draw.

Q: I control Breathkeeper Seraph and cast Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath from my hand. Can I soulbond Uro to Breathkeeper before Uro gets sacrificed to its own ability? And if I can, can I now get as many Uro triggers as I want?

A: Yes, and sort of. If the Seraph isn't currently soulbonded with another creature, you can soulbond it to Uro. When Uro enters the battlefield it will trigger three different abilities:
1) Uro's "you gain 3 life and draw a card, then you may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield"
2) Uro's self-sacrifice ability for not being escaped.
3) Seraph's soulbond trigger.

As you control all three triggers, you can put them on the stack in any order. So long as you have the Seraph's soulbond trigger resolve before the self-sacrifice trigger, you can pair the two creatures.

However, this doesn't make infinite Uro triggers. Instead, Uro will still die and then come back at the beginning of your next turn. If Seraph is not soulbonded to another creature when Uro returns, you can soulbond the two again, and Uro will die yet again as he wasn't cast for his escape cost. You can keep doing this every turn if you like, gaining 3 life, drawing a card, and putting a land on the battlefield during each of your upkeeps.

Well I'm out, until next time.

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


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