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Tolarian Academy – 43 Questions about 43 Land

 

Hey folks, and welcome to another edition of Tolarian Academy, where Dragon Age and MTGO keep trying to get me not to write my column. Forgive me if I end all of my answers with some crack about the Grey Wardens, or if I try to F6 through your questions. Don’t forget, though, to send your questions to [email protected] or to Psychatrog on Twitter for a chance to win $5 in store credit with ChannelFireball.com! Now, since I need something to distract me from the fact that my favorite MechWarrior mini just broke in half, let’s answer some questions!

Q: My opponent has Manabond on the battlefield, and at end of turn, he reveals his hand. He doesn’t have any lands in his hand, but he says he can still discard his hand. How can this be, since he didn’t put any lands onto the battlefield?

A: Your opponent has done everything Manabond has asked him to. He revealed his hand and put all of the lands in his hand onto the battlefield. Just because “all of his lands” is zero lands doesn’t mean he can’t use Manabond’s ability; there’s no “If you do” clause, or anything like that. I’m sure he’ll enjoy whatever crazy Life from the Loam shenanigans he’s trying to do.

Q: If I have The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale on the battlefield and my opponent goes to draw his card, do I have to stop him and remind him to pay {1} for each creature he controls, or do I get to let him sacrifice all of his creatures?

A: Tabernacle gives all creatures on the battlefield the ability “At the beginning of your upkeep, destroy this creature unless you pay {1}.” What’s all this “unless” business? That wording’s a bit weird. Fortunately for us, the rules cover this wording and tell us the following:

116.12a. Some spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities read, “[Do something] unless you [do something else].” This means the same thing as “You may [do something else]. If you don’t, [do something].”

So, for each of your opponent’s creatures, he may pay {1}. If he doesn’t, he sacrifices that creature. This means that if he simply untaps and draws without paying, the game interprets this as your opponent choosing not to pay, and the default action of sacrificing each creature he didn’t pay for is applied. You do have to call him on it once he leaves his upkeep (and you get to make him sacrifice his creatures,) but you don’t have to tell him any sooner.

Q: My opponent casts Extirpate targeting my Life from the Loam. Can I respond by cycling a card from my hand to dredge back Loam?

A: Well, Extirpate has split second, so you can’t respond by casting spells or activating abilities. According to rule 702.26a, “cycling is an activated ability that functions only while the card with cycling is in a player’s hand.” Since you can’t activate abilities, you can’t cycle something, and you won’t be seeing Life from the Loam any time soon.

Q: I was playing on Magic Online recently, and my opponent activated Thopter Foundry, sacrificing Sword of the Meek. In response, I cast Extirpate on the Sword. My opponent responded to that by using Academy Ruins to return Sword of the Meek to his hand. Can he do that? Is Academy Ruins’s second ability a mana ability or something?

A: If this really happened, you should file a bug report. A mana ability is defined as an activated ability that produces mana or a triggered ability that triggers from a mana ability, and Academy Ruins’s second ability is neither of these. Therefore, if you called a judge in this situation in paper Magic, the judge would say “You can’t respond with that!”

Q: I activate Stirring Wildwood on my opponent’s turn to block a flyer. In her second main phase, my opponent plays Sower of Temptation and takes my Stirring Wildwood. At the end of her turn, the Wildwood goes back to being a regular old land. Does she lose control of it since it’s no longer a creature?

A: Your opponent keeps your pretty pretty land until the Sower dies. Sower only cares if the target is a creature when the ability is announced and when the ability resolves. If it stops being a creature after that, Sower doesn’t care; the effect is just a control effect on an object in play.

Q: My opponent casts Sprout Swarm with buyback, and I have Counterbalance and Sensei’s Divining Top on the battlefield. I activate Sensei’s Divining Top, and I see a land, a Force of Will, and a Counterspell. Which, if any, of these cards will counter Sprout Swarm if I put it on top and then flip it up for Counterbalance? Would this change if the spell my opponent cast was a kicked Aether Figment?

A: Counterbalance counters spells by comparing their converted mana costs to the converted mana cost of the card on top of your library. Converted mana cost is defined as “a number equal to the total amount of mana in its mana cost, regardless of color.” [CR 202.3] Regardless of whether or not your opponent pays for buyback, the converted mana cost of Sprout Swarm is 2. That means you should put that Counterspell on top to counter Sprout Swarm. The same goes for Aether Figment in this particular case.

Q: I have Odds//Ends imprinted on Isochron Scepter, and my opponent plays a [card]Tendrils of Agony[/card], the eleventh spell of the turn. In response, I use Isochron Scepter and cast Odds. If the flip comes up heads, I know it just counters the original and not the storm trigger. If the flip comes up tails, however, do I get to Tendrils him to death?

A: Unfortunately, no. You copy the spell, yes, but you don’t play the copy- it just goes on the stack. That means you won’t get the storm trigger and you won’t be able to kill your opponent this way. Looks like this’ll be the Ends of yous! Ha ha ha.

Q: My opponent is at 10, and I’m at 4. My opponent’s twice-kicked Gnarlid Pack is threatening to kill me on his next turn. If I cast Dead Reckoning targeting my Ruthless Cullblade and his Gnarlid Pack, will I be able to destroy my opponent’s Gnarlid Pack?

A: Ruthless Cullblade’s +2/+1 ability only applies while it’s in play, so the Cullblade in your graveyard is only a 2/1. You can certainly destroy the Gnarlid Pack if you have a bigger creature in your bin, but the Cullblade just won’t cut it.

Q: On a related note, what is Gnarlid Pack, anyway? A bear? An antelope?

A: I’m pretty sure it’s a beartelope. My roommate says it’s a Kavu, but I’m skeptical.

Q: I attack my opponent with Wrexial, the Risen Deep, and he’s got a Swamp on the battlefield, so he gets hit, going down to 4. He has a Burst Lightning in his graveyard, and I’d like to cast it with kicker. Is that allowed?

A: You absolutely can! You don’t have to pay the {R} it normally costs, as Wrexial dictates, but you do have to pay the {4} if you want to kick it. If you do, you’ll of course be able to send the Burst Lightning at your opponent’s face for victory!

Q: That’s great and all, but there’s just one problem: I only have four untapped Islands, and my opponent has a Lodestone Golem on the battlefield. Will I still be able to kick Burst Lightning since Wrexial lets me cast the spell without paying its mana cost?

A: Sadly, no, since you’ll have to pay the {1} for Lodestone Golem in order to even cast the spell. You can’t kick it if you cast it, since you only have four lands, so you won’t be winning the game this turn off the Burst Lightning.

Q: My opponent has two Celestial Colonnades and two Islands on the battlefield, and I have two Swamps and two Tectonic Edges. Can I activate one Tectonic Edge targeting one of his Celestial Colonnades and, in response, activate the other Tectonic Edge targeting the other Colonnade to destroy them both?

A: Absolutely! Since Tectonic Edge’s ability only checks how many lands your opponent controls when you play the ability, you can certainly blow up both Colonnades this way. I feel like this sort of gets around the spirit of the card, and that’s exactly how I like it!

Q: My opponent has only one creature: Vampire Hexmage. At the end of his turn, I want to make my three Gatekeepers of Malakir bigger so that I can swing for the win. I cast Urge to Feed targeting his Hexmage, and he sacrifices it, targeting something totally irrelevant. Can I still tap my Vampires to give them counters?

A: You won’t be able to do that. Your spell had only one target (the Hexmage), which is now illegal, so the spell will be countered by game rules. Since tapping your Vampires to get counters is part of the resolution of the spell, they won’t get counters since the spell never resolves.

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Q: I cast Searing Blaze on my opponent and his Llanowar Elves. I have no creatures on the battlefield. My opponent casts Wild Ricochet. Can he redirect the Searing Blaze to me even though I have no creatures?

A: This is kind of a crazy question! Wild Ricochet allows your opponent to “choose new targets” for Searing Blaze. According to the Comprehensive Rules, this means the following:

113.6c. If an effect allows a player to “choose new targets” for a spell or ability, the player may leave any number of the targets unchanged, even if those targets would be illegal. If the player chooses to change some or all of the targets, the new targets must be legal.

This means that your opponent can change the first target of Searing Blaze to you while leaving the second target on his own creature, despite it becoming illegal. (This is to say nothing of the copy Wild Ricochet creates, since it’s not relevant to the question.) Upon resolution of Searing Blaze, the second target is illegal since it’s not a creature you control, so you’ll take three damage while the originally targeted creature takes none.

Well, that’s about all I have for today. Join me next time as I explore the risks and rewards involved in running a Magic tournament on the moon. Don’t forget to send all of your rules questions to [email protected] or to Psychatrog on Twitter for your chance to win $5 in store credit! Bye!

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