Tolarian Academy – APNAP is Not an Insurance Company

Hey folks! Welcome to yet another exciting edition of Tolarian Academy. I guess you could call this the late edition, because I got a time extension on my article from Luis. He would probably call it the “Darn you, Eric” edition (yeah”,”darn” – LSV), but that’s neither here nor there. I’m just amused that I’m asking a player for a time extension instead of the other way around. Let’s get underway by talking about last week’s Punts to Puzzles.

Punts to Puzzles

Some of my more observant readers noticed that I was testing your test-taking skills last week in addition to your Magic puzzle skills with that Punts to Puzzles. There were ways to extend the game past your opponent’s next upkeep, but I asked you to win before that! A little bit arbitrary as restrictions go, I know, but remember always to answer what is asked, not what you think should be asked!

Enough of my picky teacher tendencies! Let’s get to the answer. This week’s winner was Christopher Jablonski, who sent me this lovely solution:

In your opponent’s end of turn step, tap all ten of your basic lands. Spend GR on Quick Sliver. Spend U to activate Shelldock Isle and play the Ashes of the Fallen, naming Slivers. Spend U to play Quicken and draw that Island without even looking at it, because you’re just that good. Spend BWW to play Yawgmoth’s Agenda thanks to the Whetwheel. Spend BGR to play Whetwheel face-down.

What? Here’s how you know a judge wrote the puzzle. Rule 502.26b states:

To play a card using its morph ability, turn it face down. It becomes a 2/2 face-down creature card, with no text, no name, no subtypes, no expansion symbol, and no mana cost. Any effects or prohibitions that would apply to playing a card with these characteristics (and not the face-up card’s characteristics) are applied to playing this card.

So the first step is turning the Whetwheel face-down before the game even knows if you can play it or not. Then it magically gains the Sliver creature type because it’s in your graveyard. Thanks to the Quick Sliver, you are able to play Sliver cards as though they had flash. Remember, you haven’t yet put the Whetwheel on the stack yet!

End the turn.

Untap. Enter your beginning phase and draw your–

Uh oh! No cards left in the library. Looks like you’ll have to win during your upkeep.

Tap your twelve lands. Spend WWB to turn the Whetwheel face-up. Spend BRRGGU to active Whetwheel and mill your opponent for his three cards. Spend your precious last three mana (UUU by my count to play Oona’s Grace, targeting your opponent for the win (but concede with it on the stack because he bribed you earlier).

Boom goes the dynamite! Nice work, Chris. Enjoy your $5 store credit! With that out of the way, let’s transition onward to rules questions. I know you weren’t expecting rules questions from me, but I like to switch it up from week to week.


Q: I have Bant Sureblade, Vedalken Ghoul, and Hissing Iguanar in play. My only multicolored permanents are the Ghoul and the Sureblade. My opponent sacrifices his [card]Suicidal Charge[/card]. How many times does my Hissing Iguanar trigger?

A: Good question! Here’s how this whole thing shakes out. Suicidal Charge gives all your dudes -1/-1, which makes your Sureblade a 2/1, your Ghoul a 0/0, and your Iguanar a 2/0. State-based effects are checked, and your Ghoul and Iguanar are put into your graveyard. As soon as that happens, Iguanar triggers once for Ghoul dying, but that doesn’t go on the stack yet, because the Ghoul’s demise also shrunk the Sureblade, making it a 1/0. State-based effects get checked yet again, sending the Sureblade to the bin. The Iguanar doesn’t trigger this time, since it’s already dead, so you only get to deal one point of revenge damage to your clever opponent.

Q: If I play Bituminous Blast with no creatures in play, will the Cascade still happen?

A: Wait a second! How are you planning to do that, exactly? Oh, by breaking the rules and making me sad? Okay, I guess you could do that. The rule you’re breaking here is the one that says that all targets of a spell have to be legal when it’s announced. In order to even play Bituminous Blast, there needs to be a creature you can target. And yes, I mean legally target – your opponent’s Uril, the Miststalker or Stillmoon Cavalier simply won’t do!

Q: I have Forced Fruition in play, and my opponent casts Bloodbraid Elf on his own turn. What happens first, the cascade or my Fruition trigger? I ask because he only has six cards left in his library and I would really like him to be dead, please!

A: You’re in luck! When your opponent plays the Elf, its cascade ability and your Fruition’s ability both trigger simultaneously. The way the game deals with this is by putting the active player’s abilities on the stack before putting the non-active player’s abilities on the stack. This is commonly referred to by the rules-minded as “APNAP order.” (AP = Active Player, NAP = Non-Active Player. APNAP may sound weird, but it is quite simple and not at all an insurance company, despite the similarity.) Since it is your opponent’s turn, he is the active player. That means the stack looks like this after everything is put on:


Forced Fruition trigger

Cascade from Bloodbraid Elf

Bloodbraid Elf


Your Fruition trigger resolves first, which makes your opponent’s head explode. That’s what happens when you draw from an empty library, as far as I know. It’s like a computer trying to access a location in memory that doesn’t exist. A null pointer, if you will. Now you know all about APNAP order!

Q: Okay, so what are the implications of this ruling if he instead casts Bituminous Blast on my turn?

A: I’m assuming your opponent is trying to cascade into something crazy that will kill you. If that’s the case, he’s doing it right this time. Since you’re the active player, his Cascade will go on the stack above your Fruition trigger. It’s kind of a Hail-Mary pass, but you’ve pretty much forced your opponent’s hand. Get it? Forced? It’s a joke about the card we’re talking about (I approve – LSV).

Q: Does your humor get worse when you’re under deadline pressure?

A: Most definitely.

Q: Going back to my ridiculous series of cascade questions, let’s say my opponent casts Deny Reality on my poor, defenseless Howling Mine. With Deny Reality and its cascade ability on the stack, I Twincast my opponent’s Deny Reality. Does the copy I make have cascade?

A: Well, it has cascade, but it turns out you’re unwittingly asking the wrong question. The real question is “does its cascade ability trigger?” The answer to that is no. To copy a spell means to create a copy of it and put it on the stack. At no point does the copy get “played,” meaning the cascade can never trigger. All that unrealized potential, so sad.

Q: I have Ethersworn Canonist in play, and my opponent plays Captured Sunlight and spends what feels like an hour flipping until he hits a Vithian Renegades, which really, really hate my Canonist. Does my opponent get to play the Renegades? If not, what happens to them?

A: Your opponent has already played one non-artifact spell this turn in the form of Captured Sunlight, so he certainly can’t play his artifact-blasting Balduvian Barbarians update. Instead, he must do what he would normally do when choosing not to play the revealed card from Cascade- he randomizes it in with the other revealed cards and puts those on the bottom of his library.

Q: My opponent has Seismic Assault in play and casts Swans of Bryn Argoll. (I may or may not be engineering this question on purpose for this weekend and the future of Standard in general. – Eric) In response, I sacrifice my Burrenton Forge-Tender, choosing his Seismic Assault. After his Swans resolves, my opponent points some land at his Swans and insists that he somehow gets to draw cards. How crazy is that, right? I mean, how much of a donk do you

A: Whoa there, buddy! Put the brakes on that rant. Before you go a-postin’ your tale all over the blogosphere or whatever you kids do with your bad beat stories, let me talk to you about prevention effects. See, there are two effects trying to prevent the damage to Swans here. One of them is your Forge-Tender’s effect, and the other is the Swans’ effect. When two effects are trying to replace or prevent the same thing, the affected player or controller of the affected object chooses which one applies. In this case, your opponent controls the Swans, so he gets to choose which effect prevents the damage. He will more than likely choose the Swans’ effect so that he can draw a bajillion cards, play a new Seismic Assault, and blow you up with that. Be safe this weekend, folks; pack hate that works!

Q: Aura of Silence is in play under my opponent’s control, and I cast Bloodbraid Elf. I cascade into a Howling Mine, because I’ve apparently shuffled Cascade Swans and Turbofog together at some point during our testing. That aside, what happens? Do I keep flipping? Can I play Howling Mine? If so, do I have to pay two mana?

A: Aura of Silence changes the mana cost of the spell, but it doesn’t change the converted mana cost, which is always based on those funny symbols in the upper right hand corner of any given card. (Or copy effects, but that’s not important here.) When you try to play the Mine off cascade, you will have to pay two extra mana in order to cast it. If you can’t or don’t want to, you can always exercise your right to throw it on the bottom of your library in a random order with everything else. Aura of Silence is rough against Cascade Fog or whatever you’re accidentally playing here.

Q: I have two copies of Finest Hour in play, and I attack with my lone [card]Jhessian Infiltrator[/card]. My opponent insists that it makes no sense for me to get more than one extra combat phase. He seems to be making this claim based on not wanting to lose the game, so I’m a bit skeptical. Could you clear this up for us, please?

A: I certainly can. You see, when you attack alone with your Jhessian Infiltrator, both copies of Finest Hour trigger. They both see that this is the first swing of the turn, so they both create extra combat phases, one after the other. Assuming there are no other permanents with Exalted in play, your little Jhessian Infiltrator that could gets to sneak in for four, six, and then eight points of damage. What a great way to swing for 18!

This week’s Punts to Puzzles is a little different. Between those of you who are attending GP: Seattle this weekend and those of you who are playing in other Magic events, there will be a lot of stuff going on. So, instead of a puzzle this week, I’m issuing a challenge. Send me exciting rules questions. If the situations that spawn the questions happen to you personally, even better, though that is not required. The question that tickles my brain the most will earn the $5 credit, so be creative!

If you’re in Seattle this weekend, good luck! Look for me at the event as well as at the grinders the day beforehand – I’ll be wearing a black DCI shirt, if that helps you identify me. (Oh wait!) Join us next time, when I get to talk about going to Honolulu when you probably aren’t. Ha ha!

6 thoughts on “Tolarian Academy – APNAP is Not an Insurance Company”

  1. In your last question you state that the Infiltrator would get to attack for “four, six, then eight” points of damage. While sure, you get 3 combat phases, both of the “untap” effects happen at the ~same time, so Mr. Infiltrator will be tapped for the 3rd phase and sadly does not in fact get to beat for 8.

  2. Re Finest Hour:
    From how I read it, you get two additional phases but don’t get to untap the Jhessian Infiltrator during the second attack phase. So you’d get a third attack phase, but not necessarily be able to attack with the Jhessian Infiltrator again (unless it has some form of vigilance), which nets you a total of ten damage from the two attacks.

  3. For the last ruling there, with the Finest Hours in play…
    Wouldn’t the untap effects both happen during the first combat phase, therefor not letting him attack with the infiltrator for a third time without finding some way of untapping him?

  4. I have had someone have two finest hours in play, basically you just alpha strike during the 3rd attack step.

    Though, i did see someone get a single Hour in play and made amazing use of it. one Battlegrace Angel did wonders, attack for 6 lifelink, then 8 double lifelink. pretty bad ass.

  5. I also noticed the thing about the untaps from Finest Hour and didn’t read the other comments before posting the same thing!

  6. Aura of Silence shouldn’t change the mana cost of a Howling Mine you’re looking at from Cascade. It changes the cost you would pay to play the Mine as a spell, but the mana cost (and thus, the converted mana cost) remain the same.

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