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Tolarian Academy: Don’t Copy That Twincast

Hey folks! Welcome back to “Tolarian Academy,” where I question your answers. Your answers to last week’s “Urza’s Homework Assignment,” that is! I was pleased to receive a few correct answers. Congratulations go to Jeff Meadows, Geoff Fisher, and Miguel Gonzalez for getting to the right answer. The “best” answer, in my opinion, came from Geoff, who cleverly combined the Comp. Rules with comedy to bring you this gem:

After a lot of soul searching, and a lot of wasted mana, the card formerly known as Clone has settled down to the simple life of a Basic Land – Swamp named Forest.
When Clone comes into play and copies the living Forest, it gains all the Forest’s original copiable values in Layer 1 (CR 513.2 defines these as “name, mana cost, color, card type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, toughness, loyalty”), leaving us with a very expensive Basic Land – Forest named Forest. When Mirri’s Evil Presence comes to rest upon our protagonist, it becomes a Basic Land – Swamp (named Forest – Evil Presence and its ilk only affect the card’s subtype), care of Layer 4 (CR 418.5a) and happily remains thus at night when the Blood Moon reigns, because Evil Presence is not evil enough to strip supertypes such as the Basic supertype inherited by Clone from the animate Forest.

Great work! I hear you also recently became a Level 1 Judge, so congratulations! I’ll also be giving you $5 in store credit with channelfireball.com as a prize for coming up with the best answer – I know it’s nice to see your words in print, but I figured a more tangible prize was in order. Future “Urza’s Homework Assignments” will also award $5 in credit to the prizewinner, so crack open the Comp. Rules and get working!

Enough of that for now. Let’s get to your questions! Since some of you were kind enough to send your queries in to me, I’ll be dipping into the mailbag for a few of these. Keep sending your rules conundrums to me at [email protected]!

Questions of the Week

Q: I have Circle of Protection: Red and one untapped Plains. My opponent controls Hostility and casts Incinerate targeting me. In response, I activate Circle of Protection: Red, and when its ability resolves, I choose Incinerate. What happens?

A: In this case, you have two effects (Hostility and CoP: Red) trying to prevent the Incinerate damage. According to section 419.9a of the Comprehensive Rules, whenever two effects are trying to prevent or replace the same event, the affected player or controller of the affected object chooses which effect applies. You, as the affected player, get to choose whether CoP: Red or Hostility prevents the damage from Incinerate, meaning that you can choose whether or not your opponent gets 3/1 Elementals. Let’s hope you know what to do with that.

Q: Okay, I get that, but let’s say I have Vigor and Grizzly Bears in play. My opponent attacks me with two Trained Orggs. I play Fog. Can I block with Grizzly Bears, put counters on it, and still not take damage from the unblocked Trained Orgg?

A: Yes. Only the Fog is trying to prevent damage from the unblocked Trained Orgg to you, so you don’t take damage from that. As far as your Bears go, you may choose to have Fog or Vigor prevent the damage to them, so if you want counters on it, you can have Vigor prevent the damage. If there’s a Meekstone in play or something and you don’t want the counters, you can always have Fog do the prevention instead.

Q: During Wyden’s upkeep step, her Bitterblossom’s ability triggers and goes on the stack. Sygg responds with Gather Specimens. Oona responds to that with her own Gather Specimens. Who gets the Faerie Rogue?

A: Believe it or not, this is yet another case of two replacement effects trying to replace the same event. Specifically, both copies of Gather Specimens are trying to replace how the Faerie Rogue token comes into play. In cases like this, the affected player or controller of the affected object chooses which one applies, as I said above. So, Wydwen can choose which player’s Gather Specimens applies, meaning she gets to choose who gets the creature. I’m not sure I understand all this fighting over a Faerie Rogue (especially since Oona can just make them,) but I can’t really argue with legendary creatures.

Q: What kind of ability is devour? Can I Stifle it? Can I respond to it?

A: Devour is, much to the surprise and chagrin of many players at my FNMs, not a triggered ability; it’s actually a static ability, meaning it cannot be countered by a Stifle. The way Devour works is as follows: As a creature spell with Devour is resolving, the spell’s controller may choose to sacrifice any number of creatures. If they do, it comes into play with the extra counters on it. For example, if I cast Predator Dragon, you have to choose whether or not to let it resolve before I decide whether or not to devour stuff. Once you let it resolve, there’s no way to stop me from devouring stuff.

Q: If my opponent casts Firespout paying RRG, what happens if I Twincast it?

A: Well, not what you’re hoping. When your twin-copy of Firespout resolves, the game asks “What was paid for you?” and Firespout has to say “Well, uh… nothing, so I guess I don’t do anything.” Indeed, since no mana was actually paid for the copy of Firespout, it doesn’t do anything.

Q: Okay, okay, so I get that my Twincast is awful there. Let’s say, however, that instead of letting that Twincast resolve, I respond to it by Counterspelling the original Firespout. With the Twincast still on the stack, I cast Twincast targeting Twincast. What happens?

A: Again, not a whole lot. I see the infinite loop you’re trying to create here, which is clever, but here’s what happens:

Counterspell resolves, countering the Firespout, but the first Twincast is still trying to target that Firespout, even though it’s an illegal target. So, when your second Twincast resolves, you copy the original Twincast, which is still illegally targeting the Firespout. Now, take a look at the wording on Twincast: “You may choose new targets for the copy.” It’s an optional action, so what we have here is a potentially infinite loop that contains an optional action. Under the rules for handling infinite loops, you get to declare a number of times that you wish to go through this process of copying Twincast with Twincast. Your opponent may choose to intervene at any point where he or she would have priority, but otherwise, it happens that many times, at which point you have to leave the very last Twincast on Firespout. I know it’s disappointing not to be able to break Magic, but if you were able to do this, you could stall out a game with optional actions, which would not be terribly cool. The moral of the story here is “Don’t copy that floppy.” Erm, Twincast. Don’t copy that Twincast.

Q: My opponent plays Elspeth, Knight-Errant’s ultimate ability, making all of his stuff indestructible. Five turns later, he plays an Eager Cadet, which I obviously Terror, seeing as it’s such a huge threat. He says the Cadet is indestructible. I disagree. Who’s right?

A: Your opponent. Elspeth’s ability doesn’t change any visible characteristics of your permanents or grant any abilities, so its ability applies to permanents your opponent controls before and after the Elspeth ultimate ability resolves. Seems pretty good, right?

Q: My opponent casts Char, targeting me. I cast Wild Ricochet, copying Char and choosing my opponent to be the target of both Chars. How many points of damage do we each take?

A: First of all, great play. I hope to see you doing exactly that at the Extended PTQ this weekend. When you change the target of your opponent’s Char, you don’t actually gain control of the spell, so the “You” on his Char still refers to him. Your copy of Char from the Ricochet resolves first, dealing your opponent 4 damage and you 2 damage. Following that, his Char resolves, dealing him 6 damage, for a total of 10 to him and 2 to you. What a blowout!

Q: I have Necropotence in play, and at end of turn, I discard Darksteel Colossus. Um… what happens?

A: The oracle wording on the relevant part of Necropotence is “Whenever you discard a card, remove that card in your graveyard from the game. Darksteel Colossus’s relevant ability says “If Darksteel Colossus would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, reveal Darksteel Colossus and shuffle it into its owner’s library instead.” Darksteel Colossus’s ability is a replacement effect, so it never hits the graveyard, and as such, it can never be removed from the game by Necropotence’s ability. It gets shuffled into your library, and your skull-related shenanigans continue uninterrupted.

Q: I attack my opponent with Stigma Lasher, and it hits. On his next turn, he plays Shahrazad. During his first turn in the subgame, he casts Healing Salve and tries to gain 3 life. I say he can’t. Who’s right?

A: He is. According to the Comprehensive Rules (Section 506.1a), “A “subgame” is a completely separate Magic game created by a card’s effect. The “main game” is the game in which the spell or ability that created the subgame was played. The main game is temporarily discontinued while the subgame is in progress. It resumes when the subgame ends.” So, your opponent can still gain life in the subgame despite being unable to do so in the main game.

Q: Okay. One more Shahrazad question. During the same subgame, I cast Living Wish and get my Stigma Lasher from the main game. Is that legal? If so, what happens to the Stigma Lasher when the subgame ends?

A: It gets shuffled into your library. It is legal to get the Stigma Lasher, as all cards in the main game are considered “outside the game” during the subgame. At the end of any subgame, everything you own in the subgame gets shuffled into your main-game library. So, if you’re okay with sacrificing some board position in the main game, you can use this to get a leg up in the subgame.

I know I said that “Urza’s Homework Assignment” would be weekly, but I lied. There’s going to be another segment that rotates in and out in that spot in my article, and I want to debut that particular segment today. I was inspired to write this article by a player who came up to me at a recent tournament to ask me how he could have won the game in a particular situation in the Top 8 of a Standard tournament that I had also judged. He punted the game, but now he knows what he could have done, so in his honor, I present to you…

Punts to Puzzles #1

You are at 1 life. Your opponent is at 5 life. You have Bitterblossom, a Tidehollow Sculler stealing a Volcanic Fallout, a Burrenton Forge-Tender, and a 1/1 black Faerie Rogue token in play along with a Plains, a Swamp, a Mutavault, and a Springjack Pasture. Your hand is Spectral Procession, Glorious Anthem, Plains, and Arcane Sanctum. Your opponent’s hand is empty. It is your upkeep, and Bitterblossom’s ability is on the stack.

How do you win?

As with “Urza’s Homework Assignment,” please send your well-worded answers to me at [email protected] with “Punts to Puzzles” in the subject line. The winner, much like with “Urza’s Homework Assignment,” will receive $5 in credit with channelfireball.com! Thanks for reading as always. Come back next week, when I show you how to turn your extra copies of Cyclopean Mummy into a tasteful window decoration.

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