Tolarian Academy – Momentous Rise
Hey folks, and welcome to an exciting Prerelease edition of Tolarian Academy, where your fifteen-mana spells will always resolve! This week, we’re going to be talking exclusively about things that might happen at the Prerelease. This means I’ll be answering questions about Rise of the Eldrazi cards as well as giving you a few Prerelease Pointers! This does, however, mean that I won’t be dipping into the mailbag this week. Do continue sending your questions to [email protected] or to Psychatrog on Twitter for a chance to win $5 in store credit next week. Fear not: your waiting mailbag questions will be answered in next week’s Monster Edition of Tolarian Academy! There will be so many rules questions, it’ll be like a Level 1 Judge test. And now, on with the show!
Q: Eric, just so that we can properly discuss them, what do you call the creatures with Level Up? Heroes? Eldrazi Fighters? Cloud Strife?
A: I refer to them as “leveler cards” for one reason and one reason only: the rules refer to them as “leveler cards.” It’s a pretty boring reason, and I’m sure I’ll be mentally assigning each one the name of an RPG hero or heroine and calling them that when I play, but for the purposes of this column, “leveler cards” it is. I just need to find out which leveler cards I hate the most so that I can name them after FF13 characters.
Q: What level do leveler cards start at? 1?
A: In fact, no. Leveler cards start out with no level at all. Each time you pay the level up cost of a leveler card (at sorcery speed,) you put a level counter on it. So, in order for a leveler card to even be level 1, you need to actually level it up. It’s a bit counterintuitive until you actually look at a leveler card, but if you take a gander at, say, Student of Warfare, you’ll find it makes sense.
Q: Let’s say I open Spawnsire of Ulamog, the guy that lets me cast any number of Eldrazi spells from outside the game if I pay 20. Knowing this, I borrow every single one of my friends’ Emrakul, the Aeons Torn promos. If I get Spawnsire of Ulamog onto the battlefield and pay 20, can I cast all of those promos, or just the one I technically “own”? That line seems a little murky.
A: You actually won’t be able to cast any of those Emrakul promos. As far as Spawnsire of Ulamog is concerned, those actually aren’t “outside the game.” In a DCI Sanctioned event, “outside the game” refers exclusively to your sideboard. Cards in any other zone (including exile) are not eligible to be cast via the Spawnsire’s ability. So, you’ll pretty much be casting some Ulamog’s Crushers out of your sideboard, or whatever other Eldrazi spells are in there. Note that in a casual game, bringing 500 Emrakuls with you and dropping them all on the stack to take a pile of extra turns is totally legal, but in a sanctioned tournament, this won’t fly.
Q: Speaking of Emrakul, I cast him, and my opponent responds by casting Lay Bare targeting it. Emrakul can’t be countered, and my opponent knows this; she just wants to look at my hand. I, however, think the spell gets countered because Emrakul isn’t a legal target for Lay Bare. Am I right, or is she?
A: She’s right. Emrakul can’t be countered, so it ignores the first part of Lay Bare, but it’s still a spell on the stack and may still be targeted with Lay Bare. Being uncounterable doesn’t mean you can’t be targeted with counterspells; it just means they don’t do any countering. Your opponent will still get to look at her hand, for what good that’ll do her when you have a 15/15 on the battlefield and an extra turn to take.
Q: But doesn’t Emrakul have protection from colored spells? Lay Bare is blue. Doesn’t that make Emrakul an illegal target for Lay Bare?
A: Nope! Protection is an ability of the creature Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, not of the spell while it’s on the stack. In general, abilities of permanents don’t apply outside of the battlefield. (Most exceptions to this are explicit in their wording.)
Q: What color are my lands? Are my forests green?
A: Some of you might be scoffing at this question, but I get this at least once per prerelease. Your lands, unless they say otherwise, are colorless. This will be particularly relevant if someone in your game decides to cast All is Dust. I assure you, your Forests are not green, and they will not get sacrificed when your opponent casts All is Dust.
Q: I attack with my Arrogant Bloodlord, and my opponent blocks with a Bloodthrone Vampire. After he blocks, I cast Distortion Strike on the Bloodthrone Vampire to give it +1/+0. My opponent says my Bloodlord will still die, but that doesn’t make sense; I made the Bloodthrone Vampire a 2/1! What gives?
A: What gives here is Arrogant Bloodlord’s ability, which only cares about the power of the creature blocking it when the block occurs. When the Bloodthrone Vampire blocked your Arrogant Bloodlord, it was a 1/1, and that made Arrogant Bloodlord’s ability trigger. Plus, your opponent is probably mentally cheering that you didn’t Distortion Strike the Bloodlord. Try that next time!
Q: Okay, I think I found a really sweet combo. I cast Aura Finesse to move my Demonic Appetite to my opponent’s Ulamog’s Crusher. That’s his only creature, so he’ll have to sacrifice it on his turn! Ha ha! The only problem with my combo is that my opponent keeps saying that it doesn’t work and that the aura will fall off. Is she right?
A: She’s absolutely right. Demonic Appetite says “enchant creature you control.” Once an aura is attached to something that doesn’t meet its “enchant blah blah” requirements, it gets put into its owner’s graveyard as a state-based action. So, if you were looking to get rid of your Demonic Appetite, this was a good way to do it. If you were looking to kill your opponent’s creature, however, this won’t work so well.
Q: It’s pretty late in the game, and I cast Explosive Revelation. The only revelation I have, though, is that the four cards left in my library are all lands! What happens?
A: Well, none of them meet the requirements for Explosive Revelation, so they all go on the bottom of your library in any order. So, the upside here is that you get to completely stack your deck. The part that’s a bit rough is that you get to stack a deck of all lands. This is not really great technology in Limited.
Q: I attack with a creature with Annihilator in Two-Headed Giant. Who sacrifices permanents? Both of my opponents, I hope.
A: Nope! You do, however, get to decide which of your opponents is the “defending player” for purposes of this effect. Go ahead and pick on your weaker opponent! Ha ha ha!
Q: I attack with Ulamog’s Crusher, and in response, my opponent destroys it with Vendetta. Do I still get to make him sacrifice permanents?
A: Well, “in response” to attacking doesn’t really exist, so I just have to assume that he cast Vendetta during your declare attackers step. If that’s the case, then the Annihilator ability is already on the stack. This means that even if Ulamog’s Crusher leaves play, the Annihilator ability will still resolve. If your opponent wants to stop Annihilator from triggering, he’ll need to Vendetta the Crusher before attackers are declared next time.
Q: I cast Virulent Swipe on my opponent’s turn, and now, during my upkeep, I don’t have any creatures to target with it when it comes back from exile due to Rebound. Therefore, I don’t want to play it. Do I have to?
A: Nope! Rebound says that you may cast the spell, so don’t feel obligated to pump your opponent’s creatures with Rebound spells. This is good for you strategically, and it’s also good for the rules, because it doesn’t make players try to play spells they can’t legally play. Huzzah!
Q: Okay, so let’s say I decide not to cast that Virulent Swipe. Does it stick around in exile and wait for my next upkeep to be cast?
A: It sticks around in exile, but you won’t get another chance to cast it. Rebound only triggers during your “next upkeep” from the perspective of whenever you cast the spell.
Q: I cast Prey’s Vengeance during my own upkeep. Do I get to Rebound it right now?
A: Nope! You won’t get to Rebound it until your next upkeep. The beginning of your upkeep has already passed, since you’re actually doing stuff in your upkeep.
That pretty well covers all of the questions about Level Up, Rebound, and Annihilator that I expect to get regularly this weekend, so make sure you remember this stuff! Before I go, I’d like to impart some bits of Prerelease wisdom to you folks. A few things to remember before your Prerelease tournaments this weekend:
1) Bring sleeves, a pen, paper, and some dice. You never know when you might open a foil Kozilek or something, and you will definitely want a pen and paper to write down life totals. Dice will definitely be necessary for leveler cards, and they’re nice reminders for Rebound.
2) As much as you might want to, you can’t trade cards between your prerelease pool and the card pools of your friends and then go play with the traded cards in the tournament! You can only use the cards you open in that tournament.
3) Prereleases are meant to be casual, fun events, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call judges. Judges are there to help you, and guess what? They know it’s the Prerelease too, and they’re there to make sure everyone has fun and understands the new cards. If you’re even a little bit uncertain about how something works, call your judge! He or she will be glad to help you understand the new cards. It sure is a good break from judging Jund vs. Jund over and over again!
4) The Prerelease is not only about you having fun and seeing new cards, but also about your opponents doing the same. Remember, it’s not a PTQ – you might win ten packs or so, but that’s about it. Be friendly with your opponents and enjoy yourself, and don’t get overly competitive. (This, of course, is just a suggestion. If you’re serially competitive, then there’s not much I can do about it. Just be sporting!)
Okay, that’s about all for this week. Join me next week when I do a CSI-style expose on Kozilek and find out just how many truths he has butchered. Don’t forget to send me your rules questions at [email protected] or to Psychatrog on Twitter, and if you’re in San Jose, come to our prerelease events at Superstars Game Center this weekend! I hope to see you there!