Tolarian Academy – Momentous Rise


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!

28 thoughts on “Tolarian Academy – Momentous Rise”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Tolarian Academy - Momentous Rise | ChannelFireball.com -- Topsy.com

  2. Multiple totem armors, you choose one to destroy in place of your creature. This question has already been asked fifteen million times.

  3. sneakyhomunculous

    for the new GIFTS UNGIVEN for lands, can you basically find any number of lands less than or equal to 4? like you can only find 2 or if you would like?

  4. sneakyhomunculous

    for the new GIFTS UNGIVEN for lands, can you basically find any number of lands less than or equal to 4? like you can only find 2 or 3* if you would like?

  5. in the question about arrogant broodlord, wouldn’t his ability check if the creature’s power is 1 or less upon triggering, and upon resolution? Wouldn’t that make it so that if the creatures power is over 1 upon resolution, it would do nothing? i might be wrong, would like to know.

    on the question about aura finesse, upon resolution, since he tried to move it to a creature that the enchantment can’t legaly enchant, wouldn’t the enchantment not move at all? the oracle rules for Simic Guildmage says this as well.

  6. Xavier Rodriguez

    Hey would you have any idea why Narcolepsy has the text is has over curse of chains?

  7. Sneakyhomonculus:

    When searching your library, you can always fail to find things, meaning you can pull 4, 3, 2, 1, or even 0 lands out of the library while the spell is resolving.

    If, for example, you take 3 cards out, then your opponent will choose 2 of those 3 cards to go in the graveyard, and you’ll get the remaining card in your hand. If you take 2 or fewer cards, they’ll all go to the graveyard.

  8. RE: Aura Finesse and Demonic Appetite

    (from the RoE FAQ:)

    * As Aura Finesse resolves, if the targeted Aura can’t legally enchant the targeted creature (for example, because the Aura is red and the creature has protection from red, or because the Aura has “enchant creature you control” and an opponent controls the creature), the spell resolves but the Aura doesn’t move. You still draw a card.

    So sorry, you can’t get rid your appetite that way. Might I suggest a Double Down instead?

  9. @Xavier

    “Hey would you have any idea why Narcolepsy has the text is has over curse of chains?”

    On MTGO, it gets really annoying when Curse of Chains triggers every upkeep, even when the creature’s tapped, so this wording saves a little sanity. Curse of Chains also works slightly better with Untap guys, which Shadowmoor had more than a few of.

  10. Pingback: MTGBattlefield

  11. I guess I’m the first one to point this out. You assume your reader knows every card you’re talking about, because you haven’t linked to them either through url or java and you didn’t even post a link to the visual on wizards website. I love the article because it addresses some questions that will definitely be raised over the weekend but I find the oversight of not having any link to any of the cards being discussed somewhat troubling.

    This article is aimed at newer magic players. Following that assumption you should also assume your reader doesn’t have the entire spoiler memorized before the set is even released.

    Just an FYI.


  12. Yes, I messed up on the Aura Finesse question. Whoops!
    No, Bloodlord doesn’t check on resolution, AFAIK.
    And E, my editor usually puts in card links 🙁

  13. okay. thanks for answering my questions eric =)

    so, about the bloodlord, if his ability read “whenever arrogant bloodlord blocks or becomes blocked by a creature, if that creature’s power is 1 or less, destroy arrogant bloodlord at end of combat”, VS what it says now, would that make it check if the creatures power is 1 or less upon resolution?

    sorry for the questions, trying to get a handle on some of the more obscure rules.

  14. i guess this would be rule 603.4 in the comp. rules. so i guess it is just a template misread on my part and my above scenario would be the one making it work the way i thought. go go “intervening if”!

  15. I have a question involving a WWK card (Abyssal Persecutor) and Aura Finesse.

    For some reason, I am controlling my opponents Abyssal Persecutor with Domestication. I have no cards in my library. Now I cast Aura Finesse to move the Domestication onto a random creature.
    Do I lose, or is Abyssal Persecutor quick enough in changing sides to prevent me from doing so?

  16. Doing the auto-card thing that shows a picture of the card when you hold the cursor over the name of the card would make this infintely better.

  17. Re: the Demonic Appetite thing, it doesn’t work anyway because the controller of the Aura, not the controller of the creature, has to sacrifice, right?

    Replika: Actions are taken in the order they’re written on the card; control-changing effects are continuously checked; when you resolve Aura Finesse, you’ll move the Aura, lose control of the Persecutor at the same time as you gain control of the other creature, then fail to draw a card. State-based actions aren’t checked until Aura Finesse resolves, at which time the game sees an opposing Persecutor preventing you from losing.

  18. I try to use anything but “Leveler” to refer to the level-up guys, because when I hear the word “Leveler” I think of a Mirrodin crap rare that exiles your library when it enters the battlefield.

    Since I’ve been playing the new Pokemon remakes so much lately I’ve actually been doing annoying things like “Brimstone Mage gained a level! Brimstone Mage learned Ping! It used Ping on enemy Skywatcher Adept! It’s super effective!”

    So far I’ve stopped just before “The enemy Skywatcher Adept fainted!”… So far.

  19. @replika:

    Also, not sure if you were aware, but you don’t lose just for having 0 cards in your library.

  20. Do the cards exiled by Hellcarver Demon’s ability stay in exile and eligible to be cast for free forever or can the player only cast them that turn?

  21. @ Thomas
    (from Comprehensive Rules effective Feb 1, 2010)
    “509.4f If an ability triggers when a creature with certain characteristics blocks, it will trigger only if the creature has those characteristics at the point blockers are declared, or at the point an effect causes it to block. If an ability triggers when a creature with certain characteristics becomes blocked, it will trigger only if the creature has those characteristics at the point it becomes a blocked creature. If an ability triggers when a creature becomes blocked by a creature with certain characteristics, it will trigger only if the latter creature has those characteristics at the point it becomes a blocking creature. None of those abilities will trigger if the relevant creature's characteristics change to match the ability's trigger condition later on.
    Example: A creature has the ability "Whenever this creature becomes blocked by a white creature, destroy that creature at end of combat." If the creature becomes blocked by a black creature that is later turned white, the ability will not trigger.”

    So, the blockers power only matters at the time it was declared a blocker, and changing it at any later time will not cause the ability to either trigger ir fizzle.

    @ Replika
    Cards in library only matters at any time you are required to draw.

  22. To the two people that tried to point out a “problem” with replika’s scenario: Aura Finesse is a cantrip.

  23. As a clarification for Realms Uncharted: As answered previously, you can chose to find 0-4 cards. I just wanted to add on that you are allowed to do so because there is a card type specified in the text. I bring this up because you cannot voluntarily fail a search which does not specify card type.

    For example, while resolving Goblin Matron’s ability, you can choose to find nothing. This is because it is hypothetically possible that there are no goblins left in your deck. If this were the case, the fact that your tutored card must be a goblin would exclude every remaining card in your deck. The contents of your library are hidden information, and the game treats the “all non-goblin” status as something that cannot be immediately confirmed. I say IMMEDIATELY because the game doesn’t look any further than this one step, even other events in the game make it apparent to the players (ie. having just cast Dead Reckoning and put a goblin on top).

    In contrast, choosing to fail a seach does not work for Diabolic Tutor, since it doesn’t specify a card type. So long as there are ANY cards left in your library, the game recognizes them as viable choices, and you have to choose one of them. The lack of conditions on the search target means that there is no way to exclude cards.

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