Tolarian Academy – More of a Thought Papercut


Players! Welcome to round four! You have fifty minutes; you may, wait, that’s not right at all. Let’s try again.

Hey folks, welcome back to another edition of “Tolarian Academy”! It might be May going on June, but “Tolarian Academy” stays in session all year round, so hush up and pay attention. That’s right, I just shushed you in an online column. That might be a first. Send your angry responses and/or rules questions to [email protected] Enough of this malarkey! Thraximundar demands more questions!

Q: So, Windborn Muse. I know I have to pay so that my creatures can attack, but when does that actually happen? Does it trigger? Do things attack, then not get paid for and not attack anymore? Can my opponent respond?

A: First off, ten points for playing Windborn Muse in a format full of Bitterblossoms and Spectral Processions. That seems like a good idea. My (admittedly bad) Constructed advice aside, here’s how declaring attackers works.

First, you have to pick legal attackers. Next, you deal with banding, but that’s not relevant here. Next, you tap the creatures you picked as attackers. Then, you find out how much it costs for each of those creatures to attack. At this point, much like with playing a spell, you get a chance to play mana abilities, and then you pay for the attackers. Only at this point are the creatures “attacking.”

So, no, much like your opponent can’t “respond” to you declaring a specific creature as an attacker, they can’t respond to you paying for it. And now we all know how the timing works! Hooray!

Q: My opponent and I both control Swans of Bryn Argoll and Future Sight. I attack with my Swans, and he blocks with his. Who draws first? Who reveals first? Doesn’t this get really complicated?

A: This is actually connected to the “Magic Golden Rules” that are referred to early on in the Comprehensive Rules. One of those rules states that “If multiple players would make choices and/or take actions at the same time, the active player (the player whose turn it is) makes any choices required, then the next player in turn order (usually the player seated to the active player’s left) makes any choices required, followed by the remaining nonactive players in turn order. Then the actions happen simultaneously. This rule is often referred to as the “Active Player, Nonactive Player (APNAP) order” rule.”

So in this particular case, the Swans hit each other simultaneously, so both players need to draw their cards simultaneously. Even though you’re each drawing four cards, what the rules ask you to do is draw a card four successive times. Therefore, Future Sight revealed the new top card after each draw. You and your opponent would therefore have to simultaneously draw your first cards, reveal the next card to Future Sight, and then continue this process until you were done drawing and revealing cards. Magic is incredible!

Q: I have a Naya Hushblade in play and no other multicolored permanents. I have a Sigil of the Nayan Gods in my hand. Can I play the Sigil on my Hushblade, or does shroud muck up the targeting somewhere along the way?

A: Happily enough, you can indeed suit up your Hushblade. When you play the Sigil, you have to target the Hushblade, but at that point it’s not in play yet, so the Hushblade still doesn’t have shroud. Since it’s an Aura, the Sigil comes into play attached to the Hushblade, so the shroud never affects it. Magefire Wings. –Riki, wanting to Draft this jank tonight]

Q: Let’s say I have five Saproling tokens in play and one has a Sigil of the Nayan Gods on it. My opponent plays Slave of Bolas on that particular Saproling, and when it resolves, that token is the only creature she controls. How big is that Saproling?

A: Well, despite the theft of your silly tree thing (or whatever a Saproling is, seriously, have you looked at the tokens? I can’t even tell what they are, and the different tokens all show wildly different things!) you still control the Sigil. Your creature count is what buffs up that Saproling, so since you control four creatures, it gets +4/+4 and is a 5/5. I could make some pun about scattering the seeds of your own destruction, but I’m still stuck on my original question – what the heck is a Saproling? (I get that it’s like a sapling, but where does the “ro” come from? [It’s Bajoran. –Riki] This kind of thing is what keeps me from sleeping.)

Q: I have a Master of Etherium in play along with four other artifacts, and my opponent has an Aven Mimeomancer. He puts a feather counter on my Master with his Mimeomancer. How big is my Master? 5/5? 3/1? Some other weird number you’re planning to justify with all this ‘layers’ crap you always talk about? I’m pretty sure you’re making those up, by the way.

A: Let me start by saying that no, I am not making layers up. Layers, like ghosts and the Loch Ness Monster, are very, very real. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let me explain this interaction. The layer of continuous effects that deals with power and toughness is layer 6. The Master’s ability that sets its power and toughness to the number of artifacts you control is a characteristic-defining ability and, therefore, applies in layer 6a. Aven Mimeomancer’s feather counter is a static effect that sets power and toughness, and therefore, it applies in layer 6b. So, since the feather counter applies in a later layer, it overwrites the Master’s ability. Your Master of Etherium is now a 3/1 flying robot, which is, at the very least, pretty entertaining.

Q: My opponent casts Thought Hemorrhage targeting me and names Figure of Destiny. I play Wild Ricochet on the Thought Hemorrhage, copying it and redirecting the original to my opponent. Do I get to change what he named with the original?

A: There’s one big problem with your question. Naming a card with Thought Hemorrhage is part of the resolution of the spell, not the announcement. Now, it seems that your opponent is taking a very common shortcut and assuming that the Hemorrhage resolves. This is fine. However, if you respond, he has the right to change what he named with the Hemorrhage as per the communications policy. So, you don’t get to change what he named. You do get to hit him with your copy, but when the original resolves, I can only assume he’ll name something he doesn’t have in his deck. That seems like less of a Thought Hemorrhage and more of a Thought Papercut.

Q: I resolve a Murderous Redcap and target my opponent, who is at 2 life, with its comes into play ability. My opponent Boomerangs the Redcap. I say my opponent takes two damage, but he disagrees. What happens?

A: Your opponent should check out rule 413.2f, which states that “If the effect requires information from a specific object, including the source of the ability itself, the effect uses the current information of that object if it hasn’t changed zones; otherwise, the effect uses the last known information the object had before leaving the zone it was expected to be in.” Murderous Redcap’s ability falls under this umbrella, so it uses last known information to determine how much damage it should deal. When the Redcap was last in play, its power was 2, so its ability will deal two damage.

Q: Okay, let’s change that situation up a bit. Let’s say my opponent is at 5 life, and instead of casting Boomerang on the Redcap, he casts Nameless Inversion. How much damage does Murderous Redcap’s ability deal?

A: Once again, Murderous Redcap’s ability will use last known information. When Murderous Redcap was last in play, it was a 5/-1. That’s right, a 5/-1. It only went to the graveyard after state-based effects were checked. Therefore, Redcap’s ability will deal five damage to your opponent. Not the best way to kill the Redcap, all in all. Again, we are ignoring the fact that Persist would resolve before the Redcap’s ability.

Q: My opponent controls four Faerie Rogue creature tokens, and I control no creatures. I play Captured Sunlight, and as I am resolving cascade, I hit an Avatar of Might. Can I play the Avatar, since its cost would be reduced by our relative creature count?

A: No. Though the actual casting cost of the Avatar would be changed if you were paying mana for it, the converted mana cost is always based on what is printed in the upper right of the card (or copy effects, but those don’t apply here) and will still be way too much for Captured Sunlight to handle. As fun as it would be to basically cast Avatar of Loxodon Hierarch here, you’re going to have to keep flipping!

I realize the lack of “Punts to Puzzles” last week was disappointing. The day the article went up, Josh Silvestri came into Superstars Game Center and said “Oh yeah, sure, leave out the best part of the article, cause you’re sick. That’s fine, no problem.” No doubt many of you shared this same sarcastic sentiment. Well, this week I’ve got news for you: “Punts to Puzzles” is back with a vengeance, and this time, it’s not eight pages long. Here goes nothin’, folks!

Punts to Puzzles #4: Yawgmoth’s Time Slivers

It’s the last round of your casual group’s multi-format World Championship Extravaganza. You were all given random casual decks from Magic forums to play in this particular segment of the tournament, and you’re one win away from getting into Top 4. You’re playing a deck called “Yawgmoth’s Time Slivers,” and your opponent has been given a deck called “The Cheese Stands Alone” based on Barren Glory. Your opponent has managed to get the game to the point where he has Barren Glory in play with no other permanents and no cards in hand, so you need to win now.

Unlike your opponent’s deck, your list has no clear path to victory. In fact, you have no idea how you could possibly win with this pile of junk. That doesn’t change the fact that you need to win right now. Your opponent is at 18 life with three cards in his library, and you have two of each basic land in play as well as a Shelldock Isle with Ashes of the Fallen under it and an Minamo, School at Water’s Edge. Your hand consists of the following:




It is the end of your opponent’s turn. You know that the top card of your library – the last card – is an Island, due to your intimate knowledge of the list. How do you win before their next upkeep? Send your answers to [email protected] for a chance to win $5 in store credit with channelfireball.com!

Good luck with this one. It should be fun. Until next time, whenever you close your eyes, imagine seeing a sea of players all raising their hands and shouting, “Judge!” Then you’ll know what it’s like to be me right after the PTQ this Saturday at Superstars! (Kidding! Kind of.) Seriously though, if you’re at the PTQ and you read the column, come say hi! I’ll be there making bad puns and rulings as usual. Join me next time when I tell you all about the two summers I spent at theatre camp in the Catskills. Good times, good times. Bye!

-Eric Levine
Psychatrog on MTGO, most forums, and Twitter

2 thoughts on “Tolarian Academy – More of a Thought Papercut”

  1. glasses_guy_thomazalexandre

    One more nice article. i’m loving CFB. One suggestion: as I read a lot on my commute, I usually print the articles. But as of now I can’t find a printer friendly option on the site. Thanks!

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