Tolarian Academy – Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Hello again folks, and welcome to yet another exciting edition of Tolarian Academy. I know I was gone for a while, but I had a few things to take care of. I’m back now, and while I hesitate to say anything like “I’m better than ever,” my brain still has rules on the brain. Right. I guess at some point I lost all my stylistic writing skills. I did have a fairly epic month, though. I was in Austin, I beat a resolved Iona (really!), and now I’m in LA! In any case, remember to send your questions to [email protected] for a chance to win $5 in store credit with ChannelFireball! Let’s get to your questions.

Questions of The Week

Q: I have a Cosi’s Trickster on the battlefield, and my opponent casts Mind’s Desire, making five storm copies. As is customary with Mind’s Desire, my opponents shuffles his deck vigorously, then flips six cards off the top of his library to resolve all six of his Mind’s Desires. How many counters do I put on my Cosi’s Trickster? One? Six?

A: Six. Even though your opponent took a very common (and totally okay) shortcut with his Mind’s Desire, he still shuffled his deck six times as far as the rules are concerned. Shortcutting an action within the game doesn’t change the fact that it actually “occurred” in game terms.

Q: Okay, another storm-related question. I cast Tendrils of Agony, making nine storm copies, and point all ten at my opponent’s head. Helpless, hopeless, and with seemingly no chance to win, my opponent chuckles and says “Might as well cast this Violent Outburst.” He does so, and he cascades into a Runed Halo! Incredulous, he names Tendrils of Agony! My question is as follows: does the Halo save him, or do the Tendrils that are already targeting him kill him?

A: Interesting! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player gain protection at instant speed before. You might be thinking here that since Tendrils of Agony causes loss of life, Runed Halo won’t save your opponent. Protection, however, also means that the player can’t be targeted by objects of the chosen quality. In this case, since your opponent can’t be targeted by objects named Tendrils of Agony, all of the copies and the original will be countered upon resolution due to having no legal targets. Oh, to be young and lucky at cascading.

Q: My opponent has a Voice of All on the battlefield and has chosen to give it protection from red. I control a Goblin Guide with a Blazing Torch attached to it. (You know, to ward off zombies. He doesn’t want to become just another Festering Goblin.) Can I tap Goblin Guide and sacrifice the Torch to kill my opponent’s Voice of All?

A: No, in fact, you can’t! If you take a look at Blazing Torch’s text, you’ll notice that the damage ability doesn’t belong to Blazing Torch, but to the creature to which it is attached. Since that ability belongs to your Goblin Guide, which, despite its anti-zombie superstitions, is still a red creature, you won’t be able to target the Voice of All with that ability. So much for evading protection.

Q: My opponent controls a Putrid Leech and a Sprouting Thrinax. I cast Gatekeeper of Malakir with kicker, say “With kicker,” and point to the Putrid Leech, attempting to trick my opponent into choosing to sacrifice it instead of the Thrinax. Is this legal?

A: This is the shadiest thing this side of a Profane Command. In my opinion, by pointing to a creature, you are intentionally misrepresenting what your card does. Let’s take a look at the Magic Infraction Procedure Guide‘s definition of Cheating – Fraud:

A person intentionally and knowingly violates or misrepresents rules, procedures, personal information, or any other relevant tournament information.

I’d say it’s no real stretch to call the text of Gatekeeper of Malakir “relevant tournament information,” and therefore I would say this is certainly not legal. Please don’t try this at your local PTQ; you might get sent home early.

Q: I have World Queller and Marsh Flats (my only land!) on the battlefield. During my upkeep, can I choose “land” for World Queller, choose Marsh Flats to sacrifice, and then sac it to its own ability in response to get a land? This way, I don’t lose any land, right?

A: This is kind of a big old timing mess. You don’t actually make any of these choices until the World Queller ability is resolving. Once you’ve actually chosen “land,” that means you won’t be able to respond to the ability anymore since it’s in the midst of resolving. At that point, the only thing you and your pals around the table are allowed to do until the ability finishes resolving will be to choose which lands you would like to sacrifice and then actually sacrifice them. Sorry to crush your hopes and dreams, but World Queller crushes mine ALL THE TIME.

Q: My opponent plays Mark of Mutiny on my Pillarfield Ox and, before smashing my face with it, equips it with his [card Explorers Scope]Explorer’s Scope[/card]. He gives it back at end of turn without moving the Scope to another creature. When I attack him with my Ox, does he get to look at the top card of his own library?

A: Yep! The Scope triggers whenever the equipped creature attacks, so when you attack with your Ox, your opponent will get to peek at that top card and, if it’s a land, nonchalantly toss it into play tapped. I’m not surprised he stole your Ox, though. That guy is the pillar of this format. (Thanks to Tom Raney for the best/ worst Pillarfield Ox pun.)

Q: How do cascade and ikcker interact? For example, let’s say I cast Bituminous Blast and cascade into Marsh Casualties. Can I pay the kicker cost and [card]Infest[/card] my opponent’s board?

A: Yes, absolutely you can! Kicker is an “additional cost,” whereas not paying the mana cost of the spell due to cascade is an “alternate cost.” You can only pay one alternate cost per spell, but you may pay as many additional costs as you wish. Of course, you’ll still have to actually pay the three mana, but if you’ve got it, then you’ve got it! This is why you have to show an elf or pay three mana when you cascade into Wren’s Run Vanquisher.

Q: I have Pyromancer Ascension on the battlefield and a Ponder in my graveyard. I cast Ponder, and in response, I cast Twincast targeting my Ponder. My question, basically, is “How sick is that, right?” I cast TWO PONDERS. So, I get two counters, right? Sick.

A: Sick though your life may be, this doesn’t work. You cast a Ponder, meaning you’ll get a counter on your Pyromancer Ascension, but the other spell you actually cast was Twincast. The copy of Ponder that Twincast makes doesn’t actually get “cast;” it just goes on the stack. That unfortunately means that you won’t get a counter for it. Now, if you already had a Twincast in your graveyard, you’d be in business.

Q: This question comes in two parts. So, the only card in any graveyard is a land, and my opponent casts Shock targeting my Tarmogoyf. Tarmogoyf survives as a 2/3. I know that’s correct.

A: Yep!

Q: Okay. Well, with that in mind, I have a Bloodchief Ascension with three counters on it on the battlefield. My opponent Naturalizes it. Why doesn’t the life swing effect happen? I feel like this is the same thing, but with two different outcomes. It’s like in the first example, the card goes to the graveyard before the spell happens, but in the second one, it goes after. What gives?

A: What gives in this case is state-based actions. Here’s what happens when that Shock is resolving on your Tarmogoyf:

1. Shock deals two damage to Tarmogoyf.
2. Shock finishes resolving and is put into its owner’s graveyard. Tarmogoyf becomes a 2/3 as per its characteristic-defining ability as soon as this occurs.
3. Before anyone would get priority, state-based actions are checked. Tarmogoyf is a 2/3 with two damage on it, which is fine.

State-based actions don’t get checked in the middle of spells or abilities, which is why Tarmogoyf hangs on to his life. Now, let’s talk about what happens with the Naturalize:

1. Naturalize destroys Bloodchief Ascension. The act of destroying it ends with it getting put into its owner’s graveyard.
2. Naturalize finishes resolving and is put into its owner’s graveyard.
3. Bloodchief Ascension isn’t in play to suck the life out of your opponent.

The difference here is between damage, which doesn’t do its job until state-based actions are checked, and “destroy” effects, which do their job right away. From a common-sense standpoint, you’re right that it doesn’t make sense, but Magic doesn’t always play by the rules. The rules of common sense, that is!

***The person who asked me this question received $5 in store credit with ChannelFireball.com!***

Q: My opponent controls a Roil Elemental, and I have a Mark of Mutiny in my hand. I cast the Mark of Mutiny targeting the Roil Elemental in order to take control of it. Following this, I drop a land and target the Roil Elemental with its own ability. This seems to mean that I will control Roil Elemental as long as I control Roil Elemental, which doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. Once the end of my turn rolls around and the Mark of Mutiny control effect expires, what happens to the Roil Elemental?

A: This question was submitted to me in person by one of my FNM regulars, who wishes to be referred to as “Dr. Hardcore.” I have doubts as to the authenticity of his degree, but he asks a good question nevertheless. When there are multiple control-changing effects applied to an object, the most recently timestamped one is the one the game looks at to determine who controls the object. The most recently timestamped control effect on the Roil Elemental is one that says “You control Roil Elemental as long as you control Roil Elemental.” This may seem like a tautology, but as far as the game is concerned, this simply means that you control Roil Elemental. Awesome!

That’s all for this week! I’ll be back next week with more of your delicious rules questions. Keep sending those to [email protected] Even though I have a little bit of a backlog to work through from this month, I always need more! More and more and more! Bring’em on, and maybe you’ll win my store credit! Join me next week, when I spend my entire article explaining how the mattress industry is a giant scam. Bye!

30 thoughts on “Tolarian Academy – Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”

  1. Excuse me if this is a stupid but I still don’t fully comprehend the Blazing Torch scenario. Blazing Torch says that it does the damage not the creature it is attached to. Maybe I’m missing something obvious.

  2. Drew: The Blazing Torch does deal the damage, but it grants the ability to the creature. This means the creature is doing the targeting, not the Torch. Since the creature has to do the targeting anything with protection from that creature’s characteristics can’t be targeted.

  3. Blazing Torch lends its ability to the creature it equips. Saccing Torch satisfies the creature’s newfound ability. The source of the ability is, and thusly the damage comes from, the Goblin Guide, a red source.

  4. The torch gives the creature an ability. Protection stops you from targeting stuff with the creatures abilities.

  5. Blazing Torch says that “Equipped creature has…”, so the creature is using the ability, even though it’s granted by an artifact. Given a red creature can’t target something with Pro Red, Blazing Torch can’t be flung at the Voice of All.

    On a different equipment related note, I thought equipment “fell off” if you lost control of the creature in any manner. Is that correct?

  6. The creature has the ability to “fling” the torch. Since the creature in question is red, it can not target a protection from red creature with the ability.

  7. When you lose control of a creature to which you’ve attached equipment, the equipment remains attached to that creature and under your control. You may pay to equip it to a creature you control as normal. It will not fall off. Rule 301.7d for those interested.

  8. It doesn’t change control, but it stays attached. The owner can still play all abilities of the equipment (like the equip cost). Look at the Mirrodin card FAQ entry for Vulshock Battlemaster for more info on this sort of situation.

  9. A random question – My opponent and I are playing a match of M10 sealed. We both put platinum angel into play, and proceed to run through our decks without finding a way to deal with the other player’s angel. At this point, both of us are at the same life, and it is the third game. We both uncheck all of the priority stops during our turn so that the timer never comes to us. What happens?

  10. The Equip ability doesn’t allow you to target your opponent’s creatures, but there is nothing under the rules that actually knocks it off when the equipped creature changes controllers. You’re correct that equipment doesn’t change control with the creature, but neither does it become unattached when the creature changes controllers. (rule 301.7d is the most relevant to this, and states that “An Equipment’s controller is separate from the equipped creature’s controller; the two need not be the same. Changing control of the creature doesn’t change control of the Equipment, and vice versa.”)

    There is, however, a situation in which gaining control of a creature will knock the equipment off, but it’s an odd one. In a multiplayer game with rules for Range of Influence, the rules (801.8/801.9) specifically state that auras, equipment, and fortifications can’t enchant, equip or fortify objects outside of their controllers’ range of influence, and will fall off or be put into the graveyard if they ever find themselves on an illegal permanent. So if, in a game with RoI 1, the player to your left gains control of an equipped creature you control, and the player to THEIR left then gains control of it, your equipment will fall off of it due to being outside of your range of influence.

  11. Just wanted to chime in saying Georg is wrong up there. (Or at least said something in a very misleading way.) The source of the damage is the Torch, as it says “Blazing Torch deals 2 damage…”. The Goblin is doing the targeting, though, which means Protection prevents that part of the ability. A Circle of Protection: Red, for example, wouldn’t prevent the damage from the torch.
    It’s the same reason that if a White Knight and a Black Knight are target by Arena, neither will deal any damage to the other, but if you had a guy with Protection from Lands, he couldn’t enter the arena in the first place.

  12. “A: Interesting! I don't think I've ever seen a player gain protection at instant speed before.”

    Seth’s Tiger often grant protection at instant speed

  13. Ziege, the CoP: Red will still cause the Goblin Guide’s ability to be countered on resolution for an illegal target (the creature now has protection from red). If you had a card that “Prevented all damage from a red source”, that would be different, since the Blazing Torch is the source of the damage, if not the ability.

    This is a rules-templating nightmare, and something that judges get off on.

  14. Seth’s Tiger may grant instant speed protection, but not in a game of Magic.

    Seht’s Tiger, on the other hand…

  15. Thanks guys! For some reason I thought the Torch was doing the targeting and the damage, but clearly the Torch only does the damage and the creature is targeting.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  16. @Slayer
    “Circle of Protection: Red
    1: The next time a red source of your choice would deal damage to you this turn, prevent that damage.”

    No proection involved (other than the name).

  17. I’m a little confused about this blazing torch discussion. Torch say: Equipped creature has “Tap, Sac torch: Torch deals 2 dam to target” It sounds to me that the creatures function here is to activate the Torch’s ability. The Torch, now activated, is what is doing the damage and the targeting. So, shouldn’t the voice of all should be dead.

    As for the World Queller. Can’t you just sac the fetch at the beginning of the turn, then put the Queller’s ability on the stack, Quellers ability resolves, you have no land to sac, then fetches ability resolves, you get your land?

  18. @ nelson:
    except for triggered abilities, nothing else can go on the stack while an ability is resolving… and you can’t continue to place other things on the stack in the middle of something resolving.. so your world queller assumption is incorrect.. at the beginning of your upkeep world queller’s ability would trigger, in response to the ability you could sac your fetch, get your land, and then world queller’s ability resolves and you’d lose it

  19. @Nelson
    Since World Queller triggers at the beginning of your upkeep, the World Queller ability is already on the stack by the time you have priority to play spells and abilities. (Rules 503.1 and 503.2)

    You would be able to have the ability trigger in response to you breaking the fetch if it were worded like the Unglued dice rolling abilities on cards such as Chicken Egg (“During your upkeep…” rather than “At the beginning of your upkeep…”)

  20. @twilder
    I assume you’re talking about MODO – players will still get priority in declare attackers/blockers, so someone’s clock will eventually run down.

    A Goblin Guide with a blazing torch equipped looks like this:
    Goblin Guide
    When goblin guide attacks….
    {T, Sacrifice Blazing Torch}: Blazing Torch deals 2 damage to target creature/player.

    So a red creature can’t use an activated ability to target a creature with protection from red. It doesn’t matter that the blazing torch is doing the damage, all that matters is the goblin guide is the source of the activated ability.

  21. Buuuut, you could tap and sac the torch in respons to the triggered ability from the Voice of All right, and kill it before it gains protection from red?

  22. Voice of All gaining protection isn’t a triggered ability. It simply comes into play with protection from whichever color you chose.

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  24. With regards to cascade interactions with kicker, i’m pretty sure you don’t need to pay the mana to kick the spell. Here ar ethe pertinent rules if I’m reading them correctly (which I’m not sure I am):

    116.8a Any number of additional costs may be applied to a spell as it’s being cast or to an ability as it’s being activated. The controller of the spell or ability announces his or her intentions to pay any or all of those costs as described in rule 601.2b.

    601.2e The player determines the total cost of the spell. Usually this is just the mana cost. Some spells have additional or alternative costs. Some effects may increase or reduce the cost to pay, or may provide other alternative costs. Costs may include paying mana, tapping permanents, sacrificing permanents, discarding cards, and so on. The total cost is the mana cost or alternative cost (as determined in rule 601.2b), plus all additional costs and cost increases, and minus all cost reductions. If the mana component of the total cost is reduced to nothing by cost reduction effects, it is considered to be {0}. It can’t be reduced to less than {0}. Once the total cost is determined, any effects that directly affect the total cost are applied. Then the resulting total cost becomes “locked in.” If effects would change the total cost after this time, they have no effect.

    Cascade is a triggered ability that functions only while the spell with cascade is on the stack. “Cascade” means “When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card whose converted mana cost is less than this spell’s converted mana cost. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost. Then put all cards exiled from the game this way that weren’t cast on the bottom of your library in a random order.”

    Does this mean that as you cascade into Marsh Casualties, you would declare the intentions of kicking the spell, and then the total cost would go up to 3BB, but the way cascade works is it takes the full cost and reduces it to 0. Because it says “its mana cost” that means the cost is already locked in, so you can include the kicker cost. Does this make sense or am I reading it wrong?

  25. DarkSlash: Cascade lets you cast a spell without paying its mana cost, which in Marsh Casualties’ case means “for BB less”. However, any additional costs still contribute to the total cost of the spell, and those aren’t removed by cascade. So, to cast a kicked Marsh Casualties through cascade, you must pay the extra 3, and to cast a Wren’s Run Vanquisher you must either pay 3 or reveal an Elf.

    In other words, your misread was to equate “mana cost” with “total cost”, which isn’t true.

  26. Ziege- thanks for clarifying what I meant to say! That’s why I have no desire to become a judge, I misuse terms alot, but know what I’m trying to say.

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