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Tolarian Academy – Shiny Vampire Gideon

Hey folks, and welcome to yet another edition of Tolarian Academy! Anyways, I’ve enjoyed combing through your emails these past couple of weeks. There were so many, I had to buy that enormous prop comb from Spaceballs. (Comb the desert!) Anyways, now that I’m done reading, it’s time for me to start writing! And for you to do the reading! Remember that you should send your questions to [email protected] for a chance to win $5 in store credit with ChannelFireball.com!

Q: I control a Fauna Shaman, and I’m in my second main phase, having just dealt 4 to my opponent with Necrotic Ooze. If I use Fauna Shaman’s ability, discarding Steel Hellkite and grabbing some arbitrary creature, can I still use Steel Hellkite’s X ability via Necrotic Ooze this turn to destroy my opponent’s stuff, or did it need to have that ability before it dealt damage?

A: All Steel Hellkite’s ability needs to know is who Steel Hellkite (or in this case, the object with that ability) has dealt combat damage to someone this turn and that this instance of the ability has yet to be activated this turn. It doesn’t matter if it didn’t have the ability earlier. In this case, you’ll be able to engineer some explosions on the other side of the battlefield quite easily, if you have the mana to do so.

Q: I control no Mountains or Swamps, and I cast Genesis Wave (X=2,) revealing a Mountain and a Dragonskull Summit. I really, really, really want my Summit to enter the battlefield untapped, but MTGO won’t let it. Why is that?

A: It’s easy to compare this to how Valakut works with multiple lands entering simultaneously, but this is a different story, because Dragonskull Summit’s ability starts with “as,” meaning it modifies how it enters the battlefield, not how it works when it’s already on the battlefield. When it is still in the process of entering the battlefield, the Mountain you revealed with Genesis Wave hasn’t entered yet either, so it’ll see no mountains and enter tapped.

Q: I use my Captivating Vampire and four Guul Draz Vampires to steal my opponent’s Gideon Jura after he has activated its 0 loyalty ability. Once Gideon stops being a creature, is he still a Vampire? If not, does he become a Vampire again when he becomes a creature again? I need to steal more creatures, Eric!

A: Captivating Vampire’s ability and the type it adds are in no way dependent on the creature you steal staying a creature. So, once the turn ends, you’ll have a Planeswalker – Vampire Gideon. (Okay, probably Gideon Vampire, but Vampire Gideon is funnier.) This means that, even when he’s not a creature, you can still tap him to help captivate other creatures. What other hilarious Vampires can we make?

Opalescence lets us turn Honden of Night’s Reach into a Legendary Enchantment – Vampire Shrine.
What would Faeries have been like if Bitterblossom was a Tribal Enchantment – Vampire Faerie?
Lifespark Spellbomb + an innocuous Island = Creature Land – Vampire Island! Never go there.
And, of course, just how powerful would Jace be if he were Planeswalker – Vampire Jace? (This one is hard to pull off. You’d need something like Mycosynth Lattice + March of the Machines, so I guess that would make him an Artifact Creature Planeswalker – Vampire Jace. OH NO ROBOT JACE)
I’m sure you guys have better ones of these than I do. Let me know in the comments.

Q: I’m playing the finals of the World Championships – game 5. I’m at 3 life, and so is my opponent. I control a Platinum Angel, though, so I think I have everything well in hand. At least, I think so until my opponent casts Hurricane for 4. My opponent says I lose, but I’m not so sure – I think he and Platinum Angel die, but I don’t. Who’s right?

A: You are! When Hurricane resolves, assigning four damage to each of you and to the Angel, state-based actions get checked. Three state-based actions try to happen: You’re at 0 life or less, so you lose, your opponent is at 0 life or less, so he loses, and Platinum Angel has lethal damage marked on it, so it is destroyed. However, Platinum Angel is still in play, so the state-based action that would make you lose cannot occur. Thus, only two things happen: your opponent loses, and Platinum Angel is destroyed. If state-based actions were checked again, you’d lose too, but your opponent has already lost, so you win! And to think that your opponent, with his Hurricane, could have been the champion of the world.

Q: I control a Mimic Vat with a Precursor Golem imprinted on it… oh wait, no I don’t, my opponent just Volition Reinsed it. No big deal. I’ll just play a second one. Okay, now he’s attacking me with a copy of Precursor Golem from his Mimic Vat. I guess I’ll block with my Garruk’s Packleader. They both die, so … Judge! Can I imprint the token copy of Precursor Golem on my Mimic Vat?

A: No, you can’t. Once that token goes to the graveyard, it ceases to exist as a state-based action and won’t be in the graveyard when the Vat’s trigger resolves. Additionally, Mimic Vat will only trigger when a nontoken creature dies, and it will only actually exile cards, not tokens. Good try with the Golem/Packleader interaction, though!

Q: My opponent casts a Clone Shell. In response to the Imprint trigger, I Galvanic Blast the Clone Shell. What happens when the Imprint trigger resolves?

A: The Imprint trigger of Clone Shell requires its controller to exile a card, so by the time it resolves he will know that his Shell is dead, and can choose accordingly. He most likely will exile his worst card, but if he doesn’t read this column, maybe he still thinks he gets to put it into play. In that case, point him here, since Clone Shell dying before its trigger resolves forever strands the exiled card in exiled-ville!

Q: I cast Genesis Wave, (X=6) and flip over four lands and two copies of Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. My opponent is at 22. I know I don’t have to put both copies of Ob Nixilis into play, but I really want to kill my opponent right now. What happens if I do put both into play?

A: If you decide to put all six of these permanents into play, the following things will happen:

-Each Ob Nixilis will trigger four times.
-Before triggers can go on the stack, state-based effects are checked, and the Ob Nixili (Nixilae? Nixilisisisises?) will go to the graveyard as per the Legend Rule.
-The eight Ob Nixilis triggers will go on the stack.
So, you’ll have eight triggers, which, if you decide to use them all, add up to -24 life for your opponent. Got him! Who says two Ob Nixilen (Nixilia? Nixons?) aren’t better than one?

Q: If I became a judge, would that change my ability to play in tournaments? For example, would becoming a judge make me more prone to be called on my rules infractions in tournaments, or less so? Would other players be worried that my friendships with other judges would give me an unfair advantage? More importantly, does it give you an unfair advantage?

A: Becoming a judge does not change your eligibility for tournaments in any way except one: if you are judging a Competitive or Professional REL event, you cannot also play in it. As for being called on rules stuff, it goes both ways. Some players are loath to call a judge on a judge because, well, a judge is a judge. Some players, however, will relish the thought of catching a judge in a mistake and will immediately call a judge at the slightest mistake. Most players, however, are surprisingly reasonable and won’t treat you any differently.

The perception of an unfair advantage is another matter. Yes, there will be players who think being friends with the judges of a tournament you’re in gives you an advantage, but guess what? I have plenty of non-judge friends, as, I’m sure, do most judges. Assuming the judges in your area are even mildly scrupulous, (and I’m sure they are) being a judge or their friend won’t give you any kind of advantage.

Connor Scott submitted the following question and has won $5 in store credit with ChannelFireball.com! Great work, Connor! Readers, send your questions to [email protected] for a chance to win $5 in store credit!

Q: I control a Platinum Emperion, and I cast Pain’s Reward. Can I bid life? If so, I’d really like to bid ten million life, since my life total can’t change, and that should ensure that I will be the one drawing 4.

A: Bidding life isn’t the same as paying life – in fact, it has nothing to do with the actual payment. As such, your Iron Giant won’t stop you from doing some pretty unscrupulous bidding. Since bidding life and paying life are totally separate, you can bid as much as you want, regardless of what your life total actually is. It’s only once the bidding is over that Pain’s Reward tries to make you lose life, at which point the Emperion will no-sir the change in your life total. Try this one out on your local playgroup – I’m sure they’ll show you their best Cee-Lo Green impression, if you know what I mean.

Now that we’re done with the rules, let’s hit policy in the form of last week’s Judge Call of the Week. Let’s refresh our memories: here’s the call!

Arthur is playing a Pyromancer Ascension deck. He has two Burst Lightnings, two Lightning Bolts, a Scalding Tarn, and a Preordain in his graveyard, in that order, with the Burst Lightnings at the bottom. Noah is playing U/W Control and has two Negates in his graveyard. Arthur casts Foresee, and while he’s picking up the top four cards for the Scry effect, knocks over the next card in his library. Both players see that card – a Pyromancer Ascension. Noah calls a judge. Assuming no one is cheating, what penalties, if any, should the judge assess, and how should the situation be fixed, if it can be?

Before I display the best answer, let’s take a look at some mistakes people made and the reasons they’re mistakes!

-Some people forgot about penalties! It’s good to fix things, but at Competitive/Professional, you have to give a penalty most of the time.
-Some people want to give a caution to Arthur at Regular REL. This is a mistake! There are no more penalties at Regular REL, generally. The Guide to Fixing Common Errors, which only really lets you give the occasional game loss or even more occasional DQ, governs the whole REL. No cautions!
-Some people wanted to give both players a warning because they both saw the extra card. This is irrelevant. Noah didn’t do anything wrong- he simply saw a card that Arthur accidentally revealed. There is no penalty for this.
-Some people didn’t notice the Preordain in the graveyard. That’s important! If you don’t notice that, you won’t ask Arthur if he knows the positions of any cards in his library. As this is a Looking at Extra Cards situation, we’re applying the “additional remedy” proscribed in the IPG, which is:

Shuffle the randomized portion of the deck (which may include the cards that were seen, if they were part of the random portion of the library). This requires first determining whether any portion of the deck is non-random, such as cards that have been manipulated on the top or bottom of the library, and separating those. Once the deck has been shuffled, any manipulated cards are returned to their correct locations.
Care must be taken before shuffling to make sure that there are no “legally known” cards in the library. Check with both players to verify this, and check the graveyard, exile, and in-play zones for deck manipulation cards, such as Brainstorm and cards with the scry mechanic.

Okay! Let’s take a look at the best answer from a non-Judge, supplied by Jasper Lawrence of Davis, CA. Congratulations, Jasper!

This is a Game Play Error – Looking at Extra Cards. An easy and relatively innocent mistake to make, so it’s only a Warning at Competitive/Professional. To fix the situation, the judge should check with both players to see whether any cards in Arthur’s library have a known position. For example, did he scry anything to the bottom with Preordain? Set aside any known cards (including the four cards from Foresee but NOT the accidentally-revealed Pyromancer Ascension), randomize the deck, and replace the known cards in their correct position. A time extension should be granted to account for time spent shuffling.

I chose Jasper’s answer because it was complete, accurate, and included a time extension for the time spent on shuffling. In reality, if it took a while to figure out whether or not there were known cards in the library, we would also be giving a time extension for that. Any ruling that takes more than a minute is going to end up requiring a time extension in order to keep things fair.

All right! Now that we’re done with last week’s business, let’s take a look at this week’s Judge Call of the Week, which I have shamelessly stolen from a friend who emailed me. Let’s hope he doesn’t mind!

At a Competitive-REL Standard tournament, Alan controls Molten-Tail Masticore and has only one card in his hand – a Lightning Bolt, which his opponent Ned saw when he cast Inquisition of Kozilek on him earlier. Alan forgets about his Masticore trigger in his upkeep, draws an Arc Trail, and passes. On Ned’s turn, Alan uses his Masticore’s second ability, removing a creature from his graveyard to try to kill Ned’s Overgrown Battlement, which Ned saves with a Vines of Vastwood. Alan then Lightning Bolts Ned’s Lotus Cobra.

At this point, Ned realizes Alan missed his Masticore trigger, as he only has one card left in hand, and calls a judge. What infraction or infractions do we have here? What penalties should be applied, if any? What is the fix for this situation?

This one is a step up in difficulty from previous Judge Calls of the Week. Make sure you carefully read how Missed Triggers work in the Infraction Procedure Guide before submitting your answer to [email protected] for a chance to win $5 in store credit! Remember, anyone with any judge levels is ineligible for the prize, but they may still send in answers to see if they’re right.

Let’s move on to our last segment: my Judge Tip of the Week. Did you know that you’re required to shuffle your opponent’s deck after they present it to you at any REL? It used to just be Competitive or higher, as I recall, but now it’s codified in the Pregame Procedure in the Magic Tournament Rules as something that you must do before every game. This may seem like a chore, but it’s there to protect you from unscrupulous players who might do some cheaty shuffling. Always shuffle your opponent’s deck, no matter how much you trust them. Who knows – maybe your friend didn’t shuffle enough, or maybe that “nice guy” at FNM is actually cheating?

One thing I like to do with my opponent’s deck (and my deck) before every game in a tournament is to pile-shuffle it. While pile-shuffling isn’t the most useful shuffling method for randomization, it does allow you to count the deck you’re shuffling easily. This can protect you from getting game losses for presenting an illegal deck, and it can get you some free wins by letting you know if your opponent presented an illegal deck- all while making it look like you’re just shuffling and not counting! Counting your opponent’s deck can also give you some information about the matchup. If they’re playing 61+ cards, they’re not likely to be playing an aggro deck, so that might change your mulligan decisions or early lines of play.

This came into play for me in round 2 of a PTQ during Lorwyn Block Constructed season. I was 1-0, and while pile-shuffling my opponent’s deck, I noticed he had 68 cards. I asked him, “How many cards are you playing?” He said, “64.” I immediately called a judge. Unfortunately for me, my opponent had, according to Toby Elliott, registered 68 but written 64 in the “total” box. Well, at least I figured I had probably just saved them a deck-check. I also gained some information: My opponent was playing 68 cards! Sweet! Yes, I won the match, and went on to go 4-0 before losing the Merfolk mirror, losing to 5cc, and then losing round 7 to the fire alarm (yes, the fire alarm went off) before winning round 8 against a mana-screwed Elementals player to go 5-3 and win 6 packs. Cue mock happiness.

That’s all for this week. Make sure to send your rules and policy questions and your answers to the Judge Call of the Week to me at [email protected] Come back next week, when I talk about the differences between N64 Goldeneye and Wii Goldeneye. So far, Oddjob is still not allowed in multiplayer because we just assume that would be cheating, and Josh Silvestri is really good at Melee Only. Bye!

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