Godheads on Pikes
By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley
Last week, we were hijacked by the brief return of Saturday School! In case you hadn’t figured it out, that was our version of an April Fools’ joke. Carter was awesome enough to put something together for us, and he even touched on the super-secret powers of the L5 judges. We’ll leave it as an exercise to you, the readers, to determine if those powers were a legitimate Q&A or just part of the joke. While you’re deciding, you may wish to avoid high-level judges standing near electrical outlets.
This week, we’re back to the CI mailbag for questions from our awesome readers. Want to see your question here? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Q: My opponent has Worship, a creature I can’t kill, and is on 1 life. If I attack with two Goblin Piledrivers, does the damage still count as being dealt so I can play a card with a prowl cost?
A: Yes, the damage is still dealt. Worship doesn’t prevent damage. It just leaves you at 1 life instead of some negative number when that damage is dealt. Abilities which trigger on dealing combat damage will still trigger, and things like Prowl, which care about combat damage being dealt, will see that it was. So prowl away. Q: I have a Mirror Gallery and two copies of Brion Stoutarm in play. Can I sacrifice one to the other's ability?
A: You can indeed. When a card refers to itself by name like this, it really means, “this object.” So Brion Stoutarm will not allow you to sacrifice himself to his own ability. Brion is an opportunistic giant, however, and will gladly throw his twin brother under the bus at someone. Q: If I have 2 Magus of the Tabernacle in play, would my opponent have to pay for each creature, or is it because it is a state based effect?
A: Your opponent will have to pay for each creature. Both Magi give the “pay or sacrifice me” triggered ability to all creatures, so you have to pay twice for each creature you want to keep.
This doesn’t have anything to do with state-based effects, though. SBEs clean up problems in the game, like dead creatures trying to loiter in play, random enchantments lying about unused, players who are chock full of poison, etc. A list of SBEs is provided below.
420. State-Based Effects
420.1. State-based effects are a special category that apply only to those conditions listed below. Abilities that watch for a specified game state are triggered abilities, not state-based effects. (See rule 404, “Triggered Abilities.”)
420.2. State-based effects are always active and are not controlled by any player.
420.3. Whenever a player would get priority (see rule 408, “Timing of Spells and Abilities”), the game checks for any of the listed conditions for state-based effects. All applicable effects resolve as a single event, then the check is repeated. Once no more state-based effects have been generated, triggered abilities go on the stack, and then the appropriate player gets priority. This check is also made during the cleanup step (see rule 314); if any of the listed conditions apply, the active player receives priority.
420.4. Unlike triggered abilities, state-based effects pay no attention to what happens during the resolution of a spell or ability.
Example: A player controls a creature with the ability “This creature’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in your hand” and plays a spell whose effect is “Discard your hand, then draw seven cards.” The creature will temporarily have toughness 0 in the middle of the spell’s resolution but will be back up to toughness 7 when the spell finishes resolving. Thus the creature will survive when state-based effects are checked. In contrast, an ability that triggers when the player has no cards in hand goes on the stack after the spell resolves, because its trigger event happened during resolution.
420.5. The state-based effects are as follows:
420.5a A player with 0 or less life loses the game.
420.5b A creature with toughness 0 or less is put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event.
420.5c A creature with lethal damage, but greater than 0 toughness, is destroyed. Lethal damage is an amount of damage greater than or equal to a creature’s toughness. Regeneration can replace this event.
420.5d An Aura attached to an illegal object or player, or not attached to an object or player, is put into its owner’s graveyard.
420.5e If two or more legendary permanents with the same name are in play, all are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “legend rule.” If only one of those permanents is legendary, this rule doesn’t apply.
420.5f A token in a zone other than the in-play zone ceases to exist.
420.5g A player who attempted to draw a card from an empty library since the last time state-based effects were checked loses the game.
420.5h A player with ten or more poison counters loses the game.
420.5i If two or more permanents have the supertype world, all except the one that has been a permanent with the world supertype in play for the shortest amount of time are put into their owners’ graveyards. In the event of a tie for the shortest amount of time, all are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “world rule.”
420.5j If a copy of a spell is in a zone other than the stack, it ceases to exist. If a copy of a card is in any zone other than the stack or the in-play zone, it ceases to exist.
420.5k An Equipment or Fortification attached to an illegal permanent becomes unattached from that permanent. It remains in play.
420.5m A permanent that’s neither an Aura, an Equipment, nor a Fortification, but is attached to another permanent, becomes unattached from that permanent. It remains in play.
420.5n If a permanent has both a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it, N +1/+1 and N -1/-1 counters are removed from it, where N is the smaller of the number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it.
420.5p A planeswalker with loyalty 0 is put into its owner’s graveyard.
420.5q If two or more planeswalkers that share a planeswalker type are in play, all are put into their owners’ graveyards.
A: Troll Ascetic can’t be the target of your spells and abilities. Thankfully, your opponent has helpfully played Nameless Inversion. Willbender will whisper sweet nothings into his ear and change the target of Nameless Inversion to Troll Ascetic. Despite this meddling, your opponent’s Troll is being targeted by a spell he controls. This is perfectly legal, and perfectly dastardly.
Don't limbo with this girl
Q: If I have Platinum Angel in play, can I go to negative life or would I just stay at zero?
A: How low can you go? It’s not just a bar song anymore. And the answer is, as low as the beatings take you. Platinum Angel prevents you from losing the game, but it doesn’t have a Worship-like ability stapled onto it. You can go well into the negatives with Platinum Angel in play. And if the Angel should leave play somehow, you’re probably in a bad spot.
Bonus: My own personal best (or worst, if you prefer) was -65, during a Type 1 tournament a few years ago. I was getting pounded by a Tinkered-up Darksteel Colossus. Like a good Oath of Druids player, I had drawn all my creatures . . . except for Platinum Angel. I went down to -65 while my opponent’s life went 20, 16, 12, 8, 4, 0. Q: Can my opponent Nameless Inversion the creature I intend to sacrifice before/during/after I choose it to be championed?
A: When you play a creature with champion, it comes into play and the champion ability triggers. Your opponent can blast something with Nameless Inversion at this point if he wants. However, you choose which creature you’ll be removing as the champion trigger resolves. Until then, no one knows which creature you’ll choose.
Also, your opponent can’t interrupt the resolution of the champion trigger to kill the creature as you’re removing it. Players can respond to spells and abilities, not individual events. Q: My opponent has two Epochrasites killed by my Damnation. If I want to Extirpate them, what would the timing have to be to remove both (and any in his hand/library)? He thinks I can’t because they won't both ever be in the graveyard at the same time. Is this true?
A: It is false. Both Epochrasites go to the graveyard when Damnation resolves. Both will trigger once they’ve hit the graveyard. At this point, both players get priority to play spells and abilities. If you Extirpate here, both will still be in the graveyard, and Extirpate will remove them and any others it finds.
When you look long into a
Vivid Creek, the Vivid Creek also
looks into you.
Q: If I happen to have a Reflecting Pool in play and my only other land is a River of Tears, and I have not played a land this turn, can I tap the Pool to get ? What about getting out of it once I've laid a land, since this is what the River usually produces?
A: In this case, Reflecting Pool behaves exactly as River of Tears would. If will tap for if you haven’t played a land yet this turn, and for if you have. River of Tears has a self-replacement effect, and Reflecting Pool applies that when it determines which color(s) the River “could produce.” Q: What about Reflecting Pool and a Vivid Land with no counters on it? Can I still tap the Pool for one mana of any color?
A: You can. The fact that you can't actually pay the cost of the Vivid land's any-color ability (removing a counter) doesn't matter.
What DOES matter when you're evaluating what Reflecting Pool can and can't do? This metric went out on the MTGRULES-L list, posted by the Netrep there, Gavin Duggan,so it's [O]fficial.
It DOES take into account replacement effects (Reality Twist) and self-replacement effects (River of Tears)
It does NOT take into account costs on the mana ability in question (Crystal Quarry, , etc)
It does NOT take into account other possible futures (Playing a land, a Blood Moon, or a Stone Rain)
Q: My opponent controls my Treetop Village (currently a land) with his Vedalken Shackles and he chooses to untap his Shackles. Do I get my Village back even though its not a creature anymore?
A: Yes, you will get it back. Even though the Village has a different type than when it was originally pilfered, the ability that stole it still keeps track of it. When the duration of Vedalken Shackles’ control effect ends, Treetop Village is returned to you.
202.2a If an ability of an object uses a phrase such as “this [something]” to identify an object, where [something] is a characteristic, it is referring to that particular object, even if it isn’t the appropriate characteristic at the time.
A: The hooligans of Tin Street are apparently wiser than English soccer hooligans. In this case, you can pay just and destroy an artifact. Even though the Lattice lets you spend mana as though it were mana of any color, the game will know what color you actually spent on the Hooligan. As long as that was Green, you’ll get to destroy an artifact. Q: With Mesmeric Orb in play, I play Goatnapper and take control of an opponent's tapped changeling. Who puts the top card of his library into his graveyard?
A: You do. For Mesmeric Orb, "that permanent's controller" is determined when the triggered ability resolves. Here, barring any shenanigans, you will control the goat by the time the ability resolves, so you’ll be the one to mill. Q: Do the tokens created by Chronozoa and/or Nacatl War-Pride get any perks that the original card had (+1/+1 counters, p/t pumps, extra abilities from aura's or equipment)?
A: Nope. Counters, Giant Growth-type effects, boosts from auras or equipment, and things like that aren’t copied. Copy effects operate at layer 1 of continuous effects, so the copy is just what the original would look like at that layer. This is, generally, what’s printed on the card.
503.2. When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s characteristics (name, mana cost, color, card type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, toughness, loyalty) and, for an object on the stack, choices made when playing it (mode, targets, the value of X, whether a kicker cost was paid, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on). The “copiable values” are the values that are printed on the object, as modified by other copy effects, by “as . . . comes into play” and “as . . . is turned face up” abilities that set characteristics, and by abilities that caused the object to be face down. Other effects (including type-changing and text-changing effects), status, and counters are not copied.
A: What you chose for Profane Command is certainly legal, but it's not going to turn out the way you want it to. While it's true that you follow the instructions in the order they're written on the card, the fact remains that all of that happens while Profane Command is resolving. When Profane Command has resolved and the active player (presumably you) would get priority, SBEs check and whisk Shriekmaw off to the graveyard. By the time you get priority to play any spells or abilities, Saffi is in play and Shrieky is wailing about the grand unfairness of things in the graveyard. Q: Can you answer some questions about how Godhead of Awe interacts with some other cards?
A: Generally we don’t answer questions about preview cards. However, since this one was spoiled on MTG.com and the Humility-style effect is something we know how to do, we’ll handle this one.
Bonus: This does NOT mean that you should start sending us questions about preview cards, whether they came from MTG.com or Loud Al’s Magic Spoiler Emporium. We pride ourselves on giving accurate answers to people who want exactly that, and doing that isn’t always possible with preview cards. Sometimes, new mechanics come out, or the rules change to support something different. It’s a good general rule to save your questions about preview cards for Prerelease weekend.
(Keep in mind that the following questions all presume there is a Godhead of Awe in play. Also note that the Godhead's card tag won't work until the set is put into Gatherer or Magiccards.info; you can view it in the spoiler until then.)
A: Yes. The “all other creatures are 1/1” ability is applied in layer 6b. Glorious Anthem is 6d, so it will always apply after Godhead of Awe’s ability.
Q: If my opponent plays Giant Growth, the Grizzly Bear is a 4/4 regardless of timestamp?
A: No, timestamp matters here. Both Godhead and Giant Growth are in 6b. Whichever one is more recent will take precedence over the other.
Q: If my opponent enchants Grizzly Bear with Rancor, it's a 3/1 regardless of timestamp?
A: Yes. Rancor, like Glorious Anthem, is 6d.
Q: What about Psychatog? During my upkeep, my opponent uses Psychatog's ability to make it a 4/5. I play Godhead of Awe during my main phase. Is Psychatog a 4/4 or a 1/1?
A: Psychatog’s pump ability is 6b, so it’ll be a 1/1 after Godhead comes into play (timestamps again, as with Giant Growth). After that, your opponent could activate it again to make it larger than 1/1.
That’s all we have for this edition of CI. Remember that the Shadowmoor Prerelease weekend is April 19-20, and Launch Parties are scheduled for the first weekend in May.
Next week: Intermediate Deity of Large Stupid Creatures smashes onto the scene, only to be made a 1/1 by Godhead of Awe.
Tom is a Level 2 judge who frequently works in the MD, DC, and PA areas. He is also an active player, and has written articles from both perspectives. Tom has judged numerous Pro Tours, but would like to make it there as a player at least once.