Cranial Insertion: Planeswalk On

Planeswalk On
or, Winter Is Coming

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson

When Marilyn Monroe took
this pose, she was not
wearing plate armor.
As of yesterday, we've officially hit winter (or summer, if you live on the bottom of the planet, but I'm too chilly to talk about summer right now!), so what better time to answer a pile of snow questions!

What, we don't have a pile of snow questions? Oh well, we do have a happy little pile of an inquisitive nature for you, albeit not including snow. Send your own questions, snow-related or not, to [email][email protected][/email], where our resident zombie chimp will sort them into piles based on aroma and flavor.

Q: Does Trinisphere affect the cost of Shattering Spree if I replicate it twice?

A: When figuring out costs, take the mana cost or whatever alternate cost you've selected, add on any additional costs, apply any cost reductions, and then ask Trinisphere if it's happy. If it answers, consult your friendly local psychologist, especially if it answers "no." Assuming you and Trinisphere have this conversation metaphorically, it'll see that the cost (R) plus additional costs (RR, one per copy) is converted to 3, so it'll be fine and leave you alone.

Q: Is it possible for suspend cards such as Lotus Bloom or Ancestral Vision to count towards a storm count?

A: Sure. Suspending a card is a special action that isn't the same thing as playing a spell, but when the last counter is removed, the card is played, not simply put into play or on the stack, and storm will count that.

Q: Player A controls Grizzly Bears and a Roughshod Mentor. Player B plays Snakeform targeting Roughshod Mentor. When Snakeform resolves, will Grizzly Bears still have trample?

A: Most questions involving Snakeform and the Shadowmoor mentors are unhappy layer messes, but this one is fairly easy. Since applying Snakeform's "you has no abilities bwahaha" effect causes Roughshod Mentor's ability to vanish entirely, Snakeform must be applied first. Nothing will gain trample from the Mentor, even if it was gaining trample before Snakeform so rudely intruded.

Q: What happens if I play Interdict when my opponent is trying to use Salvage Titan's second ability from his graveyard?

A: Then you're probably doing something illegal. Interdict can only counter abilities from an artifact, creature, enchantment, or land - and according to rule 200.9, an "artifact" without the rider "artifact card" exists only in play. Salvage Titan in the graveyard is an artifact card, but not an artifact, so Interdict can't stop its ability.

Ajani is a playa, not a player.
Q: Do creatures like Slith Firewalker get a counter when they deal damage to planeswalkers?

A: Planeswalkers have a lot in common with players, but they are still not actually players. You'll have to poke an opponent (or yourself, or a teammate, if you're particularly masochistic) with your Slith to get it a counter.

Q: What are the copiable values of a token?

A: Simply put, any characteristics defined by the effect that made a token are treated just like text printed on a card, and these can be copied until the Aurochs come home. Characteristics include such wonderful attributes as color, card type, subtypes, supertypes, power, toughness, abilities, and name. Just like with nontoken creatures, effects like Giant Growth aren't ever copiable.

Q: What happens in a tournament if I shuffle a token into my deck?

A: A token is not a card, and illegal deck issues stem from having improper cards in your deck. The official position of the DCI is that the token should be immediately removed upon being found and no penalty given. If the token is in sleeves and matches the deck and was drawn as a card, a replacement card should be drawn.

Q: Can I ninjutsu a Mistblade Shinobi a whole bunch to return all of my attacking creatures and save them from Stench of Decay?

A: That works just fine. The cost of the ninjutsu ability is just to pay the mana, reveal the Ninja, and bounce the attacker; the Ninja doesn't actually leave your hand until the ability resolves. Since it's still in your hand, it'll gleefully ninja up the other attackers; the last activation will resolve and put it into play, then the other activations will fail to do anything as they resolve since the Ninja is no longer in your hand to be put into play.

Q: What happens if I have a planeswalker and an Empyrial Archangel and my opponent Shocks me? Who chooses what when?

A: The first important fact is that the planeswalker damage redirection rule is a replacement effect, and it follows all applicable rules for replacement effects. The second, the choice made of whether or not to redirect damage to the planeswalker is made as the effect is applied and not a moment sooner.

So, replacement effects. As the affected player - the one taking some damage to the noggin - you choose which one applies first. If you apply the Archangel's redirection first, you're not taking damage anymore and the planeswalker doesn't care. If you apply the planeswalker redirection effect first, then your opponent makes a choice of whether or not to redirect it immediately; if he does so, the Archangel doesn't care about the damage anymore since it's not being dealt to you. If he chooses to let it hit you, though, the Archangel will still care, and you'll have to apply its effect and redirect the damage to it.

Q: Does Doubling Season double wither counters or not? Combat damage isn't an effect, is it?

A: Combat damage itself is not an effect, but the resolution of combat damage assignments causes an effect; this effect is "deal damage as assigned," and Doubling Season will double the -1/-1 counters from a source with wither.

Q: Plains intrinsically tap for W and Islands intrinsically tap for U, but what do Lairs do?

A: Lairs store dragon poo.

The Lair subtype itself has absolutely no rules value. It's just a way for the existing five Lair lands to say "any land other than one of these." Only the five basic land types have intrinsic mana abilities.

Q: I have a Boon Reflection and I play Arbiter of Knollridge. My opponent has 34 life, and I have 4. My opponent believes that I go to 34 life, but am I really at 64?

A: Setting your life total to a higher number really means "figure out how much life you need to gain to get to that number, and then gain that much life." If you're at 4, you need to gain 30 life to get to 34, and you'll gain 60 instead thanks to these opulent kithkin who are not sharing their plates full of gold with me.

Q: Why did I get a Game Loss for having marked cards? The judge even said he didn't think I was cheating, so why is it a big deal?

A: Within in Penalty Guide, there is a list of infractions (including Marked Cards--Pattern) and the penalties that a judge must issue if this infraction is committed (such as a Game Loss for Marked Cards--Pattern at the Competitive and Professional Rules Enforcement Levels). The penalties are assigned based on potential for advantage, not just actual advantage gained - how would we know that ahead of time? Having your cards marked with any sort of pattern provides a high potential for a huge advantage if you were actually cheating, and the severity reflects this.

And don't forget – your opponent can see these markings, too, so you're tempting him to cheat as well.

The Game Loss serves as a deterrent and a strong reminder to meet the obligations of playing in a tournament; it's your job to ensure that your cards start off and remain unmarked. Above all, penalties aren't a way to fix an existing problem. Even a disqualification rarely fixes all of the problems caused by the infraction requiring a DQ.

And we'll close with this important tidbit from the Penalty Guide itself:

The purpose of a penalty is to educate the player not to make similar mistakes in the future. This is done through both an explanation of where the rules or policies were violated and a penalty to reinforce the education. Penalties are also for the deterrence and education of every other player in the event and are also used to track player behavior over time.

Sarkhan frowns upon these shenanigans.
Q: Is there any way to bounce Sarkhan Vol after I play the last ability if he only had six counters?

A: Not unless you obtain a particularly subtle knife to slice into the itsy bitsy moment between the ability becoming played and state-based effects being checked. You can only play spells and abilities to bounce things when you have priority to do so; but before any player receives priority immediately after an ability is played, state-based effects check to make sure that there isn't anything strange going on in the game, like planeswalkers with no loyalty still sticking around.

Even if you could play a Boomerang somehow, Sarkhan Vol would still have toddled off to the graveyard before it resolved; you'll need to give him more counters before asking him to fetch you Dragons if you want him to stick around.

Q: I have Scavenger Drake in play with a bunch of weenies and my opponent plays Jund Charm. Will my Drake survive?

A: Your drake is the deadest Drake you'll ever see (in the next two minutes, anyway). Its ability that makes it bigger when other things die is a triggered ability; it has to go on the stack, wait around, and then resolve in order to do its thing. Before it even makes it onto the stack, though, our friendly janitorial service, State-Based Effects, Inc., sends in a cleaning crew to scour the game again for silly things like 1/1 creatures with 2 damage on them.

Q: Will Aether Snap get poison counters off me?

A: No. Life is but an ephemeral instance, here and gone in a cosmic breath. The player across from you is not real, and you are not real, but everything is actually an illusion...

...that is, permanents are only cards or tokens in play; players are not permanent. Permanents. And Aether Snap won't remove anything from them.

Q: I Mirrorweave my Wilt-Leaf Liege and my opponent Snakeforms it in response. What does everything look like now?

A: Moments before, you had many critters adoring a Liege. Now, you have many Lieges roffling at a puny little Snake. Nothing at all in Snakeform's effect is copiable; it's all layer 4, 5, and 6b, and only layer 1 is copiable. Mirrorweave will see through the snaky illusion and turn everyone else into real Lieges.

Q: What do foreign-language cards do with R&D's Secret Lair in play?

Serious A: If you penetrate the Un- templating of R&D's Secret Lair, it's really just "Ignore all errata." Play these cards just as the corresponding English version was printed and save yourself some sanity. Or just don't play them at all - as printed, the ability "fliegend" has no rules value, so it's an empty text box, and this will cause lots of headaches and arguments.

Funny A: It depends on whether or not you, or anyone in the group, can read the language. A creature with "fliegend"? Well, I speak German, so it has flying as long as I say it does. As soon as I stop paying attention to it, no one else knows what it does, so it stops flying! Of course, some people might try to lie about what things do, in which case you call shenanigans. If you can prove that shenanigans are afoot, the player should be punished with whips and chains by losing that card for the rest of the game if it was his, or by taking extra beatings from it if it was used against him or another player. If you've called shenanigans when he was being honest, you take a smaller penalty of some sort.

Ah, Un- games.

Q: I block Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer with Tidehollow Strix in a multiplayer game, but then Molimo gets really huge and kills me. Will Molimo still die with me?

A: Molimo will live and be very scary another day. As soon as you die, all triggers from sources you control, like the deathtouch trigger, will be taken off the stack or never put on the stack if they try to go on later. Deathtouch doesn't do anything until the trigger resolves, so Molimo will not die at all.

S: That's dumb. Frown

A: The great thing about multiplayer games, seeing as they're never sanctioned, is that if your group thinks that a rule or the result of a rule is dumb (especially a multiplayer-specific rule), you can ignore it. Mark Gottlieb will not send ninjas to murder you and your friends for breaking the rules. Seriously. (Don't look out the window, by the way.)

It's never good to get into the habit of ignoring rules that may matter in a sanctioned event, but multiplayer rules and Un- interactions don't need to be so strictly beholden to the Comprehensive Rules if it interferes with your fun.

Q: Back on turn three, my opponent cast a Rhox War Monk by tapping an Island and two Plains. Now we're almost done with the game, so now what?

A: It sure sucks that your opponent has been gaining life all game and beating you with his Monk, but you let him play it illegally; you have to stop him sooner if you want it undone. At this point, all that can happen is a Caution or Warning (depending on the Rules Enforcement Level) for a Game Rules Violation. The Rhino stays in play, no life is changed around; continue as it was otherwise.

And that's my last article for the year. I'll be back on the second week of January with an exciting article from a much snowier climate. Here's wishing y'all a safe and happy new year with minimum agony on the first day of it.

Until next time, enjoy your winter!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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