Cranial Insertion: Leftovers Potluck

Leftovers Potluck
or, Put It All in a Blender

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and ???

When you stick leftovers in the blender,
they have more flavor than this.
Wait, it's December already? I suppose my first clue should have been the army of zombie Santa Clauses that has taken over my neighborhood, but then again, that could just mean that it's September. And the random Christmas carols? Probably means it's July. Christmas lights everywhere? Could be any time of the year. And that last one isn't an exaggeration – if you want to see random strands of blinkenlights hung all over town any time of the year, Tucson is the place to go.

But you're not here for the blinkenlights, you're here for the rulesyquestions. It just so happens that I have a bunch for you, hot out of the oven! If anyone has advice on getting the stench of burnt questions out of an oven, please let me know.

As always, send your own questions over to [email][email protected][/email] and we'll be happy to poke at them and give you the answer, then publish your question so other people can see the answer too!

Q: I play Oblivion Ring and intend to target my opponent's only nonland permanent, but he bounced it in response. Do I have to remove something of my own now?

A: If you have anything to target with the ability, yes. There's no "may" in the trigger, and there is an "another" so you can't O-Ring your own O-Ring. Of course, if you don't have any nonland permanents either, you won't remove anything; and you'll just be left with one sad, useless Oblivion Ring.

Q: Can I counter my own Oblivion Ring instead of removing something?

A: Sure, that's an option. Just because no one ever tries to counter his own spell doesn't mean that it's illegal – it's just so very, very rarely a good idea!

Q: Is it a big deal if my graveyard gets out of order in a Standard tournament?

A: This is a bit of a tricky question. Technically, your graveyard must stay correctly ordered, and changing that order is a Game Rule Violation infraction. Realistically, though, if you just put things into the graveyard in the wrong order or move a couple of cards around while looking at your flashback options, you're not going to ruin the game.

It's still important to keep your graveyard in close to the correct order, even if you won't get a Game Loss for rearranging it. If you and your opponent disagree on something that's happened earlier in the game, the graveyard order might be the key for you or a judge to figure out what really did happen.

Q: Can I have Skullmulcher devour my entire team, and then put them all on top of my library with Footbottom Feast in time to draw them all back?

A: You sure can! Skullmulcher munches skulls as part of its comes-into-play event, but it doesn't turn them into mulch (wait, I don't think I like that line of thought anymore) until the comes-into-play triggered ability resolves. Said trigger has to be put on the stack, and both players get a chance to do things – like play instants – before it resolves.

This is a C1, not a U1, which is still
infinitely more rare than it should be.
Q: How do U1 cards work with Rare-B-Gone?

A: As with all Un- questions, this is broadly up to your group to decide, but the official-ish answer from MaRo is that any U1 printing counts as rare. Other fun alternative redefinitions of "rare" to consider include "has a gold expansion symbol," "was hard to find," or "majority vote says it's too good to let the guy have."

Q: What happens if I Copy Enchantment a Tempting Licid?

A: Not the unholy shenanigans you were probably expecting – whew. Copy Enchantment just comes into play copying the Licid's copiable values, which means "what's printed on the card plus other copy-layer effects." The Licid's effect making it an Aura applies in layers 4 and 5, not layer 1 (where copy effects dwell), so the end result of Copy Enchantment on an Aura-fied Licid is the same as Clone on a non-Aura Licid.

Unless you meant to ask about Copy Enchantment on a non-Aura Licid, in which case the answer is an even simpler "you can't do that."

Q: My Wild Mongrel is blocked by Mother of Runes and I only have one card in hand. Is there any way my opponent can cheat me out of killing the Mother?

A: Sure. Scroll down to the end of the column to find out how.


Oh, I can't use evil mind tricks? Then no, you can kill the Mother, barring any other cards getting involved. If he doesn't use the Mother's ability, the damage will kill it dead. If he does, you can activate the Mongrel's ability after the Mother's ability resolves and make the Mongrel a color the Mother doesn't have protection from.

Just don't respond to the Mother's ability, or your opponent can give it protection from the Mongrel's new color.

Q: My opponent got a Game Loss, and I know he's playing Faeries. Can I sideboard before the "second" game? And who chooses play/draw for that one?

A: When a player is awarded a Game Loss, it doesn't count as a game having been played unless the game was actually played and the Game Loss was given during that game; if it was a deck check GL, or otherwise issued before play started, then you can't sideboard.

Whether or not a game was played, a game was lost, and the loser chooses whether to play or draw for the next game.

Q: What's the difference between "when" and "whenever" on triggers and between "each" and "all" on some other effects?

A: English. You can point out some definite patterns in the templating and language usage, but as far as the rules care, there is absolutely zero difference between "when" and "whenever" and between "each" and "all."

As for that templating: "when" is generally used if the trigger is expected to trigger only once during the object's existence, while "whenever" is used if it's expected to trigger more than once. A "when" can trigger many, many times under some circumstances, and a "whenever" may never actually trigger, though!

"Each" and "all" comes down to just how English works and which sounds nicer, though there are some precedents for certain kinds of effects to use one or the other.

Q: If I have a token copy of a creature with unearth, is there any window where I can unearth the token before it vanishes?

A: Windows? They all went away with the Sixth Edition rules!

Well, okay, some non-literal sorts of windows remain. This isn't one of them, however. You can only play unearth, an activated ability, while you have priority; before you receive priority, state-based effects will see a token in a graveyard and om nom nom it out of existence. There's also rule 216.4, which plainly states that tokens cannot ever be returned to play by any means after leaving play, even without state-based effects getting involved.

Q: How do cards like Beseech the Queen that care about converted mana costs work with cards that don't have a converted mana cost?

A: There's no such thing as a card without a converted mana cost. Sure, there are cards without a mana cost, but that just means that their converted mana cost is 0. The rules are sneaky like that!

We besought the queen to burn
all copies of this card, but she
did not listen to us. Sorry.
Q: You told us how Charmed Pendant interacts with hybrid last week, but how does it work with Beseech the Queen and the like?

A: It's not quite as charming then. For Beseech the Queen, you have three colored mana symbols, but Charmed Pendant only adds colored mana, so you'll get BBB, not 6 or any amount of colorless mana at all. There aren't even any options; you'll get all three mana, like it or not.

Q: If I have a Fertile Ground attached to a Wooded Bastion, can I tap the Wooded Bastion for its second ability, then use the mana generated by the triggered ability on Fertile Ground to pay for Wooded Bastion's second ability?

A: Mana abilities are a little weird, and they don't use the stack, but they do still follow the other steps of playing a spell – Announce, Choose, Target, How, Total, Mana, Pay, Played. You won't put the ability on the stack as you announce it; you'll still make choices like which color to pay for the hybrid symbol; there can't be any targets and thus no "how" on them, or it's not a mana ability; but you do still figure out the total cost to play the mana ability, then play mana abilities to play mana abilities (looooooop), and pay those costs before considering the ability "played."

And the key here is that Fertile Ground triggers when the ability becomes played, just like things that trigger on spells being played. You can't use mana generated after that last step in order to pay in the step before it.

Q: I keep getting mixed up; is Animate Dead plus Akroma, Angel of Wrath a combo now or not?

A: It is not a combo. Animate Dead's current Oracle wording, aside from saying the next best thing to "enchant dead creature" again, returns that creature as part of its comes-into-play trigger resolving and then sets up a trigger to cause you to sacrifice it when Animate Dead leaves play.

Previously, that trigger caused you to sacrifice the enchanted creature, which may or may not have been the creature Animate Dead brought back (and it wouldn't be, if it had protection from black so Animate Dead couldn't ever be attached). Now, you'll have to fetch up a red Akroma if you want to Animate Dead Akroma.

Q: What happens if I control Platinum Angel and my opponent has a Helix Pinnacle with a hundred counters on it?

A: The universe implodes. Good job, you broke it.

Luckily, in this case, the universe slowly implodes. Helix Pinnacle will only trigger once a turn, and the trigger just won't do anything noticeable. You'll have plenty of time to beat your opponent's face in with your flying metal girlie before everything ceases to exist.

Now, if you want to fast-track your game to total annihilation, get out a Platinum Angel and Immortal Coil then get rid of your graveyard. The Coil will trigger over and over and over and over and over and the game's entirely busted and the Big Bang reverses and everyone in existence will know it's entirely your fault.

Q: If I Skyscribing for 23 while my opponent and I both have fewer than 20 cards in our library, who wins?

A: Me.

Because neither of you sure win. You both died to the happy little state-based effect that says:
Quote from The Happiest Little State-Based Effect »
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.

Card draws are never simultaneous, but state-based effects are. Both of you fall under this one, so both of you lose the game at the same time, which means the game's a draw.

Q: Is it true that if I Magma Spray my own Tidehollow Sculler in response to its ability, it removes a card forever? That's sick!

A: It's certainly true – if you somehow get rid of the Sculler, its second ability will trigger and resolve, doing nothing since its first ability hasn't removed a card yet. Then when the first ability resolves, it'll remove a card and the second ability won't ever trigger anyway.

But that combo there is three colors and two cards to do the same thing Thoughtseize does.

Q: I play Magma Spray targeting a Murderous Redcap that has not persisted. In response, they Shock it. It comes back into play. Can I Swerve the Magma Spray to the "new" Redcap, even though the Spray doesn't technically have a single target anymore?

A: You've got it a little backwards – the Spray does technically have a single target, even though it looks like it doesn't! That single target is "the Murderous Redcap that was standing right there a second ago but is now gone." The target is nonexistent, but it's still the target, so Swerve away.

Q: Does Vein Drinker work like Arena, where killing the Drinker means no one deals damage?

A: It's not the same at all. Arena makes both creatures do things and does things to both creatures, so an illegal target would be entirely unaffected. Vein Drinker has only one target, so the whole "illegal target can't do or be done" rule means nothing. The ability either resolves and does as much as possible, or it's countered. Under "as much as possible," the other creature can't deal damage to the missing Drinker, but the missing Drinker can still deal damage, just like a Prodigal Pyromancer that dies in response to its ability.

Q: Is there any time I can play instants on my opponent's turn before he untaps? What about before he draws?

A: The untap step is the happiest step in all of the turn structure. Do you remember why? I told you... oh wow, 3.5 years ago. Now I feel old.

No one ever, under any circumstances, receives priority!

Bonus image and caption!
Which one is worse:
the card, the set, or the book?
The important part is that no player can play an instant without priority, so nothing at all can happen except for the game action of phasing and choices being made for abilities that call for a choice in untapping.

You'll have plenty of time to do stuff before he draws, however. Both players have to pass priority in the upkeep step without doing anything in order to move on to the card-drawing, and you can tell your opponent to stop if he tries to rush through without letting you do whatever you want to.

Q: I keep seeing players just putting an Oblivion Ring on top of a permanent, like it's being enchanted. Is that legal, since they're not really removing the targeted permanent from the game?

A: As long as both players understand and agree that the card that looks like it's being enchanted is really in the removed-from-game zone, it's not a problem. There aren't any hard and fast rules about how to represent zones, other than "library is a single face-down pile" and "graveyard is a single face-up pile."

Just make sure that when you "enchant" something with Oblivion Ring that you're paying attention to what's really happening with the spell, and that any counters or attachments on that something are handled properly. Don't let a shortcut make your game play sloppy!

Q: Does the second player take all his mulligans after the first, or do you go back and forth?

A: Some rumor about this has propagated quite a bit; let's jump up and down on it until it dies.

You can see the mulligan rules in section 114 of the Magic Floor Rules and 101.4 of the Comprehensive Rules. Both of these documents agree: the first player takes mulligans until he keeps, and then the second player takes all of his mulligans. There is no back-and-forth.

However, if the second player chooses to perform a mulligan while waiting for the first player to complete his, no one's going to argue.

Should the rules change to enforce back-and-forth mulligans, you'll find that in the MFR and/or CR – updates to the MFR are made every third month (including today!), and the CR with each set, and Yawgatog tracks updates to these documents on his Resources page. Look for these documents to change if you think something's changed; the changes won't first be announced by the coverage team or some random pro player.

Well, that's all for--oh, there is something I'm supposed to tell youse, isn't there? We had some sort of poll a week ago, eh? And that poll just ended? Well well!

Okay, it ended a day ago, so you probably all know that "Rutabaga" won. But who is the man behind the vegetable? It's Aaron Stevenson, an accomplished judge from Roanoke and member of Star City Games! The runner-up - and with 64-61 on the votes, there's no way we can call him a "loser" - is the prolifically answerful Carsten Haese; you may have seen him on just about any rules forum with his real name as his username, answering exceptionally well.

Major kudos to both for defeating a slew of excellent competitors in the first pass and drawing so very close to even in the public vote. Paskoff will take next week's article while Aaron gets acclimated, and then you'll see his first full-length article two weeks from now. If you're heading over to Worlds, try to find Aaron and congratulate him; he'll be judging.

Until next week, get creative with your leftovers!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


Posts Quoted:
Clear All Quotes