Cranial Insertion: Angels and Planeswalkers

Angels and Planeswalkers
By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

Good morning, faithful readers of this silly column.
If Moko has N mailboxes, and you have N+1 questions... should send them to [email][email protected][/email]!
Now, onto the questions, and Urchin to her midterm studies!

This card's original name was
Angel of Confusing Replacement Effects.
Q: If I control two Empyrial Archangels and my opponent deals me 14 damage, can I split the redirected damage between the Archangels?

A: We flubbed this one last week, so here's the real answer:

Nope. Any time a lump of damage is being dealt to you, from any number of sources (such as combat damage), you will get to choose one of your Archangels to use as a meat shield. Since they both have a replacement effect that try to replace the same event (the damage), and because you are the player affected by that damage (I.e., you're the one getting smashed in the face), then you get to pick which replacement effect applies. The other does NOTHING! Good DAY, Sir!

Q: If I cast Blightning and want to deal the damage to my opponent's planeswalker, will he still have to discard cards?

A: Sure. While planeswalkers give your opponent the option to redirect noncombat damage, they do not actually change the target of any spells. The spell still targets your opponent, and he will have to discard, not...his planeswalker?
Quote from 212.9g »
If noncombat damage would be dealt to a player by a source controlled by an opponent, that opponent may have that source deal that damage to a planeswalker the first player controls instead. This is a redirection effect (see rule 419.6c) and is subject to the normal rules for ordering replacement effects (see rule 419.9).

Q: If my opponent targets my land with Befoul, can I Reknit that land to regenerate it, since it isn't a creature?

A: Nope. The "can't be regenerated" part modifies how the object is destroyed, not only for the possible creature target. Never mind the tenuous logistics of knitting land back together. I'd imagine it's somewhat like mana weaving. *Ducks the rotten vegetable projectiles.*

Q: How many targets does Sigil Blessing have? One or N, where N is the number of creatures controlled by its owner?

A: One. It never claims to target anything but the creature to which it is giving +3/+3. It sweeps over the other creatures with a general sheet of beef.

Crispy, crusty, tender, flaky crust!
Q: If Battlegrace Angel attacks me alone, do I have time to Lightning Blast her before she gets her exalted bonus?

A: Yes. Exalted is a plain old triggered ability that triggers on Battlegrace Angel attacking alone. You will have a chance to respond to it while it is still on the stack. Blast her out of the sky. Mmm, toasty.

Don't believe me? Take a look at this fine explanation rendered by the exceptional pedagogues who write the Comprehensive Rules:
Quote from 502.83a »
Exalted is a triggered ability.

Q: My opponent controls an Empyrial Archangel and a Runed Halo naming Demigod of Revenge. If I attack with a Demigod of Revenge, will the damage be redirected to the Archangel or prevented by the Halo?

A: Since both Empyrial Archangel and Runed Halo are trying to replace the same event (Demigod's combat damage), your opponent will get to choose which replacement effect to apply--the one that redirects to Empyrial Archangel, or the one that replaces the damage with no damage.

Quote from 419.9a »
If two or more replacement or prevention effects are attempting to modify the way an event affects an object or player, the affected object's controller (or its owner if it has no controller) or the affected player chooses one to apply.

Q: Again with Empyrial Archangel in play, a creature with wither deals me damage. When that damage is redirected to the Archangel, is it regular damage or wither damage?

A: Wither damage is still wither damage, even when redirected. Redirection effects don't change the source of the damage, so as long as that source still has wither, the damage it causes will still wither things.

Hither and thither, whether it withers never depends on whether the weather is pleasant. (Say that five times fast, why don't you.)

Q: With Etherium Sculptor and Tezzeret the Seeker in play, can I search for a Pithing Needle and put it into play without removing any loyalty counters?

A: No. Activating Tezzeret is not the same as playing an artifact spell. Etherium Sculptor reduces the mana cost of artifact spells when you play them. While it would be very good if it reduced any cost of things kind of related to playing an artifact, it doesn't. Sorry 'bout that.

Q: I unearth my Scourge Devil, and he dies in combat. Will he be removed from the game at end of turn, even though he's already gone to the graveyard during combat?

A: Scourge Devil never goes to the graveyard at all. Like flashback, if an unearthed creature would leave the in-play zone for anywhere except the removed-from-game zone, it gets removed from the game instead. When it died in combat, it should have been removed.

“But it doesn't say that in the reminder text!” I hear you cry. Well, it kinda does, but that's an understandable misreading. It also says here:
Quote from 502.84a. »
Unearth is an activated ability that functions while the card is in a graveyard. "Unearth [cost]" means "[Cost]: Return this card from your graveyard to play. It gains haste. Remove it from the game at end of turn. If it would leave play, remove it from the game instead of putting it anywhere else. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery."

Q: If I unearth a Kathari Screecher, can I use Momentary Blink to keep it from being removed from the game at end of turn by turning it into a new object?

A: Why yes, this works! Why, you ask, after I denied you your Scourge Devil? Well, since Momentary Blink didn't try to put Kathari Screecher anywhere but out of play, unearth really doesn't give a gosh darn (wink). When the Screecher left play, it became a new object; and when it came back, Screecher-Prime had no recollection of being unearthed in a past existence.
Quote from 217.1c »
An object that moves from one zone to another is treated as a new object. Effects connected with its previous location will no longer affect it.

Meanwhile, unearth doesn't care about it being removed from the game because unearth's replacement effect (see last question's quote) only cares about being put anywhere else.

Q: When do I choose whether or not to use a “may” triggered ability?

A: When it resolves, usually. Unless you're thinking of some strange example that I'm not coming up with. You're laying a trap, aren't you? This smells of trap. Normally, if an ability reads, “Whenever [FOO], you may [BAR],” you choose whether or not to [BAR] when the ability resolves, not when it triggers on [FOO].

Q: I have a red creature enchanted with Scourge of the Nobilis. If my opponent casts Snakeform on it, can I activate its first ability in response and retain the bonuses?

A: Nope. Those bonuses will still be hanging around doing their thing, but Snakeform, which resolved later, will gleefully squash their life's work into a pile of smoldering rubble filled with the tears of orphans and make your +X/N creature a 1/1 dude.

Fun Fact: Urchin eats fire on Thursdays.

Q: I have Doubling Season and Ajani Goldmane in play with six loyalty counters on him. Can I remove his counters to make two Avatar tokens, then play another Ajani Goldmane and remove six of his eight loyalty counters to make two more Avatar tokens, or does the “once per turn” rule on planeswalker abilities prevent that?

A: Cripes, that's a lot of Avatar tokens. What you described works quite well. The once-per-turn rule on planeswalker abilities applies only to a given planeswalker. As you all know, those two Ajani Goldmanes are different objects in play, so you'll get one planeswalker ability per Ajani per turn.

Four Avatar tokens seems like overkill. Sweet, stylish overkill.

Ghost Council is a good draft pick,
even when you're drafting...
in the middle of a game?
Q: I gain control of my opponent's Ghost Council of Orzhova using Thieves' Auction, then he steals it back with Enslave. If I destroy the Enslave, will control revert to me?

A: Yes. All these control changing effects apply in layer 2 of rule 418.5a (OH GOODY, THAT ONE), so you'll apply them in timestamp order. The Thieves' Auction isn't a continuous effect - the base values of the object are "you control it" - which is much, much lower on the layer order than the Enslave, but that doesn't mean it is erased. If you peel off the Enslave, Thieves' Auction hidden gooeyness still applies. Think of continuous effects as stickers. Big piles of stickers.

Your opponent's best bet is probably to blink out the Ghost Council so it becomes a new object with an entirely new set of stickers.

Q: My opponent controls a Forest, a Plains, a Mountain, and a Wild Nacatl with 2 damage on it. If I activate my Ghost Quarter on his Plains, will he be able to put another Plains into play before his Nacatl dies from lethal damage?

A: Yes. Because destroying the Plains and bringing a new one into play all happen during the resolution of the same ability, state-based effects are not checked between them. SBEs see that a Plains is in play, Ghost Quarter's ability resolves, then SBEs see that a Plains is in play. They don't care that it's not the same Plains, and they never saw your opponent without one.

Wasn't that FUN? Of course it was. There's nothing I like more than cracking open the Comp Rules, putting on some 80's music, and going to town on your questions. It pleases me the most when you send lots of them to [email][email protected][/email]. Then Moko doesn't get bored and start reading my books, getting banana bits between the pages of my Aeschylus.

Party on, readers.

Diane Colley
DCI Level 3 Judge
Portland, Oregon


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