Cranial Insertion: Swimming in the Reflecting Pool

Swimming in the Reflecting Pool
By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

Random plug!
Eventide Prereleases are in the books; and by the time you read this, Launch Parties will be finished, too. We’ve gotten a bunch of questions, both in person and to the trusty mailbox, and we’ll be unloading those today. Eventide is now legal for Constructed play, meaning there are about 18648712194631 cards in the Block Constructed cardpool. Unfortunately, none of them help you beat Faeries. Frown

We have questions about more than just Eventide today. If you have a question, send it to us at [email][email protected][/email]. We’ll send you an answer, and you just might get to see your question in the column.

Incidentally, am I the only one who remembers Rubies of Eventide?

Q: If Stigma Lasher deals damage to an opponent in a subgame created by Shahrazad, can that player gain life in the main-game? Similarly, If Stigma Lasher deals damage to an opponent in the main-game, will its abilities apply in sub-games?

A: Shahrazad is banned and everyone hates it. Including me. The end.

Q: Frown

A: Oh, all right. Stigma Lasher’s ability only applies in the specific game (or subgame) in which it triggered and resolved. A Stigma Lasher preventing a player from gaining life in the main game has no effect on that player trying to gain life in the subgame, and vice versa.

Q: If I have a 3/3 creature hit with Puncture Blast, do I have a chance to use Quillspike and remove the counters, thus saving my creature?

A: No. After Puncture Blast resolves, state-based effects will see a creature with 0 toughness loitering in play. They’ll then drag it off to the graveyard for a fine and a sentencing hearing. All of that happens before you get priority to play Quillspike’s ability.

Did you forget to read the card too?
I did. -Ed.

Q: I have Overbeing of Myth in play and an opponent forces me to discard the last card in my hand, Wilt-leaf Liege. Assuming no other toughness-increasing effects, what happens and why?

A: If it were any other creature being discarded into play, your Overbeing would bound for Valhalla, or wherever Overbeings of Myth go when they die in Dominaria. Maybe Karakas. Anyway, the reason is because state-based effects are checked after the discard spell or ability resolves. At that point, Overbeing of Myth has a toughness of 1 because Wilt-Leaf Liege is in play. The Overbeing will survive this particular instance of you having no cards in your hand. It looks like he'll have to reschedule that trip to Karakas.

Q: I control some attacking creature. My opponent Snakeforms my creature, draws his card, and then blocks with some 2/2. If I use Cauldron Haze to give my creature persist, will he be a 1/1 green snake and die when he returns? Or will he return to the P/T printed?

A: When your creature comes back into play, it will have shed its snake skin and returned to its original characteristics. Once the creature hits the graveyard, it’s no longer considered to be the same object that got turned into a snake when it was in play. When it returns to play, it will look like it normally does, with the addition of a -1/-1 counter.

Q: I control five tokens from Bitterblossom, one Nantuko Husk, and two untapped lands. I sacrifice all my tokens to the Husk and swing for lethal. Before blockers are declared, I flash Temporal Isolation into play, targeting my Husk. The Husk goes unblocked. Then, with combat damage on the stack, I sacrifice the Husk to itself to allow the damage to go through. Is this play legal?

A: Legal, yes, with bonus points for being sneaky. You still have to assign combat damage, even if it’s going to be prevented. If Temporal Isolation isn’t in play when that combat damage assignment resolves, then it’s not going to prevent anything.

Q: If, my opponent casts a Pact of Negation during my turn, and I use Mindslaver's ability on him/her, can I choose not to pay the 3UU, and make him lose the game?

A: Yes, that's fine. You're making the decisions for your opponent's turn, including what to do when his triggered abilities resolve. Or what not to do, in the case of, “pay me or you lose the game!” If you have him not pay the mana, he loses the game. DIABOLICAL~!

A face only Timmy could love.
Q: It seems the intent of Deathbringer Liege is that when you play a spell of both colors, you tap the creature with the white ability and then destroy it with the black ability. However, I’ve often read here that you are supposed to do the actions in the order listed on the card. If the abilities are put on the stack in the order they are written, the white one will go on first, then the black one. The black one resolves first and sees an untapped creature. Can you alter the order of the abilities? How do you stack the triggers?

A: “Follow the instructions in the order written on the card” is generally what gets done. That’s for spells instructing you to do more than one thing. So, if a spell read, “Destroy target enchantment. Put a 1/1 green cat creature token into play. You gain 2 life,” you would do those things in that order.

In the case of the Liege, though, we’re talking about triggered abilities. Because you control both of these triggers, you can put them on the stack in the order of your choosing. Strategically, the best way to do this is to stack the “black” ability, then the “white” one. The white one will resolve first, tapping the targeted creature. Then the black ability will resolve and see that the creature is tapped, destroying it.

Bonus: The Liege’s fourth ability does not have a targeting restriction (which would say, “destroy target tapped creature”), nor does it have an intervening-if clause in the ability (which would say, “Whenever you play a black spell, if target creature is tapped, you may destroy it”). When the ability resolves, if the targeted creature is tapped, then it’s destroyed. If it’s not tapped, then the ability simply doesn’t do anything.

Q: Pyrrhic Revival says that each player returns all creature cards to play with an additional -1/-1 counter.
Oona's Blackguard says Rogue creatures you control come into play with an additional +1/+1 counter.

If Blackguard would be in my graveyard, along with a couple of other Rogue creatures, would they get the bonus from Oona's Blackguard, or would it be dead because of SBEs before she can even give the bonus to the others? And, if I would have any 1 toughness creatures in my yard, would they get the bonus from the Blackguard?

A: Blackguards are evil. In addition to smiting random commoners and wearing grossly mismatched socks, they also refuse to give +1/+1 counters to your other creatures in this situation. It’s not because the Blackguard dies right away (though that does happen); it’s because it’s not in play before all those other rogues are coming into play.

Ha ha it's so cute AAAAH

Q: What is the difference between a comma and a colon in card text? I am questioning the Devoted Druid / Quillspike combo. How big can this beasty get? I had thought a comma indicated a "once per turn" activation while a colon designated a limitless activation as long as you had the appropriate resources?

A: The rule for activated abilities is that you can play them as many times per turn as you can pay their activation costs, unless something says otherwise. The purpose of a comma is to separate the various parts of the activation cost. The purpose of a colon is to separate the cost from the effect. The purpose of a coma is for you to catch up on your naps while your opponent combos you out.

Q: Can you please explain the interaction between Time Vault and Rings of Brighthearth?

A: Basically, they interact how you would expect them to: Time Vault tries to be nice and friendly, while Rings of Brighthearth reads its Oracle text vs. its printed text and falls over dead from confusion.

OK, maybe I’m too big a fan of “interact” jokes. When you activate Time Vault, Rings of Brighthearth will trigger. When that trigger resolves, you have the option to pay :2mana:. If you do, you get another copy of Time Vault’s take-another-turn ability, giving you two extra turns after the current one ends.

Bonus: If it matters, you take the most recently-created extra turn first, which will be the one from the copy.

Q: I thought that the "When the last time counter is removed from this permanent, sacrifice it" sentence of the Vanishing keyword only applies to when the last time counter is removed by the "At the beginning of your upkeep," trigger. Can a card like Æther Snap cause time counters to be removed and then cause creatures with Vanishing to be sacrificed?

A: Yes. The most common cause of removing the last time counter from a creature with Vanishing is the upkeep trigger. However, the rules of Vanishing don’t specify that the last counter has to be removed this way to cause the sacrifice trigger. Regardless how the last time counter comes off, when it does, the sacrifice ability will trigger.

502.60. Vanishing

502.60a Vanishing is a keyword that represents three abilities. “Vanishing N” means “This permanent comes into play with N time counters on it,” “At the beginning of your upkeep, if this permanent has a time counter on it, remove a time counter from it,” and “When the last time counter is removed from this permanent, sacrifice it.”

502.60b Vanishing without a number means “At the beginning of your upkeep, if this permanent has a time counter on it, remove a time counter from it” and “When the last time counter is removed from this permanent, sacrifice it.”

Some enchaanted eeeveniiing...
You may see a combooo...

Q: I have Opal Titan in play and my opponent plays a creature spell, making the Titan a creature. Then I play Enchanted Evening. If he plays another creature spell, when Opal Titan's ability triggers again, does he keep his old protection in addition to the new protection ability?

A: It’s always interesting when questions about older cards surface in light of cards recently printed. In this case, the Titan will pick up some more protection abilities. Nothing in the ability says that it overwrites any other protection ability the Titan may have acquired. If it gains pro-black because a black creature was played, and your opponent then plays Boggart Ram Gang, the Titan will have protection from black, red, and green. After that, though, it's just a creature and won't trigger anymore.

Q: If I have a planeswalker that is also a creature and it takes damage from a creature with wither, does it lose loyalty counters and get -1/-1, or does it just get -1/-1 counters?

A: It will get both. One of the rules for planeswalkers is that damage they receive causes them to lose loyalty counters. If the damage is from a source with wither, it will also put some -1/-1 counters on the planeswalker-creature. These things aren’t mutually exclusive, so both will happen.

Q: Gilder Bairn can effectively double any kind of counter, correct? So that lets me win quicker with Helix Pinnacle?

A: The last four sets may be awash in +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters (at least until state-based effects make them cancel each other out), but Gilder Bairn isn’t limited to those. It will pile on any type of counter that a permanent has, which means you can speed up your Helix Pinnacle kill by a few turns. Or you could, if Helix Pinnacle didn't have shroud. I guess WOTC didn't want the latest "you win" card to fall victim to the Disenchant family. The downside of this is that you can't get too clever with it, either.

Q: I heard that the “could produce” rule of mana was changed. Does this mean Vivid lands and Reflecting Pool don’t interact as well anymore?

A: That interaction hasn’t changed. Here is the entry explaining “could produce” in the CR glossary definition of “mana.”

The type of mana a permanent “could produce” at any time includes any type of mana that an ability of that permanent would generate if it were to resolve at that time, taking into account any applicable replacement effects in any possible order. Ignore whether any costs of the ability couldn’t be paid. If that permanent wouldn’t produce any mana under these conditions, or no type of mana can be defined this way, there’s no type of mana that that permanent could produce.

Compare this to the same entry in the previous edition of the CR:

The type of mana a permanent “could produce” at any time includes any type of mana that an ability of that permanent could generate if it were to resolve at that time, taking into account any applicable replacement effects in any possible order. Ignore whether any costs of the ability could be paid. If no type of mana can be defined this way, there’s no type of mana that that permanent could produce.

Yes, it really does have Shroud.
The important addition is the “if that permanent wouldn’t produce any mana under these conditions . . . “ clause. That means that Reflecting Pool won’t be able to tap for green mana if you have a Gaea’s Cradle but no creatures, or for blue mana if you have Tolarian Academy but no artifacts. A counter-less Vivid land still lets Reflecting Pool tap Reflecting Pool for any color, since you still ignore whether the cost (removing a counter) of the ability could be played.

Q: What about storage lands, like Dreadship Reef? Does Reflecting Pool still work the same way with them?

A: It does. Even if you can’t pay the cost of the ability that would allow you make some amount of blue mana or :symb:, you can still generate those colors with Reflecting Pool.

That’s all we have for this edition of CI.

Next week: what happens when a Reflection token looks into a Reflecting Pool?

-Tom Fowler


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