Cranial Insertion: Oh, What a Tangled Web we Mirrorweave



Cranial Insertion
Oh, What a Tangled Web we Mirrorweave

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

Questions abound this Monday morning. There are always many questions flittering around the Magical landscape (and our mailbox), but one card has generated more questions than any other recently. So many questions, in fact, that it’s started monopolizing rules forums and giving us pause when a question in the mailbox is about something else. And for once, the card in question isn’t Squire. For the last time, we don’t know why they made it suck so badly, either.

We’re not doing a lot with the mailbag this week, since this is a single-topic column. Keep the questions coming, though... we’ll need plenty to choose from in the weeks before Eventide drops. Send all your Magical queries to [email][email protected][/email].

As you probably figured out by the subtitle above, Mirrorweave is the confusing card in question. (If you didn’t figure that out from the subtitle, no I wasn’t just being cheeky with it. For once.) Mirrorweave has been generating a lot of questions recently, both on the forums here and among players at our local events. To try and handle these questions, we’re devoting this column to the quirks and wonders of Mirrorweave. It slices! It dices! It does some other word that rhymes with “slices!” It confuses players the world over!





When first we practice to make kithkin
Q: If I’m being attacked by several creatures and I play Mirrorweave targeting a 0-power creature like Birds of Paradise, what happens?

A: Then you make each other creature into Birds of Paradise. If you did this before combat damage went onto the stack, then, barring something boosting any creature’s power, it looks like you’re taking no damage. If you played Mirrorweave after damage went onto the stack, then you might want to read up on the combat phase. May I suggest studying the Paradoxes of Defense?




Q: OK, same situation, but the attacking player plays Giant Growth on one of his creatures in response to my Mirrorweave. What happens?

A: Then he has a 3/4 Birds of Paradise and some number of 0/1 Birds. Even though Giant Growth will resolve first, giving the creature in its original form +3/+3, that bonus will continue to apply when the creature is cleverly disguised in its bird suit.




Q: What happens if Mirrorweave is used to copy a creature with defender after attackers have been declared?

A: Then the creatures attacking cheer at finally breaking free of the bonds of defender. The defender ability simply prevents a creature from being declared as an attacker. If an attacking creature somehow gains defender, it’s still attacking, though it’s probably confused about the whole situation.




Q: My opponent plays Mirrorweave, targeting my Wild Mongrel. In response, I discard a card to make my Mongrel 3/3 and Blue. What will all the other creatures be when Mirrorweave resolves?

A: They will be 2/2 Green creatures named Wild Mongrel. The original will be a 3/3 Blue creature, but the other creatures don’t get those benefits (they do get the discard ability, of course). Copy effects copy the printed values on the card—modified by a few specific things, as you’ll see below, but Mongrel abilities are not among the few things that modify a copy effect.

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.


So the only things that modify copy effects are other copy effects, as-CIP and as-turned-face-up abilities that set characteristics, and the values for face-down objects. If none of those are at work, a copy of a creature is a copy of what’s printed on the card.




Q: With all the counters running around, what happens if Mirrorweave targets a creature with a -1/-1 counter on it?

A: The counter is not copied. Any counters which may already be on the other creatures will still apply once they’ve changed shape, but that’s it.





"I see your copy effect!"
"No, I see your copy effect!"
Q: So what happens if I use Mirrorweave to copy a Clone that’s copying something else, like a Ravenous Baloth?

A: Then each player has some number of hungry hungry hippos beasts. The copiable values of a creature are modified by other copy effects. The Clone is a Ravenous Baloth, so if you target it with Mirrorweave, you’re turning all other creatures into Ravenous Baloths.




Q: If I target an animated Treetop Village with Mirrorweave, do I get a bunch of 3/3 Apes?

A: Nope, you get a bunch of Treetop Villages. Unanimated Treetop Villages, to be specific. Remember that copy effects generally copy only what’s printed on the card, which, in the case of Treetop Village, is a land that has an ability to become a 3/3 creature. Just because it was animated when it was copied doesn’t mean anything, since copy effects don’t “see” that.




Q: So the same is true for an animated artifact, like Phyrexian Totem?

A: Yes. If an animated Phyrexian Totem is Mirrorweaved, you’ll be making a bunch of unanimated Totems.




Q: So if Mirrorweave is played during combat, and attacking creatures are turned into unanimated man-lands, are they removed from combat?

A: Yes. If a creature stops being a creature, it’s removed from combat.

306.4. A creature or planeswalker is removed from combat if it leaves play (such as by being destroyed or removed from the game); if its controller changes; if it stops being a creature or planeswalker, respectively; or if an effect removes it from combat.





Q: If I use Mirrorweave to copy a creature with vanishing, the copies will have the ability but not the time counters, right?

A: Correct. They’ll have the vanishing ability since it’s part of the copied creature, but they won’t get either the initial number of time counters or any time counters the targeted creature had on it at the time.




Q: So since they have no time counters, they get sacrificed, right?

A: Not so much. It’s true that the vanishing ability is copied, and that the copy creatures have no time counters. However, a creature with vanishing is only sacrificed when the last time counter is removed. Simply having no time counters isn’t going to do it.




Q: If the creature I target with Mirrorweave is destroyed in response, what will Mirrorweave copy?

A: It will copy nothing. And nothing is a pretty sucky creature. Mirrorweave is a spell with one target, and if that target is invalid when it resolves, then it gets countered upon resolution.




Q: If I cast Mirrorweave targeting my opponent’s Suntail Hawk, will creatures that come into play later that turn also be Suntail Hawks?

A: No. Creatures that come into play later in the turn aren’t affected by Mirrorweave. Mirrorweave only affects the set of objects that are creatures when it resolves. Any creatures coming into play later in the turn, or man-lands getting animated later in the turn, will have their normal characteristics.





When does 8 not equal 8?
Q: My opponent controls Akroma, Angel of Wrath and a 1/1 Saproling token. If I cast Mirrorweave targeting the token, will I be able to Smother his Akroma?

A: Break out the pillows and re-enact that scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Oh . . . I hope I didn’t spoil that movie for anyone. Um, Jack Nicholson lives, and goes on to own a farm awash in sunshine, flowers, and puppies. Yay! Anyway, one of the characteristics that gets copied is mana cost. Since tokens usually have no mana cost (and thus, a converted mana cost of 0), that means Akroma now has a CMC of 0. And that very useful protection from black ability got wiped out when she squeezed into her Saproling costume. Smother away!




Q: I control a Suntail Hawk with a +1/+1 counter on it, and my opponent controls an Aquamoeba (which he has activated once this turn) and a Glorious Anthem. If I play Mirrorweave targeting the Aquamoeba, what does my Suntail Hawk turn out to be?

A: It’s a 2/4 with the discard ability. Remember, copy effects operate in layer 1, so they copy what’s printed on the card, with a few exceptions that don’t apply here. Nor does your opponent’s Glorious Anthem. Your Suntail Hawk gets the fastest wing clipping ever, becomes a 1/3, then gets a boost from its +1/+1 counter to be a 2/4.




Q: If I have an animated Mutavault, then my opponent casts Mirrorweave targeting his Hill Giant, will my Mutavault still be a land?

A: It will not. “It’s still a land” doesn’t mean Mutavault has a type of Land Creature, nor does it mean that the land type is added; it just means that the card retains its previous type. In this case, its previous type was creature, and it retains that previous type. The land type is forgotten, at least until it de-animates.

212.1c Some effects change an object’s card type, supertype, or subtype but specify that the object retains a prior card type, supertype, or subtype. In such cases, all the object’s prior card types, supertypes, and subtypes are retained. This rule applies to effects that use the phrase “in addition to its types” or that state that something is “still a [card type].” Some effects state that an object becomes an “artifact creature”; these effects also allow the object to retain all of its prior card types and subtypes.


You may think this is unintuitive, and I'm with you on that, but that really is how it works.




Q: I attack with a Grizzly Bears, a Hill Giant, and a Spawnwrithe. All of them are unblocked. If I play Mirrorweave targeting Spawnwrithe, do I get three Spawnwrithe tokens, or a token of each of my creatures as they normally exist?

A: Variety may be the spice of life, but it is not the spice of Mirrorweave. When Spawnwrithe’s ability resolves, it checks its current copiable values and produces a token with those same values. In this case, your three creatures that dealt damage were Spawnwrithes, so you’ll get three token Spawnwrithes when those abilities resolve.




Q: What if I have three Spawnwrithes that have stacked combat damage against my opponent, and he Mirrorweaves them into Grizzly Bears?

A: Then you’ll become the proud (OK, probably not so proud) owner of three Grizzly Bears tokens. If Spawnwrithe’s ability triggers, then Spawnwrithe becomes a copy of something else, the something else will be used to determine the token’s copiable values. Remember that copy effects see other copy effects, and that Spawnwrithe’s ability doesn’t determine copiable values until it resolves. By then, the Spawnwrithes have long since been Grizzly Bears.




Q: White Knight deals first strike damage to me. If I use Mirrorweave, targeting the Knight, does that mean all of my opponent’s creatures that would deal regular damage don’t, since they now have first strike?

A: Nice try, but no. The creatures that assign damage in the regular combat damage step are those with double strike and those that didn’t assign any in the first strike damage step. Since the brand-new White Knights didn’t assign any first strike damage, they’ll still get in there for regular damage.

502.2b At the start of the combat damage step, if at least one attacking or blocking creature has first strike or double strike (see rule 502.28), creatures without first strike or double strike don't assign combat damage. Instead of proceeding to end of combat, the phase gets a second combat damage step to handle the remaining creatures. In the second combat damage step, surviving attackers and blockers that didn't assign combat damage in the first step, plus any creatures with double strike, assign their combat damage.






OK, who the hell is Glen Elendra, and
am I supposed to be devoted to him?
Q: I play Devoted Druid’s untap ability, then my opponent casts Mirrorweave targeting his Sentinels of Glen Elendra. Will I still get to untap what was my Devoted Druid when its ability resolves?

A: Yes, you will. It’s still the same object, even if its name and a whole bunch of other things have changed. Devoted Druid may be horrified by its new appearance (and by the fact that it’s neither devoted nor a druid any longer), but it still untaps. When a card refers to itself by name, it really means “this object.”




Q: My opponent has three vanilla creatures and a 5/5. I have two 1/1 tokens. He plays Mirrorweave, making everything into a copy of his 5/5, and attacks. I block, then play my own Mirrorweave, targeting one of my tokens. Are all creatures 5/5 or 1/1?

A: They’ll still be 5/5. Copy effects take other copy effects into account. Your tokens, which were originally 1/1’s, were injected with steroids and put on a quick weight training program when Mirrorweave resolved. The token you targeted was a 5/5, so your Mirrorweave isn’t going to change the P/T of the creatures you’re looking at from across the table.




Q: I play a Shriekmaw with evoke. My opponent plays Mirrorweave and makes all other creatures into Shriekmaws. He says they’ll all be sacrificed. Is that true?

A: Only if every other creature happened to be played with evoke that turn. Since the odds of that are vanishingly small, I’m going to say no. While the evoke ability is copied, “sacrifice me if you paid the evoke cost” is an ability that triggers from a very specific event. Since that event is only happening to Shriekmaw, it’s the only creature that gets sacrificed.




Q: I control Vesuvan Doppleganger, which is presently copying my Grizzly Bears. If I play Mirrorweave targeting my Doppleganger, what will be the characteristics of all creatures?

A: They’ll be interesting. Everything will be a 2/2 blue Grizzly Bears with the ability, “At the beginning of your upkeep, you may have this creature become a copy of target creature except for its color. If you do, this creature gains this ability.” Mirrorweave copies the printed values of an object, along with any other copy effects already messing with that object, including any side effects or exceptions to that copy effect.




Q: I have an animated Mutavault and a Cloudthresher. I play Mirrorweave targeting Cloudthresher. What does my man-land look like?

A: It looks like a 2/2 Cloudthresher with all creature types. This requires going through the layers, so let’s do that.

1: Copy—Mutavault becomes a 7/7 Cloudthresher (creature type: elemental).
2: Control—Nothing
3: Text—Nothing
4: Type—Mutavault’s animation ability gives it all creature types.
5: Other—Nothing
6: P/T—Mutavault’s animation ability makes it a 2/2.

Remember that you have to go through the layers anytime you need to determine what an object really looks like.




That’s all we have for this edition of CI. While I hope we’ve answered a lot of questions about this card (thanks to Diane for contributing some of the above), I’m sure there are still more questions out there about it. That’s why we have a Magic Rulings forum, though.

Next week: Robe of Mirrors lobbies to get in on all of this crazy fun.

-Tom Fowler

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