Cranial Insertion: We Demand an en-Kor

Cranial Insertion
We Demand an en-Kor
or, Play It Again, Saffi

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

This week was a strange one for the [email][email protected][/email] mailbox. We heard from possibly the smallest number of different readers yet, but received a slew of great questions from them!

This week we'll be starting with a few tournament procedural questions, but rest assured that Nomads and Walls will make an appearance soon enough... and even Licids. (Get your involuntary shuddering out of the way now!)

Q:I am late for my match for more than 3 minutes (or what the time limit is for getting a game loss). Should the judge lift the penalty if i give him a reasonable excuse - for example, if I was in a toilet?

A: The time allowed between the beginning of a round and the first game loss for tardiness varies from tournament to tournament; at Pro Tours it can be as short as . . . well, nonexistent. Judges will usually be willing to accommodate you if you show up at the table on time and inform both the judge and your opponent that you have "biological" needs, as the alternatives aren't too pleasant. This is a courtesy, though, and not something you should always expect -- there's usually plenty of time between rounds to use the facilities.

Q: My friend always plays with his own foil Unhinged basic lands during a draft. Would this be tolerated at the highest level of play?

A: I'll answer this the same way I answer most of these kinds of questions: always ask the head judge at the tournament you're about to participate in if there's any doubt about what will be allowed.

That said, at higher-level events this would almost certainly not be allowed; to prevent the possibility of marked cards most such tournaments allow only the use of lands supplied by those running the tournament.

Q: Due to miscommunication, my opponent is left with 1 life instead of being dead. We remember that a few turns later. Can I argue he should lose?

A: According to the DCI Penalty Guidelines, one of two rules was infracted here: either "Game Play Error - Missed Trigger" (if the life loss was due to an improperly resolved triggered ability like that of Phyrexian Arena) or "Game Play Error - Game Rule Violation" (for just about everything else).

The only time a judge would force that life loss on that player would be in the case of a missed trigger that was caught before a complete turn cycle had finished: in other words, before that player had started his next turn after making the error.

The correct course of action for a judge in this case would be to issue a Warning for the appropriate rule to the player who should have had 0 life, and to also issue a Warning to the opponent for "Game Play Error - Failure to Maintain Game State" for not calling a judge immediately.

Q: I have a Nacatl War-Pride and my opponent has some creatures. I play Tromp the Domains (or any other pump spell). Will the copies of War-Pride have trample and be pumped? What about if I have Gaea's Anthem?

A: When an effect copies a creature, it only copies the printed characteristics of that creature or the characteristics defined by the effect that created it if it's a token creature, and other copy effects on that creature. Since neither Tromp the Domains nor Gaea's Anthem are copy effects, they're not taken into account when determining the base characteristics of the War-Pride copies. Gaea's Anthem will still apply to the new tokens after their base characteristics are established, however.

Q:I have Saffi Eriksdotter in play and play Crypt Champion. It resolves. I say that I'll target him with Saffi's ability and will perform that loop. My opponent then Trickbinds it, but because I'm the controller of Champion, I put his sacrifice ability first, then his Zombify effect, so I can bring Saffi back and continue the loop. My opponent argues that i didn't announce the order of Champ's triggers. What do we do?

A: The confusion here is the apparent result of a miscommunication due to you not following the correct order of operations. You should have declared the order of the Champion's triggers immediately when they went on the stack instead of having both you and your opponent assume a specific order.

The most likely course of action a judge would take here is to "rewind" to the point where you put the Champion's abilities on the stack and ensure that you do it in the correct manner.

There is a Player Communications Policy coming out soon that will shed light on many scenarios, so be on the look for it at the DCI page.

Q: Can I sacrifice a Wall of Roots with four counters on it to Elvish Skysweeper's ability, while also paying for it by putting the last counter on it to make it a 0/0? I figured it could be done because state-based effects aren't checked while playing an ability.

A: In a rare Magic case of having your cake and eating it too, this is a legal play. State-based effects indeed are not checked during the playing of a spell or ability, so when you get to the "pay costs" part of playing a spell, you can play the Wall's mana ability making it a 0/0, then sacrifice it to the other part of the cost.

Q: My opponent tries to Sudden Shock a 2/2 creature. Can I save the creature by tapping a land fortified with Darksteel Garrison?

A: You can as long as you're tapping the land to play a mana ability. Split second doesn't stop players from playing mana abilities, nor does it interfere with any triggered abilities that might be above it on the stack.

Q: I control a Pyromancer’s Swath and play Sickening Dreams, discarding 0 cards. Will it deal 2 damage to each creature and each player or 0 damage to each
creature and each player?

A: Sickening Dreams still won't deal any damage. Rule 419.5a explains why:

419.5a If a source would deal 0 damage, it does not deal damage at all. That means abilities that trigger on damage being dealt won’t trigger. It also means that replacement effects that increase damage dealt have no event to replace, so they have no effect.

As Pyromancer's Swath is a replacement effect that alters damage dealt, it won't kick in if there's no damage to replace.

This doesn't have much to do
with the question, but who doesn't
like ice cream?

Q: If I’m flipping two coins, due to the effect of Krark’s Thumb, do both flips have the potential to gain me a luck counter on Chance Encounter, or only the flip that I choose not to ignore?

A: When you ignore a flip, you ignore it for all purposes; the ignored flip effectively didn't happen. So you can't double dip on Chance Encounter.

Q: If I use Spike Drone’s ability, targeting itself, does it die before the ability can resolve?

A: Assuming nothing else is boosting the Drone's toughness, then yes. State-based effects will be checked just before you gain priority after playing the Drone's ability, and see a creature with 0 toughness in play. It will be put into your graveyard and the ability will be countered on resolution as its target is no longer in play.

Q: On Oath of Druids, does the phrase “fewer creatures than any of his or her opponents” does that mean it triggers only if all of the player’s opponents have more creatures, or that it triggers if any one of the player’s opponents has more creatures?

A: The latter. Oath of Druids checks the number of creatures controlled by each opponent of the active player. If any of those is greater than the number controlled by the active player, the Oath will trigger.

Q: Is paying mana to end the effect created by a Quickening Licid's ability considered the same kind of action as morphing?

A: Paying to end a Licid's effect and paying to end the effect allowing a morph creature to be in play face-down are both special actions that don't use the stack. These two special actions are covered in Rules 408.2h and 408.2i:

408.2h The controller of a face-down permanent may turn it face up. This is a special action. (See rule 504, “Face-Down Spells and Permanents.”) A player can turn a face-down permanent face up only when he or she has priority. That player gets priority after this special action.

408.2i Some effects allow a player to take an action at a later time, usually to end a continuous effect or to stop a delayed triggered ability. This is a special action. A player can end a continuous effect or stop a delayed triggered ability only if the effect or ability allows it and only when he or she has priority. The player who took the action gets priority after this special action.

Q: The Stronghold FAQ on WOTC’s website says this:

Q: Can en-Kor creatures redirect damage back to themselves?

A: Yes, and this can be important. For example, if Justice is in play and your opponent Kindles your en-Kor, you can keep redirecting the Kindle's damage to have Justice do a huge amount of damage back to your opponent. Also, if you use an en-Kor to block a creature with trample, you can redirect the damage dealt to the en-Kor back to itself until no damage from the attacking creature is left to "trample through" to you.

Does this actually work under the current rules?

A: Neither of those tricks work anymore. The rules have changed substantially since Stronghold, which predates Sixth Edition.

Under older rules, the attacking player chose a single blocking creature to take an attacking creature's combat damage. If that attacking creature had trample, and the damage dealt was more than enough to kill the blocking creature, the extra damage "trampled over" to the defending player.

When combat damage was redirected, it was no longer tied to its original source but instead was considered to come from the spell or ability redirecting it. The en-Kor (let's use Nomad en-Kor as an example) effectively "laundered" the damage coming from the trampling creature into damage coming from itself; since a creature couldn't trample over itself, the additional damage was not applied to the defending player.

This "replacement" of old damage with damage from a new source is also what allowed the Justice trick to work. Since every use of the ability led to new damage being dealt, it lead to Justice triggering again.

Both of these tricks have been removed by Sixth Edition rules. Redirected damage is still linked back to its original source, and is not considered new damage. Therefore, the Justice trick no longer works because it waits until the damage is dealt and any relevant state-based effects are processed before triggering.

Trample damage is also handled differently, with the "excess" damage from the attacking creature being assigned directly to the player instead of having to "trample through" the defending creature first. This prevents the en-Kor from manipulating damage already assigned elsewhere.

Tom's up next week, so please give him something to write about by keeping those questions coming! I'll be back in three weeks, and here's a preview:



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