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Unstable Q&A with Mark Rosewater
 
The Dos and Don'ts of Silver-Border Commander
 
Word of Command: Un-believable
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Think of Walking Ballista as a pseudo removal spell. It messes with combat math, and can be a huge blow out if the opponent doesn't account for it or doesn't know you're sand bagging one in hand. It's a game changer against aggro, not only removing multiple creatures while potentially surviving itself, but it can even block then ping. It can stop life gain from happening by sacrificing itself after chump blocking, causing them to lose life in the exchange instead of gain. It's a very versatile creature, and I agree with chaos021 that we must be the aggressor. We aren't Ramunap Red aggressor, but keeping our opponent off their game while playing into our synergies is how we roll over the opponent. Walking Ballista has so much versatility, even in the early game, and especially in the late game when we have mana to pump, that it can control the game by itself. Very slowly, but it can do it. So how do I feel about removing it? I think it won't be felt in some match-ups, but others, the loss will be extremely painful. Temur is one of those match-ups, as Whirler Virtuoso is a pain. Removing thopters can be huge. Pinging Planeswalkers can be huge, especially if it gets it off the board or stops an ultimate for that one extra turn. It's one of the reasons I still run Rhonas, is to be able to trample through damage with our fatties when the board is stalled.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from SmauG »
    Quote from DRay563 »
    Quote from SmauG »
    I'd like to respond to your comment about Scavenger. In fact, I'm considering it as a one off main for an opcomming tuurnament (will report afterwards) with another two in the side. Thing is, I can't decide what to take out.

    The card is very good in most matches. Gaining you life against aggro and targeted removal and keeping various decks that abuse the graveyard in check like GPG, control, scarab gods and grow lists. All while putting preasure on the opponents life total and has a gigantic target on its back. It's just that versatile.
    Only ceveat, it's not very synergystic and would take a very synergistic card to be taken out.

    Being a 3-drop, you want to take out one of your lower end cards. You could consider cutting a Rogue Refiner, since it's a one-shot energy card. If you're less concerned about aggro, you could drop a Walking Ballista.


    That's the thing right there, I'm having difficulties cutting any refiners or rishkars for that matter as I consider them to be core elements to the deck.
    Refiner is mush more than a one shot energy card. It's a roadblock or extra attacker while replacing itself and is another great T3 play after Cub.

    I allready play a version where I favour 3 Hydra's over 3 Ballista's.

    I guess I can live with one less Siphoner but have no options left to test.

    I know the value of Rogue Refiner, but if you read about Seth Manfield and his sideboarding plan, he had been advised by his team that on certain match-ups, he was to board out all four. Why? While Refiner has a function in the deck, other cards can just be better in certain match-ups. This is not a discussion regarding the value of Refiner, but rather, the value of Refiner as compared to Deathgorge Scavenger in your specific meta (and to a degree the meta at large). Side by side comparison, Refiner provides more synergy and card advantage, but Scavenger provides better aggro, life gain, and helps mitigate certain strategies. If you're worried about GPG, you'd rather be packing 4 Scavengers over 4 Refiners. Same goes for virtually any aggro match-up, as the life gain can be huge. If you're going up against mid-range, they're both good, but Refiner is arguably better because of the synergy factor.

    I have argued in the past, and it's still true, that this is a synergy deck. Scavenger is a SB card to me because its not synergistic. G1 should be all about our synergy. But, if your meta is full of certain match-ups where other cards (like Scavenger) significantly improve your G1 percent win, then by all means, find what you consider to be the weak link in your deck, synergy-wise, and replace it. You'll have to live with your changes, not me, so be sure to take my words with a grain of salt.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from SmauG »
    Quote from TechnoWriter »
    .......

    Of the sideboard cards, the only one I'm really not sure of is Deathgorge Scavenger, simply because graveyard strategies seem to be the only decks to bring it in against. Am I mistaken there? As in, should I be bringing it in vs other decks and if so, what would come out that isn't already coming out? I spose they could come in against control because of Gearhulk silliness...


    Thanks for your insights!
    I'd like to respond to your comment about Scavenger. In fact, I'm considering it as a one off main for an opcomming tuurnament (will report afterwards) with another two in the side. Thing is, I can't decide what to take out.

    The card is very good in most matches. Gaining you life against aggro and targeted removal and keeping various decks that abuse the graveyard in check like GPG, control, scarab gods and grow lists. All while putting preasure on the opponents life total and has a gigantic target on its back. It's just that versatile.
    Only ceveat, it's not very synergystic and would take a very synergistic card to be taken out.

    Being a 3-drop, you want to take out one of your lower end cards. You could consider cutting a Rogue Refiner, since it's a one-shot energy card. If you're less concerned about aggro, you could drop a Walking Ballista.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from TechnoWriter »
    Totally get that.

    I guess what I'm asking with my recent questions is more of a big picture thing: what is this deck's defined role? By way of framing, Ram Red is the beatdown basically 100% of the time, Approach is the control 100% of the time. Temur is arguably this format's primary midrange deck. Where does that put Sultai?

    My recent play and building experience is that we are trying to be a "deck of all trades". I've seen it posited around other forums as well as here that we try to build to have no truly terrible matchups, with the flip side being that we have to fight harder for more of our wins. I would also argue that we have a bit of an identity crisis. Longtusk Cub, Winding Constrictor, Glint-Sleeve Siohoner and Blossoming Defense suggest that we want to be the beatdown, but then we start adding things like Hostage Taker which is decidedly not an aggro card, and Scarab God which further pushes us to the late game where frankly I'm not sure is where we want to be. As DRay said above, Temur is the premier deck right now, and given that it solidly occupies the midrange position it seems correct that we should be angling to race it. That puts a card like Hostage Taker out of consideration for me - at least in the main - in favour of adding more aggression. And yes, that does go against the disruption idea I floated earlier.

    On the other ends of the spectrum, if we build to get under Temur - which I think mostly means outgrowing them - what does that do to our game against RR, which is arguably faster than us, or Approach, which we may or may not have the speed to overcome? Is it just a matter of hoping we can get game 1 and then hoping to have the right sideboard? Or should we be looking at maindeck tools that can attack on multiple angles to shore up those matches a bit? Are there ways where we can maybe give up a small percentage against Temur to gain more than that against the other big decks in the environment?

    Maybe I'm rambling a bit - been a long couple days. Maybe I'm over analyzing things? Thoughts from the more experienced welcomed!

    The article that hoser2 posted is definitely worth the read. I don't agree that 3C Temur stomps on Sultai, at least, my experience has been that I can typically beat 3C Temur. I usually drop a game, but I've won 75% or better of matches against Temur. It's possible some of those were 4C Temur and I just never saw the 4th color, but they played just like 3C Temur did if that was the case.

    We actually are a jack of all trades, to a degree. It is also true that we don't have any terrible match-ups, except perhaps Approach of the Second Sun.dec, which is not unbeatable after sideboard, but definitely not the easiest match-up for us. We can be the aggressor, especially if we get Attune into Cub into Constrictor or something silly like that. We can be the more controlling deck, especially post-board, with Siphoner for card draw, Duress/Negate for disruption and control, Push and Contempt for removal, and Vraska/Scarab God for finishers. We can be a midrange deck playing value cards into bigger value cards. Temur is no different, though, which is why both of the decks are very strong decks in the meta right now.

    We go under Temur by keeping aggressive hands. You don't want G3 to have no pressure on them, or you probably just lose. Sitting around and waiting for Chandra with thopter blockers or Glorybringer to stabilize the board for them is not what needs to happen. However, trying to get too aggressive can spell disaster as well, if they have multiple removal spells in hand. This is actually the reason why Blossoming Defense is so good. It is mana efficient disruption. It doesn't play as well into Temur's plan because their goal is to use their premier removal to clear the way. They have Lightning Strike, Abrade, and Harnessed Lightning at their disposal, not to mention Chandra and Glorybringer on the higher CMC side. They just don't need Blossoming Defense. In fact, they run Servant of the Conduit to accelerate into Chandra/Glorybringer because of how strong those cards are. Notice, every card listed is a red card, and therefore outside our game plan. On the flip side, we have cards like Fatal Push and Vraska's Contempt. Sure, we can play a card like Walk the Plank if we need additional removal in the deck, but line our removal up against Temur's removal, and it pales in comparison. Fatal Push is obviously good, but we can only get 4. All their removal is 2 CMC. Contempt is 4 CMC, so we don't want 4 of that. Plank is sorcery speed and color intensive, bleh. We need instant speed to combat instant speed, thus Blossoming Defense.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from TechnoWriter »
    What would you consider to be the flex slots? It seems like what once were core cards are now bit players or non existent in most pro lists (Hydra, Greenhulk come to immediate mind), and especially for someone like me who doesn't have considerable play/testing time, it's hard to keep up with the evolution.

    I think the definition of "flex slot" is dependent on if you're running a Hostage Taker build or not. I'm making the assumption that you're running Sultai instead of some of the other variations or even straight GB, since Sultai is the list that has posted result in the meta. Here's my iteration of the deck as compared to Seth Manfield's pro tour decklist:

    Sideboard aside, here is an analysis of each #-drop of the deck:
    • One-drop slot - Some question the value of all 4 Fatal Pushes, but I don't see this as a flex spot so long as Ramunap Red is around. If you're running fewer Hostage Takers, you may not need all the Blossoming Defenses (notice my list runs 3 instead of 4). If you run more lands, you might be able to get away with one fewer Attune with Aether, but the energy synergy is important, so it probably shouldn't be less than 3.
    • Two-drop slot - Most everyone runs 4 Walking Ballistas, 4 Winding Constrictors, 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoners, and 4 Longtusk Cubs. Ballista is considered a flex slot by some if aggro is less prominent in the format.
    • Three-drop slot - Most lists run Rishkar, Peema Renegade as a 2-of in their 3-drop slot as well as 4 Rogue Refiner. I personally dropped Rishkar a while back, so I don't consider him a core card, but the pros still run him.
    • Four-drop slot - How many Hostage Takers? Seth chose 3, I choose 2, Andrew Jessup started with 4. I like Bristling Hydra, so I opted for one fewer Hostage Taker and one less Blossoming Defense to get the Hydras in.
    • Five-drop slot - The Scarab God is the premiere finisher in the format and the primary reason to go black over red. The question is, 1 or 2 main deck?
    • Lands - 21 seems to be the magic number that people run with 4 Attunes. If you drop your curve, you might get away with 20.
    Based on the above, I could see the list of flex spots being:
    • 1 Fatal Push if you think aggro is not as likely to be present
    • 1 Blossoming Defense if only play 2 or fewer Hostage Takers
    • 1 Walking Ballista if you think aggro is not as likely to be present
    • Rishkar for another 2/3 drop creature
    • 2 Hostage Takers (I think minimum of 2 should be considered core at this point, so that leaves up 2 as flex)
    Expecting heavy aggro? Probably only have 4-5 flex cards and virtually all of them are creature based. Expecting light aggro? This affords you an extra few slots, maybe 6-7 flex cards with some spells that can be brought in with creatures. Also worth noting is that if you decide to add higher CMC cards (like Gearhulk) without removing other cards (like Scarab God), then the land count will need to go to 22.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    The problem with removing Constrictor altogether is that this deck is built around synergy. Temur is such a strong deck, a weak disruption package won't get the job done. Sultai Snek has the potential to go under Temur and finish the game before they can stabilize into their strong 4-/5-drops. A disruption package will affect them somewhat, but especially cards like Kitesail (which effectively only removes one of their MANY removal spells), it'll just delay the inevitable. The only way the disruption package works is if you are backing it with Control elements to play into a late game that's stronger than what Temur packs, at which point you might as well run UB Control.

    I think it's fine to see if you can maindeck a disruption package, but you have to use the flex slots, and Constrictor shouldn't be considered a flex spot. I am curious how maindeck disruption affects other match-ups, but since Temur is the one to beat, you shouldn't destabilize the deck against the premier deck in the format to hedge against some other decks.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Got to jam some games against Dinos last night. T3 Rhonas was just sweet every game it happened. Still don't understand why he doesn't make the cut in the pro deck? He's virtually an auto win against so many archetypes because he's so hard to answer. I had several games of T3 Rhonas into T4 Bristling Hydra, and it was GGs in 2-3 turns.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Rogue Refiner as a cantrip should not be undervalued. The energy is also quite important, but even if the energy wasn't there, we have a barely-below-rate P/T for CMC creature that replaces itself. Each creature fills a role in the deck, and Siphoner and Refiner are the card draw. Being able to hit your land drops because you're seeing extra cards is huge, as is drawing into answers or more threats. Two Refiners represent a free Divination on top of the bodies and energy. People began splashing blue because of Refiner, and since then, all the other benefits have been found (Scarab God, Negate, Hostage Taker, etc). Is he strong? Not particularly. But he fills in the 3-drop slot nicely and provides a lot of value. You might go down on the numbers if you need flex slot (-1, but I'd be reluctant to go less than 3 Refiners), but I wouldn't consider dropping them altogether.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from JaishivaJai »
    Quote from hoser2 »
    I know I don't want less than 21 land because of Mulligans. 22 seems reasonable. We can simulate 21.5 with 22 land in a 61 card deck, fwiw. I don't think I have flooded lately and screw is painful.

    I have been toying around with the number of attunes and land. My feeling is that we're better off playing fewer attunes and more lands. More land with fewer attunes can allow you to play a higher curve and keep more hands. I run 4 hyrda, 2 vraska's contempt, 1 verdurous gearhulk and 2 The scarab God. I'm not sure why more people don't run 2 the scarab god in their deck. (Perhaps it's because they feel the mana base can't support it when playing only 21 actual lands?)

    Attune was just flooding me out late game. I've tried 22 land/4 attune, 22 land/3 attune and my newest incarnation is 23 land/1 attune/2 opt/1 fetid pools. I like a copy of fetid pools instead of more attune with aether (on paper.) Pools can still help us search for a land, and allow the 3 drowned catacombs to come into play untapped. Having lands that come into play untapped turn 4/5 has been a huge boon for this deck. Opt is also a much better top deck than attune, it can also be better early game!

    The thing I find with the deck is that with 23 lands, we don't need to have access to all 3 colors to keep an opening hand. With 4 glint-sleeve siphoner, 4 rogue refiner, and now 2 opt and 1 censor, the deck will eventually draw you the mana you need to keep playing while still being able to play spells out of your hand. It seems better than playing attune to me, as attune becomes a "wasted" card slot in my opinion. When playing 3 colors, having to rely on a 1 cost card to help fix the colors can be a real setback.

    This 23 land/ 1 attune/1 opt list needs more goldfishing to see if it works. I believe the 23 land with a higher curve and 1 attune is probably right. The question I'm trying to answer is if I need to fit an evolving wild into the land base somewhere, or if I should put a ranging raptor, servant of the conduit or another opt into the mb for mana fixing.

    I'm considering censor as a 1-2 copy card mb. It can help us dig for mana, give us a great turn 2-3 play against Ramunap red and help fight control. The plan would be to switch out censor for a hard counter like negate or essence scatter games 2-3. As a bonus, an opponent who sees censor may decide to play around it the rest of the match even though we don't really rely on the card.

    Last note, Deathgorge scavenger is going into the mb in place of Rishkar, Peema renegade. Rishkar is great, but scavenger answers RR and anything playing the scarab god. I also like that it has the potential to turn on Rhonas by itself the turn it enters, but Peema cannot.

    The deck will probably be undergoing more changes soon, but here's the list right now.

    If you only think of Attune as a land grabber, then you're probably right. But in an energy deck, it's the best possible play T1. With Constrictor out, it nets us enough energy for an additional Hydra activation. This deck is built around Energy synergy, and Attune is a strong enabler. It makes the Cub a 3/3 2-drop on T2 (important for Magma Spray). It allows for a T3 card off Siphoner. It keeps Aether Hub a multi-color land for 3 turns instead of 1. It gives more lifelink potential to Harvester. It also thins the deck. By increasing the land count and dropping Attunes, you're making it more likely to flood out, less likely to have energy when desired, and diluting the focus of the deck with non-synergistic cards. Opt does not play into the strategy of the deck and neither does Censor. Your counts are also off, as you're playing 25 creatures and 12 non-creature, which is a minor discrepancy, but shows that you've dropped your creature count to accommodate weaker cards.

    As an example, you said that Opt is a better topdeck than Attune. I think that's extremely board-state dependent. If you are in a Control match-up, digging two cards deep for the right card is definitely a good thing to do. Attune does seem a little anemic at that point. But what if you are 1 point away from lethal on board with no energy in the bank and a Cub on the field? All of a sudden, Attune wins you the game that turn, instead of letting your opponent topdeck the Fumigate that you know they will get because they do every time, amirite? What if the board is stalled and the extra energy allows you to push Cub or Hydra through for damage? What if it allows you to gain much needed life from Harvester? Allows you to play more aggressive because you know you have double hexproof activation on Hydra?

    If you go back and watch Temur match-ups, you will see how Attune helps them get a jump start on the energy race so that when their energy sinks are online, they have plenty to work with. We're not different, although we don't have Virtuoso as an additional sink.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from Simto »
    Ok, I made a few tweaks for tonight.

    I swapped the Lost Legacy out for Yahenni's Expertise in the sideboard. I feel it's more capable with a boardwipe now.

    Pulled 1 Rishkar and one Hostage Taker for 2 Bristling Hydras. Not sure if removing the Rishkar was smart. He's a catalyst for explosive turns with his counters, especially if you have one or two snakes on the board.
    I'd still really like to have a third Hydra, but I don't want to remove the last Rishkar, and I really really don't want to remove a Blossoming Defense. Andrew Jessup says he'd pull one of the Defenses if he were to use Hydras in the deck. It just feels wrong to me removing even one of them. It's just such a good card, but I need firepower against temur and this deck grows big hydras.

    Still have most of the day to consider if I should put the third Hydra in... I'll report back after I've played.

    I know you said you like Gonti, but I consider him anemic in this deck. He is really powerful in a recursion deck where you can benefit from his card-stealing ability again and again, but in this deck, he's a non-synergistic card that will (most often) net you another non-synergistic card. You're often relying on the strength of your opponent's deck, which is not a great strategy. Compare him to having another Hydra, which would allow you to more often draw the Hydra... and is Gonti really worth the slot? Just my two cents for your consideration.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from hoser2 »
    Food for thought. Morose, despondent, rage-filled thought!

    The article makes it sound like this deck durdled to the top after the meta has been shuffling, but it is literally, card for card, the same maindeck as Andrew Jessup's deck that won SCG Dallas on week 1 and only two different cards in the sideboard (-1 Deathgorge Scavenger, -1 Duress, +1 Essence Scatter, +1 Vizier of Many Faces). I mean, he literally says "and in the MOCS over the weekend this spicy little number rose from the basket"... seriously? This is not a new deck! But it's clearly still a good deck, especially considering how prominent Temur is.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from hoser2 »
    With all the don't block effects in RR, I really like Shapers' Sanctuary in that matchup. I think it's OK vs UB or UR control. I don't like it against UW Control. Against Temur? I dunno. I have a fair amount of RR and UBx control in my meta, so I like one and am considering another. For your meta, it doesn't seem very useful.

    Yeah, Cartouche of Ambition seems good. Particularly on a Hydra against Ramunap Red. So, more Hydras are better along with. It's kind of embarrassing against Gonti, Gifted Aetherborn, Settle, Bontu's Last Word and Fumigate though, so I dunno. It seems like Shapers'Sanctuary: best against Ramunap Red.

    I don't like Shapers' Sanctuary against Ramunap Red unless it comes down on T1. If you can't play it on T1, it puts you off your mana curve to play it or forces you to not hold up for Fatal Push (for example, T3 Cub and Sanctuary as opposed to Cub and hold up Push or Defense). If RR plays their aggressive game, where the "don't block" effects are typically used, the extra cards rarely matter. I dropped it early in a match-up against BR aggro, and I still died on T5 despite drawing something like 4 extra cards. If you can survive the early push, the extra cards then seem winmore, unless you have literally drawn into the cards you needed to be able to survive. I mean, I understand the extra value it provides. I'm just not sure it's worth more than another early blocker, a removal spell, or a land drop.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    Quote from hoser2 »
    At the last minute, my son decided that he wanted Ballistae in his version of Mardu Vehicles. I audibled into Sultai Midrange. While it worked out, with both of us going 3-1 and cashing, I am disappointed to not be able to report anything useful.

    One of the cards that I struggled most over was Rhonas, but included one to see how it played. I am concerned about 2 Rhonas with only two of his best enabler (Bristling Hydra). I would -1 Rhonas, +1 Bristling Hydra. Otherwise, I really like your version. FWIW, I would move a Hostage Taker to the side to get the fourth Bristling Hydra in (cutting one of the 3s) and replace a Harvester with a Shapers' Sanctuary before I played it myself.

    So, you might find this amusing. At SCG Dallas, I had one opponent who used Battle at the Bridge to kill Rhonas. It's unusual seeing him in the GY (as opposed to exile), but there he lay. A turn or two later, I topdeck the 2nd Rhonas and play it. My opponent's reaction? "Can I see your GY?" He was thinking I somehow flipped the Rhonas to the top of my library! He then commented that it was unusual to see two Rhonas in the deck. I dunno, to me, good card is good, amirite?

    Anyway, I agree that Bristling Hydra is the only direct enabler (Scarab God aside), as in, doesn't need any help when it hits the board to turn him on. But every other creature in the deck (excluding Ballista for X=1) is but a single activation away from him being live. There are plenty of games where I sit back with a handful of board presence and use my mana to turn on Rhonas. Swinging in for 9 on T4 is nothing to sneeze at, so my opponent has to deal with the board at hand, allowing me to be able to hold up cards rather than playing into their strategy (e.g. Settle the Wreckage, Fumigate, etc). Granted, this is mana inefficient if I could swing in with Rhonas and further develop my board. I get that. But against control, it's actually really strong. He's also really good against other strategies that develop a strong board presence (Temur, Ramunap, tokens), allowing me to stall their attacks (5/5 Deathtouch is fantastic) as well as push through damage with the trample effect.

    I'm curious your experience that made you struggle with him. Other than the games where Control was already winning and I couldn't keep a creature on board, he has been a powerhouse for me.

    Also, why Shapers' Sanctuary? My experience with it was not great at SCG Dallas. I've even cut Lifecrafter's Bestiary from my side, which is also a great card, but I just find I need better proactive/reactive cards in the Control match-up as opposed to the slow, grindy card.

    Honestly, the biggest thing I'm concerned about with the deck is cutting Gearhulk. There were games where I was losing that I flat out just won because of that card. Being able to activate Harvester, cast Gearhulk, and dump all the counters on it closes out a game fast and makes a huge difference in the race against aggro. It's why I've opted for so many life gain cards in the SB, since I cut Harvester from the main (which might also be a mistake). But to make room for Siphoners, Hostage Takers, and Defenses, something had to give.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on GBx Snek
    I think this is going to be my next iteration of the deck. If I make it out to an FNM and can post results, I will, but our shop is hardly meta representative, lol.


    Thoughts?
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on Clever Impersonator
    Quote from blkh »
    When a player plays Clever Impersonator and comes into play copying Eternal Witness or any other creature with ETB effects, can the player return a card from graveyard to hand?

    My understanding is he does not because the Impersonator comes into play as Impersonator first then only copies the Eternal Witness.
    My opponent says the Impersonator comes into play as Eternal Witness straightaway and thus, he can return a card from graveyard to hand.

    Who is right?

    Refer to MadMageQc's post for the answer to your question. This is for additional clarification. Clever Impersonator is a 0/0 creature. State-based actions tell us that any creature with a toughness of 0 or less is moved to the graveyard. Therefore, if Clever Imeprsonator exists as itself for any period of time, unless there is a continuous buff effect (e.g. Glorious Anthem), it will immediately move to the graveyard. Logically, it therefore must be the copy of whatever it is copying when entering (and not after) to avoid being immediately dead.

    Note also that triggered abilities use words like "when," "whenever," and "at." Clever Impersonator does not use any of these words, so nothing "triggers" to make it a copy of the creature (a triggered ability would cause a delay between entering the battlefield and it becoming a copy). As MadMageQc said, its own wording states that it will enter the battlefield as the copy, meaning the change has taken place either before or in parallel with (and in this case, its in parallel with) entering the battlefield. As far as the game is concerned, an Eternal Witness enters the battlefield, not a Clever Impersonator.
    Posted in: Magic Rulings
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