Ask A Judge: Aether Revolt Edition!

Ready for the Prerelease this weekend? Not until you’ve read Ask a Judge, you’re not! Get the rulings you need to know from Paul Baranay and get to know his guest, Level Two Judge Jeff Higgins!

Hey everyone! After taking some time off to focus on a new job, I’m back to answer all your questions about the new cards in Aether Revolt!

I’m super happy to have Jeff Higgins from Portland, Oregon joining me today.

Jeff’s a jack-of-all-trades who’s seen his fair share of the SCG Tour, including head judging a Classic last summer. He’s especially fond of the card Garbage Fire: he collects foil copies, and even owns the original art!

All right, enough small talk…there’s a Revolt going on, and you need to be armed with knowledge if you’re going to stand up against the Consulate. Don’t worry about our apparent hastiness; we’ve put a lot of thought into this article, no Improvising. On to the questions!

Judge! I have a Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai. I can make infinite, hasty copies of Felidar Guardian and kill my opponent, right?

Your instinct is correct, and you’ll get to slay your foes with lots of tokens. However, when you’re executing a loop like this, you need to specify how many tokens you’re making, since many effects care about the number of creatures on the battlefield. Making one million angry Cats is probably a safe bet, though. This is also the case for the Wandering Fumarole and Crackdown Construct combo: you need to explain precisely how big the crackdown on your opponent’s life total will be.

What happens if I attack my opponent’s Chandra, Torch of Defiance and my opponent removes the last counter from Chandra in order to crew Heart of Kiran?

First, your opponent gets a flavor win. Second, your creature is locked into attacking Chandra; it doesn’t switch to attacking your opponent directly. It’s still considered attacking and can be blocked, so it would be a legal target for Impeccable Timing, for example.

I’m trying to cast Reverse Engineer. Can I use Tezzeret, the Schemer’s Etherium Cell to make a blue mana and discount my spell by one generic mana?

No amount of scheming can make this work. Improvise’s reminder text is helpful here: It explains that you tap artifacts to pay for one generic mana after you’re done activating mana abilities. By the time you would have the chance to tap artifacts for improvise, the Etherium Cell will already have left the battlefield.

I cast Felidar Guardian and target a Greenwheel Liberator that’s already on the battlefield. Will the Liberator re-enter with two +1/+1 counters?

Yep! Revolt is just looking to see if a certain condition is met, in this case, a permanent you control leaving the battlefield at some point in your turn. Since the condition is met, the Greenwheel Liberator will enter with the +1/+1 counters.

I have Aerial Modification on my Consulate Dreadnought. I attack with the Dreadnought, but my opponent casts Decommission on my Aerial Modification. Can I crew the Dreadnought in response to keep it as an attacking creature?

Yes! As soon as an attacking permanent stops being a creature, it’s removed from combat. However, if you crew the Dreadnought before Decommission resolves, your Dreadnought never actually stops being a creature. As a result, it stays in combat (albeit a bit smaller, and not flying).

What happens if I cast Tezzeret’s Touch (or use Tezzeret’s Emblem on) a Sky Skiff? Can I crew it? What happens?

A Vehicle’s base power and toughness is what’s printed on the card, although we ignore it whenever it’s not a creature. The crew ability doesn’t actually alter a card’s power and toughness; crew just turns the Vehicle into a creature, allowing its base power and toughness to “turn on.”

On the flip side, effects that set creatures’ stats (like Tezzeret’s Touch) override their base power and toughness. Casting Tezzeret’s Touch on a Sky Skiff means it’s a 5/5 artifact creature. You can crew it, but that won’t change its power and toughness. In fact, since it’s already a creature, the crew ability basically does nothing at all.

I cast Fatal Push (with Revolt active), targeting your Scrapper Champion. In response, you cast Insidious Will, choosing to change the target to my Freejam Regent. Is this legal? What happens?

Fatal Push has an unusual template: it can target any creature, but only destroys that creature if a certain condition is met. This condition is checked when the spell resolves, not when you choose targets. So this is a legal outcome! Your Freejam Regent won’t be destroyed. Of course, your opponent could have just chosen to counter the spell.

I control a Reckless Racer, and my opponent controls three Servo tokens. I cast Yahenni’s Expertise, and I want to cast Morbid Curiosity as my free spell, sacrificing my Reckless Racer. Will this work?

Yes! When Yahenni’s Expertise resolves, first, all creatures get -3/-3. However, nothing dies yet: we’re still in the middle of resolving Yahenni’s Expertise, and you get to cast a spell for free. Even though your Reckless Racer has zero toughness, it’s still on the battlefield, and you can sacrifice it to pay the additional cost of Morbid Curiosity.

After this, Yahenni’s Expertise finishes resolving. Morbid Curiosity is the top spell on the stack, waiting for its turn to resolve. The game finally gets a chance to check state-based actions and see if there are any creatures with zero toughness. Your opponent’s tokens have way less than zero toughness, so they die. You and your opponent both get a chance to cast spells, but if no one does anything, Morbid Curiosity will now resolve, and you’ll draw three cards. Value!

Okay. Same situation, but instead of casting Morbid Curiosity, I want to save my Reckless Racer with Larger Than Life. Does that work?

Unfortunately not. This scenario starts as before. When casting your free spell from the Expertise, Reckless Racer is a legal target for Larger Than Life. Unfortunately, Larger Than Life doesn’t resolve immediately; it has to wait until after those state-based actions are checked. Since Reckless Racer has zero toughness, it dies and goes to your graveyard. When Larger Than Life tries to resolve, it will be countered for having no legal targets. Sad times.

I control seven Servo tokens and cast Mechanized Production targeting a Servo. On my next upkeep, will I win the game?

Yep! When you make a token, if the effect doesn’t give the token a specific name, its name is simply its subtypes. So, as far as the game is concerned, all Servos have the same name (#ServoFacts). Unless your opponent is able to kill a Servo or the Mechanized Production before your next upkeep, you’ll produce another Servo and then win the game! Congrats!

Follow-up: If I control an Ornithopter enchanted with Mechanized Production and I control eight Servo tokens, will I win the game?

Yes! Mechanized Production only checks that you control eight artifacts with the same name. They don’t have to share a name with whatever Mechanized Production is enchanting.

I want to use Exquisite Archangel to trump my friend’s mill deck. What happens if I draw a card from my empty library while I control the Archangel?

You have dodged the first bullet, but that’s all. Exquisite Archangel’s effect prevents you from losing the game, but it doesn’t put any cards back into your library. The next time you draw from your library, you likely won’t have this excellent bodyguard around, and you will probably still have an empty library, so you’ll lose at that point. Hurry up and win while you still can!

How do Aether Revolt Limited events work? How many packs of each will I get?

At Sealed events, you will receive four Aether Revolt packs and two Kaladesh packs. At the Prerelease, you’ll also get one date-stamped foil promo, which you can add to your deck. Drafts will start with a pack of Aether Revolt, then a second pack of Aether Revolt, and finish up with a single pack of Kaladesh.

Questions for Jeff

When did you become a Judge?

I passed my Level One test at Grand Prix Anaheim in May 2012, and I passed my Level Two test at the Born of the Gods Prerelease in February 2014.

Why did you become a Judge?

Initially I was exhausted with the Standard format (I’m not a fan of Delver of Secrets), and I had a friend who judged and enjoyed it. I reached out to them, played the block Miracles deck at GP Anaheim, and then tested on Sunday. I wanted a way to stay involved in the community without playing in events, and judging seemed like a great way to do that. I eventually grew to love the logistical challenges of running quality events, and I never looked back.

What’s your local game store?

Before it had to close, Ancient Wonders in Tualatin, Oregon was my LGS. Now I either attend Guardian Games or Time Vault Games, both in downtown Portland.

What are your Prerelease plans?

I was going to play in a Saturday event…however, we are getting a large snowstorm in the Portland area, so fingers crossed.

What’s your greatest accomplishment as a Judge?

My work reviving the Missed Triggers Project. Our goal is to create a list of all triggers that are “generally detrimental” and also publish articles to help Judges learn how to handle triggers properly. The combination of educating Judges about policy and seeing people reference my work feels great.

What’s your greatest accomplishment as a player?

I placed fourteenth in an old-style Modern PTQ with Four-Color Delver, and I came in second at a US Nationals qualifier playing U/B Control in the pre-ban Caw-Blade era.

What are you going to build in Aether Revolt Standard?

I had the B/R Madness Aggro deck built pre-banning. I may play an Aetherworks Marvel deck post-banning. I have a love affair with Cruel Ultimatum, so “Mildly Mean Ultimatum” (Dark Intimations) is a card I’m also going to want to cast.

How do you feel about the Standard bans?

I think they were excellent, and I am even more excited about the decision to have a second banning after the Pro Tour. Since Standard is back to the longer rotation plan, having a second opportunity to check the competitive balance is good.

Thank you for joining us in this inventive edition of Ask a Judge. As always, if you have more questions, let us know in the comments, or email me at [email protected].

We hope you had an exquisite time, and may you implement winning strategies at your Prerelease!