Ask A Judge: Modern Masters 2017 Edition!

What happens when an Izzet Charm on the opponent’s end step finds a Bonfire of the Damned as its first card? Paul “Bearz” Baranay and guest judge Kaylee Mullins have that Modern Masters 2017 answer and many more!

Grand Prix Orlando March 24-26!

You might know that I really like drafting…but I absolutely love drafting gold sets, and Modern Masters 2017 looks like it’ll be no exception. One of my favorite things in Magic is mashing the best cards from three, four, or even all five colors into a single 40-card pile of value.

Of course, with new sets come new rules questions, and Ask a Judge has the answers! I’m happy to have Kaylee Mullins, a true Modern aficionado, as my guest for this week. For a long time, her deck of choice was a U/W Death and Taxes brew adding blue for tempo creatures like Reflector Mage, Spell Queller, and Phyrexian Metamorph. More recently, she’s been tempted by the darker side of Magic and has started wielding Grixis Control, which she describes as “a lot of fun.” I can only assume this means she gains strength from crushing her opponents’ dreams.

In addition to playing lots of Modern, Kaylee is no stranger to judging the SCG Tour, with over 20 Open Weekends to her name! After revitalizing the judge community in her home state of New Hampshire, she recently moved to Boston, where she has continued to be a key member of the judge family.

With introductions out of the way, on to the questions!

The Costs of Modern Masters 2017

I have a Forbidden Alchemy in my graveyard and cast Past in Flames. What do I have to pay to Flashback Forbidden Alchemy?

(Kaylee) When Past in Flames resolves, it grants Forbidden Alchemy the ability to Flashback for 2U. This new ability is in addition to the Alchemy’s printed Flashback ability, so the Alchemy actually has two instances of Flashback. This means you can choose to pay either of them (but only one).

I have a Cyclonic Rift in my graveyard and cast Snapcaster Mage to give it Flashback. Can I overload the Cyclonic Rift when I flash it back?

(Kaylee) Unfortunately, no. When you’re casting a spell, you can only choose one to pay alternative casting cost. Overload and Flashback are both alternative casting costs here, so that Rift will just be a normal-sized one.

I cast a Snapcaster Mage to give my Pitfall Trap Flashback. Can I pay W if the Trap’s condition is met?

(Bearz) Don’t try this at home; it’s a trap! Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t work, and it’s for the same reason as the above question. Just like Flashback, the ability that lets you Pitfall Trap for W is an alternative cost. Since it’s the Flashback ability that’s given you permission to cast Pitfall Trap from the graveyard in the first place, this prevents you from using the “costs W instead” ability on top of that. You’ll have to pay the full 2W.

I have a Familiar’s Ruse in my graveyard and cast Snapcaster Mage to give it Flashback. Do I still have to return a creature to my hand to cast it?

(Bearz) Yes. You may not be familiar with these kinds of abilities, but returning a creature to your hand is an additional cost to cast Familiar’s Ruse. Additional costs are totally separate from alternative costs, and unlike alternative costs, you can apply many additional costs to a spell. Since the additional cost on Familiar’s Ruse isn’t optional (there’s no “you may”), you must pay it in order to cast the spell, even with Flashback.

Other Modern Masters 2017 Questions

My opponent controls a Blood Moon and I play an Arcane Sanctum. Does it enter tapped?

(Kaylee) Before Arcane Sanctum enters the battlefield, we check to see if anything would modify how that happens. In this case the Sanctum itself says it enters tapped. Blood Moon only affects permanents on the battlefield, not permanents that are about to enter the battlefield. So your Sanctum will still enter tapped, at which time it promptly turns into a Mountain.

On my opponent’s end step I cast Izzet Charm, choosing to draw and discard. The first card I draw is Bonfire of the Damned. How does this work?

(Kaylee) Sometimes the Izzet can come up with a miracle. Let’s take it slowly: once you draw Bonfire of the Damned, you need to reveal it. Importantly, this needs to be done before it hits your hand so your opponent (and the rules) can confirm this is indeed a miracle draw. But we need to put this miracle on hold for a bit, because we’re still resolving that Izzet Charm you cast. You should set aside that Bonfire you drew and keep it revealed. Once you’ve done that, draw your second card and then choose two cards to discard. Make sure you don’t touch your Bonfire if you intend to cast it; you can’t both discard it to the Charm and also cast it for its miracle cost.

Okay, you’ve finished resolving the Izzet Charm and have a revealed Bonfire of the Damned. Now the Bonfire’s miracle trigger is going to go on the stack. Your opponent can respond to it if they like. Once the trigger resolves, you can finally cast the Bonfire for its miracle cost (choosing a value of X). From this point on, we proceed as normal…well, as normal as burning your enemies to a crisp can be.

If I control a Linvala, Keeper of Silence, can my opponent unearth their Dregscape Zombie?

(Kaylee) Linvala may have a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield, but her gaze ends there. When a card refers to a permanent type without any other qualifier, it means permanents of that type on the battlefield. So, unfortunately for you, Linvala can’t silence the dead. Your opponent will be able to unearth their Zombie.

My opponent casts Cackling Counterpart on their Restoration Angel. Can I Abrupt Decay the token?

(Kaylee) Alas, no. Token copies still retain the mana cost of objects they’re copying. While that token might appear flimsy, it will gleefully cackle at you, as it’s still not a legal target for your Abrupt Decay.

I cast Vanish into Memory on my Wayfaring Temple. I control one other creature. How many cards do I draw, and how many do I have to discard?

(Kaylee) Vanish into Memory checks the power of the creature just before it leaves the battlefield, so you’ll draw two cards. When the Temple returns from its long journey, it will check its power again. Assuming nothing has changed in its absence, its toughness will be two, so you’ll discard two cards.

I attack with Zur the Enchanter and get an Arachnus Web. Can I put this on my opponent’s Wall of Denial?

(Bearz) Normally that Wall of Denial is pretty impenetrable and will shrug off any attempt to throw an Arachnus Web on it. But Zur is no normal Wizard. When you cast an Aura as a spell, you have to choose a legal target for it to enchant and Wall of Denial can’t be targeted. Zur, however, isn’t casting that Arachnus Web; he’s dropping it right onto the battlefield. As it turns out, when Auras are entering the battlefield without being cast, you merely select a legal object for it to enter attached to. This action doesn’t target. This means your Arachnus Web can slip past that Wall’s defenses and lock it down!

I cast a Zealous Conscripts and take my opponent’s Wingcrafter, which is paired with a Golem token. Do they still have flying? If not, can I cast another creature to pair with the Wingcrafter?

(Bearz) If you read the reminder text of soulbond carefully, you’ll notice it mentions the paired creatures “remain paired for as long as you control both of them.” Thus, the mystic link between Wingcrafter and Golem token is broken as soon as you steal the Wingcrafter away. Neither creature will have flying. Since soulbond triggers on creatures entering the battlefield, not changing control, you can’t pair Wingcrafter with your Conscripts. However, you can cast another creature to pair with the Wingcrafter and give it flying…for this turn, anyway. When the Zealous Conscripts ability wears off, the new soulbond will also break.

If I cast a creature with Cavern of Souls naming one of its creature types, do I need to say I’m using the second mana ability to make it uncounterable?

(Kaylee) If you use the Cavern to cast a creature spell of the appropriate type, it is assumed you are using the uncounterable mana ability if possible. There is no need for you to announce that, though we always encourage clear communication.

Questions for Kaylee

When did you become a judge?

I became a judge just over four years ago now, testing for Level 1 at a local PTQ.

Why did you become a judge?

I became a judge because I love this game, loved the rules, and it seemed like an interesting thing I could do and be useful. More important, though, is why I’m still judging, because that has changed a lot from when I first started. The Magic community is so amazing and wonderful. It’s a joy to be a part of and to help run amazing events. Being at a Grand Prix and watching all of the different people enjoying Magic in their own way is very rewarding. So is spending time with all of the amazing friends I’ve made through judging. I’ve found a community where I can be myself and that I’m able to contribute to in meaningful ways.

What’s your local game store?

Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge, MA.

What’s your greatest accomplishment as a judge?

It’s small, but the thing I’m most proud of is the PPTQ winner’s information document I created for judges to distribute to winners of their PPTQs. When we first switched to the new system, there was a lot of confusion amongst players, and I had a player that had already won one event enter one of my PPTQs. I saw a need for a clarifying document, and so I made it. I’m really glad that people have found it useful.

What’s your greatest accomplishment as a player?

I won a Modern PPTQ a couple of years ago and made Day 2 of GP Montreal last year.

How often do you plan on playing Modern Masters 2017?

As much as I can! The set looks very fun and Wizards has done a great job with these Limited formats.

What’s your favorite reprint from Modern Masters 2017? Least favorite?

I do love Flickerwisp — it’s my second-favorite card — and I’m really looking forward to playing the U/W “Flicker all the things” archetype. Bonfire of the Damned is my least-favorite. Even though it’s mythic, playing against that card in Limited seems miserable.

What’s your advice for Tournament Organizers, players, and judges who are trying to be more inclusive of women and other minorities?

Educate yourself; realize what women and minorities experience at events, what sorts of harassment and microaggressions they deal with every day.

Believe us when we say something is a problem; listen to us and our concerns.

Pay attention during events; people will often not speak up about most minor unwanted behavior because they don’t want to confront people or are afraid their concerns will just be turned away with something like “They were just joking.”

Be willing to speak up; even just a “Hey, that’s not okay” can go a long way. If everyone would do their part to help make Magic just a little better by learning and caring about other people, this community would be so much stronger.

Wrapping Up

Thank you so much, Kaylee! I hope everyone reads the answer to your last question and takes it to heart.

That’s all the time we have for today. As always, if you have any more questions about Modern Masters 2017 or any Magic cards, let us know in the comments, or by emailing me at [email protected]! Your question might even be featured in my next column. Until next time!

Grand Prix Orlando March 24-26!