Ask A Judge – Origin Of Rules

Ask A Judge returns with the answer to all of your Magic Origins-related questions just in time for this weekend’s prerelease. Catch up on anything you might need to know here!

Welcome back to Ask a Judge!

This week, we’re all about Magic Origins! We’ve got plenty of questions and answers to help you out at this weekend’s prerelease and beyond. Whether you’re curious about double-faced planeswalkers, how cards in Magic Origins interact with other cards from Standard or Modern, or about the tournament rules, we’ve got you covered.

As before, your hosts are:

Jason “Flatts” Flatford began his judging career almost six years ago. Since then he has judged at three Pro Tours, several dozen Grand Prix, and has head judged several Open Series events. As a coordinator of the Organized Play department and a Level 3 Judge, he has dedicated his career to improving the player experience at events.

Paul “Bearz” Baranay is a Level 3 Judge from New York City. He is the author of the blog Bearz Repeating, where he shares a variety of big-picture ideas and fun stories about judging. His passions include creating great experiences for Magic players, mentoring other judges, and green vanilla 2/2s.

Bryan Prillaman, or “BPrill”, is a Level 3 Judge from Orlando. He has been a judge for five years and is a lifelong fan of all casual formats. While not as prolific as Jason Flatford, he is one of the hosts of Judgecast, a long-running podcast for the discerning Magic judge and self-proclaimed rules nerd.

Double-Faced Planeswalkers

I control seven lands and I cast Nissa, Vastwood Seer. Will she transform as soon as she enters the battlefield?

Flatts – Nissa’s second ability won’t trigger immediately. However, after Nissa is placed on the battlefield, her first ability will trigger and will go get a land. If you play that land, her second ability will trigger. If you control seven or more lands as that second ability resolves, then she is transformed into planeswalkery goodness.

OK, what if I have five cards in my graveyard, then cast Jace, Prodigy of Vryn? Will he transform right away?

Flatts – Sorry, no dice. Jace requires his activated ability to have been activated and to resolve in order for him to transform. Same thing with Chandra; you gotta use her ability first.

I control Liliana, Heretical Healer. Then I cast another copy of the card. What happens when the second Liliana enters the battlefield? Does Liliana transform?

Flatts – Neat question. After the second Liliana enters the battlefield, you must choose which Liliana sticks around. The other Liliana is then put into the graveyard, triggering the transform ability of the now-lone Liliana on the battlefield. Liliana is then exiled and returned as her defiant and dead-summoning self.

Can I control Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh and Chandra, Roaring Flame at the same time?

Bearz – Yup! The “legend rule” cares about legendary creatures with the same name, while the “planeswalker uniqueness rule” looks for planeswalkers that share a subtype. In this case, there’s no connection between your creature-Chandra and your planeswalker-Chandra; they don’t even have the same types, let alone the same name or subtype! So you can have them both. This doesn’t make much sense flavorfully, but it works within the rules! Just be careful: if your creature-Chandra deals enough damage and you activate her ability, she’ll transform into a planeswalker, and then you will have to get rid of one of them!

Sean McKeown wants to know, does something interesting happen if you manifest a flip-Planeswalker?

Bearz – Unless you consider colorless 2/2s interesting, not really (I prefer green 2/2s, myself). Let’s say the top card of your library is Kytheon, Hero of Akros // Gideon, Battle-Forged. If you manifest him, you can pay {W} to turn him face-up, since that’s the mana cost of his front face. When you do so, the manifest will break open to reveal Kytheon the creature – not Gideon the planeswalker. Basically, a card being “face down” isn’t the same thing as “having its back [planeswalker] face up.”

Origins Card Interactions In Standard

Can you counter a Goblin Piledriver?

BPrill – Yes you can! Protection is an ability that only functions while a card is on the battlefield. On the stack, in the hand, in the graveyard are all fair game.

I attack with a Brimaz, King of Oreskos, and a Kytheon, Hero of Akros. If I remember my Brimaz trigger putting the token onto the battlefield attacking, will that cause Kytheon to transform into Gideon at the end of combat?

BPrill – Unfortunately, no. Kytheon triggers if Kytheon attacked with two other creatures. While two other creatures are attacking, only one of those creatures attacked. Wait… what?! For triggers and other effects that care about if a creature “attacked,” the rules of the game specifically look at creatures that were declared as attackers during the Declare Attackers step. Since our Cat token showed up afterwards, it never “attacked” and it won’t count towards Kytheon’s trigger.

What happens if a Renowned creature loses its counters? Is it still Renowned?

Bearz – You may have weakened me, but I’m still famous! When a creature becomes Renowned, it stays that way for the rest of the game. The +1/+1 counters from the Renown ability are a helpful reminder, but even if they get removed somehow, the creature will still be Renowned. Conversely, putting a +1/+1 counter on your Honored Hierarch with Dromoka’s Command won’t make it Renowned. The only way for a creature to become Renowned is through dealing combat damage to a player.

Do I have to pay to cast the card Abbot of Keral Keep exiles? What if it exiles a land?

BPrill – You still have to pay the mana cost for the card exiled when you play it, as well as follow any timing restrictions and obey the “normal” rules for when you can play the card. This also means that if the Abbot exiles a land, you can only play that land if you haven’t already used up all your “land drops” for the turn.

I cast Talent of the Telepath, and my opponent reveals Ravaging Blaze. Can I pay some extra mana for X?

Bearz – Unfortunately, you cannot. When you cast a card without paying its mana cost, X has to be zero – the game doesn’t let you try and “put in” extra mana. You’ll have to find another way to burninate your enemies, blue mage!

How does Archangel of Tithes work in Two-Headed Giant?

BPrill – When the opposing team declares attackers, if they aren’t attacking planeswalkers, they are attacking your team. This means they are attacking you. So your opponents have to pay the tax if they attack the team or your planeswalkers. If your teammate has a planeswalker though, it can be attacked tax-free!

Origins Card Interactions In Modern

Does Hallowed Moonlight prevent suspended creatures from entering the battlefield?

BPrill – It does not. In the nature of pesky white cards, Hallowed Moonlight prevents a number of things, such as tokens from entering the battlefield, or reanimation effects, or other effects that put creatures into play (like AEther Vial). However, when the last time counter comes off a suspended card, you get to cast the card from exile without paying the mana cost. Since you’re casting it, it sneaks past Hallowed Moonlight.

My opponent casts a card with Spell Mastery, and she has two instants in her graveyard. In response, I activate my Scavenging Ooze and eat one of her instants. Does she still get the bonus?

Bearz – Nope! The game checks whether there are two instants and/or sorceries in your opponent’s graveyard as the spell resolves, not when she casts the spell. The bonus isn’t locked in, so exiling spells from your opponent’s graveyard is a valid way of “turning off” Spell Mastery. (The only exception is Swift Reckoning, since Spell Mastery changes when you can cast that spell. Once it’s been cast, exiling cards from your graveyard won’t cause it to leave the stack.)

Origins And The Tournament Rules

If I draft six copies of Timberpack Wolf, can I put all of them in my deck?

Bearz – You absolutely can! The “4 copies maximum” rule only applies to Constructed tournaments. In Limited formats like Draft or Sealed, you can play as many copies of Timberpack Wolf as you get your paws on.

It’s game two of round three at an Origins Prerelease. Last game my opponent played a big green creature against me, and was bragging that he has two more in his deck. I sided in Infinite Obliteration to deal with them, but I don’t remember the card name and my opponent won’t tell me. Can I just describe the card?

Flatts – If you can uniquely identify the card, such as knowing its color, cost, and its abilities for example, then that is sufficient. Anytime you need the name of a card, you may ask a judge. If you can describe the card uniquely, either by name or otherwise, then they will be able to give you the Oracle text of the card.

Also, prereleases are run at what’s called “Regular Rules Enforcement Level” (Regular REL for short). This means that at the prerelease, you will be able to use your electronic devices and you will be able to look any cards up on Gatherer if you wish.

What’s all this about new mulligan rules?

Bearz – Wizards recently announced that they’ll be testing out a new mulligan rule at the upcoming Pro Tour, Pro Tour Magic Origins. The essence of the rule is that, if you keep a starting hand with fewer than seven cards, you can scry 1 before the game starts (but only after you’ve decided to keep your hand). However, this rule isn’t going to be used anywhere other than the Pro Tour for now, so don’t start using it for the Prerelease or at your local FNM!

And that’s all we have for this week. We’ll be back soon with more fun questions and answers about rules, policy, and judging! Enjoy igniting your spark at the Prerelease!

Have questions? Let us know! Tweet us your questions at @flatts9000 or email us at [email protected]. Your question could be featured in our next article!