FINAL JUDGEMENT: Questions From The Crowd

A while back, I said that I’d collect questions from folks and occasionally write the column answering them. “Occasionally” happens today.

After a few weeks of opinions, it’s time to return to the rules for a bit. A while back, I said that I’d collect questions from folks and occasionally write the column answering them. "Occasionally" happens today.

First is not a question, but an idea from Michael Iachini (Fezzik on IRC). I’ll even use Michael’s own words:

"I thought I would mention a fun little rules interaction that I’ve discovered, one which Wizards probably put in the set intentionally. Let’s say you have a Shifting Sky in play, tuned to red, so all permanents are red. This is a continuous effect, so when your Silver Drake comes into play under a Shifting Sky, it is red. The Drake makes you choose a blue or white creature you control to your hand. Seeing none, it shrugs its shoulders and enjoys its non-gated presence in play. In other words, a Shifting Sky tuned to a color that is not a color of your gaters means you get to play gating creatures without the drawback (or benefit, depending on the circumstances) of gating."

Michael is indeed correct. He takes advantage of the fact that continuous effects are applied to permanents before they come into play. Nothing in the Gating ability says "if you can’t, do such-and-such," so you end up with a creature on the cheap. Note that you can also do this with other color-changing abilities, such as Blind Seer. When the Gating creature comes into play, you put its trigger on the Stack. Add to that the Seer’s ability to change the color of the Gating creature to a color other than those specified in the Gating trigger (assuming, in this example it’s not blue, because then you’d have to bounce the Seer). The Seer resolves first, changing the color of the Gating creature. The Gating trigger resolves, sees no applicable creatures, and does nothing. I’ll tell you I won a game in a local tournament this week by using this ability (albeit with a Disciple of Kangee), allowing me to play a Lava Zombie when I’d otherwise have been out of luck. Excellent tip, Michael!

Numerous readers wrote me about Meddling Mage. Meddling Mage’s ability is a Continuous Effect. That means it stops functioning when the Mage leaves play. The Comprehensive Rules state it very clearly:

418.4b The effect applies at all times that the permanent generating it is in play.

See section 418 in its entirety for all the interesting highlights on Continuous Effects, including the spine-tingling 418.5 "Interaction of Continuous Effects."

Frank Scarber wrote regarding Yawgmoth’s Agenda. He asks "If I cast spells with Yawgmoth’s Agenda in play and respond to those spells with returning Agenda to hand, do the spells that resolve after Agenda is in hand get removed from game?"

Just so you get the text right, here’s the Agenda: "Play no more than one spell each turn. You may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand. If a card would be put into your graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead."

The Agenda has a Replacement Effect. Instead of putting a card in your graveyard, you remove it from the game. Similar to Continuous Effects, Replacement Effects (Section 419 for those of you keeping score at home) generated by a permanent only work as long as that permanent is in play. That means if you play a spell and then bounce the Agenda (using the ability of a permanent, since you can only play one spell per turn – which you’ve already done), the spell card won’t be removed from the game. This is also due to timing; the very last thing in the resolution of a spell is to put it in the graveyard (unless it’s a permanent, obviously). When you do so, the Agenda isn’t in play, so the event isn’t replaced. Note that an Agenda going to the graveyard will remove itself from the game (as was mentioned in the Invasion FAQ).

Another frequently asked question about the Agenda is whether or not you can play another spell in the turn you play the Agenda. The answer is no, despite what the original Invasion FAQ says. In order for the Agenda to work at all, it the game must always know how many spells have been played each turn. Ergo, if you want to play other stuff, do so before you play the Agenda.

From Anchorage’s own Ambler Q. Stephenson came the question (live and in person): "When using a Planeswalker’s ability, when do I choose targets?" Except in really weird circumstances (none come to mind – kudos to the first reader who can identify one, if there is such a beast; my address, as always, is [email protected]), always choose targets on announcement. Following on with the Planeswalker’s abilities, you don’t reveal the card until resolution. If the player doesn’t have any cards in hand when the ability resolves, nothing happens. I had a Planeswalker’s Scorn in the same tournament I referenced above. Thanks to the Scorn, I won said tournament. It’s pretty darn cool to use your opponent’s stuff against him.

Gert Vos asks, "If I have a Rith the Awakener in play and I attack an opponent with it and it successfully deals combat damage can I use its ability more than once to get more tokens?" Unfortunately, Gert, the answer is no. The dragons have Triggered Abilities, and combat damage is only dealt once, so the ability triggers only once. You can read more about Triggered Abilities in Section 410.

Andrew Simpson wrote about one of his friends trying weird tricks with announcing a spell and then using his Lion’s Eye Diamond to pay for it. As I told Andrew, the major problem is that Lion’s Eye Diamond’s ability can only be played when you can play an Instant (it was errata’d when 6th Edition rules came out). You have no opportunity to do so during Announcement. Good catch, Andrew. Keep your friends in line!

In our final question this week, our own Ferrett (once again, live and in person – he finished third in that tournament, by the way) (Yeah, but there were only eight players – The Ferrett) asked me to confirm that you can play Cauldron Dance with a creature in your graveyard but not in your hand. You certainly may. Let’s look at the text: "Play ~this~ only during combat. Return target creature card from your graveyard to play. That creature gains haste. Return it to your hand at end of turn. Put a creature card from your hand into play. That creature gains haste. Put it into your graveyard at end of turn."

Note that the creature card in your graveyard is targeted, meaning you must have a valid target to play it. That also means if the creature card is gone from the graveyard when Cauldron resolves, the spell will be countered because its target is gone. The creature from your hand into play has no targeting statement. If you don’t have one, no big deal. If you do, you must, however, put it into play.

The Cauldron Dance question leads me to a feature you’ll be seeing sporadically between now and the end of April, when 7th Edition is released (afterward, you’ll likely see LOTS of coverage of the new rules set). I’ve recently been added to the prestigious Rules Guru mailing list, and most of the discussion is on the new update to the game.

This week’s Random Rules Leak* is that the rules will specifically state (although I don’t yet have the final wording) that a spell or ability is considered targeted if the text uses the word "target."

The new rules set will not change the game in the same fashion that Classic (6th Edition) did. It will simply clarify or rectify the rules and rules wording that we’re already using. Have no fear: the Rules Team isn’t nearly as crazy as it seems, Paul Barclay notwithstanding.

And that’s my Final Judgement.
Sheldon K. Menery