Sheldon’s been sitting still thanks to some minor surgery, but in the meantime he returns to say the magic words:”Cease-Fire is not a counterspell.”

Most of you have probably noticed that I haven’t been around on the Feature side of Star City for a while, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, "Ask the Judge" has been keeping me pretty busy. Odyssey has presented a number of new card interaction difficulties, and keeping the mailbox clean has been a challenge. Then, of course, there were the events of 11 September, which have kept folks in my line of work rather busy. Finally, I’m just recovering from a little minor surgery. Painkillers, while perhaps enjoyable when you’re on them, aren’t conducive to writing with any kind of lucidity. I’ll miss PT: New Orleans, but I’m going to try to get down to GP: Las Vegas in December. Thanks to everyone who wrote telling me they missed "Final Judgement" – I’ll try to keep up.

The one card that has presented me with the greatest number of questions is Standstill. On the surface it seems like a complicated card, but truth be told, it’s relatively easy.

Here’s the text: When a player plays a spell, sacrifice ~this~. If you do, then each of that player’s opponents draws three cards.

You can see that the drawing of the three cards is dependent on the sacrifice. Let’s take it at its most simple.

With Tim’s Standstill in play, Yabbi plays Grizzly Bears. Grizzly Bears goes on the stack as the first part of announcement (409.1a). Standstill, which triggered during the announcement of Grizzly Bears, can’t go on the stack until a player gets priority, so it waits until the announcement of Grizzly Bears is finished. Because it was "waiting," however, it’ll go on the stack immediately, before the active player actually gets priority. Neither player wants to do anything else, so the stack resolves.

Standstill resolves first. The sacrifice isn’t optional, so Tim sacrifices the Standstill. Because this resolution of Standstill triggered on Yabbi’s Grizzly Bears, Tim (Yabbi’s opponent) draws three cards.

That’s pretty straightforward. Now let’s look at what happens when multiple spells are added to the stack.

It’s Tim again that has Standstill in play, but this time, it’s his turn. He decides to play a Mahamoti Djinn. Standstill triggers, just like before. Yabbi, however, doesn’t want Tim to have that big, fat flyer, so he plays a Counterspell, targeting the Djinn. Standstill triggers again. Here’s what the stack looks like, from the top down, after both players pass:

Standstill B (triggered by Yabbi’s Counterspell).

Counterspell (targeting Djinn)

Standstill A (triggered by Tim’s Mahamoti)

Mahamoti Djinn.

Standstill B resolves. Tim sacrifices Standstill, and he draws three cards. The Counterspell resolves, removing the Djinn from the stack. Standstill A resolves. Tim tries to follow the instructions as well as he’s able, but he can’t sacrifice the Standstill. No one draws any cards because the condition isn’t met, and the stack is now empty. You see that regardless of how many times it triggers, Standstill will still only get sacrificed once, and only one player will draw cards from it.

A question that’s been repeatedly asked is if Tim, in this example, can play the cards that he’s drawn from the resolution of Standstill B. The answer, of course, is yes. Like anything else involving the stack, the active player gets priority after the resolution of a spell or ability. If Tim had drawn a Counterspell and had sufficient mana, he could use it to counter Yabbi’s Counterspell. The net effect would be him with extra cards and a Mahamoti in play.

Standstill is a card that is far less complicated than it might initially seem. Use it in good health and fun.

There’s one final thing I’d like to say regarding Odyssey: Cease-Fire is not a Counterspell.

And that’s my Final Judgement.

Sheldon K. Menery