Before I head off to Pro Tour Chicago, I want to wing some rules stuff at you. I’ve been away from rules dissection for a few weeks, so it’s time to get back on track. Before we head in that direction, congrats to Jeremy A. Smith of Warwick, Rhode , who was the first to…

Before I head off to Pro Tour Chicago, I want to wing some rules stuff at you. I’ve been away from rules dissection for a few weeks, so it’s time to get back on track. Before we head in that direction, congrats to Jeremy A. Smith of Warwick, Rhode Island, who was the first to identify the "prating coxcomb" quote (Fluellen to Gower in Henry V") and ice the cake with noting it was Polonius in "Hamlet" who said, "brevity is the soul of wit." Jeremy will be getting some stuff in the mail soon. I also have to apologize to everyone who emailed me to whom I didn’t personally respond (which I always try my hardest to do). The volume of mail I got regarding this one (obviously, "Final Judgement" readers are the most well-read people on the ‘net) was overwhelming, and I’m dealing with a short week (since I leave for Chicago on Thursday*).

Invasion has more color-changing stuff than any previous stuff, from spells that change the color of spells on the stack to abilities that grant protection from a color. All this can seem confusing at first glance, but it’s all rather easy once you think about it. The key to color rulings is the term "on resolution." Check the color of the spell or ability and the target(s) on resolution to see if they’re still valid. If not, the spell or ability is countered; if not, it resolves as normal (in most cases). Once you grasp that, the rest falls right into place. It seems as though the best use of color-changing ability is to make a spell or ability invalid (perhaps only in respect to a specific target) or otherwise take advantage of Protection from a color. Let’s look at some examples.

The first situation is changing the color of a spell on the stack. Blind Seer from Invasion can do this (it also can do it to a permanent, which we’ll cover shortly). Let’s say Anthony plays Lightning Bolt, targeting Daniel’s Black Knight (which has protection from White). Daniel wants to keep his Knight, so he uses Blind Seer’s ability to change the Lightning Bolt from red to white. When Lightning Bolt goes to resolve, it rechecks to ensure its targets are valid. It sees that it’s not (now being a white spell trying to target a Pro White creature), and is therefore countered. Note that one cannot choose an invalid target (say trying to target the Black Knight with a Swords to Plowshares) with the hopes of changing its color later. Choices made on announcement must be legal.

Another tricky way to use Blind Seer-like abilities is to circumvent damage prevention. Let’s say Lisa targets Lydia with a Fireball. Lydia responds by activating her Circle of Protection: Red. When the CoP: Red resolves, she chooses the Fireball on the stack. After that resolves, Lisa activates her Blind Seer to change the Fireball to green. When the Fireball resolves, it’s not red, so the CoP fails to prevent it.

We can apply the same to a permanent. Tyler pokes Edward with his Prodigal Sorcerer (some call him "Tim"). Edward activates his CoP: Blue in response, and, when it resolves, chooses the Tim. After that resolves, Tyler changes the color of Tim to White. When the ability resolves, the damage is white (the damage is the color of the permanent when the ability resolves, not the color when it went on the stack), so the CoP fails to do anything. Getting even more complicated, let’s assume the Tim gets untapped later in the same turn. Tyler uses it again to poke Edward. Edward responds by using his own Blind Seer to change Tim back to blue. The CoP will prevent the damage because the prevention shield is still in place from earlier in the turn – it didn’t get used up because it didn’t prevent anything.

Changing the color of a spell that will become a permanent has, well, permanent effect. Let’s assume Jules has four creatures, all of which have Protection from White. Peter plays his only green creature: A Whirling Dervish (his others are all white). Jules likes this not, so she changes the spell on the stack to white. When the Dervish resolves, it becomes a white creature (and therefore no real threat). It will keep all its other abilities.

Sometimes color-changing can help save a creature from a global spell or a spell with a targeting restriction. Ferrett is playing his mono-green deck and he has out six creatures when Gini plays Perish. In response, he uses his Distorting Lens (Target permanent becomes the color of your choice until end of turn) to change the color of his Thorn Elemental to black (a good move against a black deck). When Perish resolves, it kills five creatures, not noticing the now-black Thorn Elemental. If Gini had used Terror instead, targeting the Thorn Elemental ("Destroy target non-black creature…") and Ferrett had changed the Elemental to black, the Terror would be countered because the target is no longer valid.

Giving creatures Protection from a color after attackers and blockers have been declared (or threatening to do so) is one of the oldest tricks in the book. It’s not color-changing per se, but brings color squarely into the equation. The Crimson and Obsidian Acolyte from Invasion are excellent threats in this regard. It’s even better as a surprise, like playing Cho-Manno’s Blessing as an Instant. When you’re constructing your deck in Limited events, consider the possibility that Protection spells are just a different kind of creature removal.

As we can see, the color of the spell or ability, or of the permanent(s) affected, on resolution is important, not the color on announcement. Once you cipher that out, dealing with color-changing and Protection from colors is easy.

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

* – If you’re a regular reader of "Final Judgement" and in Chicago this week, please come up and introduce yourself. If I’m in a position to do so, I’ll be happy to buy you a drink (obviously, the middle of the third round isn’t quite cocktail hour). I’m constantly overwhelmed by the positive feedback and support that I get from readers. When I started writing this thing, I expected a good deal of, "Hey, you! Answer stuff for us!" What I’ve gotten is, "Hey, you! Nice column. What’s the weather like in Alaska? Is The Ferrett really that weird? And while we’re chatting, would you mind answering a few questions?"