FINAL JUDGEMENT: What’s in the Mailbag

The 500th Judge question draws nigh, and Sheldon offers something cool! While he’s at it, he corrects a nationality and answers some FAQs.

I have to point out an error I made in "Meet the Judges, Part 2." For some strange reason, I identified Michael Kastberg as Austrian, when I know full well that he’s Danish. I have no idea what was on my mind at the time. Sorry, Michael. It’s Denmark all the way.

Some good news is on the horizon. In addition to being selected as one of the Judges at Worlds, I’ve also been honored with the opportunity to Head Judge Grand Prix Minneapolis, 29-30 September. I expect to see many loyal readers at one or the other. If you’re there, please come up and say hello. At Worlds, you might have to poke around to find me. At the GP, I’ll be much easier to find — I’ll be the one in the red and black stripes. I’ll also be the one who turned forty just a few weeks prior.

Random Magic content-free note: I had forgotten how good Heart’s "Dreamboat Annie" is until I bought the CD from Amazon the other day. Although their stock has slipped, I like the fact that they deliver fast. Add to my order "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and you’ll see it was a good trip to the mailbox for me today. I also got "Pulp Fiction," "Ladyhawke," and "Foxfire" from Columbia House (they’re SO slow; I’m dropping them now that I’ve fulfilled my requirements).

The mailbag has been full lately of numerous similar questions (questions, I might add, which have been answered in previous installments of "Final Judgement" or "Ask the Judge.") This week we’ll hit some of the things folks have been struggling with. Thankfully, everyone seems to have gotten the Orim’s Chant message.

First and foremost, you only need one multi-colored permanent in play to get the bigger effect from a Sanctuary. For example, if your only permanents are Sterling Grove and Necra Sanctuary, your opponent will lose three life. The Grove counts as a green AND a white permanent. I know these cards are going to be big in the IBC qualifiers.

I’ve also gotten numerous questions about sacrifice and the eternal misconception that sacrifice is faster than anything. Once again, there are no speeds in Magic. There are only different times when you may do some things. Instants are not faster than Sorceries, there is simply a restriction on when you play a Sorcery: on your own turn, in a Main Phase, and only if the Stack is empty.

When a sacrifice is a cost to play a spell or an ability (such as Diabolic Intent or Goblin Bombardment), there’s nothing your opponent can do to stop you from paying the cost. Costs are paid during the announcement of spells and abilities, and your opponent doesn’t get priority until you’re done. By then, the sacrificed permanent is gone. When sacrifice is the effect, it happens during the resolution of the spell or ability (Diabolic Edict or Tectonic Break).

How do you know a cost from an effect? On permanents, the cost is on the left side of the colon, the effect is on the right. It generally looks like "cost: effect". Here’s an example: "B: Regenerate Spiritmonger." If a spell has a cost other than mana, it will generally be identified with the phrase "As an additional cost to play ~this~…" Diabolic Intent is an example.

I’m still getting questions regarding Urza’s Rage and Undermine/Absorb, and why Memory Lapse doesn’t work the same way. Here’s the deal: Memory Lapse has two instructions. The first is to counter the spell. The second is to put that spell card on top of the library instead of the graveyard. When Memory Lapse resolves, it tries to fulfill its first instruction, countering the spell. It can’t, so nothing happens. Then, it tries to fulfill its second instruction, putting the countered spell — which is destined for the graveyard — on top of the library instead. In the case of an uncounterable, the spell card is never destined for the graveyard, so the action of putting it there cannot be replaced by Memory Lapse’s second instruction.

Finally, here are some quick hitters:

When you pay a cost, it stays paid even if the spell or ability is countered. If you sacrifice your Pernicious Deed and someone responds with Bind, your Deed still goes away. (And perhaps the only known good use for BindThe Ferrett)

“Coming into play” triggered abilities are not part of the spell that puts into play the permanent generating the trigger. Flametongue Kavu cannot be countered by Confound.

Lands animated by Life (half of Life/Death) or Nature’s Revolt have no creature type. Neither does a Chimeric Idol. They cannot be affected by Tsabo’s Decree or Coat of Arms.

Untap, Upkeep, and Draw are all Steps in the Beginning Phase. That means you can float mana from Upkeep into Draw.

Duress is a valid target for Misdirection. When Misdirection resolves, nothing will happen because there are no other legal targets.

Your friend, unless that friend is me, is not the expert. If I had a dollar for every email that started with "My friend says…" and that friend is wrong, I’d have, um, some dollars.

Anthony Alongi and I are twins sons from different mothers.

By the time this sees print, I will have received my 500th "Ask the Judge" question. I’ll send something cool to that 500th person. Please don’t inundate me with spam just to become the 1000th; I’d have to hurt someone. Since I keep all the emails in a separate folder, I’m going to look through and see who has sent the most questions of the first 500. I’ll be contacting that person and demanding they buy me a meal sometime, or at least spring for a massage.

And that’s my Final Judgement.

Sheldon K. Menery