FINAL JUDGMENT: States 2002 Rulings

Sheldon wraps up the relevant rulings on cards he’s pretty sure you’ll see at States! Check here before you to go make sure you don’t get cheesed out thanks to your misunderstanding!

And remember, Sheldie sez: If you’re not sure, call a judge!

State Championships are this Saturday, the opening weekend for the new Standard, with Invasion rotating out and Onslaught rotating in. Good-bye to your friends Flametongue Kavu and Fact or Fiction; hello to Voidmage Prodigy and Smother. What follows is a compendium of rulings that you’re likely to find useful this weekend.

Aether Burst

Unlike the other Bursts, Aether Burst only cares how many other Bursts are in graveyards when the spell is announced. If one of the Bursts is removed after announcement, you don’t”unchoose” a target.

Braids/Sacred Ground

The Braids ability on each player’s upkeep is always controlled by whomever controlled the Braids when the ability triggered. That means it’ll trigger Sacred Ground (rule 410.2).

And Braids is a Legend.

Complicate (or Slice and Dice)

Complicate’s cycle-triggered ability can’t be countered, because it’s not a spell (Onslaught FAQ). If played as a spell, it can be countered normally.

Creature types (relevant to Engineered Plague, et al):

When naming a creature type, you may name only a single type and it must exist in Magic (rule 214.7a). If you have a question, ask a Judge. Unfortunately, there are no penguins or monkeys yet (perhaps a write-in campaign to Mr. Buehler…). When an effect overwrites creature types, it overwrites all previous types. Nantuko Shade is normally an Insect Shade… But if someone plays Standardize naming Sheep, the Shade becomes a Sheep and only a Sheep.

Doomed Necromancer

He can’t be used to return himself (if for some strange reason you wanted to), because a target creature card must be chosen during announcement of the ability… And he’s not yet in the graveyard. Targets are chosen before costs are paid (rule 409.1c and 409.1f).

Engineered Plague

Creatures of the relevant type with a toughness of one will come into play and die due to a State-Based effect. Even if the creature has a mana ability (like Llanowar Elves), there’s no time to play it, because you still need priority to do so. If a one-toughness creature has a coming-into-play triggered ability, that ability will still trigger, even though the creature will die before the trigger goes on the stack.

Note that Engineered Plague doesn’t actually have a creature type word printed on it, so it can’t be changed by Artificial Evolution.

Faceless Butcher and Mesmeric Fiend

If the Butcher or Fiend leaves play before the triggered”strangler” ability resolves, then that creature or card will be removed permanently. That’s because if the Butcher or Fiend comes back into play, it’s an entirely new creature; it doesn’t remember strangling that card (Torment FAQ).

Future Sight

The card on top of your library is not in your hand. You can’t use it to pay costs like Cycling or discard it to a Psychatog. You can only play it (remember what we used to call”cast?”) as though it were in your hand. If you draw multiple cards, you reveal each one before you draw it (straight from the Onslaught FAQ).

Krosan Tusker

When you cycle Krosan Tusker, you search for the land first and then draw the card. The first thing that happens when you announce a spell or ability is that it goes on the stack (rule 409.1a). Anything that triggers during that announcement will go on the stack on top of it.

Memory Lapse/Flashback

If you Memory Lapse a spell that’s been played by Flashback, it’s still removed from the game. Whenever a Flashbacked spell leaves the stack, it’s removed instead of going anywhere else (rule 502.22a).


Although Morph doesn’t use the stack, it’s not a mana ability. It breaks the”pass in succession” chain. After turning a Morph creature face up, the active player once again gets priority. Turning a creature face up does not trigger any comes-into-play abilities; the creature is already in place, it’s just changing a little (or a lot, in the case of, say, Grinning Demon).

Remember, at the end of the game or when it changes zones, you have to reveal a face-down card. Please don’t forget.

Oversold Cemetery

If the condition is not met at beginning of upkeep, the Cemetery won’t trigger. If, for example, you have three creatures in your graveyard, you can’t pitch a fourth in order to get the effect – no triggered ability will ever go on the stack. The ability will check again on resolution to make sure if the condition is still true; if you don’t have four or more creatures in your graveyard at that time, the ability won’t do anything (rule 410.8).

Patron Wizard

The ability of Patron Wizard doesn’t use the tap symbol. That means he can tap himself (or any other Wizard) to pay the cost of activating his ability, even if you just played him/it (rule 214.7c).

Read the Runes

If you discard Madness cards with Read the Runes, the triggers don’t go on the stack until you’re completely done resolving Read the Runes. They can go on the stack in any order you choose, not just the order that you discarded them (rule 410.3).

Skeletal Scrying

The life loss is on resolution of the spell: That means if you use Mirari to make a copy, you lose life when the copy resolves as well. Removing cards from the graveyard is part of the additional cost of playing the spell, so you don’t have to remove them for the copy.


The converted mana cost of tokens is zero. Smother will kill them.

Taking Notes

You’re allowed to take notes. If you Duress someone, you can quickly write down what’s in their hand. You just can’t use note-taking as a method of stalling.

Upheaval and timing

Be careful if you’re playing Upheaval. If you only tap enough to play it and then your opponent passes, you don’t have the opportunity to play more mana sources. If you want to play things after Upheaval has resolved, tap all the mana you want beforehand.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what you’ll encounter, but should get you a leg up on the competition. Remember, be a good opponent. Be polite and shake your opponent’s hand. Be respectful to the staff. Most of all, have a good time.

That’s my Final Judgement.

Sheldon K. Menery