Rule of Law 10 – News U Can U’s (Copy Rules)

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they were trying to read their Magic cards. After navigating through static abilities, triggered abilities, “comes into play” abilities, and the “ultra-confusing” Giant Spider, they came upon this creature that seemed “kinda cool” but they didn’t know what to do with it.

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they were trying to read their Magic cards. After navigating through static abilities, triggered abilities, “comes into play” abilities, and the “ultra-confusing” Giant Spider, they came upon this creature that seemed “kinda cool” but they didn’t know what to do with it:

So, not wanting our adventurers to be left out of playing a fun creature, here’s a brief rundown of what it means to copy something in Magic.

What you get

When you copy something, you don’t get everything that’s attached to it. Instead, you get what are called its copiable values. These are:

Name: The copy will have the same name as the original

Mana Cost: The value in the upper right corner will be copied. This determines whether certain spells can affect it, such as Detonate.

Color: The color of a card is determined by the mana cost, which is copied, therefore the color is also copied. Note that some cards, such as Fork, specify what color the copy is. In such cases, the card overrides the rules.

Type line: This includes type, supertype and subtype and expansion symbol. Cloning a Legendary Creature – Cat Warrior gets you a Legendary Creature – Cat Warrior (and since it copies the name as well, both the original and the Clone get a free trip to the graveyard). It also means that a copy of an Arabian Nights Serendib Djinn is affected by City in a Bottle.

Rules Text: Even the bad stuff. So if you Clone a creature with an upkeep cost, you end up with an upkeep cost.

Power/Toughness: If the rules text didn’t make you want to copy the spell, this probably did. It goes without saying that if the thing you’re copying isn’t a creature, these values are undefined and don’t get copied.

Information copied off the stack: This only applies to copies of spells and abilities (as they are the only things that exist on the stack). Twincast copying Tooth and Nail copies whether or not it was entwined, and which mode was chosen if it was not entwined, even if you want the other mode. A copy of Fireball not only knows what X is, but how many extra targets there are. Copies of spells with kicker or buyback know if a specific cost of either type was paid, but don’t think that this lets you get Fork back in your hand if you copy a Whispers of the Muse with buyback. The problem is that Fork and Twincast make copies that go onto the stack and resolve on their own. When those copies resolve, the buyback tells you to put the copy in your hand, which you can do but it will cease to exist once it gets there. Also, copies of Arcane spells know if anything is spliced onto them. You don’t get to change these values unless the copy effect lets you, but most objects that allow you to copy spells let you change the target.

What you don’t get

Now that we’ve covered what you do get, here’s what you don’t get when you copy a spell or permanent.

You don’t get copies of enchantments or equipment on the permanent: If you Clone a Forest that has been turned into a creature by Genju of the Realm, you get…a Forest. And since the ability that turns the Forest into a creature isn’t on the Clone/Forest, you can’t animate it (unless you manage to remove the one Genju, slap your own copy down on the Clone/Forest and animate it that way…) Likewise, if you Clone something that’s equipped with a Loxodon Warhammer, you don’t get a Warhammer of your own to play with, and the resulting creature won’t have the +3/+0 either.

You don’t get the benefits of spells and abilities affecting a permanent: So no, you can’t pump up a Shivan Dragon to insane levels, Clone it and then expect the copy to benefit from the added power. You don’t get the benefit of counters that are on the copy, but if there is rules text that puts counters on the permanent when it comes into play, that will be copied (and will be fully usable if the copy is coming into play).

You don’t get rules text you can’t see when you’re making the copy: When you Clone a face-down creature with Morph, you can’t see the rules text that gives it a Morph cost, therefore you can’t copy it. This results in a face-up Clone of a 2/2 creature with no name, mana cost, or abilities. No abilities means it has no morph cost to reveal and pay. If instead you copy a face-up creature with Morph and the copy gets turned face-down, you have the text available to turn it face-up again.

You don’t get to change the mode of a copied spell, and if the spell lets you change the targets, you can’t change to illegal targets: However, you are allowed to leave any or all targets unchanged, even if that would make the target illegal. If you do change targets, any changes must be legal. So assume that a Swat targeting Birds of Paradise gets a Giant Growth resolved in response, making the Birds 3/4. A Twincast of Swat at this point can still leave the Birds as its copy’s target, but the copy will be countered on resolution if you do. If it had been targeting another creature, you can’t change the target of Twincast’s copy of Swat to the 3/4 Birds, as that is an illegal target. (True, this becomes moot if you respond to the Giant Growth with Twincast, but that’s another situation.)

You don’t get to splice onto the copy, even if it is Arcane: Although you get whatever splices were already on the spell, you don’t get to add your own.

You aren’t forced to make the same non-targeting choices that the original spell or ability deferred to resolution: When you Twincast a Cranial Extraction, you don’t have to name the same card as the original. In fact, you technically don’t know what is going to be named by the original, as Twincast will resolve before then. If Story Circle and Opalescence are in play (which makes the Story Circle a 3/3 creature), you can then Clone Story Circle and choose a color for the Clone/Story Circle to prevent damage from.

I think that’s everything. My usual disclaimer applies: If you see a rules problem, talk to me. If I’m wrong, I’ll mention it in a future article.

Good luck with your copies. Just make sure your money isn’t copied.