Prerelease Primer Week – Raid with the Mardu Clan

Welcome back to our Prerelease Primer Week! Today we’ll be focusing on the mechanic of the Red/White/Black Mardu clan, who revere the speed of the dragon. Fitting with this theme is their mechanic, Raid. Like lots of recent mechanics, Raid has no real rules meaning inherent to it- it’s just what we call an “ability word”. It only exists to group thematically similar abilities together! The common link between all your Raid cards? They do something cooler if you’re aggressive! The Mardu hit hard and they hit fast, so their Raid spells have a little extra bite to them if you attacked with a creature earlier that turn. For example, there’s several Mardu clan creatures that don’t do a lot on their own, but they have a nifty trigger that fires when they enter the battlefield IF you attacked that turn. There’s also some Mardu spells that get better if you’ve swung- so play Mardu, and you’ll benefit from attacking before you cast your spells! It’s pretty simple rules-wise, too. Raid doesn’t care if your attack went unblocked, or even finished- just that you attacked. If your opponent blocks, or destroys your attackers right after you swing, you’re still fine. Raid is also a binary thing; you either attacked or you didn’t. The effect doesn’t get “bigger” if you attacked with multiple creatures! You get it or you don’t, no multipliers.

So, that’s Raid- straightforward and hard-hitting, just like the Mardu. Tune in tomorrow when we’ll cover the steadfast Abzan and their Outlast mechanic!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

Posted in Abilities, Triggered Abilities, Turn Structure | Comments Off

Prerelease Primer Week – It’s Morphin’ Time!

This weekend, Magic players from all over the world are going to be cracking open their first packs of Khans of Tarkir, and playing with those brand-new cards for the first time! That’s right, boys and girls, it’s almost Prerelease Weekend! And that means that this week, the Rules Blog is going to be covering the mechanics of the set so you can go to your local (or not-so-local in my case!) prerelease armed with the deadliest weapon of all- knowledge.

The first mechanic we’ll be covering is probably the most weighty, and we’ll definitely be covering it some more once the set goes live- Morph. Morph originally debuted during the Onslaught block (as did returning favorites, the fetchlands) and saw a little bit of a comeback in the Time Spiral block a few years ago, but those sets were new 12 and 8 years ago, respectively, so a refresher course might be prudent. Morph is pretty simple at first glance- if you have a card with Morph in your hand, you can cast it as a face-down spell for 3 generic mana. If that spell resolves, you’ll have a face-down 2/2 creature. That’s it- it has no name, no color, no types, no abilities. Just a blank 2/2. The only part where it gets different from a Grey Ogre is that it can be turned face-up for a cost- the Morph cost on the front of the card!

There ARE some complications, though; for now, we’ll just cover some of the ones you’ll see with Khans sealed- we’ll leave the scarier interactions like Turn to Frog for afterwards. The card has to actually HAVE Morph- you can’t just turn topdecked Forests into 2/2 beaters, because they don’t have Morph. You can’t try to play 3 Card Monte with your face-down guys, either- you have to make it clear which one is which. Usually this just means making sure everyone knows the chronological order they were played in, but if your opponent somehow learns what one of your face-down creatures is (for example, via Smoke Teller!), you can’t shuffle them around to try and make him lose track. You’ve got to keep it clear!

The act of turning a face-down creature face-up cannot be responded to, either- it’s a special action, and it doesn’t use the stack. It immediately happens, with nobody getting a chance to respond to it. Many Morph creatures have a trigger that fires when they get turned face-up, though; the TRIGGER can be responded to, just not the actual act of turning it face-up. You’re permitted to look at your own face-down spells and permanents (in case you forget what’s what, or want to double-check a morph cost), but your opponent isn’t allowed to look at your stuff. You can lie through your teeth about what you’ve got face-down, too- you might only have a Sage-Eye Harrier, but you can bluff that you’ve really got a Woolly Loxodon. Very handy, since you can flip your Morph creatures during combat. You swing for 2, they don’t block- boom! Now they’re taking 4 or 5, or maybe more! It works on the defense, too- block with your 2/2 and flip it into a big baddie. It’s possible to dodge SOME removal, too- mostly burn. When you flip your creature, all that changes is what it looks like. It’s still the same creature! If I aim a “Destroy target black creature” spell at your face-down black creature, well that’s fine- he’s colorless right now. But if you flip it, now it’s an illegal target and it lives. If that face-down guy were blue, though, it wouldn’t work. It’s still the same creature, still the same target, and still legal. And finally, copying a Morph card is usually a terrible idea. Your Clone-type creature will be a 2/2 nameless, colorless, typeless creature… but it’s face-up! It can’t be turned face-up if it already is, so you’re probably overpaying for your blank 2/2 if you copy a Morph.

That just about covers the Prerelease Primer for Morph- like I said, there’s some more complicated stuff, but you don’t need to worry about that for the prerelease, we’ll cover it in our regular posts soon. The only habit I want you to get used to is- reveal your face-down stuff at the end of the game, and as it moves to hidden zones (your hand and library, mostly)! At Regular REL it’s not a HUGE deal if you forget, but it’ll rack up some ugly Game Losses at competitive events, so get into the habit early!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

Posted in Abilities, Characteristics, Triggered Abilities | Comments Off

Goblin Kaboomist: When To Flip Coins

Goblin Kaboomist is a goofy little rare from M15, and one that’s raised quite a few questions so far! Well, more accurately, it seems to have raised one question, multiple times! Kaboomist creates a Land Mine token during the beginning of your upkeep, and that Land Mine can be sacrificed to deal 2 damage to non-flying attackers. It’s hard for your opponent to attack you when he has to play Minesweeper to do it! Kaboomist ALSO says “Then flip a coin. If you lose the flip, Goblin Kaboomist deals 2 damage to itself.”. Seems straightforward, right? But a lot of people run into the old “Browbeat Problem” and don’t look closely enough to see where the punctuation is on the ability. That little ‘maybe he blows himself up’ part isn’t built into the Land Mine, as people think- it’s part of the Kaboomist’s ability that MAKES the land mine! Each upkeep when you make the mine, that’s when you flip your coin. IF you should win that flip, then your Kaboomist is in no danger from being hurt by his own mines (unless you decide to make him in danger, but that’s all on you!). Unfortunately, that means you’ve got a 50/50 chance of losing Boomy every time he gives you an explosive new deterrent. Oh well- all’s fair in love and Kabooming!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

Posted in Abilities, Activated Abilities, Resolving spells and abilities, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

Life’s Legacy: How Many Do You Draw?

Who doesn’t love drawing a bunch of cards? It’s exciting and rewarding- Even if you have to sacrifice a creature to get those draws. But let’s say you have a Centaur Courser enchanted by Boon Satyr and pumped with a Giant Growth when you cast Life’s Legacy. You probably guessed that you’re about to draw ten cards- and you would be correct. Seems straight forward right? So let’s mix it up with some likely scenarios.
In response to you casting Life’s Legacy your opponent casts Back to Nature. How many cards will you draw then? Fortunately for you the sacrifice is part of the cost. Whatever power your creature has at the time it is sacrificed is how many cards you will be drawing. The Centaur is already in the graveyard when Life’s Legacy becomes cast- before Back to Nature is on the Stack. You draw ten cards when it resolves.
Your opponent casts Ulcerate targeting the centaur in response to Life’s Legacy. Cue violin playing as the sacrifice is part of the cost- which means they can’t cast their Ulcerate targeting your Centaur, because it doesn’t exist on the battlefield! Your opponent’s spell goes back to their hand and they get their mana back. You still draw ten cards when Life’s Legacy resolves.
You’re probably getting the point by now. There is not much your opponent can do to change the fact that you will draw the amount of cards equal to the power of the sacrificed creature. There is a down side, however. Should your Life’s Legacy be countered, the sacrifice still occurs. That isn’t fun for you. Hope you learned something new today! Come back tomorrow for more great tips!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Daniel Clarke

Posted in Casting / playing a spell or ability, Characteristics, Resolving spells and abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

Ensoul Artifact – Learn All About It!

Making a 5/5 flyer or 5/5 indestructible creature on turn two brightens my soul. Both options are possible with Ensoul Artifact. Ensoul Artifact works by setting the base power and toughness of any artifact to 5/5 and, if it isn’t already, makes it a creature. The best part about this transformation is that it does not affect the card’s text- meaning if it’s a flyer before the Aura resolves it remains a flyer (same with indestructible and so on). See that 0/2 Ornithopter? Now you’ve got a 5/5 Super-Ornithopter bashing in for a quarter of your opponent’s life. As you may have noticed the creature did not become a 5/7, its original power and toughness do not stay or add to the Ensoul Artifact’s changes. The artifact also maintains its types- Darksteel Citadel becomes a 5/5 indestructible artifact creature land. There is more to this beastly enchantment:
Only have a Flesh to Dust and Ensoul Artifact (EA) but need to wipe out your opponent’s Chain Veil? Lucky for you, EA makes it a creature and Flesh to Dust destroys creatures.
You might not want to EA your own Equipment as it can no longer be or become attached after becoming a creature. In some situations enchanting your opponent’s Equipment (like Godsend) might come in handy. Sure, they get a 5/5 but that can be a whole lot less scary than an equipped creature. The Equipment’s buffs and abilities do not become the creature’s buffs and abilities. They are now essentially dead text as long as EA is enchanting it. The Equipment is now a vanilla 5/5.
What happens when you EA an Elixir of Immortality and then use its ability? Ultimately you’ll end up with a lonely EA in the graveyard since the Elixir shuffles itself as part of its ability. Once the ability resolves and the Elixir is shuffled, state-based actions are checked. At this point EA is no longer attached to anything and is placed in the graveyard.
So much fun to be had with this little uncommon enchantment! Use it wisely and know your rules to get the most out of your cards!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Daniel Clarke

Posted in Continuous Effects, Effects, State-Based Actions, Type & Subtypes, Type Changing | Tagged | Comments Off

Spirit Bonds: One Per Customer!

Hello again my Magic aficionados! Let’s get spiritual with our next tip, shall we? I’m glad you were able to come to today’s sermon which covers handling triggered abilities. With Spirit Bonds on the board you might wonder how many tokens you’ll be able to get after a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control. The answer is one. Here is why:
- You cast a creature spell and it resolves, entering the battlefield
- Spirit Bonds‘ triggered ability goes on the stack
- The triggered ability resolves and you pay one white mana
- A single 1/1 flying Spirit token creature enters the battlefield under your control
As you can see, the Spirit Bonds ability only triggers once each time a nontoken creature enters the battlefield. It does not trigger because of the token and it doesn’t allow you to pay multiple white for more tokens- you may pay W, not WWW. And so the Lord said “let there be one Spirit token.”
Now, if you wanted more tokens, there are ways to do this. Let’s say multiple Spirit Bonds, or bouncing the same creature through Voidwalk. As long as the creature entering is a non-token and you’re paying the white mana for each trigger, you’ll be able to get another token- But again only one token per trigger.
Thanks for reading and may the holy Spirit token be with you.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Daniel Clarke

Posted in Abilities, Resolving spells and abilities, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

Wall of Essence and Multiple Attackers

Today’s Rules Tip begins with a scenario:
You’re at 5 life. Your opponent is attacking you with an Indulgent Tormentor and a Sliver Hivelord. You have a lone Wall of Essence on your side ready to die for your protection. You block the Hivelord. Damage from the Tormentor goes through and the Wall’s ability triggers- Are you dead?
If you guessed “Yes” you would be correct. Wall of Essence has a triggered ability that triggers when it receives damage. Since damage has gone through, you are at 0 life when state based actions are checked. This means you lose the game. The Wall’s ability will never even make it to the stack. Next time you’re facing imminent death with a Wall of Essence on board, do your best to stay above 1 life when combat damage goes through.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Daniel Clarke

Posted in Abilities, Combat Phase, State-Based Actions, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

Aggressive Mining doesn’t stop lands from entering the battlefield another way.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another installment of Magic Rules Tips! Now that M15 is in full swing, we’re seeing cards with rules that haven’t been in Standard for ages. Perhaps you’ve read Aggressive Mining and thought, “I can’t play lands? That seems pretty harsh.” The truth is, you can have lands enter the battlefield under your control, as long as the land was placed there by some spell or ability. Let’s look a little deeper:

Let’s say you have an Evolving Wilds in play and then cast an Aggressive Mining. You can still activate the Evolving Wilds’ ability (as long as you’re not sacrificing it to go Mining), search for a land, and place in on the battlefield. There are more opportunities like Burnished Hart, Font of Fertility, and Frenzied Tilling that will all still allow you to search out lands and place them on the battlefield.

Alas, there are some cards that won’t work as well as you would like. For example, Courser of Kruphix and Act on Impulse still depend on you to be able to play lands normally. If Aggressive Mining is on the field under your control, they won’t be helping you get lands into play.
So there you have it! If you are feeling an aggressive itch coming on, be sure to till with some frenzy or have a hart or two in your stables just to be on the safe side.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Daniel Clarke

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How Chain Veil Really Works

I think that first ability of The Chain Veil is pretty straightforward (if you didn’t activate at least one planeswalker loyalty ability this turn, you lose 2 life), so let’s focus on that second ability: “For each planeswalker you control, you may activate one of its loyalty abilities once this turn as though none of its loyalty abilities have been activated this turn.” There was some confusion about that ability when the card was original spoiled, so let’s see what this actually does.

Normally, you can only activate one loyalty of a permanent each turn. Each time you activate The Chain Veil’s ability, you can activate one additional ability of each planeswalker you control. For instance, if you have Chandra, Pyromaster on the battlefield and you activate The Chain Veil’s ability, you can now activate two of Chandra’s abilities. And they don’t have to be the same ability both times. You could activate the +1 ability, then activate the +1 ability again. Or you could activate the +0 ability, then activate the +1 ability. It’s all up to you (as long as you can pay the costs, of course).

And if you manage to untap The Chain Veil and activate it again? Well, then you can activate three loyalty abilities that turn! Yes, with certain planeswalkers, you could keep untapping The Chain Veil and producing four mana to keep activating The Chain Veil’s ability and keep gaining additional activations. We won’t go into those combos here, but I think you can figure those out for yourself.

And one final note: activating The Chain Veil’s ability on your opponent’s turn isn’t too useful. The Chain Veil changes how many times you can activate the ability, but it doesn’t change when you can play a loyalty ability. Since you can’t activate a loyalty ability on an opponent’s turn (or anytime you couldn’t normally cast a sorcery), activating The Chain Veil’s ability on an opponent’s turn is kind of pointless.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Nathan Long

Posted in Abilities, Activated Abilities, Casting / playing a spell or ability, Planeswalkers, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

Shield of the Avatar and Multiple Blockers

Wrapping up this week’s tips, we have a fun equipment for creature-heavy decks: Shield of the Avatar. This little toy helps keep your best guy alive by putting a damage-prevention effect around that creature. How much does it prevent? Well, how many buddies does your best creature have? There’s usually strength in numbers, but the Shield makes that especially true!

The most common way you’d probably see a Shield being used is slapped onto a big blocker, to discourage retaliation while your little dudes attack. But, it can also be used very effectively on offense! See, the Shield doesn’t care if you’re attacking or blocking, it’ll protect all the same (it even protects from non combat damage, like burn spells!). You might be wary attacking with your creature, though- what if your opponent gang-blocks it to kill it? Well, that’ll probably end really, really badly for him.

See, when you have a gang-block, each of those blockers is a separate source of damage. And Shield of the Avatar happens to prevent some damage from any given source- which means if you have 4 creatures, and your opponent blocked your Shield-bearer with one thousand 4/4 Sphinxes… it would take no damage, at all. Because 4 damage from EACH of those Sphinxes is prevented! Now, granted, you’re probably going to die to the remaining 999 Sphinxes he’s mysteriously not attacking you with, but let’s ignore that for now.

This also works if you flip it around and put Shield onto a creature that can block multiple attackers- something like Guardian of the Gateless (or Avatar of Hope for maximum flavor!). Each creature that it blocks gets some damage prevented, which means you are in a really good position defensively! Just look out for non-damaging removal.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

Posted in Abilities, Combat Phase, Effects, Prevention and Replacement Effects, Static Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off