Dragon Throne of Tarkir vs. Blinding Spray

Welcome back, and we’re going to dive right in with a discussion about everyone’s favorite throne (no, not that sword-covered one from that tv show), Dragon Throne of Tarkir.

Let’s say I have face down creature equipped with the Dragon Throne (I’ve always enjoyed the idea of a mystery man on the Throne), and I choose to activate the ability granted by the Throne, so I can attack with my army of morphs and overrun you. But you have better ideas. With that ability on the stack, you cast Blinding Spray on that morph, making it a -2/2. So what happens when that activated ability resolves?

Those of you who played with Wild Beastmaster probably already know the answer to this question. The ability checks the equipped creature’s power when the ability resolves. When the ability resolves, it sees the creature’s power is -2. Most of the time, the game can’t use a negative number, but in cases where we’re trying to modify a creature’s power and/or toughness, it can use a negative number. So instead of your other creatures getting +2/+2 (which is what you planned when you activated the ability), the ability will instead give your other creatures -2/-2, and wiping my board of face down creatures.

That leaves a face down creature alone on the Throne, without his face down army. I’m sure if it had a face, you would see how sad he is after accidentally killing his army.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Nate Long

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

Suspension Field vs. Morphs – They return face up.

Welcome back to another week here at the Rules Tips Blog. Let’s look at today’s question: morphs and Suspension Field.

Let’s say I have a face down Thousand Winds and a Secret Plans on the battlefield, making my face down creature a 2/3. My opponent, knowing the mystery and danger of a face down creature, casts a Suspension Field and exiles my face down morph. My opponent breaths a sigh of relief, knowing that the threat has been dealt with. But little does he know, I hold an Erase! On my turn, I Erase his Field and… then what happens?

When a face down creature leaves the battlefield, we reveal the card so everyone knows what it is. So when it’s exiled, it’s face up and everyone knows that it’s a Thousand Winds. And when the Field leaves the battlefield, we return that creature card to the battlefield. But it’s already been turned face up, and nothing is telling us to turn it back face down (and since we’re putting it on the battlefield without casting it, we can’t return it face down). So Thousand Winds will return to the battlefield face up, and now your opponent gets to deal with your early 5/6 flyer.

One final note for today: the Wind’s triggered ability that triggers when it’s turned face up will not trigger in this case. It has to be on the battlefield when it’s turned face up in order for its ability to trigger. When it’s in exile, it’s being revealed as it leaves the battlefield. It’s not on the battlefield at that point, so the Wind’s ability will not trigger.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Nathan Long

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Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker’s +1 vs. Hero’s Downfall

Who knew that when Wizards of the Coast released an alternate-art version of Form of the Dragon in FTV: Dragons, they were foreshadowing one of Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker’s abilities: TURNING INTO A DRAGON!! And not just any dragon, but a hasty, indestructible one at that! While this new Sarkhan is certainly fearsome, he’s not invincible.

One of the ways you can deal with Tarkir’s own poster boy is a popular card from the previous block: Hero’s Downfall. There’s some nuance to timing this, though. First of all, realize that no matter whether Sarkhan is a not-a-Dragon planeswalker, or a DRAGON!! not-a-planeswalker, he’s still a legal target for Hero’s Downfall because at all times he’s either a planeswalker or a creature. The important part involves the abilities that come alongside his dragonic transformation: if you let the ability resolve, Sarkhan will be indestructible, which means “destroy” effects like Hero’s Downfall can’t touch him. Don’t think you can use a burn spell to reduce his loyalty to 0, either — since DRAGON!! Sarkhan is no longer a planeswalker for the turn, damage-dealing effects won’t reduce his loyalty.

However, if you try either of these methods in response to the +1 ability (after the counter is added, before it resolves), Sarkhan in his still-vulnerable planeswalker form will be swiftly sent to the grave. The ability will still resolve, but with no living Sarkhan to DRAGON!!ify, it will simply fail to do anything.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Jen Wong

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

Rattleclaw Mystic and casting spells (it’s not a mana ability)

Many sets have some kind of cheap mana-producing creature, and Khans of Tarkir is no exception. Meet Rattleclaw Mystic, a creature that has not one, but two abilities that produce mana! Today, we’ll be discussing specifically whether they are mana abilities — abilities that can be used in the middle of casting a spell and which don’t use the stack.

Let’s look at the Mystic’s first ability. It’s an activated ability, which means that in order to be a mana ability, it has to potentially add mana to a player’s mana pool when it resolves, not have a target, and not be a loyalty ability. This one passes the test with flying colors.

What about the Mystic’s last ability? The rules for triggered mana abilities are a little different. They need to not have a target (check), add mana to a player’s mana pool when they resolve (double check), and trigger as a result of activating a mana ability (…nope). This means that the ability will go on the stack, and you’ll have to wait for your opponent to pass priority before it can resolve and put mana into your mana pool. You also can’t unmorph and trigger it in the middle of casting a spell, since you wouldn’t have priority at that time, and turning a creature face-up requires priority even though it doesn’t use the stack.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Jen Wong

Posted in Mana Abilities, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

If Narset dies during combat, you can still cast the exiled cards this turn.

Narset, Enlightened Master, the khan of the Jeskai, offers a very powerful ability to make up for her lackluster stats and high mana cost. Whenever she attacks, she grants you a temporary burst of omniscience, letting you cast potentially four spells for free! The best part about it is, once the spells are released into the void, it doesn’t matter what happens to Narset afterward. If she becomes a creature that’s no longer attacking, or even if she dies, you still get the benefit of the ability for the rest of the turn. It also doesn’t matter whether she dies before or after that triggered ability resolves — once it’s put onto the stack, it becomes independent of its source, which means that the only way your opponent can stop it is by countering the ability itself (or, perhaps, countering all your free spells one by one).

Today’s Rules Tip written by Jen Wong

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

JAR Update: The importance of being respectful to others.

For most players, the JAR — or Judging at Regular document — isn’t something that you’re going to need to read in order to participate in a tournament. However, if you’re involved in running events for your local store, you’d like to become a judge someday, or you just like to know as much about the tournament policies as possible — read on!

The most recent update spells out, in more clear terms, what player behavior is to be expected at Regular REL events like Prereleases and FNM. Specifically, players should refrain from behavior that might make the environment feel unwelcoming, upsetting others, or making them uncomfortable. It’s worth noting that what constitutes “appropriate” behavior can vary based on the environment; although Magic is advertised as a game for ages 13 and older, there are plenty of venues that cater to small children at which certain behaviors won’t be as acceptable as in an all-adults setting. Remember also that the standard is not whether anyone is in fact upset or offended, but rather whether the behavior tends to contribute to an unwelcoming environment.

If a judge does take you aside and tell you that you’re demonstrating unwanted behavior, resist the urge to get defensive. Remember, judges are not out to “get you”, and we don’t enjoy giving out penalties; however, we don’t enjoy being in an environment with disrespectful behavior either. Ideally, the judge will identify the specific behavior, explain why it’s a problem, and politely request that you make a good faith effort to stop. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask questions about why what you did was inappropriate, or how you can modify your behavior to comply with DCI standards. It’s better to ask and understand, than to just carry on because you didn’t like the judge’s explanation, since this could result in upgrading to a game loss.

Finally, although the JAR is a kinder, gentler, penalty document, the same prohibitions against harassing or threatening others still apply. In these situations, the judge and store owner are empowered to remove you from the event, no questions asked.

Today’s Tournament Tip written by Jen Wong

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Heart-Piercer Bow with Act of Treason

Welcome back, one and all, to another week of Magic Rules Tips! Today we’ll be riding back to Tarkir, where the Mardu Horde battles against… well, just about everybody else. And how better to do it than to turn your enemies against each other? With Act of Treason, you can temporarily gain control of an opponent’s creature. Since it’s not leaving the battlefield — just changing sides for a while — that means that anything enhancing it, like +1/+1 counters, Auras, and Equipment, will stay on it, ready to be turned against your opponent!

However, note that you only gain control of the creature — not any attached cards. Heart-Piercer Bow, for instance, doesn’t give the attacking creature the ability to do damage, but is a triggered ability of the Bow itself. This means that when you attack with a treasonous creature equipped with your opponent’s Bow, your opponent will control the triggered ability, letting him choose a creature to deal damage to. Of course, the creature has to be one that defending player controls, so since you’re the attacking player, your opponent is going to have to choose one of his own creatures to take an arrow to the knee — probably still a net plus for you!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Jen Wong

Posted in Control / Controller, Triggered Abilities | Tagged , | Comments Off

You can’t see face-down creature spells with Lens of Clarity.

Lens of Clarity is some interesting tech with an ability we have seen previously in Magic. It provides you with some information about your opponent’s face-down creatures and your next draw, but what does this mean?

Unfortunately for you control players, it does not allow you to see any face-down spells; only creatures that are already on the battlefield. Meaning, if you’re countering a morph spell, you’ll have to do so blindly. Lens of Clarity does not prevent your opponent from looking at their own face-down creatures or prevent you from looking at your own face-down creatures. Once resolved on the battlefield, its ability does not use the stack so you can look at face down creatures and the top card of your library any time you could look at your hand (which is always without warning or using the stack). As a courtesy you want to inform your opponent before you reach over and flip your opponents card. Hopefully you have gained some clarity today! See you next time!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Daniel Clarke

Posted in Casting / playing a spell or ability, Characteristics, Static Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

Ivorytusk Fortress vs. Icy Blast, Crippling Chill, et. al.

Blue control spells always have a way of impeding an opponent’s progress. Most recently, a few more weapons were added to its arsenal, including Icy Blast and Crippling Chill. Not being able to untap during your turn puts a damper on your day – so what can we do about it?

Behold, Ivorytusk Fortress. True, your creatures will not untap during your next untap step should they be ferociously blasted but that doesn’t stop them from untapping during your opponent’s untap step. In many ways having them untap during your opponent’s turn is a handy trick. You will have fresh blockers that can activate abilities before or after blockers are declared. That’s some pretty decent intimidation. Granted, the creatures must have at least one +1/+1 counter on them in order to untap.

If you happen to be the player wielding the blue spells and your opponent has a board containing Ivorytusk and counter-laden creatures, your best bet is to cast your Chill or Blast after your untap step if possible. This will keep those pesky creatures down and out for as long as possible. Hope you enjoyed today’s rules tip! See you tomorrow!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Daniel Clarke

Posted in Static Abilities, Turn Structure | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Howl of the Horde’s Raid ability

Red finally gets the chance to copy its future instant or sorcery spells twice with one card (for less than the cost of flashing back Increasing Vengeance)! But how does Raid actually work on Howl of the Horde when it is cast during your first main phase? Do you get to copy your next instant or sorcery once if that instant or sorcery is cast before attackers are declared or twice if cast after? That would be something to howl for, however that is not the case.

The Raid ability of a spell checks to see if its condition is true when the spell (in this case Howl of The Horde) resolves, not when its delayed trigger is triggered. That condition of course is if you attacked this turn. Remembering this should make it pretty easy: Casting Howl of the Horde during your pre-combat main phase provides one copy of your next instant or sorcery being placed on the stack. Casting it during your post-combat main phase, after you have attacked, will result in two copies of your next instant or sorcery being placed on the stack. Easy as that! If you’re feeling explosive, why not cast it post-attack and then cast another Howl of the Horde for a total of six delayed triggers? (The first Howl creates two copies of the second Howl, which means a total of 3 Howls, each of which creates two more copies of the next spell cast). Cast a final Lightning Strike after that and you might as well win outright- That’s 21 damage (6 copies plus the original Strike)! Just remember to cast your next instant or sorcery in the same turn you cast Howl of the Horde, or you lose the delayed trigger(s) forever.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Daniel Clarke

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