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

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Garruk’s Packleader Doesn’t Trigger from Nissa, Worldwaker

New sets usually mean new planeswalkers, and Magic 2015 is no exception! Alongside a fifth Ajani, we also got a new Garruk, and a new Nissa! We last saw Nissa Revane a few years ago in Zendikar, where she was hanging out with her elf-buddies and accidentally freeing world-devouring abominations from the beginning of creation. But apparently since then, she’s found some new hobbies: hobbies involving lands! Her new card, Nissa, Worldwaker does some fun stuff with lands. She untaps forests, she animates lands, and for her ultimate, she finds AND animates lands!

Now, let’s see how New Nissa plays with one of Garruk’s old pals: Garruk’s Packleader. This not-so-little guy rewards green mages by feeding them card draws when they play big dudes. Seems great, right? Use Nissa to make a new 4/4 beater every turn and draw a card for effectively free? Sadly, it’s too good to be true. Packleader only triggers when a sufficiently large creature enters the battlefield under your control. Nissa’s +1 doesn’t make a creature enter the battlefield- all it does is give legs to your lands. It’s still the same land, it’s BEEN on the battlefield, so it doesn’t trigger Packleader. Ah- but what about her ultimate, you might ask? It puts land-guys onto the battlefield! The thing is- no, it doesn’t, unfortunately! When you fire off her ultimate, you search up some basic lands and throw them onto the battlefield. THEN you animate them. When they entered the battlefield, they weren’t creatures yet, so Packleader couldn’t care less how big and buff they are now! You’ll just have to get by with your Nissa-powered mana acceleration and all your 4/4 beaters, I suppose.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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Rotfeaster Maggot and Seraph of the Masses

This one may have come up for some of you in the past couple of weeks since M15, and it may very well happen to you in the future if it hasn’t! Rotfeaster Maggot is a common Black creature that eats dead guys. More specifically, when it enters the battlefield it’ll exile a creature card from any graveyard you so choose, and gain you life equal to that creature’s power. The bigger the meal, the bigger the reward for you! Now, it’s generally pretty easy to figure out how much that’ll be- you just look at the card. Hitting Clone gets you nada, hitting Runeclaw Bear gets you 2, so on and so forth.

But sometimes, it’s not so simple! What happens if you hit one of the Kinda Kird Apes from this set, like Sunblade Elf or Dauntless River Marshal? Do you gain their printed power, even if you control their boosting land type? The answer to that, sadly, is yes. Like the vast majority of abilities on permanents, these abilities only work on the battlefield- nowhere else! Your Sunblade Elf is always a 1/1 in your graveyard, no matter how many Plains you try to satisfy it with.

Now, there are abilities that work in other places. For the purposes of today’s tip, we’ll be looking at Characteristic Defining Abilities. The short version of what these are is wrapped up neatly in the name: they’re abilities that define the characteristics of the object. For example, Seraph of the Masses (boy who saw THAT example coming?). Seraph’s printed P/T is */* but what does that mean to the game? Seraph’s ability defines her P/T, and that works everywhere- the stack, your library, and importantly for today: the graveyard. So, how much life DO you gain if your Rotfeaster Maggot eats a Seraph of the Masses? You gain life equal to however many creatures that Seraph’s owner controls at the time! This’ll work with other stuff that has a CDA too; a Spellheart Chimera, for instance!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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Tournament Tuesday: How To Handle a Missed Roaring Primadox Trigger

Welcome back to Tournament Tuesday, where we’re going to cover our favorite topic again: Missed Triggers! Today’s missed trigger discussion is going to be about an uncommon creature from Magic 2015, originally printed in Magic 2013: Roaring Primadox. Primadox has a trigger that makes you bounce a creature you control to its owner’s hand at the beginning of your upkeep. Perhaps this is because it’s fairly aggressively costed as a 4/4 for 4- but it mostly gets used to repeatedly enjoy the ETB triggers of fun creatures like our old friend Acidic Slime. But, enough strategy – let’s get to the meat of today’s discussion. We’ll talk about it both for Regular REL (Rules Enforcement Level) (Which is what you’d encounter at prereleases, FNMs, your shop’s Friday draft, stuff like that) and also at Competitive REL (for events like Pro Tour Qualifiers, Grand Prix Trials, and Grands Prix themselves).

So, Regular REL first. Regular is a more ‘relaxed’ environment – the focus is less on competition and perfect play, and more on community, learning, and fun. As such, we’re a lot more lenient with fixes and stuff, and there’s no real penalty system. Most things get fixed if possible (and the players are reminded to be more careful), and serious bad behavior is met with “Please leave the store.” If you’re at your local FNM and you untap, draw, and totally forget your Primadox trigger until your main phase (or even after combat), we can fix that! Effectively, if the judge feels that too much stuff has happened since you missed your trigger this turn, they’ll just tell you the trigger was missed and ask you to be more mindful of your triggers. If it was caught quick enough, though, we just add it to the stack right then – a lot of players actually do this without calling a Judge, in the sense of “Untap, upkeep, draw. Play a Forest – oh, dang, forgot my Primadox trigger! I’ll bounce this guy.” We would prefer you call a judge to be sure, though!

It’s a little hinkier at Competitive REL, because we actually give out penalties for infractions. We’ll go with the same situation – you just plain forget your Primadox trigger but then you remember it later. You call a Judge over. What he’ll do is give you a Warning for Game Play Error – Missed Trigger, because the trigger is ‘usually considered detrimental.’ Your opponent will then be asked if he’d like to have the trigger put on the stack. If they decide that you do, the ability is added where it SHOULD go on the stack, or more commonly onto the bottom of the stack. If they DON’T want you to get your trigger, you just don’t!

Now, you may be wondering what the timeframe is for you to remember your trigger before it becomes ‘missed.’ That varies from trigger to trigger, and you can read more about it in the Infraction Procedure Guide, or IPG (if you click that handy link, you’ll end up at the Annotated IPG, which is a fantastic project spearheaded by L3 Judge and general good guy Bryan Prillaman. The aim of it is to expand on the IPG itself, to help judges and players alike understand it better! Bookmark and share, kids). For now, though, we’re just gonna talk about the Primadox itself: this trigger falls firmly into the category of “Causes a change in the visible game state” – what creatures are on board is ABSOLUTELY part of the visible game state! For this kind of trigger, your window is pretty small – if you do anything you couldn’t have done with the trigger on the stack, you missed it. The most common way this will show up is by you drawing a card for your turn. You could untap, fire off an instant for some reason, and then remember your Primadox trigger – that’s fine! You legally could have cast that instant with the trigger on the stack, so you haven’t demonstrated that you forgot the trigger. But sorceries, non-flash/non-instant spells, playing a land, drawing a card, moving to combat, all of that? Absolutely you’ve missed it, sad to say. My suggestion for remembering your upkeep triggers? A dice! Put a dice or other small, non-card (and non-card-sized!) marker on top of your library. That way if you move to draw for your turn, you’ll stop for just long enough to remember you have triggers to declare.

An important note about this trigger at either Regular or Competitive REL is that there’s a special clause for triggers that require a choice on resolution. You can’t make a choice involving objects that weren’t in the appropriate zone referenced by the trigger at the time it was missed. Specifically, this means if you start your turn while controlling only Roaring Primadox and no other creatures, and you forget the trigger until after you cast a Runeclaw Bear, you don’t get to choose to bounce the Bear. You’ll have to make a choice that would have been legal at the time it was missed, which means bouncing your Primadox.

Today’s Tournament Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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Mass Calcify, Hunter’s Ambush, and Multicolored Creatures

Keeping with the long tradition of there needing to be some kind of white board wipe somewhere in Standard, M15 gave us back Mass Calcify, a 7-mana potentially one-sided board wipe originally printed in Shadowmoor. Conveniently, Mass Calcify goes pretty well with another card from M15 (as far as what we’re discussing today, anyway): the green common, Hunter’s Ambush. Both of them have one thing in common (besides being in M15 and being Magic cards, I mean!): they both do something to all creatures not of a certain color. Mass Calcify destroys all nonwhite creatures, and Hunter’s Ambush prevents the combat damage of all nongreen creatures that turn.

So, let’s take a look at that. I’ve seen many new players misunderstand what things like “nongreen” mean. For example, a multicolored creature. Is Xenagos, God of Revels “nongreen” because he’s red? Is Daxos of Meletis ‘nonwhite’ because he is also blue? The answer to both of these is no! “Nonwhite” does not mean “Black, blue, green, or red,” it means “Not white.” If the answer to the question “Is that a white card” is “yes”, then it’s white. The fact that it also happens to be blue doesn’t make it NOT white. So, Mass Calcify will not hit Daxos – he’s white, so he’s fine. Hunter’s Ambush will let your Xenagos break some faces, because he’s not nongreen – he’s green AND red.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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Inferno Fist in Combat: Choices, Choices

Among the new cards we’ve gotten questions about from M15 is a neat little aura called Inferno Fist. As with other Auras, it’ll enchant something (in this case, a creature!) and do something neat. What Fist does, specifically, is boost your creature by +2/+0. It also has an ability that lets you sacrifice the Fist to do 2 damage to a target creature or player, so you can sorta choose how you want that 2 “extra” damage to go. You can leave it strapped to your creature so your creature hits harder, or you can use it as removal or burn if your opponent’s close to death. Heck, you can even effectively use it as a 3 mana Shock, as awful as that may be, by casting it and immediately sacrificing it once it resolves.

But that’s all pretty easy to understand. What we’re going to talk about today is how Infero Fist works when you need to make some choices in combat! Potentially difficult choices, at that. Similar to old favorite Mogg Fanatic, you can’t have your cake and eat it too: if your creature’s going to die in combat, you can sacrifice your aura to throw 2 damage elsewhere. The thing is, if you do that, your creature doesn’t have the boost from Inferno Fist come damage. So, say you control a Runeclaw Bear who is exercising his right to bear fire arms. Your opponent attacks you with a 4/4 and a 2/2. You can kill ONE of those two- not both! If you sacrifice the Inferno Fist before the damage step to kill the 2/2, your Bear is only a 2/2 itself when it deals damage, so it won’t kill the 4/4. If you keep the Inferno Fist for damage, your Bear dies in combat with the 4/4 before you can sacrifice the aura, so you can’t kill the 2/2. So, again: you can’t have your cake and eat it too! You have to make a choice.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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Preeminent Captain Won’t Trigger Military Intelligence

As is usual with the summer Core Set, we’ve gotten back some good old friends from days past. One of those old friends is Preeminent Captain, a very fun creature that was originally printed with all his Kithkin buddies in Morningtide. Captain has an interesting ability: Whenever he attacks, you can throw down a Soldier creature from your hand onto the field, tapped and swinging with Captain. That can spell trouble for your opponent pretty quickly!

So, you might be considering using some Military Intelligence with your Captain and his maneuvers- but that won’t work out QUITE as well as you’d hope. You see, the creature that Captain calls in for reinforcements is never declared as an attacker, like the Captain was- it simply came down already attacking. For it to count as having ‘attacked’, you need to actually declare it as an attacker in the appropriate step. So, if you attack with JUST your Captain, then you didn’t attack with two or more creatures, so Intelligence won’t trigger. If you swing with Captain and his buddy the NEXT turn though, it’ll work because you actually are attacking with two creatures now.

This can also work a little in your favor, in older formats. Cards like Crawlspace ALSO don’t count the reinforcements that your Captain brings in, since they weren’t ever declared as attacking your opponent, so you can send three Soldiers into a Crawlspace that should only fit two! Fun times.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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Cone of Flame NEEDS Three Targets

I’m sure many of you ran into Cone of Flame at your local Magic 2015 draft. Hopefully, you were on the casting end, and not the receiving end. Today, we’re going talk about targets and Cone of Flame.

Cone of Flame has three targets: a target creature or player, another target creature or player, and a third target creature or player. You have to choose three different targets for it. You can’t target the same creature or player multiples times with it (sorry, the Cone is good, but it’s not good enough to take down one of the mythic Souls by itself). And if there aren’t three legal targets for it, you’re not going to be able to cast it at all. Luckily, if you really just want to be rid of your opponent’s Scrapyard Mongrel, but there’s no other creatures on the battlefield, there is a way to kill it.

The Mongrel is a legal target, but in most cases, there’s two other legal targets as well: you and your opponent. There’s nothing preventing you from targeting yourself if you really need to cast the Cone (just try to make sure you choose yourself as the target for one damage, unless you have other plans.

And one final note: how much damage each creature or player is assigned is chosen when you announce the spell, not when it resolves. For instance, if you target three of your opponent’s 1/1s with the Cone, and they respond by casting Gather Courage on the one that was assigned one damage, you can’t change your mind and say that you want to deal 3 damage to that creature instead – that choice was locked in when you announced the spell, and it can’t be changed later on.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Nathan Long

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