Prerelease Week: Returning mechanics – Convoke

There are many ways to pay for spells. You can play them for free through Omniscience, from the graveyard with Flashback, or from exile with Prophetic Flamespeaker. Back in the original Ravnica Block, the Selesnya Conclave had a very unique mechanic. Now, we are in for a blast from the past with the return of Convoke!

Convoke is quite the nifty ability. Basically, when you go to pay for a spell, Convoke allows you to tap a creature to pay for either a colorless mana or a mana of one of that creature’s colors.

Convoking a creature does not actually reduce the mana cost of the spell, but rather how much mana must be paid. This means you can not overtap for convoke (e.g., you can’t tap 3 green creatures that have Inspired abilities to pay for Gather Courage), and the converted mana cost of the spell always remains the same (e.g., if you cast Chord of Calling with X=3 and tap 4 creatures to help pay for it, the converted mana cost is still 6).

Also important is the fact that you must activate mana abilities before you start paying costs when casting a spell, so there’s no way to tap your Elvish Mystic for G and also tap it for Convoke.

Today’s Rules Tip written by James Arriola

Posted in Casting / playing a spell or ability, Costs | Comments Off

Banishing Light is not Oblivion Ring: Why Your Trick Doesn’t Work Now

Those of you who remember Oblivion Ring might remember a little “trick” that could be used to permanently exile a permanent. What you had to do was remove the Ring from the battlefield with its enter the battlefield trigger on the stack. This would cause the leave the battlefield ability to trigger and resolve first (doing nothing), then the enter the battlefield trigger would resolve and the targeted permanent would be permanently exiled.

In Journey into Nyx, we got a new version of Oblivion RingBanshing Light. But just like Banisher Priest was printed as a “fixed” version of Fiend Hunter, Banishing Light is a version of the Ring that won’t let you do that permanent exile trick. The Light has a single triggered ability that exiles the permanent until the Light leaves the battlefield. You’re free to bounce the Light with the trigger on the stack. However, when the Light’s trigger resolves, since you don’t control the Light, nothing will happen. The targeted permanent will not be exiled (even for a brief time) and will remain on the battlefield. The reason for this is that the duration of “until Banishing Light leaves the battlefield” never even began in the first place! This works with all durations, by the way- if they end before they would begin, they don’t even begin.

Since the permanent never leaves the battlefield, this means that any auras or counters that are on the permanent will remain on it. And if they targeted a token creature, then your token creature will live to fight another day, since it will never be exiled.

So keep this in mind the next time your opponent tries to Banishing Light your Fabled Hero with two +1/+1 counters and an Ordeal of Heliod on it. By getting rid of the Light before the trigger resolves, not only will you save your Hero, but it’ll keep the counters and the Ordeal- which will lead to quite a different Ordeal for your opponent to deal with!

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Make it Count(ers): Why Not All +1/+1 Effects Are Counters

As we’ve probably learned over the years, cards generally do exactly what their Gatherer texts say. But some people still get confused. A major thing that I’ve seen trip people up is confusion about counters. Some people think that a static +1/+1 bonus (like from Spear of Heliod, or Ajani’s Presence) also counts as a counter. But that’s not true. There’s only a counter involved if the card says to put a counter on it. Just a general bonus from a card doesn’t mean that you’re putting any counters on the card.

For instance, if you cast Ajani’s Presence on two of your creatures, they’re just getting +1/+1 (and indestructible) until end of turn. They’re not getting a +1/+1 counter, so you can’t move it to another creature with Bioshift and cards like Chronicler of Heroes will not count it towards its triggered ability. So remember: unless the card says that you’re putting a counter on the card, there’s no counters involved, so don’t try to count on things that aren’t counters- because they don’t count.

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Planeswalkers, Burn, and Hexproof

By now, I hope we’re all familiar with the planeswalker redirection rule. This is the rule that says if a source you control would deal noncombat damage to an opponent, you can choose to deal that damage to a planeswalker they control instead. This is to get around the fact that something like a Shock can only target a creature or a player, and in most cases, a planeswalker is not a creature or a player. But there is a surprising Standard-legal card that can protect your planeswalkers – Aegis of the Gods. Since you have hexproof, your opponent cannot target you with Shock, meaning they won’t be able to damage your planeswalker with the Shock.

But there is one targeted burn spell that can get around the Aegis: Fated Conflagration. The Conflagration targets a creature or a planeswalker, so the Conflagration can target the planeswalker directly, instead of having to target the player first. Since the player isn’t being targeted, the Aegis will not help. In this case, you would need to give your planeswalker something like hexproof (like via Simic Charm) to save it from the Conflagration.

So, in short: to protect your planeswalker from Fated Conflagration, you should use Simic Charm to give it hexproof, or similar. If you want to protect your planeswalker from other targeted burn spells, you should use Aegis of the Gods to prevent them from targeting you and redirecting the damage to your planeswalkers.

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Tournament Tuesday: How To Report A Third-Game Concession

Welcome back everyone. Today, we’re going to have a brief discussion about conceding in a tournament. And no, it’s probably not the topic you’re thinking about. We’re going to discuss what result is going to be reported when a player does concede.

When you’re reporting the results of a match, you need to take into account all of the games that were played. If you’re in game three of a match and you concede the match to your opponent, you need to report the match as a 2-1 win for your opponent. You cannot report the results of the match as 2-0, because you and your opponent played three games. As much as you might want to help your opponent’s tiebreakers, you need to report all of the games you played with your opponent. This doesn’t matter too much (it mostly will only affect tiebreakers), but do keep that in mind when you’re finishing up your match: even if you concede, you need to record all of the games that happened in the match.

Similarly (while we’re vaguely in this topical area!), an Intentional Draw absolutely must be reported as 0-0-3. It doesn’t matter how many games were actually played, who won what- even if your opponent actually crushes you 2-0 and then offers the draw, it must be reported as 0-0-3.

Today’s Tournament Tip written by Nathan Long

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Worst Fears Can’t Force a Concession!

Being controlled by another player is often one of their Worst Fears. I mean, you can pretty much do anything they could normally do. You can make them Lightning Strike themselves in the face, you can make their 1/1 attack into your untapped 5/5, and you can have them bestow their Boon Satyr onto your creatures, you can look at their hand and their sideboard too! But there’s one thing you can’t make your opponent do, and that’s concede the game.

Sure, controlling an opponent’s turn can set you up so you can win the game by using their resources against them and making them make poor choices. You can make them do anything that they could normally do within the game, but you can’t just make them concede the game. If you could, then it would literally turn into an instant “I win” card, because the first thing you would do once you have control of their turn in most cases would be to make them concede and lose the game. So I guess you’ll just have do it the hard way and use their own cards against them.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Nathan Long

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It’s a conspiracy (week)! Every Vote Counts, So Count Every Vote

To wrap up this week’s Conspiracy theme, we’ll touch on one of the most multiplayer mechanics in the whole set- Voting! There’s multiple cards in the set that have the ability word “Will of the Council”. Just like other ability words (such as Hellbent, Landfall, Morbid, Heroic, etc), Will of the Council is in italics on the card- just like reminder text and flavor text! Why is that, you may wonder? Because italic text has no rules meaning. Ability words have zero rules meaning, at all- they only exist to lump thematically similar abilities together. For instance, all the Landfall abilities care, in some way, about a land hitting your side of the board, but they vary wildly beyond that. Morbid abilities all care about a creature having died, but vary wildly. Similarly, Will of the Council abilities all revolve around a central linking thing- voting.

Each Will of the Council card (such as Magister of Worth) will ask all players to cast a vote, and list options available. Each player in turn order casts their vote for one of those options, and then something happens depending on how the ballot adds up. For example, Magister and friends give two options- everyone selects one (knowing fully what each player before them chose, but NOT knowing what the later players will choose), and then one of two things happens. For Magister, each player votes for Grace or Condemnation. If Grace wins the vote, all creature cards in all graveyards come back! Meanwhile, if Condemnation wins (or the vote is tied!), everything but Magister gets nuked. This is how it’ll work with the either-or cards: one of the two HAS to happen, so there’s a sort of ‘default’ in case of ties. As you may imagine, in most 2 player games (remember, the non-Conspiracy cards ARE Legacy legal!) the tie is what’ll happen most often, probably.

There’s a few others where the choice isn’t binary, such as Council Guardian. The vote still goes the same- Active Player (the player whose turn it is) casts their vote, then the other players vote in turn order. The difference is that there’s more than two options! You still only go with the ‘winner’ though (or the winners PLURAL in case of a tie- this means that a Council Guardian could end up with protection from two, three- even all five colors).

There’s also one card that can mess with the voting process- Brago’s Representative. With Brago’s boy on your side, you get an extra vote any time votes happen (meaning you get 2 votes for your OPPONENT’S Wills too!). You don’t need to cast both votes for the same thing, but it’s usually a good idea to do that.

So, what exactly COUNTS for a vote? For example, can you use Brago’s Representative to keep 4 of your permanents as a Razia’s Purification resolves? Can you get two modes out of your Charms, or three out of your Commands? The easy answer is no- you have to actually be VOTING. It has to explicitly refer to ‘voting’, which currently only the Will cards do. Brago’s Representative won’t lobby for your ‘choose one’ effects, only your votes!

And with that, we’re done with Conspiracy (for now, at least! Who knows what the future may bring?). Next week we’ll start doing your regular everyday Rules Tips again- and we’ve got Magic 2015 coming out in just a few weeks, so hopefully we’ll have some tips on those new cards and returning mechanics soon enough!

Today’s Conspiracy Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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

It’s a conspiracy (week)! Hidden Agendas and Naming

Hey there, gang! Remember way back on Monday when I offhandedly mentioned there were some conspiracies you didn’t reveal right away? Well, now is the day that we’ll actually be talking about those!

As we covered earlier in the week, some of the Conspiracies start the game in your Command Zone, face-up, already doing something neat. 8 of them, however, start the game face-DOWN in your Command Zone, waiting for you to spring them at the moment of your choosing! These all have ‘Hidden Agenda’ abilities. As the game starts, you secretly name a card for each Hidden Agenda you have- you don’t have to name the same card for each one if you don’t want to, but you’re allowed to name the same one for every agenda if you feel like it. What are the rules on naming a card? Well, you actually have to name a CARD. For example, Immediate Action gives all the named creatures you control haste- but you can’t name “Spirit” or “Saproling” or “Soldier” to get hasty tokens, because there’s not a card with those names (There is hilariously one named Illusion though, so that’s a legal choice!). You’ll need to name an actual Magic Card.

Second- how in the Ninth Sphere do you name a card SECRETLY, you might ask? Well, there’s a few ways to do it. You could write the name on a little slip of paper and keep it face-down with the Agenda until you reveal it; you could have a little pad of paper with each Agenda you’re using and the card named for it written down; or my personal favorite, toss the Agenda into an old junky sleeve or penny sleeve and slip the piece of paper right into it OR write the card you chose on the sleeve itself with a sharpie or a wet-erase marker!

So, you’ve got your Agenda, and you’ve named your card. Now what? Well, now you wait. As a special action, you can turn that Agenda face-up and reveal your hidden plans to everyone. Special Actions like this don’t use the stack (so nobody can respond to you doing it, it just happens immediately) and can be done any time you have priority. A few of the Agendas make it easier to cast the named spells (Brago’s Favor makes the named spell cheaper, Unexpected Potential lets you spend mana like it was any color to cast it), or make it more FUN to cast it (Iterative Analysis turns the named instant or sorcery into a cantrip, Double Stroke doubles your pleasure AND your fun at no additional charge). With these Conspiracies, you’ll need to flip them over before you attempt to cast the spell, because you can’t flip them WHILE you cast it, and if you flip them after you cast it, they don’t really help much! Your last chance to tip your hand without losing out on the fun is immediately before you decide to cast your spell.

So, there you have it! That’s more or less how Hidden Agendas work. Remember that you can always submit your own questions to us, and we’ll try to answer them quickly (and may even feature them on our blog!).

Today’s Conspiracy Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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

It’s a conspiracy (week)! How to use Lore Seeker

Let’s keep the ball rolling on our Conspiracy week! One of the many cards in Conspiracy that messes with the drafting process itself is Lore Seeker. In a normal draft, each player receives the same mix of 3 packs, and everyone drafts as normal- take a pick, pass the rest, repeat. Lore Seeker throws a fun little wrench into that finely tuned machine- by letting you add a booster pack of your choice to the draft right then and there!

So, a few things. First off- you need to actually HAVE a pack. Your shop owner isn’t likely going to donate a free pack to the draft, so if you’re hoping to find a Lore Seeker be ready with an extra pack! Second, it doesn’t need to be a Conspiracy pack- you are completely allowed to bring pretty much whatever pack you want (since Conspiracy drafts can’t be sanctioned, you can do whatever you want, mostly! I’d double-check with your draft partners before touching an Unhinged pack, though).

Third- how does it actually WORK? Well, you take Lore Seeker, and you reveal it to the rest of your drafting opponents. After that, you pass the pack Lore Seeker was in to the next player, as normal. But instead of taking the pack passed to you by the person on your other side, you open the NEW pack you chose, take a pick from there, and pass that. Then you take the original pack. So, effectively, you just insert an extra pack into the whole ‘rotation’. It is entirely possible that because of your interference, some players will have more cards in their pool than other players- that’s normal, don’t fret about that.

BONUS INTERACTION: Lore Seeker + Agent of Acquisitions is a non-bo OR a combo, depending on how you time it! If you use Agent to draft the entire pack that Lore Seeker is in, you’ll sit out the booster pack you open- meaning you’ll open it and pass it, but not take any cards from it! If you use Agent on the pack you open, though, you’ll get to keep those cards. So be careful about acquiring your sought-after lore!

Today’s Conspiracy Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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It’s a Conspiracy (week)! Conspiracy Legality

Yes, even during Conspiracy week, we conspire to bring you tournament tips on Tuesday (I just couldn’t fit all that mess into the header, is all). Conspiracy has lots of new cards among the fun old reprints (Hi, Brainstorm!), and probably the most interesting among them are the new Conspiracy cards themselves. But as we touched on yesterday, don’t go looking for a pile of Worldknits and Power Plays for your Standard deck or your GP weekend- they won’t be allowed!

Save for 13 cards, all the new cards in Conspiracy are legal in Legacy and Vintage. Which 13 are banned? The Conspiracies themselves! They were specifically designed for the drafting format- some of them flat out don’t work in a Constructed game, while the rest just weren’t ever made with that in mind- so don’t try! Leave your Conspiracies at home.

As for the other cards, the reprints are still as legal as they were three weeks ago. Conspiracy is a summer multiplayer set- it isn’t part of our normal set rotation, so none of the reprints have become legal in new sets. You aren’t gonna be casting Swords to Plowshares or Exploration in Modern, and you aren’t gonna be Brainstorming in Standard. Sorry! As of this post’s writing, there is currently a glitch on Gatherer that incorrectly says the Conspiracy set is legal in Modern and Standard- this is a GLITCH. It is known to the DCI and to WotC, it is incorrect, your Judge will ignore and overrule it, and it will be fixed. Don’t try to be cute!

Today’s Tournament Conspiracy Tip written by Trevor Nunez

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