Prerelease Week: Returning mechanics – Indestructible

What do a Nokia phone, a diamond and a Darksteel Colossus have in common? They all are (or ‘have’) indestructible.

Indestructible is a returning keyword in M15. Indestructible makes it so that a creature can not be destroyed. This means, the creature can not be killed by damage or by any effect that says “destroy”.

There are a few ways to get rid of an indestructible creature. The first way to remove one is through an exile effect. Exiling is not destroying a creature, so it will get around indestructible. Another way to to remove an indestructible creature is through use of an effect that reduces its toughness to 0 or less. This means effects like Bile Blight or -1/-1 counters. Both of these methods are ways to assure yourself that the opponent’s creature will be vanquished, even if indestructible.

Remember that damage doesn’t reduce toughness, so dealing 2 damage to Sliver Hivelord and THEN giving it -3/-3 with Bile Blight isn’t going to do anything special. It will simply be a 2/2 creature with 2 damage marked on it, which won’t destroy it because it’s indestructible.

Remember that “indestructible” was redefined as a keyword ability last year, similar to flying or lifelink. This is a (minor) functional change because it means a creature that gains indestructible can also lose indestructible. So now, whether a creature has “Indestructible” printed on it or it gained indestructible from something like Ephemeral Shield, removing all abilities from that creature gives the same end result. For example, if you cast Turn to Frog on Sliver Hivelord, then block it with a 2/2, it will die because it loses its printed ability that makes slivers indestructible when Turn to Frog resolves (so none of the slivers will be indestructible). If your opponent casts Ephemeral Shield on a Preeminent Captain, then you cast Turn to Frog and block it with a 2/2, it will die because it loses the indestructible it gained from Ephemeral Shield when Turn to Frog resolves.

Today’s Rules Tip written by James Arriola

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Prerelease Week: Returning mechanics – Fight

Though the official tournament rules prevent fighting, some cards require fighting. Oh, that’s right, they call for two creatures to fight, it is all returning to me now. That is a great coincidence because the Fight mechanic is returning in M15!

Fight is a mechanic that is surprisingly simple. When a card calls for one creature to fight another, they merely deal damage equal to their power to one another. Now, there are some intricacies about fight. The first is that the creatures are dealing the damage, not the card that made the fight occur. This means that abilities such as lifelink and deathtouch will take effect.

First strike doesn’t matter, flying doesn’t matter. The fight just happens. This isn’t combat damage, so abilities that matter only for combat don’t have any bearing on the fight, and abilities that trigger from attacking (Preeminent Captain) or blocking (Netcaster Spider) won’t trigger. Abilities that trigger from any kind of damage will trigger, however (Hot Soup, Hornet Nest).

Another important thing about fight is that it requires both “fighters” to be legal targets in order for the fight to actually occur. For example, if you cast Hunt the Weak targeting your 3/3 Beast token and your opponent’s 3/3 Beast token, but your opponent casts Ranger’s Guile in response to give their Beast hexproof, your spell will have only one legal target. This means it does resolve, but it only does as much as it can. In this case, that means adding a +1/+1 counter to your Beast, but since it can’t make the opponent’s illegal-target-Beast do anything, no fight occurs.

Now all I have to work on is remembering the difference between a creature and player. I don’t want to have any issues casting Murder.

Today’s Rules Tip written by James Arriola

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Details for the M15 Prerelease this weekend!

It’s Tuesday of Prerelease week, and that means it is time for the Prerelease primer!

First things first, rotation is something that is on every Standard player’s mind. No, M15 will not usher in the rotation. That happens with the fall set (Khans of Tarkir).

When you prerelease, you will be given a box of one of the five colors in Magic, which you probably get to choose, depending on your local store. Inside the box, you will find quite a few items. These items will allow you to prerelease successfully as well as have a blast while doing it!

The first item inside the box will be a spin-down die. You can use it in all your games and it is an excellent way to show your life to your opponents (and yourself) at all times.

The next items inside the box are five M15 booster packs. Alongside these five Booster packs is one SUPER SPECIAL AWESOME “seeded” pack. This pack will have a promo corresponding to the color of your prerelease pack (which you ARE allowed to play in your deck for the event), along with a variety of extra cards in that color. You open all these packs when it comes time to build your deck, and mash together with basic lands in any combination until you have the best possible deck. A simple guideline to make sure you have a deck that is balanced is to have 23 spells and 17 lands.

The next item of note will be an oversized Garruk, the Slayer Planeswalker Card. He is used to play with your friends, with one player taking the role of Garruk and the other using a normal deck.

As you go about your day, have fun playing with all the new cards you have. This is not a tip — having fun is mandatory. Enjoy your trading (but only after the event is over!) and have a blast.

Today’s Tournament Tip written by James Arriola

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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

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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

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