IRL Rulings 01

IRL Rulings is a new feature I’m starting with a goal of sharing interesting rulings that happened in real life. Unlike many of the articles here, IRL Rulings can come from any part of rules or policy, without being bound to a specific category. They can be easy, hard, straightforward, complicated, or anywhere in between – making these great practice for a real tournament. The questions in today’s article come from a Modern format Invitational Qualifier that I head judged last weekend. Modern is a big format with a deep card pool and a menagerie of viable decks, so it came as no surprise how many interesting questions came up. I hope you have as much fun with these questions as I did!

Q: Amy Abrupt Decays Nicole’s Rest in Peace. Into what zone is each card placed?

A: The game decides what zone Rest in Peace should be put into while Rest in Peace is still on the battlefield [CR 400.6]. Accordingly, Rest in Peace’s replacement effect is still around to apply to this event while it’s taking place. Rest in Peace’s effect doesn’t use “other” or “another” to keep it from applying to itself the way, for example, Void Maw‘s does. Therefore, Rest in Peace will be exiled.

After all the instructions on Abrupt Decay are followed, the last step of its resolution is to put it into its owner’s graveyard [CR 608.2k]. By this time, Rest in Peace is no longer on the battlefield, so its effect does not apply to this event. Abrupt Decay is put into Amy’s graveyard as normal.

Q: Amy Path to Exiles her own Leonin Arbiter. Does she have to pay 2 to search?

A: No. The instructions of Path to Exile are followed in order [CR 608.2c]. First, Leonin Arbiter is exiled, then Amy can search. Because Leonin Arbiter is not on the battlefield at the time the search would take place, its ability can’t interfere with it happening.

Note: This is similar, though not exactly the same as the scenario presented in the previous question. Both rely on knowing precisely what’s happening as a spell resolves. In this case, it was important to know that the instructions of a spell happen sequentially. In the previous question, the important issue was that the spell goes to the graveyard only after all its instructions have been completed.

Q: Amy wants to cast an Engineered Explosives and end up with one charge counter on it. Her opponent controls Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. How can she do this?

A: Sunburst takes into account all the mana paid for the spell, and makes no distinction between mana spent for the “base” mana cost and mana spent for additional costs [CR 702.43a]. This being the case, if Amy plays Engineered Explosives for X=1, she will need to spend one colored mana and one colorless mana or two mana of the same color. But there’s a better way. Amy can declare that she’s casting Engineered Explosives for X=0, then, when the cost is increased by 1 by Thalia, pay for that 1 with a mana of whatever color she wants. Sunburst will see that one color of mana was spent to cast Engineered Explosives and put 1 charge counter on it.

Q: Amy uses Felidar Guardian to blink her Spreading Seas. While she was deciding what land to put Spreading Seas on, I jokingly suggested that she attach it to her opponent’s fetchland. Explain what I did wrong.

A: This isn’t a joke at all! First, when an effect puts an Aura onto the battlefield without specifying what it enters attached to, that Aura’s controller decides [CR 303.4f]. The reason that this was such a serious error on my part is because attaching Spreading Seas to Misty Rainforest is a perfectly reasonable play. The decision of what permanent to attach to is made at the time the Aura is entering the battlefield, in this case, during the resolution of Felidar Guardian’s ability. Therefore, Amy’s opponent won’t have priority to sacrifice the fetchland before this happens. Depending on the board state and lands available to the opponent, this may indeed be what Amy wants to do. After I realized this, I apologized to both players for potentially affecting the flow of the game and took a hard lesson in why it’s bad practice to joke about plays that haven’t been completed yet.

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