A: The copy from Twincast resolves first. Amy didn’t cast it from her hand, so the “win the game” part doesn’t happen. Amy gains 7 life and the copy is put in Amy’s library seventh from the top. Before the original Approach of the Second Sun resolves, the game checks for state-based actions and the copy in Amy’s library ceases to exist [CR 704.5e]. When the second Approach of the Second Sun resolves, Amy will again not win the game since the copy wasn’t cast; it was just created on the stack. So Amy gains 7 more life and the original Approach will go in Amy’s library seven cards from the top. The copy has vanished by this point, so it does not count towards this number.
A: No. Aven Mindcensor’s replacement effect applies when an opponent would search a library. Search is a specific term with a specific definition in the rules [CR 701.17a]. Because Aetherworks Marvel’s ability does not use the word “search,” it’s not considered a search by the game, even though that’s essentially what it is.
A: Yes. As Foretold’s ability lets you pay 0 rather than Ancestral Vision’s mana cost. Since you’re using an alternate cost to cast it, the fact that Ancestral Vision doesn’t have a mana cost is no impediment [CR 117.6a]. Since it has no mana cost, Ancestral Vision’s converted mana cost is defined to be zero, so it’s possible to do this even when there are no counters on As Foretold [CR 202.3a].
A: Yes. Although it doesn’t use time counters in the same way that the cards Dust of Moments was intended to interact with do, As Foretold uses them just the same. Counters with the same name are indistinguishable, so you can give As Foretold extra time counters with Dust of Moments, and they’ll count the same as the ones it got from its upkeep trigger [CR 121.1].
A: Yes. Unlike some other similar effects, Vizier of the Menagerie specifies that you may spend mana as though it were any “type” rather than as though it were any “color.” This distinction is important, because colorless is a type or mana, but not a color of it [CR 106.1b, 106.1a]. Accordingly, Amy can spend green mana as though it were colorless to cast Reality Smasher.
A: No. Vizier of the Menagerie uses the term “cast,” which specifically refers to the process of casting a spell using the stack [CR 701.4a]. Playing a land is a distinct game action [CR 701.12a]. Land cards like Dryad Arbor are never cast as a spell, even if they have another card type for which that action would be appropriate [CR 305.9].
Q: Amy attacks with Oketra the True. After that, Nicole kills one of Amy’s creatures so that Amy now only controls Oketra and two others. What happens?
A: Nothing much. Attacking restrictions like Oketra’s only apply at one specific time: when attackers are declared [CR 506.4a]. Oketra was validly declared as an attacker, so the game won’t go back and “fix” the situation now that it can’t attack.
Note: The same reasoning applies if Oketra is blocking.
A: There are two replacement effects that want to interact with the event of Lightning Bolt dealing damage to Cho-Manno (OK, one replacement effect and one prevention effect, but they’re handled the same way [CR 119.4a]). Cho-Manno’s controller chooses what order to apply them [CR 616.1]. If she applies Cho-Manno’s prevention effect first, Soul-Scar Mage’s effect will no longer apply, since damage is not being dealt anymore. Likewise, if she applies Soul-Scar Mage’s effect first, Cho-Manno’s will no longer apply, since the damage that would have been dealt to it is replaced by putting -1/-1 counters on it.
A: Soul-Scar Mage’s ability means that the 3 damage that would have been dealt to Nicole’s creature is replaced by putting three -1/-1 counters on that creature. Because the damage is replaced, Blaze Commando’s ability does not trigger [CR 119.4a, 614.6].
A: Yes. When Defiant Greatmaw’s ability resolves, Amy puts two counters on Hapatra. This matches the trigger condition on Hapatra’s second ability, so it triggers. After the counters are put on Hapatra, the game checks for state-based actions and puts Hapatra into Amy’s graveyard for having 0 toughness [CR 704.3, 704.5h]. The next thing that happens is checking for triggered abilities that have triggered and need to go on the stack [CR 704.3]. Although Hapatra isn’t on the battlefield anymore, its ability has already triggered, so it will be put on the stack and resolve just fine [CR 112.7a].
A: Black Sun’s Zenith puts 2 -1/-1 counters on all four creatures. Hapatra’s ability triggers whenever you put counters “on a creature,” so this event causes Hapatra’s ability to trigger four times [CR 603.2c]. As before, the triggered ability triggers while Black Sun’s Zenith is resolving and goes on the stack afterwards even though Hapatra dies in between these two points. The Snake tokens are not put onto the battlefield until after that triggered ability resolves, which is after Black Sun’s Zenith finishes resolving, so they all survive.
A: The next time state-based actions are performed, the game will see that each of Amy and Nicole has 0 or less life, so it wants to make both of them lose [CR 704.5a]. Amy can’t lose the game, so only Nicole loses.
A: After combat damage is dealt, state-based actions want to put Gideon in Nicole’s graveyard and Nicole to lose the game [CR 704.5i, 705.4a]. Because of the Gideon’s emblem, Nicole can’t lose the game, so only the Gideon dies. After this, the game checks for state-based actions again [CR 704.3]. This time, Nicole doesn’t meet the criteria for Gideon’s emblem to save her, so she loses at this point.
A: No. Although the token found in booster packs doesn’t show it, the token copies all of the abilities of the thing it’s copying [CR 706.2]. In this case, that means the token will have the original’s embalm ability, which, although it’s irrelevant by itself, does preclude the embalmed Tah-Crop Skirmisher from getting a buff from Muradanda Petroglyphs.
Note: Following the same reasoning, creatures with other irrelevant abilities will not get a buff either. Abilities are abilities, even if they aren’t doing anything.
A: Hive Mind triggers when Glorious End is cast, and when that ability resolves, it will create three copies of the spell, one each for Alice, Nicole, and Natalie. Alice’s will be the first to be put on the stack, since she is a player on the active team [CR 805.6]. Nicole and Natalie’s are then put on the stack in whatever order they like [CR 805.6]. This choice doesn’t matter, though, since the result is the same. The one put on the stack last will resolve first and end the turn. As part of that process, all the other Glorious Ends will be exiled, including the original one that Amy cast. At the end of Nicole and Natalie’s next turn, that team will lose the game.
Note: It may appear that it could matter whether Nicole or Natalie’s Glorious End is the one that actually resolves in the case where one or the other of them controls an effect that stops them from losing the game. In 2HG events, though, such effects extend their protection to both members of a team, so this makes no difference either [CR 810.8a].
Note: Because the order which the teams’ copies of Glorious End are put on the stack depends on the APNAP rule, Amy must be careful to play Glorious End during her own turn. If she plays it during her opponents’ turn, Alice’s copy will be the last one put on the stack, and thus, the first to resolve.
Note: For more on the topic of ending the turn, check out the returning mechanic review article here.
Q: Can I play a Nissa, Steward of Elements for X=0, then immediately use its +2 ability to keep it from dying?
A: No. It’s legal to pick X=0 for Nissa because there’s no text disallowing this value for X (as seen, for example, on cards like Aeon Chronicler or Mind Grind). Once Nissa resolves, the next thing that happens is state-based actions [CR 704.3]. Nissa will be put into your graveyard for having no loyalty counters before you get priority to put some on it [CR 704.5i].
A: The token gains haste. Since two tokens are created instead of one, the game performs further instructions in the ability on both tokens. These include granting haste to the token and creating a triggered ability that exiles it at end of turn.
Note: If either token is copied later on by a different card, that copy will not have haste or be exiled. This is because copy effects do not copy continuous effects acting on the thing being copied [CR 706.2]. In contrast, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker has a similar ability to Saheeli Rai, but it uses the template “it has haste” to indicate that it gives the token that ability as part of the copying process [CR 706.9a]. If a Kiki-Jiki token is Cloned, the Clone will have haste because this slight change in wording means that the token starts with haste as part of its copiable information rather than being created without it and then granted that ability later on.
Note: Saheeli Rai making its token an artifact is part of the copiable information. This is because the template “except it’s an artifact in addition to its other types” indicates that this is a modification to the copying process [CR 706.9c].
A: The answer is that Amy only gets one Zombie token. The reason for this is rather technical, so those of you with weak stomachs or heart conditions may wish to look away now. Anointed Procession says “If an effect would create one or more tokens under your control…” An effect is something that happens in the game as the result of a resolving spell or ability [CR 609.1]. Is an effect creating the token here? No. What’s happening is that there is 3 damage marked on Grizzly Bears, so state-based actions put it in Nicole’s graveyard [CR 704.5g]. Kalitas’ ability modifies this event into Grizzly Bears being exiled and Amy getting a token. Even though Kalitas’ replacement effect is modifying this event, the state-based action is what’s actually creating the token here. This doesn’t qualify as an “effect,” so Anointed Procession doesn’t apply.
Note: Other things that could cause Grizzly Bear to die, but don’t count as “effects” include dying due to lethal combat damage or being sacrificed as a cost to cast a spell or activate an ability. The latter is precisely the reason why Doubling Season will not give you a second loyalty counter if you activate the +1 ability of a planeswalker. In contrast, if Grizzly Bears dies as a result of the resolution of a spell or ability, say if it was Fatal Pushed or sacrificed with the -1 ability of Garruk, the Veil-Cursed, then an “effect” is being modified by Kalitas’ ability to create the Zombie token, so Anointed Procession would give an extra token in those cases.
Q: Does an embalmed Anointer Priest trigger on itself entering the battlefield?
A: Yes. The game checks after each event that happens to see if any triggered abilities should trigger [CR 603.3a]. After Anointer Priest enters the battlefield, there will be a permanent on the battlefield with a triggered ability that has a trigger condition matching what just happened. Therefore, its controller will gain 1 life.
A: Yes. Melira’s Keepers can’t have counters placed on it, but there’s nothing that says it can’t be the target of this ability. This is the same reason why it’s legal to cast Doom Blade on an indestructible creature. Channeler Initiate’s ability will resolve and do nothing.
A: Although they can be used to cast two different spells, split cards count only as a single card [CR 708.2]. Both of the cards cited look for the number of cards, so split cards only count once.
A: Because Comply is a sorcery, it’s a legal target for Invasive Surgery. Nicole can find an exile other Failure // Complys from Amy’s graveyard hand and library because two objects have the same name if they have at least one name in common [CR 201.2b]. Thus, even though the cards she’s finding are named Failure and Comply, whereas the spell that was countered was named Comply, the game considers them to have the same name.
A: Off the stack, Commit // Memory is an instant (and a sorcery), so it’s legal to target it with Torrential Gearhulk [CR 708.4]. You can pick either half because the process of casting Commit // Memory involves picking a half to cast, and Torrential Gearhulk’s ability doesn’t put any constraints on that choice [CR 708.3]. Memory’s aftermath ability says the spell can only be cast from a graveyard, but that’s what you’re doing, so there’s no problem there either [702.126a].
A: As part of the process of putting Manticore of the Gauntlet’s triggered ability on the stack, Amy has to pick targets for it. Of course, she will pick Nicole to take the 3 damage, but she won’t be able to target any creature to get the -1/-1 counter since they all have protection from red. Because she’s unable to make a legal choice for this target, the whole ability is removed from the stack and none of its effects happen [CR 603.3d].
Q: How does Naga Vitalist work with…
- Wastes – Naga Vitalist’s ability gives you mana of any “type” a land you control could produce. Colorless is a type, so Naga Vitalist can tap for colorless [CR 106.9b].
- Snow-Covered Island – In contrast, snow is not a type [CR 107.4h]. Naga Vitalist can tap for U, but that mana won’t be snow mana because Naga Vitalist isn’t a snow permanent.
- Spire of Industry – Abilities that check for what types of mana a land “could produce” look at all the abilities of those lands regardless of whether those abilities could be activated [CR 106.7]. You can tap for colorless or any color, and this is true whether you control an artifact, whether you could pay 1 life, or whether Spire of Industries is tapped.
- Cavern of Souls – In the same way, these abilities do not look at any riders or requirements on how the mana can be used. You can tap Naga Vitalist for colorless or any color, and you can spend that mana on whatever you want.
- Cascading Cataracts – This land can produce any type of mana. Again, even if you couldn’t activate an ability of a land, the game still considers it capable of producing whatever color would result from that ability resolving.
- Reflecting Pool – The game can see what colors of mana Reflecting Pool would actually produce if you activated its ability [CR 106.7]. If you control any other lands, you can tap for that colors. If you control no other lands, the set of types of mana you can produce is undefined, so no mana will be produced (by either Naga Vitalist or Reflecting Pool) .
- Exotic Orchard – Exotic Orchard can tap for any color of mana you opponent’s lands could produce. This is determined the same way as Reflecting Pool above; if the opponent has no lands or if all of them only tap for colorless, Exotic Orchard cannot produce mana at all. Note that strangely, Exotic Orchard’s ability refers to “color”s of mana rather than “type”s, so it will never be able to tap for colorless, regardless of what lands are in play [CR 106.1a].
- An Island that’s been hacked into a Plains – Effects that change the color of mana that a land would produce, like this one or Contamination are taken into account when determining the types of mana a land is able to produce [CR 106.7]. So if you had no other lands, you could tap Naga Vitalist for W, but not for U.
- Blood Moon – Blood Moon functions by changing the type of nonbasic lands. In doing so, it removes all abilities the lands previously had [CR 305.7]. So no matter what nonbasic lands you had, Naga Vitalist will only see them as being able to tap for R.
Q: Can I play lands with Oracle’s Vault?
A: Yes. Oracle’s Vault uses the word “play” rather than “cast” (which is used by, for example, Dream Pillager). When used this way, “play” is defined to mean either casting a spell or playing a land, so you can play a land that you exile [CR 701.12b].
A: Yes. The templating “for each” on Quarry Hauler indicates that the “add or remove” part of its ability is associated not with the creature that’s targeted, but with each type of counter on it. Accordingly, it’s possible to make a different choice for each type of counter.
A: It’s legal for Amy to activate Devoted Druid’s untap ability because there’s nothing preventing her from doing that. When she does, the cost of “put a -1/-1 counter on Devoted Druid” is replaced by Vizier of Remedies with putting 0 -1/-1 counters on it. The cost is still considered paid, even though the actions taken don’t match the original, having been replaced by something with a lot less downside [CR 117.11]. This means that the rest of the activating and resolution of the ability proceed as normal.
Note: Suppose that instead of Vizier of Remedies, Amy controlled Melira, Sylvok Outcast. In this case, she could not activate Devoted Druid’s ability because it would not be legal for her to pay the cost of putting a -1/-1 counter on her creature [CR 614.16b].
A: Yes. Anointed Procession’s replacement effect applies before Vizier of Many Faces’ effect because entering the battlefield is contained within creating the token [CR 616.1f]. Therefore, the additional token is created first, then each of the tokens’ “enters as a copy” replacement effects is applied separately.
Note: Ordinarily replacement effects that cause an object to enter the battlefield as a copy of something (like Vizier of Many Faces’) are applied before other replacement effects (like Anointed Procession’s) [CR 616.1c]. The rule cited above is new and was created to address this sort of situation.
A: Surprisingly, no. Loyal readers may remember a similar question from my Aether Revolt new set digest, and the answer hasn’t changed. The reason you don’t get a counter here has to do with the way replacement effects like Metallic Mimic’s are applied. To see which replacement effects apply as an object is entering the battlefield, you look at what that object’s characteristics would be on the battlefield ignoring any continuous effects (with certain exceptions) that would be acting on it [CR 614.12]. This means the game sees a Bear entering the battlefield, not a Bear Zombie, so Metallic Mimic can’t alter this event.
A: Yes. The text “except it’s…” in embalm’s CR entry indicates that embalm grants the Zombie type by modifying the copying process rather than making the token a copy and adding that type in later [CR 706.9c]. Replacement effects that have modified an object’s characteristics (including “enters the battlefield as a copy” effects) are one of the exceptions to the rule cited above, which means they are taken into account when determining which replacement effects apply [CR 614.12].
A: Yes. Exert only stops a permanent from untapping during your next untap step [CR 701.37a]. If it untaps another way, or even if it never taps at all because it has vigilance, all that means is that you just got some extra value.
A: Each exertion is tied to the untap step of the player who chose to exert it [CR 701.37a]. This means that during Amy’s next untap step, Emberhorn Minotaur will not untap because Amy exerted it. Then, during Nicole’s untap step, Emberhorn Minotaur will not untap because Nicole exerted it (and, you know, because Amy’s permanents don’t usually untap during that time anyway). The next turn, it will untap during Amy’s untap step.
A: Amy skips the untap step during her extra turn, so the “doesn’t untap during your next untap step” part of exert will not be satisfied during that turn [CR 614.10a]. During the next untap step that Amy actually takes, Emberhorn Minotaur will not untap, then it will untap as usual during the one after that.
A: Yes. In exerting Glory-Bound Initiate, Amy chose to have it not untap during her next untap step [CR 701.37a]. Glory-Bound Initiate is free to untap during a different step, including Nicole’s untap step.
Note: Suppose Nicole also controls a Seedborn Muse and attacks with Glory-Bound Initiate during her turn. Even if Nicole doesn’t exert it, Glory-Bound Initiate is still affected by the exert ability from when Amy attacked, which means it will not untap during Amy’s untap step like Seedborn Muse wants it to. If Nicole exerts Glory-Bound Initiate when she attacks with it, that means it will not untap during Nicole’s next untap step.
A: It’s possible to exert the same permanent multiple times per turn [CR 701.37b]. This will match Emberhorn Minotaur’s trigger condition, so the ability that gives it +1/+1 will trigger again. Each effect saying that Emberhorn Minotaur doesn’t untap will expire during the same untap step, so Amy will get extra value without any additional investment [CR 701.37b].
A: It’s exiled. There are two replacement effects that want to modify this event: one from Memory’s aftermath ability and one from Remand. Remand’s replacement effect is applied first because it’s a self-replacement effect [CR 616.1a, 616.1d]. After that, Memory’s effect applies. Aftermath’s rules text states that “If this spell was cast from a graveyard, exile it instead of putting it anywhere else any time it would leave the stack” [CR 702.126a]. This still applies even though the event has been modified from [put Commit // Memory into its owner’s graveyard] to [Put Commit // Memory into its owner’s hand], so Commit // Memory is exiled.
Note: This is exactly the same reason why Remanding a spell cast with flashback exiles the card rather than returning it to its owner’s hand.
Q: How many time counters do I need on As Foretold to cast Beck? Call? Can I cast them fused?
A: The decision of whether to use the alternate cost permitted by As Foretold is made as part of the process of casting the spell [CR 601.2b]. As such, the choice of which half (or both halves) of the split card is being cast has already been made by this point [CR 708.3]. This means that the split card will have only the characteristics of the half (or halves) being cast [CR 708.3b]. You therefore will need 2 time counters to cast Beck, 6 to cast Call, or 8 to cast them fused.
A: In either case, the answer is two card types. A split card is one card, but off the stack, it has the combined characteristics of both halves [CR 708.4]. Just as an Alpha Myr counts as both an artifact and a creature, Spring // Mind counts as both an instant and a sorcery.
A: No. That doesn’t even make sense. How would that even work?
All kidding aside, this is the biggest rules change that was made this time around. Split cards only ever have one set of characteristics now. On the stack, those are the characteristics of the half that’s being cast. Anywhere else, it’s the combined characteristics of both halves. If a spell is being cast fused, it has the combined characteristics of both halves. Applied to this example, this would mean that Breaking // Entering has a converted mana cost of 8, which means it cannot be cast using an expertise.
A: In the past, Wear // Tear would have been considered to have a mana cost of 1 and 2 when revealed, meaning it would counter a 1 drop or a 2 drop (but not a 3 drop, since neither half had CMC 3). Now, Wear // Tear has only one mana cost [CR 708.4]. In the library, this is 1WR, which means that it will counter a 3 drop, but not a 1 or 2 drop.
A: If you’re paying attention, you might think it’s 2UR. After all, when Snapcaster Mage gives flashback to Fire // Ice, that’s what its mana cost is. The new rules clarify that the value associated with the flashback ability is updated continuously [CR 702.1b]. So when Amy chooses to cast the Fire half, the flashback cost changes to accord with the mana cost of Fire, so she only has to pay 1R.
Note: If you liked these, check out my Returning Mechanic Review article on split cards for more examples.
A: No. Having moved to the stack and resolved, the Murderous Compulsion card in her graveyard is a new object with no connection to the card Amy discarded [CR 400.7]. As such, Shadow of the Grave can’t find it to return to Amy’s hand.
Note: If Amy declined to or couldn’t cast Murderous Compulsion, it would have gone to her graveyard after being exiled by the madness ability. These zone changes are specifically exempted from the above-cited rule by a new addition to the CR [CR 400.7i]. Fortunately for Amy, this means that Shadow of the Grave can find Murderous Compulsion if it’s discarded, but not cast. Unfortunately for me, I had to change my Eight Exceptions article.
A: Astute readers may have asked themselves this question since Amonkhet debuted this new template: a trigger that happens when you “put” counters on a creature rather than when the counters be “placed” on it. You would think that wholesale moving all existing effects like this to a new template would be pretty game-changing, right? Those who like big sweeping changes which you get to write lots of neat rules questions about might be a bit disappointed. Really, it’s just exactly the same as the old template except it uses “put” instead of “placed” [CR 121.6]. What that means for this question is that you do get a snake token, since, for an object entering the battlefield, if it doesn’t specifically say who puts the counters on it, that object’s owner is considered to put the counters on [CR 121.6a].
A: OK, so I guess there is one small change. Before, we didn’t need a rule that said who was putting the counters on in cases like this, but now we do. So we have a new rule for infect [CR 702.89c] and wither [CR 702.79a] stating that yes, the controller of the infect/wither creature is considered to be putting -1/-1 counters on the creature that’s being dealt damage by it.
Q: Amy casts a Malfunction on Nicole’s Grizzly Bears, then says “pass.” Nicole never taps Grizzly Bears, but proceeds to her turn and says “Go to combat?”. Amy notices and says that Grizzly Bears should be tapped. Nicole contends that Amy missed her trigger. How do you rule?
A: Amy indeed did miss her trigger to tap Grizzly Bears by not demonstrating awareness of it until after the time it would have resolved. Still, the fact that the action required to acknowledge it would involve handling another player’s cards made missing this sort of trigger more common than normal. As such, there is now a new type of trigger that is resolved regardless of how much time has passed between when it should have triggered and when it was noticed [IPG 2.1]. This rule applies to:
- enters-the-battlefield triggers of auras
- that affect only the enchanted permanent, and
- cause a visible change to that permanent.
Such triggers are resolved immediately, regardless of when the trigger should have happened (and without giving the opponent a choice in the matter).
Q: Are Invocations legal?
A: Yes. Or, at least, they’re just as legal as Inventions or Expeditions or any of the other Masterpiece cards. The line in the MTR prohibiting gold-bordered cards was even specifically removed to accommodate them [MTR 3.3]. So let those awesome/ugly (depending on who you ask) spells fly!
Note: Cards in the World Championship Decks series, which the prohibition on gold-bordered cards was intended to outlaw, are still not legal for tournament play due to not having a standard Magic back. It’s unclear how those cards are any more problematic for tournament play than double-faced cards, which have a specific exemption excepting them from this rule, but for the time being, they’re still not allowed.
Q: What’s this I hear about a new infraction type?
A: Deck/Decklist problem is now two separate infractions. Decklist Problem covers mistakes made while filling out a decklist, including ambiguous card names (Liliana), cards not registered, or losing cards during the tournament and needing to replace them with basic lands. Deck Problem covers cases where the deck doesn’t match what the decklist says but the decklist matches what the player meant to play including failure to desideboard. And that’s really the only change. Stuff that was a Game Loss before still is; stuff that was a downgrade is now a Warning. There’s only one real change that came out of all this, and it’s noted in the next question.
Q: Amy draws her opening hand in game 1 and calls for a judge. Away from the table, she explains that her opening hand contained 2 Rest in Peaces, but she only plays that card in her sideboard. What do you do?
A: This is a Deck Problem, for which the penalty is a Warning. So far, we’re exactly the same as the old rules (except for the name). The fix has changed slightly. Rather than taking both Rest in Peaces from Amy’s hand, we just have her mulligan. Of course, we first must fix her deck by restoring all the maindeck cards from the sideboard and getting any other sideboard cards still in her main deck where they belong.
Q: Amy casts Chandra, Flamecaller while she controls a Nimble-Blade Khenra. Nicole says “I’ll Disallow,” taps three Islands, and puts Disallow in her graveyard. Amy says “Resolves” and puts Chandra on the battlefield. When Nicole asks what she is doing, Amy says she thought Nicole was countering the prowess trigger. Nicole replies that she was obviously countering Chandra and the players call a judge. How do you rule?
A: This is a very important change that was made to the tournament shortcuts. In the past, a player who cast a spell that could target something on the stack was assumed to be targeting the topmost “object” (meaning spell or ability) that was legal to target, so Amy would have been right [MTR 4.2]. Up until Disallow, this didn’t really come up, but now it does, so this shortcut has been revised so that it only can force a player to target a spell this way.
Q: Amy says “Go to combat?” and Nicole responds “OK.” Amy then crews her Heart of Kirin and attacks with it. Nicole calls a judge and says that Amy missed her chance to crew Heart of Kiran before the Declare Attackers Step. How do you rule?
A: We turn our attention now to the most conspicuous and most impactful change in this revision: the new combat shortcut. In the past, Nicole would have been right. “Go to combat” and any equivalent statements are a standardized tournament shortcut that used to move past the last opportunity the attacking player had to crew vehicles before attackers were declared. As such, after a lot of complaints from players who got blown out by the counterintuitive way this worked, that shortcut has been revised.
The way it works now is that “Go to combat” passes only to the Beginning of Combat step. The non-active player is assumed to be acting there unless otherwise stated. The active player thus has a chance to animate vehicles or manlands before progressing into the Declare Attackers step.
Q: Amy plays Surrak, the Hunt Caller and says “Go to attacks?” and Nicole responds “OK.” Amy then attacks with Surrak, saying that she’s giving it haste with its ability. Nicole protests that Amy has missed her trigger and calls a judge. How do you rule?
A: This is another situation that the new combat shortcut “fixes.” Under the old rules, Nicole would be correct in saying that Amy missed her trigger since the combat shortcut would have skipped past the point where it triggered, and Amy didn’t recognize the trigger by declaring a target until afterwards. Now, the active player has a chance to recognize triggered abilities that trigger during the Beginning of Combat step after using the combat shortcut, even those that require a target. These triggers can be validly announced after any non-active player action has resolved.
Q: Amy says “Declare attackers?” and Nicole replies “I’ll tap your Battle-Rattle Shaman.” Amy then says “Buff my Grizzly Bears and attack with it.” At this, Nicole says that she wants to tap Grizzly Bears instead. What do you do?
A: This is a play that the new shortcut unfortunately makes possible. If both players were playing technically correctly, Amy would have to say which creature she was targeting with Battle-Rattle Shaman before Nicole decided which one to tap. Nicole tipped her hand here by acting first. Amy is allowed to announce this trigger after Nicole’s actions resolve, and doing so here means she can attack with a creature that wouldn’t have gotten a buff if Nicole played more carefully.
Note: Nicole can protect herself from this if she waits until after the Battle-Rattle Shaman’s ability resolves before playing her tap effect.
Note: This is one instance where the outcome with the new shortcut is “worse” than the outcome with the old one. Because there is an endless number of ways for that players can screw up, no shortcut system will deal with all of them the best way possible. We have to balance between having a system that’s easy to explain and gets the right answer the most amount of the time.
Q: Amy says “Combat?” and Nicole says “Sure.” Amy then taps both her Grizzly Bear and her Hill Giant. Nicole then says “Wait, before you attack, I want to tap your Hill Giant” and shows a Twiddle. Amy protests that Nicole has missed her chance to do so. How do you rule?
A: This is another somewhat undesireable consequence of the new combat shortcut. There are technically two chances for the non-active player to cast a spell between the main phase and when attackers are declared. There’s no good way to combine these into a single priority pass for the non-active player without taking away the priority pass from the active player that lies between them. That priority pass from the active player is important: it’s the time when “beginning of combat” triggers happen and the last opportunity for the active player to crew vehicles and animate manlands. The new combat shortcut gives this priority pass back to the active player, but the cost is that now, technically, the non-active player can take actions twice. The technically correct sequence for the active player would be something like:
A: Declare attackers?
N: Tap your Hill Giant
It’s longer, and a bit annoying, but it definitely matches better with how players actually play.
Note: In addition, this way of handling the priority passes in combat syncs well with the way we handle players taking action during their opponent’s upkeep. The active player drawing for turn doesn’t take this ability away, even though it happens afterwards. In the same way, the active player declaring an attack doesn’t take away the non-active player’s ability to do something in the Beginning of Combat step. And just like with upkeep actions, either player can play around “gotcha” moments by making an extra effort to communicate clearly exactly where they are in the turn.