M19 New Set Digest

Read this article in Chinese here.

Whenever a new set comes out, there’s always rules, policy, and lots of other changes to go with it. If trying to keep up with everything is giving you a headache, you’re in the right spot. This article has everything you’ll need all in one place.

Q: How can I keep on top of all the news relevant to me as a judge?

A: When I started writing these articles, it was because I was frustrated that there was so many changes to keep track of when a new set came out and no good way to keep track of it all since they were fragmented among so many articles and posts all over the internet. Following in the same spirit of wanting to help everyone stay current with the minimum amount of effort, I started the Twitter account @JudgingNews to compile all the important stuff together in one spot. “Important stuff” includes the opening of PPTQ scheduling windows, Exemplar waves closing, announcements from WotC and the program coordinators, and other announcements I feel are significant to the judge program as a whole. Follow that account, and you won’t have to worry about being out of the loop. If you have a tip, tweet @JudgingNews so everyone can know about it as soon as possible.

Note: It would feel a little weird advertising that new Twitter account without also mentioning that @JudgingFtW has its own Twitter too. I use that account to announce when new content is available on JudgingFtW’s Twitch, YouTube, and blog, so check it out if you’d like to see other projects I’m involved in.

New Cards

Q: Can you Abrupt Decay Nicol Bolas, the Arisen?

A: No. The converted mana cost of a double-faced card is based on the mana cost of its front face, even if its back face is up [CR 711.4b]. As a result, Nicol Bolas, the Arisen’s converted mana cost is 4, so it isn’t a legal target for Abrupt Decay.

Note: The game looks at the back face when determining the converted mana cost only, not for any other qualities such as color or mana cost [CR 711.4b]. This is why Nicol Bolas, the Arisen needs a color indicator – without one, it would be colorless! So if Nicol Bolas, the Arisen is enchanted by Essence Leak, it will have the “sacrifice me” ability, but only because its color indicator makes it red. It won’t be possible to pay its mana cost because Nicol Bolas, the Arisen doesn’t have one, so its controller will have to sacrifice it.

Note: For more information about how double-faced cards work in general, check out the returning mechanics review article.

Q: Amy Clones Nicole’s Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, then activates Clone’s 4UBR ability. What happens?

A: Clone is exiled just fine, but the game runs into a problem when it tries to return Clone to the battlefield transformed. Since Clone is a non-double-faced card, putting it onto the battlefield transformed is an impossible action, so it stays exiled [CR 711.8a]

Q: Amy targets Nicole with her Grapeshot and all 19 copies of it. Amy controls a Amulet of Safekeeping. Does Amy have to pay 1 for just her original Grapeshot, or for all the copies also?

A: Each copy of Grapeshot is a spell [CR 706.10], and each one targets Nicole. Thus, Nicole “becomes the target” of each copy that’s created. Amy will have to pay 1 more for the original Grapeshot and the copies also.

Note: Nicole is also considered to have “become the target” of a Grapeshot copy if Amy targets something else (perhaps one of Nicole’s creatures) and changes the copy to Nicole.

Q: Amy controls Ajani’s Pridemate and attacks with two lifelink creatures. How many times does Ajani’s Pridemate trigger?

A: Abilities that read “whenever you gain life” trigger whenever a source causes you to gain life [CR 118.9]. The two lifelink creatures are considered two different sources, even though the combat damage is all dealt at the same time, so Ajani’s Pridemate triggers twice.

Q: Amy controls Ajani’s Pridemate and attacks with a creature that has lifelink and trample. Nicole chump blocks, so Amy deals lethal damage to the creature and has the rest trample over to Nicole. How many times does Ajani’s Pridemate trigger?

A: Unlike the previous situation, only one source is dealing damage here, even though the damage is being dealt to two different things. All the combat damage is dealt at the same time, so Ajani’s Pridemate will only see one instance of Amy gaining life.

Q: How does Alpine Moon work with…

  • Urza’s Tower? A: Lands your opponent controls named “Urza’s Tower” will lose all land types and all abilities, so they won’t be able to tap for 3, just one mana or any color. Urza’s Mine and Urza’s Power Plant both look for lands with the types “Urza’s” and “Tower,” which, due to Alpine Moon, your opponent won’t have. Therefore, neither of those lands will be able to tap for 2.
  • Vesuva? A: If Alpine Moon entered before Vesuva, it will cause Vesuva to lose its “enters the battlefield as a copy” ability before it applies [CR 614.12]. Vesuva will enter the battlefield as a land that doesn’t have any abilities except that it can tap for any color of mana. If Vesuva enters first, it will copy the other land’s name as part of the copying process [CR 706.2], so Alpine Moon won’t affect it at all.
  • Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth? A: In layer 4, Urborg wants to give all lands the Swamp land type and Alpine Moon wants to make Urborg lose all land types. There is no dependency between these effects. In particular, applying Urborg first does not change what Alpine Moon’s effect does; it just changes how relevant the thing that Alpine Moon does is. This being the case, they are applied in timestamp order. If Alpine Moon entered after Urborg, Urborg will not be a Swamp; otherwise it will. All other lands will become Swamps at the time Urborg’s ability applies. The thing that gives Swamps the ability to tap for B is a rule in the CR, not a continuous effect, so that happens at this point too; it doesn’t wait until its appropriate layer to happen [CR 305.6]. In layer 6, Alpine Moon makes Urborg lose all abilities. This means it no longer has the “T: Add B” ability, even if it is a Swamp. It also loses the ability that makes all lands into Swamps, but this doesn’t have any significance because that effect already applied. In this layer, Alpine Moon also gives Urborg the ability to tap for any color of mana.
  • Dryad Arbor? A: Dryad Arbor will lose all land types, but its other card types and subtypes are unaffected [CR 205.1a]. So Dryad Arbor will be a Creature Land – Dryad. Dryad Arbor will lose the ability to tap for G, but will gain the ability to tap for any color. Dryad Arbor is still green because that comes from a color indicator, not an ability. Dryad Arbor still is a creature, so it’s still subject to all the rules that apply to creatures, including the one that says you can’t tap it unless it started the turn under your control.
  • Snow-Covered Island? A: Alpine Moon only lets you choose a “nonbasic land card name.” Because Snow-Covered Island has the supertype “Basic,” it is a basic land, so its name can’t be picked.
  • Dark Depths? A: If Dark Depths enters the battlefield after Alpine Moon, it loses the ability that makes it enter with ice counters before that ability can apply, so it doesn’t get any [CR 614.12]. If Dark Depths enters first, it gets the counters and they stay on, even though they don’t have a real purpose anymore. In either case, Dark Depths loses the ability that makes you sacrifice it when it has 0 ice counters also. Because Alpine Moon does not affect supertypes, Dark Depths remains a “Legendary Snow Land” and is still considered Legendary, so the legend rule still applies to it. Furthermore, Dark Depths is still a Snow permanent. Any mana produced by a Snow permanent can be used to pay S costs [CR 107.4h], so the mana of any color from Dark Depths’ new ability can still be used for, say, the snow mana required for a Mouth of Ronom activation.

Q: Amy controls Arcades, the Strategist and uses Prey Upon to have her Novice Knight fight Nicole’s Hill Giant. What happens?

A: This is a real rookie move. A fight is not considered “combat damage” [CR 701.12d], so Arcades’ ability has no bearing on how much damage is dealt.

Q: Amy attacks with Arcades, the Strategist and Wall of Mist. Nicole plays a kill spell on Arcades before damage. What happens?

A: Although it wouldn’t be legal to attack with Wall of Mist now, at the time it was declared as an attacker, it was legal to do so. Accordingly, Wall of Mist remains an attacking creature and will deal damage as normal [CR 506.4a]. Unfortunately, because Arcades is no longer on the battlefield, Wall of Mist deals combat damage equal to its power; that is to say, it doesn’t deal damage at all [CR 510.1a].

Q: Amy plays Banefire with X=5 targeting Nicole’s Grizzly Bears. Nicole responds by casting Blinding Fog. What happens?

A: Because Grizzly Bears now has hexproof, it is no longer a legal target for Banefire. Since all of Banefire’s target’s are illegal, Banefire is removed from the stack without any of its effects happening [CR 608.2b]. This is not considered “countering” Banefire or “preventing” the damage because the CR description of this process does not use either of those words, so the value of X has no bearing on the answer.

Note: In the past, spells with no legal targets were countered by the game rules as they tried to resolve, but today, the CR just says they are “removed from the stack” without using the word “countered” to describe the process [CR 608.2b]. This is why the original Banefire used the templating “can’t be countered by spells or abilities” whereas the current wording of the card just says “can’t be countered.”

Q: Amy attacks with Brawl-Bash Ogre. Nicole wants to cast Lightning Bolt on it after Amy sacrifices a creature, but before it gets +2/+2. Can she?

A: No. The option to sacrifice a creature is one of the effects of Brawl-Bash Ogre’s ability. As such, this choice (as well as which creature to sacrifice) happens as the ability resolves [CR 117.12]. No player gets priority between the time when Amy sacrifices the creature and when Brawl-Bash Ogre starts getting +2/+2 [CR 608.2f]. Even if Nicole could somehow play Lightning Bolt during this time, state-based actions wouldn’t be checked until after the ability finished resolving, so Brawl-Bash Ogre wouldn’t die anyway.

Note: In a tournament, Nicole does have the ability to respond to the trigger, even though this templating could cause some infromation leaks. Since most people don’t announce the trigger unless they intend to use it, Nicole can use that cue to Bolt the Ogre knowing that Amy is probably planning to sacrifice something. To avoid this, Amy would have to announce the trigger every turn and only reveal that she wasn’t sacrificing something after Nicole let the trigger resolve.

Q: Amy hits Commit // Memory with Chaos Wand. Can she cast Memory?

A: Commit // Memory is an instant or sorcery card, so Amy can play it. In the process of casting a split card, there’s a step where the player has to decide what half to cast [CR 708.3]. Part of what Aftermath means is “This half of this split card can’t be cast from any zone other than a graveyard” [CR 702.126a]. Because Amy is casting it from exile, she can only cast the Commit half.

Note: For the same reason, Amy will have to comply with timing, control-based, or other restrictions the spell has. Chaos Wand can bypass restrictions from the CR on when you can cast the spell (such as the fact that you normally can’t cast spells during the resolution of an activated ability), but it doesn’t let you disregard restrictions that come from the card you’re casting or from other applicable effects [CR 101.1, 101.2]

Note: Similarly fuse split cards can only be cast fused from the hand, so Amy could cast Wear or Tear, but not both.

Q: Does Detection Tower let you get around hexproof from color abilities too?

A: Yes. Any effect that allows hexproof creatures to be targeted as though they did not have hexproof also works on “hexproof from quality” abilities [CR 702.11e].

Q: Amy plays Fraying Omnipotence. Nicole discards Obstinate Baloth as one of the cards in her hand. Is this card in play in time to count as one of the creatures Nicole controls when the Fraying Omnipotence is making her sacrifice?

A: Yes. Obstinate Baloth has a replacement effect, which means the act of Nicole discarding it is replaced by Nicole putting it on the battlefield, and that happens at the same point at which the original event would have happened [CR 614.6]. Fraying Omnipotence uses three verbs, so the process happens in three distinct actions [CR 608.2e], and these happen in the order written [CR 608.2c]. This means that when the game is having Nicole sacrifice half of her creatures, Obstinate Baloth will be one of them.

Note: Gaining life with Obstinate Baloth happens as a triggered ability, which means it does not happen until after Fraying Omnipotence has finished resolving.

Note: In the same way, Ajani’s Last Stand puts the Angel token in using a triggered ability, so that creature would not be counted during the sacrificing if you discard it to your opponent’s Fraying Omnipotence.

Q: Amy casts Fraying Omnipotence in a Two-Headed Giant game. What happens?

A: A lot of stuff, but the one with the biggest consequence will be each player losing half their life. When the game needs to know a player’s life total in a 2HG game, it uses the team’s life total [CR 810.9a]. Since each player is losing half of the team’s life total rounded up, each team will end at either 0 or -1 life. The next time state-based actions are checked, both teams will have 0 or less life, so they will both lose the game [CR 704.5t]. Because both teams lose the game at the same time, the game is a draw [CR 104.4d].

Note: Two-Headed Giant matches are played first to one, not best of one, so as long as there is time left in the round, the teams start another game [MTR 9.1]. The team that chose to play or draw in the drawn game has the option to play or draw in the new game that they will start [MTR 2.2].

Q: Amy controls a tapped Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma and 4 untapped Mountains. Can she cast Maraxus of Keld?

A: Yes. Following the sequence of casting a spell, the first relevant thing that happens is the determination of costs. Maraxus has a characteristic-defining ability, which means it functions everywhere, including on the stack [CR 112.6a]. When the game is determining whether Goreclaw’s ability applies to Maraxus, it will see that Amy has 4 untapped lands, so Maraxus will be 4/4. Because Goreclaw’s ability applies, the game sets the cost to cast Maraxus at 2RR. After this, Amy has an opportunity to activate mana abilities. Tapping all her Mountains will reduce Maraxus to 0/0, but the cost to cast Maraxus has already been determined. The game doesn’t re-calculate what the cost “should be” after that point [CR 601.2f].

Note: Maraxus counts itself, so it won’t immediately die for having 0 toughness once it gets on the battlefield.

Q: Amy taps six Mountains to cast Maraxus of Keld while she controls Sarkhan’s Unsealing. She controls no other permanents. What happens?

A: A spell isn’t considered “cast” until all the steps for casting it have been completed, including paying its costs [CR 601.2i]. What this means is that by the time the game will look to see if Maraxus has triggered Sarkhan’s Unsealing, all of Amy’s Mountains will be tapped. Since Maraxus’ characteristic-defining ability applies anywhere and constantly updates Maraxus’ power, when the game is checking to see if Sarkhan’s Unsealing should trigger, Maraxus has 0 power, so nothing happens.

Q: Amy plays Hungering Hydra for X = 7 while she controls Sarkhan’s Unsealing. Does it trigger?

A: No. Hungering Hydra only gets the counters when it resolves and enters the battlefield. Because Hungering Hydra doesn’t have +1/+1 counters yet when it’s cast, Sarkhan’s Unsealing sees a creature spell with an unimpressive 0 power.

Q: Amy plays Infernal Reckoning on Nicole’s Lore Seeker. In response, Nicole casts a spell that gives Lore Seeker -6/-0. What happens?

A: Lore Seeker is exiled and Amy gains -4 life. It’s not possible to gain a negative amount of life [CR 107.1b], so that part just doesn’t happen. Amy stays at the same life total.

Q: Nicole has a Grizzly Bears enchanted by Infernal Scarring. Amy casts Hour of Revelation. Does Nicole draw a card?

A: Hour of Revelation destroys Grizzly Bears and Infernal Scarring at the same time. The triggered ability from Infernal Scarring is a “leaves-the-battlefield” trigger, which means that it triggers based on the game state immediately before the trigger event. At that time, Grizzly Bears had the “draw a card” ability, so Nicole draws a card.

Note: The templating of Infernal Scarring indicates that the creature’s controller draws a card, not Infernal Scarring’s controller.

Q: Amy and Nicole both control Magistrate’s Scepter. During her main phase, Amy activates hers to take an extra turn. Nicole responds to this ability by doing the same thing. What happens?

A: The most recently created turn will be taken first [CR 500.7]. Amy’s extra turn is created later than Nicole’s, so Amy will take the next turn. After that, Nicole will take her extra turn. After that, the game will go to whoever’s turn it was supposed to be before any of these extra turns were created, in this case, Nicole.

Note: If Nicole waits to activate her scepter until after the ability from Amy’s has resolved, the next turn will be taken by Nicole, then the next after that will be taken by Amy, then Nicole will take her regular turn.

Q: Amy uses Metamorphic Alteration to make her Grizzly Bears into a Guma. What happens?

A: As soon as Metamorphic Alteration enters the battlefield, Grizzly Bears will be a copy of Guma and will have protection from blue. State-based actions will then put Metamorphic Alteration into Amy’s graveyard, at which point, Grizzly Bears will revert to its ordinary self.

Q: Amy uses Metamorphic Alteration to make her Grizzly Bears into a copy of Nicole’s Dimir Doppelganger. Later Nicole activates Dimir Doppelganger’s ability, exiling a Hill Giant. What does Grizzly Bears look like now?

A: If a static ability generates a copy effect, the copiable values that effect grants are determined only once, at the time that effect first starts to apply [CR 706.2c]. This being the case, Grizzly Bears is a normal Dimir Doppelganger, not a Hill Giant.

Q: Amy plays Omniscience then casts Apex of Power for free. In response, her opponent casts Disenchant on Omniscience. What happens?

A: Because Amy cast Apex of Power from her hand, she gets 10 mana. Apex of Power doesn’t specify that this mana can only be spent on casting those spells, so Amy is free to use it on whatever she wants.

Note: Nicole can’t cast Disenchant before Amy casts a spell because Amy, as the active player, is the first to receive priority after Onmiscience resolves [CR 116.3b].

Note: Omniscience only applies to cards cast from your hand. Since the cards “drawn” with Apex of Power are actually cast from exile, you can’t play them for free even if you do have Omniscience out.

Q: Amy activates the -7 ability of Liliana, the Necromancer and returns Phylactery Lich and Lore Seeker to the battlefield. Amy controls no other artifacts. What happens?

A: Phylactery Lich’s ability has you put a counter on an artifact as it enters the battlefield. This makes it a replacement effect. As such, it applies immediately before Phylactery Lich enters the battlefield [CR 614.12a]. Because Lore Seeker is entering at the same time as Phylactery Lich, it won’t be on the battlefield yet either. So Amy won’t be able to put a counter on anything, and Phylactery Lich’s sacrifice ability will trigger immediately.

Q: Amy controls two Phylactery Liches and two Lore Seekers. Each lich put a counter on one of the seekers. If one Lore Seeker is destroyed, what happens?

A: Nothing much. Phylactery Lich’s ability triggers when you control no permanents with phylactery counters on them. Because Amy still controls one permanent with a phylactery counter on it, both liches are safe. If the second Lore Seeker is destroyed, she will have to sacrifice both of the liches.

Q: Amy plays Rise from the Grave on a Vestige of Emrakul. Can Nicole use Infernal Reckoning to exile it?

A: No. Both devoid and the “becomes black” part of Rise from the Grave’s effect apply in layer 5. Because devoid is a characteristic-defining ability, it is applied first [CR 613.2]. So Vestige of Emrakul first becomes colorless, then becomes black in addition to its other colors. Because Vestige of Emrakul is one or more colors, it isn’t considered a colorless permanent anymore, since “colorless” means something that has no color [CR 105.2c]. Therefore, it isn’t a legal target for Infernal Reckoning.

Note: For the same reason, any artifact creature that Rises from the Grave is also not able to be targeted by Infernal Reckoning.

Q: Does cycling an Irrigated Farmland trigger Runic Armasaur?

A: No. An ability that refers to a “land” without any other qualifiers means a land card on the battlefield [CR 109.2]. Because Irrigated Farmland is cycled from the hand, the game considers this activating the ability of a “land card,” and abilities that look for such an event are templated to include that phrase.

Q: Can I cast Ugin, the Spirit Dragon with mana from Sarkhan, Fireblood?

A: No. This mana is only able to be spent on Dragon spells. A “Dragon spell” is a spell that has the subtype “Dragon” [CR 109.2b]. Ugin does not have this subtype, so it isn’t considered a Dragon spell, despite what you might see in its name, art, or the flavor text of various cards.


Q: Amy activates Inkmoth Nexus and then uses Skilled Animator to make Inkmoth Nexus a 5/5. What does Inkmoth Nexus look like now? What will it look like next turn?

A: Inkmoth Nexus is a 5/5 artifact creature land with flying and infect for the rest of the turn. After that, the effect from Inkmoth Nexus’ ability that makes it an artifact creature will wear off. Skilled Animator doesn’t care about that, though. Inkmoth Nexus was a legal target for its ability when it happened, so that effect will continue to apply to Inkmoth Nexus as long as Skilled Animator is on the battlefield. Although that effect doesn’t use the phrase “in addition to its other types,” Inkmoth Nexus is still a land because for some reason, effects that make something an “artifact creature” default to letting the permanent they affect keep its original types without needing to use that phrase [CR 205.1b].

Note: Activating Inkmoth Nexus’ ability again will give it flying and infect, but that will also set up another p/t setting effect with a later timestamp. Inkmoth Nexus will be a 1/1 artifact creature land with flying and infect in this case.

Q: Amy plays a Sparktongue Dragon. Can she kill Nicole’s Departed Deckhand without having to pay the 2R?

A: No. Unlike previous cards with this sort of ability, Departed Deckhand is only sacrificed when it becomes the target of a spell. This trend started in Amonkhet with Labyrinth Guardian and continued in Ixalan with the -2 ability of Jace, Cunning Castaway. Remember to read the friendly card to make sure it works the way you think it does.

Q: Amy plays a Sparktongue Dragon. Can she kill Nicole’s Frost Walker without having to pay the 2R?

A: The answer is still no, but this time, the templating for Sparktongue Dragon is responsible. Flametongue Dragon’s ability is split into two triggers: one that happens when it enters the battlefield that doesn’t target anything, and one that triggers when its controller pays 2R that targets Frost Walker. Because the ability that targets Frost Walker doesn’t trigger until Amy pays the 2R, Frost Walker will not be sacrificed unless Amy pays.

Note: Some similar abilities are worded so that the damage happens “if you do,” rather than “when,” which would let you kill Frost Walker without paying. The trend towards making this type of ability into a reflexive trigger also started in Amonkhet with Heart-Piercer Manticore.

Note: This templating trend only seems to affect targeted abilities. For instance, Spit Flame retains the old templating, returning “if” you pay, rather than “when” you pay.

Q: Amy uses Suncleanser on Nicole’s Devoted Druid. Nicole also controls Vizier of Remedies. Can Nicole make infinite mana?

A: The Devoted Druid/Vizier of Remedies combo functions because the vizier’s replacement effect modifies the action taken to pay the cost of the Devoted Druid’s untap ability. The new action becomes [put 0 -1/-1 counters on Devoted Druid], so you can do it as many times as you want. As long as Suncleanser is in play, though, it’s not legal to pay a cost that involves putting counters on Devoted Druid [CR 614.17b]. The game can’t tell that Vizier of Remedies’ replacement effect is going to change the actions needed to pay this cost into something else because that happens later, during the step where the cost is actually paid, whereas the Suncleanser intervenes during the step where the cost is determined.

Q: Amy plays Switcheroo. In response, Nicole gives one of the creatures hexproof. What happens?

A: Because at least one target is still legal, Switcheroo will still resolve and will do as much as it can [CR 608.2b]. However, that isn’t very much. The target that’s illegal cannot be affected by Switcheroo, so its control doesn’t change [ibid.]. Because one part of the exchange can’t happen, no part of the exchange happens [CR 701.10a].

Note: Suppose instead of a hexproof spell, Nicole had played Turn Against on Amy’s creature. Switcheroo doesn’t specify that the targets need to be controlled by specific players, so its targets are all still legal here. On the other hand, if the game tries to exchange control of two permanents that are both controlled by the same player, nothing happens [CR 701.10b]. Nicole doesn’t permanently keep Amy’s creature, and Amy doesn’t gain control of either creature.

Q: Amy uses Transmogrifying Wand on Nicole’s Grizzly Bears. In response, Nicole plays a spell that makes Grizzly Bears indestructible. What happens?

A: Transmogrifying Wand’s ability doesn’t make the 2/4 Ox token contingent upon destroying the creature using templating like “if you do” or “when it dies this turn.” So the ability will do as much as it can, not destroying the indestructible creature, but creating the Ox.

Note: If Nicole’s spell had granted hexproof instead of indestructible, Transmogrifying Wand’s ability would have no legal targets when it tried to resolve and would be removed from the stack with no effect. Nicole’s creature would still be safe, but she wouldn’t get the extra value Ox.

Q: Amy uses Karn Liberated to restart the game with a Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire. When she attacks with Vaevictis, there are no other permanents in play. What happens?

A: Because Nicole has no permanents, it won’t be possible for Amy to choose target permanent she controls. Because it isn’t possible to choose a legal target for every target this ability requires, it will be removed from the stack with no effect after it triggers [CR 603.3d].

Q: Can I play Vivien’s Invocation if my opponent has no creatures?

A: Yes. An instant or sorcery is only considered to have targets if its spell ability uses the word “target” [CR 114.1a]. The “when a creature is put onto the battlefield this way” ability is not part of Vivien’s Invocation’s spell ability; it is a separate triggered ability that triggers while the spell is resolving [CR 112.3a, 603.12]. This means that Vivien’s Invocation has no targets; only its triggered ability does. For this reason, it’s legal to cast Vivien’s Invocation even if there are no creatures to target. In the same way, you can cast Manic Vandal even if there are no artifacts in play.

Note: Like Manic Vandal, the triggered ability on Vivien’s Invocation is not optional. If your opponent has a creature, you will have to fight it with whatever creature you put into play.

New Rules and Policy

Q: Nicole used Ixalan’s Binding to exile Amy’s Squee, the Immortal. Can Amy cast Squee?

A: No. Interestingly, this was possible under the previous rules. Amy could begin to cast Squee, the first step of which was to move it to the stack, then, when the game checked to see if it was legal to cast Squee, it wouldn’t be exiled with Ixalan’s Binding anymore. The rules team didn’t like this, so they decided to rain on Squee’s parade. Now, players can begin to cast a spell with qualities they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to cast, but only if choices made during casting could change those qualities. Since no choices made during the casting of Squee will change its name, it’s not legal to begin to cast it.

Note: The rules allow you to begin the process of casting a spell with qualities that would bar you from casting it because this does come up in legitimate ways too. For example, the rules team wanted players to be able to bestow if you have a Steel Golem or kill your opponent’s Void Winnower with a Rolling Thunder for 9.

Q: Amy activates the -7 ability of Sarkhan, Fireblood. Nicole responds with Crafty Cutpurse. After the tokens enter the battlefield, Amy casts Brand. What happens?

A: The owner of a token is the player who created it [CR 110.5]. Effects like Crafty Cutpurse and Gather Specimens change which player controls the token, but not which player creates it. Accordingly, the tokens here are still owned by Amy.

Note: The change here is in the rule cited. Previously, the owner of a token was defined to be the same as the person under whose control it entered the battlefield.

Q: How does drafting work with this set? Are players supposed to remove the basic land or not?

A: In M19, the basic land slot in a booster pack may be occupied instead by a checklist card or a nonbasic enters the battlefield tapped land like Meandering River. In order to make everyone have the same number of cards during a draft, whatever card is in this slot is kept in the booster [MTR 7.7].

Note: This means a lot of last picks will be spent on checklist cards which do literally nothing in a limited environment. Be sure to remind new players that they need the actual Nicol Bolas, the Ravager card if they want to play it in their decks.

Note: I have word that the sealed product for GP: Chiba has the basic lands and checklist cards removed, but the taplands in. This means that sealed pools for this GP will have differing numbers of cards in them. Be aware that this system may change to sync up with the draft policy, so judges are advised to consult with their team lead for information about this if they are on staff at a Limited GP that uses M19 product.

Q: Can I play Nine-Tail White Fox in Standard?

A: If you’ve never seen this card before, it’s from a product called the Global Series: Jiang Yanggu and Mu Yanling duel decks, which is marketed to Magic players in China. Basically, they’re just like normal duel decks, such as the recent Ajani vs. Tezzeret one, except with art, flavor text, and character design from Chinese inspired sources. These decks are available worldwide (Judges I polled indicated their availablity in several countries spanning Europe, Asia, and South America). The cards in them are legal for tournament play in Standard, but only in China [MTR 6.3]. They are legal in Legacy and Vintage everywhere, but not Modern.

Q: Amy has no cards in her library, but she has a Nexus of Fate. Can she cast Nexus of Fate and pass turn indefinitely to not lose the game?

A: No. Playing Nexus of Fate every turn like this constitutes a set of actions that could be repeated indefinitely, in other words, a loop [CR 720.1b]. Amy may execute this loop any number of times she wants, but the shortcut rules determine the results. Physically performing these actions over and over again would be considered Slow Play [IPG 3.3]. After going through some finite number of iterations, Amy will need to make another game decision, which will likely result in her getting decked.

Note: This answer is no different than it would have been before the MTR update. In fact, I wrote this question before the new MTR even came out! However the new section involving loops in the MTR gives us a new framework within which to evaluate questions like this and the next couple of examples.

Q: Amy controls Mox Opal, Academy Ruins, and Ensnaring Bridge, while Nicole has Gideon of the Trials and its emblem. Amy has no way to remove Gideon, and Nicole has no way to remove Ensnaring Bridge, nor of stopping Amy from using Academy Ruins to put a second Mox Opal on top of her library, playing it, and putting it in her graveyard via the legend rule every turn. What happens?

A: This, too is a loop, but one that spans multiple turns. Because only one person is involved in sustaining the loop, the answer is exactly the same as the previous one. Amy will be asked how many times she wants to proceed through the loop, then she will need to make a different game decision that leads to a different game state [MTR 4.4].

Q: Nicole controls Omniscience. During Amy’s end step, Nicole casts Intuition and gets Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Cunning Wish, and another Intuition. Amy opts to give Nicole the Intuition. After resolving Emrakul’s trigger, Nicole casts Intuition, finding the same three cards. At this point, Amy calls for a judge. What do you do?

A: This is a loop within a turn that both players are involved in maintaining. The procedure for such a loop is for each player, starting with Amy to say a number. Then, the game will process the lower number of iterations of the loop, and the player who said that number gets priority. If that player is Amy, she will probably pass priority, but this time, Nicole may not cast Intuition because that would be continuing the loop that just ended. If that player is Nicole, she again may not cast Intuition for the same reason.

Q: You are watching a tournament game at a GP and see Amy attack with Bomat Courier and forget to exile the top card of her library. What do you do?

A: A judge should not intervene in the case of a Missed Trigger unless he or she intends to issue a penalty, that is, unless the triggered ability in question is generally considered detrimental to the player. Although exiling the top card of your library is generally considered detrimental in a vacuum, Bomat Courier’s other ability pretty definitively turns the exile into an upside. In determining whether a triggered ability is detrimental or not, the game state should not factor into your evaluation, but other abilities on the card can. In this case, Bomat Courier’s triggered ability is not generally considered detrimental, so a judge should not intervene if it’s missed unless a player in that game brings it up.

Note: No rules or policy related to this answer have changed, but the policy update post by Toby Elliot pointed out that the program leadership has noticed a lot of confusion with this type of ruling. I’m including it here as a signal boost, and I encourage you to read his article for more information regarding the philosophy whether this type of trigger should be considered detrimental or not.

Q: As she is declaring attackers, Amy realizes that she forgot to untap one of her creatures that turn. She has already drawn for her draw step and she has a fetchland in play. What do you do?

A: Not untapping when you are instructed to is a Game Rule Violation. Before, we had only two rather unappealing options available under policy for such a situation: either leaving the game state as-is with the creature tapped, or backing up and potentially allowing Amy to change her draw. The new policy update adds “a player forgot to untap one or more objects at the start of their turn and it is still the same turn” to the list of situations with an approved partial fix, so we can just untap the creature now.

Q: In game 3 of their match in a Legacy event, Amy plays a turn 1 Deathrite Shaman. Nicole calls for a judge and points out that Deathrite Shaman is now banned in Legacy. Amy is new to the format, so she just copied a deck from a previous Legacy event, and didn’t realize that Deathrite Shaman was now banned. Amy’s decklist includes four Deathrite Shamans in the mainboard. What do you do?

A: By including a banned card in her decklist, Amy has committed a Decklist Problem and gets a Game Loss. Under the previous rules, only penalties for Decklist Problems discovered through a deck check were issued immediately. Decklist Problems discovered in other ways, such as was the case here, were issued at the start of the next round. Now, all Decklist Problems discovered in the context of a match and its procedures are infracted as soon as they are found, so Amy gets a Game Loss for game 3 of this match.

Note: Decklist Problems discovered outside the context of a match are still infracted at the beginning of the next round unless the judge believes there is strong evidence the deck itself is illegal. For instance, if a judge noticed during decklist sorting that Amy had listed Deathrite Shamans, that would be strong evidence that she was playing an illegal deck, so the proper procedure would be to find Amy, confirm away from the table that she is running Deathrite Shamans, and give the Game Loss there. On the other hand, if a judge noticed during decklist sorting that, for example, Amy was playing 16 sideboard cards, her deck is probably fine. Accordingly, this infraction should be deferred until the start of the next match.

Q: Amy sacrifices a fetchland on turn 1 and calls a judge while seaching her deck. Away from the table, she explains that she is supposed to have 1 Spell Pierce in her maindeck and 1 more in the sideboard, but that she sided it in last round and discovered during her search that she forgot to desideboard it for this match. What do you do?

A: This is a Deck Problem because Amy’s deck does not match her decklist. The base penalty of a Warning is upgraded to a Game Loss in situations where an error resulted in more copies of a main deck card being played than were registered and this was discovered after the game had begun. In this case, though, a new exception added to the rules softens the blow. Because all copies of the card in question are still in the random portion of the library, it’s possible to correct the error and play on. In cases like this, the upgrade does not apply and the penalty remains a Warning.

Q: Amy calls for a judge at the beginning of her match and points out that some cards in her opponent’s deck appear to be bowed. Away from the table, you confirm that Nicole has several foil cards in her deck, and they are badly warped. Five minutes later, she comes back from the vendor booths and says that she found replacements for some of the cards, but none of the vendors have Cryptic Commands in stock. What do you do?

A: Nicole’s cards are marked and must be replaced. If she cannot find replacements, the marked cards are removed from her deck and for each such card, Nicole’s choice of a Forest, Island, Mountain, Plains, or Swamp is added instead. As is made clear in the new rules, because this fix involves altering Nicole’s decklist, the penalty is a Game Loss.

Note: The correct infraction to give here is Marked Cards, not Deck or Decklist Problem.

Note: If Nicole can find non-marked versions of the cards she was originally playing, She can revert her decklist without further penalty.

That’s all for this time, friends! Thanks for reading, and if you see any errors or if you’d like to help out with future New Set Digests, please e-mail JudgingFtW@gmail.com!

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