These two artifacts look very similar, and both see play in the popular and successful “Eggs” deck in Modern. But since Rest in Peace is also a very popular sideboard card, you should be careful to note the difference!
Chromatic Sphere is rather unique. It includes “Draw a card.” in the same ability as “Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.” In other words, you get to draw a card without using the stack as part of a mana ability! It’s so strange, they even had to add a rule about keeping the drawn card face down if you use this ability while in the process of casting a spell or activating an ability, so you don’t know what you’re getting until after you’ve fully paid for the spell. That way you can’t change your mind mid-payment because of the card you drew.
Chromatic Star, at a glance, looks like the same card. However, note that the ability that draws you a card is in a different paragraph, and an entirely separate ability. This means a couple things. First, if you cast it on turn 1 and don’t have the mana to activate it, your opponent won’t get as much value from destroying it with Shattering Spree. When it goes to the graveyard for any reason, it triggers, and you’ll draw a card when the trigger resolves. Of course that means the opponent has a chance to respond to that trigger, and could possibly Trickbind it, perhaps, or just do something while your hand is one card smaller to make sure you don’t draw a counterspell. The other very important thing is that the card must actually hit the graveyard to draw you a card! So if there’s a Rest in Peace around, you can activate a Chromatic Sphere to draw a card, but don’t dare draw when you sacrifice a Chromatic Star, or you’ll experience a very undesirable result (Drawing Extra Cards is a Game Loss penalty at Competitive REL).
So next time you’re playing the Eggs deck and the opponent messes with your graveyard, be sure to mind your Stars and Spheres!
Today’s Rules Tip written by Josh Stansfield