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Judge's Corner

More on Mantra #3

It looks like Mantra #3 is still giving you guys problems. Let me repeat it:

3. "If the card doesn't say 'TARGET,' it doesn't target." (31 May)

Now, I have to add a footnote about the exception:

Footnote D: Local Enchantment cards being played (cast) target the thing they're going to enchant.

If it's not a local enchantment being played, and it does not have the six letters TARGET right in a row, then it doesn't target. This means, among other things, it is not affected by protection.

So, now, letís answer this columnís questions along this line:

Q: Can you sacrifice a Blastoderm to Ravenous Baloth's ability? (Just wondering because it says it can't be targeted, but Ravenous Baloth's ability doesn't sound like a targeted ability)

-David R.

A: Ravenous Balothís ability does not have the six letters TARGET right in a row, and Blastoderm is a beast, so you can sacrifice the Blastoderm to play Ravenous Balothís ability just fine.


Q: I put a Thundermare which has haste and taps "all" creatures when it comes into play, will this also apply to creatures with protection from red? I guessed it will not, am I correct to presume this?

A: ALL does not spell TARGET. So a creature with protection from red will be tapped by Thundermareís ability.


Q: A player puts Last Stand into play and it has only one mountain into play, he targets a creature with protection with red with the 3 damage, I told him that he can't do that since Last Stand has red in it, he can't target that creature, he argues that he can, I believe he doesn't. I know this a pretty simple matter, but hey...he wants a confirmation.

-Victor T.

A: Last Stand



Target opponent loses 2 life for each swamp you control. Last Stand deals damage equal to the number of mountains you control to target creature. Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play for each forest you control. You gain 2 life for each plains you control. Draw a card for each island you control, then discard that many cards from your hand.

You must be able to choose both a player (for the swamp ability) and a creature (for the mountain ability. Since, in both instances, the word ďTARGETí _is_ printed on the card, you have to be able to target both an opponent and a creature. Thus, since Last Stand is red (among other colors), you canít target a creature with protection from red with the mountain ability.


Now, I expect each of you to apply this mantra before you write into me with any more questions like this. If it is obvious that you should have applied the mantra to get the answer, I will just hit delete on the question. This will be Footnote E to the mantras, for future reference.


Now, on to the other questions:

Q: Is this play possible: opponent attacks with Eager Cadet, I block with a Birds of Paradise, and tap it to produce green and tap three lands to play Sudden Strength, Is this move legal?


A: Yes. Tapped blockers still deal combat damage.


Q: Regarding Portcullis and Comes Into Play Abilities. Do the abilities trigger when the creature is played, or are they delayed until the Portcullis is removed from play?

A: Portcullis



Whenever a creature comes into play, if there are two or more other creatures in play, remove that creature from the game.

When Portcullis leaves play, return to play under their owners' control all creatures removed from the game with Portcullis.

Both abilities use the words ďwhen/whenever.Ē This means they are triggered abilities. Therefore the creature isnít removed from the game until Portcullisís ability resolves, and thus, all creatures that have comes into play abilities will trigger and go onto the stack before Portcullis removes them.


Q: If the abilities DO trigger beforehand, is it possible to slip in an activated ability (say Woodripper's) before the Portcullis' ability triggers as well?

A: Yes. However, the Woodripper will first destroy the Portcullis, and then it will be removed from the game. Since the Portcullis is already gone, the Woodripper will be removed from the game for the rest of the game.


Q: Is it possible to deal combat damage with a Ravenous Baloth and then sacrifice it to itself?

-David R.

A: Yes. You put combat damage on the stack, and then sacrifice the Baloth. Once damage is on the stack, the Baloth will deal its damage regardless of whether it is still there.


Q: Hi, I have a Remote Farm in play which has two depletion counters and a lair in hand can I sack the Remote Farm for the 4 mana tokens it comes with and instead of sacrifice it play the lair and returned to my hand or play the lair first and then take out the tokens and returned to my hand?

-Victor Tio

A: No, for two reasons. First, you can only remove one counter at a time from the Remote Farm, since the ability also includes tapping Remote Farm. Thus, it is not possible to get four white mana from one activation of the Farm (of course, barring any outside effects that increase the number of mana a land deals).

Second, letís say the Farm had only one counter on it. Once you play the Farmís ability, it will be sacrificed as part of the ability. Thus, you canít both play the ability and return it for a lair.


Q: My friend has a Balthor the Defiled in play. He decides to activate it, so he pays the three swamps. I then in response Boomerang the Balthor back to his hand. He says that I canít respond to it since it is part of the cost of the ability, and doesn't use the stack. I think I can bounce it, and I think it does use the stack. Who is right?


A: Your friend is correct.


Q: If you respond to someone pumping the toughness of a Morphling by playing a Shrink, can they still pump it up to a 0/6? I think I remember someone telling me that you can't pump a Morphling past a 0/6 because that would bring it's power below zero.

-William H.

A: You can reduce a Morphlingís power below zero just fine. Itís the toughness you have to worry about.

If a creatures power is less than 0, it is considered 0 for everything except something that would increase the creatureís toughness.


Q: I have a question concerning this card (from Prophecy):

Zerapa Minotaur


Creature -- Minotaur


First strike

{2}: Zerapa Minotaur loses first strike until end of turn. Any player may play this ability.

If a combat damage from a my Zerapa Minotaur has just been placed on the stack (assigned to a player), if I pay 2 to take it's first strike and then let the first strike damage resolve, does the Minotaur get to deal combat damage a second time because it no longer has first strike and it is now time for non first striking creatures to deal damage, or does the fact that it has assigned damage once already this combat keep it from hitting twice?

A: The latter. Making a creature lose first strike after first strike damage has gone on the stack wonít let that creature deal combat damage again.

Due to Double Strike, the rules have been changed on first strike, although not in a way that would change the answer to these two questions. Here are the new rules for first strike:

502.2. First Strike

502.2a First strike is a static ability that modifies the rules for the combat damage step.

502.2b During the combat damage step, if at least one attacking or blocking creature has first strike or double strike, creatures without first strike or double strike (see rule 502.28) don't assign combat damage. Instead of proceeding to end of combat, the phase gets a second combat damage step to handle the remaining creatures.

502.2c Adding or removing first strike after the first combat damage step won't prevent a creature from dealing combat damage or allow it to deal combat damage twice.

502.2d Multiple instances of first strike on the same creature are redundant.


Q: Similarly, if a creature is given first strike (with an Advance Scout or a Nightscape Apprentice) after first strike combat damage goes on the stack, does this prevent it from doing non- first strike combat damage as thus keep it from doing any damage this turn?

-Ledian Warrior

A: No. 502.2c also covers this.


Q: First turn use a Dark Ritual to play a Cathodian. Second turn play Jhoiraís Toolbox and third turn play a Phyrexian Alter. Sac and regenerate the Cathodian with the Alter to have all the mana you want...


A: This is not a legal play. You can not regenerate from a sacrifice.


Tournament Report - FNM - Orange, CA - T1

Well, I looked at some of the Tog decks from the Masters a week ago in Chicago, and tweaked my Tog deck as follows:


based largely on the deck by Noah Boeken

4 Aether Burst

3 Chainerís Edict

4 Circular Logic

4 Counterspell

4 Deep Analysis

3 Force Spike

4 Psychatog

4 Shadowmage Infiltrator

4 Smother

1 Upheaval

1 Barren Moor

2 Darkwater Catacombs

8 Island

3 Lonely Sandbar

4 Polluted Delta

3 Swamp

4 Underground River


2 Boomerang (for Astral Slide)

1 Chainerís Edict (more creature kill ... in against decks that have a lot of creatures)

2 Compulsion (no specific use, helps swap in for dead cards ... just took this one straight from the Masters deck)

4 Engineered Plague (against both Sligh and tribal decks ... thereís one person there who always plays elves)

2 Ghastly Demise (mainly against U/G madness, although can also be brought in if they are creature heavy)

1 Haunting Echoes (well, Iíve done this before, and it was straight from the Masters deck. This goes in probably against Slide and the Mirror)

2 Hibernation (again, against U/G madness, and any other green deck)

1 Upheaval (if you may need to reset twice, bring this in. I had to against a U/G deck, and it was huge)

The sideboard was tweaked from the Masters deck. Two cards that he used that I didnít:

Delusions of Mediocrity - good if you expect a lot of Sligh. However, you canít heave in this situation. This card would be marginal at best for me, so I took it out.

Duress - I know this is there for a specific purpose, probably against control decks. However, I have never liked this from the board, so I took it out.

I also took the Logic out of the board and put it in main, in the place of a Force Spike. I also debated whether the fourth Deep Analysis should have been a Force Spike instead, but ended up just leaving it alone.

Well, on to the action ...

Round 1 - Eric B. - Astral Slide

Game 1 - He wins the roll, 20-10, and plays. He takes 2 mulligans. He plays Lightning Rift turn 2, and I choose not to Force Spike it. I get him down to 14, and am 1 card short in my graveyard of winning if I remove my hand and graveyard from the game. He then Rifts me out.

Sideboard: In: 1 Upheaval (Scott played this deck online, and heaved twice against a Slide deck once), 2 Compulsion (to get rid of the dead creature kill), 1 Haunting Echoes (ditto), 2 Boomerang (to remove a Slide if I canít heave for the kill). Out - 4 Smother, 1 Deep Analysis, 1 Shadowmage Infiltrator. I should have remove a couple of Edicts or Bursts instead.

Game 2 - I go first. We both mulligan once (canít remember on this one what I had). He taps out, and then I execute the pump kill, as he canít Slide out the Tog.

Game 3 - He plays first. We get a few turns in, and he tries to drop a Slide. I counter it, tapping out. He plays another Astral Slide, also tapping out. I then count my hand and graveyard, and with the 2 Deep Analyses in the grave, am able to do 19 points of damage to him. He is at 18.

Games: 2-1, Matches: 1-0

Whew. Brent looked over from the next table, and said he would have been able to Rift me out if he didnít try for the Slides.

Round 2 - Dan D. - U/G madness

There is a lot of U/G madness here tonight. It seems the field plays a lot of whatever won the last week, as I won with U/G madness last week, and there were only 2 of those decks there last week.

Game 1 - He wins the roll, 13-7, and plays first. Unfortunately for him, he is unable to get anything more than a Rootwalla out early, and I am able to take the win.

Sideboard: In: 2 Hibernation, 2 Ghastly Demise, 1 Upheaval (standard sideboarding for a U/G madness deck). Out: 4 Aether Burst (make his Bursts less useful, and stop Spellbane Centaurs), 1 Deep Analysis.

Game 2 - He goes first. I mulligan a 6 land, 1 Deep Analysis hand before we start. I am again able to keep his board under control, but when I pump for the kill, he plays Momentís Peace.

Geez, my decks arenít that good, people ... I havenít seen anyone else play that in a U/G madness deck, and Dan was smart enough to bring it in.

I proceed to lose rather quickly after that.

Sideboard: In: 1 Chainerís Edict. Out: 1 Ghastly Demise. After experimenting a bit, I think the Edict is better against this deck type. But thatís just one manís opinion.

Game 3 - He plays first and gets down a quick Rootwalla. I have to reset at 6 mana, and Spike the Rootwalla when he tries to play it by paying its casting cost.

This is not what I would do. If Iíve just been Heaved against, I discard it in cleanup, and play it via madness. That way, I play around the Spike. This exact situation happened again in round 4.

The Looter comes down too, and after a few turns, I am able to Heave again, play the Tog, and go in for the kill.

Games: 4-2, Matches: 2-0

Round 3 - Justin E. - Mirror

Justin always plays Tog. He is at 2-0-1, having drawn his round 1 match. I find this out after I offer him the ID, and instead, we have to sit down and play.

Game 1 - He wins the roll, 16-13, and mulligans once before he goes first. Then he plays a turn 2 Standstill.

Yawn. Here we go again ... I draw and drop for a while, and so does he. I then am able to Heave and get a Tog down, as it seems heís drawn less counter magic than I. He tries to Burst it, but I am able to Logic the Burst. That was all for game 1.

Sideboard: In: Upheaval (in case I need to reset twice), Haunting Echoes (which will be HUGE, as you will soon see), Chainerís Edict (to kill Togs). Out: 2 Shadowmage Infiltrator, 1 Deep Analysis.

Game 2 - He plays first. Neither of us is able to get a creature on the board, as we both Heave once. The time he Heaved, he played a Tog. I countered it and let the Heave go off.

So it comes down to a decking war, and with 6 mana open, he hard casts Deep Analysis at me. I Force Spike it, since I canít draw another card if I want to win. He lets the Deep Analysis be countered, and then flashes it back at me, leaving 1 Analysis in his grave to kill me with next turn. Since he is tapped out, I untap, and ...

ďHaunting Echoes you.Ē

I hear someone 2 tables over say, ďI heard that.Ē I leave him with 2 Swamps in his library, and after I draw my last card, I flash back the last Analysis in my grave at him for the win.

Games: 6-2, Matches: 3-0

Round 4 - Tony Vu - U/G madness

Game 1 - I hear Sean on the next table roll a 2, and Brent says, watch, Iíll get a 1. He doesnít. Tony rolls a 4, and I roll a 1. I tell Brent, ďI rolled your 1.Ē

He goes first. I am able to Smother and Edict most of his threats off the board, and keep attacking with an Infiltrator. Once I get to 10, the Tog goes in for the kill.

Toward the end of this game, he loots away a Circular Logic and puts it into the graveyard. I try to enforce that he canít play it via madness (since he didnít remove it from the game). Sean gets on me, and says Jon will just tell him not to do it again. I call Jon over, and after explaining the situation, he says at first, ďWhat do you want to do?Ē Of course I tell him I want the Logic in the grave, and then Sean gets on Jon for not having any backbone. I then explain to Jon that what I expected him to do was just look at Tony and tell him to not do that again, and allow him to Logic the spell. Thatís what Jon does at that point. (I had a Logic to counter the Logic anyway.)

Sideboard: In: 2 Ghastly Demise, 1 Chainerís Edict, 2 Hibernation, 1 Upheaval. Out: 4 Aether Burst, 1 Deep Analysis, 1 Shadowmage Infiltrator.

Game 2 - He plays first. He attacks a couple of times with a Mongrel, and I attack a few times with a Finkel. My notes stop here, but I believe I just heaved for the win here.

Games: 8-2, Matches: 4-0

Sean wins, and that sets up ...

Round 5 - Sean Cashman - Land Destruction

He wants to split the prizes and play anyway. I tell him no, and he decides to then draw with me.

Games: 8-2, Matches: 4-0-1

We play a couple of games for fun, and I just crush him. My sideboarding in between games is as follows:

In: 2 Compulsion, 2 Boomerang, 1 Upheaval, 1 Haunting Echoes, 1 Chainerís Edict. Out: 3 Smother, 4 Aether Burst. I think, if he had any creatures, they were only Magnivores, so most of my creature kill was useless. I didnít see a Magnivore second game either.

We have to wait around until the end, because Justinís round 1 opponent ran the table rounds 2-5, so he is also at 4-0-1. I end up first, Sean second, and Matthew (Justinís round 1 opponent) third. Matthew gets the random foil, and so all is well.

See you Thursday, for my 100th column.

Bill Guerin


DCI Level 2 judge




Copyright 2001 Pojo.com


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