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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Judge's Corner

Two New Mantras

Q: Can I sacrifice a creature of mine simply because I want to? Or do I need to have a reason--as in--I have a creature that tells me to "sacrifice a creature" to activate this ability? If I can sacrifice just for the heck of it, can I play a spell that lets me gain control of an opponent's creature until end of turn and sacrifice it?

-Jessica R.

A: As promised in my 13 February column, this is now Mantra #7 - You can't do something just because you want to. A spell or ability (or the cost of playing a spell or ability) must tell you to do it before you can do it.


Q: I've got a Nevinyrral's Disk in play and I decide to use it. My friend responds with a Naturalize. I was wondering if my ability still goes through or not.


A: And the Magic Silver Rule becomes Mantra #8 - Removing the source of an ability does not stop that ability from happening.


So that makes our Mantras as follows:

1. "I can't play any spells or abilities while something is resolving." (18 April 02)

2. "Increasing the power of creatures once their damage has been put on the stack won't make them do more damage." (13 May 02) (Footnote A)

3. "If the card doesn't say 'TARGET,' it doesn't target." (31 May 02) (Footnote D)

4. "Protection is a DEBT we owe some of our permanents." (26 September 02) (Footnote B)

5. "When assigning trample, look only at the toughness of the blocking creatures. Assign damage so that they would have that much damage on them, and then you can assign the other damage to your opponent." (26 September 02) (Footnote C)

6. "Play (as in playing a spell) = Cast." (14 January 03)

7. "You can't do something just because you want to. A spell or ability (or the cost of playing a spell or ability) must tell you to do it before you can do it." (2 March 03)

8. "Removing the source of an ability does not stop that ability from happening." (2 March 03)

Footnote A: A corollary to this mantra is, "Decreasing the power of creatures after damage is on the stack won't make them do less damage." (14 June 02)

Footnote B: DEBT is an acronym. It stands for Damage, Enchantments, Blocking, and Targeting, which are the 4 things a creature with protection is protected from.

For an extended definition, protection is usually written on a card as "Protection from [quality]." (For example, "Protection from green.")

-Damage: All damage dealt to the permanent from a source with the stated quality is prevented.

-Enchantments: The permanent can't be enchanted by permanents with the stated quality.

-Blocking: The permanent can't be blocked by permanents with the stated quality.

-Targeting: The permanent can't be targeted by spells with the stated quality, or abilities from permanents with the stated quality. (Remember Mantra #3.)

Footnote C: You can assign the extra damage to the creatures if you want, or assign all the damage to one or more creatures (even though the damage being dealt is greater than the toughness of that creature) and none to the other creatures. But you have to assign damage as the mantra says before you can assign trample damage to your opponent.

Footnote D: Local Enchantment cards being played (cast) target the thing they're going to enchant. (27 January 03)


Again, apply the Mantras before you write in to me with a question about them. If it looks like you wrote in without applying them, my "Delete" key will thank you for the workout.

Now, on to the other questions...


Q: I have a Zombie Master and Fallen Angel out on the battlefield. My opponent has a Zombie Cannibal and a Zombie Assassin in play. I have 3 life.. If he attacks, am I allowed to sac my Zombie Master to my angel so that his zombies won't get swampwalk and I can block them?


A: If the Zombie Master is no longer there, then his creatures won't have swampwalk. You also have a space between the time attackers are declared and the time blockers are declared to play spells or abilities. So yes, you can do this. (Note, however, that you can't block with the Zombie Master as well as sacrificing it, as the creatures would still have swampwalk if the Zombie Master was out, making them unblockable.)


Q: Is the "choose a number" text on Void considered choosing it's mode? I'm not sure since it targets a player whether choosing the number would be done on resolution or as declaring it's mode.

-William H.

A: A modal spell is indicated by the words "Choose One - " or "An opponent chooses one - ". Since Void has neither of these phrases, it is not a modal spell, and the number is chosen on resolution.


Q: I have a number of Invigorating Boons in play, and a face down Exalted Angel. Lets say I've put four +1/+1 counters on the angel, when I flip the Angel face up, does she lose all her +1/+1 counters or do they remain on the card?


A: She keeps the counters.


Q: I was wondering if I had Static Orb and Seedborn Muse in play, which ability do I use?

Static Orb states: If Static Orb is untapped, players can't untap more than two permanents during their untap steps.


Seedborn Muse states: Untap all permanents you control during each other player's untap step.

So who do ability do I follow?


A: This situation is actually quite simple, once you think about it. The cards will never interact. If it is your turn, Seedborn Muse won't apply, and you'll be limited to untapping 2 permanents (if Static Orb is untapped). If it isn't your turn, Static Orb won't apply (since it's not your untap step), and you'll untap all your permanents due to Seedborn Muse's ability.


Q: I've told the players at my store (for Friday Night Magic) that after a player has shuffled his own deck and presented it for cutting...that his opponent can riffle shuffle it 3 times and that should do it. I have a few players who like to slowly pile shuffle their opponent's deck and then riffle shuffle the various piles and then do more shuffling. They maintain that one can spend 3 minutes doing this (our rounds are 50 min.). I don't think 9 min. out of 50 (for just dealing with this) is reasonable. What is your official opinion?

-Ry Petermann

A: If a player told me that at a Friday Night Magic, I would give him a warning for Unsporting Conduct - Minor, and explain that the Floor Rules state, "Any mulligans or shuffling of opponents’ decks must be done in a timely manner before games begin," (Floor Rule 23) pointing out to him that there is no specific time given in that clause. I would further state that if he tried to use that line of explanation again in any tournament I ran in the future, the minimum penalty I would give would be a game loss.

If this is a widespread issue in your area, you may want to make this as an announcement at the beginning of all of your tournaments, and explain that any person who does this in the tournament would receive a minimum of a game loss (Unsporting Conduct - Major (failure to obey the instructions of a tournament official)).

Note, however, that if the player wanted to do more than the 3 riffles to his opponent's deck, I would allow it, as long as they didn't spend too much time doing it.


Q: My friend attacked with 2 Nantuko Husks. He had Verdant Succession out and sacrificed Nantuko Tracers effectively making the husks infinite/infinite (or at least whatever he wants it to be). My other friend, the defending player, tapped his two Shieldmage Advocates, and said both targeted my swamp in my graveyard. He then said that the one card would return to my hand, and both of the prevention abilities would activate, thus preventing the damage done by both Husks. I argued he needed to return 2 cards. Who is right?

-Luke C.

A: Your friend with the Advocates is. The first Advocate ability returns the swamp to your hand. The second Ability won't return the swamp to your hand, but it still has a legal target - the Husk. So you do what you can to the targets that are still legal, and the damage from the Husk is prevented.



C: First I'd just like to say thanks for working so hard to correct (and improve) the play of Magic players everywhere.

Secondly, I think your answer to the Sorceress Queen targeting Ivy Elemental question ("Pump You Up," 21 Feb 2003) contained a slight omission:

"Q: I have an Ivy Elemental with 6 1/1 counters on it. My friend has a Sorceress Queen out. He taps it to make my Ivy Elemental a 0/2. But wouldn't it make it a 6/8 instead, because the creature is a 0/0?

A: No. You apply the stuff in the order they happen. So the Ivy Elemental is 0/2 until end of turn."

Your answer was correct in practice, but I don't think it is a 0/2 because +1/+1 counters are applied first due to the "order they happen" timestamp rule. When finding the power/toughness of a creature, counters are applied before other effects (the complete order is given with rule 418.5e: printed or token value, copy effects, continuous type-changing effects, power/toughness changes due to counters, then all other continuous effects).

Again, thanks for all that you do.


A: It is a 0/2. The Sorceress Queen's ability fits into the last category, "all other continuous effects." Since that is later than the "power/toughness changes due to counters," the counters are applied first, and then the Sorceress Queen's ability.


Tournament Report: FNM - Diamond Bar, CA - t1

Well, Kai Budde puts up an article and gives a Tog decklist a few weeks ago. I spent some time playing with the deck, and found it a really solid choice, except for one card in the sideboard, even coming in top 4 in a tournament on Magic Online Thursday. So I make the one change, and put the Tog deck in new sleeves, and the deck list is as follows:

Psychatog, a.k.a. The Energizer Bunny

by: Kai Budde (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=sideboard/strategy/20030220a)

3 Psychatog

4 Smother

3 Innocent Blood

4 Counterspell

4 Circular Logic

4 Force Spike

3 Deep Analysis

2 Concentrate

3 Compulsion

2 Cunning Wish

2 Upheaval

4 Polluted Delta

4 Underground River

4 Swamp

2 Darkwater Catacombs

3 Lonely Sandbar

9 Island


1 Deep Analysis

1 Compulsion

1 Psychatog

1 Mana Short

1 Ghastly Demise

1 Alter Reality

1 Opportunity

1 Coffin Purge

4 Duress

2 Chainer’s Edict

1 Persecute

So I get down to the tournament at All Star Games, and get some business taken care of before we start, none of which involves eating, unfortunately. Luckily, I had a large lunch and was still running on that.

Round 1 - Josh - Old Tog (He flashed a Standstill when he was shuffling)

Game 1 - I win the roll, 17-9, and play first. I mulligan once. I play Compulsion on turn 3 and have the Force Spike for his counter, and he lays Compulsion on his turn 3. I miss my 5th turn land drop, but he gets stuck at 6 land for a LONG time. I counter a Concentrate, to try to keep him from as much land as possible. I Compulsion like mad, and he tries to Upheaval to reset the board with 2 mana open. I try to Mana Short him for my counter, but he counters the Short, and then I counter the Upheaval. I run him out of cards in his hand, and am finally able to Upheaval and play 2 Togs with one card left in my library. That card is a Circular Logic, so I am able to go over for the win.

Sideboard: Out: 3 Innocent Blood, 1 Psychatog, 1 Upheaval, 1 Darkwater Catacombs. In: 4 Duress, 1 Deep Analysis, 1 Compulsion.

Game 2 - I don't remember much about this game, other than the fact that I got down Compulsion and he didn't. That goes a long way to determining the winner of this game.

Games: 2-0, Matches: 1-0

Round 2 - Ben H. - W/G

This is the easier of the two creature matchups for me. The R/g matchup is really hard. This matchup, though, is the reason I changed the Chain of Vapor for the Coffin Purge in my sideboard. Glory really gives this deck fits. Genesis isn't too fun either.

Game 1 - He wins the roll, 6-3. I am able to take control in the early game, but am unable to get an Upheaval to reset after he plays more creatures than I can handle, and I fall to an Exalted Angel.

Sideboard: Out: 2 Concentrate, 1 Deep Analysis. In: 2 Chainer's Edict, 1 Psychatog.

Game 2 - I mulligan once before we begin. I got control of the board early, followed by playing an early Tog. The Tog is soon joined by one of his brothers, and thought he has no creatures, I have no counterspells, so I just hit for 2 a couple of times before I finally get the Heave to set up for the kill shot. This is because I fear he may have Moment's Peace, and I don't think I could handle having to try the kill shot more than once.

Game 3 - He gets a couple of Baloths out early, which causes his life to go to 28. He also attacks me once for 4. I get a Tog down, and finally am able to again Heave for the kill shot, winning the match.

Games: 4-1, Matches: 2-0

Round 3 - Nathan P. - Reanimator

Game 1 - I win the roll, 7-2. Unfortunately, I keep a 1 or 2 land hand, and really get screwed for land in this game. By the time I recover, he is able to reanimate a Symbiotic Wurm, and I never get to 6 mana for the Heave.

Sideboard: In: 4 Duress, 1 Persecute, 1 Compulsion, 1 Deep Analysis, 1 Chainer's Edict. Out: 3 Innocent Blood, 4 Smother, 1 Psychatog.

Why put in the Edicts, yet take out all the other creature kill, you ask? There's not much to Smother in that deck, and the Bloods are only good early. The Edicts, on the other hand, are good whenever you play them against this deck.

Game 2 - I get early control of the game, and only have to worry about countering his Overmaster and Reanimation cards. I don't even remember if I heaved this game.

Game 3 - It's his turn to be mana screwed, and stuck at 3 land, while I go full throttle. He gets in a couple of hits with Anger eventually, but then I just Heave and win.

Games: 6-2, Matches: 3-0

Scott tells me at this point that I am the only undefeated player left. How can this happen, you ask? Well, there were 5 or 6 draws so far in the tournament to this point, 2 or 3 of them intentional. Also, the other person at 3-0 at this point, Aaron Boyer, drops to protect his rating, which is about 1995-1998 at this point. He was apparently just trying to use this tournament to qualify for the next constructed Pro Tour on rating, apparently.

Even with all the draws, though, there is only one person on 2-0-1 ...

Round 4 - Chris Gerhardt - 3 color Beasts

We both don't like this matchup. In the matches online where they've had red, I've had a REALLY hard time. She has had a hard time against Tog, though, so let's see how it goes...

Game 1 - She wins the roll, 9-1. I mulligan once. I am able to stave off the first few creatures, but when she starts dropping Baloth and Brushhopper, and I have no answers and no Upheaval, things go as they usually do for me. She wins in rather short order.

Sideboard: Out: 2 Concentrate, 1 Deep Analysis. In: 2 Chainer's Edict, 1 Psychatog.

Game 2 - This is exactly the opposite of game 1. I have a Blood, an Edict, and a Smother on the draw, and draw another Smother. There's not much her deck can do against that.

Game 3 - She keeps a hand with 5 land, an Elf, and a Bird. I keep a hand with 5 land and 2 Smothers. She keeps drawing Birds and Elves. I get some card drawing and Heave leaving mana to Spike the Bird/Elf. This happens with absolutely no pressure from her.

Games: 8-3, Matches: 4-0

And so I am 3 points clear of the field. I am 4-0, and there are 4 3-1's and 3 2-1-1's. I play ...

Round 5 - Terrance Armstrong - R/W Slide

Game 1 - He wins the second roll, 13-2, and plays. I have to take 2 mulligans - my first hand had 1 land, and my second hand had no land. My third hand had only one land also, but I wasn't about to throw it back.

He gets out the early Rift, and starts cycling me out. Luckily for me, it takes him a long time, so I survive to my seventh turn and Heave, replaying a mana. I am able to counter the Rift that comes down, and lay a Compulsion. I finally get control of the game at 2, and make the mistake of tapping out to Compulsion at the end of one of my turns. He Solar Blasts me out.

Sideboard: Out: 4 Smother, 3 Innocent Blood. In: 4 Duress, 1 Compulsion, 1 Deep Analysis, 1 Persecute. The creature kill goes out because I counter the creatures anyway. The creatures and the Rifts are the only things I need to counter.

Game 2 - He takes a mulligan before we start. He is fine on land, but is unable to find any pressure. I however, am unable to find a Tog for the longest time so that I can Heave us into game 3. We've gathered a crowd by this time, and I apologize to Terrance, telling him we'll go to game 3 as soon as my deck gives me a Tog. On about the 45th card of my library, it does, and we're off to game 3.

Game 3 - He plays first. He is mana screwed this game, and is stuck on 3 mana for the majority of the game. He played a face down Exalted Angel in one of these games, and I let it in and Wish for a Smother to kill it. Again, there is no pressure on me to go off, but I eventually do, and end the Swiss rounds with a perfect record.

Games: 10-4, Matches: 5-0

The 3-1 that played down won, so there is me at 5-0, 2 people at 4-1, and, at 3-1-1,...

Top 4 - Chris Gerhardt

Game 1 - I win the roll, 6-5. I take control of the board early, but she eventually gets out an Exalted Angel. That turn, I Smother her blocker that she left behind, and am able to make the Tog big enough for the kill.

Sideboard: Out: 2 Concentrate, 1 Deep Analysis. In: 2 Chainer's Edict, 1 Psychatog.

Game 2 - I take real control early. However, I can't finish the job, and she drops a Baloth to go with her Bird and Elf. I drop a Compulsion and pitch a couple of times to try to find the Upheaval. I can't find it, so we're off to game 3.

Scott is watching, and asks why I didn't just Edict and flash the Edict back. I was at 2, and she would have just kept the Baloth, so I needed the Heave.

Game 3 - I get another control game like game 2 of Round 4. She hits a couple of times with a Beast token, and tries to lay a Replicator for 4(?). I am the luckiest guy in the world, as I Compulsion into a Counterspell. That takes her out of the game, and I take the match.

Games: 12-5, Matches: 6-0

In the other semifinal match, Kai Tog also beats beasts.

Top 2 - Marshall F. - Mirror (in almost every sense of the word ... the only difference is his Chain of Vapor ans my Coffin Purge.)

We agree that this match is very stupid. So we just decide to split the prizes and not play.

So it looks like I'll gain about 15 ratings points from this, and go to 1776ish. Now if I can do this twice more, I'll be in 1800 land :).

See you Thursday.

Bill Guerin

Ask Judge Bill a Question

DCI Level 2 Judge




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