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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Judge's Corner

Q: Hi! I'm a Magic beginner and I really enjoy the game. But there is one thing that always confuses me - First Strike. Please help me figure out how it works.

-Claudio Mueri

A: First Strike adds an additional damage dealing step to combat:

"502.2b During the combat damage step, if at least one attacking or blocking creature has first strike, creatures without first strike 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."

So let's say you attack with a Halberdier (3/1, first strike) and a Grizzly Bears (2/2), and your opponent blocks the Halberdier with an Aquamoeba (1/3).

Right before you go to the combat damage step, the game sees that there is a creature with first strike participating in combat. So the game says, "Only creatures with first strike can deal damage right now."

So the Halberdier assigns its 3 damage to the Aquamoeba. Unless the Aquamoeba becomes bigger or has one or more of the damage assigned to it prevented, it will die before it can assign damage.

After the damage assigned by all the creatures with first strike resolves (in this case, the damage done by the Halberdier), and both players pass, the game starts a second combat damage step. It now tells all the creatures, "If you didn't assign combat damage in the last combat damage step, assign it now."

So the Grizzly Bears will put their 2 damage on the stack, that damage will resolve, and the game will then go to the end of combat step.


Q: My opponent plays a spell, I respond with a Counterspell. My opponent plays Misdirection making my Counterspell target itself, would my Counterspell be countered letting his spell resolve?

A: Your opponent made an incorrect play, because a spell can't target itself (Definition-"Target").

However, your opponent can Misdirect the counterspell - to the Misdirection! This is how that works…

-Your opponent plays Big Nasty Spell.
-You play Counterspell, targeting the Big Nasty Spell.
-Your opponent plays Misdirection, targeting the Counterspell. (Misdirection only has one target - the spell with a single target that it's going to change the target of.)
-You both pass, so Misdirection resolves. Now your opponent changes the target of Counterspell to another spell on the stack. Until Misdirection has changed the target of Counterspell, it's still on the stack. So your opponent makes Counterspell target the Misdirection. Now that Misdirection has changed the target of Counterspell, and has fully resolved, Misdirection goes to the graveyard.
-You both pass again. Counterspell attempts to resolve, but the spell it's now targeting (Misdirection) isn't on the stack any more to be countered. So Counterspell is countered on resolution.
-Now, unless you play something else (another Counterspell maybe?), the Big Nasty Spell will resolve.


Q: My opponent attacks with a Wild Mongrel without discarding any cards from her hand, I say that I take the damage instead of blocking with a creature. Then she plays Giant Growth after I say I take the damage. Do I take 2 damage or 5?

A: When you say you are going to take the damage, what you are really saying is, "I declare that I will not block the Wild Mongrel." You opponent still has a chance to play spells or abilities before combat damage goes on the stack, so she plays Giant Growth on the Mongrel. Unless you remove the Mongrel from combat (by dealing it lethal damage or bouncing it), you will be taking 5 damage.


Q: I control two Emblazoned Golems. My opponent casts Dead Ringers targeting both of the Golems. I said that they were not valid targets because they did not share a color with the other one since colorless is not a color. My opponent said that they were destroyed because they were nonblack. So, would they be killed or would my opponent have to chose 2 other targets?

-James Racine

A: Let's look at the text of Dead Ringers first…

Dead Ringers
Destroy two target nonblack creatures unless either one is a color the other isn't. They can't be regenerated.

The Golems are nonblack, so they are legal targets for Dead Ringers. Now, when Dead Ringers resolves, you check to see if one of the Golems is a color the other one isn't. In this case, both Golems are colorless, so neither one is a color, much less a color the other one isn't. So the Golems will be destroyed.


Q: I have an Earthcraft in play and enchant one of my Forests with Squirrel Nest. I tap the Forest that is enchanted by Squirrel Nest for one squirrel token, and then tap the token for Earthcraft's ability.

My friend says that I can't tap the token because it has summoning sickness. I argue that it's Earthcraft's ability that is making it tap, not the token's ability. Which of us is right? Can the token tap the turn it comes into play?


A: You are. Summoning sickness only prevents a creature from using an ability it has - it doesn't prevent you from being able to pay Earthcraft's cost.


Q: Can a creature regenerate more than once a turn? Say I Shock a Spectral Lynx and my opponent regenerates it (thus tapping it). What if I use another Shock that turn? If he has enough mana can he just keep regenerating it each time I try to kill it until he runs out of mana?

-Tom Warburton

A: A creature can have (and use) multiple regeneration shields in one turn. So, your opponent can regenerate his Lynx as many times as he has black mana available.


Q: Can you react with a sorcery on an instant in one of your main phases?

A: A sorcery can only be played during your main phase, when the stack is empty, and you have priority.


Q: For example, I Disenchant a Recurring Nightmare that is played in his main phase and my opponent reacts on it by returning it to his hand. (in the same main phase)

Is it destroyed or not?

A: Your opponent can't play the ability of the Recurring Nightmare, since the stack is not empty. It will be destroyed.


Q: Another example: Can I burn a Ravenous Rats in my main phase as a reaction with Volcanic Hammer, that was Repulsed in the same main phases?

-Erik van de Kamp

A: You can't play the Volcanic Hammer in response to the Repulse, since the stack is not empty.


Q: I had a combo with an enchantment that cause lands to return to owner's hand when tapped for mana and another enchantment that does 2 damage to target player or creature when I discard a land card.

A: You mean Storm Cauldron and Seismic Assault, both from 7th Edition. (For those of you who don't know what those cards do, the text follows…)

Storm Cauldron
Each player may play an additional land during each of his or her turns.
Whenever a land is tapped for mana, return it to its owner's hand.

Seismic Assault
Discard a land card from your hand: Seismic Assault deals 2 damage to target creature or player.


Q: My opponent cast Death Grasp which kills me, and in response, I tap all my land and throw them at him causing enough damage to kill him, but once the Death Grasp resolves, he will have about 7 life.

It turns into a draw as someone said he dies as soon as his life goes below 0. I am wondering if that was correct?

A: No. You will have the chance to kill him before the Death Grasp resolves.

This is how it goes:

(1) Your opponent casts a Death Grasp at you for enough to kill you.
(2) You tap a land for mana.
(3) This triggers Storm Cauldron's "Return that land to hand ability."
(4) You both pass, and the land goes back to your hand.
(5) You use that land to activate Seismic Assault.
(6) You both pass, the Seismic Assault ability resolves, and you opponent takes 2 damage.
(7) You repeat 2-6 until (a) your opponent is at 0 or less life, and dies, (b) you run out of land to bring back, or (c) you choose to stop.

Q: I could have tap all my land then discard them to kill him earlier but I though I would take the mana burn and die causing a draw as my life is very low. Is that right?

-LK Tang

A: No. Mana burn doesn't occur until the end of the current phase. So you can do 2-7 above as many times as you want, as long as (a) you kill him (in which case you never get to the end of the current phase), or (b) you run out of lands (and then have to worry about spending the mana).

The only time a draw occurs is when both players' life goes below 0 at the same time, due to the resolution of a single spell or ability.


Q: After combat damage goes on the stack, further pumping will not increase the amount of damage actually done, correct? Because rule 310.4 combat damage resolves as originally assigned, even if the creature is no longer in play or its power has changed.

I'm asking this because a friend of mine plays Psychatog and attacks. His combat damage goes on the stack, and THEN he pumps. The pumping shouldn't make the Psychatog do more than 1 damage, right (assuming that Psychatog is only a 1/2 when combat damage goes on the stack)? Thanks a lot.

-Justin Wu

A: The explanation for the specific situation you gave is correct. If your friend puts combat damage on the stack, the power of the Psychatog when he puts combat damage on the stack is how much damage the Psychatog will do to you.


Q: I have an Engineered Plague out, set to shade. My opponent plays a Nantuko Shade.

After the Shade resolves and comes into play, does it automatically die or does the Engineered Plague's ability go on the stack, therefore allowing my opponent to save his Shade by pumping it?


A: The Shade will come into play as a 1/0, and immediately be put into the graveyard as a state-based effect, before either player can play any spells or abilities.

-Bill Guerin
DCI Level 2 Judge



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