Judge Bill

Bill Guerin is a Level II Judge who we can personally vouch as walking Magic encyclopedia.  He'll be answering all your Magic Ruling questions.  Write him at PojoMagicJudge


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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Judge Bill's Corner

"Formats, Revisited"

Questions: 18


Q: How many cards do you need in a deck to play in a tournament?

What cards are legal and which ones aren't? I have some cards but I do not know if they are legal or not?

I keep hearing people talking about they play Type 1 and Type 2 decks, what does that mean?


A: I was just going to point you to a couple of columns written while this column was in its infancy (on 29 January and 13 March 2002), but as I read through the answers, a lot of the information is outdated. So here is the same information, reprinted with the corrections to bring the formats up to date ...

There are two major styles of tournament Magic: Constructed (which includes "Vintage Constructed," defined below) and Limited. All of the formats you may hear about are subsets of these two. For constructed tournaments, you bring your own premade deck and play with it, and in Limited, you play with a small set of cards given to you at the tournament.

For Constructed tournaments, new sets become legal on the 20th of the month on which they are released. Mirrodin was released October 3, so it was legal for play in Constructed formats October 20.

New card sets are allowed in Limited play as soon as theyíre released, including before their public releases in the case of Prerelease tournaments.

Here is how all of the formats you may be familiar with fit into the two styles:

Constructed (each Constructed format has a list of cards that are banned (you can't play with any of those cards) or restricted (you are limited to one of each of these cards in your deck)):

1. Standard/Type 2 - This format consists of the last two blocks and the last base set printed. Right now, Type 2 consists of 8th Edition, Onslaught, Legions, Scourge, and Mirrodin. Sets leave the Type 2 environment when the next block becomes legal. So when Mirrodin became legal on October 20, Odyssey, Torment, and Judgement were no longer legal for play in Type 2.

When Darksteel becomes legal on February 20, 2004, and when Fifth Dawn becomes legal on June 20, 2004, nothing will leave. Only when a new block comes in (a block starts with a set that is larger than the others. Mirrodin has 306 cards, Darksteel and Fifth Dawn will have 165) do sets leave.

When Earth (the codename for the first set of the next block) becomes legal on October 20, 2004, Onslaught, Legions, and Scourge will no longer be legal in type 2.

2. Block Constructed - This format consists of one block ... for example, Onslaught Block consists of Onslaught, Legions, and Scourge; Mirrodin Block consists of Mirrodin, (and when they become legal) Darksteel, and Fifth Dawn.

3. Extended - Currently, Extended consists of all expansions from Tempest forward and all basic sets from 6th Edition forward. Every 3 years, the oldest 3 blocks and the oldest base set rotate out when a new block rotates in. The next time this is scheduled to happen is October 20, 2005.

4. Type 1 and Type 1.5 (also known as "Vintage Constructed") - Type 1 and Type 1.5 consist of any Magic card that has been released to the general public. Any card restricted in Type 1 is banned in Type 1.5. This format has a rating separate from the rating of the other Constructed formats.

One other special note for Constructed: You can play with a card that was printed in a set that is not one of the legal sets, if the card with the same name was printed in a set that is legal for play. For example, you could play an Unlimited Terror in Type 2, since Terror was printed in Mirrodin. You can play an Alliances Diminishing Returns in Extended, since Diminishing Returns was printed in 6th Edition.


1. Sealed Deck - this is the format that is used at the prereleases. You receive one starter and a certain number of boosters, and build a deck out of this.

2. Booster Draft - in this format, you sit in a circle with (six or) seven other people. Each of you receives a certain number of boosters (usually three). You open your booster, pick a card out of that booster, and then pass that booster to your left. Then you take the booster from the person to your left and take a card out of that booster and so on. Once you finish the first booster, you open the second and pass it to the right instead of the left, and repeat the process. You alternate going left one booster and right the next until all boosters have been drafted. You then build your deck with the cards you have drafted.

3. Rochester Draft - in this format, you get in the same circle with five (in team Rochester) to seven other people, with a certain number of boosters (again, usually three). This time, the person in position 1 opens the booster and spreads it out on the table. The group looks at the booster for a preset amount of time (usually 20-30 seconds). Then the person in position 1 takes a card, followed by the person to his left, until everyone has drafted a card. Then the person who took the last card takes another, and it goes back down the line toward position 1 until all of the cards are gone. If there are cards left over after the player in position 1 picks twice, you go back in the original direction (with the player in position 1 picking twice, like the player in the last position) until all cards are drafted. Then the person in position 2 (the person to the left of position 1) opens the booster, and you repeat the process until you get to the person in position 8. Then, you go the opposite direction in both opening and picking, similar to booster draft.

There are two other differences of note: First, in Constructed, you have a minimum deck size of 60, whereas in Limited, your minimum deck size is 40.

Second, you have a difference in how you "sideboard."

Sideboarding is where you switch cards in your main deck with cards in your sideboard after the first game of the match, to make your deck stronger against your opponent's specific deck.

For sideboarding in Constructed, you may have a sideboard of 0 or 15 cards. Any sideboarding you do must be one for one, that is, for each card you put in, you have to take one out.

For sideboarding in Limited, any cards that you do not play in your main deck are your sideboard. You do not have to sideboard an equal number of cards in and out ... the only requirement is that you have 40 cards in your deck when you start the next game.


Q: Player A activates Shepherd of Rot with 3 Zombies in play. Player B then activates Mind over Matter to tap the Shepherd of Rot in response. Player B argues that since the Shepherd of Rot is now tapped, the ability can't be played, and thus, the players won't lose any life.

Player A disagrees, saying the activation of the Shepherd of Rot is on the stack at the time Player B wished to tap the Shepherd. Meaning life loss would be given to all players.

Your Mantra #8 clearly states: Removing the source of an ability does not stop that ability from happening.

But it does state the word 'remove', which is probably were the error is. But even if that is not the case, wouldn't that mean, that in order for Player A to make all players lose 3 life, he would never activate it, in fear that Player B would activate Mind over Matter. Which the game would come down to literally mind reading.

Who is right?


A: Player A is right. I will make it clearer as a corollary to Mantra 8, and have my normal editor change it when she comes back in town (she is out of town this week).

Footnote E to Mantra 8: A corollary to this Mantra is, "Tapping or untapping a creature whose activated ability (that includes tapping the creature) is on the stack will not remove that ability from the stack."

Since the activation of Shepherd of Rot is already on the stack, tapping the Shepherd won't remove the ability from the stack. So both players will still lose 3 life.


Q: With Nefashu, can I choose one creature to get -5/-5 or do I have to choose 5 different creatures and give them -1/-1 each?

-Yong J.

A: The maximum you can give a creature with Nefashu's ability is -1/-1. When a spell or ability calls for multiple targets, the same target can't be chosen more than once (409.1c).


Q: I have a Carrion Feeder, Mindslicer and Megrim in play. My opponent has a lot of elves, Greater Good and Concordant Crossroads in play. He decides to pump one of his elves to 11/11 and sacs it to Greater Good, so he draws 11. Can I sac Mindslicer to Carrion Feeder to make him and I discard our hands after he draws the 11 cards, therefore causing 22 damage to him?

A: Well, your opponent gets priority ro play spells before you can sacrifice the Mindslicer after he has drawn, so he can play one land (if he hasn't already), and one sorcery, creature, or artifact and as many instants as he can before you are able to sacrifice the Mindslicer, and as many instants as he can after the Mindslicer is sacrificed but before its triggered ability resolves. Once Mindslicer's triggered ability resolves, though, your opponent will discard his hand and take 2 damage for every card he discarded.


Q: In response to an opponent morphing a Frontline Strategist after blockers are declared in the attack phase, can I use Imagecrafter's ability to turn my creature into a soldier to make the damage go through?

-Ryan J.

A: Yes.


Q: I have constructed my anti-damage white deck, and I heard you talking about Eye for an Eye. My combo using Eye for an Eye is, wait for a big hit, let it through, use Eye for an Eye, then Reverse Damage it, is this legal?
A: No. Reverse Damage had its wording changed when 6th Edition came out. It now can't retroactively undo damage.

Reverse Damage
The next time a source of your choice would deal damage to you this turn, prevent that damage. You gain life equal to the damage prevented this way.


Q: I also have an elf deck, in which I use Wirewood Channelers, and use their ability of producing any one color of mana, I attach a Pemmin's Aura onto it, hence if I control two or more elves I have infinite mana, this legal?

A: Correct.


Q: If I have a Platinum Angel in play, then have a Leonin Abunas in play with Lightning Greaves attached to the Leonin, is that technically impossible to beat me unless my opponent has some way that forces me to block or attack with my creatures?

A: No. Anything that will get rid of the Platinum Angel without targeting it (for example, Shatterstorm, Pulverize, Wrath of God, Barter in Blood if those are your only 2 creatures) will get rid of the Angel just fine.


Q: On Krosan Cloudscraper, it says pay GG during your upkeep or sac it. Does this apply before it is morphed?

A: No. When it is face down, it doesn't have that ability.


Q: Also, by pay does it mean sac, or just tap?

-John W.

A: Sacrifice MEANS sacrifice. If it is face up, and you do not pay GG during your upkeep, then you will have to sacrifice it.


Q: Do cards such as Flashfires, Acid Rain, and others that deal with basic lands work with snow-covered versions?


A: Yes. The Oracle text for Snow-Covered Forest reads as follows...

Snow-Covered Forest
Basic Land -- Forest

"Basic" is the land supertype, "Land" is the card type, "Forest" is the land subtype, and "Snow-covered" is an ability.

All Snow-Covered lands have similar wording.

Cards such as Flashfires and Acid Rain only look for the appropriate land subtype. So since Snow-Covered Plains has the land subtype Plains, Flashfires will destroy it.


Q: I cast Chain of Plasma. If my opponent discards to copy it, can I discard Guerrilla Tactics to do 7 back to them?


A: Yes. The copy your opponent made is "a spell ... an opponent controls," and it is causing you to discard Guerrilla Tactics, the discard ability of Guerrilla Tactics will trigger.


Q: If a Soulless One is equipped with Vorrac Battlehorns, and is then equipped with Lightning Greaves, would the other equipment fall off since Lightning Greaves states that the creature can not be the target of spells or abilities?

A: No. Equipment, like enchantments, only target when the equip ability is paid. Once the equipment is on the creature, it no longer targets.


Q: If I play Void, and name zero, would that also destroy artifact lands as well?
A: Yes. Artifact lands have a converted mana cost of 0, and they are artifacts, so all artifact lands in play will be destroyed. However, if your opponent has any artifact lands in hand, he will not discard them. Since the artifact lands are lands, it would not fit the description of "nonland cards."


Q: If a White Knight blocks a Scion of Darkness, does damage still go through?

-Don A.

A: If you assign the extra damage to the player, yes. See Mantra 5.


Q: I have a Phantom Tiger out, with 0 +1/+1 counters, but it has Setonís Desire on it, so itís a 3/2 creature. (I do not have threshold.) I use it to block an opponentís 2/2 creature. Iím about to put my Phantom Tiger in my graveyard when another friend of mine, a longtime player of magic, tells me itís still alive.

I argue that removing a +1/+1 is a requirement to use that activated ability, so I have to put it in the graveyard, since I can't remove a counter. He argues that the two effects are caused by taking damage, and not caused by each other. After being dealt damage, is my Tiger able to negate the damage when he has no +1/+1 counters?

A: The Tiger is still alive. From the Judgment FAQ:

A Phantom's ability prevents damage even if there are no more +1/+1 counters on it. So if a Phantom's toughness is raised by some other effect, it becomes impossible to destroy with damage unless an effect like Flaring Pain states that damage can't be prevented.


Q: My Creature is enchanted with Flickering Ward (protecting from green). I use its ability to put Flickering Ward back into my hand, and then I play a green enchantment. After that resolves, I put Flickering Ward back on my creature with protection from green. Is the green enchantment destroyed, or does it stay because it resolved before the creature gained protection?


A: The enchantment is destroyed. See Mantra 4. (it doesn't target the creature, but it is an enchantment.)

Q: If I cast Crush of Wurms using Dream Halls and a Birds of Paradise, can I discard another green card to flashback the Crush?

-Dennis D.

A: No. Flashback replaces the normal process of playing a spell from your hand by paying its mana cost with paying the flashback cost and playing it from your graveyard. You can only replace paying the mana cost one way, so since flashback has already replaced paying the mana cost, you can not replace that by pitching a green card.

See you either Thursday or Friday.

Bill Guerin
DCI Level 2 Judge





Copyright 2001 Pojo.com


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