Tolarian Academy – I Terror His Roommate

Hey folks, and welcome to another exciting adventure in the “Tolarian Academy,” where there are lots of robots and blue mana. Honestly, that pretty much sounds like the best place ever, at least to me. I bet there are Hopping Automatons all over the place! (Aside: Many thanks to Payman Ghorbani, who let me draw Urza and Barrin shouting at each other on his Tolarian Academy, and Chas Andres, who now owns the only existing copy of “Tolarian Academy 20X6,” where robots have taken over. That’s three Academies ruined, folks!) Jumping robots aside, please continue sending your rules questions to At the time of this writing, it is now July 1st, 2009, meaning that the new DCI policy documents are in effect! It’s like a holiday for me. I realize that’s kind of insane, so let’s get to the mailbag!

Please note that I’ve started using M10 terminology just to get us all used to it. So, we’ll be exiling things by casting Path to Exile this week instead of playing Path to Exile and removing things from the game. Be prepared! [Please note that M10 rules like combat damage and lifelink do not go into effect until the Prerelease on July 11th. Policy changes like sideboarding notes are legal as of July 1st.]

Q: I know that the rules for planeswalkers state that I can only activate their abilities at sorcery speed. If I cast Quicken during my opponent’s turn, can I activate one of my planeswalkers’ abilities? Failing that, can I cast a planeswalker instead?

A: Quicken only allows you to cast a sorcery at instant speed. Unless Tezzeret has the Super-Secret Sorcery type, then you can’t cast him or any other planeswalker, and you can’t activate any planeswalker abilities either. Remember, folks, “sorcery speed” is just a colloquialism for “it is one of your main phases and the stack is empty!”

Q: Regarding last week’s discussion of Worldgorger Dragon and loss of abilities, I was wondering what would happen if the aforementioned Dragon left the battlefield with no abilities. Would all of the permanents he exiled stay exiled?

A: Yes, because when the Worldgorger Dragon left the battlefield, he didn’t have the triggered ability that would return said exiled permanents to play. The moral of the story is that if a dragon eats your world and then turns into a snake, well, your world probably sucked in the first place and you should stop letting dragons eat it.

Q: On a similar note, let’s say my opponent has a Progenitus on the battlefield, and I cast Sudden Spoiling to make it a 0/2 with no abilities. If I then kill my opponent’s Progenitus with a Lightning Bolt, will it get shuffled into my opponent’s library?

A: Since the Progenitus doesn’t have the ability that replaces it getting put into the graveyard while it actually is going to the graveyard, it doesn’t get shuffled in. It doesn’t regain that ability until it’s actually in the graveyard, at which point it’s in the graveyard already, so it stays. I guess you could say that you spoiled Progenitus’s fun! Ho ho ho.

Q: Let’s say I cast [card]Skill Borrower[/card], and when it enters the battlefield, I turn over my top card and notice it’s a [card]Broodmate Dragon[/card]. Does that mean I get a 4/4 dragon token, since Skill Borrower copies abilities?

A: Skill Borrower only copies activated abilities, so it won’t copy the enters-the-battlefield ability of Roommate Dragon. Skill Borrower is pretty tough to live with, so it doesn’t come with roommates, no matter how hard you try. (Please start calling it Roommate Dragon. I think you’ll find it’s easier to say “I Terror his roommate” rather than “I Terror your, uh, Broodmate Dragon token? The 4/4? No, not that dragon. THAT dragon. Yeah.”)

Q: On my turn, my opponent activates Treetop Village’s ability and blocks one of my creatures. After combat, I cast Sower of Temptation and take my opponent’s Treetop Village. During my cleanup step, my opponent’s Treetop Village won’t be a creature anymore; does that mean I don’t have control of it anymore?

A: You get to keep your new friendly land even though the 3/3 Apes have gone back inside their treehouse. Sower of Temptation’s enters-the-battlefield ability only cares if the object you target is a creature at the moment you target it. After that, the control effect is already on the object and there’s no getting rid of it except by killing the Sower.

Q: So now I’m attacking with that Treetop Village, and my opponent is at 1 life. He blocks with Civic Wayfinder. I say “Okay.” He asks if I want to put damage on the stack, and I say yes. He asks if damage resolves, and I say yes. He puts his Civic Wayfinder into the graveyard and says that since I didn’t explicitly say that I was trampling over, he doesn’t take any trample damage. I think that’s ridiculous. Who is right?

A: You’re right; that’s ridiculous. It’s also wrong! Let’s take a look at section 4.2 of the Magic Tournament Rules, which covers Tournament Shortcuts. One of the shortcuts listed in that section reads as follows:

* A player is assumed to have assigned all trample damage possible to the defending player unless stated otherwise.

Unless you have explicitly deviated from this shortcut earlier in the match, the game of Magic assumes that you want to trample over to the defending player when you can. In this case, your opponent will take his 1 damage and presumably lose.

Q: In regards to your “Shifty Duplicant” question two weeks ago, does the Vesuvan Shapeshifter actually forget what was imprinted on it when it turns face down and loses imprint? I would think that, if it turned back up and copied Duplicant again, the imprint ability would make it an 8/5, since Silvos is still imprinted on the Shapeshifter.

A: Upon reflection, it turns out I was wrong! (MY INTERNET CREDIBILITY, RUINED) If I had only read the comprehensive rules entry on imprint, I would know it said the following: “Cards that are in the removed-from-the-game zone because they were removed from the game by an imprint ability are imprinted on the source of that ability.” So, even if the Shapeshifter turns face down and loses imprint, it still has a Silvos imprinted on it.

Q: I have a Rafiq of the Many on the battlefield, and I attack with my Moss Kami, making it a 6/6 doublestriking trampler. My opponent blocks with Sapling of Colfenor, which is indestructible. How much damage can I assign to my opponent?

A: When you deal first strike damage with your Moss Kami, you have to assign 5 to the Sapling to deal it “lethal damage,” since I assume it hasn’t been dealt damage this turn. You can (and probably will) choose to deal the other point of damage to your opponent. Sapling of Colfenor is indestructible, but that doesn’t prevent damage or remove it, which means that when you assign regular damage, Sapling still has lethal damage on it. Therefore, you can deal all six of Moss Kami’s regular damage to your opponent for a total of seven. (I would like to note that Richard A., who submitted this question, submitted it without creature names and left it a mystery for me to figure out what was what. That was fun! I am pretty sure on Rafiq and Sapling, and Moss Kami is a functional reprint of about eight thousand other things, so I’m mostly right!)

Q: Okay, but what if Sapling of Colfenor also had protection from Green in the previous question? How would that change your answer?

A: Protection does prevent damage, unlike indestructibility, so you would only be able to trample over for two damage- one during first strike and one during regular damage.


(The following questions take place in the future, after M10 is released. Since my vision of the future is hazy and does not include a copy of the Future Comp. Rules, Future Eric cannot guaranteed that all of the answers here will be 100% right when M10 rolls around, but he is pretty sure. Also, I like any excuse to say “Future Eric.”)

Q: My opponent is attacking me with Woolly Thoctar, and I block with White Knight. Is there a time between first strike damage and normal damage when I can Lightning Bolt the Thoctar to kill it before it eats my delicious knight in shining armor?

A: You absolutely can. Even though damage no longer uses the stack, the stack still exists and you still get priority before first strike damage and before regular damage. Hooray for the stack! (One of my good friends wants to have a “damage on the stack” party before the M10 release, where we sacrifice Mogg Fanatics and Ravenous Baloths all day and generally have a hilarious time. I think this should be a worldwide event, but that’s just me.)

Now that I’ve answered all the rules questions in the mailbag, I can reveal the two winners for the last contest! First, we have Max Brown, who wants us to know about Tangle Wire. Let’s hear it!

“A card that gets significantly better thanks to the rule changes is Tangle Wire.

In T1, Stax decks play Tangle Wire to lock down the opponent’s mana, but it’s vulnerable to a particular line of play that is now shut off. Previously, the opponent would be able to Vampiric or Mystical Tutor for Hurkyl’s Recall or Rebuild during their upkeep and then float the mana required to play it into their draw step to bounce the Stax player’s board and get out from under the lock. Since mana pools now empty at the end of both phases and steps, the opponent has to wait an entire extra turn to play their Hurkyl’s Recall or Rebuild.”

Congratulations on your $5 credit, Max! Let’s hear now from Mike Meucci, who wants to tell us about Wake Thrasher:

Wake Thrasher definitely benefits from the disappearance of mana burn in M10.
End of your turn? Tap all my lands with no fear of mana burn (only worrying about removal from my opponent now).
My untap step? Wake Thrasher becomes beastly.
Seems like it would work well with Twiddle, Twitch, and Pemmin’s Aura, plus any creatures with tap/untap abilities.
Fun times.”

Congratulations to you as well, Mike! Enjoy your $5 store credit.

I still refuse to return to my “Punts to Puzzles” segment until we get the new Comprehensive Rules for M10, since it seems like a pointless exercise to play “find holes in the old rules.” Instead, I’ll run the same contest I ran a while ago, but with a twist. I want you to think about the new M10 rules and policy changes and come up with questions to send me. As always, my email address is My two favorite rules and/or policy questions will each earn $5 store credit, so start asking! And, of course, if you’re intent on going to the Superstars M10 Prerelease (or just intent on finding me and making me sign fifty Tolarian Academies,) make sure to preregister. I hope to see you there! Join me next time as I ramble on more about robots and what this column will be like after the Phyrexians invade.

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