Ask The Judge, 06-25-02
Q: I asked a judge this weekend who said there was an errata on Mist of Stagnation that said I could only untap my permanents if I wanted to. I know I may target an untapped card - but if I have nine lands, a Mist, and a Mortiphobia in play with eleven cards in my graveyard, will I have to untap two of my opponent's permanents once I am done with my nine lands? Or can I untap some lands twice? Or can I untap my enchantments, since they are permanents, but they never tap? If you could just give me a ruling I'd appreciate it.
A: You have to untap a permanent for each card in your graveyard. Enchantments are permanents, so you can tap those as well. If you have eleven cards in your graveyards, nine lands, a Mist, and a Mortiphobia, you don't have to untap anything from your opponent. If you had twelve lands, however, you'd have to untap one of your opponent's permanents.
My opponent casts a Gilded Drake, targeting my magpie. Then he wants to use the Portal to return the Drake to his hand before I gain control of the drake. I want to pay the Portal's mana requirement to keep the Drake under control and in play.
So does the ability from the Drake get stacked along with the Portal's ability? If so, the Portal's ability will resolve first. This means the Drake is still under my opponent's control and he can choose to pay the mana requirement for the Portal - in this case, he would not pay and return it to his hand, and then the"comes into play" ability of the Drake would go off and he would gain control of my Magpie.
I thought because it is a"comes into play" effect from the Drake that I would get control of the Drake the instant it entered play.
A: No, it works slightly differently. The Drake comes into play - and its exchange ability goes on the stack, targeting the Magpie. Your opponent responds to this with the Portal ability. The Portal ability resolves first.
Assuming he won't pay, the Drake goes back to his hand. Now we resolve the Drake ability. You now exchange the Magpie and the Drake - which is not possible, since there is no Drake. Therefore, the exchange doesn't happen, and you keep control of the Magpie. The comprehensive rules say the following about exchanges:
When an exchange spell or ability resolves, if it can't exchange the chosen things, it has no effect on them.
Q: I'm pretty sure I am correct about this ruling I will mention, but I was hoping you would bring it up in your column to satisfy some friends and a storeowner. It involves Nether Spirit and Contamination: My understanding is that if Nether Spirit is in my graveyard at the beginning of my upkeep, it triggers at the same time as Contamination does. Since I control both triggers, I am able to stack them how I see fit. I would stack Contamination and then the Spirit's return to play on top of it, resulting in the Spirit returning to play just in time to be sacrificed to Contamination.
A: You are indeed correct. First, put the Contamination trigger on the stack, then check if the Spirit is the only creature in your graveyard; if so, put the trigger on the stack. Return the Spirit, then sac it to Contamination.
Q: The problem is that they do not believe that works anymore. The storeowner called Wizards and was informed it no longer works that way... And we all know that a dung-flinging monkey could help more than calling Wizards. (Just going by the advice of judges not to call Wizards for rulings.) The owner could hardly give a viable explanation for it not working. Hope you can help.
A: Unfortunately, it's true that judges know the rules best - not Wizards. This is, of course, a general statement, because there are people who know the rules a lot better than I do (hi, Paul Barclay!) at Wizards. You just don't get them on the phone as easily.
A: No, that is not possible. You have need to have priority to announce an ability. You have priority announce the Thaumatog's ability sacrificing the Whip Silk. Then you pay the cost (sacrifice the Whip Silk) and put it on the stack. Now you receive priority again. This is the first moment you could have played the Whip Silk's"return to hand" ability - but it is already in the graveyard, so there is no way to play it.