Ask the Judge, 09/21/2005
Rules Tip of the Day: Prior to the release of the 6th edition rules set, it used to be that a permanent could not use any of its activated abilities until after any "phase costs" were paid. This primarily limited creatures from using activated abilities until after any associated upkeep costs were paid. That is no longer true, and you can use an activated ability of a permanent in the upkeep step before any of its relevant upkeep costs are paid.
Q: One spell has already been played this turn. After the next spell is played, I play Twincast to make a copy of this spell. When this copy is made, will Erayo, Sorotami Ascendant flip? There have been four spells this turn counting the copy made by the Twincast.
A: No, Erayo's ability will not trigger. That ability only counts the number os spells that have been played this turn, it does not count copies of spell that have been put directly on the stack. In order for Erayo to flip this turn another spell must be played.
A: Yes. Wildfire has you sacrifice four lands before any damage is dealt, so these animated Stalking Stones will not have received any damage when you sacrifice them. However, even if the instructions on Wildfire were reversed, you could still sacrifice these animated lands. This is because state-based effects are not checked until after Wildfire has completely resolved.
Q: My opponent has Leonin Shikari, and some Grizzly Bears with Lightning Greaves on. If I Orim's Thunder (with kicker) the Greaves and the Shikari, and he moves the Greaves in response over to the Shikari, does the Shikari take 2 damage? (I'm pretty sure no, but because the Shikari becomes a legal target during resolution of the spell, I wasn't sure)
A: Your instinct is correct. The check for legal targets of a spell or ability is made when the spell would start to resolve. At this point, any target that is illegal will not be affected by the spell. It does not matter that the Leonin Shakari becomes a legal target during the resolution of Orim's Thunder; it will not receive any damage.
Q: I have been sacrificing Mongrel Pack with Reckless Abandon to gain 4 token creatures. After closer inspection of the card, it says it gets token creatures only if it goes to the graveyard during combat. Does that mean I only get the tokens if it attacks or blocks, or if will I get the tokens anytime the Pack gets killed during combat?
A: All that matters is that the Mongrel Pack goes to the graveyard during the combat phase. It does not need to be involved in combat (attacking or blocking) or to be destroyed by combat damage. You won't be able to use Reckless Abandon during the combat phase, as that is a sorcery, but you can sacrifice the Pack when you play Fling during the combat phase in order to get the 1/1 tokens.
Q: I played Rain of Filth, and sacrificed some lands to play Night's Whisper. One of the cards drawn was another land. I played the land, tapped it for mana and then sacrificed it for black. My opponent said that Rain of Filth affects lands you control when it resolves and not any lands you gain control of this turn. Is that true? Can I not sacrifice the new land for mana?
A: Your opponent was correct. Rain of Filth only gives the activated ability to lands you control when Rain of Filth resolves. Lands that come into play later will not have this ability and cannot be sacrificed for black mana.
A: Pandemonium has a triggered ability, so yes, it is an ability. Dense Foliage will not prevent a creature from being targeted by the triggered ability of Pandemonium.
Q: Weird situation that came up in an MTGO sealed game and I wonder if the program handled it wrong: I cast Death Denied with X=0 and spliced Horobi's Whisper (targeting a Kami of Fire's Roar and removing 4 creature cards from my graveyard). My opponent let this resolve, and I expected the Kami of Fire's Roar to be destroyed. MTGO informed me, however, that Death Denied was countered on resolution because it had no legal targets.
My understanding is that Death Denied did have a target -- the Kami of Fire's Roar from the spliced Horobi's Whisper -- and that as long as one of the spell's targets was valid on resolution that the spell would resolve as much as it was able to. Am I wrong or is this an MTGO bug?
A: That is definitely a bug. You are correct that this spell does have a target (the Kami of Fire's Roar) and that this target is legal when the spell attempts to resolve. Because of this, the spell will resolve and do as much as possible and destroy the targeted creature. I assume that the program got hung up on the fact that you choose to play a spell with X targets where X was equal to zero. There is a difference between playing a targeted spell with no legal targets and one with no targets, and MTGO seems to have goofed that up.