Ask Wizards - July, 2008

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Do you have a question about Magic: The Gathering or Wizards of the Coast? Send it, along with your name and location, to us via this email form. We'll post a new question and answer each day.

 July 31, 2008  

Q: Every time you highlight Magic art, you always point out things that I didn't/can't notice when the art is card-sized. How much do you worry about "gags" as Jeremy Jarvis called them not being recognized.
–Matthew, Arlington, VA, USA

A: From Brady Dommermuth, Magic Creative Manager:

We worry a lot, Matthew! But our worrying sort of amounts to nothing. What I mean is this:

When I'm teaching someone the finer points of writing card concepts or art descriptions, one of the first lessons is "Remember that the art box is about 1-1/2 by 2-1/2 inches!" It's a tiny, tiny little medium we work in. We believe that almost all the very best illustrations across our 12,000 cards have the following two things in common: just one subject/figure in the frame, and a fairly minimal background.

However, there are a number of factors that lead us to hidden details in illustrations, or too much subtlety or complexity for that wee little box: (1) Our illustrators are the best in the world, and they want to deliver great work. They don't paint at "actual size," so they end up including way more detail than we need. (2) We know that some portion of Magic players loves the extra detail in the illustrations. For that segment, the excess subtlety or complexity creates a bunch of "easter eggs" for them to find. And we like pleasing every segment of players when we can. (3) Super-high-profile cards often get their illustrations reproduced in larger formats, whether it's in advertisements, wallpapers, or giant tournament banners. (Heck, even the illustrations on booster packs are bigger than the art box on the card!) Those pieces need to have more detail than warranted by the card size because they need to survive being blown up way past that little box.

So we're sort of at cross purposes with ourselves. We want compositional simplicity most of the time, but compositional complexity has its benefits, too.


 July 30, 2008  

Desolation_Angel Q: What's with the symbol in the top righthand corner of Desolation Angel?
–David, Manhattan, KS, USA

A: From Monty Ashley, Magic Web Team:

That's the "white Coalition symbol", one of the five pieces that combine to form the Coalition symbol, which is also the Invasion expansion symbol. Actually, all cards in the Invasion block that have colored kicker costs should have the appropriate part of the Coalition symbol in their arts somewhere. For example, take a look at this picture of the Planeshift battlemages, which I'm borrowing from a March 2002 Arcana:



Battlemages!

The Coalition symbol recently made a comeback in Time Spiral block with Future Sight's Coalition Relic. This led Matt Cavotta to cover the subject in more detail than we can do in this space.


 July 29, 2008  

Q: I understand that having Block versions of Wrath of God is important. However, usually a block sees only 1, maybe 2 WoG effects. Why go with 3 for Lorwyn block? Why not put it off until Shards of Alara? Surely there can’t be that many variants on the idea, so why not save them for maximum effect?
–Zachary

A: From Devin Low, Magic head developer:

Thanks for your question. I’ll assume you’re talking about Lorwyn‘s Austere Command, Shadowmoor‘s Mass Calcify, and Eventide‘s Hallowed Burial. The first part of the answer is that these three Wrath variants are actually in two different blocks, not one. Lorwyn block and Shadowmoor block are two different blocks, even though Lorwyn / Morningtide / Shadowmoor / Eventide all play together as one big block constructed format. So Lorwyn block and Shadowmoor block each include the “1, maybe 2 WoG effects” you have come to expect.

The second part of the answer is that a block is more likely to contain multiple wrath variants in the same color when they serve different purposes. We would be unlikely to put Winds of Rath and Rout in the same block, because they both cost five mana, they’re both white, they both destroy all creatures (except for enchanted ones living through Winds of Rath), and they both prevent regeneration. So how close are the two Shadowmoor block wraths? Mass Calcify costs seven mana, and is an often one-sided Wrath, in that it often kills all the opposing creatures without killing any of your own. Hallowed Burial is another wrath effect in the same block, but it costs a very different five mana, affects both players’ creatures, and puts them on the bottom of libraries instead of destroying them. The two spells end up serving different roles.

My last note is that I have to disagree when you say “Surely there can’t be that many variants on the idea” of Wrath of God. I can design you a dozen interesting Wrath variants in a day, and lots of other designers and developers in Magic R&D can too. Maybe it’s time for an internal 64-card-bracket Wrath of God design challenge!


 July 28, 2008 – Ask Wizards Classic  

Q: Why are ‘o’s used to separate the mana symbols on Magic playtest cards?
–Daniel, Americus, GA, USA

A: From Paul Sottosanti, Magic R&D:

Ah, the mysterious o’s. Well, no one really knows why the o’s are there, but they’ve been around for as long as we can remember so honestly, we’re just afraid to take them out. We’re kind of superstitious here in R&D. Not to mention, it just makes the mana costs look more elegant and official, don’t you think?

...

Okay, kidding. If you take a look at the mana cost on a printed card, each symbol or number is surrounded by a circle. The ‘o’ is a notation to the typesetter to put the circle around whatever comes directly after it. This is fairly obvious in the mana cost field, but becomes quite relevant for rules text, where a character like ‘X’ should sometimes be in a circle and other times not.

Playtest cards function just fine without them, so the o’s don’t tend to get added until around midway through development when editing starts to look at the file.

This question first appeared on December 1, 2005. Ask Wizards–Classic is a weekly feature that highlights interesting questions and answers from the Ask Wizards archives, which go back to January 2002. To search the archive to see if your question has already been answered, use the "Search Ask Wizards" button near the top of the page.


 July 25, 2008 – Magic Rules Corner  

Q: I am having trouble with the ruling on Flourishing Defenses with persist and other comes into play with -1/-1 counters effects.

“Whenever a -1/-1 counter is placed on a creature, you may put a 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature token into play.”

The creature doesn’t come into play and then get a -1/-1 counter, so I don’t see the interaction between the abilities.
JohnnyDiscard, magicthegathering.com


A: From the Magic Rules Corner:

There’s been a little confusion about the meaning of “placed” here, especially since the recent Building on a Budget article featuring this card.

Here’s what the Shadowmoor FAQ has to say:

This ability triggers both when a -1/-1 counter is put on a creature in play and when a creature comes into play with a -1/-1 counter on it. This includes when a creature returns to play as a result of persist.

You’re correct that the creature doesn’t come into play, then get the -1/-1 counter—it comes into play with the -1/-1 counter. A glossary entry for “place” was recently added to the Comprehensive Rules to make sure that this is clear:

Placed
If a spell or ability refers to a counter being placed on a permanent, it means putting a counter on that permanent while it’s in play, or that permanent coming into play with a counter.

It’s also worth noting that Flourishing Defenses triggers once for each -1/-1 counter placed on a creature, regardless of the creature’s toughness. If four -1/-1 counters are placed on a 1/1, Flourishing Defenses triggers four times. If two Wildslayer Elves deal 3 damage to each other during combat, Flourishing Defenses triggers six times.

If you untap a Gilder Bairn to double the number of -1/-1 counters on a permanent, Flourishing Defenses will trigger once for each counter that was added.

The Magic Rules Corner is a weekly feature dedicated to answering your rules questions. For more help with Magic rules, check out the rules page and the Rules Q&A Forum.


 July 24, 2008  

Q: What’s up with the art on Rekindled Flame? The art looks very comical which doesn’t really line up with what it can do. By looking at the art, it says to me I’m getting burned by 1, maybe 2, not 4! How can an itty-bitty candle burn me for FOUR!!!
–Arnel, Philippines

A: From Jeremy Jarvis, Magic art director:

Hi Arnel,

What the Hell Was Jarvis Thinking?! #6: Rekindled Flame

I didn’t paint this one, but the Art Description the led to it was mine.

Here it is:

Color: Red spell
Location: None
Action: This is a fire spell that relies on the power of memory. Here is an allegory for it:
imagine a kithkin or elf who is screaming with his hands to his ears. But he’s made all of wax, and there is a burning wick where each hand and his head would be. Wax drips as he burns (there is no head or hands left, just the 3 wicks).
Focus: The flame-memory spell

At the time I wrote this concept, the card did 3 damage instead of 4.

So I was trying to create an image that visualized a “re-lightable” burn spell tied to the victim’s mind. Sequential ideas are very difficult to represent within a single still image. “Show a guy that’s been burned, now he’s burning again, and again.” That doesn’t really work. I liked the wax/candle idea because it conveys a sense of not only re-lightability, but you can see that its been burned before by how much is gone. Putting it in a humanoid shape allows you to see that the head/mind has burned away.

Removing the hands as well was to get the wick-count up to three, just for a little visual quote of the 3 damage the card originally did. It’s a little unfortunate that the damage dealt changed, as it further removed the card mechanic from the art concept, which was admittedly already a bit of a stretch.

Never the less, I love this painting, Zoltan and Gabor slammed it out of the park, as usual. It’s a great painting of a unique visual, and for sure there’s no mistaking it across the table during game play.

Rekindled Flame
Rekindled Flame art by Zoltan Boros and Gabor Szikszai

 July 23, 2008  

Q: Can I send ideas for magic cards to Mark Rosewater? Or, by sending my ideas to him, does that incur some sort of legal thingie whereby he can’t use my ideas?
–Bob, Boston, MA

A: From Mark Rosewater, Magic head designer:

Bob,

Unfortunately, there is a “legal thingie” (that’s the technical term). I have been instructed by our lawyers not to read unsolicited submissions. This is an unfortunate reality of modern business. I am more than happy to hear anything else, from global ideas about how to improve Magic to feedback on things we have done. I read each and every letter (except, of course for those involving unsolicited submissions—I always stop reading when I realize that is where the letter is going) because I believe that having communications with the players is a fundamental part of being a good designer.

For those itching to create something I can look at, there are plans to hold the next You Make The Card before the year ends.


 July 22, 2008  

Q: What made you make “The Cheese Stands Alone,” from the Unglued set, into a real card (Barren Glory)?
–Michael, Middleton, WI, USA

A: From Mark Rosewater, Magic head designer:

Because we could. One of the ideas I liked for Future Sight design was to show off much of what the future holds. One idea was that as Magic evolves cards that were out of bounds in the past won’t be in the future. The best way of demonstrating this I felt was to show an Un-card in a real set.

Barren Glory was originally a future “timeshifted” card for this reason. The problem was that the card was printable at the time, and thus didn’t feel right as a card from the future, so we shifted it out of the timeshifted subset and into the non-timeshifted part of the set.


 July 21, 2008 – Ask Wizards Classic  

Q: About five years ago, I went miniature golfing and saw a weird game in the arcade. It said Magic: The Gathering on the side, but it was out of order. Was there ever a Magic arcade game, and if there was what was it?
–Kent
Santa Clara, CA, USA

A: From Mark Jindra, web developer:

There was in fact a Magic: The Gathering arcade game created in 1997 by Acclaim called "Magic: The Gathering: Armageddon." There were a handful of them that were actually shipped; one was to the Tomorrowland arcade at Walt Disney World, another showed up at Namco's WonderPark in San Jose, CA, and a third known machine was at the Wizards of the Coast Game Center in the University District in Seattle (the machine is now residing at a private residence). So it is possible that you saw one of the few that were out there. Rumor has it that there were only four machines and that the fourth has mysteriously disappeared. I myself played the game and it was lots of fun, but Acclaim's Mountain View, California-based coin-op division went out of business shortly after creating this game, so it never went into full production. I can't remember if the side of the machine had a Magic logo on it, though.

You can check out the specs at the Killer List of Video Games online at (www.klov.com/M/Magic_The_Gathering__Armageddon.html).

In case you're interested, there were also two arcade games made that were based on Dungeons & Dragons: "Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara" and "Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom," as well as a D&D pinball machine.

This question first appeared on April 5, 2002. Ask Wizards–Classic is a weekly feature that highlights interesting questions and answers from the Ask Wizards archives, which go back to January 2002. To search the archive to see if your question has already been answered, use the "Search Ask Wizards" button near the top of the page.


 July 18, 2008 – Magic Rules Corner  

Q: I had a somewhat complicated question about Conspire. Say I had Wort, the Raidmother in play and I've previously used Alter Reality to that she can make red or black spells have conspire. Later, I play Fodder Launch, sacrifice my creature to pay its cost, and conspire it. Do I have to sacrifice another creature for the conspired Fodder Launch?
–Ryan, Rochester, NY, USA

A: From the Magic Rules Corner:

Wort, the Raidmother can give conspire to any red or green instant or sorcery—and potentially any instant or sorcery, if you use Alter Reality–type effects (such as Eventide's Glamerdye). Because those spells weren't made with conspire in mind, sometimes strange things can happen.

Additional costs, fortunately, are a relatively simple matter. You only have to play costs—additional or otherwise—when you play a spell. When you copy a spell with conspire, you never play it—it just appears on the stack—and that means that you don't have to (and in fact don't have the option to) pay any additional costs.

Some additional costs are optional, however, and it matters whether you paid them. Part of rule 503.10 in the Comp. Rules can shed some light on this:

A copy of a spell or ability copies both the characteristics of the spell or ability and all decisions made for it, including modes, targets, the value of X, and additional or alternative costs.

So when you copy a spell, the copy "knows" that the additional cost has already been paid; you don't need to pay it again. This doesn't affect the function of a spell like Fodder Launch, but it can make a huge difference to a card with an optional additional cost—take a look at Urza's Rage, for example.

If you copy an Urza's Rage for which the kicker wasn't paid, both the original and the copy will deal 3 damage. If you copy an Urza's Rage for which the kicker was paid, both the original and the copy will deal 10 damage!

This does raise a question, though. What if, instead of Fodder Launch, you had used your Alter Reality–altered Wort to conspire Shadowmoor's Rite of Consumption, which does something based on the sacrificed creature's power?

The copy of Rite of Consumption knows that you sacrificed a creature, but does it know what that creature's power was? Rule 503.10 rides to the rescue again:

If an effect of the copy refers to objects used to pay its costs, it uses the objects used to pay the costs of the original spell or ability.

The copy of Rite of Consumption uses the same power as the original—the power of the creature you sacrificed to play the spell in the first place.

Happy conspiring!

The Magic Rules Corner is a weekly feature dedicated to answering your rules questions. For more help with Magic rules, check out the rules page and the Rules Q&A Forum.


 July 17, 2008  

Q: I love the art on the Selkie girl featured on the Eventide "preview card" included in some packs of Shadowmoor, and apparently it's on the cover of the Eventide Fat Pack as well. Why isn't it in the visual spoiler as a card? Is it not in the set?
–Tom, Kennesaw, GA, USA

A: From Monty Ashley, Magic Web Team:

For the people that are wondering about the Eventide preview card you're talking about, it looked like this:

Eventide Preview Card

This is the image that is featured on the Fat Pack, which means that it's not on a card itself. You can get a better look at it here, where we previewed the Fat Pack. You can get an even better look at it here, where it was last week's Wallpaper of the Week.

As for why that art isn't on a card... well, the Fat Pack mural just isn't. It helps make the Fat Pack stand out if it has its own art. Frequently, the mural depicts a battle scene (like this one from Shadowmoor), but the Eventide one just looks more like a potential card than usual.


 July 16, 2008  

Q: I've been playing Magic since I was an 8-year-old girl. I'm now an Junior in college majoring in English Literature. I sometimes use the flavor texts of Magic cards to enhance my essays and research papers. I even reword flavor text and card names into my poetry. However, I know the brilliant witticisms and inkwells of knowledge have to come from somewhere. Additionally, when used in an essay, I'd like to cite my source accurately, but alas, there is no citation format I've found for "trading cards." Any suggestions on how to cite flavor texts?
–Jourdene, Talo'fo'fo, Guam, USA

A: From Del Laugel, Magic senior editor

Let's assume that you want to quote the Ice Age flavor text of Incinerate. I'd go with something like this:

Wizards of the Coast, Incinerate (Magic: The Gathering game card), 1995. http://ww2.wizards.com/Gatherer/CardDetails.aspx?id=2630.

Your professors probably all have their own preferred formats for citations, so I'll leave the precise arrangement of things to you. According to the Chicago Manual of Style (15th Edition), though, "Whichever system is chosen, the primary criterion is sufficient information to lead readers to the sources used, whether these are published or unpublished materials, in printed or electronic form." I'm guessing that the person reading your essay will have an easier time finding Gatherer than a printed Ice Age card! If the location of the publisher is required, use Renton, WA.


 July 15, 2008  

Q: Monty Ashley has a calendar from July 1980 still up (with a burger advertisement on it at the bottom). Is this one of those weird things where the days of the week for July 1980 and July 2008 happen to magically line up?
–lathspel, magicthegathering.com forums

A: From Monty Ashley, Magic Web Team:

For people who are lost, lathspel is referring to Monday's Arcana, where you can see a bit of calendar in the upper left. Here's a better look at it:

July 1980

As you can see, July in 1980 does in fact match up with July 2008 (there's Tuesday, July 15. Hello, today!). In fact, there are only 14 possible calendars, one for each day of the week that the year can start on, times two for leap years. Both 1980 and 2008 started on a Tuesday and both are leap years, so the calendars are interchangeable.

I started using old calendars awhile ago when I couldn't decide on a 2003 calendar. I found a 1958 Standard Oil calendar that smelled like it had been packed in pure cigarette smoke for 45 years. I had to wash my hands three times after opening it, but I found it pretty funny. The pictures are all authentic 1958, which means a lot of them do not make a lot of sense:

Welcome to 1958!
August 1958

Did you know that carnivals used to have "Manly Tattoo Artist" booths? That's news to me! Anyway, the next really interesting calendar I had was in 2004. There are fewer options for a Leap Year calendar, which is why I was delighted to score this:

Welcome to 1976!

Yes, for all of 2004, I had the Marvel Bicentennial Calendar on my desk. It was great, because the months all had pictures of Marvel characters done in patriotic settings. I don't want to spend too much time on this (too late!), so I'll just mention that at my old blog, which is no longer updated, there are more scans and commentary on the 1958 calendar and the 1976 one.

February 1976

Anyway, this year's is a 1980 calendar from Burger King. Here's the front:

Welcome to 1980!

As you can see, it's Olympic-themed, and is heavily US-centric. This month's theme is "gymnastics", and the blurb under the picture talks up the Olympic chances of Bart Conner, Tracee Talavera, and Kathy Johnson.

The sad part, and the reason that this calendar was still in mint condition without even its hamburger coupons clipped out, is that 1980 is the year the United States boycotted the Summer Olympics (which were held in Moscow). So everyone mentioned had to wait another four years for their chance. That gives this calendar a bittersweet quality, which is nice. You can't just go for retro kitsch all the time, you know?


 July 14, 2008 – Ask Wizards Classic  

Q: Is there a reason why sometimes the Ask Wizards question of the day is a repeat?
–Andrew
Brenham, TX, USA

A: From Scott Johns, magicthegathering.com Editor in Chief:

It's a rare occurrence Andrew, but when it does happen there are normally three possible explanations. Most often, it's because that particular question is getting asked so much at Ask Wizards that it's worth reprinting every once in a great while. For example, we get asked about the different corners on Alpha and Beta cards on almost a daily basis. An answer by Richard Garfield was posted back on September 25, 2002. Because we were getting the question so often I felt it was reasonable to repeat the answer on July 19th, 2005, nearly three years later.

Another possibility is that it's around the end of the calendar year. Magicthegathering.com closes down for the last two weeks of each December to give everyone a break around the holidays, but we run 'best of' content each weekday on the site during that time. So any time you visit the site during that period it's likely that all the daily Ask Wizards you see were run sometime previously that year.

The last reason is usually because I was sick or otherwise unexpectedly out of the office. When things are running well I'm usually able to send Ask Wizards answers to Doug Beyer in one-week batches so that we've got some stored up. Sometimes we don't have that many in the can, or I'm unexpectedly gone longer than that, or who knows what else. Normally in that case I'm able to do them from home (as I am with this one) but in rare cases that doesn't work out and either someone else in the office has to scramble to get one in time or we just pick an old Ask Wizards that's still applicable."


This question first appeared on September 9, 2005. It was rerun on December 26, 2005 and May 8, 2006, and now we're using it again, this time to introduce a new feature: Ask Wizards Classic. The Magic Rules corner will still be here, but it will show up on Fridays now.

One of the problems with Ask Wizards is that questions only appear once, meaning that prople who have just started reading the site will have missed thousands of useful answers. In Ask Wizards Classic, we reprint questions that are either getting asked again, are particularly interesting to revisit, or just amuse us.


 July 11, 2008  

Q: I noticed that on the spoiler text for Call the Skybreaker it says "every orison". Is that a typo or is it really supposed to be orison...whatever that means?
–Dan, Windsor, ON, Canada

Call the Skybreaker A: From Doug Beyer, Magic Creative Writer:

Thanks for your question, Dan. An orison is a word that means "petition to a deity or higher spirit." It's essentially a prayer, but with a slightly less traditionally religious connotation. The Skybreaker hears the pleas of victims of dark beings all across the plane of Shadowmoor, and as you cast the spell again and again, it comes to the aid of every one of them.


 July 10, 2008  

Q: Why is it that in every non-card drawing (posters, card sleeves, books, etc.) of the Magic logo, the word Magic is yellowish, but on the backs of the cards it is blue? Personally I prefer the blue.
–Michael, College Station, TX, USA

A: From Del Laugel, Magic senior editor

The colors of the Magic: The Gathering logo have varied a lot over the years, and the blue of "Alpha" and the yellow of Arabian Nights weren't the only options. The logo on packaging from The Dark set used a lovely shade of purple! But blue and yellow certainly got the most exposure over the years.

Alpha, Arabian Nights, and The Dark

By the start of 2000, however, the version of the logo you see on booster packs today was the only version in use. I can't find any official record of the change, but a quick survey of people who were around back then turned up the theory that contrast was probably the deciding factor. You can try this experiment for yourselves.

Step 1: Stick a modern Magic booster pack and a Magic card back on your wall, side by side.
Step 2: Walk 15 feet away. (That's about 4.5 meters for those of you outside the U.S, or eight steps for members of marching bands.)
Step 3: Try to read the logo.

A Magic card and a Shadowmoor Booster

The design of the card backs can't change without impacting game play, so we're stuck with the blue logo there, along with the stray pen mark across the Deckmaster placard. The history of the Magic card back has been covered elsewhere.


 July 9, 2008  

Q: Hello WotC:

My name is Cesar and I'm a member of the spanish Eternal community. What I want to know is, Why did you choose to remove the Legacy Grand Prix that was being celebrated once a year? As a player, I was confident that if you said that you were going to improve the format by celebrating Legacy GPs my money was well invested in buying cards for playing that format.

The first year it was celebrated in the USA, and then in Europe, thus we were thinking that you were choosing the most 'Eternal' regions in the world. Then it was celebrated again in the USA, and this year was time to return to Europe. Then, the last question is, What is the official position about Legacy for WotC and are you still promoting the format?
–Cesar, Madrid, Spain

A: From Scott Larabee, DCI Program Manager:

Wizards is committed to support of the Legacy format. While we have had a Legacy Grand Prix for the last few years, this year we will not. Each year we will evaluate whether we will run a Legacy-format Grand Prix. We are currently working on our Grand Prix plans for 2009. The formats for the 2009 Grand Prix will be announced later this year.


 July 8, 2008  

Q: The Eventide Theme Deck, Battle Blitz, has only 59 cards according to the July 3rd Magic Arcana. Is there a 60th card? If so, may we know what it is? If not, then what's up with that deck?
–Garfy, USA

A: From Monty Ashley, Magic Web Team:

Whoops! The missing card is Revelsong Horn, an uncommon from Shadowmoor. Sorry about that!


 July 7, 2008 – Magic Rules Corner  

Q: My friends have told me on multiple occasions that I can't use Dramatic Entrance on hybrid or gold cards. I think it is just because they don't like me having a 9/14 Wurm out on turn five. But can I legally do that with Dramatic Entrance?
–Harrison, Walker, MI, USA

A: From the Magic Rules Corner:

You sure can! Dramatic Entrance asks one question of the creature card you're trying to put into play: "Is it green?"

"Green" isn't a synonym for "mono-green"; Dramatic Entrance just wants to know whether or not the card is green, regardless of any other colors. If the answer is yes—as it is for green multicolored cards such as Autochthon Wurm and Deus of Calamity—then you can put it into play. If the answer is no—as it is for any cards that aren't green, whether they're monocolored, multicolored, or colorless—then you can't.

That means you can even use Dramatic Entrance to put five-colored creatures into play, including Sliver Queen, Reaper King, and Transguild Courier. (Remember, Transguild Courier's ability is a characteristic-defining ability, which means it works everywhere, so Transguild Courier is green in your hand.) This same logic applies to basically any card that asks about color, from Sootwalkers to White Knight.

When the word "non" gets involved, that logic gets a little harder to apply, but the idea remains the same.

Death Rattle destroys "target nongreen creature." Like Dramatic Entrance, it's asking one question of the creature, "Is it green?" Again, it doesn't matter whether the creature is mono-green; only whether it is green at all. This means that Death Rattle can't destroy Autochthon Wurm, Deus of Calamity, or Reaper King (or any of the other creatures that Dramatic Entrance lets you put into play).

If you're ever confused about what color a card is, here's a tip: Each card is all of the colors of the mana symbols in its mana cost unless some other effect says otherwise. This is why Boggart Ram-Gang (Red or Green ManaRed or Green ManaRed or Green Mana) is red and green (because Red or Green Mana is a red and green mana symbol in one), even though you can play it with just one or the other. It's why Advice from the Fae (Two or Blue ManaTwo or Blue ManaTwo or Blue Mana) is blue, even though you can play it for any six mana. It's why Watchwing Scarecrow (4 Mana) is colorless. It's why lands are colorless (other than Dryad Arbor, which says it's green), regardless of what color(s) of mana they produce. It's also why Sarcomite Myr is blue even though it's an artifact, and why Wheel of Fate, Pact of Negation, Ghostfire, and Transguild Courier have text, not just a colored border, that tells you what color(s) they are.

The Magic Rules Corner is a weekly feature dedicated to answering your rules questions. For more help with Magic rules, check out the rules page and the Rules Q&A Forum.


 July 3, 2008  

Q: How does Maralen of the Mornsong interact with Sygg, River Cutthroat?
–Ed, Kunming, China

A: Monty Ashley, Magic Web Team

Well, I think they'd get along. Maralen is selfish but also charismatic enough to lead swarms of vicious faeries. In fact, one might even say she has a faerie nature. Meanwhile, the version of Sygg that shows up in Shadowmoor is a nasty pirate, and everyone loves pirates. I imagine that if they ever met, they'd team up and have lots of wacky adventures. A pirate and an elf, out on the open road, finding people who are down on their luck, and then robbing them blind and dumping their corpses in gullies. Their theme song would probably have a banjo in it. The lyrics would play up their different origins and how the high-born elf works with the low mud-pirate.

Actually, now that I think about it, "a pirate and an elf" sounds kind of like Peter Pan, except if Peter were having adventures with Captain Hook instead of fighting him. Tinker Bell would be one of the faeries who hangs out with Maralen in that setup. Tink's pretty selfish even as one of the good guys; she tries to kill Wendy three or four times in the Disney movie. I bet she'd be dumping corpses in gullies if she had the chance. And a gully or two.

Oh, and if both cards are in play at the same time, Sygg's ability doesn't do anything, because Maralen's "Players can't draw cards" overrides it.


 July 2, 2008  

Q: How many players actually played in the main event at GP Indy? All the articles say 1121, but if you look at the results after round one the number of players is 1124.
–James, Kitchener, ON, Canada

A: From Scott Larabee, DCI Program Manager:

There were 1124 people with 1 Disqualification, which is why the Final Standings show 1123 players.

As you can imagine, things are a bit hectic with 1000+ players registering. The 1121 number was the number of people in the computer when we sat all the players to build decks. Then three more people were added to the tournament because they paid for the event, but did not end up in the computer. We sat them immediately in deck building, but the number of players (1121) had already been passed off to the coverage team.


 July 1, 2008  

Q: Will there ever be a version of Gatherer that will let you do more refined searches? (e.g., being able to look for black and red creatures and enchantments with the words destroy; land; artifact with just one search)
–Alan, Minnesota, USA

A: From From Dave Guskin, magicthegathering.com web developer and gatherer team:

I'm happy to say, yes, there will be such a version! We are working on a new version of Gatherer as part of our overall redesign of the Magic website. It will let you do the search you specified (72 results when I state the text must contain "destroy" AND either "land" OR "artifact", and I restrict it to red and/or black exclusively), in addition to much more!

The Gatherer team has been working a while on improving the features and functionality of Gatherer, not only to make searching easier and faster for our players, but also to help integrate better with the Magic web site and the community. Perhaps the most important feature to me, as a developer, is that the new code will be infinitely more maintainable—meaning that we will be able to add new features much more easily and react to the community's requests in a much more reasonable timeframe. I can't give away all the details quite yet (we're still hammering the system for bugs and implementing all the new features), but watch the web site in the coming months for this new Gatherer's launch!

Gatherer is just one of the awesome things we're working on, so look for big improvements to the whole website sometime around Shards of Alara.

By the way, your suggested search inspired me, so I just asked the working version of the new Gatherer to show me all the creatures that are black or red but no other colors, and that contain the text "When CARDNAME comes into play". By "CARDNAME", I mean the resulting card's actual card name. There were 201 results, so I further narrowed it down to require the word "destroy" in the text. Ah, 30 results (25 when I exclude off-color kicker creatures from Invasion block using "NOT"). Then I just click this visual spoiler button to view all the cards at once (we did mention there are a lot of improvements, right?) and now I can start get a good picture of where this recursive black-red EDH deck is going....


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