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Once Upon A Time, Damage Went On The Stack And Creatures Had Phasing

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About Riccardo Tessitori

Riccardo Tessitori
Riccardo Tessitori

Riccardo Tessitori is a level 5 judge from Italy (and former Pro Player ^__^); he judged a hundred professional events, headjudged 15 Grand Prix events in Europe, the United States and Asia and has been headjudging Pro Tours and World Championships since 2009:

  • Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
  • Pro Tour Austin 2009
  • Worlds Chiba 2010
  • Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
  • Pro Tour Barcelona 2012
  • World Magic Cup Indianapolis 2012

Once Upon A Time, Damage Went On The Stack And Creatures Had Phasing

Hello everybody!

I’ve just returned home from a very nice trip to Taipei (damn, am I spending more days at home or more days travelling to Magic events?!?) and it’s almost time to prepare the baggage for GP Nagoya…. The hard life of a Magic judge!

This week, I will test your attentiveness and your patience!

Do you remember the column called “Damage on the stack”, with tales about how Magic rules were in the past?

Good! Today we will travel way back in time, to discover one of those abilities that we read about, but we have never seen with our own eyes: PHASING!

For those who would like to read about tournament policy, I know that the last few articles haven’t been dedicated to the IPG (Infraction Procedure Guide), but the last article of the year (between Christmas and New year’s eve) will have a review of 2012 and one part of it will be about our beloved Missed Trigger rule.

Happy reading (good luck ^__^).

Geist of Saint Traft
Versions:
Innistrad (Foil)

Reader Questions

Q: During Friday Night Magic 2 weeks ago, my entire shop got into a fight about if Geist of Saint Traft would get exalted if he attacked alone. Half of us thought that he wouldn't due to his Angel buddy, but the person I was playing insisted that he did. Can you help the clarification, thanks!

A: Exalted will pump your opponent’s Geist (3/3) and he will also get the Angel (4/4). Exalted means “Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, that creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn”; the verb “attack” means just “being declared as attacking” (or “being tapped to attack”); it doesn’t mean “check how many creatures will be attack in the end, counting all possible effects like the Geist of Saint Traft, Militia's Pride, Preeminent Captain or similar). The Exalted trigger ability just asks “how many creatures did you tap when you attacked?”; if the answer is “I tapped just one”, Exalted will give the +1/+1 bonus; Exalted doesn’t check on resolution that you still control only one attacking creature.

Questions of the Week

Q: I control three artifacts and I have a Kuldotha Phoenix in my graveyard. I activate its metalcraft ability and, in response, my opponent bounces one of my artifacts. What happens?

A: The Kuldotha Phoenix will return to the battlefield. In this case, you must have metalcraft only at the moment you want to activate the ability. If you read the card, it says “Activate this ability only if you control three or more artifacts”, and it says nothing about resolution.

Q: I control three artifacts and I cast Galvanic Blast. In response, my opponent bounces one of my artifacts. What happens?

A: Galvanic Blast will deal two damage. In this case, you must have metalcraft only at the moment the spell resolves. If you read the card, it says “Galvanic Blast deals four damage instead if you control three or more artifacts”, and it says nothing about when you can cast it.

Q: I control three artifacts and I put on the battlefield a Lumengrid Drake. In response to its triggered ability that would bounce a creature, my opponent bounces one of my artifacts. What happens?

A: The creature you targeted will remain on the battlefield. The Lumengrid Drake has a triggered ability with a condition separated by commas (“TRIGGER event, IF condition, EFFECT”). In this case, you must have metalcraft at the moment the ability triggers and also at the moment the ability resolves.

To summarize, I would say that almost all the metalcraft abilities work this way:

  • “Activate this ability only if you control three or more artifacts” checks only on announcement
  • “Instead” checks only on resolution
  • “comma, IF condition, comma” checks both on announcement and on resolution

Q: I cast an artifact spell, and my opponent casts Mana Leak in response. Can I use the ability of my Grand Architect to pay the extra cost of Mana Leak?

A: No. Mana Leak is not an extra cost to cast your artifact spell; it’s a payment that Mana Leak requests in order to allow your spell to resolve. You can use the ability of your Grand Architect only to pay for the original artifact spells.

Q: With my Zealous Conscripts, I gain control of one of my opponent’s creatures with undying. Then, after using it to attack, I sacrifice it to my Birthing Pod. Will it come back to the battlefield? If yes, under whose control?

A: It will return to the battlefield under your opponent’s control. Undying checks if a creature has a +1/+1 counter at the moment it dies, independently of who is controlling it; then, the Undying ability specifically says “return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control”; the owner is the player who started the game with it (or, more simply, the person who had it in his bag when he arrived at the tournament ^__^).

Damage On The Stack – Phasing

"I don't like to speak ill of 'walkers . . . but just what did Teferi think he was doing?”

—Ertai, Wizard Adept

After having studied at the Tolarian Academy and having survived the accident that destroyed it, Teferi returned in the native Zhalfir and studied how to manipulate the flow of time. His experiments weren’t successful: all animals, plants, buildings and people on his island (including Teferi himself) disappeared from the temporal flux and reappeared two hundred years later, to find on Zhalfir a war unleashed by wizards eager to benefit from Teferi’s discover.

Let’s go now to the real game play: all creatures that were on Teferi’s island at the moment of the accident have the Phasing ability. Phasing is a keyword ability that is not the best example of simplicity, and also had a few changes since when Mirage was released.

Shimmering Efreet

Let’s take a look!

Phasing was introduced in the Mirage block; in its simplest form, it’s a detrimental ability that allows creatures to cost a little less.

During the untap step, a creature with phasing phases out, while all phased out creatures phase in. These two events are simultaneous and move the permanents from what was called territory to the phased out zone, similar to what now is called exile, but still different.

This zone change had something special: triggered abilities that would trigger when a permanent leaves the battlefield trigger, while triggered abilities that would trigger when a permanent enters the battlefield don’t trigger.

This was probably due to the fact that Mirage was the first block that had a high number of creatures with enter-the-battlefield effects (especially in Visions: Nekrataal, Man-o'-War, Goblin Recruiter, Uktabi Orangutan) and it was better to avoid interactions with cards like Vanishing and Vodalian Illusionist.

Leaves-the-battlefield triggers, on the other hand, were mainly detrimental (like Acidic Dagger and all the other Equipment-like), and an exception wasn’t necessary.

Let’s take Shimmering Efreet for example; it says “Flying, phasing. When Shimmering Efreet phases in, target creature phases out.

It doesn’t trigger Aether Flash when it phases in.

It triggers Acidic Dagger when it phases out.

It triggers its own ability when it phases in, because it specifically checks for the event “this creature phases in”.

As you might imagine, this way of working can’t be defined “easy, sure!”, even though it had its own good uses: enchanting Wormfang Manta with Vanishing was a combo to create infinite turns.

These are the Fifth Edition rules about phasing:

G.30.1 - When a permanent "phases out", it goes to the Phased Out zone (see Rule Z.8). Phased out permanents are not in play and cannot be affected by any spell or ability which does not explicitly say it affects phased out cards. [Mirage, Page 1]

G.30.2 - When a permanent "phases out", all abilities will trigger which would trigger on that permanent leaving play. [D'Angelo 07/03/97]

G.30.9 - Any abilities which would trigger when the permanent "comes into play" will _NOT_ trigger when it "phases in". [Mirage, Page 2] This is a special and important rule about Phasing that may not seem like common sense. It is nonetheless a rule.

This distinction could have been accepted in a period when we were playing cards like Word of Command and Raging River, whose current Oracle text has been rewritten to work with the current rules.

In 2005, Mirage was released online.

In the meantime, the rules about phasing were reviewed and updated, removing this inconsistency; from October 2005, creatures phasing out didn’t trigger leaves-the-battlefield anymore.

These are the autumn 2005 rules about phasing:

502.15 - Phasing

502.15d - Permanents phasing in or out don't trigger any comes-into-play or leaves-play abilities, and effects that modify how a permanent comes into play are ignored.  Abilities and effects that specifically mention phasing can modify or trigger on these events, however.  (Because no player receives priority during the untap step, any abilities triggering off of the phasing event won't go onto the stack until the upkeep step begins.)

In 2009, the Comprehensive Rules had a significant update with the release of Magic 2010. Together with “minor” changes like combat damage not using the stack anymore, there was a “very important” change about phasing:

702.23b If a permanent phases out, its status changes to "phased out." Except for rules and effects that specifically mention phased-out permanents, a phased-out permanent is treated as though it does not exist. It can't affect or be affected by anything else in the game.

Phasing doesn’t cause a zone change any more; phased in and phased out become states of a permanent, just like tapped and untapped, face up and face down, flipped and non-flipped.

These are the current rules about phasing, thank you for joining me on this journey…

…and now, let’s take a look at some rules situations!

Again, “phased out” and “phased in” are states. A phased out permanent is considered as inexistent; it doesn’t change zone, it has no summoning sickness, when it “reappears” the effects on it still apply. On the other hand, effects that last as long as the permanent is on the battlefield end the moment it phases out.

Let’s use an example:

Vision Charm

I cast Sower of Temptation and gain control of my opponent’s Phyrexian Dreadnought.

If my opponent casts Vision Charm on the Dreadnought and he makes it disappear, the effect of Sower of Temptation will keep affecting it (we would have obtained a different result with Flicker) and the Dreadnought would reappear under my control.

If my opponent cast Sapphire Charm targeting my Sower of Temptation, its effect (that lasts "...for as long as Sower of Temptation remains on the battlefield.") would have ended; when Sower of Temptation would have reappeared, its ability wouldn’t have triggered.

The “natural” way creatures use to phase in and out is with the keyword ability phase, that is not a triggered ability. Phasing modifies the rules of the game of the untap step: permanents with phasing I control phase out and cards that phased out previously phase in; then, I untap my permanents.

The order of these actions is important; permanents that phase out keep all the qualities they had the moment they phased out; if they were tapped, they come back tapped; if they had counters, they come back with those counters; if they were assigned to another object, they come back assigned to that object; the timestamp is not reset.

Note that permanents that phased out because of a spell or ability phase in during the next untap step of their last controller; creatures would lose their summoning sickness while they are phased out (because they get untapped in the untap step); tokens, on the other hand, cease to exist [Comprehensive Rules 704.5d]

If a creature with Auras and Equipment attached to it phases out, all these Auras and Equipment phase out too; then, all of them phase in at the same time.

For example, my opponent casts a Pacifism on my Sandbar Crocodile. In my next untap step, my Sandbar Crocodile phases out with the Pacifism too. In my opponent’s next untap step, his Pacifism won’t phase in (it would be too good for me, because it would be put into his graveyard). In my following untap step, both the Sandbar Crocodile and the Pacifism will phase in.

If you read until here and your brain is still working, maybe at our next tournament together you might explain to me how Banding works! (luckily, I started playing years after banding was printed ^__^)

Don’t forget to submit all your rules questions for the next installment of Ask the Judge:

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You can ask him questions concerning rules problems, the life of a level 5 judge, DCI policies, interesting tournament situations and anything else you want to ask him!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article and I’m looking forward to reading any comments.

Riccardo

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