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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Magic School #1: Copying and...Copying.

I finally have a moment to get a few questions put in for the first edition of The Magic School. Today I'm looking at copy effects and how they'll resolve properly.

CREDITS: These questions come from www.mtgsalvation.com and its Cranial Insertion section, either in whole or in part. The way I answer, though, is my own doing.

The first question concerns situations like enchanting a Mountain with Crusher Zendikon and copying it/getting token copies somehow like with a kicked Rite of Replication. What do you get: just copies of the land, or do you get multiple Zendikons for your copying efforts?

ANSWER: Sorry, you "just" get 4 additional lands.

When a card says to copy or "put a token that's a copy...onto the battlefield", it only gets the copiable (pronounced like "Copy-able") values of the card it's trying to copy.

So what are copiable values? From the Comprehensive Rules:

"706.2. When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s characteristics and, for an object on the stack, choices made when casting or activating it (mode, targets, the value of X, whether it was kicked, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on). The “copiable values” are the values derived from the text printed on the object (that text being name, mana cost, card type, subtype, supertype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, toughness, and/or loyalty), as modified by other copy effects, by “as . . . enters the battlefield” and “as . . . is turned face up” abilities that set characteristics, and by abilities that caused the object to be face down. Other effects (including type-changing and text-changing effects), status, and counters are not copied."

So what is that saying in layman's terms?

If you have a permanent being copied, you only get what the original card was printed with.
If you have a spell being copied, you get the spell's original effects along with any additional effects tacked on while on the stack and all choices made for that spell (like how much was paid for X, what the targets for that spell are, which effect(s) you chose when you're able to choose between a number of effects, etc.)

So in this case, we're copying a permanent: Mountain.

What can we copy when it comes to a Mountain? Not a lot. The copied card will have all printed characteristics, so we'll get a token that looks like this:

Basic Land - Mountain

Notice there's no "Basic Land Creature - Beast" or "4/2" or anything from the Crusher Zendikon? We're only concerned with copiable values; that is, the printed values on the card we're targeting.

As a quick aside, this is true for any "manland" (a land that you can turn into a creature). When you copy a "manland", you only get what's printed. For example, copying an "animated" (land turned into a creature) Celestial Colonnade, here's what you'll get:

Celestial Colonnade
Celestial Colonnade enters the battlefield tapped.
TAP: Add W or U to your mana pool.
3WU: Until end of turn, Celestial Colonnade becomes a 4/4 white and blue Elemental creature with flying and vigilance. It's still a land.

Notice I didn't give the token 4/4 or flying or vigilance or a creature type? That's because Celestial Colonnade wasn't printed with those on it. It was printed as a land with an ability that lets it become a creature.

So as a slight segue into the next question: If my opponent just cast a Comet Storm and paid a total of 7 colorless: 4 went for X (so 4 damage to anything he targets), and 3 toward Multikicker and choosing myself and 2 of my creatures. He only has one creature. I Twincast his Comet Storm. What all happens now, assuming I make the strategically best choices?

ANSWER: First, technically a judge should never answer strategy questions, so if you're at a tournament be sure to ask EXACTLY what you mean when you have a question.

But I'm not an official judge, so I get to help you out.  :)

So look back at the copiable values rule. I'll copy-and-paste the appropriate section:
"When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s characteristics and, for an object on the stack, choices made when casting or activating it (mode, targets, the value of X, whether it was kicked, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on)."

So what's copiable on Comet Storm?
1) The original text that lets you deal X damage to a target and, if mulitkicker was paid, deal X damage to an additional target.
2) The value for X, which here is 4.
3) The multikicker target choices, which are you and your 2 creatures.

Normally, you'd have just screwed yourself over since the targets are set in stone. But luckily, Twincast and most other "copy target spell" effects let you change targets!

So you'll be able to deal 4 damage to up to 3 targets of your choosing (remember, this is thanks to Twincast's effect letting you change the targets). But strategically-speaking, you've only got 2 good targets: Your opponent and his lone creature.

So your best course of action is to deal 4 damage to your opponent, 4 damage to his creature (assuming it's not Stuffy Doll of course!), and 4 damage to one of your creatures already being targeted by your opponent's Comet Storm. Yeah, it sucks, but it still gets to hurt your opponent which is what you were wanting to do with Twincast anyway.

I'm going to keep this one short because copying effects are pretty tricky and I don't want to mess you up too much with other issues (that and I'm already late on delivering something in the form of new content so I figure something good would be better than a lot of small and relatively weak stuff). We'll delve into more rules issues next week when I'll have some time for sure to deliver something a lot better.

Until then, take care! And we hope to see you for the Master of Commander tournament Saturday.

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