Sunday, February 7, 2016

Watching Gates in Standard

I recently judged my first Preliminary PTQ of the season which happened to be my first experience watching people play with the new Standard.  We had a fairly small event of 21 players, nothing terribly challenging for me, which made it an excellent opportunity to really watch some people play Magic. One round and several Game Rules Violations later I realized that Oath of the Gatewatch has really shaken up the format as I've seen a lot of cards I wasn't familiar with, and as a result a lot of interactions I hadn't seen. Below I've got a handful of the more interesting rules questions from my notes for the event:

"Judge, I control Kalitas and Anafenza. I want to destroy my opponent's creature, what happens when it dies? Will I get a token?"

Well, friend. That is entirely up to your opponent:
616.1. If two or more replacement and/or prevention effects are attempting to modify the way an event affects an object or player, the affected object's controller (or its owner if it has no controller) or the affected player chooses one to apply.

Basically, your opponent is going to choose which replacement effect they would like to apply to their creature first. If they choose Anafenza their creature is exiled, and Kalitas's replacement effect no longer has an effect to replace!

"Judge! My opponent bounced my Rattleclaw Mystic last turn with Reflector Mage. Can I cast it as a Morph?"

As it turns out, you can! 
702.2 Face-down spells and face-down permanents have no characteristics other than those listed by the ability or rules that allowed the spell or permanent to be face down.
Morph creatures by definition have no name. As a result Reflector Mage's casting restriction can't stop you.  Additionally this will hold true in reverse, if your face-down Mystic is bounced by Reflector Mage you can cast him face-up on the next turn!

"My Avatar of the Resolute is currently exiled by my opponent's Silkwrap. I cast Dromoka's Command, my opponent sacrifices an enchantment and I put a +1/+1 counter on my Falconer. Does my Avatar get a counter?"

The short answer is "no." The longer answer has to do with the order in which we resolve spells. We are going to resolve Dromoka's Command in the order it is printed, so first his opponent sacrifices an enchantment. As soon as Silkwrap leaves play, Avatar of the Resolute returns to the battlefield and it's replacement effect checks for +1/+1 counters. After that we place a counter on Abzan Falconer.

For this next section I've got two quick questions I had regarding Collected Company:

"Judge, if I put two Nissa, Vastood Seer into play off my Collected Company, will both trigger before I lose one to the Legend rule?"

Yes! During the resolution of Collected Company both enters the battlefield triggers from Nissa will happen. After it resolves, when SBAs are checked, the Legend rule will apply and one Nissa will be sacrificed. After that both triggered abilities are placed on the stack.

"Judge, my opponent just responded to my Collected Company with Hallowed Moonlight, where do these cards go?"

Well, that depends. Since Collected Company has a may clause attached to it, you can choose to select nothing and ship them right to the bottom of your deck...if not those friends are going to find themselves quickly in the Exile zone.

Having not worked a Standard event for awhile (my last couple were Modern) I realized quickly that there is SO much more to watch for than I've been used to in the past. The Rally the Ancestors deck is showing us a lot of triggers, a lot of replacement effects, and lots of zone-changing effects.  Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is causing plenty of problems on his own between the transform condition on his activated ability and the "flashback" ability on his flip side.  Most of these decks feature complex manabases full of fetchlands. We're seeing lots of shuffling, lots of sequencing, and lots of opportunities for players to slip up. Keep an eye on that shuffling, keep those games moving. Keep an eye on those matches and make sure that those lands are entering the battlefield as they should.

Over the rest of February I've got a few events lined up. As I finish up this post I'm home from SCG Regionals in North Carolina, I've got the wonderful world of customer service and Regular REL at MAGFest in a couple weeks, and then GP Houston at the end of the month. I'm hoping to talk some more about the SCG Charlotte Open, specifically about how we handled EOR without the aid of a printout, complete with pretty pictures of maps and lots of scribbling!

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