Knowledge Exploitation: Keeping Score


image from

by Charlotte Sable

Welcome to the first real edition of Knowledge Exploitation. My thanks again to Kar Yung Tom and and all the folks at for helping me get this column off the ground, and to everyone who sent in questions for this week (and will continue to do so in the future, I hope).

Remember, send any questions you want to see answered to, and I'll do my best to include them in the column.

 image from

This past Saturday, I served as scorekeeper at the PTQ in Kitchener, Ontario. The event ran quite smoothly, thanks to everyone on staff. Big props to all my fellow judges for making the event great: Dan, Duncan, Kyle, Chris, Georges, Jack, and Alex – You guys are all awesome.

Now then, Scorekeepers don't interact much with players at larger events, so I figured I would take a moment to fill you guys in on what it is that a scorekeeper actually does at larger events like PTQs.

As Dan Lynch, the awesome head judge of the event, put it on Facebook: "As scorekeeper, Charlotte was responsible for registration, seatings, pairings, printing paper, entering results, timekeeping, recording penalties, etc. Basically everything to do with DCIR and tournament paperwork." (DCIR is DCI Reporter, the Wizards software used to run larger events.)

Basically, it was up to me to make sure that everything got entered correctly. You should really only notice the scorekeeper at an event if they actually screw up somehow. Generally, the only contact an average player will have with a scorekeeper is if he or she wants to drop from the event, but didn't indicate such on his or her match slip.

Well, that was boring, now wasn't it? ;) So let's get to what you actually came here to read…

Your Questions Answered:
… but first a quick disclaimer: All the policy stuff I discuss here is just my opinion and interpretation of current DCI policy. Judges are allowed to make their own decisions, and the specifics of a given situation can affect the outcome to a large degree, so don't go quoting this article as gospel to other judges. We're judges because we're trained to use our judgment to resolve the situations we're presented with. Your mileage may vary. 

James K. (via Facebook) asks:
"I was reading in your article about Outside Assistance. What about looking up a text of a card in the little books you get in a fat pack? I usually carry them in my backpack and I will pull them out if someone has a foreign card and I'm looking for exact text rules, or when a core set changes to see what is now legal."

image from

While I applaud your resourcefulness, James, this is still Outside Assistance if you do it in the middle of a match. The only outside help you're allowed during a match is from a brief set of notes made before that match, and even then, only between games. These notes shouldn't be longer than a page or two, and usually are things like a sideboarding plan or a copy of your decklist.  Also, the Player's Guides from the Fat Packs are indeed handy, but not always the best to check because some cards cards receive immediate errata, such as the recent cases with Glint Hawk Idol, Walking Atlas, and Nemesis Trap.

Miles S. (L1) asks:
"Do you have any suggestions for encouraging people to consider becoming Rules Advisors or Judges?  I gave out prize packs to people who could answer a few rules questions at the local Game Day, but I don't know if it will lead to anyone actually looking up the info online."

I'm probably not the best person to ask about this. I only just got to L2, and while I'm working with two candidates at the moment, I haven't certified anyone as either a Rules Advisor or Judge yet.

That said, the best suggestion I have is to just offer your players help with their rules and policy questions, and to approach anyone who may seem like a promising candidate to you. As long as you're being an active presence in your local Magic community, and the players know that you're willing to help them improve their knowledge, you're doing a good job. However, a player doesn't need to want to become a Rules Advisor or Judge to deserve your help with the rules, as just wanting to understand the game better and make less mistakes is a fine goal and helps make our lives as judges easier.

At larger events, you can have a trivia booth of some kind, like you mentioned. At GP: Toronto, the Judge Booth gave out random foils, pack, and entries into a draw to win larger prizes. The Judge Booth program is going to continue at other GPs around the world, and I look forward to seeing what sort of results it can accomplish.

If you're a player and you want to become a Judge, a Rules Advisor, or just improve your rules knowledge, please don't be afraid to talk to your local judge and ask him or her for help. At the very least, that judge should be able to point you in the right direction for accomplishing your goals. If you don't have a local judge, or don't know of any judges in your area, you can search for one by going to Log in with your DCI number and password, then click on the link labeled "your community", and it should bring you to a list of judges in your city, province/state, or country. If all else fails, you can email me ( and I'll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Alaric S. asks:
"Nathan tries to Lightning Bolt Alicia's Ethersworn Canonist during Alicia's turn. Alicia responds by casting Vines of Vastwood on Ethersworn Canonist. After the stack clears, Alicia tries to cast Gigantiform on Ethersworn Canonist. When she is confronted that she can't do that, she says "OK, you caught me, I knew Ethersworn Canonist had shroud". What is your response?"

If it looks like cheating and smells like cheating, it must be cheating. Even though Alicia might not be cheating in the exact way that she intended to cheat, seeing as it's the Canonist stopping her from playing the Gigantiform, and not the Vines, it's still Cheating – Fraud. Alicia will be disqualified from the event, and may end up being suspended by the DCI.

Originally I had ruled that this wasn't cheating on a technicality, but several higher level judges straightened me out on the issue and I'm sorry that I didn't check with them beforehand. In short, cheating is cheating is cheating is cheating. It doesn't matter whether or not you know the technical details of how you're breaking the rules, you're still doing so intentionally, and thus are committing Fraud, and will be DQ'd.

Alaric S. also asks:
What happens if Adam has Elspeth Tirel and activates her -5 ability that destroys all non-token permanents other than Elspeth and lands, and his opponent, Ned, has Nim Deathmantle (with mana to use its triggered ability) and a creature on the board?

Can Nim Deathmantle bring back a creature even though it is being destroyed at the same time as the creature? Also, does Nim Deathmantle return from the graveyard and attach to the creature if the creature can be brought back?

Time to break out the old grenade analogy, which helps explain that activated and triggered abilities are independent from their sources: A soldier throws a grenade at you, and you then shoot him dead. Does that stop the grenade? No, it just keeps coming at you, even though the soldier who threw it is gone.

It's very important that activated and triggered abilities work like this, otherwise lots of cards just wouldn't function, like fetch-lands, Spellbombs,  Mogg Fanatic, Recurring Nightmare, Brittle Effigy, and many more.

But on to the question at hand: As Ms. Tirel's ability resolves, every other non-land, non-token permanent is destroyed. Each of those permanents that go to the graveyard all see each other going to the bin, so the Deathmantle triggers once for each of Ned's creatures that Elspeth destroys. Even though the Deathmantle itself is now in the graveyard, its trigger just hangs out on the stack waiting to resolve, and when it does, if Ned pays 4, the ability does as much as it can, which is to return the creature to the battlefield. The Deathmantle itself just stays where it is, because it doesn't mention being able to return itself to play, unlike Sword of the Meek, for example, and is a new object in the graveyard, thus having no memory of generating the ability that's resolving. 

Catocop asks:
"If I cast a Riddlesmith and it resolves, can I play an Ornithopter, discarding and putting into play a Vengevine?"

Unfortunately, this doesn't work. Vengevine is being discarded as part of the resolution of Riddlesmith's ability, and Riddlesmith's ability triggered when you cast Ornithopter, which was the second creature spell you had cast this turn, which is when Vengevine's ability would also have triggered, had it been in the graveyard. By the time you're looting away your 'Vine, it's much too late. Sorry. 

Brendan W. asks:
"Horizon Spellbomb and Krosan Tusker: what order do they resolve in and why? I've had this question answered before but I can't remember how they work. I know they're opposite one another, but I know there's more to it than that."

There is indeed more to it than that, Brendan. In each case we have an activated ability and  a triggered ability that's triggering from the activation of the first ability. In all such cases, the trigger goes above the activated ability on the stack and resolves first.

So with the Spellbomb, you get the chance to pay G and draw a card before you search out a land. With the Tusker, you search out a land before you draw a card for cycling the beast. 

Brendan W. also asks:
"Can I imprint Tel-Jilad Fallen on a Mimic Vat? I assume it's OK, since Fallen's protection from artifacts isn't active while in the graveyard, correct?"

This is perfectly OK. By the time Mimic Vat even tries to touch the Fallen, the infectious elf is already in the graveyard, where its protection is non-functional. 

Also, Mimic Vat doesn't interact with the Fallen in any way that protection would ever care about, even if it could touch the Fallen while it was on the battlefield.

And now, a quick primer on protection, using Tel-Jilad Fallen as an example:

Protection means four things: All damage that artifacts would deal to Tel-Jilad Fallen is prevented, Tel-Jilad Fallen can't have an artifact attached to it, Tel-Jilad Fallen can't be blocked by artifact creatures, and Tel-Jilad Fallen can't be the target of artifact spells or abilities from artifact sources.

Presenting… Corner-Case Corner:

And now it's time for Corner-Case Corner, where I deal with all the implausible and convoluted questions that people seem to love asking in rules columns.
Don't get me wrong, I love an interesting interaction or rules puzzle as much as the next rules geek, but I want this column to be about more realistic and common situations, not the once-in-a-lifetime, headache-inducing corner-cases. As such, while Corner-Case Corner will be a regular feature of this column, I'll only answer a couple of questions for it in each column.

Jesse O. asks:
"Alan controls Fecundity, Enduring Renewal, and Worms of the Earth. Neville controls two copies of Chains of Mephistopheles, Dryad Arbor, and Inheritance. Alan casts Quicksilver Gargantuan choosing to have it enter the battlefield as a copy of Dryad Arbor. What happens?"

Now that Quicksilver Gargantuan is a big Dryad Arbor, Worms won't let it enter the battlefield, so it goes to Alan's graveyard directly from the stack. Because it never hits the battlefield, none of Enduring Renewal, Fecundity, or Inheritance trigger.

Long story short: Gargantuan goes from stack to graveyard. That's all.

Rob J. (via forum) asks:
"So I have Opalescence in play with Humility, and a Worldgorger Dragon in the bin, if I play Animate Dead at instant speed by tapping my Swamp and my Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and then play Lightning Bolt targeting the Dominating Licid in play with my opponent controlling a Blood Mood and an Eye of the Storm with Mind's Desire on it, does the world fall over and curl up into the fetal position?"

Gee, thanks for the fun question, Rob. :)

Anyway, before we get into the intricacies of the stack, let's deal with what's in play:

Opalescence turns Humility into a creature, which still takes away the abilities of all other creatures and makes them 1/1. Whichever of the two enchantments has the later time stamp will win at setting Humility's power and toughness, making it either 1/1 or 4/4.

Dominating Licid is just 1/1 with no annoying Licid abilities, thanks to Humility. (However, the current Oracle wording of the licids is quite clean and easy to understand.)

Blood Moon turns Urborg into a Legendary Mountain without its ability to make other lands into Swamps. This is a simple case of dependency, since if Blood Moon's type-changing ability is applied first, it causes Urborg's type-changing ability to not exist.

I'm going to assume you have a Vedalken Orrery or Leyline of Anticipation on the battlefield, which is allowing you to cast Animate Dead at a time you couldn't cast a sorcery.

Eye of the Storm is currently a creature because of Opalescence, and it has no abilities thanks to Humility. It's either 1/1 or 7/7, depending which of those other enchantments has the earlier timestamp.

The stack consists of Animate Dead on the bottom, with the Lightning Bolt above it. Eye of the Storm doesn't trigger because of Humility. No Eye of the Storm/Mind's Desire shenanigans ensue. Lightning Bolt will resolve, killing the Licid, then Animate Dead will resolve, bringing in a 0/1 Worldgorger Dragon with no Enters-the-battlefield ability, and we're done.

So… does the world fall over and curl up into the fetal position? Perhaps, but not as much as it would have if Humility hadn't stripped Eye of the Storm of its abilities.

(Thanks to James McKay — the Canadian one — for pointing out that Opalescence/Humility makes things much easier here by neutering Eye of the Storm!)

In closing, I'd like to leave you all with the awesome new art for Jackal Pup from the upcoming Premium Deck Series: Fire & Lightning…

image from

Isn't it awesome? Well it made me squee when I saw it, and since this is my column, I can do what I like with my closing remarks, right? ;)

So, that wraps things up for this edition of Knowledge Exploitation. As always, feel free to leave comments below, or send them and all your questions to

I need your questions to make this column the best it can be, so do your part:

Feed the Jql some tasty questions and help me help you exploit what you know!