German Magic League

Today was the first day of play of this year’s German Magic League. My team Istari 2 played host for three other teams. We played at the Magic Center here in Berlin, where the other two teams of my league were also playing. Since one of my teammates, Frank, who was scheduled to play Block cancelled yesterday, I had to play and couldn’t judge. Fortunately Sascha Wagner, an employee of the Magic Center, member of Team Karl Marx (TKM), and a level 2 judge himself took over judge duties for all matches today.

We won against the Beastmasters, drew against TKM 1, and lost against the Heldenwelt Titanen from Magdeburg. This was an okay start, although Constructed didn’t run as well as we hoped. The red-white Samurai deck I played in the Kamigawa Block Constructed slot won against a Honden deck, but lost against a green-white aggro control deck as well as a red-black control deck. But I don’t feel too bad about it, especially since the latter matchup is basically an auto-loss. But in retrospect I blame myself for not sticking with the green-black deck that I planned to play and instead taking the Samurai deck that we had prepared for Frank.

Bushido

This is an excerpt from an e-mail message that I sent to Magic rules manager John Carter a while back. It outlines the problems I have with the way the Bushido mechanic currently works. Maybe other people find it interesting as well.


[…]

So, let’s start with the definition of bushido from the comp rules (version 2004-10-01):

502.38. Bushido

502.38a Bushido is a triggered ability. “Bushido X” means “Whenever this creature blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +X/+X until end of turn.” (See rule 309, “Declare Blockers Step.”)

502.38b The bushido bonus is calculated only once per combat, when the triggered ability resolves. Adding or removing blockers later in combat won’t change the bonus.

[…]

I have problems to understand how 502.38b works. Assuming I attack with a creature with “Bushido 1” which gets blocked. According to 502.38a I would expect that a triggered ability with the effect “This gets +1/+1 until end of turn.” would go on the stack. According to 502.38b this reads more like: “This gets +X/+X, where X is the the number in the Bushido ability of this creature.” Since the bonus is calculated on resolution, the effect tries to “look back” at what the current Bushido value is — it has to remember from which ability it triggered, in case the permanent from which it triggered has multiple bushido abilities. I think this is the first time, an ability on the stack does not only need to remember its source (in this case the permanent from which it triggered), but also the specific ability.

I’m unsure how this interacts for example with Humble. If my opponent plays humble on my bushido creature in response to the bushido trigger, what bonus will my creature get? +0/+0 since the creature doesn’t have the Bushido ability anymore? +1/+1? This would contradict the statement that the bonus is calculated on resolution. Will it use the ability’s “Last Known Information”? I don’t think so, since there is no such thing for non-permanents.

Enter Fumiko the Lowblood. Here’s your FAQ entry:

Fumiko the Lowblood

{2}{R}{R}

Legendary Creature — Human Samurai

3/2

Fumiko the Lowblood has bushido X, where X is the number of attacking creatures.

Creatures your opponents control attack each turn if able.

  • X is variable. The bushido bonus is calculated each time Fumiko’s bushido trigger resolves, based on the number of attackers at that time.

[…]

So, if I attack with Fumiko and two Grizzly Bears, Fumiko gets blocked, and one of the Bears is Shock’ed what exactly happens? According to the FAQ the outcome is that Fumiko will get +2/+2. I see three possible interpretations:

  1. When the ability triggers, Fumiko has the ability “Bushido 3”. The ability triggers, and the effect “Fumiko gets +X/+X, where X is equal to the bushido value.” goes to the stack. When it resolves, it checks again and sees that Fumiko now has “Bushido 2”, so she will get a bonus of +2/+2. This is probably the way you intended it to be but has the problems I outlined above.
  2. When the ability triggers, Fumiko has the ability “Bushido (number of attacking creatures)”, so the effect “Fumiko gets +(number of attacking creatures)/+(number of attacking creatures) until end of turn.” goes to the stack. Personally, I think that the X in “Bushido X” must be a fixed number and not a “function”.
  3. When the ability triggers, Fumiko has the ability “Bushido 3”. The ability triggers and the effect “Fumiko gets +3/+3.” goes to the stack. When the ability resolves, Fumiko gets +3/+3, since the ability on the stack is independent from the ability from which it originally triggered. This is not how it works, according to Comp Rules or FAQ, but this is how it should work, in my opinion.

To me it seems as if the rules try to mimic the ability “Whenever Fumiko blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of attacking creatures.” But in my opinion, this just doesn’t work with the rules as they currently are. I would prefer if the Bushido bonus gets “locked in” when the ability triggers, as this seems to me to be most straight-forward and most consistent with other, similar rules.

[…]

Templating and “that card”

From today’s Ask the Judge:

Q: At the end of my turn, if my Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker is still in play, a land that went to my graveyard from play as a 1/1 creature due to Living Plane does not come back into play, does it? It says “creature card” on Shirei, which makes me suspect.

A: This land card will still be returned to play. Rule 404.4c says: ‘A delayed triggered ability that refers to a particular object still affects it even if the object changes characteristics.’ When Shirei’s ability says to return that creature card, it means that you return to play that card regardless of card type it is. This happens because that triggered ability that returns that card to play is a delayed triggered ability.

Here is the current oracle text of Shirei:

Whenever a creature with power 1 or less is put into your graveyard from play, you may return that creature card to play under your control at end of turn if Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker is still in play.

I think that the question shows a problem with current templating. As the submitter of the question points out, the term “creature card” leads you to assume that only creature cards can be returned to play. While the rules make it clear that this is not the case, as Chris points out, it’s still a violation of the rule that cards should be as clear as possible. In my opinion “that card” would be more concise and not in any way less clear to newer players.

I’m a little undecided what to do about permanents, though. See for example Through the Breach:

Put a creature card from your hand into play. That creature has haste. Sacrifice that creature at end of turn.

Say you put a creature card into play with Through the Breach. You turn the creature into an Enchantment using Soul Sculptor. You will have to sacrifice the Enchantment, although it isn’t a creature anymore because of rule 404.4c. In this case it is not a good idea to have the oracle text read: “… Sacrifice that permanent at end of turn.” The problem here is for newer players to understand the term “permanent”.