Rules Q&A - Magic Rules FAQ

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Emperor
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Q: What is Emperor and how is it played?
A: Emperor is a casual multiplayer variant that divides the table into multiple three-player teams, with each team consisting of one 'Emperor' and two 'Lieutenants'. Players sit so that each emperor is flanked by his lieutenants. The game uses the limited range of influence option, with each lieutenant having a range of 1 and each emperor having a range of 2. All players on a team lose the game when their emperor loses, and they win the game when all opposing emperors have been defeated. Lastly, each creature inherently has the ability, ": Target teammate gains control of this creature."

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Planechase
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Q: What is Planechase and how is it played?
A: Planechase is a casual variant where players engage in an ongoing battle roaming across multiple planes of the multiverse. Special plane cards represent various locations around the planes of the multiverse, with the game's current locale having unique effects upon the game. (There are multiple options for how to use plane cards during a planechase game, which are laid out below.) On each player's turn, any time that player could cast a sorcery, he or she may roll a special (6-sided) planar die to attempt to "planeswalk", moving the battle to a different, possibly more advantageous locale. The attempt may succeed, may trigger special abilities of the current plane (rolling 'chaos'), or may simply fail entirely. The first such roll is free, but each additional roll costs an additional . So the second roll costs , the third costs , and so on and so forth.

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Q: How are the plane cards used?
A: Planechase is played with special 'planar decks', consisting of the oversized plane cards. No planar deck may contain multiples of the same plane card. There are three basic options for using plane cards, depending on how you like to play. The first requires each player to have their own planar deck, and the second and third only require one, which is shared between all players.

In the first (default) option, the player who takes the first turn flips over the first card of their planar deck; this is the game's starting plane. During the game, whenever a player rolls the planar die and hits the planeswalker symbol ( ), the current plane is put face-down on the bottom of its owner's planar deck. The next card in the planar deck of the player who rolled is flipped over, and the game then continues on that new plane. Planar decks have a 10-card minimum.

In the second, the single planar deck option, there is only one communal planar deck, which must be either 40 cards or ten cards for each player in the game, whichever is smaller. Whenever a player rolls , the current plane is put face-down on the bottom of the planar deck and the next card is flipped over to become the game's new plane.

The third option is known as the Eternities Map, and is explained here. It that allows players to move between planes on a 'map', rather than on the random basis the normal method uses.

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Q: Do I have to use the special planar die?
A: No. If you don't happen to have a planar die handy, you can just use an ordinary d6. Designate one side to be the planeswalker symbol ( ); the opposite side is the chaos symbol ( :chaos: ). (I recommend 6 for planeswalking, leaving 1 for chaos; it's just easier to remember.) Then proceed as normal.

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Q: Is there any limit to the number of times I can roll the planar die?
A: No. You can roll the planar die as many times as you choose, as long as you can continue to pay for it. It also doesn't matter whether or not you've managed to planeswalk or rolled chaos earlier in the turn.

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Q: Can I respond to a roll of the planar die?
A: No; rolling the planar die is a special action that can't be responded to. However, while the roll itself is a special action, chaos abilities and planeswalking themselves are triggered abilities, and can be responded to. So while you can't do anything before the die is rolled, you can do things in between the die being rolled and the result of that roll occurring.


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Two Headed Giant (2HG)
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Q: What is Two-Headed Giant and how is it played?
A: Two-Headed Giant is perhaps one of the oldest team multiplayer variants. Players are divided into teams of two, with the members of each team having a shared life total of 30. Teammates ('Heads') also share turns. (See the questions on sharing turns above.) Other things, such as permanents and mana, are not shared between teammates--each player has their own. A team loses when its life total drops to 0 or less, or when one of the 'heads' loses for some other reason. (Say, decking.)

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Q: How does combat work?
A: In combat, the attacking team's creatures attack the opposing team as a whole, not either of the heads individually. Creatures controlled by either head may block. The attacking team chooses which head is actually dealt the damage from each attacking creature at the time the damage is assigned, if that matters for some reason. (Say, Hypnotic Specter or Story Circle.) The damage from any one creature must be dealt to the same head--you can't have one creature deal some of its damage to one player and some to the other.

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Q: How do things that care about a player's life total or about life loss or gain work?
A: If something wants to know the life total of any one player, it uses the team's life total. If something is trying to set a player's life total to a specific number, it sets the team's life total to that number. If something is trying to set the life totals of multiple heads at the same time, that team chooses which of them applies; the team's life total is set to that number.

If one player gains life, loses life, and/or is dealt damage, the game doesn't consider their teammate to have done the same, even though their life total has technically changed.

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Q: Can I attach Equipment to my teammate's creatures?
A: No. The Equip ability can only target a creature you control; while your teammate isn't an opponent, they're still not you.

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Copying
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Q: What parts of a card can be copied?
A: When you copy a card, you copy all of that card's characteristics: name, mana cost, color, type(s), rules text, power and toughness--even its expansion symbol! And when copying a spell, you also copy all the decisions that were made when it was played: targets, modes, the value of X, and so on.

Note however, that anything that isn't an inherent property of the card (or the result of another copy effect) can't be copied.

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Q: I copy something that has been changed somehow--by a spell, by an Aura, or by something else. Are those changes copied as well?
A: No, not unless the thing that changed it was a copy effect itself. When something is copied, the only things that are copied are the card (or token)'s own inherent properties and other copy effects.

Copying a card will not copy any counters, Auras, or Equipment that are on that card, nor will it copy any abilities, properties, or bonuses that were granted to it by something other than a copy effect.

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Q: I play a card that copies some other card "as" it enters the battlefield, and copy something that has an "enters-the-battlefield ability". Will that ability trigger?
A: Yes. The card turns into a copy before it actually hits the field, so it will have the ability in time for it to trigger.

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Q: My creature that's already on the battlefield turns into a copy of something that has an " enters-the- battlefield ability". Will the ability trigger?
A: No. Your creature is not entering the battlefield; it was already on the battlefield. It just changed what it looks like a bit.

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Q: Does "copying" a spell count as "casting" a spell?
A: No. "Casting" a spell is the process of putting it onto the stack, choosing targets and so on, and paying its cost. (See Casting Spells and Activated Abilities for more information.) Just copying a spell simply creates a copy already on the stack and bypasses that process.

Note that some effects create a copy of a card and then have you cast that copy. These effects are different--you actually cast the copy, so things that trigger on you casting spells will do so.

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Q: I create a copy of a permanent on the battlefield that's legendary--will they both die due to the Legend rule?
A: Yes; copying a card will also copy the name and legendary supertype of the card, and that's what the legend rule keys off of, so say goodbye to both the original and your copy.

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Q: Can I use Clone, Body Double, Vesuvan Shapeshifter, or similarly worded cards to copy a card that has [post=9971836]protection[/post] from them?
A: Yes. Protection only stops a certain specific set of things (see the [post=9971836]FAQ entry[/post] for a list of them), and anything that doesn't do those things can't be stopped by protection. Since these types of abilities don't use the word "target", they don't target (and they obviously don't do any of the others, either), so protection can't stop them.

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Q: I copy a face-down [post=9971938]morph[/post] creature. What does my copy look like?
A: It's a face-up, nameless, colorless, creature-type-less 2/2 creature with no mana cost. It does not have morph and you can't turn it face-up into anything--it already is face-up.

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Q: I copy a flip card. Do I get the flipped or unflipped side?
A: Your copy will be of the unflipped part of the card...at least until something flips it.

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Replacement and Prevention Effects
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Q: What are prevention and replacement effects?
A: Replacement effects are a type of effect that looks for some specific event that would happen, and somehow modifies that event or causes something else to happen instead of what would normally have happened. Prevention effects are a special kind of replacement effect that prevent the dealing of damage by replacing it with nothing.

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Q: How can I recognize a replacement/prevention effect?
A: Most replacement/prevention effects can be easily recognized by the use of specific words that are only used to denote replacement effects. If a card uses either of the words "instead" or "skip" it is using some kind of replacement effect, and prevention effects use the word "prevent". Effects that modify the way an object changes zones or status are also replacement effects--such effects will read along the lines of "As [something] enters the battlefield,..." or "[This] enters the battlefield [tapped/with counters/as something unusual]".

Many spells and activated or triggered abilities will set up replacement or prevention effects that will linger for a specified duration. Such cards will often read "The next time [this event would happen]..." or "If [this event would happen] [during this duration]..."

There's also a special game rule for Planeswalkers that creates a replacement effect. If a spell or ability you control would cause damage to be dealt to one of your opponents, you can have all of that damage dealt to one of that player's planeswalkers instead. (For more information on this replacement effect, see the question below and the Planeswalkers FAQ entry.)

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Q: So how do replacement/prevention effects work?
A: Simple: a replacement/prevention effect is constantly looking for a specific kind of event--if that event would happen, the effect kicks in and causes a different event to occur instead, at the same time the original event would have happened.

For example, you cast Shock targeting a Phytohydra. This is the event that would happen normally:
Shock deals 2 damage to Phytohydra.


However, Phytohydra's ability has a replacement effect, and the event it's looking to replace is damage being dealt to Phytohydra. This qualifies, so the ability kicks in, changing the event like this:
Shock deals 2 damage to Phytohydra. Put two +1/+1 counters on Phytohydra.

So as Shock resolves, instead of it dealing damage to the Hydra, +1/+1 counters are put on it.

Let's look at some more examples. I have enchanted your Grizzly Bears with Pariah, and you cast a Shock targeting me. This is what would normally happen:
Shock deals 2 damage to me.

But Pariah kicks in and changes that to:
Shock deals 2 damage to me to Grizzly Bears.

I control Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar. My draw step arrives, and the game tries to get me to do this:
Draw a card.

Tomorrow's ability changes that to:
Draw a card. Look at the top three cards of your library. Put one of those cards into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order..

Fairly simple, right?

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Q: How does the Planeswalker replacement effect work?
A: The rules create a special replacement effect that allows you to redirect damage from spells or abilities from your opponent to one of his planeswalkers. This replacement effect is always available if the opponent controls a planeswalker and will work for any non-combat damage dealt by a source you control.

Let's say your opponent controls Ajani Goldmane and you want to deal damage to it with Shock. You cast Shock targeting your opponent. If no one has any response to Shock, it resolves. Normally, at this point it would deal 2 damage to your opponent, end of story. But because your opponent controls a planeswalker, the replacement effect kicks in and gives you the option of having that damage dealt to Ajani instead. If you do, all the damage will be dealt to Ajani. If you don't, all the damage will be dealt to your opponent.

If you do redirect the damage, Ajani takes 2 damage and thus loses 2 loyalty. Note that you do not need to let your opponent know in advance that you plan on damaging Ajani--you only make the choice as the Shock resolves. Also, if your opponent has more than one planeswalker, you can choose any one of them to redirect damage to. You must either redirect all of the damage to that planeswalker or none; you can't redirect part of the damage.

For more information, see the FAQ entry on Planeswalkers.

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Q: What happens if two replacement effects are trying to affect the same event?
A: If two or more replacement or prevention effects are trying to modify the same event, then the player who would be affected by that event (or the owner/controller of the object that would be affected by it) chooses the order in which to apply them. Note that this may cause some replacement effects to never apply at all.

For example, you control a Furnace of Rath and cast Incinerate targeting me. In response, I cast Mending Hands. When Incinerate resolves, it tries to deal 3 damage to me, and both the Furnace and Hands want to replace that. Since I'm the player who would be affected by the Incinerate, I get to choose the order in which to apply them.

If I applied the Furnace of Rath first, it would replace Incinerate's 3 damage with 6. Then I would apply Mending Hands and prevent 4 of that damage, so the remaining 2 would be dealt to me. Or I could do it the other way, choosing to apply the Hands' effect first. The Hands would prevent all 3 of the damage from the Incinerate, and then there would be no damage left for the Furnace to try to double, so it would no longer apply and wouldn't do anything.

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Q: Can a replacement effect apply more than once? Say, I control two Furnace of Raths and Shock you. The first Furnace doubles the damage, and then the second doubles it again, the first doubles it again...
A: No. Any given replacement effect can only affect a given event once, even if some other replacement effect modifies the event again.

So in the case of two Furnaces, one Furnace would double the damage, the other Furnace would double it again, and then both Furnaces would see that they've already applied to this event and not try to replace it again.

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Q: Can a replacement effect become applicable to an event thanks to some other replacement effect?
A: Yes. Let's say I control a Cho-Manno, Revolutionary enchanted with Pariah and you Shock me. Pariah replaces damage being dealt to me with damage being dealt to Cho-Manno, and then Cho- Manno's ability kicks in and prevents that damage.

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State-Based Actions
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Q: What are state-based actions?
A: State-based actions (or SBAs, as they're commonly called here) are essentially the game's janitorial staff. They make sure that everything that's supposed to be dead and gone dies and is put into the right place.

The state-based actions are as follows:
  • Any player with 0 or less life loses the game.
  • Any player who tried to draw a card from an empty library (since the last time SBAs were checked) loses the game.
  • Any player with 10 or more poison counters loses the game.
  • All tokens in zones other than the battlefield and all phased-out tokens cease to exist.
  • All spell- or card-copies in zones other than the stack or the battlefield cease to exist.
  • Any creature with 0 or less toughness is put into its owner's graveyard.
  • Any creature with lethal damage marked on it is destroyed.
  • Any creature that has been dealt damage by a source with [post=12191508]deathtouch[/post] (since the last time SBAs were checked) is destroyed.
  • Any planeswalker with 0 loyalty is put into its owner's graveyard.
  • Any planeswalker with the same planeswalker type as another planeswalker is put into its owner's graveyard.
  • Any legendary permanent with the same name as another legendary permanent is put into its owner's graveyard.
  • If two or more world permanents are on the battlefield, all but the one that entered the battlefield most recently are put into their owners' graveyards. If there's a tie, they all die.
  • Any Aura attached to an illegal or nonexistent permanent dies.
  • Any Equipment attached to an illegal or nonexistent permanent becomes unattached from that permanent but remains on the battlefield.
  • Anything that's not an Aura or Equipment but is attached to something becomes unattached from that something but remains on the battlefield.
  • If there are both +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on a permanent, they annihilate each other in pairs until only one kind is left.

SBAs aren't checked during the casting/activating or resolution of a spell or ability, but are always checked just before any player receives priority. Thus, it's impossible for any player to do anything before SBAs do their thing.

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Q: Can I respond to a state-based action by doing...?
A: No. State-based actions apply before any player can do anything--there's no way you can take any action before they take effect.

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Q: Can I [post=12501037]regenerate[/post] a creature from an SBA that would kill it?
A: The only SBAs that regeneration will stop are the ones that kills creatures for having lethal damage or being dealt damage by a source with [post=12191508]deathtouch[/post]. (Note you have to regenerate the creature before the damage is actually dealt, or SBAs kill it before you can do anything). The other SBAs that kill creatures can't be stopped by regeneration, as they aren't technically destroying the creature, and regeneration can only affect destruction. (See the section on Damage and Regeneration.)

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Q: That one about removing +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters... does that apply to other kinds of counters too?
A: No. Only +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters are affected. Any other counters are immune.

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Q: What happens if I try to draw a card from an empty library, but control a Platinum Angel?
A: Nothing. SBAs will try to make you lose the game, but they'll fail because the Angel says you can't lose.

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Turn Structure and Turns
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Each turn in Magic is divided into a number of phases, which in turn may be divided into a number of steps; each individual step generally has a special action associated with it. The player whose turn it is is referred to as "the active player". Here's an outline of the basic turn structure, listing the phases and the steps (if any) that each phase consists of.

  • Beginning Phase
    • Untap Step
    • Upkeep Step
    • Draw Step
  • (First / Precombat) Main Phase
  • Combat Phase
    • Beginning of Combat Step
    • Declare Attackers Step
    • Declare Blockers Step
    • First Strike Combat Damage Step (Doesn't happen if no creatures with first or double strike are involved with combat.)
    • Combat Damage Step
    • End of Combat Step
  • (Second / Postcombat) Main Phase
  • Ending Phase
    • End Step
    • Cleanup Step

The following sblock contains a more detailed listing of the turn structure, listing the actions that typically occur in each step or phase, along with some additional information.

Detailed Turn Structure

Red denotes special game actions--these actions are defined as part of the turn. They do not use the stack and cannot be responded to; if you'd like to cast/activate a spell or ability before these game actions take place, you must do so in an earlier step. Once they start, it's too late to do anything about them.
Blue denotes a time when players recieve priority. If players don't receive priority, they can't do much of anything.
Purple denotes important reminders.


  • Beginning phase
    • Untap step
      • Phased-out objects phase in, permanents with phasing phase out.
      • Permanents the active player controls untap.
      • Note: Players do not receive priority in this step.

    • Upkeep step
      • Triggered abilities that triggered during the untap step or at the beginning of the upkeep are put on the stack.
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).

    • Draw step
      • Active player draws a card.
      • Triggered abilities that triggered at the beginning of the draw step or by the active player drawing are put on the stack.
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).

  • (First / Precombat) Main phase
    • Triggered abilities that triggered at the beginning of this phase are put on the stack.
    • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).
    • Note: The active player can play non-instant cards and activate loyalty abilities only during a main phase when the stack is empty.

  • Combat phase
    • Beginning of combat step
      • Triggered abilities that triggered at the beginning of combat are put on the stack.
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).


    • Declare attackers step
      • Active player declares attackers.
      • Triggered abilities that triggered at the beginning of this step or upon declaration of attackers are put on the stack.
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).
      • Skip to end of combat step if no attackers have been declared.

    • Declare blockers step
      • Defending player declares blockers.
      • Players declare their creatures' damage assignment orders.
      • Triggered abilities that triggered at the beginning of this step or upon declaration of blockers are put on the stack.
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).

    • First strike combat damage step (This step doesn't happen if no creatures with first or double strike are involved with combat.)
      • [color=red]First/double strike combat damage is assigned and dealt.[/color]
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).

    • Combat damage step
      • Regular/double strike combat damage is assigned and dealt.
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).

    • End of combat
      • Triggered abilities that trigger "at end of combat" are put on the stack.
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).

  • (Second / Postcombat) Main Phase
    • Triggered abilities that triggered at the beginning of this phase are put on the stack.
    • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).
    • Note: The active player can play non-instant cards and activate loyalty abilities only during a main phase when the stack is empty.

  • Ending Phase
    • End Step
      • Triggered abilities that trigger at the beginning of the end step ("at end of turn") are put on the stack.
      • Players receive priority (starting with the active player).
      • Note: "At the beginning of the end step"/"At end of turn" triggers created after the end step has begun wait until the next end step to go on the stack.

    • Cleanup Step
      • Active player discards down to maximum hand size.
      • Damage is removed from permanents and "until end of turn" and "this turn" effects end.
      • If triggered abilities have triggered or conditions for SBAs exist, triggered abilities are put on the stack, players receive priority (starting with the active player), and there is another Cleanup Step after this one.
      • Note: Players do not normally receive priority in this step.


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Questions - General turn questions

Q: What happens when multiple "take an extra turn after this one" effects are used?
A: When something creates an extra turn, it essentially "inserts" that turn into the turn order right behind the current one. If something else later creates another turn during the same turn, that turn is again inserted right after the current one--right before the other extra turn that was created previously. The extra turns are taken, one after the other, in the reverse of the order in which they were created. After that, the turn order reverts back to normal.

For example, if you played Time Warp on your turn, and then your opponent played one (thanks to, say, a Quicken), your opponent would take an extra turn, then you will, and then the regular turn order continues from where it left off.

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Questions - Untap Step

Q: Can I do something on a player's turn before that player untaps?
A: No. Players do not get priority during the Untap Step, so it is impossible to do anything before the player untaps. If you want to do something before a player untaps, you have to do it during the previous turn's End Step.

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Q: What happens when a triggered ability triggers during the Untap Step?
A: When a triggered ability triggers, it waits until the next time a player would receive priority to go on the stack. In this case, that means that the triggered ability wouldn't go on the stack until the upkeep step.

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Questions - Upkeep Step

Q: Can I do something on a player's turn before "at the beginning of upkeep" triggers happen?
A: Well, sort of. You can't do things before those abilities trigger (because they trigger and go onto the stack before players receive priority), but you can respond to those triggered abilities and do things before they resolve.

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Q: I have a card that says "During [player's] upkeep..."--when does that happen?
A: Check the Oracle text of the card in question; you'll find that the card's current wording is a triggered ability that triggers at the beginning of the upkeep. That's when it happens.

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Questions - Combat Phase

See the Combat, Attacking, Blocking, and Combat Damage sections of the FAQ.


Questions - End Step

Q: I do something that has an effect "at the beginning of the end step" during the end step. What happens?
A: That effect happens at the beginning of the next end step. The end step only begins once per turn. If it's too late to catch the one from this turn, it'll wait 'till the next applicable end of turn step.

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Q: I do something that does something "until end of turn" during the end of turn step. What happens?
A: You probably just wasted a spell--as soon as the end step ends, the cleanup step comes around and ends the effect you just worked so hard to create.

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Questions - Cleanup Step

Q: Can I do something after the active player has discarded and damage has worn off and everything, but before the next player begins his turn and untaps?
A: Only if you can find a way to make a triggered ability trigger or the condition for an SBA occur (See the section on State-based Actions) during Cleanup without doing anything. (It's not as easy as it sounds.)

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Q: Is there any way I can make something that lasts "until end of turn" carry over to the next turn?
A: No. No matter what you try, there will always be another cleanup step after everything's said and done that will end the effect and erase all your hard work.

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Deck Construction
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Q: How many cards does my deck need to contain? What's the maximum and minimum number?
A: In Limited formats (see the Tournament Procedure section), decks have a minimum size of 40 cards. In Constructed formats (again, see the Tournament Procedure section), the minimum is 60 cards. There is no maximum number of cards that can be in your deck except that you must be able to properly shuffle it in a reasonable amount of time.

So yes, you can put as many cards in your deck as you like; most competitive decks, however, stick to the minimum or as close to it as they can manage and still function. Why they do so is a bit beyond the scope of this FAQ, but basically it's because with fewer cards, they have a better chance of drawing their best cards when they need them.

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Q: How many copies of a given card may I have in my deck?
A: You may have a maximum of four copies of any given card with a particular English name in your deck. The only exceptions are basic lands, of which you may have any number, and Relentless Rats, which explains itself.

Note that only basic lands are an exception; if a card is basic, it will say "Basic" on its type line. Anything that doesn't is not basic. Any land that is not basic is called a nonbasic land, and is subject to the normal four-of rule. (The existing basic lands are Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, Forest, and their snow-covered equivalents.)

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Q: Can I include cards from different sets or blocks in my deck?
A: Absolutely; that's a big part of the appeal of Magic to many, in fact. The game consists of over ten thousand different pieces which can be combined in any of an unbelievably large number of ways. The only restriction is that some tournament formats will specify that only cards that were a part of certain sets are allowed; see the next question for more information on this.

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Q: Which sets can I use cards from in my Constructed decks?
A: That depends on which format you're playing.
  • Standard permits cards from the two most recently-printed blocks, plus the core sets that follow them.
  • Extended permits cards from the seven most recently-printed blocks, plus the core sets that follow them.
  • Legacy and Vintage permit cards from all sets; the two are sometimes referred to as the "Eternal" formats for that reason.
  • Block Constructed (or more specifically, [Block Name] Block Constructed), allows only cards from within the sets that form the specified block.

Depending on the format, there may also be one or more specific cards that are banned or restricted. You can see here for a listing of which sets are currently legal in which formats and which cards (if any) are banned or restricted in those formats.

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Q: What's a banned or restricted card?
A: A banned card is a card that you are not allowed to include in your deck. A card is generally banned in a format if it or a deck it's a key part of becomes too dominant and begins to warp the format around it, meaning that the only way to win is to either play that card/deck or to play a deck built to specifically counteract that card/deck.

A restricted card is a card that you can only have one copy of in your deck. Restricted cards only exist in one format: Vintage. (Vintage likes to have as few cards as possible banned, but some cards too powerful or degenerate to allow in normal play, so they're restricted instead of banned so that you can still play with them, but only with one copy. Even with just the one copy, many restricted cards are so powerful they define the format even as a one-of.)

Note that banning and restricting are format-specific; Just because a card is banned or restricted in one format does not mean it's banned in all formats. For example, AEther Vial is banned in Extended but not in Vintage or Legacy.

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Q: What cards are banned and restricted in each format?
A: The banned and restricted lists for every DCI-sanctioned format in Magic can be found here.

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Q: How often is the list updated? And when do the updates take effect?
A: The DCI announces updates to the banned and restricted lists every three months, on March 1st, June 1st, September 1st, and December 1st of each year. Any updates to the lists take effect on the 20th of the month they're announced.

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Q: I have an old version of a card that was reprinted in a legal set. Can I play with it?
A: Yes. As long as a card was printed in a legal set, any version of that card is also legal, no matter how old. So for example, you could play with your Tempest Forests in Standard, because Forest is a legal card in Standard, and that means that any version of it is legal. The only caveat to this rule is that the card must be black- or white-bordered and have a normal Magic card back; cards with silver or gold borders or that have a different back from normal Magic cards are not legal for play in any tournament format.

Note that cards from Alpha have different corners than cards in later sets; this means that if your deck contains both cards from Alpha and cards from some other set, you must use opaque sleeves so as to hide the corners.

It should also be mentioned that old versions of a card, especially ones printed before Sixth Edition, may have outdated wordings that have since been changed slightly to accomodate changes in the game's rules structure. Thus, it's important to always be sure to check the Oracle text of old cards so you can be sure how they work; a card's Oracle text can be found by looking it up in Gatherer. The creature types of old creatures are especially likely to have been changed.

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Tournament Procedure
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Q: What is the difference between Constructed and Limited decks?
A: A Constructed deck is one you made beforehand and brought with you.
  • It must have at least 60 cards in the main deck.
  • It cannot contain more then 4 copies of a card other than basic lands (and Relentless Rats)

A Limited deck is one made of cards that you are given at the tournament, plus basic lands.
  • It must consist of at least 40 cards in the main deck.
  • You may have as many copies as you wish of any card in your main deck.

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Q: I'm at a tournament, so now what?
A: Okay, we'll assume you've got the right deck, which can be tricky at times. The first step is to get registered. Find the front desk, and politely wait through the line until you can pay and fill out whatever forms they want you to fill out. If you don't have a DCI number (the DCI is Magic's tournament wing), you'll get to sign up with them and get a number. This number can get you free stuff if you sign up online to get it. Be nice to these people! They work long hours with no pay, and often get hated on. Be sure to follow whatever instructions they give you.

After a while you'll get pairings announced. Find out where you're supposed to sit and go sit down. (More casual tournaments may simply have you find your opponent and sit down wherever you can.) Once everyone is seated you'll be told to start the round; each round consists of a best-of-three-games match against a single opponent.

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Q: So how does the match start?
A: You and your opponent will roll dice to determine who goes first; the winner decides if they wish to go first or second. (The player who goes first won't draw a card on his or her first turn.) Shuffle up your deck, then present it to your opponent to allow them to do so; they may either cut or shuffle at their preference. Once they do so you cannot do anything further to it. (You must always present your deck to your opponent in this manner after any time you shuffle.) Draw your seven cards, mulligan if necessary, and start playing.

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Q: Help, I feel like I'm doing everything wrong!
A: Don't worry about it. The rules are set up and the judges are there to make sure you play properly, not to punish you. When in doubt, don't be afraid to call a judge to ask if a play is legal ahead of time.

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Q: I just finished game one; now what?
A: Okay, after the game, it's time to sideboard. See the entry on Sideboards just below. Once both you and your opponent are done sideboarding, you can begin the next game in the same manner as you did the previous, except the player who lost the first game decides whether to play or draw first in the next.

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Q: Help! I think my opponent's cheating!
A: If you think they are cheating, or they made a mistake, call for a Judge. Just raise your hand, shout "Judge!", and keep your hand raised until one shows up. It's better to catch these things early so that if something goes wrong, it doesn't wreck the game. Calmly explain things to the judge (you can do so away from the table if you want), and if you made a mistake, don't lie about it. That only makes things worse for you.

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Q: Okay, the match is over; now what?
A: Okay, first you have to sign the match slip. This is how you report to the tournament organizer who won the round. Be nice and respectful to your opponent, you may have to play them later. The next step: remember the sideboard? You have to take out all the sideboarded cards and restore your deck to the same deck and sideboard that you started game one with. After this, you're on your own to look around or check out the vendors until everyone else is finished with the round. Just be back in time for the next set of pairings.

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Q: I think I can get a prize if I win. Can I offer my opponent half to drop to me?
A: Absolutely not. If you're offering or being offered something to change the natural result of a game or match, it's bribery, and it's one of the biggest things judges watch for. You will be disqualified if you are caught even making the offer.

You can concede or offer an intentional draw to your opponent, but only under two conditions: 1) it doesn't involve luck or chance (so no rolling a die), and 2) it doesn't involve bribery.

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Q: Okay, but what about Limited events--what are those?
A: A limited tournament is one where your deck is limited to a specific set of cards. There are two types, Sealed and Draft. Sealed is where you get a pool of cards (usually six boosters) and you get to build the best possible deck you can from those cards. Draft is where people sit at a table and pick single cards from a series of packs, then build decks from the cards they picked.

The tournament organizers will usually supply you with as many regular basic lands as you need. (Special basic lands, like Snow-Covered lands, are not provided.) If the organizer is not providing lands, you will probably be told about that before the tournament begins.

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Q: So how do I start in a Sealed tournament?
A: Registering works the same way, only they will either give you some product (usually six boosters), or they may just hand you a bunch of cards. Important! Don't open the packs until they tell you to. The deckbuilding section may be timed, so if you open early they may think you are trying to cheat.

Once everyone has their cards, you'll be told to open them up, and you build a 40-card-minimum deck out of the cards you received.

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Q: What about Drafting?
A: To draft, everyone in the draft (generally about eight people) sits around a table, and gets three boosters. At a signal you'll open the first pack. Take out the token or tips and tricks card and the nonfoil basic land and put them in the middle of the table, then pick one card you want to keep. Pass the rest of the cards to the person on your left. Taking the pack you just got passed you'll again pick one card and pass the rest on. This continues until you have 14 cards in front of you. You'll get another signal, and you'll do the same thing with Booster #2, except it passes to the right. Then finally, Booster #3 goes to the left, just like Booster #1. After that, you'll be given time to build a 40-card-minimum deck from the cards you just drafted, and you'll begin playing.

You can only look at the cards you have already drafted between packs. You will normally get at least 30 seconds to review your prior picks before the new pack is opened. Once that happens, keep your hands off your old picks, or someone might wonder if you're trying to cheat.

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Q: Help! None of my cards are any good.
A: It's very difficult to build a "good" deck in any limited event. You have access to very few uncommons and rares. Generally, you're looking for a bunch of creatures that are decent for their price as well as some creature-kill. Don't forget the cheap creatures!

Important Note: It's called Limited because you are limited to the cards you either draft or get in the Sealed. Don't use any other cards; if you do, you'll get in trouble.

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Mulligans
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Q: What is a mulligan?
A: At the start of the game, when you draw your opening hand, if you don't like it, you may take a mulligan. To do so, shuffle your hand into your library, then draw as many cards as you had before, minus one. If you still don't like it, you can take another mulligan, going down another card. You can keep doing this until you're satisfied with your hand or you have no cards in your hand at all, whichever comes first.

If you're playing in a multiplayer game of some kind (three or more players), your first mulligan of the game is "free"--for your first mulligan you draw a full seven cards rather than six.

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Q: What order do players take mulligans in relative to each other?
A: First, each player in turn order (starting with the player who will take the first turn) decides whether or not they wish to mulligan. Then all players who decided to take a mulligan do so simultaneously. Then, each player who took a mulligan this way then decides whether or not they wish to take a mulligan again (and again, they choose in turn order). This process continues until nobody wishes to take a mulligan or until the mulliganing players have no cards left.

Note that once a player has decided not to mulligan further, they may not change their mind later on.

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Q: I heard something about something called a "Paris" mulligan--what is that?
A: A Paris mulligan is the "normal" mulligan used by Magic, the one described in "What is a mulligan?" above. When taking a Paris mulligan, the player draws the same number of cards he or she had before, minus one. (It's called a "Paris" mulligan because the first event it was used for was a Pro Tour in Paris, France.)

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Q: What about "all-land" or "no-land" mulligans?
A: When playing in casual games outside of tournaments, players in some playgroups may allow you to take a "free" mulligan if you have no lands or all lands in your opening hand, provided you show the hand to prove you're telling the truth. However, these are not part of the official rules, so be sure to check first to see if the group you're playing with will allow it.

(At one distant point in the past, Magic's mulligan rules were different and allowed "no-land" mulligans. This is no longer the case.)

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Q: Is my "opening hand" the one I have before mulliganing, or after? (ie, How does Leyline of the Void and kin interact with mulliganing?)
A: Your "opening hand" is the hand you keep after you're done mulliganing. You cannot draw your hand, put a Leyline onto the battlefield, and then proceed to take mulligans.

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Sideboards
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Q: What is a sideboard?
A: A sideboard is an optional set of additional cards that go with a deck, separate from the main deck. When you're playing a match against an opponent, you are allowed to modify your deck for the second and third games of the match by replacing some of the cards in your 'maindeck' with cards from your sideboard. Sideboarding allows you to modify your deck to better combat your opponent's deck.

The rules for the sideboard vary, depending on whether you are playing either Constructed or Limited.

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Q: What are the sideboarding rules for Constructed play?
A: In Constructed play, a sideboard is optional, but if you have one, it must be exactly 15 cards; no more, no less, and when you swap in cards from your sideboard for cards from your main deck, you have to do so on a one-to-one basis. One card goes in, one card comes out. For example, you cannot put two cards into your main deck from your sideboard, but only take one out. Since your sideboard is considered a part of your deck, the four-of rule applies to your main deck and sideboard combined--you cannot have a fifth copy of a particular card in your sideboard, for example.

After the final game of a match, you must always return your main deck and sideboard to their original state before playing the first game of the next match; you cannot choose to simply leave your sideboard cards in your main deck.

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Q: What are the sideboarding rules for Limited play?
A: In Limited play, your sideboard consists of all the cards in your card pool that you didn't place in your main deck, plus an unlimited number of basic lands of any kind. Unlike in Constructed, sideboarding in Limited can be done any way you like, not just on a one-to-one basis. As long as your deck remains at or above the 40-card minimum, you can add in or take out as many cards from your sideboard as you like, in any ratio. So if you want to add five cards and not take any out, that's perfectly fine.

In addition, at Regular-level Limited events that aren't using decklists, unless the tournament organizer or head judge specifically says otherwise, you may freely modify your deck as you wish between matches; you don't have to return your deck to its original state before your next match. You still have to do so at Competetive or Professional events, though.

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Q: Can I look at my sideboard during a game?
A: You can look at your own sideboard at any time during your games, as long as it remains clearly separate from the cards in your main deck.

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Q: How much can my I find out about my opponent's sideboard?
A: You cannot look at the cards in your opponent's sideboard, and they cannot look at yours.

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Q: I've been issued a Game Loss by a Judge; can I sideboard?
A: You can only sideboard after you have actually finished a game against your current opponent; Game Loss penalties don't count. If you haven't yet finished a game, neither you nor your opponent may sideboard.

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Q: Can I keep and refer to notes about how to sideboard against specific kinds of decks?
A: Yes; you are permitted to refer to a brief set of notes between games or matches, which may include sideboarding information. However, don't forget that the notes must be brief--taking too long to sideboard because you're reading your notes may be penalized as slow play.

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Q: What's a "wishboard"?
A: Certain cards, such as Burning Wish, allow you to take cards from 'outside the game' and bring them into the game. In tournament play, the only cards these cards can find are the ones in your sideboard. 'Wishboard' is player slang for a sideboard that includes certain cards specifically so that they may be brought into the game by such 'Wish' cards. (After the game the wished-for cards must be returned to the sideboard.)

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Judge Certification and Training
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Q: What is a Magic: The Gathering judge?
A: A M:TG Judge is the authority at tournaments. They will keep track of game records, answer rules questions, enforce the Comprehensive Rules and the Magic Tournament Rules, and keep the tournament running smoothly. Many judges are DCI-certified.

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Q: What's the DCI?
A: The DCI, in a nutshell, takes care of all the official aspects of DCI-supported games. They regulate rules and guidelines, keep track of DCI ratings, and cover all sorts of issues that may arise at tournaments. They also certify judges. Make sure you check out their website.

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Q: What exactly is a certified judge?
A: A DCI-certified judge is a judge that went through the judging certification process. Becoming a certified judge is a rigorous process, and demonstrates a competence in rules. A certified judge may apply to have a higher K-Value (ratings weight) for tournaments he/she judges.

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Q: How do I become a certified judge?
A: There are a number of requirements for becoming a certified judge. You must work at least two events under the supervision of a Level 2 judge or higher, score a certain standard on an entrance exam, and take part in an informal interview demonstrating your competence and suitability for the position. For a complete list of level 1 requirements, you can go to this website.

To start, contact a judge near you. Depending on who you work with, you might go through a slightly different process, as each judge does things a little differently.

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Q: Why would I want to become a certified judge?
A: You would be recognized for your rules knowledge. You would also receive promotional gifts, a membership card, and access to special programs and e-mail lists, not to mention the fact that it is a very rewarding thing to do. In addition, you could apply to run tournaments of a higher K-value. On the down side, you usually don't get paid and are often required to put in long hours. Last but not least, the job is a lot of responsibility. Make sure it's something you're willing to take on. For more thoughts on the positive (and negative) aspects of judging, check out this article: Why Do We Judge?.

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Q: Does it cost anything?
A: No; it's completely free.

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Q: Is there an age requirement?
A: No, there is no age requirement to become a judge. However, at many tournaments it's up to the tournament organizer whether or not to allow kids under 18 to be sponsored to judge, and at pure Wizards events, such as Pro Tours and Worlds, there's a strict age limit of 18 for sponsorship. (Kids can be on staff, just not sponsored.)

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Q: Ok, I decided I want to become a judge and don't know what to study. Where do I go?
A: For all sorts of helpful hints and tips, read some of the articles aimed at aspiring judges. Also, make sure you're familiar with all of these documents. They are the rules, and therefore the basis of the game! Also, check out the Rules Q&A Forum. Stay tuned to the latest rulings at the Rules FAQs and Articles Forum. If you desire to test your knowledge, head on over to the Judge Center, where you can take tests to brush up on your rules knowledge. At the Judge Center, you can even become a Rules Advisor!

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Miscellaneous
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Double-Faced Cards
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Q: What are double-faced cards and how do they work?
A: Double-faced cards are a series of cards from Innistrad block that have no "back", just two faces, one on each side of the card. There are some special rules for playing with double-faced cards in your deck that we'll cover in just a second, but we'll just cover how the cards themselves work right now. A double-faced card works just like a normal card, except that when it meets certain conditions it will "transform" and change into whatever's on the other face.

A double-faced card looks like this; the first image is the 'front face' of the card, and the second is the 'back face':



Notice that the card's 'front face' has a sun symbol in the upper-left corner and uses the normal card frame coloring. The card's 'back face' has a moon symbol in the upper-left and uses an alternative frame coloring. You play the card as written on the 'front face' as though it were a normal card, which will tell you under what circumstances it will transform.

As far as the game is concerned, the card's 'back face' is only relevant while it's on the battlefield and has transformed to use that face. In all other circumstances, the 'back face' effectively doesn't exist.

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Q: How do I play with a double-faced card in my deck?
A: There are two ways to play with double-faced cards in your deck. The first is to just use the card in your deck as you would any other card. However, you can only do this if you also use opaque card sleeves so that it's impossible to tell your cards apart from the back. When your double-faced card transforms, you can take it out of the sleeve and turn it around to show the other face.

The other way of playing with double-faced cards is to use a 'checklist card'. Checklist cards were distributed in most Innistrad block packs in place of basic lands. A checklist card has a normal Magic card back, but the front looks like this:



To use a checklist card, mark down on the checklist which double-faced card that checklist card represents, and then include the checklist card in your deck just like you would a normal card. Make sure to only mark one card off on the checklist, and use a pencil, pen, or marker that won't leave a mark through the card. Keep the actual double-faced card the checklist is supposed to be representing close by--you'll need it.

You'll use the checklist card any time the identity of your double-faced card needs to be kept concealed--say, in your hand or library, or while it's exiled face down. You'll switch out the checklist for the actual double-faced card it represents when it's in a public zone where everyone can see it.

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Q: What counts as an 'opaque sleeve'? What happens if the sleeves aren't completely opaque?
A: An opaque sleeve is one that's impossible to see through to any degree. Be careful; a lot of colored sleeves aren't actually completely opaque. (Especially lighter-colored ones.) Try sleeving up some cards and looking again, carefully; you can often make out the Magic logo and the colored dots on the back of the card.

In a tournament setting, using sleeves that aren't fully opaque will be treated by a judge as having marked cards.

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Q: Can I use checklist cards and actual double-faced cards in the same deck?
A: No. You can either use all double-faced cards, or all checklist cards, but not both in the same deck. If you have even one checklist card in your deck, all of your double-faced cards should be treated much the same way as tokens are.

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Q: Can my opponent see what my double-faced card will look like once it transforms?
A: Yes. Any time a double-faced card is visible, the players who can see it can see both faces. Any player who can look at a checklist card in a hidden zone can look at the double-faced card it represents.

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Q: Does transforming a double-faced card cause auras, counters, or equipment to 'fall off' of it?
A: No, for the same reason that tapping doesn't--it's just changing the what the card looks like, not what it is. Simply changing what the card looks like will not remove anything from it. However, if the other face is something that those auras or equipment couldn't legally be attached to, they will fall off. For example, if you cast Coral Net on Cloistered Youth, and then the youth transforms, the Strength will fall off and go to the graveyard because it can only enchant a green or white creature, and the transformed state of the Youth, Unholy Fiend, is neither green nor white.

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Q: If I'm searching my library for something, can I find the 'back face' of a double-faced card?
A: No. As far as the game is concerned, the 'back face' double-faced card does not exist unless the card is on the battlefield and has transformed to use that face. Everywhere else, the back face is treated as though it does not exist.

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Q: I need to name a card. Can I name the 'back face' of a double-faced card?
A: Yes, you can name either face of a double-faced card. This could allow you to do things like prevent the damage from Gatstaf Howler with Runed Halo.

However, remember that the 'back face' of the card only exists when the card is on the battlefield and is using that face. Anywhere else, it only has the characteristics of the front face, so you'd have to name the front face if you wanted to do something like find it with Spoils of the Vault.

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Q: What does transforming a card that has already transformed do?
A: It transforms it back. Transforming can happen both ways; in fact, many double-faced cards have built-in abilities that let them transform from either side. Not every double-faced card will have a way to do this, but if you can find some other way, good for you!

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Q: Can a card that's not double-faced transform?
A: No. Only double-faced cards can transform.

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Q: What is the mana cost and converted mana cost of the back face of a double-faced card?
A: The back face of a double-faced card has no mana cost at all, so its converted mana cost will be 0.

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Q: What color is the back face of a double-faced card?
A: Since the back face of a double-faced card has no mana cost, it uses a color indicator to indicate its color. That's what the little round circle on the left side of the type line on Gatstaf Howler above is. The color of the color indicator determines the color of the card. (The color of the frame will reflect the color specified in the indicator, so you could also just look at that.)

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Q: What happens if something turns a double-faced card face-down? Does it transform?
A: Nothing happens. The card does not transform, and it's not turned face-down. A double-faced card can't be turned face-down; anything that tries to turn a double-faced card face-down just fails to do anything to it.

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Q: I Clone a double-faced card. Which face do I get?
A: You get whichever face is currently in use. However, since your Clone is not double-faced, it will not be able to transform--if it tries, nothing happens.

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Q: My double-faced card somehow became a copy of something that's not double-faced, then transformed. What happens?
A: The card will transform, since it has two faces, but the copied values of its characteristics will still be overriding the printed characteristics, so it won't actually look any different until the copy effect wears off.

Transforming changes the "base state" that the card is starting from when you determine what it looks like, but it doesn't override any other effects that are applying to the card, and the copy effect is currently overwriting all the card's normal characteristics.

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The Stack
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Q: What is the stack?
A: Technically speaking, the stack is a game zone, like the battlefield or even your hand. It's the place where spells and abilities exist in between the time they are cast, activated, or triggered (whichever is appropriate) and the time they resolve and actually do whatever they're supposed to do.

Even if this is the first time you've ever heard of the stack, chances are you've taken advantage of it before--the existence of the stack is what allows players to respond to their opponent's spells and abilities. Any time you've used a counterspell or used a spell or ability to protect your stuff from an opponent's spells somehow, you've been using the stack.

The stack is often a difficult concept to learn for players who are encountering it for the first time, but don't worry; this FAQ should give you a good basic grounding in how it works. And if you still have questions, you're more than welcome to start a new thread to ask them. We're always happy to help players in need.

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Q: Why should I learn about the stack?
A: Because knowing how the stack works leaves you better equipped to do Really Cool Things, and allows you to figure out how to stop your opponent from using those same Really Cool Things against you. For many games, the casual "in response, I do this" terminology you probably already know works just fine, but being able to figure out what's happening when things get more complicated is a valuable skill.

The stack is like a computer or a smartphone--if you want to use it for nothing but the basics, that's fine, and a lot of people do that. But there's a lot more you can do with it if you care to take the time to understand how.

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Q: So how does the stack work?
A: Much as its name implies, the stack is effectively a pile of spells and abilities waiting to resolve. Whenever any player casts a spell or activates an activated ability and whenever a triggered ability triggers, that spell or ability is put onto the stack to wait for responses. When nobody wants to respond to whatever happens to be on top of the stack, that spell or ability resolves, and everyone has another chance to respond before the next spell or ability resolves.

The things that were cast/activated most recently (and were thus placed on top of the pile) will resolve before things that were played first (and are thus on the bottom, buried under everything else). This is referred to as "last in, first out", or LIFO.

When the stack is empty and nobody wants to do anything, then the current step of the turn ends and the game moves on to the next step.

For example: Player A casts Doom Blade targeting Player B's Mother of Runes. The Doom Blade goes onto the stack and waits to resolve. In response, Player B activates Mother of Runes's ability to protect herself. That ability goes onto the stack on top of the Doom Blade and also waits to resolve. Neither player wants to do anything else, so things start to resolve. Since the things on the stack resolve in LIFO order, top to bottom, the top thing on the stack (the Mother's ability) will resolve first, protecting it. Assuming nobody does anything else, the Doom Blade will attempt to resolve shortly after, but will fizzle because the Mother is no longer a legal target thanks to protection.

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Q: What can I use to respond to things?
A: The only spells you can use in response to other spells are Instants and cards that have the Flash ability--these spells can be cast during anyone's turn, no matter how many spells or abilities are on the stack already. Other spells cannot be used in response to things; you can only cast them in the main phase of your own turn when no other spells or abilities are on the stack.

The vast majority of activated abilities also follow the timing rules for instants--you can use them during anyone's turn and even if there are already spells or abilities on the stack waiting to resolve. The activated abilities that don't work like this will specifically say you can only activate them 'any time you could cast a sorcery'.

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Q: What can I respond to? (ie, "What uses the stack?")
A: An easy way to remember the things that use the stack, and which therefore you can respond to, is to remember the acronym SAT: Spells, Activated abilities, and Triggered abilities.

All spells use the stack and can be responded to, without exception; the vast majority of activated and triggered abilities also use the stack. The ones that don't are mana abilities: abilities that produce mana. (And fit a few other requirements that we won't get into here.) Since mana abilities don't use the stack, they can't be responded to.

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Q: What can't I respond to?
A: Anything that is not listed in the above question doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to, but we'll list a few of the specific ones that tend to cause problems here.

  • You cannot respond to the announcement and cost-payments of a spell or ability. You cannot wait until your opponent tries to do something and then try to 'respond' to make it impossible for them to do it.

    You can respond to the spell or ability itself, meaning you can do things before the effect the spell or ability will have once it resolves, but not the cost for casting/activating it. By the time you have a chance to do anything, the spell/ability has already been cast/activated.
    For example, Avatar of Woe has the ability ": Destroy target creature". If your opponent decides to activate that ability, you cannot use your Gideon's Lawkeeper to stop him, since tapping is part of the cost of activating the ability, and by the time you get to respond, it is already tapped. (Technically, you can use the Lawkeeper, but it will just have no effect.)

  • You cannot respond to a player paying costs.
    This is usually the same as the above point, but it also includes special costs like on Lost In Thought, Calming Licid, Ghostly Prison, or Mana Leak

  • You cannot respond to mana abilities; they do not use the stack.
    Mana abilities are abilities that produce mana. (And fit a few other requirements.) To learn the full details, see the mana abilities section of this FAQ.

  • You cannot respond to turn-based actions.
    The turn-based actions are untapping at the beginning of your turn, drawing a card at the beginning of your draw step, declaring attackers and blockers, assigning and dealing combat damage, and cleanup. For more information on these actions, see the Turns and the Turn Structure section of this FAQ.

  • You cannot respond to a player playing a land.

  • You cannot respond to a morph creature being turned face up.
    You can respond to any triggered abilities that may trigger on them turning face up, though. To learn what exactly constitutes a triggered ability, see the Triggered Abilities section of this FAQ.


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Q: Can I stop my opponent from casting a spell or activating an ability by doing something in response?
A: No. Never. By the time you know your opponent is casting the spell or activating the ability and have the chance to do anything about it, they have already finished casting/activating it. You cannot retroactively stop them from having cast/activated it.

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Q: Can I respond to a spell with one thing, wait for that thing to resolve, then respond with something else? (eg, Can I Mana Leak my opponent's spell, then Mana Leak it again if they pay?)
A: Certainly. Spells and abilities on the stack resolve one at a time, and after each resolution there's a chance for both players to respond before the next resolution.

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Q: Can my opponent respond to something I cast in response to something of his?
A: Certainly, but fortunately for you you can respond to that response, too. ;)

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Q: Can I use something that taps my opponent's stuff to preemptively stop him from using an ability with in the cost?
A: Not usually, no. If you try to preemptively use a spell or ability to tap his permanent before he attempts to use the ability, he still has a chance to use the ability in response, rendering your spell/ability useless.

The only time you could effectively tap something pre-emptively is when the ability couldn't be used in response for some reason. (Maybe it needs a target that isn't available right now, for example.) Otherwise the absolute most you can do is force your opponent to use the ability sooner than he might otherwise want to.


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Priority
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Q: What is priority?
A: Basically, the priority system is a way to answer the question "Both players want to do something right now, before their opponent has a chance to do something--who gets to act first?" It also answers the similar question "Both players want to wait and see if their opponent will do anything before deciding whether or not to do something--who has to act first?"

The priority system is pretty involved, but at its heart, the intricate details of who has priority will only ever matter if both players want to do something at the same time, or if they both want to wait to see what their opponent is going to do. In any other situation, priority won't matter and you can safely ignore it.

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Q: Why does priority matter?
A: The best way to explain this is by example. Let's set up a situation where priority matters.

Player A has just cast a planeswalker (let's say Liliana of the Veil). It resolves and enters the battlefield. Now, Player A wants to use one of Liliana's abilities right away, and at the same time Player B wants to use Vampire Hexmage's ability on Liliana so that she dies and Player A doesn't get any benefit out of her. Who wins? Can Player A use Liliana before Player B can use the ability, or will Player B get to use the ability before Player A can use Liliana?

Another example: Player A casts Time Warp and has a Twincast in hand. Player B has a Cancel in hand. Player A would like to use Twincast on the Time Warp, but wants to see if Player B is going to cast Cancel first, so that he doesn't waste the Twincast. Meanwhile Player B wants to see if Player A is going to cast Twincast before casting Cancel, so that he can potentially get rid of both spells at once. Who has to make the first move here, and who gets to wait and see what the opponent is doing?


(For the answers to these example questions, keep reading.)

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Q: So how does priority work?
A: At any given point in the game, at most one player will have priority. A player who has priority can do things. A player who does not have priority cannot.

A player who has priority can either do something (cast a spell, activate an ability, play a land, take a special action, whatever) or "pass" without doing anything. If they do something, then they get priority again. If they pass, then their opponent will get priority, and he or she will face the same choice.

If both players pass priority in succession, the top spell or ability on the stack resolves. (If the stack is empty, the current step or phase of the turn ends and the next one begins.) During the resolution of spells or abilities or while performing turn-based actions like declaring attackers and blockers, no player has priority--nobody can do anything.

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Q: Who gets priority first?
A: During any given player's turn, that player is always the first to receive priority in each new step or phase, and he or she is always the first to receive priority after a spell or ability finishes resolving.

This means that the player whose turn it is has to decide whether or not to do things before knowing what the opponent will do. It also means that the opponent cannot do anything before the player whose turn it is decides whether or not to do something.

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Q: So what about those example questions? What are the answers?
A: The previous question outlined the answer to the first example scenario; a spell (Liliana of the Veil) has just finished resolving, which means the first player to receive priority is the player whose turn it is--in this case, Player A. He or she can choose to activate one of Liliana's abilities before his or her opponent has a chance to use Vampire Hexmage.

The second example scenario was answered in the question before that. Player A just finished casting a spell (Time Warp)--in order to do that, he had to have had priority, and since he had priority before casting the spell, he will regain priority once he finishes doing so. Player A will need to decide whether or not to risk casting Twincast before he knows whether or not the opponent has a Cancel to use.

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Q: Are there times when nobody has priority? If so, when?
A: Yes. No player has priority during turn-based actions such as untapping, drawing a card for the turn, declaring attackers or blockers, or assigning and dealing combat damage. No player receives priority during the resolution of any spell or ability. And no player receives priority during the untap step of the turn, nor (usually) during the cleanup step. (There are circumstances where players can receive priority during the cleanup step, but it's very rare--ask in a new thread if you're curious.)

Remember, players cannot cast any spell or activate any ability (nor perform special actions like playing lands) if they don't have priority.

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Q: How does priority work in multiplayer games?
A: Priority works essentially the same in multiplayer games as it does in two-player games, except that priority passes around the table in turn order, (starting, as before, with the player whose turn it is) and every player has to pass priority in succession instead of just two.


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{This post reserved for future FAQ expansion.}

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

{This post reserved for future FAQ expansion.}

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

{This post reserved for future FAQ expansion.}

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Please do not post questions of your own here!

You should only post in this thread if you want a question or topic to be added to the list. If you do, please post both question and answer, along with an explanation of why the given answer is the correct one.

Please make your own thread if you want to get a question answered.

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

All right, all the content's been added, so now all that's left to do is do the stickywork and update the hundred-plus posts in the other FAQ threads with links to the new thread rather than the old. That should be done within the week. But for now, rest! Copy/pasting like this may just be gruntwork, but it's tedious and time-consuming as all get-out.

So now that all the content is up, please, give me some feedback! How do you like the new sections? Does the organization of the table of contents make sense? I've also done some rewriting on the Mana, Lands, and tournament-relevant sections of the FAQ while I was mucking things about--any comments on that?


As a reminder, if possible, when there's 80 posts in the thread, please leave the 81st slot open so I can make a duplicate warning post for users at the top of the page for those with 40-posts-per-page set. It's not really a big deal if it doesn't happen, but it might be nice to have it.

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The links in the Keyword FAQ have now been shifted to point to this thread rather than the old FAQ thread; next on the chopping block are the Specific Cards FAQ and the Returning Player Rules Primer.

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Ok, I haven't read it all, but it looks real good. Once again, awesome work.

The only little thing I noticed is that when you explain the autocarding you use the 'replace { with [' method. Could you just break the correct tag? That's a lot cleaner and clearer.

But in short: when I grow up I want to be just like you!

DCI Level 2 Judge

 

"That's what's so stupid about the whole magic thing, you know," Rincewind said. "You spend twenty years learning the spell that makes nude virgins appear in your bedroom, and then you're so poisoned by quicksilver fumes and half-blind from reading old grimoires that you can't remember what happens next."

- Terry Pratchett, The Colour Of Magic

Ok, I haven't read it all, but it looks real good. Once again, awesome work.

The only little thing I noticed is that when you explain the autocarding you use the 'replace { with [' method. Could you just break the correct tag? That's a lot cleaner and clearer.


The main objection to that is that there seem to be an increasing number of lazy sons of people who simply copy-paste the tag, rather than typing it in themselves, and guess what? A copy of a broken tag is also a broken tag.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Ok, I haven't read it all, but it looks real good. Once again, awesome work.

The only little thing I noticed is that when you explain the autocarding you use the 'replace { with [' method. Could you just break the correct tag? That's a lot cleaner and clearer.


The main objection to that is that there seem to be an increasing number of lazy sons of people who simply copy-paste the tag, rather than typing it in themselves, and guess what? A copy of a broken tag is also a broken tag.

Does copying [c‍]Giant Growth[/c‍] creates a broken tag for you? Nevermind.
Stupid "rich text" editors. C&P to notepad first will kill 'hidden' tags.
ΦΦΦΦΦ
Ok, I haven't read it all, but it looks real good. Once again, awesome work.

The only little thing I noticed is that when you explain the autocarding you use the 'replace { with [' method. Could you just break the correct tag? That's a lot cleaner and clearer.


The main objection to that is that there seem to be an increasing number of lazy sons of people who simply copy-paste the tag, rather than typing it in themselves, and guess what? A copy of a broken tag is also a broken tag.

Does copying [c‍]Giant Growth[/c‍] create a broken tag for you?


[c‍]Giant Growth[/c‍]  <== Apparently.

Did you have some reason to think I was kidding about this? I was speaking from experience, not guessing.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Ok, I haven't read it all, but it looks real good. Once again, awesome work.

The only little thing I noticed is that when you explain the autocarding you use the 'replace { with [' method. Could you just break the correct tag? That's a lot cleaner and clearer.


The main objection to that is that there seem to be an increasing number of lazy sons of people who simply copy-paste the tag, rather than typing it in themselves, and guess what? A copy of a broken tag is also a broken tag.

Does copying [c‍]Giant Growth[/c‍] create a broken tag for you?


[c‍]Giant Growth[/c‍]  <== Apparently.

Did you have some reason to think I was kidding about this? I was speaking from experience, not guessing.

Giant Growth <== Apparently.
Simple; I edit most of my posts in the raw HTML and that doesn't copy hidden tags, just text.
Could be a browser thing too I guess.
ΦΦΦΦΦ
People seriously copy-paste rather than type "[c]" and "[/c]"? Ugh.


Anyway, to the content.. the "attacks if able" bit in Combat & Attacking could use a reference to Propaganda-style effects. The current explanation leaves the impression that if it's possible for you to draw mana, you must do so and attack. It's not a big leap from "tap another creature to enable an attack" to "tap a couple lands to enable an attack".

The Specific Cards FAQ and Returning Player Primer have now been updated to point to this FAQ, and the sticky-change request has been sent in. The FAQ is dead; all hail the FAQ!

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There's a couple of loose ends left.

In the Leveler section, there's a link that goes to "http://url_levelup/"

Also, there's a couple of placeholders for images:
{Image of a Leveler card}
and
{Image of a flip card}

EDIT: also in the keyword FAQ, the link from the Level Up entry that's supposed to point to the Leveler entry in the main FAQ is broken.  The URL has a lot of extra characters in it, so the link doesn't work.
 
Whoops, those oversights and broken links have been corrected; I've also added images for the split card post and corrected the broken autocard links there, as I forgot to do that when I updated everything else. Thanks for the excellent second pair of eyes, rudolf!

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Should there be a specific card entry for Precursor Golem?  Especially in relation to Rite of Replication?  I came up with relatively nice formulas for how many tokens the combo produces.  It wouldn't be tough to add in the effect of Doubling Seasons, but I'm not sure if that's necessary.  If I'm bored tomorrow, I might write up something a little more complete and/or polished.  I suppose it would be nice if the entry also addressed Ink-Treader Nephilim and Glimmervoid Basin, but they aren't exactly hot topics any more.

For now, here are the formulas:

P is the number of Precursor Golems
T is the number of vanilla tokens
X0 is the initial value of X
Xf is the final value of X

Unkicked, token is the initial target:
Pf = P0*2^(P0)
Tf = (T0-1)*2^(P0)+2(Pf - P0)+2

Unkicked, Precursor Golem is the initial target:
Pf = (P0-1)*2^(P0) + 2
Tf = T0*2^(P0) + 2(Pf - P0)

Kicked, token is the initial target:
Pf = P0*6^(P0)
Tf = (T0-1)*6^(P0) + 2(Pf - P0) + 6

Kicked, Precursor Golem is the initial target:
Pf = (P0-1)*6^(P0) + 6
Tf = T0*6^(P0) + 2(Pf - P0)

It should be fairly clear what's going on here; if not, I can explain a bit.  To incorporate Doubling Season, let N be the number of Doubling Seasons and make the following substitutions:
(1 + 5*2^N) for each 6
2^(N+1) for the 2s in 2(Pf - P0)
(1+2^N) for all other 2s

Edit: I made a mistake in the formulas.  If I can correct the error, I'll fix this post.

Here are the fixed versions:

P is the number of Precursor Golems
T is the number of vanilla tokens
X0 is the initial value of X
Xf is the final value of X

Unkicked, token is the initial target:
Pf = P0*2^(P0)
Tf = (T0-1)*2^(P0)+2 + (P0^2)*(2^P0)

Unkicked, Precursor Golem is the initial target:
Pf = (P0-1)*2^(P0) + 2
Tf = T0*2^(P0) + P0*(P0-1)*2^(P0-1) + 2

Kicked, token is the initial target:
Pf = P0*6^(P0)
Tf = (T0-1)*6^(P0) + 6 + 10*(P0^2)*(6^(P0-1))

Kicked, Precursor Golem is the initial target:
Pf = (P0-1)*6^(P0) + 6
Tf = (T0)*6^(P0) + 10*(P0)*(P0-1)*(6^(P0-1)) + 10



Here are the general formulas.  In addition to the prior variables, I've used the following:
a = number of tokens Rite of Replication wants to put on the battlefield (1 or 5)
b = multiplier from Doubling Seasons (2^N, where N is number of Doubling Seasons)


Precursor Golem is initial target:
Pf = (P0-1)*(1+ab)^(P0)+ (1+ab)
Tf = T0*(1+ab)^(P0) + 2a(b^2)*P0*(P0-1)*(1+ab)^(P0-1)+2a(b^2)


Vanilla token is initial target:
Pf = P0*(1+ab)^(P0)
Tf = (T0-1)*(1+ab)^(P0)+2a(b^2)*(P0^2)*(1+ab)^(P0-1) + (1+ab)

Zammm;

This came up in a recent thread you participated in, so maybe you already noticed, but just in case: The combat damage FAQ contains the question "Q: My creature is blocking or blocked by more than one creature. What happens?", but the answer given only addresses the "blocked by" part. Besides making the answer incomplete, this also makes it easily misread as saying that, in cases where one creature (say a Palace Guard) blocks multiple attackers, the attacking player chooses their damage order too. It doesn't actually say that, but the fact that it's silent on the issue could be misleading, especially given the wording of the question.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Yeah, I noticed that, but thanks for the poke anyway. Without poking, I'm just lazy enough to always want to delay dealing with things for just...one...more...day...

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

All right, I've fixed up the appropriate section of the FAQ and split the question into two--one for attacking, one for blocking--to simplify the examples as much as possible.

I've also modified the Table of Contents entry for tapping/killing something to stop its ability since it came up in that other thread, dividing the reference into two to point to different sections and putting in an "ie" in the relevant question in the Abilities entry to make it more obvious where the answer is.


I'm not sure we want algebra in a FAQ entry, but I'll look into adding something for Precursor Golem in the next little while.

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Some of the FAQ links use a forums.gleemax.com link.  In the past this would auto-redirect to the community.wizards.com post.  Now it goes to a generic domain placeholder.

 
Backing Rudolf up, it seems that all gleemax links stopped working sometime in the last 24 hours or so (including the one I normally use to get here, which is how I noticed).
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
*winces* Oh, this is not gonna be pretty.

All of those Gleemax links were made using thread or post tags with database numbers from the pre-OneSite forums; the Gleemax link is supposed to cross-reference the numbers from the old database with the corresponding numbers in the new one, and then send you to the appropriate place. Correcting them is going to require manually doing all of that cross-referencing and replacing work myself, and will take a while.

It'll get done, but this isn't something I'm going to be able to correct with a few minutes' work.

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It seems that the question about 2HG and poison counters keeps coming up and isn't going away.  How about adding that to the FAQ?


  • Players, not the team gets poison counters.

  • You only need 10 poison counters to make a player lose.

  • When a player loses, the team loses.


 
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