Random effect "if" clauses

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I found the rulings for a neat little card called Equinox to be somewhat unintuitive:



  • 10/4/2004: Equinox will not counter a spell which requires sacrificing land when it enters the battlefield, or one that requires sacrificing land as part of the cost to cast it.

  • 10/4/2004: Equinox will not counter a spell that has a random chance of destroying a land.

  • 10/4/2004: Equinox will not counter a spell which would indirectly cause destruction of one of your lands.

  • 10/4/2004: The ability can target any spell, even one that would not destroy a land.

  • 10/4/2004: When this spell resolves, it only counters the targeted spell if that spell would destroy a land if it resolved right then.

  • 10/4/2004: Equinox will not counter a spell that deals damage to an animated land, even if it would deal more damage than the land's toughness. This is because the spell itself does not destroy the land directly. The land is destroyed by a game rule.

  • 10/1/2008: Will not counter a spell which would destroy a land only if a choice is made.



Take note of #2 and #5

Or namely, the effects that the abililty has on effects that are random. If your opponent Violent Ultimatums you, targeting any number of your lands, you can counter it. If, however, your opponent chose one of your lands with Wild Swing, you wouldn't be able to counter it (unless, for some reason, your opponent only targeted three of your lands, in which case I'm fairly sure it could be countered). I feel as though this is backwards - if I were designing Equinox, I would want to say "Take any situation where an opponent casts and resolves a spell. If one of your lands is destroyed as a direct result of that spell resolving, then you should have been able to counter it using Equinox." This doesn't (always) work with random effects - what if it could?
It's a card that can't actually work.  Trying to figure out how it works despite this will cause some confusing or unintuitive results.  I'm of the opinion that it's best to just ignore the card and hope no one notices it exists.

Either that or just change it to "spell that targets a land you control", since functionality that's different from what's printed on the card may be better than just-pretend-it-works functionality.
There was a rather long debate around Equinox which made it clear that the Card genuinely does not work. Not like Caged Sun's "It does not work, but no-one is going to notice"-not work, but Chaos Orb-Style "the rules really can't handle it"-not work. Link here
[c]Forest[/c] gives you Forest
I still like the all-potential-replacement-effects-in-all-possible-orders idea.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

I agree with zammm. That's pretty much how I would resolve the effect. "If it resolved right now" neatly gets around the problem of two Equinoxed lands trying to counter the same spell, as the decision tree approach tells us that either (a) they'd both be eligible to counter the spell, so the one that resolves first counters it, or (b) neither would be eligible to counter the spell, so both abilities would fail to have any effect.
I agree with zammm. That's pretty much how I would resolve the effect. "If it resolved right now" neatly gets around the problem of two Equinoxed lands trying to counter the same spell, as the decision tree approach tells us that either (a) they'd both be eligible to counter the spell, so the one that resolves first counters it, or (b) neither would be eligible to counter the spell, so both abilities would fail to have any effect.


Er... what?
The abilities resolve one at a time. When the first one resolves, it says "if the spell would resolve, would it destroy a land?" Therefore, the spell is countered.
Besides, the second one would counter it even if this were wrong.

Also, I've gotten the ruling that if a random chance is involves, equinox can't counter the spell, even if all options destroy a land you control.

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56819178 wrote:
So, how would I use a card that has a large in the top half and "sui?l? -- pu?? ?is?q" across the middle?
57031358 wrote:
99113151 wrote:
Winning is not important if: 1. You win by a blowout. 2. You pay billions of dollars in cards to win. If you like wasting money just to win one game, while you could have saved it to lose a few and end up winning more in the future, then it is fine by me.
what? do you ceremonially light your deck on fire after a win?
57169958 wrote:
Or did no one notice Transmogrifying Licid before. (And by not notice, I mean covered their ears and shouted LA LA LA LA )
57193048 wrote:
57169958 wrote:
Hmmm... I think the most awkward situation at the moment is simply the Myr Welder / Equipment / Licid / Aura craziness, but I'm pretty sure he's aware of it.
If the most awkward thing going on right now involves Licids, I declare victory.
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[02:47:46] It doesn't merely "come out of suspend" - you take the last time counter off, and then suspend triggers and say "now cast that! CAST IT NOOOOOW!" [02:47:49] Because suspend has no indoors voice
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58325628 wrote:
Mage is awesome, BTW.
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58158398 wrote:
56761258 wrote:
I don't think there are any cards like that. There are things that prevent you from activating activated abilities, things that increase their cost, and things that counter them, but I don't think anything triggers from them specifically. There are things that trigger from targeting, so that might be relevant, but I can't think of anything that triggers from targeting a player. I'm almost positive there's nothing that triggers from damage being prevented.
Rings of Brighthearth; Dormant Gomazoa; Samite Ministration.
56761258 wrote:
Well played.

 

Not like Caged Sun's "It does not work, but no-one is going to notice"-not work

wait, what?

proud member of the 2011 community team
Not like Caged Sun's "It does not work, but no-one is going to notice"-not work

wait, what?




It's a mana ability by [O] ruling, even though the rules for mana abilities very clearly don't include it.  And you have to hope no one uses the Life and Limb shenanigans that would result in the weird/undefined behavior.
Not like Caged Sun's "It does not work, but no-one is going to notice"-not work

wait, what?

Honestly, I don't understand it either, but zamm and adeyke and the others said it does not work, so I believe them. The [O] ruling boiled down to "Keep Calm and Carry On", or rather "noones going to notice anyhow." It was a bit like the Void Maw thingie.
Also, I've gotten the ruling that if a random chance is involves, equinox can't counter the spell, even if all options destroy a land you control.

This is where I would play it differently, btw. And yes, all possible replacement effects in all possible orders has its charms, but it means an opponent gcan get around Equinox using clever ordering of replacement effects.

OOr, in other words, my Lands are not safe despite me having Equinox.
[c]Forest[/c] gives you Forest
I agree with zammm. That's pretty much how I would resolve the effect. "If it resolved right now" neatly gets around the problem of two Equinoxed lands trying to counter the same spell, as the decision tree approach tells us that either (a) they'd both be eligible to counter the spell, so the one that resolves first counters it, or (b) neither would be eligible to counter the spell, so both abilities would fail to have any effect.

Replacement effects are one reason why you cannot determine if the spell would destroy a land if it resolved right now. Another reason is that spells can have choices on resolution that change what they do. You do not know what choices would be made, so you do not know if that spell would destroy a land.

For example, I do not know if the ability would counter Cleansing or Lava Blister.

I prefer the wording
Enchanted land has "{oT}: Target spell can't destroy lands you control this turn."

The way old cards like Essence Vortex use the term counter does not always match its modern meaning.
Why not word it as ":T: Regenerate all lands you control." or "Lands you control are indestructible until EoT"? 701.12 doesnt state that regeneration is exclusively limited to creatures, and while it's not exactly a clean solution (neither is the indestructible), it should have the end result of making the card playable.
Why not word it as ":T: Regenerate all lands you control." or "Lands you control are indestructible until EoT"? 701.12 doesnt state that regeneration is exclusively limited to creatures, and while it's not exactly a clean solution (neither is the indestructible), it should have the end result of making the card playable.

It is supposed to affect only one spell, not all spells and abilities, damage, and all the other things regeneration or indestructible affect.
There was a rather long debate around Equinox which made it clear that the Card genuinely does not work. Not like Caged Sun's "It does not work, but no-one is going to notice"-not work, but Chaos Orb-Style "the rules really can't handle it"-not work. Link here



Alas. I was considering the card for EDH, and now I'm not so sure I even want to deal with this. Gauntlet and Cage are at least very easy to "just make work". Thanks for the link.


I agree with zammm. That's pretty much how I would resolve the effect. "If it resolved right now" neatly gets around the problem of two Equinoxed lands trying to counter the same spell, as the decision tree approach tells us that either (a) they'd both be eligible to counter the spell, so the one that resolves first counters it, or (b) neither would be eligible to counter the spell, so both abilities would fail to have any effect.


Er... what?
The abilities resolve one at a time. When the first one resolves, it says "if the spell would resolve, would it destroy a land?" Therefore, the spell is countered.
Besides, the second one would counter it even if this were wrong.

Also, I've gotten the ruling that if a random chance is involves, equinox can't counter the spell, even if all options destroy a land you control.



*sigh*. I asked about this card before, and I got the exact opposite, uncontested, ruling (not from an [O], though), that it would counter a spell if all options pointed to land. Another reason to simply pretend that this card doesn't exist.



For example, I do not know if the ability would counter Cleansing or Lava Blister.
.



Strike 3? :/ Your guess is as good as mine.
Well, going by the listed rulings, the cases of Cleansing and Lava Blister seem clear: It won't counter it.  Indeed, I was told it wouldn't even counter Bend or Break, due to the possibility that you could split your lands all/none, and then your opponent could choose to destroy none of them.

Wild Swing the rulings are not so clear on.  But I think there is a consistent way to handle this.  The rules of Magic are supposed to be well-defined (we know they aren't always, but that they're supposed to be should be good enough for this), so we could interpret the card as follows:

"Determine what would happen if target spell were to resolve right now.  If this involves choices by any players or random selections, consider all possibilities that could occur.  In the case that what would occur depends on hidden information, assume the hidden information could take on any legal value rather than restricting to what is actually possible in the current game.  If all possibilities considered include a land you control being destroyed while that spell is resolving, counter that spell."

I mean, OK, you don't want to print that on the card, but so long as the notion of "determine what would happen" is (supposed to be) well-defined, the above is well-defined.  I mean, we're already relying on the notion of "determine what would happen" to determine what mana something "could produce" or to determine whether or not something's a mana ability. So you leave the wording as it is and maybe stick in appropriate rules to make clear that that's what's meant.

Now, in the case where there are infinitely many possibilities for what could occur (because, say, it's entirely legal for the unrevealed top card of your deck to have arbitrarily large converted mana cost), maybe it's well-defined but not actually computable.   But given the cards that exist, that should never occur; I'm pretty sure everything in Magic is finitary enough that that is not a problem.
After reading this topic, I understand why Equinox doesn't work.

I was hung up on the fact I was able to come up with what I felt was a logical way to make it work, and I simply failed to consider the fact that the rules do need to define exactly what Equinox means by "would destroy a land you control" in order for the card to really work.

I'm not entirely comfortable with the fact that Wizards is content to let cards like this go without rules support, but I guess that's just the way it is. The comp rules doesn't need a ten page subsection to handle individual cards.

Now, I really don't get why Caged Sun doesn't work. Adeyke mentioned that it's not a mana ability (according to the rules, not the ruling), but I looked at the comp rules and it appears to meet the criteria. What am I missing? I also don't understand what's undefined about its interaction with Life and Limb. Would you not have 2/2 Saproling Forests that cause Caged Sun to trigger when they add to your pool? Where do things go wrong?

Thank you guys for your patience; I know it must be exasperating to answer this type of question over and over -- I will eventually understand
For reference, here are the full rules for mana abilities:
Show
605. Mana Abilities

605.1. Some activated abilities and some triggered abilities are mana abilities, which are subject to special rules. Only abilities that meet either of the following two sets of criteria are mana abilities, regardless of what other effects they may generate or what timing restrictions (such as "Activate this ability only any time you could cast an instant") they may have.

605.1a. An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets three criteria: it doesn't have a target, it could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves, and it's not a loyalty ability. (See rule 606, "Loyalty Abilities.")

605.1b. A triggered ability without a target that triggers from activating a mana ability and could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves is a mana ability.

605.2. A mana ability remains a mana ability even if the game state doesn't allow it to produce mana.

Example: A permanent has an ability that reads ": Add to your mana pool for each creature you control." This is still a mana ability even if you control no creatures or if the permanent is already tapped.

605.3. Activating an activated mana ability follows the rules for activating any other activated ability (see rule 602.2), with the following exceptions:

605.3a. A player may activate an activated mana ability whenever he or she has priority, whenever he or she is casting a spell or activating an ability that requires a mana payment, or whenever a rule or effect asks for a mana payment, even if it's in the middle of casting or resolving a spell or activating or resolving an ability.

605.3b. An activated mana ability doesn't go on the stack, so it can't be targeted, countered, or otherwise responded to. Rather, it resolves immediately after it is activated. (See rule 405.6c.)

605.4. Triggered mana abilities follow all the rules for other triggered abilities (see rule 603, "Handling Triggered Abilities"), with the following exception:

605.4a. A triggered mana ability doesn't go on the stack, so it can't be targeted, countered, or otherwise responded to. Rather, it resolves immediately after the mana ability that triggered it, without waiting for priority.

Example: An enchantment reads, "Whenever a player taps a land for mana, that player adds one mana to his or her mana pool of any type that land produced." If a player taps lands for mana while casting a spell, the additional mana is added to the player's mana pool immediately and can be used to pay for the spell.

605.5. Abilities that don't meet the criteria specified in rules 605.1a-b and spells aren't mana abilities.

605.5a. An ability with a target is not a mana ability, even if it could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves. The same is true for a triggered ability that could produce mana but triggers from an event other than activating a mana ability, or a triggered ability that triggers from activating a mana ability but couldn't produce mana. These follow the normal rules for activated or triggered abilities, as appropriate.

605.5b. A spell can never be a mana ability, even if it could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves. It's cast and resolves just like any other spell. Some older cards were printed with the card type "mana source"; these cards have received errata in the Oracle card reference and are now instants.


Since Caged Sun's ability is triggered, it would need to fit 605.1b.  However, it doesn't actually trigger from "activating a mana ability".  It triggers from an ability adding mana to player's mana pool.  Even if we let that part slide (i.e. say that the ability resolving is the same as it being activated), Caged Sun's text doesn't limit itself to just activated abilities or to just mana abilities.

For example, if there was a land that had "At the beginning of your upkeep, add to your mana pool", that's very much not an activated mana ability, but Caged Sun's text says it would still trigger from that ability resolving.

Now, it turns out that there aren't actually any lands that have such an ability.  Indeed, for all land cards, the only way they can produce mana is through the activation of a mana ability.  So if we further assume that "triggers from activating a mana ability" means "the only way to trigger it with the existing card pool is via activating a mana ability", we could still let that slide.

However, Life and Limb exists.  There are combos involving that that allow you to turn almost (?) any permanent into a land.  So you could have a land Sakura-Tribe Springcaller, for example.  The card text says it will trigger from it, it's been [O] ruled to be a mana ability, but the rules say that abilities that would trigger from it can't be mana abilities.

Also, if Caged Sun itself became a land, that could result in an infinite loop.
Also, if Caged Sun itself became a land, that could result in an infinite loop.

ohhh, I want to abuse that
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Ah, I think I see the problem. Rather than digress further here, I'm going to start a new thread about this. I feel like that's the lesser of two evils.

To get back to Equinox, I've always took the ruling (Equinox will not counter a spell that has a random chance of destroying a land) to mean "If Equinox's target will maybe destroy a land but maybe not destroy a land, it won't be countered."

In a more general sense, should we read rulings with the same literal scrutiny we use to read the comprehensive rules? I don't feel like the rulings are written with that in mind.
The problem with most of the suggestions (eg regeneration, indestructiblity) is that it's a huge function change.  It'd be easy to do that, but then the SB tech against Equinox decks of Boseju would be useless.  

I think what needs to happen is a delayed counter/replacement effect.  Something like "T: The next time target spell would destroy a land you control, counter that spell instead."
Right, but the problem there is that you can't counter a spell once it's already started to resolve.

The only way to preserve the printed funtionality would be to define an objective method of determining, before the spell actually resolves, whether it would destroy a land. A few suggestions have been given for how to do that.

The main disagreement comes from the interpretation of the English meaning of the oracle text, the effects of the rulings seen on the gatherer entry, and the fact that it's unlikely that anything will be done by Wizards about the issue.