Altering Timing

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A question posed to me at GP Toronto late last year:
You have a Lightning Helix in hand, but your only permanents on the battlefield are Skyshroud Elf and Ashnod's Altar.  Can you cast the Helix?

The answer to this question is obviously no. That's ridiculous. If you sacrifice the Elf to the Altar it won't be around for you to filter the mana to produce the necessary colors--there's no way you can cast the Helix. Unfortunately, that obvious answer is wrong. You can cast the Helix.

Now tell me how. Go ahead, I'll wait. Don't worry, I won't get bored. I have a book. Several, in fact. *points to the Wheel of Time series on his shelf*

...

...Well, I'm done. Did you get it?

If you're an average player, probably not. It's ridiculously counterintuitive. But it technically works.

Announce that you're activating the Elf's filtering ability. The ability costs mana, so you get a chance to activate mana abilities mid-activation. In that window, announce that you're activating the filtering ability again. In the mana ability window for that activation, announce that you're activating the Altar's ability. Complete the activation of the Altar's ability by sacrificing the Elf to produce . Spend  of that to finish the second filter ability activation, producing one of the colors you need. Spend the other to finish the original filter ability activation, producing the other color. You now have in your mana pool and can use it to cast the Helix.



Let's fix this, shall we? The solution seems simple enough: just disallow players from activating mana abilities during the process of activating another mana ability. This would require tweaking 605.3a and 602.2b at least, and maybe a few other rules, but removing this ridiculous corner case seems to be worth the effort.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.


...Well, I'm done. Did you get it?



What a wonderful trip down memory lane.  The following posts are from [UnCon] Stump the Judge post number 93 and number 94.
Only Fortify.

Couldn't you also play lightning helix? One example way:
  • Tap the elf for .
  • Play the second ability of the elf to filter that into .
  • Begin Playing Lightning Helix
  • In step 409.1g of playing lightning helix, when you get to play mana abilities, play the second ability of the elf.
  • In step 409.1g of playing the elf's 2nd ability, play ashnod's altar's ability, sacrificing the elf.
  • Ashnod's ability resolves immediately giving , then the elf's ability resolves immediately turning one of the colorless mana into . The mana pool now contains
  • In step 409.1h of playing lightning helix, spend the to play lightning helix, leaving in the mana pool
409.1f The player determines the total cost of the spell or ability. Usually this is just the mana cost (for spells) or activation cost (for abilities). Some cards list additional or alternative costs in their text. Some effects may increase or reduce the cost to pay, or may provide other alternative costs. Costs may include paying mana, tapping permanents, sacrificing permanents, discarding cards, and so on. The total cost is the mana cost, activation cost, or alternative cost (as determined in rule 409.1b), plus all additional costs and cost increases, and minus all cost reductions. If the mana component of the total cost is reduced to nothing by cost reduction effects, it is considered to be {0}. It can’t be reduced to less than {0}. Once the total cost is determined, it becomes “locked in.” If effects would change the total cost after this time, they have no effect. 409.1g If the total cost includes a mana payment, the player then has a chance to play mana abilities (see rule 411, “Playing Mana Abilities”). Mana abilities must be played before costs are paid. 409.1h The player pays the total cost in any order. Partial payments are not allowed. Unpayable costs can’t be paid. 411.1. To play a mana ability, the player announces that he or she is playing it and pays the activation cost, following the steps in rules 409.1b–i. It resolves immediately after it is played and doesn’t go on the stack. (See rule 408.2e.)




Player A can play Fortifty, Lightning Helix, Plumeveil or Flame Javelin.

When playing an Activated ability that has a Mana Payment in its Total Cost, such as Elf's second Mana ability, you can play Mana abilities.
Jeff Jordan; MTG-L NetRep

    > [411.1] States that Playing Mana abilities follows the Rules for [409.1]
    > Playing Spells/Abilities, and in [409.1g] you can play mana abilities.
    >
    > So, is it possible to nest the playing of a Mana Ability inside the playing
    > of a Mana Ability?

    Sure, if it requires mana.

    > Assume the only 2 permanents you control are Skyshroud Elf and Ashnod's
    > Altar. Ignoring the Elf's first mana ability, would it be possible to get
    > colored Mana out of this situation?

    Yes.


    Jeff
    --

    - ------------------------------------------------------------------- -
    - Jeff Jordan Official MTG-L NetRep




I really, really, really wish there was a way we could make everything continue to work while removing the "you can activate mana abilities during the casting of a spell / activation of an ability" rule entirely.
blah blah metal lyrics
I really, really, really wish there was a way we could make everything continue to work while removing the "you can activate mana abilities during the casting of a spell / activation of an ability" rule entirely.


Didn't it used to work tha way?  What caused the current rule to come into existence?  Maybe there's another way to mitigate whatever precipitated that change.
 
At the very least, it would require changing mana to empty at the end of phases rather than steps again (for Propaganda and friends). I'm certain there are things other than that though.
blah blah metal lyrics
At the very least, it would require changing mana to empty at the end of phases rather than steps again (for Propaganda and friends). I'm certain there are things other than that though.


Couldn't you just have a special 'activate man abilities' turn based action in the 'declare attackers' and 'declare blockers' steps?
I really, really, really wish there was a way we could make everything continue to work while removing the "you can activate mana abilities during the casting of a spell / activation of an ability" rule entirely.


Didn't it used to work tha way?  What caused the current rule to come into existence?  Maybe there's another way to mitigate whatever precipitated that change.
 

People got disqualified from tournaments for announcing spells before tapping their permanents for mana.

No, seriously: that happened. It even decided the Final of a World Championship Pro Tour.

But it predated the introduction of OoOS, so instead of just ruling that was legel, they rewrote the rules for casting spells and activating abilities so that spells/abilities were announced before costs were paid. That way, whichever way you did it, you were right.

"Proc" stands for "Programmed Random OCcurance". It does not even vaguely apply to anything Magic cards do. Don't use it.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

I'm certain there are things other than that though.

Yeah; it'd allow players to play dirty priority tricks.

I cast Mana Leak on your spell, and immediately ask, "Does it resolve?". If you answer "Yes" before tapping your lands, well, too bad for you, because you missed your opportunity to tap your lands--the Leak's now resolving, and you can't tap your lands since you don't have priority.

(Yes, it's a dirty trick, but it isn't unheard of for that sort of thing to happen with Leonin Arbiter already.)

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

People got disqualified from tournaments for announcing spells before tapping their permanents for mana.



Couldn't that be solved by clarifying in the tournament rules that as a shortcut you can announce mana abilities after announcing what spell or ability you will play, which is treated by the game as if you played the mana abilities first and the spell or ability next?




People got disqualified from tournaments for announcing spells before tapping their permanents for mana.

Couldn't that be solved by clarifying in the tournament rules that as a shortcut you can announce mana abilities after announcing what spell or ability you will play, which is treated by the game as if you played the mana abilities first and the spell or ability next?

This happened long before we had sensible tools for addressing these issues, like the IPG and the concept of Out-of-Order Sequencing. It even predated the Sixth Edition rules change. You can read about it here.

"Proc" stands for "Programmed Random OCcurance". It does not even vaguely apply to anything Magic cards do. Don't use it.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

So, forcing payment for costs of mana abilities to coincide with announcment? Seems fine to me.

I cannot announce the filtering ability of the elf unless I can, at that same time, pay the 1 mana cost... Still allows for out of order sequencing- I announce the ability then tap my land with the acknowledgement that I would have tapped first in order to have had access to the 1 mana.  

Seems like that would prevent announcing of the filter ability and then sacking to the altar- out of order sequencing would not allow you play an ability of the elf after you sacked it. 

3DH4LIF3

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