Lesson 2 (Judge Classes)

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Permanents

Comprehensive Rules section 110

Permanents: Definition and Characteristics

A permanent is a card or a token on the battlefield. A card or token becomes a permanent as it enters the battlefield and it stops being a permanent as it’s moved to another zone by an effect or rule.

A permanent’s owner is the same as the owner of the card that represents it.

A permanent’s controller is by default, the player under whose control it entered the battlefield.

There are five permanent types: artifact, creature, enchantment, land and planeswalker. Instant and sorcery cards can’t enter the battlefield and thus can’t be permanents. Some tribal cards can enter the battlefield and some can’t, depending on their other card types.

Tokens

  • Some effects put tokens onto the battlefield.
  • A token is a marker used to represent any permanent that isn’t represented by a card.
  • The spell or ability that creates a token may define the values of any number of characteristics for the token. This becomes the token’s “text.” The characteristic values defined this way are functionally equivalent to the characteristic values that are printed on a card; for example, they define the token’s copiable values. A token doesn’t have any characteristics not defined by the spell or ability that created it.
  • If the spell or ability doesn’t specify the name of the token, its name is the same as its subtype(s). A “Goblin Scout creature token,” for example, is named “Goblin Scout” and has the creature subtypes Goblin and Scout.
  • Once a token is on the battlefield, changing its name doesn’t change its subtype, and vice versa.
  • If a spell or ability would create a token, but an effect states that a permanent with one or more of that token’s characteristics can’t enter the battlefield, the token is not created.
  • A token is subject to anything that affects permanents in general or that affects the token’s card type or subtype.
  • A token isn’t a card.
  • A token that’s phased out, or that’s in a zone other than the battlefield, ceases to exist. This is a state-based action. Note that if a token changes zones, applicable triggered abilities will trigger before the token ceases to exist.


Statuses of a Permanent

A permanent's status is its physical state. There are four status categories, each of which has two possible values:

  • Tapped/Untapped
  • Face Up/Face Down
  • Flipped/Unflipped
  • Phased In/Phased Out

Status is not a characteristic, though it may affect a permanent’s characteristics. Permanents enter the battlefield untapped, unflipped, face up, and phased in unless a spell or ability says otherwise.

A permanent retains its status until a spell, ability, or turn-based action changes it, even if that status is not relevant to it.

Only permanents have status. Cards not on the battlefield do not. Although an exiled card may be face down, this has no correlation to the face-down status of a permanent. Similarly, cards not on the battlefield are neither tapped nor untapped, regardless of their physical state.


Zones

Comprehensive Rules section 4

A zone is a place where objects can be during a game. There are eight zones:

  • Library
  • Stack
  • Hand
  • Exile
  • Battlefield
  • Graveyard
  • Command
  • Ante


Each player has his or her own library, hand, and graveyard. The other zones are shared by all players.

Public zones are zones in which all players can see the cards’ faces, except for those cards that some rule or effect specifically allow to be face down. Graveyard, battlefield, stack, exile, ante, and command are public zones.

Hidden zones are zones in which not all players can be expected to see the cards’ faces. Library and hand are hidden zones, even if all the cards in one such zone happen to be revealed.

Cards with certain card types can’t enter certain zones. If an instant or sorcery card would enter the battlefield, it remains in its previous zone.

Changing Zones

An object that moves from one zone to another becomes a new object with no memory of, or relation to, its previous existence. There are eight exceptions to this rule:

  • Effects from spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities that change the characteristics of a permanent spell on the stack continue to apply to the permanent that spell becomes.
  • For example, an effect that causes a creature spell to become white while it is on the stack, will also cause the creature to be white as it enters the battlefield.
  • Prevention effects that apply to damage from a permanent spell on the stack continue to apply to damage from the permanent that spell becomes.
  • For example, Hallow targeting a Goblin Guide will prevent the damage it deals when attacking that turn.
  • If an ability of a permanent requires information about choices made as that permanent was cast as a spell, including what mana was spent to cast that spell, it uses information about the spell that became that permanent as it resolved.
  • For example, Chimeric Mass will enter the battlefield with an amount of counters determined by the value of X it had when it was cast.
  • For example, Azorius Herald will remember if blue mana was spent to cast it and thus if it has to be sacrificed or not according to its third ability.
  • Abilities that trigger when an object moves from one zone to another can find the new object that it became in the zone it moved to when the ability triggered, if that zone is a public zone.
  • For example, “When Rancor is put into a graveyard from the battlefield” follows Rancor to the graveyard from the battlefield.
  • Abilities of Auras that trigger when the enchanted permanent leaves the battlefield can find the new object that Aura became in its owner’s graveyard if it was put into that graveyard at the same time the enchanted permanent left the battlefield. It can also find the new object that Aura became in its owner’s graveyard as a result of being put there as a state-based action for not being attached to a permanent.
  • For example, Vastwood Zendikon tracks the enchanted land from the battlefield to the graveyard in order to return that land to its owners hand.
  • If an effect grants a nonland card an ability that allows it to be cast, that ability will continue to apply to the new object that card became after it moved to the stack as a result of being cast this way.
  • For example, Past in Flames creates an effect that causes cards in the graveyard to gain Flashback. The spell in the stack remembers it had Flashback.
  • If an effect allows a nonland card to be cast, other parts of that effect can find the new object that card becomes after it moves to the stack as a result of being cast this way.
  • For example, the second ability of Jace, Telepath Unbound finds a card cast this way in the stack and exiles it after it resolves.
  • If an effect causes an object to move to a public zone, other parts of that effect can find that object. If the cost of a spell or ability causes an object to move to a public zone, that spell or ability’s effects can find that object.
  • For example, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy's transform ability.


If an object in the exile zone is exiled, it doesn’t change zones, but it becomes a new object that has just been exiled.

If a face-up object in the command zone is turned face down, it becomes a new object.

An object is outside the game if it isn’t in any of the game’s zones. Outside the game is not a zone. Cards in a player’s sideboard are outside the game. Some effects bring cards into a game from outside of it. Those cards remain in the game until it ends. Cards outside the game can’t be affected by spells or abilities, except for characteristic-defining abilities printed on them and spells and abilities that allow those cards to be brought into the game.


Library

When a game begins, each player’s deck becomes his or her library.

Each library must be kept in a single face-down pile.

Players can’t look at or change the order of cards in a library. Any player may count the number of cards remaining in any player’s library at any time.

If an effect puts two or more cards in a specific position in a library at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order. That library’s owner doesn’t reveal the order in which the cards go into his or her library.

Some effects tell a player to play with the top card of his or her library revealed, or say that a player may look at the top card of his or her library.

  • If the top card of the player’s library changes while a spell is being cast, the new top card won’t be revealed and can’t be looked at until the spell becomes cast. The same is true with relation to an ability being activated.

If an effect causes a player to put a card into a library “Nth from the top,” and that library has fewer than N cards in it, the player puts that card on the bottom of that library.


Hand

The hand is where a player holds cards that have been drawn.

Cards can be put into a player’s hand by other effects as well.

At the beginning of the game, each player draws a number of cards equal to that player’s starting hand size, normally seven.

Each player has a maximum hand size, which is normally seven cards.

A player may have any number of cards in his or her hand, but as part of his or her cleanup step, the player must discard excess cards down to the maximum hand size.

A player may arrange his or her hand in any convenient fashion and look at it as much as he or she wishes.

A player can’t look at the cards in another player’s hand but may count those cards at any time.


Battlefield

Most of the area between the players represents the battlefield. The battlefield starts out empty. Permanents a player controls are normally kept in front of them on the battlefield, though there are some cases (such as an Aura attached to another player's permanent) when a permanent one player controls is kept closer to a different player.

Whenever a permanent enters the battlefield, it becomes a new object and has no relationship to any previous permanent represented by the same card. This is also true for any objects entering any zone.


Graveyard

A player’s graveyard is his or her discard pile.

Any object that’s countered, discarded, destroyed, or sacrificed is put on top of its owner’s graveyard, as is any instant or sorcery spell that’s finished resolving.

Each player’s graveyard starts out empty.

Each graveyard is kept in a single face-up pile.

A player can examine the cards in any graveyard at any time but normally can’t change their order.

Additional rules applying to sanctioned tournaments may allow a player to change the order of cards in his or her graveyard.

If an effect or rule puts two or more cards into the same graveyard at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order.


Stack

Adding Objects to the Stack

  • When a spell is cast, the physical card is put on the stack.
  • When an ability is activated or triggers, it goes on top of the stack without any card associated with it.
  • The stack keeps track of the order that spells and/or abilities were added to it. Each time an object is put on the stack, it’s put on top of all objects already there.
  • If an effect puts two or more objects on the stack at the same time, those controlled by the active player are put on lowest, followed by each other player’s objects in APNAP order (Active Player – Nonactive Player). If a player controls more than one of these objects, that player chooses their relative order on the stack.

Each spell has all the characteristics of the card associated with it.

Each activated or triggered ability that’s on the stack has the text of the ability that created it and no other characteristics.

Controllers

  • The controller of a spell is the person who cast it.
  • The controller of an activated ability is the player who activated it.
  • The controller of a triggered ability is the player who controlled the ability’s source when it triggered, unless it’s a delayed triggered ability.

Resolution of Objects on the Stack

When all players pass in succession, the top (last-added) spell or ability on the stack resolves. If the stack is empty when all players pass, the current step or phase ends and the next begins.

Some Things Don't Use the Stack

  • Effects don’t go on the stack; they’re the result of spells and abilities resolving. Effects may create delayed triggered abilities, however, and these may go on the stack when they trigger.
  • Static abilities continuously generate effects and don’t go on the stack. This includes characteristic-defining abilities such as “[This object] is red”.
  • Mana abilities resolve immediately. If a mana ability both produces mana and has another effect, the mana is produced and the other effect happens immediately. If a player had priority before a mana ability was activated, that player gets priority after it resolves.
  • Special actions don’t use the stack; they happen immediately.
  • Turn-based actions don’t use the stack; they happen automatically when certain steps or phases begin. They’re dealt with before a player would receive priority. Turn-based actions also happen automatically when each step and phase ends; no player receives priority afterward.
  • State-based actions don’t use the stack; they happen automatically when certain conditions are met. They are dealt with before a player would receive priority.
  • A player may concede the game at any time. That player leaves the game immediately. If a player leaves a multiplayer game, objects may leave the game, cease to exist, change control, or be exiled as a result. These actions happen immediately.


Exile

The exile zone is essentially a holding area for objects. Some spells and abilities exile an object without any way to return that object to another zone. Other spells and abilities exile an object only temporarily.

To exile an object is to put it into the exile zone from whatever zone it’s currently in. An exiled card is a card that’s been put into the exile zone.

Exiled cards are, by default, kept face up and may be examined by any player at any time.

Cards “exiled face down” can’t be examined by any player except when instructions allow it.

Exiled cards that might return to the battlefield or any other zone should be kept in separate piles to keep track of their respective ways of returning.

Exiled cards that may have an impact on the game due to their own abilities (such as cards with haunt) or the abilities of the cards that exiled them should likewise be kept in separate piles.

An object may have one ability printed on it that causes one or more cards to be exiled, and another ability that refers either to “the exiled cards” or to cards “exiled with [this object].” These abilities are linked: the second refers only to cards that have been exiled due to the first.

If an object in the exile zone becomes exiled, it doesn’t change zones, but it becomes a new object that has just been exiled.

Command

The command zone is a game area reserved for certain specialized objects that have an overarching effect on the game, yet are not permanents and cannot be destroyed:

  • Emblems may be created in the command zone.
  • In the Planechase, Vanguard, Commander, Archenemy, and Conspiracy Draft casual variants, nontraditional Magic cards and/or specially designated cards start the game in the command zone. Each variant has its own rules regarding such cards.


Ante

A few cards have the text “Remove [this card] from your deck before playing if you’re not playing for ante.” These are the only cards that can add or remove cards from the ante zone or change a card’s owner.

Earlier versions of the Magic rules included an ante rule as a way of playing “for keeps.” Playing Magic games for ante is now considered an optional variation on the game, and it’s allowed only where it’s not forbidden by law or by other rules.

Playing for ante is strictly forbidden under the Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules, therefore, detailed information is not going to be provided.


Additional Resources

Take Command of Your Zones by Justin Turner