Magic FAQ, November 1993

This is a copy of the Frequently Asked Questions list for Magic: The Gathering that I used to maintain when I was working at Wizards of the Coast. At the risk of stating the obvious, don’t try to use this to play Magic! It is out of date by, well, decades! I’m posting it for its historical interest. Enjoy!

Also, for the record, if you ever wondered why there was a big rules revision with the release of 6th edition, just look at the "Tapping and Timing" section of this FAQ. Holy moley.

Frequently Asked Questions for Magic: The Gathering. Compiled by Dave Howell, Production Manager, Cyberspace Liaison, and Official FAQ-Keeper, Wizards of the Coast, Inc. This FAQ mentions selected cards by name. The number of cards mentioned, and discussion of their attributes, is kept to a minimum. New or corrected material since the last post is marked with a + sign. Every new release is guaranteed to be posted to the gg-l mailing list. Other areas may or may not receive each revision of the FAQ, as this will generally depend on people reposting it. Please do not alter this FAQ list. Copyright 1993 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. This FAQ may be distributed through any media, as long as it remains intact. 11/21/93 Urza Four-eyes Edition Table of Contents: Sequence of Play, Game Terms, Casting Spells, Colors of Mana, Cards, Creatures, Trample, Banding, Creature Fast Effects, Enchantments, Wards and Protections, Artifacts, Tapping and Timing, and Other. %SEQUENCE OF PLAY Q: What exactly is the turn order? +A: 1. Untap a. No spells of any sort may be played until this is over. 2. Upkeep a. Damage that occured during 1. may be prevented now. 3. Draw a. No spells during draw phase. 4. Main Phase 4a. May play spells. 4b. May play a land card. 4c. May play spells. 4d. May launch attack with creatures (see below). 4e. May play spells. 4f. If no land card was played at 4b, one may be played now. 4g. May play spells. 5. Discard down to 7 cards in hand. 6. Reset creature’s toughness to normal. (Heal creatures.) During the Untap phase, you untap cards that began your turn in the tapped position. Mana can be drawn from lands into the mana pool at any time. This is treated as an interrupt, including a player interrupting their own spell to provide mana for it after the casting of that spell has been announced. Q: What’s the order of an attack phase? A: 1. Main player announces the attack. 2. Main player selects and taps all attacking creatures. 3. Either player may play fast effects. 4. Opponent assigns defenders. 5. Either player may play fast effects. 6. Damage from attacks is assigned. 7. Either player may play fast effects. (see below) 8. Dead creatures are moved to the graveyard. Once the main player has announced an attack, no spells may be cast until step 3. This means it’s too late to twiddle an attacking creature, among other things. Once defenders are assigned, those creatures that are blocked will stay blocked, whether or not the blocking creature is still there by step six or not. In step six, some creatures will take damage sufficient to kill them. Unless a damage prevention or regeneration fast effect is played, such creatures will go to the graveyard. %GAME TERMS +Q: Are the terms “go to the graveyard,” “killed,” and “destroyed” synonymous? A: Yes. Q: I have a card that makes zombies in play get stronger. That doesn’t include any zombies my opponent has, does it? A: Yes, it does. “In play” means on the table, no matter who owns or controls them. Q: Is there a difference between “controller,” “owner,” and “player?” A: Yes. Controller is whoever is responsible for the card at the time, and this can change. Owner is the person to whom the card really belongs. Player is whoever put the card into play. Usually all three of these positions are the same person. If a card just says “your,” it’s referring to the controller. Q: I have a card that says it destroys all (something) in play. That doesn’t include mine, does it? A: Yes. If the card doesn’t include you, it will say “opponent” or something similar. If it says “every player,” “each player,” or “all,” this includes you. Q: I have some cards that say “each turn,” or “each upkeep.” Does that mean just mine, or during both my turn and my opponents. A: Oops. Just yours. We should have been more clear. If the card affects both you and your opponent, then you are affected during your turn, and they are affected during theirs. %CASTING SPELLS Q: Can Fireball be used against my opponent? A: Yes, legitimate targets include your adversary, their creatures, and your own creatures. Q: It’s an X spell. Can X be zero? A: Yes. Q: What is the “cost” of a spell? A: The quantity of mana required. The colors involved are irrelevant (p. 15) Q: I have an artifact that says I can do something if I pump mana into it. Can I just keep tapping mana and doing that effect as many times as I want? A: No. Unlike enchantments, artifacts that have casting cost circles may only accept that cost once per event. You may use them multiple times in a turn, but it has to be in response to multiple events. This isn’t even a teeny bit clear in the rules, and we’re sorry. Q: What if I have a CoP: Red, and my opponent uses Stone Rain on my islands? A: You have one less island. Q: My opponent is about to play a Chaos Orb. Can I blow on it? A: No. You may not interfere in any physical way with the playing of a card. Telling jokes that make them laugh and mis-play the card is OK, though. Q: Can I Raise Dead from my opponent’s graveyard? +A: When a card says “graveyard,” it means your own. Cards that allow pawing through your opponent’s graveyard will say so. Q: Can I use Fork on an opponent’s spell? A: Sure, and you do control your copy. Q: About this Paralyze card... +A: Paralyze has a typo. It should say to untap during Upkeep. Q: My adversary has one of those special bi-colored land cards. What happens if I can change what kind of land it is? A: It will become a single-type land card, like any normal Forest or Plain or Mountain or... +Q: Volcanic Eruption does damage to mountains and players. Can I use more mana than there are mountains? +A: Nope. %COLORS OF MANA Q: I have this card... A: Stop right there! The answer to your question is *No.* Land is not colored. Land is a source of colored mana, but does not in and of itself have color. Note the border. Nor is laying down land a spell. Q: If Psychic Venom is cast on a land card, does that make it a colorless spell, and is damage coming from a colorless source? A: No. Only creature enchantments that affect the power or toughness of the creature count as the creature’s color. Enchantments that work directly are doing damage of their color. CoP: Blue will stop Psychic Venom from doing damage. CoP: Green will stop Wanderlust. %CARDS Q: If I use an artifact power or creature ability, is that a spell? A: No. A spell is when you play a non-land card from your hand. Q: Can I discard whenever I want to? A: No. You *must* discard if you are over the allowed limit for your hand. Usually, that limit is seven cards. If you aren’t at your limit, you may not discard. If you have ten cards in your hand, you must discard three. Q: Can I discard face down? A: No. If you lose multiple cards from your hand, each card must be played face up on the discard pile, allowing your opponent to see each card lost. Your opponent may look through your discard pile at any time. Q: What happens if you run out of cards? A: You lose. (page 9) Q: I have a card that says I can pay BBB during upkeep. What’s that? A: A typo. B=Black Mana, U=blUe Mana, G=Green Mana, and R=Red Mana. Q: My Unsummon card talks about something being CARD ed. A: Also a typo. That should say “discarded.” Q: Any others? +A: Red Elemental Blast is really an Interrupt, not an Instant. The Fork spell says “just cast.” That should read “being cast.” Q: What’s the casting cost of Cyclopean Tomb? Zero? A: 4 uncolored mana. The casting cost was inadvertantly left off. Q: What does “turn over completely” mean? A: A 360-degree flip. %CREATURES Q: Are walls creatures? A: Yes, a special kind of creature (page 21). Q: I have a wall with a power greater than 0. Does that mean I can attack with it? A: No. Walls don’t move, even under team rules, so they can be used only for defense (page 21). Q: Can I use Jade Statue on the turn I summon it? A: Yes. Q: What about creature enchantments? A: It is not possible to cast an enchantment when the Statue can receive them. Nor does it count as a creature when it’s in the graveyard. +Q: Can I clone a doppelganger? +A: Yes, and the clone then becomes like the doppelganger card. Q: You know, if you play Weakness on Drudge Skeletons, it kills them. What if you regenerate? A: You spend a point of mana and save them. The enchantment remains, so they’re killed again, so you spend a point of mana and save them. Eventually you’d run out of mana, and they’d permanently die, so there’s no point in trying to regenerate them in the first place. Q: I’ve got a card that forces a creature to attack. Is that right away, and do they have to? A: If a creature is forced to attack, and is able to attack, it must participate in an attack phase sometime during that player’s turn. If the player hadn’t planned on attacking, well, too bad, they are now. Q: I’ve got a card that gives a player life points based on a creature’s power. That doesn’t include enchantments, does it? A: Yes. A creature’s power is always its current power unless specifically stated otherwise. This will include enchantments cast on that creature as well as any general enchantments in effect at that time. The same goes for toughness and special effects. Q: Is the Goblin King a goblin? Is the Zombie Master a Zombie? Is the Lord of Atlantis a Merfolk? A: No. %TRAMPLE +Q: Does a *blocking* creature with Trample deal excess damage to the *attacker* after the attacking creature is killed? +A: No. Q: When a creatue with “trample” is blocked by two creatures can the controller of the trampling creature choose to do all damage to a single blocking creature, and have the excess affect the other player? A: That’s right. Unless one of the defenders is banded, of course. Even then, damage in excess of a single creature’s toughness will trample, although Wards will eat all the damage. %BANDING Q: If a flying creature bands with a non-flyer, can the group be blocked by a non-flyer? A: Yes. Banding means that these creatures have decided to travel together. If any one of the band can’t go on, none will. Q: Since normally they would all have to blocked separately, why would you ever band on the attack? A: They’ll all get to deal damage to their blocker. Banding lets littler creatures kill big ones through cooperation (page 28). Q: Would you band for defense, since multiple creatures can defend without needing the blocking power? A: Yes. When a group is banded, they get to decide where the damage goes. With a defensive group, you can put one banding creature in the group and decide who takes damage. You could make all 6 points of damage go to the Drudge Skeletons, for example, then regenerate them (page 28). %CREATURE FAST EFFECTS Q: I have a Prodigal Sorcerer. When can I use that 1 point attack thing? +A: Creature special abilities are fast effects (page 30). Most are instants. You can use the Sorcerer’s poke during your main phase, during an attack, when you are defending, or as a response during your adversary’s turn (pages 19 and 24). Note that you can respond to just about anything, so this is really `anytime during your opponent’s turn’ unless we change that rule. More specifically, it’s parts 2 and 5 of the turn detailed above, and any time during part 4, except the attack. See the expanded attack phase to learn when a player can cast fast effects during an attack. By the way, his name’s “Tim.” Q: So what happens if I have Tim attacking, and he’s blocked, then I want to use his magic poke? A: Attacking taps him, so you can’t poke. Q: And if he’s defending? A: He uses his power before the Damage phase of the attack, and is tapped. Q: Doesn’t that mean he can’t block? A: Creatures that are tapped (for whatever reason) *after* they are committed to an attack or defense do not deal out damage, but defend as usual. In effect, they temporarily have a power of zero, but their usual toughness. (page 26) +Q: What if Tim pokes me, and I have a Circle of Protection: Blue, so I stop it, then my opponent Twiddles him back and pokes me again? A: You’d have to use another point of mana to counter the second attack. Q: So every attack from that creature and any or all other blue creatures can be stopped by that Circle for one point of mana each? A: Bingo. Q: What if the Sorcerer nails my Scryb Sprites? A: They’re dead. Your Circle only protects you. Q: What if my Nettling Imp forces the Sorcerer to attack? A: The Sorcerer can either attack sometime during the turn, or choose to poke. If he pokes, then he’ll die from being unable to attack this turn. Q: I have a card that, if I spend a point of mana, does something when a creature dies. What if I have two of these cards in play? A: You can use each one on the same event. Two Ghouls can feed off the same creature, two Soul Nets can catch the same soul, two Ivory Cups can use the same spell. Note that one Soul Net may not catch the same soul twice, one Ivory Cup may not use the same spell twice, etc. %ENCHANTMENTS Q: I’ve got these creatures that are Earthbound. What happens if I cast Flight on them? A: They now have a flight enchantment, but cannot fly until the Earthbind is removed. Q: What happens to an enchantment when the target of that enchantment is no longer a valid one? (e.g. Enchant Flying Creature on a creature that is no longer flying, Enchant Land on a land that becomes a creature, etc.). A: The enchantment hangs around just in case. Q: I keep playing enchantments on my adversary, then forgetting to take them back at the end of the game. What do I do? A: The best thing we’ve found so far is cutting little Post-It note pads into strips and using them as markers. Q: Don’t you think Lich is a great spell to play on your opponent? A: You can’t play Lich on your opponent. It’s an Enchantment, which can only be played on your side of the table. Artifacts that don’t say who they belong to or who can use them can only be used by you, because they’re also played on your part of the table. You can’t share mana in a multiplayer game for the same reasons. +Q:. Can you play creatures, artifacts or land on the other player’s side? +A: No. Only “Enchant {something}“ cards can be played on any {something} in play. Cards that are just played on the table are always played in your territory. Q: Aren’t enchantments fast effects? A: *Casting* an enchantment is not. Using one on the table often is. %WARDS AND PROTECTION Q: I don’t understand Ward cards and Protection from [color]. How do they work? +A: Badly. You can either try to figure out the issues yourself, or use our 2nd edition rules. If you’re planning on using these, you must warn your opponent. If a creature has protection from puce, then: - The creature cannot be damaged by puce spells or creatures. - The creature cannot be blocked by puce creatures. - The creature may not be targeted by further puce spells (this includes enchantments). Puce enchantments already on the creature remain FULLY active. (IE holy armor can be powered). If a spell does not require a target to work, then it affects creatures even if they’re warded against that color. Pestilence must have creatures to work, therefore it targets them, therefore it can be Warded. Castle, although it affects creatures, can be played even if there aren’t any. Therefore it does not target creatures, and even creatures with Protection From White can gain the benefits of Castle. %ARTIFACTS Q: If my adversary casts a fireball, and I counterspell it, can I still get a point of life with my Iron Star? A: No. An interrupt prevents a spell from sucessfully being cast. An instant doesn’t take effect until the spell is cast. %TAPPING AND TIMING Q: So what exactly is “tapping?” A: Tapping is turning a card sideways to mark that its power has been used. Some cards can be used whenever you want, or only once, or whenever you’ve got the mana, so there’s no need to tap them. Cards that can be used only once per turn are tapped. Q: About this Twiddle card... A: You can change the orientation of a card with Twiddle, but you do not get to use that card’s abilities, nor does your adversary. If there is an enchantment on the card that does something when the target card is tapped, that occurs normally. Same for Icy Manipulator. Q: So what if I twiddle a land with Wild Growth? A: The owner of Wild Growth has a point of mana. What they do with it is their problem. Q: Can I use Twiddle to turn off a Circle of Protection until my opponents next untap phase? A: No. Twiddle affects land, creatures, or artifacts. Q: What if I twiddle my adversary’s Sorcerer? A: Twiddle is an instant. So is Tim’s poke. If you Twiddle Tim, his owner can choose to poke. All instants happen simultaneously, unless this would cause a paradox. You can tap Tim even if he’s in the process of being tapped by something else, so Tim gets his poke off, whether you call Twiddle first or not. The order in which spells are announced never has an effect on which spells take effect unless there’s a paradox. Q: Like what? A: You play a card that would kill a creature. Your opponent uses a spell that puts the creature out of play. If you go first, then there’s no creature for her spell, and if she goes first, there’s nothing for you to kill. Paradox. Her spell was announced after yours, so she decides the order. Q: So what if Tim shoots my Sprites, and I play Giant Growth? A: Giant Growth doesn’t prevent Tim from shooting them, so they’re simultaneous. The Sprites live. Q: So I can save them with Holy Armor too? A: No. Holy Armor is an enchantment, and can’t be cast until Tim is through. Q: OK, so I cast this spell that gives all creatures and both players some damage. The damage is enough to kill my adversary, but they’ve got an artifact that will give them a point for every dead creature. Since it won’t work until the creatures are dead, doesn’t that mean I’ve won? A: Afraid not. Using an artifact is an instant. A creature isn’t officially dead until all the instants are resolved. A regeneration might bring them back from the brink, or the Samite Healer, or something else. Your opponent’s artifact means that the same instant that all the creatures are dying, he or she is using that artifact to gain life. When all the instants are done, and the dust has settled, then it’s time to sweep the dead creatures into the graveyard and gnash your teeth, since your opponent lives on... Q: One more timing question. I’ve got a creature with Regenerate cast on it. What if my opponent uses Nevinrryal’s Disk? A: You can save the creature, but it loses the enchantment. Why? Because the enchantment is a fast effect, so there’s time to get it off before everything is officially gone, saving the creature. All spells and fast effects are successfully cast (even if they don’t have the full intended effect), so the creature is saved. We’re working on a better explanation of timing issues. Q: I cast a spell that brings my opponent to zero life points, but she responds with an instant that brings me to zero. Didn’t I kill her first? A: No. The instant is simultaneous with your spell. You’re both dead, and the game is a draw. Q: What if cast a spell that makes her have -3 points, and me -1. Then do I win? A: Dead is dead. You don’t get points for being less chopped up or less burned or whatever. It’s still a draw. Q: What if I don’t have the mana to regenerate a creature right now. Can I spend it next turn? A: No. Regeneration, unlike resurrection, raising the dead, or any of a number of other things, means you are saving the creature’s life, before it’s quite died from its wounds. This must be done immediately, or the creature goes to the graveyard (page 27). %OTHER Q: What’s to stop somebody from just spending huge piles of cash and making an enormous killer deck? A: Nothing will stop them from buying cards, but we’ve found that trying to play with a really large deck is a handicap, not a benefit. You can’t buy your way into a killer deck, you’ve got to know what you’re doing. Q: So I hear there were a bunch of print runs, or something got screwed up? Well, I’ve heard a lot of things. What’s the scoop? +A: Okay, this is the story. We ordered about 10.4 million cards for our first print run. When we got our first part of that order, we found some errors, particularly that some cards were missing. As a result, a number of cards changed after 25% of the cards had been printed. 1st print run alpha cards, before the change, generally have more rounded corners then 1st printing beta cards, after the change. Of course, as you may have heard, 10 million cards wasn’t nearly enough. There’s a 2nd printing due out by December that will be very similar, but the outer border on the faces of the cards will be white, to distinguish them from first printing cards. This is the unlimited edition, and we’ll just print as many as we need. As soon as possible, we’ll switch printing plates to print the Revised Edition, with changed wordings on over a hundred cards, new and clearer rules, and dark grey borders. Some of the cards from the 1st edition will be replaced with new cards. Q: So what are the cards? A: We will release the full list when the collector’s edition of all cards in a boxed set comes out. Presently this is scheduled to be out by Christmas. Until then, all lists that you see have been compiled by outside sources. Q: I can’t find any decks around here. Where do I get some? A: We can’t recommend specific sources. Game and comic stores are your best bet right now. Q: I still can’t find any. Now what? A: You can order cards from us for $7.95 per 60 card deck and $2.45 per 15 card pack, plus $3.00 per order for shipping and fondling. Checks or money orders are fine, but we can’t do credit cards right now. The address is P.O.Box 707, Renton, WA, 98057-0707 Our other fine products are available the same way. If we’re out of stock, you’ll be shipped your decks as soon as they hit our warehouse, or you can cancel your order and get them locally. Q: First there’s this ante thing, which makes people lose cards and have to go buy more. Then there’s this “we’re out of stock” jazz. Your marketing people must really be sharks, eh? A: We’re taking some flak for these issues, but the truth is simple. We didn’t know just how popular the game was going to be. We’re not holding back cards except a handful for the conventions we’re attending, we’re not teasing the consumers, (at least not on purpose), and we’re not playing marketing games. We’re a small company, and we’re working like crazy to make sure you’ll have more Magic for Christmas. All of our first printing has sold, and half of the second printing is also already on order by distributors. Q: Are you going to make boxes to keep cards in? A: Go to a trading card store, and buy a plastic box from them. Magic cards fit perfectly, and you can get the boxes in various depths. Q: Some of my cards were mangled during manufacture. What do I do? A: If you’ve got a damaged card, send it to us and we’ll attempt to replace it. If it’s rare, there may be a delay while we acquire a spare. If you were shorted cards, write us a letter and we’ll send a random card for a replacement. For our latest official policy concerning manufacturing flaws, call or write. This policy can change depending on product or availability. Q: Can I get the original artwork? A: A fantasy and science fiction art gallery called Wizards (no relation) is the main source for Magic art. Contact them to see if they have the piece you want available. Wizards Gallery, 117 Main, Kirkland, WA 98033; (206) 828-0237; Q: How about a newsletter, or a club? A: For serious Magicians, there’s the Duelist’s Convocation. Membership gets you a newsletter, product discounts, and favored status on acquiring the latest Magic products. Membership is $15 per year. Write to the address of the company listed on Magic products, also shown five questions back. Q: How do I get info faster? +A: The best source for questions about Magic is the Garfield Games mailing list. To subscribe, send subscribe gg-l Your Real Name to I repeat, send your request to LISTSERV@WIZARDS.COM or else it won’t work. Unsubscribe requests *must* go to the same place. If you want to trade cards, subscribe gg-trading-l Your Actual Name to One more time, you must send your request to the listserv, and NOT to gg-trading-l! Otherwise you just annoy a lot of people when you send your request to everybody on the list. We have official representatives monitoring, the RPG areas of Compuserve, America Online, The Imagination Network, and have an office building in Freegate, the MOO (MUD) at Illuminati Online. These are good places to look if you don’t want to deal with the overflow of information on gg-l. You can also send questions to, but you’ll probably get sent a copy of this FAQ unless it’s a real puzzler. For info on stuff that’s come before, you can get a lot of interesting files via anonymous FTP at, in the deckmaster directory. Q: I posted a cool card idea to a public bulletin board/told a Wizards of the Coast person/told a bunch of friends. There’s a new expansion set with a card a lot like my idea. Do I get some money? +A: I apologize for having this question in the FAQ, but where there’s money, there’s sharks. We’ve seen the same concept for new cards show up independently just in our in-house development groups, never mind the general public. If you tell anybody your cool new card idea, you’ve lost control over it. Legally it’s messy, but basically, if you tried to sue us, we’d demonstrate that we’d developed the card prior to your post, and you’d get stuck with court costs. We’ve already got thousands of potential cards in R&D. We don’t pay people for individual card ideas, only for compilations. We aren’t presently accepting proposals for expansions because we don’t have the legal hoops set up yet.