Feature: Sneaky Tricks

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The letter O!ne of the aspects of Magic that makes it such a compelling game is that while the basics are fairly easy to pick up, one almost never stops learning about its subtleties and intricate card interactions. Here are a few Sneaky Tricks you should know about if you plan on playing Ravnica Block Constructed anytime soon. Or Standard. Or Extended. Heck, these are just a few obscure but cool things you should know to get ready for the big time:

Voidslime

Voidslime

At first blush, Voidslime seems to be a pretty straightforward card - a hard counter for three, with the added bonus of being able to double as a stifle. The latter ability has proven particularly valuable this weekend as an answer to both the troublesome Ghost Council of Orzhova and the less played, but often more devastating, Ghostway.

In one feature match, Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz was facing off against a blue-green graft deck, and was under the gun from a fast Vinelasher-Cytoplast Root Kin-Cytoplast Root Kin draw. Steve seemed poised to turn the game around, having stalled with a Ghost Council and a steady succession of Blind Hunters to double block attackers and phase out Ghost Council every turn. Unfortunately for Steve, on the turn before he would likely have been able to finally turn the tide, his opponent Voidslimed the Ghost Council's return-to-play trigger (officially designated as a delayed triggered ability), which kept Ghost Council out of the game permanently, seemingly sealing the game for the graft player.

OK, you don't get to be a Hall of Fame candidate for nothing. Steve O topdecked an Hour of Reckoning to win, but you have to admit the play was a pretty sexy one.

A similar play in a different match involved the same timing issue on a Ghostway. During one combat, a green-white-black player with a number of comes-into-play creatures - Skeletal Vampire, Loxodon Hierarch, Carven Caryatid and Angel of Despair - was set to lose his Angel and his Hierarch to his opponent's blockers. After stacking damage, he gleefully cast Ghostway, anticipating the (i) gain of 4 life, (ii) drawing of a card, (iii) generation of two new bats and (iv) a free vindicate from the Angel. His opponent, however, had different ideas and opted, rather than to counter the Ghostway, to counter the return to play trigger, stranding the first player's entire army between the planes.

Quiz

You have plains, plains, forest, forest, Wild Cantor in play. Can you cast the Conclave Equenaut in your hand? Why or why not? Think about it, and we'll get to the answer below.

Gleancrawler

Gleancrawler and Ghost Council of Orzhova

In a feature match, Mike Flores had both a Ghost Council of Orzhova and a Gleancrawler on the board, but was at low life. His opponent had had pinned the Gleancrawler under Pillory of the Sleepless, seemingly ensuring that Mike would have to lose the Gleancrawler to Ghost Council in order to avoid the loss of life, which would significantly reduce the pressure Mike's board was putting on his opponent.

While many people would simply sac the Gleancrawler, Mike had a more subtle timing plan. Mike placed the Gleancrawler's end-of-turn ability on the stack then sacrificed Gleancrawler to Ghost Council. While the Ghost Council would remain out of play until the end of Mike's turn (since EOT triggers had already stacked) the Gleancrawler was returned to Mike's hand by its own triggered ability, and Mike was able to pull out the win, largely on the back of the giant trampler.


Dream Leash and Copy Enchantment

Dream Leash

Think you can't steal your opponent's Simic Sky Swallower with a Dream Leash? Think again - well, sort of. While it is true that SSS can't be targeted and Dream Leash can't target an untapped permanent, Copy Enchantment solves both of these problems.

First, Copy Enchantment requires only that there is an enchantment in play to copy -- so most players running this little combo would steal a Karoo, which, while annoying, should be overcomeable by most of the decks out there. Then, the Leashing player would cast Copy Enchantment, duplicating the Dream Leash. If the Copy Enchantment resolved, that player would then get to attach the Copy of the enchantment to a permanent -- not a target permanent, and further, because Copy Enchantment doesn't have any restrictions on being cast only a tapped permanent, the copied Dream Leash can take any permanent - even an untapped, untargettable one!

Oh, and when you try to free your SSS by casting Crime/Punishment, be sure X is 5 -- the Copy Enchantment, while having a printed cost of U2, is considered to have a converted casting cost of 5 once it has copied the Leash, since the copy rules state that it becomes an exact duplicate of the original target!

One more Dream Leash-related matter -- what happens if you manage to take your opponent's Bottled Cloister with a Dream Leash (or, more likely, a copied Dream Leash)? If you just read the card, you would probably come up with the wrong answer. In this case, errata has been issued for Cloister which makes "borrowing" it far more attractive than it first appears.

It looks, from the card, that your opponent will get all their cards back at the beginning of your turn, and then you would use the Cloister for yourself in the usual fashion. However, what actually happens is that for so long as you control Cloister, the cards your opponent has removed from the game because of the Cloister stay removed from the game, and the Cloister then affects you in the usual manner. And yes, if you have multiple Cloisters, each keeps track of the cards removed by its ability, and each Leashed Cloister further keeps track of the cards it has removed under each player's control.

Complicated, ain't it.

Firemane Angel and Life Gain Trigger

Firemane Angel

So, your Angel is in the bin and you want to gain a life and return it to play. Know how? I'll bet not all of you do. One rule that is of peculiar application to Firemane Angel (and few other cards), is that in order for you to gain a life from its triggered ability, it must be in the same zone when the ability stacks as when the ability resolves. If you were to stack the life gain, and prior to the resolution of the triggered ability reanimate the Angel - no soup for you. Be sure to resolve the life gain trigger BEFORE putting her back into play. Well, that is, if you want to gain the life.

Similarly, if you were to stack the life gain of an Angel in play, and prior to resolution, your opponent killed the angel or otherwise changed its zone (with a Ghostway, for example), you would not gain any life - so keep that in mind if the one point could be the difference maker.

Quiz answer

You cannot cast the Conclave Equenaut.

This is because in casting spells you first have to resolve all mana abilities and THEN pay all costs. The Cantor's sac ability is a mana ability, and the tap for convoke is a cost. As such, if you use the Cantor for mana, it is gone by the time you get to the cost-reducing step and obviously cannot tap to reduce the cost of the spell, having given its tiny Cantorian soul to provide you with that mana you thought you needed so badly. You are left holding the proverbial (mana) bag.

So, how many of these things did you already know? How many were news to you? Have any other Sneaky Tricks you want to share? Let us know in the forums!

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