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Judge School
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Merfolk have long been and still are a popular deck in multiple formats. This tribal deck is also sometimes called “Fish”* (by the way, the “fish” creature type exists in Magic, but the only popular card with that one is probably “Mutavault"). Today we march towards the “Fish” king — Lord of Atlantis, and while we are visiting his Majesty we are going to discuss Landwalk as such.

Translated by Witas Spasovski

Lord of Atlantis

Lord of Atlantis is one of those cards where you can’t trust what you read. In fact, different sets have different things printed on them, but it’s still not what we need to be reading:

Lord of Atlantis Lord of Atlantis Lord of Atlantis

The actual Oracle version of Lord of Atlantis has the following Type line: “Creature — Merfolk”. This means he is not a Lord**, but is a Merfolk. Every experienced “Fisherman” knows that. What should a player do when prompted by an opponent about the type?

Since a card’s Oracle text is derived information, you are not bound to help your opponent get it. However, you are not entitled to give false information. So you either inform your opponent honestly, or suggest he uses other means to find this information, specifically invite a judge.


In tournaments with Regular rules enforcement level all derived information is considered free. So arm up your patience and explain the newbies what your cards do (and in fact, what theirs do, too).

Lord of Atlantis’ ability reads as follows: “Other Merfolk creatures get +1/+1 and have islandwalk”. This is a static ability that functions only while Lord of Atlantis is on the battlefield. The ability generates a continuous effect that grants all other creatures with Merfolk subtype Islandwalk and makes them somewhat bigger.

Before we turn to discussing Islandwalk, let us note a few important things.

First of all, Lord of Atlantis buffs only other “fish”. It doesn’t provide a boost for itself. But if there is another Lord of Atlantis on the battlefield, they will boost each other.

Second, Lord of Atlantis provides buffs to all other “fish”, regardless of who controls them. So, enemy “fish” will welcome your Lord as well. It’s worth noting that some “fish” are good at masking. Be careful!

Lord of Atlantis Lord of Atlantis Mutavault

If there are two Lords of Atlantis on the battlefield, each of them will have Islandwalk and be 3/3 through the other’s effect.

An animated Mutavault has all creature types including Merfolk, so it gets bonuses from the Lords. Even other players’ Lords, which sometimes turns out to be quite a surprise to their owners.


As usual, let us peek into the rules.

702.14a. Landwalk is a generic term that appears within an object's rules text as "[type]walk," where [type] is usually a subtype, but can be the card type land, any land type, any supertype, or any combination thereof.

Lord of Atlantis Dryad Sophisticate Zombie Musher

Lord of Atlantis gives the Merfolk regular Landwalk type, specifically Islandwalk.

Dryad Sophisticate has Nonbasic Landwalk. It is concerned with lands that do not have the Basic supertype.

Zombie Musher has Snow Landwalk. It is concerned with lands having the Snow supertype.


702.14b. Landwalk is an evasion ability.

We have already faced evasion abilities when we were dealing with Flying. Such abilities limit the ways creatures with them may be blocked.

702.14c. A creature with landwalk can’t be blocked as long as the defending player controls at least one land with the specified subtype (as in "islandwalk"), with the specified supertype (as in "legendary landwalk"), without the specified supertype (as in "nonbasic landwalk"), or with both the specified supertype and the specified subtype (as in "snow swampwalk"). (See rule 509, "Declare Blockers Step.")

If the defending player controls at least one land with/out the relevant type/supertype, he or she may not assign blockers for your attacking creature with Landwalk. It doesn’t mean that creature cannot become blocked!

Curtain of Light Flash Foliage

The effect of Curtain of Light makes an attacking creature blocked without any blocker’s participation.

On the contrary, Flash Foliage’s effect puts a blocking Saproling onto the battlefield.

In Two-Headed Giant, as long as either player from the defending team controls at least one land with/out the relevant subtype/supertype, the whole team may not assign blockers for an attacking creature with Landwalk.

The rule tells us about a land type or supertype. Do not mix it up with the card name. We are concerned with the type line. I recommend checking up the type lines of very old cards with the Oracle.

If a creature has Islandwalk, it will be unblockable as long as the opponent controls any of the following lands:

Snow-Covered Island Hallowed Fountain Underground Sea

Snow-Covered Island is a basic snow Island. Basic and Snow are land supertypes. Island is a land subtype.

Hallowed Fountain is a Nonbasic Island (and Plains). It doesn’t have the Basic supertype.

Underground Sea has the type line “Land — Island Swamp” and is a nonbasic Island (and Swamp).

It doesn’t matter if the lands are tapped or untapped.

None of these lands impacts the blockability of creatures with Islandwalk:

Island of Wak-Wak Azorius Guildgate Seat of the Synod

Although Island of Wak-Wak is called an island, it doesn’t have the Island subtype.

Azorius Guildgate remotely resembles Hallowed Fountain, but it is not an Island. Its subtype is Gate.

Despite the fact that Seat of the Synod generates blue mana, it is not an Island. “Artifact” is a card type, just as “Land”.

There are effects that may turn a land into an Island:

Stormtide Leviathan Aquitect's Will Spreading Seas

The cunning Stormtide Leviathan provides its own unblockability: any land becomes an Island in addition to its other types through the Leviathan’s ability.

Aquitect’s Will puts a flood counter on target land and makes it an Island in addition to its other types for as long as the flood counter is there.

Spreading Seas turn the enchanted land into an Island. Their effect resembles that of Blood Moon: enchanted land loses all of its previous types and ability text.

702.14d. Landwalk abilities don't "cancel" one another.

Example: If a player controls a snow Forest, that player can't block an attacking creature with snow forestwalk even if he or she also controls a creature with snow forestwalk.

Silvergill Adept Lord of Atlantis Cursecatcher

If Lord of Atlantis is on the battlefield, and the active player attacks with Silvergill Adept, the defending player cannot block it with either Cursecatcher or any other creature with Islandwalk, even if both he and his opponent control an Island.

The unblockability of creatures with Landwalk depends only on one thing: the related land being (or not being) under the defending player’s control. If such condition is met, no creature may be assigned blocking a creature with landwalk. The moment it isn’t met, the landwalk effect stops:

Silvergill Adept Hallowed Fountain Meloku the Clouded Mirror

If a Lord of Atlantis is on the battlefield, the cunning opponent attacks with Silvergill Adept, and you only control one island, you may return that island to your hand through activating Meloku the Clouded Mirror’s ability. The effect of Landwalk will cease immediately, and you may block Silvergill Adept with any creature at will.

702.14e. Multiple instances of the same kind of Landwalk on the same creature are redundant.

Silvergill Adept Lord of Atlantis Lord of Atlantis

If you control two Lords of Atlantis and a Silvergill Adept, the adept will have two instances of Islandwalk. This is in no way different from having just one: it can still not be blocked as long as the defending player controls at least one Island.

Master of the Pearl Trident

To conclude our story, let me add a few words about the “new lord”:

Lord of Atlantis and Master of the Pearl Trident are very much alike, with one exception: the latter’s ability grants bonus only to its controller’s creatures. The opponent’s Mutavaults chill out.

By the way, the “Fish” decks always play AEther Vial to be able to flash up the Lords out of the blue (now that’s a pun).

* While “Fish” is a popular tagname for the type and the decks, you need to keep in mind, that it is an existing creature type in Magic. Watch out so that you don't call that name when you are prompted for a creature type by an effect, for instance, that of Cavern of Souls.

*In fact, there is no “Lord” creature type at all in Magic.

Irina Samonova © 1999-2017

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