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To know more about control effects and the legend rule we will meet the magnificent vampire Olivia Voldaren. Would you like to grab a drink?
– Hi. Is there an Olive here?
Olivia Voldaren has two colors in her manacost: black and red.
Therefore, she is both black and red — not golden, there is no such color in Magic. As she has two colors, she is multicolored.
Olivia Voldaren is a legendary creature. Let’s talk about legends for a while and discuss the rules’ change introduced with Magic2014 release.
– How many legendary cards can be in a deck?
– As many as you want. However,if you’re playing a constructed tournament, you can have a maximum of 4 cards with the same English name (it also applies to all other cards except for basic lands). If it’s a limited tournament, there are no restrictions — of course, all the cards must come from your limited pool. Some formats apply additional restrictions, you can learn about them by reading those formats’ rules.
– How many legendary permanents can be on the battlefield under one player’s control?
– As many as you want, but they all must be different. There is a special card based on the amount of legendaries you have on the board: Heroes' Podium.
There is a “rule of legends” for legendary permanents with a same name:
– Can two players control legendary permanents with the same name?
– Yes. This is the main difference between the old and new rules. Now, when a legend enters the battlefield, it’s important who controls the permanent.
When studying legends, we can’t avoid mentioning cards which allow us to ignore the “legend rule”:
There are cards that deal only with legendary objects or give additional perks if the object is a legend:
These cards mainly are played in EDH*, where legends (for instance, the General) are pretty important. Some of them, though (for example, Karakas) are played in eternal formats and cost a lot of money.
The last notice about legends in general before we go back to Olivia Voldaren – on some of the legendaries there are contracted names of these cards. This happens if the text refers to the name of the card for the second (and the following) times. The legend is refered to by its full name for the first time. Contracted names are equal to full names in this case.
According to IPG, players can use contracted names of characters (legendary cards and Planeswalkers) if there are no more such cards with the same contracted name in the format. These contractions are considered to be referring only to those characters, even if there are cards beginning with the same name in the format.
And for the last thing – both of those Vensers can be on the battlefield under one player’s control. One of them is a legendary creature and the second is a Planeswalker with type “Venser”, which means that neither the “legend rule” nor the “Planeswalker rule” apply.
Olivia Voldaren has three abilities. The first is static, and the other two are activated.
Flying is an evasion ability. Such abilities limit what creatures can block the attacking creature. A creature with Flying can be blocked only with creatures with Flying or Reach. A creature with Flying can block a creature without Flying (if the opposite isn’t stated: Skywinder Drake).
If a creature gained or lost Flying after the blockers are declared, nothing changes. Flying doesn’t change the damage assignment. It only defines if a creature can be assigned as a blocker during the declare blockers step. For example, Flash Foliage’s token can block creatures with flying because it was never assigned as a blocker, but entered the battlefield as a blocker.
If a creature gained several Flying abilities, the “extra” ones are simply ignored.
Olivia Voldaren’s second ability is targeted. It has a limitation: you can’t target Olivia itself. However, if there is another Olivia on the battlefield, one Olivia can target another with this ability.
As you already know (I honestly want to believe that), an activated ability doesn’t depend on its source. That’s why when Olivia’s second ability resolves, if Olivia isn’t on the battlefield, the most possible instructions of the ability are performed: target creature is dealt 1 damage, becomes a Vampire in addition to its other creature types. As Olivia isn’t there, you can’t place a counter. That instruction is simply ignored.
Since the effect of Olivia-Voldaren’s second ability gives target creature a Vampire subtype in addition to its other types, the creature doesn’t lose its other types.
If target creature became an illegal target when ability started resolving (for example, gained Protection from Creatures or Hexproof), the ability is countered. Absolutely. No damage, no Vampires and no counters. Nothing happens.
Olivia Voldaren’s third ability is targeted, too. It can target a creature with Vampire subtype. It doesn’t matter who controls the creature.
When Olivia’s third ability resolves, you gain control of target creature. This effect exists while you control Olivia Voldaren. You can lose control in two ways: your cunning opponent can borrow Olivia or she dies. In any case, when it happens, all creatures you stole with Olivia’s third ability go back under their previous masters’ control. Most of the time previous controller is the owner of the card, but sometimes there are other control-changing effects in play. It happens in multiplayer games most often.
If you activated Olivia Voldaren’s third ability and Olivia changed control or left the battlefield when the ability hasn’t resolved yet, the ability resolves, but does nothing. You won’t gain control of target Vampire.
Returning Olivia under your control doesn’t return you the effect of her third ability.
It also doesn’t matter if you control another Olivia Voldaren (if you somehow avoided the “legend rule”). It doesn’t affect the effect of the first Olivia. For her third ability only the control of the exactly the same Olivia that created the effect matters. It doesn’t matter how she is called at the moment or which permanent she is:
A creature that changes control doesn’t leave the battlefield. It doesn’t lose or gain any abilities, with the exception of those abilities that are granted by effects under one player’s control. It doesn’t lose counters it has.
If it doesn’t have Haste, it can’t attack immediately. You also can’t activate its abilities with the tap (or untap) sign in their cost. This is due to the fact that the so-called “summoning sickness” isn’t connected with summoning, but is connected with control of the permanent:
When the controller changes, the permanent loses this “continuous control”. That’s why it doesn’t matter if it’s been on the battlefield for a long, long time, It’s important that it changed control.
Auras and Equipments stay attached to the creature, but their controller doesn’t change. For some Auras, though, change of control leads to disattachment and they go into the graveyard.
When a control-changing effect appears, questions connected to the effects’ text arise.
As Olivia herself is a Vampire, you can target her with her third ability. Why would you need that?
Of course, Olivia’s second and third abilities work together well. You can turn a creature into a Vampire and then steal it.
For an entertainment I suggest you look at how Olivia was drawn.
There’s also a comic strip for adult readers.
*Elder Dragon Highlander. Previous name of the Commander format.
**Mill – a slang term for the effect moving cards from the library into the graveyard.
Irina Samonova © 1999-2017
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