Magic: the Gathering
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02.02.2017

Judge School
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Looking back to Magic2013, we can’t omit an awesome reprint from there! This is a wonderful card whose text hypnotizes players to the point they see nothing other than “return Rancor to its owner’s hand”.


Translated by Witas Spasovski


Rancor

RancorRancor is an aura. It is an enchantment subtype that sets numerous conditions to its own very existence. I recommend reading about auras in general by taking Spirit Mantle as a muster before moving forward with Rancor.

Rancor has just three abilities.

Its first ability is specifically related to the Aura subtype. It is static and it tells us that only creatures may be enchanted by the Rancor permanent, and only creatures may be legal targets for the Rancor spell. It doesn’t matter who controls the creature.

The second ability is also static. It modifies enchanted creature’s characteristics and gives it Trample ability.

I already held a lecture on Trample in the article about Titans. Make sure you read it and refresh your knowledge (or learn something new). Today I want to remind you that tournament shortcuts have had the default assignment of “all extra damage” to the defending player or planeswalker under his or her control removed. As it’s been a while since combat damage stopped going onto the stack, and, according to the tournament rules, players are supposed to declare any changes to life totals of either player outloud, the folks responsible for Magic tournament rules decided that this shortcut was outdated and removed it for good. What do we need to fear in connection with that?

Rancor Bear cub Runeclaw Bear

Your cunning but careless opponent attacks you with a Bear enchanted with Rancor, you block it with your Bear. If the opponent doesn’t announce that he deals 2 damage to the bear and 2 to you, and then doesn’t announce the change in life totals outloud, it is considered that your Bear took all 4 damage, and the opponent gnashes his teeth.

By the way, both Bears go to the graveyard, Rancor follows them right after that, and then...

Rancor’s third ability is a triggered ability. We can easily recognize it by the word “when”. This ability triggers when Rancor is moved from the battlefield to the graveyard. When the ability resolves, Rancor is returned to its owner’s hand if able.

Naturalize Yixlid Jailer Leyline of the Void

If the cunning opponent targets your Rancor with Naturalize, then as the latter resolves, Rancor is destroyed, and is moved to the graveyard as a result. Its ability triggers.

If the cunning opponent controls Yixlid Jailer, Rancor will undoubtedly lose its ability after being moved to the graveyard from the battlefield, but that alone won’t impact its triggering. Triggers like this one go off from the battlefield, not from the graveyard.

If the cunning opponent somehow removes Rancor from your graveyard in response to the trigger, then by the time it resolves the ability will have nothing to bring back. It will resolve and do nothing.

Leyline of the Void Erase Leyline of the Void

If your cunning opponent counters your Rancor, it goes to the battlefield from the stack. This doesn’t match the ability’s triggering event, so the trigger won’t go off.

If your cunning opponent targets your Rancor with Erase, then as it resolves Rancor will be moved to the exile zone, not the graveyard. The triggering event doesn’t occur, ability does not trigger.

If the cunning opponent controls Leyline of the Void, the Rancor card has little to no chance of being put into the graveyard from the battlefield. With no other effects involved, it will be moved to exile, and the trigger won’t go off.

Actually, this is where I would finish this article, but... alright, let us talk about a few fairly obvious things.

Rancor spell and illegal target

As all other spells, Rancor goes onto the stack. As part of the process of casting it, the player needs to announce a legal target. If by the time Rancor resolves the target becomes illegal (for instance, it was given protection from green or shroud; was bounced, exiled or destroyed), Rancor, being a spell with a single target, is countered. This is called “fizzling” in game slang. Under normal conditions, the card of a countered spell goes to its owner’s graveyard. Since the dislocation happens between the stack and the graveyard, it isn’t the triggering event for Rancor’s third ability, so it doesn’t trigger!

Rancor Bear cub Unsummon

You cast Rancor targeting your Bear. The cunning opponent bounces* the Bear. Rancor is countered and hits the graveyard. Since it goes there from the stack, not the battlefield, its third ability doesn’t trigger. Rancor remains in the graveyard.

Rancor put onto the battlefield not from the stack

If Rancor would be put onto the battlefield in some way different from resolving the Rancor spell, the player in control of it must choose a legal object to which the Rancor permanent would be attached. If no such object may be selected, Rancor remains in the zone where it was before this effect.

This means in particular that if there is one sole creature on the battlefield that Rancor could legally enchant, the player in control of Rancor must choose that creature, even if it is an opponent’s Emrakul who is about to kill that player.
Also, Rancor may be attached to a creature with Shroud or Hexproof because the Rancor permanent doesn’t target anything (if this sounds like a revelation to you, I feel obliged to send you to read the article on auras one more time).
Finally, when Rancor cannot be attached to anything on the battlefield, it isn’t put there at all!

Sun Titan Show and Tell Oblivion Ring

As you return Rancor from the graveyard through Sun Titan’s triggered ability, you may attach it to a creature with Shroud or Hexproof. As long as it may be legally enchanted with Rancor, sure thing. Protection from green/enchantments/everything is an obstacle here, though.

Show and Tell resolves and you choose Rancor to be put onto the battlefield, but by the time it is supposed to be put, there is no creature** that could possibly be enchanted with it. Rancor remains in your hand. You still need to reveal it to your opponent.

Oblivion Ring’s second ability resolves, you are trying to return Rancor, but there isn’t a single creature on the battlefield that could be enchanted with it. Rancor remains in Exile indefinitely, it does not return to the battlefield.

Rancor and Humility, or Layers again

Rancor Bear Humility

It’s not so hard.

The part of Rancor’s second ability responsible for giving the +2/+0 bonus isn’t concerned with when Humility entered the battlefield, because Humility’s effect sets the power/toughness values to 1/1, it is applied at layer 7b, and Rancor’s effect is applied at layer 7c, which is always after Humility’s effect. Therefore, with no other effects involved, you get a 3/1 creature.

However, the part of the effect that gives Trample is concerned with what appeared on the battlefield earlier: Humility or Rancor. Why? Because both of these effects are applied on the same layer 6 and they do not depend on each other, so they are applied according to the timestamps.

If Humility was on the battlefield and then you enchant your creature with Rancor, it will have Trample.

If the creature was enchanted with Rancor and Humility enters the battlefield, the creature will not have Trample.


* Bounce — slang expression to describe an effect that returns a permanent to its owner’s hand.

** You will not be able to choose the creature being put by the opponent through the same effect. Same as with Cloning, we choose the object to attach an aura to not when it is already on the battlefield, but at the exact moment when it is entering there. The card that enters the battlefield along with Rancor isn’t on the battlefield at that moment.



Irina Samonova © 1999-2017

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