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19.12.2016

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The “Kaladesh” set saw the dawn of a rather peculiar mechanics that allows “animating” certain artifacts by tapping untapped creatures under your control. No mistake there indeed, today we are going to study the Crew ability.

Board your vehicles!


Translated by Witas Spasovski


Smuggler’s Copter

Smuggler's CopterKaladesh artifacts brought a whole new artifact subtype into the Magic multiverse. Existing artifact subtypes now count up to five: Clue — so far only inherent to tokens, Contraption — so far only Steamflogger Boss keeps trying to assemble some, Equipment, Fortification and now Vehicle. Obviously, we are currently concerned with the last one. The Vehicle subtype itself doesn’t give the artifact anything special (in fact, in the entire Magic game only the basic land subtypes actually grant something to the card by themselves), but each Vehicle has a special border, values of Power and Toughness printed in the bottom right corner, and the Crew ability. Naturally, if another artifact with or without a subtype somehow gains the Vehicle subtype, it won’t gain any of these specialties just like that.

In terms of the game, Vehicles behave just like regular artifacts: they may normally be played during your main phase while the stack is empty; they have no power or toughness, they cannot attack or block; and often their abilities make no sense until the Vehicle is “animated”, for instance, Crewed.

Crew

Crew allows “animating” a Vehicle until end of turn and using it as a creature. Now let us scrutinize this ability. First of all, as usual, let’s peek into the rules — that’s always useful!

702.121a. Crew is an activated ability of Vehicle cards. “Crew N” means “Tap any number of untapped creatures you control with total power N or greater: this permanent becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.”


Now if we take some crayons and colour the ability text, we'll have this:

Tap any number of untapped creatures you control with total power N or greater: this permanent becomes an artifact creature until end of turn”.

  • : — as soon as we notice the colon, we immediately identify this ability as activated. The colon is also present in the reminder texxt, so it’s really difficult to take this ability for something else.
    This ability has no limits to activating it, so it may be activated any time you have priority. And clearly, you can activate the Crew ability of a Vehicle multiple times.
  • Tap any number of untapped creatures you control with total power N or greater — there’s the activation cost. It is paid during activation (no kidding!), right after putting this ability onto the stack.
  • this permanent becomes an artifact creature until end of turn — that is the ability effect that we get when it resolves. The Vehicle doesn’t get “animated” if the ability is countered or exiled from the stack. On the other hand, no matter what happens to the creatures which have been tapped to pay for this ability, the Vehicle won’t be affected. Neither before, nor after resolution of Crew.

Now down to the minutiae.

Stony Silence Suppression Field

If a Stony Silence is on the battlefield, Crew may not be activated, just like any other artifact ability.

Suppression Field increases the cost of activating Crew by {2}. You would need to not only tap the required combination of creatures, but also pay the mana.

Obviously, as Crew is being activated, no one can respond to tapping creatures, because no player has priority at this moment. Neither you, nor your cunning opponent may do anything to those creatures.

Any number of creatures may be tapped. There is only one condition: their combined power has to be at least N. Why does the ability allow tapping creatures with power greater than N? It’s easy: it is quite possible that you simply won’t have a set of untapped creatures with total power equaling to exactly N.

This fact, as many other, may be profitable. There are creatures you would definitely want to see tapped: Gilder Bairn, Pain Seer and Oak Street Innkeeper are some examples of those.

Smuggler's Copter Mindslaver Sunblast Angel

Or, by exploiting the full potential of Mindslaver, tap all of opponent’s creatures you can. By the way, if a Vehicle gets animated, it is officially a creature, so it may be tapped to pay the Crew cost of another Vehicle, or even itself! And then wipe up the board with something like Sunblast Angel.

Or maybe you have another, no less sneaky plan which I haven’t figured out yet :)

The total power of tapped creatures is calculated before those are actually tapped, so Sword of the Paruns isn’t of much use here. This happens because first we define the total cost of activation, and then pay it in full.

702.121b. A creature “crews a Vehicle” when it’s tapped to pay the cost to activate a Vehicle’s crew ability.

702.121c. If an effect states that a creature “can’t crew Vehicles,” that creature can’t be tapped to pay the crew cost of a Vehicle.

Any untapped creatures you control may crew, unless an effect prohibits that, such as Revoke Privileges.

The Crew activation cost does not contain the tap symbol, so it doesn’t matter how long you have controlled the creature for. Summoning sickness does not apply here.

Many players erroneously believe that there exists a connection between the Vehicle and its “crew”. It’s a township legend. A Vehicle and creatures used to crew it are not related in any way. Changing control of or removing the Vehicle does not affect the crew, and vice versa. Untapping creatures used to crew a Vehicle doesn’t affect it. Besides, you may actually crew a Vehicle, then untap those creatures through some effect and tap them to crew another Vehicle.

However, some creatures are special in being effective to crew Vehicles over others: Vampire Envoy, Depala, Pilot Exemplar are some examples. Usually the creature type Pilot means the creature is in a way particularly good to crew something:

Veteran Motorist Speedway Fanatic Gearshift Ace

Each of these creatures has a triggered ability that triggers as you tap it to pay the Crew cost.

The ability is put onto the stack above the Crew ability, and resolves first. Despite the fact that the Vehicle will usually not be a creature when that one resolves, and thus not yet have Power and Toughness, the effects related to P/T will be applied when the Vehicle does become a creature. This is ensured by the rule 208.3a. of CR.

208.3a. If an effect would be created that affects the power and/or toughness of a noncreature permanent, that effect is created even though it doesn’t do anything unless that permanent becomes a creature.

Now let us check out the rules for Vehicles:

301.7b. If a Vehicle becomes a creature, it immediately has its printed power and toughness. Other effects, including the effect that makes it a creature, may modify these values or set them to different values.

This rule doesn’t mention Crew specifically. It describes what happens when a Vehicle somehow gains the Creature card type. This can happen in a number of ways. Clearly, the result may also be different.

Start Your Engines Tezzeret the Seeker Aradara Express

Start Your Engines’ effect “animates” all Vehicles under your control. This effect doesn’t set Power and Toughness to any specific values, so those will be taken from each individual Vehicle card.

On the contrary, Tezzeret the Seeker’s ultimate ability sets them to specific values which will replace those printed on the Vehicle card.

If Aradara Express becomes animated through Tezzeret’s effect, you can activate its Crew ability, but without much point: the P/T values will not change. Check the Crew ability text again, it has no mention of P/T whatsoever.

If a Vehicle loses all abilities between activating the Crew ability and it becoming a creature (for instance, if it somehow becomes enchanted with Song of the Dryads), it will become animated and will have the printed P/T values.

Smuggler's Copter Phyrexian Metamorph

When copying an “animated” Vehicle, we get a non-crewed Vehicle, since the Crew ability effect does not modify the copiable values.

Evidently, an “animated” Vehicle is still the same permanent. It hasn’t re-entered the battlefield, it was there the whole time! It just changed its characteristics. No ability reacting to a permanent entering the battlefield will trigger.

If it so happens that the Vehicle is an equipment (for instance due to Bludgeon Brawl) attached to a creature, it will “fall off” the creature when it becomes a creature itself.

In order to determine whether you can attack with the Vehicle, you need to know how long you have controlled it for. Yep, the notorious Summoning sickness, which may be cured with Haste. For example, if you cast a Smuggler’s Copter in your main phase, then crew it, in general case it may not attack, as it is sick. You will need something else, for instance, a Speedway Fanatic as the crew.

The Vehicle stops being a creature at the Cleanup step, it keeps all the counters even if they make no sense, but some permanents attached to it may “fall off":

Spirit Mantle Cranial Plating Aether Meltdown

Spirit Mantle becomes unattached and put into the graveyard, because it cannot enchant a non-creature permanent.

Cranial Plating becomes unattached and remains on the battlefield. It cannot be equipping a non-creature either.

However, Aether Meltdown remains attached to the Vehicle even after the latter stops being a creature.

I have covered everything there was to say about the Vehicles, now it’s time to look at Smuggler’s Copter’s abilities.

Its first ability, Flying, is static. It has no meaning until the Copter becomes a creature, nor does the other ability:

Whenever Smuggler’s Copter attacks or blocks, you may draw a card. If you do, discard a card”.

  • Whenever — signal word for a triggered ability which reacts to the following triggering event:
  • Smuggler’s Copter attacks or blocks — we have covered abilities with such triggering event in detail while taking a look at Hero of Bladehold and Geist of Saint Traft.
  • you may draw a card. If you do, discard a card — that’s the trigger effect which we get when it resolves.
    The word “may” is of great importance here. First of all, it means you are not bound to draw a card if you don’t feel like it. Second, if you miss this trigger, it will be considered that you have chosen to draw no card.
    By the way, when you draw the card, you will not be able to cast it immediately before the discard, because you do not gain priority.
    If that card has Miracle, and it is the first one you draw that turn and reveal it, do not forget to keep it revealed until the required moment. If there were no cards in your hand and you draw a miraculous card, nothing can help you cast it: you will discard it as the Copter’s trigger keeps on resolving.

To conclude, Captain Obvious sends word that the Copter ain’t a Thopter, and Master Trinketeer doesn’t affect it. In fact, the Copter-creature doesn’t have any creature types at all. Therefore, two Copters and a Coat of Arms are no combo!




Irina Samonova © 1999-2017

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