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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
Kaladesh 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 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!
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”.
Now down to the minutiae.
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.
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.
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:
Now let us check out the rules for Vehicles:
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.
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.
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":
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”.
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 © 1999-2018
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