Thursday, 19 September 2013

Oracle Review - Nafs Asp, Shahrazad

Here's a couple of cards that do odd things, one of which seemed extremely clearly defined in the rules and one of which is was a bit of head-scratcher. Guess which is which.

Nafs Asp
In case you were exposed to this card, as I was, at an earlier and more naive age, take note that it is a "nafs" asp, not "Naf's" asp. The asp does not belong to Naf, it is an asp of the nafs - which can be vaguely translated as pysche, soul or ego though that probably really doesn't do justice to the concept. Why the ego asp does damage to you the turn after it hit you should be obvious: it is poisonous.
Whenever Nafs Asp deals damage to a player, that player loses 1 life at the beginning of his or her next draw step unless he or she pays {1} before that draw step.
Looks simple enough. But when exactly do you pay that one mana? Is that an activated ability that cancels the delayed trigger? Do you just put a mana in your pool and say you are paying? If your opponent passes priority to you after hitting you with the asp and then you pay the one mana, does your opponent even get priority back before the phase ends?

It took me a bit of searching but I finally found the relevant rule by doing a text search on "priority" through the comprehensive rules.
115.2c Some effects allow a player to take an action at a later time, usually to end a continuous effect or to stop a delayed triggered ability from triggering. Doing so is a special action. A player can take such an action any time he or she has priority, but only if the ability or effect allows it.
So paying for Nafs Asp is a special action that you can do any time you have priority. You retain priority if you do, even if you are not the active player, but when you pass priority after taking it the active player will get priority again. It does not use the stack.

What's really disappointing is that they did not maintain the change made in the fourth edition printing of the asp. Of course that was actually an error, not a revision of the card, so naturally it hasn't been maintained.

For teaching me about special actions, Nafs Asp's wording gets...

Players play a MAGIC subgame, using their libraries as their decks. Each player who doesn't win the subgame loses half his or her life, rounded up.
Yes, a subgame!  In order to avoid confusion they have replaced the phrase "player who loses" with "player who doesn't win" but in the rules they actually mean the same thing.

Rule 715 (Subgames) tells you all about playing a subgame of Magic. I don't know why MAGIC is in all capitals in the Oracle text but not in the comprehensive rules.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this is really just further reminder of how disappointing the False Orders and Silhouette wordings are. Rule 715 is complex and is broken into many subsections, but it is all there to support the effect of a single card, an effect that surely never again be used. The effects of False Orders and Silhouette are both re-usable if they chose to do so, but don't get their own section of the rules to let them be what they should be.

For getting it right, and for being just being Shahrazad, Shahrazad's wording gets...

What a great day for the Oracle!

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