Mirrorweave, Part I

Hello everyone! It’s Bob, back with another gigantic rules headache of a card! Mirrorweave is a card with almost unlimited potential for weirdness. Lots of Magic cards create or become copies of something, but Mirrorweave turns some cards into different cards. This results in fun interactions that I hope will inspire you to come up with combos of your own!

The first thing we need to understand about Mirrorweave is what aspects of a creature get copied. For that, let’s look at this excerpt from the Comprehensive Rules, from rule 706.2 –

..."copiable values" are the values derived from the text printed on the object (that text being name, mana cost, color indicator, card type, subtype, supertype, rules text, power, toughness, and/or loyalty), as modified by other copy effects, by its face-down status, and by "as . . . enters the battlefield" and "as . . . is turned face up" abilities that set power and toughness (and may also set additional characteristics). Other effects (including type-changing and text-changing effects), status, and counters are not copied.

When applied in a normal situation, Mirrorweave can be quite simple. Let’s say I have two Storm Crows, and my opponent has one Colossal Dreadmaw. I cast Mirrorweave targeting Colossal Dreadmaw and it resolves. Now my opponent has one Dreadmaw and I have two of them!

My Storm Crows are no longer blue, no longer named Storm Crow, they are not Birds, and they don’t have flying. They are named Colossal Dreadmaw, they have a mana cost of 4GG, they are 6/6 Green Dinosaurs, and they have trample. Until end of turn, these creatures that look an awful lot like Storm Crows are treated as though they are identical in every way to Colossal Dreadmaw. If they move to any other zone, such as the graveyard or your hand, they are no longer treated as “Creatures” and they return to being “Creature cards”, meaning they are no longer copies of the Dreadmaw.

Now let’s say I have two 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature tokens instead of two Storm Crows when I cast Mirrorweave – the end result is almost completely the same. The Servos stop being Artifacts, they gain a mana cost of 4GG (most tokens have no mana cost), and they gain the name Colossal Dreadmaw. The only difference between our first and second examples is that these two Dreadmaws are still token creatures, which matters for certain effects that mention token/nontoken creatures specifically.

Now that we have established what is affected by Mirrorweave, let’s focus on what isn’t (and how we can abuse it)! Let’s have another look at that excerpt from the Comprehensive rules –

..."copiable values" are the values derived from the text printed on the object (that text being name, mana cost, color indicator, card type, subtype, supertype, rules text, power, toughness, and/or loyalty), as modified by other copy effects, by its face-down status, and by "as . . . enters the battlefield" and "as . . . is turned face up" abilities that set power and toughness (and may also set additional characteristics). Other effects (including type-changing and text-changing effects), status, and counters are not copied.

When we make a card into a copy of another, we copy everything about the card itself but not the effects and counters currently modifying the copied card. We can use this in many sneaky ways, some easier to pull off than others. First, let’s talk about counters.

If I have a Walking Ballista with two +1/+1 counters on it and I resolve a Mirrorweave targeting the Ballista, each creature will become a copy of the 0/0 Ballista with no additional counters on it. Before any player gets priority, each creature that does not already have a +1/+1 counter on it (or another ability giving it more than 0 toughness) will die. If I played it in the right game state, I probably just killed every creature my opponents control!

Now let’s talk about status. The rules state that copy effects don’t copy the status of a card, but what does this mean? There are 4 statuses in Magic, each with two possible values: tapped/untapped, flipped/unflipped, face up/face down, and phased in/phased out. We can ignore phasing for the purposes of Mirrorweave, because a permanent which is phased out can not be targeted or affected by Mirrorweave. Tapped/untapped is easy to understand; every creature simply stays tapped or untapped as they were before the copy effect applied. That leaves us with flipped/unflipped and face up/face down.

Let’s say my opponent controls a Nezumi Shortfang who has flipped into Stabwhisker the Odious and a Nezumi Graverobber who has flipped into Nighteyes the Desecrator. I control a Bushi Tenderfoot who is currently unflipped, and I resolve a Mirrorweave targeting it. Both my opponents’ creatures become a copy of the card Bushi Tenderfoot, but since those cards already have the “flipped” status, those cards are both named Kenzo the Hardhearted and my opponent must choose one of them to go to the graveyard because of the legend rule. Neat!

Now let’s move on to the weirdest of the statuses: face up/face down. The rules surrounding Morph and Manifest are fairly strange, and I don’t want to cover them in full detail here, but I will cover what happens with face-down creatures when copy effects are applied. First, if a face-down Morph or Manifest creature is targeted with Mirrorweave, each other creature becomes a colorless 2/2 creature with no other attributes. The reason this happens is more complex than it seems, and I will cover that in a later article (stay tuned!), but the end result is simple. The real weirdness occurs when a different creature is targeted with Mirrorweave while a face down creature is on the battlefield.

Let’s say I have a Brine Elemental that is face down on the battlefield, and my opponent has a Colossal Dreadmaw. If I cast Mirrorweave targeting the Dreadmaw, my Brine Elemental will become a copy of Colossal Dreadmaw… which is still face down. Because it is face down, it is a 2/2 colorless creature with no other attributes. Furthermore, I can no longer pay the Morph cost to turn it face up, because it is no longer a Brine Elemental! That’s a pretty bad move. However, there is the potential to get weirder. If I have a Manifested card that is not a creature, and I resolve Mirrorweave targeting a Proteus Machine, I can pay the 0 mana Morph cost of Proteus Machine to turn that permanent face up! It will be a copy of Proteus Machine until end of turn, but once the effect from Mirrorweave ends the card will return to being the printed card, now face up.

“Now wait a moment,” I hear you saying. “Does that mean I can manifest an instant or sorcery, turn it face up, and have a non-permanent card on the battlefield?”

No!

“But by all the rules you have explored so far that seems like it should work!”

You’re correct!

“But look at this rule from the comprehensive rules!”

110.4c If a permanent somehow loses all its permanent types, it remains on the battlefield. It’s still a permanent.

That’s a super fun and interesting rule! However, the rules manager at Wizards decided to end all those shenanigans before they began: have a look at rule 701.33f.

701.33f If a manifested permanent that’s represented by an instant or sorcery card would turn face up, its controller reveals it and leaves it face down. Abilities that trigger whenever a permanent is turned face up won’t trigger.

Sigh

I suppose it had to be done for the good of innocent Magic Judges everywhere. Anyhow, that wraps it up for this article! Come back next time when I explain what the heck Layers are in Magic and how they apply to Mirrorweave!

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