Containment Priest Does Not Stop Tokens… and Other MTG Misconceptions

It was my first tournament and I had just started getting my feet wet in the Legacy format. I was so excited to finally be playing a match with my pet deck: Death and Taxes. This was back in the CB-Top days, and of course my opponent was playing a classic Miracles list. Throughout the first match he swiftly cast all the usual cantrips (brainstorm, ponder), countering spell after spell with his CounterTop lock. In spite of this, the game’s outlook did not look too grim. Things on my side were going according to plan (or at least I thought they were). But then the game took a turn for the worst. I quickly came to realize he played a card I had not anticipated. In one fell swoop he cast a decimating threat that I wholly underestimated. That threat being: Monastery Mentor.  Since it was my first time playing I very quickly drowned in a sea of monk tokens. My Thalia’s were overrun, and my Flickerwisps just could not keep up. I ended up losing that game. But I refused to surrender entirely. I began sifting through my sideboard, almost losing hope of ever finding a card to answer his threats – and that’s when it hit me. For I had a trick up my sleeve.  Ohoho I had a card that would absolutely sweep all his plays. It would turn his Monastery Mentor into a vanilla icecream 2/2 with frosting on top that did absolutely nothing. This card was, Containment Priest

I proceeded to hastily sideboard my deck, disregarding the Priest’s entire rule text. Since I had lost, I knew I would be on the play. So I drew my starting hand, and to my absolute delight my opening seven contained a Priest. But not only a Priest, it also contained a Cavern of Souls! Oh I had the game in the bag! (Or so I thought) I began devising my game plan. I mapped out exactly what I would play; I calculated for all my opponent’s moves; I ran the plays like a stock broker. I knew that the game was going to go so well as long as he didn’t draw board wipes. But all the while I had completely forgotten one incredibly important aspect of playing Magic. Reading your cards.

The time eventually came, my opponent played out his Mentor and then cast an instant spell. I swiftly tapped my lands in quick succession, responding to his Mentor’s trigger. With a smile on my face I boldly played out my Containment Priest. My adversary looked puzzled. He stared at the uncounterable Containment Priest on the stack and then looked back up at me. He smiled faintly as he let it resolve and, to my astonishment, continued to put a token into play. In my sudden shock I asked him why he still put a token on the board. He looked at me, pointing to Containment Priest’s text:

“You know it doesn’t exile tokens, right?”

And then we both started laughing, almost forgetting the match entirely. By this time others had gathered around the table and were also laughing with us. I passed a glance with one of them and he smiled, said it happens to the best of us. Afterwards I looked back down at my lone Containment Priest and sure enough, it read: “Nontoken creature”.

I ended up losing that game quite badly. However it was still an amazing experience. The laughter that we all shared around that table will always be a fond memory.  But that day did teach me something quite important, and that is to always read your cards! Do not ever assume that a card does something unless you absolutely know for sure it does. That goes for your opponent’s cards as well.

Now that brings us into today’s topic. We are going to be discussing some funny and or silly misconceptions that have happened throughout my time playing this game. Let’s face it, we’ve all misread or misunderstood rules before. So here are some of my favorites:

Converted mana cost in X spells is always zero: This is one that a lot of newer players (Including myself when I first started) get wrong. X spells can be quite a nightmare when it comes to rulings. However many people think that an X spell’s CMC is it’s general cost without the X. While in most cases this is true (Chord of Calling being three, Chalice of the Void being zero), an X spell’s CMC is not the same when it is on the stack. An X spell’s CMC becomes the amount of its original cost plus whatever was payed for its X value. So the next time your opponent has a Chalice of the Void out on one, you definitely can still play all the Sudden Demises you want to as long as you never pay zero for the X cost.

Infect deals poison and normal damage: Again this is something that I used to think was true when I first began playing as well. But it turns out all those infect points you’re taking actually won’t effect your normal life total at all. It kinda puts playing Melira in a whole new perspective…

You can play spells whenever you want to: A lot of newer players and even some older players get this wrong. Not that it is a bad thing to get it wrong, because Magic’s rules can be quite confusing sometimes. However players cannot cast spells, especially instants during their opponent’s turn whenever they wish. A player must wait for priority to be passed to them (Essentially they have to respond to something). For example a change in the current phase, or the casting of a spell will typically pass priority to the opposite player. It is not within the game’s normal rules to be able to cast an instant spell while you’re waiting for your opponent to decide between playing his/her next Tarmogoyf or attacking.

Cards with different art are different cards: This is one that has gotten me personally a lot. Just always remember to read your opponent’s cards. I was playing against Tron, and the pilot of the deck had opted to play Tron lands with different arts. So when I quickly glanced over at his board and saw there were three lands with three different arts, I presumptuously assumed that he had Tron online and played the game very differently than I would have.

The end of your opponent’s turn is the best time to fetch: This is a misconception that primarily comes from playing Modern. Due to the high amount of shocklands in Modern, it is generally correct to fetch at the end of your opponent’s turn to avoid bolting yourself. However when you begin getting into other formats such as Commander, Vintage, and Legacy, this is simply not the case. While it can be correct at times to fetch at the EoT, it generally doesn’t matter when you do it in these formats because there isn’t the issue of bolting yourself every time you do.


Those are just a few of the many misconceptions and fumbles that can happen while playing Magic. But what misconceptions have you faced in your ventures with this game? Feel free to leave any questions, comments, or concerns in the section below.

And as always, happy gaming!




Sylvan Studies Team
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