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dark sphere

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dark sphere

Postby joemuz » 11 Dec 2009, 03:28

hi, i was wondering if there was a rule expert who could help me with this card - dark sphere. the oracle text is:

|T, Sacrifice Dark Sphere: The next time a source of your choice would deal damage to you this turn, it deals half that damage, rounded up, to you instead.

looking on magiccards.info, under rulings, it says:

This is not a prevention effect, so it will work even if the damage can't be prevented.

can someone clarify this for me? will this work for life loss as well? how many different ways are there for life to decrease? i always thought it was damage and loss of life. are there others? i know old cards had text that read "effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life" does dark sphere's ability specifically apply to cards with this text?

i would really appreciate it if someone could clarify (or point me to a site with this info) not just how dark sphere works but the current rules regarding damage, life loss, paying life, and preventing/redirecting damage. i tried reading the comprehensive rules but i didn't really see much discussion about this.

sorry if this is the wrong forum.
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Re: dark sphere

Postby frwololo » 11 Dec 2009, 05:39

I think it doesn't "prevent" the damage, instead it looks like another replacement effect. (Prevention is a replacement effect as well I believe, but it is a more "specialized" one).

So in terms of C++ classes, you would have:
Class Replacement {}
Class Prevention:public Replacement{}
Class DarkSphere:public Replacement{}

And not
Class DarkSphere:public Prevention{}
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Re: dark sphere

Postby Marek14 » 11 Dec 2009, 07:00

There is damage, and there is life loss. You probably want to read section 614-616 of Comprehensive Rules.

Briefly - "prevent" is a word that has a very specific meaning in Magic. This is because there are cards referring to prevention, like Unstable Footing. These cards will only affect things that use the word "prevent" in the current Oracle text.

The old text about "effects that prevent or redirect" is obsolete and is not used anymore. That text was just used to made clear that the card is talking about life loss, not damage.

So - Dark Sphere will stop half damage from any source, including sources whose damage cannot be prevented (like Excruciator). However, it won't stop life loss simply because that's not damage.
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Re: dark sphere

Postby joemuz » 11 Dec 2009, 14:15

thanks for the replies. so to make sure i got this right...

there are 2 ways for your life to decrease:
1.) losing life
2.) taking damage

losing life is same as paying life. essentially anything that says your life is being directly modified, whether it is set at a specific amount, or a specific amount is subtracted or a specific amount must be paid as a cost, effect, etc. this type of decrease in life cannot be "prevented", reversed, redirected, or changed in any way. in other words, no way around it. furthermore, as this is not "damage" dark sphere would have no effect with this type of decrease in life.

damage is always specified in the text and of course, all combat is damage as well. if i understand correctly, damage can be classified into 2 subcategories:

2a.) damage that can be prevented
2b.) damage that cannot be prevented

a card will specify in its text if its damage can not be prevented. if nothing is specified, it can be assumed that the damage can be prevented

dark sphere is simply saying that its effect is not a "prevention" effect so it should not be considered as such. however it IS another replacement effect. so any damage, whether it falls under 2a or 2b, can be affected by dark sphere. dark sphere will take the effect that would do damage and replace it with an effect that will do (in most cases) less damage. specifically, half the original amount rounded up.

so essentially, dark sphere's ability is not a "prevention" effect so any cards with text that says "damage cannot be prevented" has no effect on dark sphere. dark sphere's ability is, for lack of a better term, a damage modification.

so do i understand this correctly? sorry, i'm terribly OCD when it comes to this stuff.
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Re: dark sphere

Postby Marek14 » 11 Dec 2009, 15:20

joemuz wrote:thanks for the replies. so to make sure i got this right...

there are 2 ways for your life to decrease:
1.) losing life
2.) taking damage

losing life is same as paying life. essentially anything that says your life is being directly modified, whether it is set at a specific amount, or a specific amount is subtracted or a specific amount must be paid as a cost, effect, etc. this type of decrease in life cannot be "prevented", reversed, redirected, or changed in any way. in other words, no way around it. furthermore, as this is not "damage" dark sphere would have no effect with this type of decrease in life.
Well, there is only ONE way, really. If you take damage, the effect of damage is that you lose life. Ali from Cairo, for example, modifies this part - you take the full damage (for purposes of things that want to know how much damage was dealt, like lifelink) but you might not lose the full amount of life - or, if you are at 1, you don't lose any life.

Some cards, like Tainted Sigil, ask how much life someone lost during the turn. They count all the life-loss effects AND damage (except in the Ali from Cairo case). Everything is a life loss. Dark Sphere can affect damage BEFORE it would cause life loss.


damage is always specified in the text and of course, all combat is damage as well. if i understand correctly, damage can be classified into 2 subcategories:

2a.) damage that can be prevented
2b.) damage that cannot be prevented

a card will specify in its text if its damage can not be prevented. if nothing is specified, it can be assumed that the damage can be prevented
There is also a possibility that an external source stops the prevention. Everlasting Torment or Unstable Footing is a good example. In specific case of Excruciator, its ability only applies when it's in play, so if it somehow deals damage when not in play (you give it a ping ability and it dies after activation, for example), it's damage is preventable.

I should note that there is also a rare type of effect that can stop damage from being "redirected", i.e. dealt to another recipient. Only Lava Burst and Whippoorwill do that.

dark sphere is simply saying that its effect is not a "prevention" effect so it should not be considered as such. however it IS another replacement effect. so any damage, whether it falls under 2a or 2b, can be affected by dark sphere. dark sphere will take the effect that would do damage and replace it with an effect that will do (in most cases) less damage. specifically, half the original amount rounded up.

so essentially, dark sphere's ability is not a "prevention" effect so any cards with text that says "damage cannot be prevented" has no effect on dark sphere. dark sphere's ability is, for lack of a better term, a damage modification.

so do i understand this correctly? sorry, i'm terribly OCD when it comes to this stuff.
Yes, you understand it correctly. Generally, it's not completely consistent whether an effect that makes something take less damage is a prevention effect or not (compare Benevolent Unicorn to Urza's Armor or Phytohydra to Vigor), so the Oracle text needs to be read carefully in each case.
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Re: dark sphere

Postby joemuz » 11 Dec 2009, 22:34

thanks for your help marek14. you have been very informative.
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