(Metagame Archive) Cerebro XXIII: JLA Rules Update

By Paul Ross

Hi all,

With each new expansion comes a new rules revision. This article will start with a couple of up-to-the-minute rules clarifications, and then I’ll then answer a bunch of your questions about the New Hotness that is Justice League of America!

Even though the impending Pro Circuit will be JLA-free, I encourage all aspiring competitors to familiarize themselves with these updated rules, because they will be in force in LA. Also, if you haven’t done so already, please take the time to read through the PC: LA Primer I posted last time around.

1. Apocalypse

A judge ruled that after Apocalypse targets a face-down resource, if it is turned face up, Apoc’s effect will not KO it as it is a new resource and the effect did not target that resource. This makes no sense. I understand that the KO will not happen if an effect like LexCorp or Clocktower is played and actually replaces the resource, but just flipping it shouldn’t be enough to save it. Is this the correct ruling?

Steven P.

This is a rule that has been through some changes in recent releases. Going forward, a resource will not become a new object if it is flipped up or turned down. In other words, a resource that is flipped or turned is the same object.

If a resource is targeted by Apocalypse’s effect, and that resource is still in play when the effect resolves, that resource will be KO’d regardless of whether or not it has subsequently been flipped or turned.

Note, as you say, that if you replace one of Apoc’s targets, then the replacement resource is a new object and will not be KO’d when Apoc’s effect resolves. Apoc’s effect targets resources, not resource positions.

Note also that a resource that turns face down will “forget” everything that happened while it was previously face up, including any choices it made. It will, however, “remember” whether it was ready or exhausted and retain any counters that were on it.

2. Atlantean Trident

I control Professor Ivo, Anthony Ivo, who has evasion. On turn 3, I recruit another 2-drop and then play Atlantean Trident on Professor Ivo. The Trident reads, “Whenever equipped character stuns a character, put a +1 ATK / +1 DEF counter on equipped character.” If I use the evasion power, will Professor Ivo get a counter?


This innocent-looking question sparked quite a debate recently. At the center of the controversy was a rule that specified that, outside of attack conclusion, an object only stuns a character if it’s the source of a modifier that stuns that character.

In the case of a character with evasion, since it was not a modifier stunning the character (rather, it was the payment of a cost), the character was not actually stunning itself according to the rules. In fact, it was unspecified what was stunning the character with evasion. The stun event was effectively “sourceless.”

Now, we have expanded the rules in two ways. First, if a character becomes stunned to pay a cost, then the card with the power specifying that cost is now the source of that stun event. This means that a character that evades is now the source of its own stun event.

Second, an object or plot twist is now considered to have stunned a character if it’s the source of a modifier or cost that stuns that character. This means that a character that evades is now stunning itself, and as a result, Professor Ivo can happily stab himself with the Trident to gain counters.

3. Lots more JLA questions


We now return to your regularly scheduled program of me answering your rules questions! Here’s a sample of the JLA questions that have passed through my inbox since the Sneak Preview. Please keep them coming to vsrules@gmail.com.

Despero reads, “When Despero comes into play, choose a character an opponent controls. Despero cannot be stunned by the chosen character this turn.” What happens if he is team attacked by the chosen character?

Despero has received errata to bring him into line with Cassie Sandsmark. His new text is:

Willpower 3
When Despero comes into play, choose a character an opponent controls. Despero cannot be stunned by the chosen character this turn. While defending against the chosen character this turn, Despero cannot be stunned by attackers.
Boost 2: When Despero comes into play, he gets +5 ATK / +5 DEF this turn.

After my first day of JLA Sneak Previews, I was unfortunate enough to go up against the 8-drop for Green Lantern, Mogo, The Living Planet. My question is: am I allowed to have both Mogo the location and Mogo the character in play at the same time?

Chad D., USA

If you recruit Mogo (the character), you must put any Mogo locations you control into your KO’d pile, as well as characters.

If you flip Mogo (the location), you must put any Mogo characters you control into your KO’d pile, as well as locations.

However, if you somehow manage to control both by any other means (Relocation, for example), the uniqueness rule won’t apply.

I’ve got a question from a game situation at the Sneak Preview. I am at -3 endurance and my opponent is at 7. It is my attack step, and we each have 8 resources. My side of the board has a ready Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas and an exhausted Wonder Woman, Princess Diana adjacent to each other in the front row, and Ray Palmer ◊ The Atom in the hidden area. My opponent has a Wonder Woman, Avatar of Truth without a cosmic counter, and a Rocket Red #4 that came into play boosted, so its stats are 4 ATK / 11 DEF. It’s ready and adjacent to Wonder Woman in his front row. All characters are teamed up on both sides. If I attack his Wonder Woman I should win, but he has Disband the League face up in his resource row. I attack his Wonder Woman with my Aquaman and he announces that he is going to use Disband the League by returning Wonder Woman to his hand in order to power up his target defender (Wonder Woman). His plan here is to return Wonder Woman to his hand in order to force me to attack his Rocket Red, who will have 19 DEF once I attack it. My question is: Isn’t the returning of Wonder Woman part of the cost to play the effect, and so won’t the effect be illegal because he will have no legal targets/defenders after paying it? Will Wonder Woman return to play because he has no targets? Or was what he did legal and that’s just the way it goes?

Ben P.

It was a legal play. The key here is that targets are chosen before costs are paid when playing effects. I always use Avalon Space Station to remember this rule—you can’t target the card you’re discarding because you choose any targets before you discard.

In the case of Disband the League‘s payment effect, you may target a JLA defender and then return that same defender to your hand to pay the cost. Of course, the effect will be negated on resolution because all its targets are illegal, but the answer to your question is that it was legally played.

Can I use Wheel of Misfortune as a power-up for my unaffiliated character even if I don’t use it to negate a power-up effect?

Dennis C., Philippines

Nope, Wheel of Misfortune targets a power-up effect. You can’t play it unless you target a power-up effect.

Loved the recent column.


I just recently went to my first $10K in Orlando and had a great experience. Now with the new set out, we’ve got a brand new Bizarro World (Ally: Whenever a defender you control becomes powered-up, whenever it stuns an attacker this attack, you may remove that defender and that attacker from the game.) and I’ve got a question regarding it and chaining. What I’m wondering is: Can I use Fifth Dimension in response to the triggered effect of Bizarro World to save my defender? Or can I not because I would have to do it during attack conclusion when I can’t play effects? Thanks!

Kenneth V.

Your plan will work as long as the defender doesn’t become stunned during the attack. In your scenario, Bizarro World‘s modifier triggers when your defender stuns an attacker during attack conclusion. The triggered effect goes on the chain after attack conclusion, and you may respond by removing your non-stunned “former defender” from the game with Fifth Dimension. You may still remove the “former attacker” from the game when the triggered effect resolves.

However, the plan falls apart if the defender also becomes stunned during attack conclusion. In that case, you can’t activate Fifth Dimension after attack conclusion (because it requires a non-stunned target), nor can you activate it before attack conclusion (because then your defender won’t stun the attacker to trigger the Bizarro World). And as you rightly say, you can’t activate Fifth Dimension during attack conclusion because neither player gets priority.

I know a player who has built an ally-based deck using a JLA and Brotherhood team-up to abuse Lost City. During combat, he tried to Magnificent Seven his Mammomax to pump it up +3 ATK/+3 DEF, but then he wanted to trigger Connor Hawke’s ally power (get an additional +1 ATK this attack). We disallowed it, saying the ally power never triggers because of Lost City‘s replacement modifier. Can you verify it for us?

Rob R., New Zealand

Yep, you’re absolutely correct. Lost City’s modifier replaces the power-up event, so Connor’s ally power never triggers.

Wonder Woman, Avatar of Truth‘s cosmic power reads, “At the start of the combat phase, each opponent names a plot twist. Each opponent cannot play plot twists this phase with names different from the name he chose.” On my first look at the card, I realized that at the start of the combat phase, the triggered effect would go on the chain, and until it resolved, my opponent could play plot twists at will (for example Ka-Boom!) and then when WW’s effect resolved, name another plot twist for later use.

Nuno L., Portugal


But then I noticed that the second part of her power (Each opponent cannot play plot twists this phase with names different from the name he chose.) looks similar to a continuous power, and it could prevent my opponent from playing any plot twists before naming the one for WW’s triggered power. Can my opponent play plot twists before he names one or not?

Nuno L., Portugal

Yes, your opponent can play plot twists before naming one. The sentence you quote is not a separate continuous power. It’s just the second part of the same triggered power. You can tell both sentences are part of the same power because there’s no line break between them. In the OCR, a line break is represented by <p>.

When the triggered effect resolves, each opponent names a plot twist, and only then does a modifier start applying that prevents him or her from playing plot twists this phase other than those named. Before that effect resolves, your opponents are free to play any plot twists as normal.

When Wonder Woman, Avatar of Truth‘s effect resolves and your opponent names a plot twist, say Trial by Fire, if Wonder Woman becomes stunned in the middle of the combat phase, is your opponent allowed to play other plot twists? Or is it an effect that lasts even after Wonder Woman is stunned?

Sadath A., USA

It lasts even after Wonder Woman is stunned. In other words, her modifier persists independently of whether or not she does.

I was wondering what would happen in the following situation. On turn 7, both players control 5-, 6-, and 7-cost characters. Player A proposes an attack of his 6-drop (say Captain Atom) on Gorilla Grodd, both players pass, and the attacker exhausts. Player A has no effects to play and passes, at which point Player B chooses to KO his 7-drop with Grodd’s power to gain control of the attacking Captain Atom. What happens to the attack? Will it conclude with Player B controlling both attacker and defender?

David F., Canada

Luckily, the Comprehensive Rules have foreseen such shenanigans and specify that a character loses the attacker (or defender) characteristic if it changes controllers.

So assuming nothing else happens, the attack in your question will conclude with a defender but no attacker, so will do nothing.

I was skimming through the Vs. sites when I saw the preview of the new The Joker, Headline Stealer. (“Each opponent cannot play plot twists from his hand with cost less than the number of cards in his hand”) If my opponent controlled Headline Stealer, would I be able to play Surprise Attack even if I had no other cards in hand?

Ian K., USA

You can’t play Surprise Attack from hand if an opponent controls Headline Stealer. Your hand size must be at least 1 (because you’re holding Surprise Attack), and because 0 is less than 1, you can’t play Surprise Attack (or any other plot twist with cost 0). Note that you can play a plot twist with cost 1 if it is the only card in your hand, because its cost (1) is not less than your hand size (1).

If a character has dual affiliations and loyalty, does that mean he has “double loyalty,” or loyalty only to the first affiliation, or what?

Michael F.


Essentially, loyalty to either or both affiliations. Or, to quote from the rules, the keyword “Loyalty” means, “Recruit this card only if you control a character that shares at least one team affiliation with this card.”

Good luck to everyone in LA!


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