How Magic Cards work
Thespian's Stage

Thespian's Stage Russian

Last Modified 29.03.2020

This peculiar Gatecrash card will refresh our knowledge of copy effects.

Thespian’s Stage

Oracle Text:


{T}: Add {C}.

{2}, {T}: Thespian’s Stage becomes a copy of target land and gains this ability

Thespian’s Stage is a nonbasic land. It has no supertypes nor subtypes. Both of its abilities are activated, which is easy to determine by the colon in their texts. Thespian’s Stage’s controller may activate them any time he or she has priority, and it is absolutely irrelevant how long Thespian’s Stage has been under that player’s control.

The first ability is a mana ability. It doesn’t use the stack and resolves immediately. It may also be activated without having priority, but only in case you need to pay a cost with mana, e.g. while a spell is being cast.

The second ability does go onto the stack after being activated. It is targeted. If the target becomes illegal on resolution, the ability is countered and nothing happens.

If the ability resolves safely, it generates a continuous effect without a duration period. It means it will be effective as long as Thespian’s Stage remains on the battlefield, or until the game ends. Note that the effect does not technically end when the ability is activated again. There simply are multiple effects of the same kind that are applied on one layer, so they are applied according to timestamps.

Finally, the most interesting part: the copy effect. As soon as we talk about copy effects, we immediately turn to copiable values. For permanents, they are values printed on the object:

  • name (Thespian’s Stage changes name when copying);
  • mana cost (if there is one, because that is pretty rare for a land);
  • color (if there is one; lands are normally colorless, but exceptions exist);
  • card type (all types the permanent has printed on it will be copied, including Creature and Artifact);
  • subtype (such as Plains or Gate);
  • supertype (the most common supertypes for lands are basic, legendary and snow),
  • rules text (don’t forget that according to the rules, all basic lands have an innate activated mana ability);
  • power, toughness (printed ones!);
  • loyalty (I really doubt this one ever gets topical when copying lands).

If Thespian’s Stage copies a basic Island, we get a basic land with an additional ability. Basic is a supertype, it is a copiable value. Thespian’s Stage in this shape will be an illegal target for Wasteland’s ability.

Dryad Arbor

Dryad Arbor has power and toughness since it is a land creature. Its color indicator defines its color. All these are copiable values, so they are imparted to Thespian’s Stage.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

When copying an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, you get two legendary permanents with the same name. If you control both, you will need to choose one of them, then sacrifice all the rest. If you copy an opponent’s Urborg, each of you will control one.

Besides, copiable values may be changed by:

  • copy effects;
  • ability effects of the “as… enters the battlefield” and “as… is turned face up” type;
  • charateristic-defining ability effects;
  • effects prescribing an object to be put onto the battlefield face down.

Vesuva copying Thespian’s Stage which in its turn is copying another land will enter the battlefield as a copy of that other land, and it will have the additional ability of Thespian’s Stage, since this ability is granted to the land by the copying effect which alters its copiable values.

Zoetic Cavern

You may copy a Zoetic Cavern only when it is face up. Cast as a Morph, it is not a land, so it may not be legally trageted by Thespian’s Stage’s second ability.

Other effects (including effects that change type and text) do not alter copiable values. The permanent’s state and counters are not copied!

Spreading Seas

When you copy a land enchanted with Spreading Seas, you get a copy of that land with the additional ability of Thespian’s stage. The type-changing effect of Spreading Seas does not impact copiable values: this land will not be an Island (unless it was one before it was enchanted).

Fungal Reaches

If you copy a Fungal Reaches with 5 storage counters on it with Thespian’s Stage, you get a Fungal Reaches with no counters. Counters aren’t copied ever!!!

Inkmoth Nexus

Unlike Dryad Arbor, an animated Inkmoth Nexus gets the creature and artifact card types, as well as a power/toughness set as a result of animation, which is a type-changing effect, one that does not change the copiable values. If we copy this one, we get an unanimated Nexus.

Thespian’s Stage becomes a copy of target land when it’s already on the battlefield. Therefore, none of the copied lands’ abilities that trigger when it enters the battlefield will trigger:

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

If you copy a Mountain, your Valakut’s trigger doesn’t go off no matter how many Mountains you control.

Windbrisk Heights

When you copy a Windbrisk Heights, Hideaway doesn’t trigger.

Similarly, static abilities of the “as… enters the battlefield” type do not work; and all choices made for the original land when it entered the battlefield are not copied. For Thespian’s Stage, these values are undefined.

Gemstone Mine

Thespian’s Stage that becomes a copy of Gemstone Mine does not get counters: it didn’t enter the field a Gemstone Mine, it just changed its copiable values while already being on the battlefield.

Cavern of Souls

When copying Cavern of Souls, you get a land with no defined choice. You may activate its second ability, but you won’t be able to spend the mana to cast any creature spell.

Let us consider a few interesting situations that may arise when Thespian Stage’s ability copies a land:

Dark Depths

Thespian’s Stage keeps its second ability and becomes a copy of Dark Depths without ice counters. Since there are no ice counters on it, Dark Depths’ trigger goes off immediately. If both lands are on the battlefield under your control, and you are cunning enough, then as SBA are checked you choose to keep the one that was Thespian’s Stage. As SBA are performed, the original Dark Depths goes to its owner’s graveyard (the “legend rule”). Only then the trigger is put onto the stack. As it resolves, you are supposed to sacrifice Dark Depths, which you gladly do. You get a monster of unbelievable power under your control. Poor opponent!

This cunning combo became possible with the changes to the Legend rule. Previously, both lands would be put into the graveyard, and you would not be able to sacrifice Dark Depths, so you would not be able to get the monster.

Do you have a plan to command the world?

Command Tower

If your Thespian’s Stage copies the opponent’s Command Tower, it will earn mana of the colors of your Commander’s color identity. If it so happened that your Commander has only colorless identity (such as Karn, Silver Golem), the land will not be able to produce any mana. However, it may still become a copy of another land through the ability inherited from Thespian’s Stage.

What if we copy a copy?

Thespian’s Stage
Thespian’s Stage
Garruk Wildspeaker

Thespian’s Stage copies another Thespian’s Stage, which in its turn is a copy of another land. We get a land with two additional abilities, which by and large is redundant, because copy effects are applied at layer 2 in timestamp order and basically “rewrite” each other: the most recent one “wins out” (Thespian’s Stage’s second ability adds the ability after copying though, so those stack up). What this means is, if such a land copies an Island with one ability, then untaps through, say, Garruk Wildspeaker’s first loyalty ability, and copies a Forest with the other ability, in response to one another or not, we don’t get a Tropical Island. We will have a Forest with those two additional abilities.

Let us consider a more complicated situation:

Gemstone Mine
Thespian’s Stage

Thespian’s Stage copies a Vesuva which is a copy of Gemstone Mine: we get a Gemstone Mine with an additional ability, but with no mining counters.

If we have the opposite, Vesuva hitting the field and copying a Thespian’s Stage which is a copy of Gemstone Mine, we get a tapped Gemstone Mine with an additional ability (it becomes a copiable value since it appeared on the copy through a copying effect) and three mining counters regardless of how many counters the original Gemstone Mine had. Vesuva enters the battlefield as a copy of Gemstone Mine, so the “as… enters the battlefield” ability has effect in this case.

Now let us pull Blood Moon out of the binder:

Blood Moon
Thespian’s Stage

If a Blood Moon is out, both Thespian’s Stage and Vesuva lose the abilities generated by their text and gain the new land type - Mountain with a bonus of being able to produce red mana. They keep all their card types (such as creature or artifact). This happens if they are on the battlefield in their original shape, or copy a nonbasic land.

If Thespian’s Stage and Vesuva become copies of a basic land, they do not fall under Blood Moon’s effect! In this case, Thespian’s Stage still has the ability to turn into target land. As soon as you activate it and Thespian’s Stage stops being a basic land, it will immediately fall under Blood Moon’s effect and become a Mountain through it. You do not have any time stretch in which you could operate with Thespian’s Stage in its nonbasic form.

If we go even further, we can make Thespian’s Stage into a nonland creature!

Life and Limb
Thespian’s Stage
token 1/1 green Saproling creature

While Life and Limb is on the battlefield, all Saprolings and all Forests are creatures and lands in addition to their other types.

If Thespian’s Stage copies a Saproling token, we get a 1/1 green Saproling creature, because namely those values are copiable ones. But since it immediately falls under Life and Limb’s effect, it becomes a Land — Forest as well. And don’t forget about the extra ability received from Thespian’s Stage!

Now, if Life and Limb leaves the battlefield, its effect ceases, and we keep the 1/1 green Saproling creature with an activated ability — {2}, {TAP}: “Saproling becomes a copy of target land and gains this ability”. Amusing, isn’t it?

And the last scenario for today:

Thespian’s Stage
Glacial Chasm
Halls of Mist

Thespian’s Stage copies Glacial Chasm, at the beginning of its controller’s upkeep Cumulative upkeep triggers. Even if you have Thespian’s Stage copy another land (some basic land) in response to the trigger, that will not impact the trigger’s existence! When the trigger resolves, you will have to put an age counter on that land (the rules text states it pretty straightforward: “this permanent”), and then decide: to pay or to sacrifice it.

If Thespian’s Stage remains on the field in its new shape, it will keep the age counters. If you use its ability later and copy another land with Cumulative upkeep, such as Halls of Mist, it will count all the age counters during your next upkeep, since the counters of one type are all identical.

  1. If you deal with a land token, its copiable values are determined by the effect that created the token.
  2.  When copying Dryad Arbor, you might find yourself trapped by “summoning sickness”: if you haven’t controlled Thespian’s Stage since the beginning of your most recent turn, you cannot activate any of its abilities that contain a tap symbol in the cost.

Translated by Witas Spasovski