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I have Courser of Kruphix in play, and a scry land (say Temple of Plenty) on top of my library revealed. If I then play the land off my library using the Courser's ability, which of the following happens?

  1. I play the land, then reveal the top card of my library, then scry. Or,
  2. I play the land, then before revealing the new top card of my library, scry.
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

You never get to choose to reveal the top card of your library. As soon as a card becomes the top card of your library (which happens when the previous top card, the land, was removed from your library to be put into play) it is revealed. It's not something you can respond to or choose to take other actions. It's a property of your library that must be maintained at all times.

I would venture to say that option 2 would get you in trouble at a sanctioned event.

There is a case that appears to break that rule. From the comp rules:

If the top card of the player's library changes while a spell is being cast, the new top card won't be revealed and can't be looked at until the spell becomes cast.

So if you're casting a spell, and it says something like "As an additional cost to cast ~, exile the top three cards of your library face down." You may not reveal those three cards before exiling them. The top one would stop being revealed as it goes face down, and the two below it stay face down (to both you and your opponents). For a brief moment, the top card is still face down, because the spell is still in the act of being cast - once the spell is actually cast (i.e. placed on the stack) the top card of your deck is revealed.

However, do note that State-Based Actions (SBA) aren't checked/performed while the spell is being cast. SBA checks include "is the top card of my library revealed?" or "do any creatures have 0 toughness?"

Consider a creature with something like "Play with the top card of your library revealed. ~'s power and toughness are equal to the revealed card's mana cost". If you had no card revealed, the creature would die. By not performing state-based actions until the spell completes casting and the next top card revealed, you don't lose your (theoretical) creature even though its toughness temporarily drops to zero.

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Is it possible that maintaining the top of your library being revealed is a state-based action? That would explain why you don't reveal it until you're finished casting the spell. – doppelgreener May 17 '14 at 3:15
@JonathanHobbs The list of state-based actions is explicitly spelled out in the rules. Pretty sure this isn't on it. – Jefromi May 17 '14 at 3:25
The actual reason the card isn't revealed is because it prevents a player from peeking at the next card by starting to cast a spell and forcing it to become illegal to cast (which is trivial to do). – ikegami May 17 '14 at 4:00
Do you make a distinction between "checking states" and "performing state based actions"? Because I don't. Checking a state but performing no action based on that state is the exact same as not checking the state at all. – corsiKa May 17 '14 at 8:15
I don't make a distinction between checking and performing SBAs. But you didn't say "checking SBAs" doesn't happen; you said "check the state" doesn't. SBAs aren't the only thing that check the state! by far! A million things checks the state. If something doesn't check the state, it's changing it. (Otherwise, you're doing something that has no game effect.) I think I've come up with wording with both agree with and fixed the answer. I hope it's all ok with you. – ikegami May 17 '14 at 14:23

You get to see the card long before you Scry. You can even cast instants and activate abilities between when you see the next card and when you Scry.

There is nothing conditional about "play with the top card of your library revealed." When you play with the top card of your library revealed, it is always revealed as far as the game is concerned. If the card isn't facing up, turn it face up before doing anything else (e.g. making choices, checking if abilities trigger, etc).

There is one exception: You don't reveal new cards when casting or activating an ability (to avoid leaking info if the casting or activation needs to be reversed)[CR 401.6]. But that's irrelevant here. Since you're not casting any spells or activating any abilities in the scenario you presented, there is never a moment when it's not revealed.

  1. You play Temple of Plenty:
    1. You move Temple of Plenty of the top of your library the battlefield.
      1. You reveal the next card of your library.
      2. Temple of Plenty's ability triggers.
  2. You placed Temple of Plenty's triggered ability on the stack.
  3. [Players receive priority. They can cast instants and activate abilities here. These will resolve before continuing.]
  4. Temple of Plenty's triggered ability resolves:
    1. Scry 1.

401.6. Some effects tell a player to play with the top card of his or her library revealed, or say that a player may look at the top card of his or her library. If the top card of the player’s library changes while a spell is being cast, the new top card won’t be revealed and can’t be looked at until the spell becomes cast (see rule 601.2h). The same is true with relation to an ability being activated.

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