Cranial Insertion: Pro-Tour-Walk
By Brian Paskoff on August 15th, 2011 · Filed in Cranial Insertion · Comments not available just now
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese
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Fresh off judging US Nationals, I can't think of any place I'd rather take a well-deserved vacation than another big Magic tournament. I've skipped judging big events before, but Pro Tour: Philadelphia will be the first big event that I'm going to and neither playing in nor judging. If you're going to one of the last Pro Tours with public events, feel free to come say hi! Eli Shiffrin will be there too, judging the Pro Tour, but unfortunately Carsten won't be able to go. I guess the combined rules knowledge of all three CI writers in the same place would just be too much for one venue!
If you've never seen a Pro Tour before, Philly is one of your last chances to do so. Pro Tours are planned to change to private events, so you won't be able to spectate on them in real life (outside of internet coverage) for too much longer. Getting to see the best of the best American players fighting for first place was exciting at US Nats, but seeing players from all over the world come together to play is even better.
And if you're not going to PT Philly, there's other ways to get us rules questions than handing us them in person: email CranialInsertion@gmail.com or Tweet @CranialTweet and we'll answer them as soon as possible!
This may be your last
chance to visit a legendary US Pro Tour!
Q: I swing in with a bunch of dudes, including an Phantasmal Dragon. My opponent taps his Arbalest Elite to shoot it out of the sky. On his next turn, he untapped the Arbalest Elite and told me a judge said it'd untap. Shouldn't it stay tapped?
A: No it shouldn't! Once the Arbalest gets the Dragon in its sights, the illusion breaks and the Arbalest never unleashes its heavy bolt. That's the flavorful reason anyway, but you're probably reading this article for the rules. As part of activating Arbalest Elite's ability, the Dragon is chosen as the target. This causes the Dragon's triggered ability to get it sacrificed. The Arbalest's ability tries to resolve, but is countered due to lack of any legal target. None of its effects happen, including the part that makes it not untap during its controller's next untap step.
Q: I stole my opponent's Pentavus with Act of Treason, and swung at him with it. He chump blocked with a 1/1 Soldier token. After damage and before he got his Pentavus back, I paid to remove all the +1/+1 counters from it, and a judge stepped in and told me I could only remove four. Why can't I make five tokens?
A: Because the Pentavus has 1 damage on it, and removing a counter is part of the cost to activate the ability, you can only remove four counters before state-based actions cause the Pentavus to be put into its owner's graveyard. This works out only slightly worse for you, as you get four out of five Pentavites and the Pentavus still winds up in your opponent's yard.
Q: I attacked with Ezuri, Renegade Leader and two Copperhorn Scouts. I tapped a held-back Llanowar Elves, and then tapped it again each time a Copperhorn Scout untapped it, floating and then adding with two Forests. I asked my opponent if he had any blocks, and he pushed a creature forward to block Ezuri. I tried to use Ezuri's "Overrun" ability, but I was quickly told I didn't have the mana anymore. I thought mana emptied between steps, and combat was a step?
A: Combat is actually a phase, and is divided up into steps: Beginning of combat, declare attackers, declare blockers, combat damage, and end of combat. You're floating mana in the declare attackers step, and by asking for blockers, you're telling your opponent that you're passing priority to him. Him declaring a block means he's accepted your shortcut and is extremely happy that mana has emptied from your pool.
Q: What happens when a Phyrexian Ingester consumes another Phyrexian Ingester that's eaten a 5/5?
A: You'll end up with a 6/6. The eaten Phyrexian Ingester might've been quite large on the battlefield, but once it changes zones it's just a 3/3 again with no memory of what it ate for breakfast. The newest Ingester will be a 6/6, because it sees a 3/3 in exile.
Q: My Cryptoplasm copies a Quicksilver Gargantuan which is copying a Chronozoa. When the Cryptoplasm dies and splits into tokens, what exactly are those tokens?
A: Copy effects copy the printed characteristics of other cards, but also take into account other copy effects. The tokens will be 7/7 Chronozoas with Cryptoplasm's ability.
Q: If I'm getting attacked by a Crumbling Colossus and turn it into a Frog with Turn to Frog, will the crumbly frog have to be sacrificed at end of combat?
Crumbly Frogs! Yeah. I just
put that image in your head.
A: Yup! The trigger has gone on the stack, and even if you remove the ability from Crumbling Colossus in response to that ability, it's still on the stack and will resolve. It'll cause the Colossus to crumble at end of combat, even though it's just a lowly Frog. If the now-1/1 creature doesn't get chump-blocked anyway, it's going to get sacrificed.
Q: When I sacrifice my Yavimaya Elder to its own ability, do I search first or draw a card first?
A: The first step to activating an ability is to put it on the stack. This means that the "Draw a card" ability is already on the stack when the land-searching ability triggers, and that triggered ability goes on the stack above it. You'll search first, then draw a card, so you'll get to thin your deck a little bit and hopefully draw some non-land cards, which never happens to me.
Q: Can I use a Gemstone Caverns to Stifle a Chancellor of the Dross's reveal ability?
A: Revealing a Chancellor at the start of the game isn't a triggered ability; you can tell because it doesn't use the words "At", "When", or "Whenever". You can use your Caverns to cast Stifle on the "At the beginning of the first turn's upkeep" ability trigger that results from your opponent showing off his cool bomby creature though!
Q: My friend is playing a Ghave, Guru of Spores Commander deck and has a City of Brass. I'm playing a Cromat deck and have an Exotic Orchard. Can I cast Ponder off the Orchard?
A: Nope. When determining what color mana your Exotic Orchard can produce, it looks at all your opponent's lands, taking replacement effects into account. It sees that his City of Brass can produce white, black, green, and colorless mana, so Exotic Orchard can only produce white, black, or green mana.
Q: Does Progenitus have protection from counters? In other words, will a Black Sun's Zenith put -1/-1 counters on it?
A: "Protection" means four things, handled by the easy-to-remember DEBT acronym: It can't be damaged by anything, enchanted/equipped/fortified by anything, blocked by anything, or targeted by anything. Black Sun's Zenith doesn't do any of these things, and neither do -1/-1 counters, so Progenitus will wilt under the gaze of the Black Sun.
Q: If I control an Electropotence, can I one-shot my opponent with a Blightsteel Colossus?
A: If you've got enough mana (or one of the many ways to cheat the Colossus onto the battlefield plus a little bit of mana), sure! Electropotence isn't dealing the damage, Blightsteel Colossus is. This lets your Blightsteel Colossus deal a lethal dose of poison to your opponent without so much as swinging!
Q: Does receiving a Warning from a judge have any effect on my future matches in the tournament?
A: A Warning by itself is just a record that you've committed some form of infraction. If you get two Warnings for the same Game Rule Violation infraction, the third one you get will be upgraded to a Game Loss. A Tournament Error infraction that gives you a Warning, like Slow Play, Insufficient Shuffling, Failure to Follow Official Announcements (such as failing to leave an area the head judge has announced players should leave), etc. will get more quickly upgraded to a Game Loss on what would be the second Warning. In general though, one Warning is enough for a player to realize they should be more careful in the future, and they rarely get upgraded. In fact, if you get a Warning and you're worried about what it means, you're probably much less likely to do it again!
One infraction that's very unlikely to get upgraded is Failure to Maintain Gamestate, the Warning that you get for missing that your opponent has committed a Game Rule Violation. Both players are responsible for the gamestate, but if players thought they could get this Warning upgraded, they might be reluctant to call a judge! That's not to say you can pile on the Warnings, but it's exceptionally rare to get upgraded to a Game Loss.
Q: I used my Vampire Hexmage to remove the counters from my opponent's Luminarch Ascension, and he mistakenly put the enchantment into his graveyard. Do I have to tell him it doesn't die? Obviously it's better for me if I don't....
A: Well, it's a lot worse for you if you don't! Watching your opponent make an illegal play and not saying anything is a textbook definition of Fraud, and will earn you a disqualification from the tournament without prize. If you see something wrong, it's in your best interest to call a judge!
Q: Does Torpor Orb stop Phyrexian Metamorph from copying something?
A: Nope! Metamorph's copy effect is a replacement effect that modifies how it enters the battlefield. It might prevent the Metamorph from taking full advantage of, say, a Shriekmaw, but it won't stop it from copying things.
Q: With a Mimic Vat and a Sundial of the Infinite, can I make tokens that stick around forever?
A: Yep! Mimic Vat's ability only triggers once, at the beginning of the next end step. Once that ability triggers, it'll never trigger again. Activating the Sundial is a good way to make sure that ability never resolves, and your token's good forever.
Q: With Ill-Gotten Gains, will I get to see what my opponent chooses before I choose what cards to return?
A: If it's his turn, yes. When all players are required to make a choice at the same time, they do so in turn order. If he's casting the Ill-gotten Gains, then it's his turn and he'll choose his cards first. If it's your turn, your opponent gets the advantage of knowing what you're going to return from your graveyard to your hand.
Q: My opponent activates Jace's Archivist and I've got an Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in my hand. After I discard my hand, will I get to shuffle my library before I draw?
A: Ulamog has a triggered ability that triggers on it going to your graveyard. It'll trigger when you discard it, but that's only halfway through Jace's Archivist's ability resolving! That needs to resolve fully for Ulamog's trigger to go on the stack. If you don't have enough cards in your library to draw, Ulamog won't save you.
Q: I'm on the play and have a Serum Powder in my opening hand. I declare that I'm using my Powder, and draw my new seven cards. Does my opponent have a chance to mulligan now, or does the opportunity pass back to me?
Relieves no-land hands, six-land hands,
and unplayable hands. Use only as directed.
If itching occurs, consult your alchemist.
A: You still have the choice to mulligan. You use Serum Powder when you could normally mulligan, so you do so before you decide whether or not to mulligan and your opponent will have to wait for his turn to decide.
Q: I cast Frost Breath on two creatures during my first main phase, then in my second main phase I Mind Control one of them. When my next turn comes around, do I untap it?
A: Nope! Frost Breath says that those creatures don't untap during their controller's next untap step. It doesn't matter who that creature's controller happens to be then, it'll stay tapped when it should normally untap.
Q: At a limited event where we're using decklists, do I need to register that I'm including basic lands in my sideboard if I plan to board them in at any time?
A: You don't need to, and in fact you can request any amount of basic lands you want! As a basic resource for the game and not a card you could ever draft (unless it's a foil one I guess, but you can't expect to be able to request those), you shouldn't be held to the ones you take at the start of the event or ones you happen to open in your sealed pool. Take what you need!
Well that's it for me this week! Eli will be here next Monday, so stop by and see him!
By Brian Paskoff on August 15th, 2011 · Filed in Cranial Insertion · Comments not available just now
About Brian Paskoff
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.