Cranial Insertion: When Fluffy Bunnies Attack

Cranial Insertion
When Fluffy Bunnies Attack
or, Hoppy New Year!

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

When Title Drops Attack!
Welcome to 2012, that fabled year when the Mayans figured their calendar was long enough and set people into a panic with a logical fallacy. However, it's not the Mayans we should be worried about, no.

It's the attack of random things! But how random?

We were attacked by rules questions. We won because we have a much cooler animal on our side.

So, while we feast on the meat of our slain foes, here are some of the questions from the new year brought to you by Moko, our zombie chimp secretary, from the [email][email protected][/email] inbox and the @CranialTweet twitter feed. Enjoy!

Q: Can't Equipment only be attached to creatures? I thought so, but Grafted Exoskeleton talks about becoming unattached from a permanent.

A: Equipment can only legally be attached to creatures, but it can illegally be attached to just about anything. You can't, for example, make a coffee table wield a sword, but you can take a little bird carrying a sword and sculpt the bird into a coffee table. When that happens, the Equipment is illegally attached, and it rolls off - which will cause Grafted Exoskeleton to trigger if it rolls off, ending your former-creature's existence.

(More realistically within the same set as Grafted Exoskeleton, Glint Hawk Idol becoming a noncreature artifact at the end of turn would make the Exoskeleton trigger.)

Q: I have some old cards that refer to things being "successfully cast." Does that mean they don't go off if my spell's countered?

A: You'll still get the trigger - while old wording is an interesting archeological mission fraught with birds, snakes, and airplanes, the Gatherer's Oracle wording is all that matters. Said modern wording triggers when an opponent "casts" a spell, not "successfully cast," so you'll get your gorillas. Guerrillas. Sorry.

History lesson! Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a different set of rules. In those rules, you didn't respond to a spell with a counterspell. No, counterspells could only be played while an opponent was casting a spell! Spells had a little "interrupt window" in their casting process. If you got through that, the spell was successfully cast, and couldn't be countered except by game rules when it tried to resolve.

Then a giant named Sixth Edition Rules came down, saw that was a rather silly way of doing things, and stepped on it. The end.

Q: So my Hidden Guerrillas got animated - can it still be Naturalized?

A: Only after living in the United States for five years; for other nations, check with your local consulate.

Because Hidden Guerrillas, and its friends, don't say that they become a creature "in addition to its other types" or "It's still an enchantment" (and they don't use the wacky "artifact creature" type rule), when they become creatures, they become only creatures. No longer enchantments, they can't be Naturalized for 1G, but instead require a lengthy legal process.

Q: Can I use Past in Flames to cast lots of spells like Ancestral Vision from my graveyard for free?

A: Nope. Those spells gain a flashback cast equal to their mana cost, which is null. You can't pay null as a flashback cost any more than you can pay it as a mana cost, so they'll sit in your graveyard missing out on the fun.

Q: Will Thorn of Amethyst give Ancestral Vision a mana cost so I can cast it for 1 from my hand?

A: The Thorn doesn't give a mana cost, it adds to the mana cost. Null plus 1 is still some sort of error, or possibly still null, depending on what mathematical system you're using, but it's not just 1; you won't be able to cast your Ancestral Vision.

When Organic Tomatoes Attack!
Q: You answered a question last week about casting Shriekmaw from your graveyard with Karador, Ghost Chieftain - what about evoking it from the graveyard?

A: You can do that, too! You can't mix and match alternate costs or methods of casting, but Karador's not giving an alternate cost nor method; just giving you permission to cast from an unusual zone.

Q: Can I get an enchantment when my token copy of Academy Rector dies?

A: Nope. When it dies, it triggers, and the trigger says "wanna exile me?" But before that trigger even goes on the stack, much less resolves and asks its sultry question, the token ceases to exist. Since you can't exile it, the "if you do" portion of the trigger can't kick in.

Q: Does first strike matter for Prey Upon?

A: Not one bit. Prey Upon isn't combat, nor combat damage, and first strike only modifies how the combat damage steps play out.

Q: My 5/5 Dragon ate a Geistflame, and I let that happen, but then my opponent dropped Geistcatcher's Rig! Can I give my Dragon protection from red with Stave Off to get rid of the 1 damage on it so it'll survive?

A: Protection's damage-prevention aspect is just that: prevention. To reference a famous something-or-other, locking the barn after the horse is already out isn't a sound prevention measure. Although in this case, you're locking the barn after the burning ghost is already inside...

Q: My opponent dropped a Platinum Angel against my Laboratory Maniac self-mill deck. Frown When I try to draw after my library's gone, does this draw the game?

A: Luckily, you'll live! With no cards in your deck... um... so you're probably going to die horribly soon enough. But you'll live for now and not draw the game.

Since Laboratory Maniac replaces the draw with trying to have you win the game, the state-based action of losing for trying to draw from an empty library can't kick in. It doesn't matter that the Maniac wants you to do something impossible instead.

Q: Can I kill The Mimeoplasm by Clone-ing it or not?

A: Only if The is copying a legendary creature. Unlike Sakashima the Impostor, The doesn't keep any of its previous characteristics. It won't be legendary unless it copies something legendary, and its name will be the name of the copied creature, and both of those things will be copied by Clone.

Q: I have a Clone in my yard, and cast Living Death. Can I copy anything with my Clone?

A: Nope. While Living Death is resolving, first all creatures are sacrificed, so the board is creature-free. Then all of the graveyard cards that were exiled come back simultaneously. The only thing that happens in between is Clone asking "Who do I feel like wearing today?" and, when Clone looks out across the desolate battlefield, he sees no one to look like, and thus enters as itself: a 0/0 sad Shapeshifter.

Q: Oh. Frown Well, can I get it back with Reveillark's trigger after Living Death eats Reveillark?

A: That you can! Reveillark triggered when it was sacrificed, but its trigger hasn't gone on the stack yet - not until after Living Death has resolved. But something else happens before the trigger goes on the stack. Your sad 0/0 Clone, with no will to live anymore, falls into the graveyard. Now the trigger goes on the stack, and you pick a target for it, and look, there's a 0/0 Clone in the graveyard that can be brought back!

And now Clone can copy something and be much happier with itself.

Q: I Anoint my 4/4 creature who's blocked by a 2/1 with deathtouch and a 3/3 without. How do we figure which damage is prevented?

A: It's pretty easy: the active player doesn't matter, damage assignment order doesn't matter, all that matters is what you want! All 9 of that combat damage will be dealt simultaneously: 4 among the blockers as you choose, and 5 to your 4/4. With that 5 damage all dealt at once to your creature, as its controller you choose which 3 points to prevent - presumably 2 from the guy with deathtouch and 1 from the other.

When Readers Attack!
(What did that guy do to you?)
Q: Quicksilver Gargantuan entered the battlefield copying my Homura, Human Ascendant, so they both died. Homura comes back flipped, but does Quicksilver Gargantuan?

A: It does! Being flipped has no relevance for cards that aren't flip cards, but non-flip cards can be quite flip indeed. And should your Gargantuan copy a flip creature, it'll be the flipped half instead of the normal half since it is flipped.

Q: I bounced Thawing Glaciers into a hand of seven cards - do I have to discard one? I thought discarding happened first in the cleanup step.

A: You're right, discarding does happen first. But with the Glaciers trigger triggering, you've broken the cardinal rule of the cleanup step: no one should get priority. Since you did, the game repeats the cleanup step until you get through one without anyone getting priority, and in this next cleanup step you'll have to discard a card.

Q: What happens if I give Bladetusk Boar fear, too?

A: You have one difficult-to-block bacon factory. Fear means that creatures can only block it if they are black and/or artifact. Intimidate means that creatures can only block it if they are red and/or artifact. So to satisfy both conditions, your opponent will have to have a creature that is both black and red, or one that is just an artifact.

Q: Nim Deathmantle explodes in response to its trigger - do I get the creature and Equipment back?

A: One out of two ain't bad. Nim Deathmantle's trigger will resolve and do as much as it can; it brings the creature back to life. But then when it tries to attach itself to the creature, it can't find itself! It has exploded into many itty bitty pieces! So it can't attach itself to the creature. It won't bring the Equipment card out of your graveyard to attach to the creature since its ability doesn't tell you to do any zone-changing with the Deathmantle.

Q: Can I put Curiosity on my opponent's pinger so I'll draw when he pings me?

A: You can do that, but you won't like the result. You still control Curiosity, and "an opponent" is relative to Curiosity. You aren't your own opponent, no matter how poorly you're doing, so Curiosity won't trigger.

Q: The only double-faced card I'm running is four Mayor of Avabrucks. Can I just not mark my checklist cards?

A: You do still need to mark them. This is similar to "Snow-Covered basics aren't legal, but they're an obvious stand-in!" - once we start allowing minor exceptions to something easy enough to do correctly, it becomes an ugly slippery slope.

Q: I went out to get food during FNM, and the round ended early, so I was five minutes late when I got back and I got a Game Loss. Is that right?

A: Not really. When rounds end early, tardiness doesn't apply until the round was supposed to have ended. Also, at FNM, the penalty isn't a Game Loss; either you show up in time and play (most likely with a time extension), or you show up really late and lose the match altogether.

Q: I heard that there were new rules about triggers always being optional, but then you said they took that away, and now I'm hearing it's back. What's going on?

A: The version of the Magic Infraction Procedure Guide that allowed players to skip a very specific set of triggers without a "may" was removed two days after being posted so that it could be re-tinkered. The new version hasn't yet been released - the answer on when that will happen is "soon" - but rest assured that triggers that aren't explicitly optional are mandatory.

That's all the delicious animals to eat this week, but come back next week for more education! Unless Carsten finds himself attacked by a Lhurgoyf.

Until next time, may all your enemies be delicious!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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