Cranial Insertion: 52 More Weeks of Questions!



Cranial Insertion
52 More Weeks of Questions!
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

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When this ball drops,
duck for cover!
It's another year full of Cranial Insertion! I hope everyone had a good holiday season and enjoyed the quiz article we brought you last week. If you got over 15 right, well... no one responded to Moko's invitation to have them for dinner (which did seem like an oddly worded invitation, to be honest) but you might want to consider taking the Rules Advisor test. Being a Rules Advisor shows that you have considerable rules knowledge, and is the first stepping stone to becoming a certified judge. If you did well on our quiz, you'll probably have little trouble with the Rules Advisor test!

Just like last year, you can email your questions to [email][email protected][/email] or ask us on Twitter @CranialTweet.




Q: How does Necrotic Ooze interact with Skirsdag High Priest?  I've heard that he has the ability with no morbid limitation, that he can't use the ability because he doesn't have the morbid clause and that he has the ability with the morbid restriction.

A: Whenever a creature dies, your Necrotic Ooze will be able to throw a demonic New Year's party.  Skirsdag High Priest doesn't have a triggered ability, but many players think it does because it "turns on" only during a turn in which a creature has died.  A condition for activating an ability isn't the same as a triggered ability, the latter of which always start with "When", "Whenever", or "At".  The Priest's ability is written as "Cost: Effect" like all other activated abilities, and the word "Morbid" at the front of it is just a reminder that a creature dying that turn will let you use the ability.  So your Necrotic Ooze will work the same exact way the High Priest would.




Q: Can I cast a Shriekmaw from my yard if I sacrifice my Karador, Ghost Chieftain to Phyrexian Altar to generate the mana for it?

A: Yeah!  Once you start casting the spell, it's already on the stack, and it won't be removed from the stack if the effect that let you cast it goes away mid-casting.  You'll take the Shriekmaw card from your yard and put it on the stack as a spell, and then when it comes time to activate mana abilities, you can sacrifice Karador to the Altar to generate the mana you need.




Q: How does Necrotic Ooze work with Mirror-Mad Phantasm?  When I start self-milling, does it look for a card named Necrotic Ooze or Mirror-Mad Phantasm?

A: You're looking for another Phantasm, not another Ooze.  When a card says its own name, it really means "this object".  But in this case, it's not really asking for its own name - it says "a card named Mirror-Mad Phantasm", so that's what you're looking for while you're milling yourself.




Q: Intet, the Dreamer is my commander, and I've exiled a bunch of cards with her.  When she dies and I put her back into the command zone, what happens to those cards?

A: They're exiled face-down forever.  You can still look at them, but they're fairly useless.  When Intet comes back, even though she's the same physical card, the game treats her as a new object with no memory of what cards she exiled previously.




Q: Following up with Intet, can those exiled cards be brought back with Research?

A: Unfortunately, no.  Those cards are in the exile zone, which is still part of the game.  Research only lets you grab cards from outside of the game, which in a sanctioned game is really only anything in your sideboard. There are some cards that'll let you get back exiled cards, like Riftsweeper or Mirror of Fate, but they won't work with Intet because those cards remain face-down.




Q: If I control a Pain Magnification and a Megrim and cast Hymn to Tourach on my opponent, will Pain Magnification trigger?

A: Each instance of discarding the card is a separate event, so Megrim will trigger twice.  Each time a Megrim trigger resolves, your opponent will take 2 damage, but even though they're losing a net total of 4 life, they're never taking more than 3 damage in a single event for Pain Magnification to trigger.  If you'd used Blightning instead, then Pain Magnification would trigger once from Blightning's 3 damage, but not from the two discarded cards.




Q: Can I tap a City of Brass or Forbidden Orchard to activate Sundial of the Infinite without taking 1 damage or giving my opponent a Spirit token?

A: Sure!  All you need to do is tap your land for the mana, and then in response to the triggered ability, use that mana to activate the Sundial.  If you activated Sundial and then used the mana ability of the land when you get the chance to activate mana abilities, then the land's triggered ability would go on the stack on top of the Sundial's ability and you'd suffer the drawback of that land.




Q: If I Tooth and Nail out an It that Betrays and a Fleshbag Marauder, will my opponents have to give me the creatures they sacrifice?

A: Yep!  Both creatures are entering the battlefield at the same time, and Fleshbag Marauder's ability triggers.  It won't go on the stack until Tooth and Nail is finished resolving, so you'll control the Eldrazi when everyone sacrifices a creature.





It's always nice to have someone
to kiss on New Year's Eve,
especially if you've got a
lot of black mana.
Q: With Mirror Entity and Mirror-Sigil Sergeant, can I activate Mirror Entity for 8 in response to the Sergeant's triggered ability and get 8/8 copies with all creature types?

A: No, but your other creatures will be 8/8 for the turn.  When an object is copied, it only copies its printed characteristics plus other copy effects.  Even though your Mirror-Sigil Sergeant is large and has all creature types, the ability that makes a token copy doesn't see any of that.




Q: If I find only two cards with Gifts Ungiven, do I just get them both?

A: You'll get them both, but you'll get them in your graveyard.  Your opponent gets to pick two of the cards you chose, and the chosen cards go into your graveyard and the rest go into your hand.  If you only find two (or one for that matter), then your opponent has no choice but to select the two you've found to go into your graveyard.




Q: Can Captured Sunlight cascade into an Avatar of Woe if there are enough creatures in all graveyards to make it cost only BB?

A: No.  Besides copy effects that turn one object into another object with a different converted mana cost and X spells on the stack, the converted mana cost of a card can never change.  Avatar of Woe might cost less, but that's only taken into account when it comes time to pay mana for casting it.  Even then, the Avatar's converted mana cost is still 8.




Q: Can I play Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in my Akroma, Angel of Wrath Commander deck?

A: You can!  Urborg is a land, and like most lands, it is colorless.  Unlike most lands though, it doesn't have a mana ability printed on it.  If the Tomb of Yawgmoth had "Swamp" in its type line, it would be treated as though "T: Add B to your mana pool" was in its text box, and its color identity would be black.  Instead, Yawgmoth's Tomb has a static ability that makes it (and all other lands) Swamps... but that static ability only works while it's on the battlefield, not while constructing your deck.




Q: Do cards work differently now at Regular REL than they do at Competitive or Professional REL events?  Someone was trying to tell me that recently.

A: They're talking about a previously made announcement of the sort that changed the way some missed triggers worked depending on the rules enforcement level of the event.  It was almost immediately retracted.  Your cards will work the same at FNM as they do at the Pro Tour, so no worries there!




Q: Does Melira, Sylvok Outcast combo with Devoted Druid the way I hope it does?

A: Only if you hope it’ll stop Devoted Druid from untapping.  Creatures you control can’t have counters placed on them, so you can’t actually pay the cost to untap Devoted Druid.  He’ll still tap for mana, but only once.




Q: If I use Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas' second ability on Darksteel Relic, will the new artifact creature be indestructible?

A: It will!  When a non-creature permanent turns into a creature, it doesn’t lose any abilities it had.  An indestructible permanent is indestructible no matter what types it has, so it’s going to be really hard to get rid of that previously-useless artifact.




Q: When someone kills my Omnath, Locus of Mana, does that mana I had stored up for turns go away immediately?

A: You’ll have that mana until the end of the current phase or step.  Mana doesn’t “remember” when it was added to your mana pool, it’s just there, and all mana in your mana pool empties out at the end of each step.




Q: I heard that the Guildpact Nephilims are allowed to be used as your commander for the Commander format, but I can’t find where this change was announced... point me in the right direction?

A: I’m afraid I can’t either, since no such change was ever made!  People have talked about using Nephilims as commanders, but they’ve also talked about using Genju of the Realm or Jace Beleren as a commander too.  Whatever “just for fun” rules people have played with, they’re just that; the official rules for the format say only legendary creatures can be used as commanders.




Q: My opponent has a Grim Lavamancer and exactly two cards in his graveyard. I have a Scavenging Ooze in play and I activated the Ooze's ability to exile one card from my opponent's graveyard. If he tries to exile two cards with the Lavamancer in response, what happens if I try to exile the cards again?

A: You can't actually do that as exiling the cards with Grim Lavamancer is a cost to activate the ability, and you can't respond to a cost being paid.





If you eat a Fruitcake Elemental card,
does that count?
Q: At FNM, I lost my sideboard... which unfortunately contained a Garruk Relentless - the checklist card of which is still in my deck.  What should I do? I don't have another one to replace it, and I just won with it last match so it's kind of important.

A: While there’s no penalty for losing your sideboard (since there’s no advantage you can gain from not having one), a checklist card without the real card to go with it isn’t a legal card.  You’ll need to take the checklist card out of your deck before playing, and replace it with a basic land of your choice if your deck is under the legal deck size.




Q: The store I played a PTQ at doesn’t put up standings before the last round.  I thought that was required?

A: Putting up standings before the last round (or even the last two rounds) is usually done as a courtesy at big events, because players like knowing if they can draw into the top 8.  But you do get the occasional TO who doesn’t like to encourage intentional draws, and this is perfectly legal.




Q: If I’m chewing gum, can I regenerate Yule Ooze all the time?

A: Interesting question!  The only precedent we have for food-related questions is the classic Un-block staple, Fat Ass.  The Unhinged FAQ has this to say about Fat Ass, and it seems to apply equally to Yule Ooze:


Is gum food?
You might not believe this, but this question sucked up more R&D time than all the other questions on this list combined. Is gum food? Do you "eat" it? Meaty issues. The debates went on for days. In the end, it became clear that the majority of R&D members don't consider gum food and that an even larger group feel gum isn't eaten. But what ultimately tipped the scales was the card itself. Fat Ass wants you to keep eating to keep him big. Chewing gum is just too easy. So, I make a ruling from on high -- no gum!


Looks like chewing gum isn’t in the Christmas spirit.




That's all for me this week, but we've got lots more for you this year! In fact, this week, January 4th, marks the second anniversary of Carsten's first article here! He came to Cranial Insertion as a L0, and is now working on becoming a L3 judge! That's a huge deal, so say congrats next time you see him!

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