Cranial Insertion: It's the End of the Worlds As We Know It



Cranial Insertion
It's the end of Worlds as we know it
(And I feel fine)

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese


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We put "Worlds" in "Worldslayer"
Greetings! It's Monday, so it's time for another Cranial Insertion. The Magic: the Gathering World Championship 2011 is in the books, and you've probably heard that this was the last big Worlds and that starting in 2012 Worlds will become an exclusive 16-person tournament to determine the best of the best of the best. While I'm sad to see my odds of ever being on staff at Worlds drop several orders of magnitude from "maybe" to "not a chance," I'm already looking forward to watching that spectacular clash of the titans from the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Magic is still being played at all levels from the kitchen table to the Pro Tour, and fortunately it's still the deliciously complex game we all love, so the future looks as bright as ever for a continuing stream of rules questions for us to answer. Send in your questions by email to [email][email protected][/email] or by Twitter to @CranialTweet. We'll always answer directly, and your question might be chosen to appear in a future issue.




Q: I flash in Snapcaster Mage in my opponent's end step to give my Smite the Monstrous flashback so I can cast it in my turn after untapping. My opponent says that I can't cast Smite the Monstrous on my turn. Is he right?

A: I'm afraid so. Snapcaster Mage gives Smite the Monstrous flashback until the end of the current turn. Since such effects end in the cleanup step, which always comes after the end of turn step, you can never sneak an "until end of turn" effect into the next turn by starting it in the end step. By the time you have the necessary mana to cast Smite the Monstrous, it won't have flashback anymore. Oops!




Q: If I exile Batterskull with Karn Liberated and restart the game, can the Batterskull Germ attack right away?

A: Nope. While Batterskull is already on the battlefield before the first turn begins, its enter-the-battlefield ability has to go on the stack and resolve in order to make the Germ. The ability goes on the stack in the upkeep step of the first turn, because that's the first time a player would get priority in the restarted game. Since you didn't control the Germ when the turn began, you can't attack with it yet.




Q: If I control Curse of Stalked Prey and my Mirran Crusader deals combat damage to my opponent, does it get two +1/+1 counters?

A: It sure does. Double strike means that there are two combat damage steps and it deals combat damage in both steps. Each time the Crusader deals combat damage to your opponent, the ability triggers and puts a counter on it. Also, the counter that it gets in the first combat damage step is counted when it assigns combat damage in the second combat damage step, so it smacks that much harder!




Q: Can I play with googly-eyed Magic cards in a sanctioned tournament?

A: That depends. The googly eyes add significant thickness to the card which marks the card, so you won't be able to have it in your library. For most cards, not being allowed into your library would be a showstopper, but you could use double-faced cards. Simply use a checklist card in your library and bring out the googly-eyed original when the card is on the battlefield. Note that you should always check with the head judge before using altered cards, but I personally wouldn't have a problem allowing you to play with googly-eyed Werewolves.




Q: If I control Essence of the Wild, will the tokens from Elspeth Tirel still be tokens and get boosted by Intangible Virtue?

A: Certainly! Being a token is a physical property of the object itself, and it's not subject to be overwritten by copy effects. With Essence on the Wild on your side, Elspeth pumps out Essence of the Wild tokens that'll be vigilant 7/7 creatures thanks to Intangible Virtue.




Q: My opponent controls my Runeclaw Bear with Mind Control and I cast Scrambleverse. If Scrambleverse gives control of Mind Control to me and control of the Bear to my opponent, who gets the Bear?

A: You'll end up controlling the Bear. Scrambleverse creates one big control-changing effect that sends a bunch of permanents in different directions. Since Mind Control gives control of the enchanted creature to whoever controls Mind Control, its effect is dependent on effects that change who controls Mind Control, so Scrambleverse's effect has to be applied first, followed by Mind Control's effect. You control Mind Control now, so you control the Bear.

Note that Scrambleverse's control-changing effect is still there, so if Mind Control gets destroyed, your opponent gains control of the Bear.




Q: Let's say I control Demonmail Hauberk and the only creature I control is my opponent's Sun Titan that I stole from him with Act of Treason. Rather than give it back to my opponent at the end of my turn, I'd like to sacrifice it to the Hauberk's equip cost. Can I do that?

A: Sure! Activating an ability consists of several sequential sub-steps, and choosing the target comes before paying the cost. It's perfectly legal to target Sun Titan with the equip ability and then sacrifice it to pay for the ability.





Good game!
Q: So, I enchanted my animated Gideon Jura with Angelic Destiny and I smacked my opponent with it. Can I blink Angelic Destiny with Glimmerpoint Stag's ability to move it to another creature so I don't lose it when Gideon stops being a creature?

A: Sure, that works! When the Stag's ability brings back Angelic Destiny at the end of the turn, you don't have to attach it to Gideon again. You can attach it to any other creature that can legally be enchanted with Angelic Destiny.




Q: Can I blow up my opponent's Mikaeus, the Lunarch with Phantasmal Image or does it die from having zero toughness before the legend rule kicks in?

A: Good news, you can do that! Both dying from zero toughness and the legend rule are state-based actions, and all applicable state-based actions happen at the same time, so your Phantasmal Mikaeus lives just long enough to blow up your opponent's Mikaeus.




Q: What happens if I assign two blockers to block an attacking creature, and one of the blockers is an Invisible Stalker? The attacker would have to declare a damage assignment order, but he can't target the Stalker, so how does that work?

A: It works normally. The process of declaring the damage assignment order is neither a spell nor an ability and it doesn't target anything, so there is no interaction between the hexproof ability and this process.




Q: If I imprint an artifact creature on Semblance Anvil, can I cast Molten-Tail Masticore for free?

A: Nice try, but no. Semblance Anvil doesn't care about how many types the imprinted card and the spell share. If you imprint an artifact creature card on Semblance Anvil, Semblance Anvil reduces any spell that is an artifact and/or creature by exactly 2, so you still have to pay 2 for the Masticore.




Q: I'm playing a game of Two-Headed Giant and I cast Time Warp. Does my teammate get an extra turn too?

A: Yup! Turns are one of the resources that are shared in Two-Headed Giant, so an effect that gives a player an extra turn gives the extra turn to that player's team.




Q: If I get an extra turn with Final Fortune but fail to win the game in that turn, can I avoid losing the game by ending the turn with Sundial of the Infinite?

A: Yup, you can do that. Final Fortune creates a delayed triggered ability that triggers in the end of turn step of the extra turn. If you respond to the trigger with Sundial's ability, the ability gets exiled from the stack and doesn't resolve. If you end the turn before the lose-the-game ability triggers, you fast-forward right past the end of the turn step into a cleanup step, so the ability never triggers. Either way, you're in the clear!




Q: I control Sovereigns of Lost Alara and I attack with a lone animated Inkmoth Nexus. Can I fetch Squirrel Nest with the Sovereigns' ability and attach it to Inkmoth Nexus?

A: Absolutely, that is as legal as it is hilarious. The Sovereigns' ability doesn't require that the Aura have "enchant creature." What matters is whether the Aura could enchant the creature that attacked alone, and Squirrel Nest can certainly enchant an attacking Inkmoth Nexus.





"Can't" beats "can!"
Q: If I cast Enduring Ideal and search for something like Yawgmoth's Agenda, will the fact that Yawgmoth's Agenda's timestamp is more recent allow me to cast spells?

A: Sadly, timestamps don't matter here. One of the golden rules of Magic is that an effect that forbids something from happening always takes precedence over effects or rules that allow that thing to happen. Enduring Ideal creates an effect that forbids you to cast spells, so you can't cast spells regardless of other effects that would try to allow you to cast spells.




Q: If I control Doubling Season and I copy Primordial Hydra with Riku of Two Reflections, how many counters do the copies get?

A: None at all, I'm afraid. Riku copies the creature on the battlefield, and counters aren't copied. The copies have the "enter with X counters" ability, of course, but the copies weren't cast so X is 0. This means that they enter with no counters and Doubling Season has no counters to double.




Q: In a recent game, my opponent played Mycosynth Lattice with Mycosynth Golem. He then played Sphinx Summoner and searched up and played three more Summoners, claiming that he can play them all for free because the Lattice makes them colorless. Does that work?

A: No, that doesn't work. Mycosynth Lattice turns the cards colorless, but it does not turn the colored mana symbols in Sphinx Summoner's mana cost into colorless mana symbols. Mycosynth Lattice allows your opponent to pay that colored cost with any type of mana, but it's still a colored cost, so it can't be reduced away by affinity.




Q: Can Trade Routes return a land from my graveyard to my hand?

A: No, that's not possible. "Target land" means a land on the battlefield. In order to return cards from the graveyard, the ability would have to explicitly say "card" and "graveyard," such as "When Eternal Witness enters the battlefield, you may return target card from your graveyard to your hand."




Q: So, I'm building a Kaalia of the Vast deck and I'm considering putting in Minion Reflector. If Kaalia drops a critter onto the battlefield tapped and attacking, will the copy from Minion Reflector be attacking, too?

A: Nope, sorry. Minion Reflector copies the creature as printed, and being an attacking creature is not a copiable value. Also, all attackers are declared at once, so you won't be able to declare the copy as an attacker since you already passed that point when you attacked with Kaalia.




Q: How does Monkey Cage work if multiple creatures enter the battlefield at the same time? For example, let's say Tooth and Nail puts a Primeval Titan and a Craw Wurm onto the battlefield, do I get six or twelve Monkeys?

A: You get a Moko-approved army of Twelve Monkeys! Each creature triggers Monkey Cage's ability, so the ability resolves twice. You can only sacrifice Monkey Cage once, but in contrast to something like Standstill, making Monkey tokens is not contingent on sacrificing Monkey Cage. When the second ability resolves, you do as much as you can, so you fail to sacrifice the Cage and make six more Monkeys. Ook ook!




That's all the time we have for now. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week when Eli brings us another fresh batch of rules questions and maybe some leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

- Carsten Haese

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