Cranial Insertion: Remember, Remember

Cranial Insertion
Remember, Remember
or, The Seventh of November Is Not Interesting

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

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Happy GP—San Diego!
Oh, and Veteran's Day.
Remember, remember the fifth of November...

Oh wait, that was Saturday. Hrmph. Oh well, today's just a boring Monday.

But not too boring, because I'm here with Moko to enliven your day! Watch me juggle burning rules questions! Watch Moko eat a lion! Watch our stunt coordinator misunderstand "Human Cannonball" resulting in a horrifying misunderstanding that is certainly not OSHA-compliant!

Or, you know, just learn from these interesting rules questions, fresh out of the [email][email protected][/email] inbox, our @CranialTweet Twitter feed, and a couple from our assorted events from Saturday past. If you have your own questions, send 'em in via email or Twitter.

And now, let the show begin!



Q: I control Essence of the Wild and Gutter Grime. When my other creatures die, how big are my tokens going to be?

A: They'll all be 6/6. The characteristic-defining ability that Gutter Grime gives its gelatinous offspring is an intrinsic part of the token; you don't get a token that then gains a separate ability. Becoming a copy of Essence of the Wild overwrites all the abilities naturally on that creature, so nothing tells the token to stop being 6/6.



Q: Why can a spell that is cast using flashback be Spelljacked, but not Vensered (The Shaper Savant, not the Sojourner)?

A: Flashback drags a spell kicking and screaming into exile if it tries to go anywhere from the stack, including to its owner's hand, but only if it's not already going to exile peacefully. Well, perhaps a Spelljacked spell isn't going peacefully, so that phrasing might not be the best... but the spell's going to exile without flashback interfering, so it doesn't do anything, and the spell will be exiled as per whatever other spell or ability that is exiling it instructs.



Q: Predator Dragon devours a creature enchanted with Dragon Shadow. Does the Dragon get a fearsome shadow along with his two +1/+1 counters?

A: Your Dragon will, in defiance of all the laws of physics, not cast a shadow. While the Dragon spell is resolving, it noms upon another creature, and then it enters the battlefield with counters. Meanwhile, Dragon Shadow is floating on the battlefield not attached to anything; once Predator Dragon is done resolving, state-based actions will scrape the Aura off to the graveyard, but by then the Dragon has already entered the battlefield without Dragon Shadow being in the graveyard as is required for it to trigger.



Q: If I control a Treefolk and I Rootgrapple my opponent's Mind Control enchanting my Lorescale Coatl, does my Coatl get a counter when I draw?

A: It'll get a counter. Follow the instructions on Root Grapple in order: First destroy Mind Control, and then sequentially you'll draw a card. In between, though no state-based actions are checked, continuous effects do apply – or cease to apply, as applicable here. Without Mind Control giving your opponent your Coatl, it'll rush back to your side, apologizing profusely for trying to bite you, and it'll be there when you draw the card to get a trigger.




It's a Golem's party,
Who could ask for more?
Q: After Karn Liberated restarts the game, can my creatures he brought along attack right away?

A: They sure can! Those creatures enter the battlefield while Karn's effect is still resolving, before any player starts a turn. Therefore, when you start your first turn, they'll already be on the battlefield under your control. When it comes time to attack, the game asks whether you've controlled those creatures continuously since your most recent turn started – and indeed you have.



Q: If I use Frost Breath on my opponent's "live" Inkmoth Nexus, will it stay tapped the following turn?

A: It will. This has been causing a ton of questions lately – the magical number to remember is 201.5, the rule that says that "those creatures" really means "those objects," whether or not they remain creatures.



Q: My opponent blocks my Wurmcoil Engine with two 3/3 creatures, so I give it +4/+0 and trample with Kessig Wolf Run. He thinks I have to assign 6 damage to the blockers before I assign 4 to him, but I think I just need to assign 1 to each and 8 to him.

A: He had it right, up until M11 came around. That's when the definition of "lethal damage" regarding assigning combat damage was expanded to include, "1 damage from a source with deathtouch." Now, you've got it right: you can assign 1 damage to each of the 3/3 creatures and 8 to him, then all three creatures and perhaps your opponent will die horribly.



Q: I control Bludgeon Brawl and Mycosynth Lattice, can I animate Gideon Jura, equip him with Jace, Memory Adept and have them tag-team my opponent?

A: Are you kidding? That's the best thing about Bludgeon Brawl!

Jace is an artifact now, so he has an equip ability and a power-pumping ability. The "animated things can't be carried around" rule only applies to creatures that are Equipment, not any other card type, so Jace can be used as a blunt instrument.



Q: I control Necropotence and I drew Island Sanctuary. Would it be a combo or nonbo if I dropped my Sanctuary?

A: It would be quite a nonbo. Sanctuary only lets you skip a draw in your draw step to stop creatures from attacking; but Necropotence skips your draw step entirely, so there are no draws in your draw step for Sanctuary to skip.



Q: Unbreathing Horde gets blocked by multiple creatures. How many counters does it lose?

A: Just one. All combat damage is dealt simultaneously, so its prevention effect kicks in once. If it were written "If a source would deal damage to Unbreathing Horde," then you'd have a different answer; if you're looking to apply this answer to other cards, double-check the wording of those cards!



Q: My opponent sacrifices Qasali Pridemage to destroy my Mimic Vat. Can I Vat up the Pridemage and make a copy to blow something else up before my Vat explodes?

A: Surprisingly enough, that works! Your opponent puts the Pridgemage activation on the stack, and then sacrifices it to pay the cost. Mimic Vat triggers, and this will be put on the stack on top of the activation. It resolves first, and dunks the kitty into a big tub of goo. But now before the Pridemage ability resolves, both players get priority and may take actions such as making a Pridgemage token and then sacrificing it to blow something else up.



Q: How are the top 8 paired up after a cut?

A: That depends on the format of the event.

If you're playing in a Limited event (usually a Sealed GPT or PTQ), then the top eight is randomized into a drafting circle, and then each player plays the player across the table (that is, four seats away, just in case you're on a rectangular table...). This makes it so first and second place can't figure that they're sitting next to each other and make plans.

For a Constructed event, though, the top 8 pairings are done based on the Swiss standings: 1 plays 8, 2 plays 7, 3 plays 6, and 4 plays 5. The winner between 1 and 8 plays the winner between 4 and 5.




Behold, the patron god of proxies!
Q: How do proxies work in a sanctioned tournament?

A: They don't. The use of proxies is very strictly forbidden with exactly two exceptions; judges do not have the right to deviate from these exceptions, where judges often have plenty of ground to deviate.

1) The Head Judge may create a proxy if player opens a card in a Limited tournament (Sealed, Draft) which is marked.

2) The Head Judge may create a proxy if a player's card is not marked as the tournament begins, but it becomes marked during the course of the event.

Players may never make their own proxies, and the HJ can't make a proxy to protect a valuable card from becoming damaged. Since it's edging into this discussion, I should also note: the ISD checklist cards are not proxies, and are explicitly defined as not being proxies in the official documents.



Q: I got paired up with a judge in a tournament! Aren't judges not allowed to play?

A: A judge who is judging a specific event can't play in that event unless it's a Regular REL event (FNM, Game Day, Prerelease, Launch Party, random sanctioned events without a fancy name). However, judges are never forbidden from playing in any event due to their judge level – Scott, Toby, and Riccardo (the L5s) could, in theory, all end up playing in Worlds, leaving no one to run it. And at least one of them actually plays in FNMs on a regular basis!

Judges may be not allowed to play for other reasons, such as other arrangements with Wizards of the Coast or the organizer very desperately needing them (thus the L5s will never all play in Worlds), but those are different situations than just being a judge.



Q: In a Sealed Deck tournament, do I still have to remove one card to add one card from my sideboard?

A: Nope! Unlike Constructed, where sideboarding must be done on a one-for-one basis, your Limited sideboarding can remove any number of cards and add any number of cards, so long as your deck ends up at 40+ cards when you're done.



Q: When shuffling at a tournament, I pile-shuffled with seven piles to break everything up, but my opponent said I had to riffle shuffle. Do I?

A: You don't necessarily need to riffle shuffle, but you need to actually shuffle in some fashion. You can pile shuffle, but pile shuffling doesn't count as shuffling since it isn't random at all, so you must also do something that actually randomizes the deck.



Q: We're on turn five after time has been called, and I'd win on my next turn, but I won't get a next turn. If we draw, neither of us can make top eight; if I concede, my opponent can. Is it okay for me to just concede now to put him in?

A: Sure! Players can concede at any time, for any reason, as long as that reason isn't "I'll concede if you promise me a cut of your prize" or some such.

Similarly, players may agree to intentionally draw a game or match at any time, for any reason, as long as that reason isn't, "I'll draw if we split prize." So you definitely want to ask the judge ahead of time to make sure he agrees this is okay: you may agree, "let's split prize regardless of the outcome." "Okay." "We'll get more packs if we draw, want to draw?" "Sure!"

This "prize-split-then-draw" thing gets into weird semantics territory, and a judge who sees this as collusion wouldn't be too far off the mark – it's definitely grey, but acceptable under the current Magic Tournament Rules. (Readers in the future will want to verify that the rules haven't changed before trying this at home.)



Q: Going into the final round, my opponent and I realize we can probably get more packs combined if we play it out than if we intentionally draw. Can we agree to split the prize we get, but then play for a winner?

A: What you agree to do with your prize after it's awarded is entirely up to you - it is exceedingly rare that you'll find an organizer who takes issue with that.

Just keep the last question's answer in mind: when in doubt, run it by whoever is the HJ for the event to make sure that it won't be mistaken for bribery.



Q: Hey, Chaos Orb isn't on the Commander ban list! Can I use your old pillow-token trick in Commander, then?

A: The Commander ban list says what's banned, but the Commander legality list defines which cards are even acceptable in the first place. That list is "Anything legal in Vintage plus new sets as of their Prerelease." Chaos Orb is banned in Vintage, so it's automatically illegal for Commander without needing a special spot on the Commander ban list.



Q: How much poison does it take to kill someone in Commander?

A: It still takes just 10. If Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon is being a meanie-head in your group, you might want to discuss a house ban.



Q: If I control Kresh the Bloodbraided and my opponents have four 2/2 creatures, and I cast Black Sun's Zenith for 2, will Kresh get a bunch of counters, or none?

A: Two... both -1/-1 counters from the Zenith. Kresh uses last known information for the dead critters to decide how many counters to get, and immediately before they died, they had 0 toughness due to those counters (which just may have something to do with them dying...). 0 power worth of creatures died, so Kresh gets no counters.



Q: Can The Mimeoplasm ever win through commander damage, or does it always have to do the full 40?

A: Being a commander is a property of the physical card that represents your commander. It can't be taken away by becoming a copy of something else, and it can't be gained by any other card becoming a copy of your commander. The Mimeoplasm can win quite handily by copying the right combination of creatures to swing for 21 really quickly.



I'm signing off for this week, but if you're heading out for Grand Prix—San Diego as the grand prelude to Worlds, keep an eye out for me; I'll be judging the show, or possibly helping to scorekeep Public Events, or some of both. Moko may even be in attendance Friday night!

Until next time, happy gaming!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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