Cranial Insertion: The Title without a Pun



Cranial Insertion
The Title without a Pun
or, Thanks to Our Translators!


By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

Cranial Translations
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New rule: a 2/1 rare for two mana will
automatically be a $30+ card.
So, our translators having endured enough punishment lately, I figured it was time for a title with no pun in it whatsoever. And... well, there it is. Can I make it the entire article without any puns? No, I've already failed. Oh well. :/

The Limited PTQ season is rolling, the Standard 2011s are in the books, and Innistrad is certainly the most question-causing set we've had in a while. Got more questions for us? Email [email][email protected][/email], or tweet us @CranialTweet for an even faster answer.

Here's some of the ones we've seen lately. Learn well!



Q: Can I Geistflame a blocking creature after Abattoir Ghoul has dealt first-strike damage but before it strikes back?

A: You can. There's a persistent rumor that the stack and priority simply don't exist during the combat phase anymore, which is completely absurd. How else would first-strike damage kill anything before regular damage? How could Rebuke even work?

After first-strike damage is dealt both players gain priority, and both must pass without doing anything in order to move on to the regular combat damage step. You can cast something rather than pass, and get that spell's effect before moving on.



Q: Is flashback an activated ability?

A: Nope, it's just a static ability. Unearth, which you've seen more recently, is an activated ability; flashback is a static ability that lets you cast the spell in a situation where you normally couldn't.



Q: If I flash in Snapcaster Mage on my opponent's turn, can I flash back Day of Judgment?

A: Sadly enough, you cannot. Flashback allows you to cast a spell from an unusual zone for an unusual price, but it doesn't change the card's type or give it flash. All normal timing rules for that spell still apply.



Q: After I Snapcaster Mage my Doom Blade, can I get it back with Runic Repetition right away?

A: Once Doom Blade leaves the stack, it becomes a new object with no memory of its previous existence. It will be a brand new Doom Blade, re-forged in the doomy doom doom of doom, and nothing says that this new Doom Blade should have flashback, so it won't. It'll just be a random exiled card that you can't get back with Runic Repetition.



Q: Does Blasphemous Act cost less to cast when Snapcaster Mage gives it flashback?

A: It does! Abilities that say spells cost more or less to cast apply to alternate costs just as well as they apply to the mana cost. This is different from abilities that give a different cost; those conflict with flashback, but "costs more to cast" and "cost less to cast" don't.



Q: After I bring back Snapcaster Mage with Miraculous Recovery, can I give Miraculous Recovery flashback so I can cast it again?

A: This works, too. While Miraculous Recovery is resolving, you carry things out in this order: Put Snapcaster Mage onto the battlefield with a counter, note that Snapcaster has triggered, and put Miraculous Recovery into your graveyard. Immediately after that, when players should get priority, you check for anything that you noted as triggered – hi Snapcaster! Now you put those triggers on the stack and pick targets for them, and lo, Miraculous Recovery is miraculously in your graveyard now. You can target it, and then cast it again to resurrect another creature.



Q: I control three creatures, including Falkenrath Noble, and a Demonmail Hauberk. Luckily, my opponent is at 3! Can I target the Noble with the Hauberk, sacrifice another creature, and then repeat that after the activation resolves? Can I finish up sacrificing the Noble itself to win right now?

A: This machine gun of death works. An equip ability can target a creature that's already carrying that Equipment; it just won't do anything when it resolves. That covers sacrificing your first two creatures, but then the third is where it gets really fun! Remember that targets are always chosen before costs are paid: you can target your Noble, then sacrifice it to pay the equip cost. Now the ability has an illegal target, so it'd be countered when it tries to resolve, but it had a legal target when you declared your target so we don't undo the activation.




Gideon charges into battle.
Garruk just steps down and punches
some poor woodland animal.
Q: If Garruk Relentless uses his ability to "attack" a Phantasmal Image copying a Sun Titan, will Garruk take 6 damage using the Image's last known information?

A: Nope! LKI is a useful thing, but what we have here is an ability whose target is illegal since that target is no longer on the battlefield. Like any such ability with a single target, the ability is just countered and none of it happens. No LKI or anything.



Q: My Garruk, the Veil-Cursed got exiled with Oblivion Ring. When I Naturalize the Ring, do I get a Relentless Garruk or a Veil-Cursed Garruk back?

A: Garruk will return relentless. While in exile, he's sunny-side up; upon re-entering the battlefield, he'll come in sunny-side up by default. There really is no way with any combination of existing cards to get a double-faced card to enter the battlefield with its night face up.



Q: If I use Wings of Velis Vel to make Ludevic's Test Subject a 4/4 flier with all creature types, then cast Moonmist, will it transform into a 13/13 flying trampler?

A: Unfortunately, it'll only be a 4/4 flying trampler... for this turn! Next turn it'll be a 13/13 trampler without flying. Once transformed it's still the same object it was before. That object has Wings applying to it, so it'll still be 4/4 and have flying while that effect applies.



Q: If I have a Precursor Golem on the battlefield and cast Travel Preparations, but choose to target only a single Golem, the Precursor Golem's copy ability will trigger. Will I get to choose multiple targets for the copies, or will they also only target a single Golem?

A: They'll also only target a single Golem. The number of targets you choose to have is copiable, so each copy knows that it only has one target.



Q: How does an Inquisitor's Flail attached to Protean Hydra work?

A: You've got multiple replacement effects. As the controller of the affected object (the one taking damage: Protean Hydra), you choose the order to apply them. If you apply the Hydra's prevention effect first, then the Flail's can't apply anymore since no damage is being dealt. But if you apply the Flail's affect first, then you'll apply the Hydra's after that. It's up to you to decide whether you want to shrink your Hydra that much!



Q: Do the token copies of Myr Propagator have a converted mana cost of 3 for my Birthing Pod?

A: They do! Mana cost is one of many copiable values (including name, since this seems to be coming up a lot lately), and so the token copies will have the same mana cost as the original Myr. Converted mana cost is based on mana cost, so both have a CMC of 3.



Q: Geist of Saint Traft plus Parallel Lives. Is the second token attacking? Do I get to keep it?

A: Yes and no. Parallel Lives doesn't independently make a second token; it changes Geist of Saint Traft's effect to "put two 4/4 white Angel creature tokens with flying onto the battlefield tapped and attacking." The delayed trigger to exile "that token" similarly affects both tokens and exiles them both, so you won't get to keep your extra Angel.



Q: Do Back from the Brink and Rooftop Storm combo into a flood of free Zombie tokens?

A: Rooftop Storm lets you cast Zombies for free, but you're not casting anything with Back from the Brink, so it won't apply here. This is different from things like Bringer of the Blue Dawn which has a cost you can pay instead of its mana cost – note that the Bringer doesn't say you can pay WUBRG while casting it, it lets you pay that any time you're trying to pay its mana cost.




Forbidden alchemy is the art
of turning kittens into gold.
Poor kittens. Frown
Q: I control an Undead Alchemist and my opponent casts Forbidden Alchemy and throws away two creature cards – do I get two Zombies?

A: Even though the four cards will physically be in his hands while he's choosing which to add to his hand of cards, those cards are not in his hand of cards. There's no limbo zone either. So where are those cards? Why, they're still in the library, even though they aren't physically there at the moment! When those three cards hit the yard they went there from the library, which makes your Undead Alchemist happy.



Q: Since Intangible Virtue gives my Hero of Bladehold tokens vigilance, will they enter the battlefield untapped and attacking?

A: They'll still be tapped. They don't tap when they attack, but Hero says they enter tapped, and so they do, even if they won't tap the next time they attack.



Q: What happens if I evoke a creature with Essence of the Wild on the battlefield?

A: It enters the battlefield as a copy of Essence of the Wild, so none of its abilities trigger. Mulldrifer won't draw you any cards, so sad. However, evoke also contains an enters-the-battlefield trigger telling you to sacrifice it if its evoke cost was paid, and this can't trigger either! So you get a big discount on a 6/6 beatstick.



Q: What happens if I unearth a creature with Essence of the Wild on the battlefield?

A: Then it'll enter the battlefield as a copy of Essence of the Wild, so none of its abilities trigger... which probably doesn't matter for unearth. It's the same object put out with unearth, so it'll still gain haste after entering the battlefield, and you'll still have to exile it at the end step. But you get a hasty 6/6 beatstick!



Q: If Gideon Jura makes everyone attack him, including Geist of Saint Traft, does my Angel token have to attack Gideon, too?

A: You can send the Angel at your opponent. Gideon's effect only affects the declaration of attackers. Any creatures put onto the battlefield attacking after the declaration of attackers aren't affected, and can attack your opponent, a different planeswalker, or a different opponent if there are others.



Q: My opponent is trying to kill my Rage Thrower with Dead Weight. Can I sacrifice Silverchase Fox in time to save my Rage Thrower?

A: Your Fox can't trump state-based actions. Before Dead Weight resolves, it's not on the battlefield and so can't be the target of the Fox's ability. After it resolves, before a player gets priority, the game checks state-based actions, sees a 0-toughness creature, and shuttles it off to the graveyard. Then someone gets priority, and it's far, far too late to destroy or exile Dead Weight and save your Rage Thrower.



Q: Can I run Garruk Relentless in a mono-green Commander deck?

A: Nope. Color identity counts both faces of a double-faced card, and it counts color indicators. Even though Garruk Relentless is a green card in every zone and never a black card until he's transformed, Commander color identity rules peek at the other face and get frowny.



That's all for this article, even though I still had a few good questions! Paskoff will be back next week with them, others, and possibly cake.

If you're heading west (or north, south, east, or through other dimensions) for Grand Prix—San Diego the second weekend of November, I'll be there too, for my last big event of 2011.

Until next time, have a happy Halloween season!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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