Cranial Insertion: Triple-Faced Cards Will Kill Magic!



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Cranial Insertion
Triple-Faced Cards will Kill Magic!
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

Seeing a Pro Tour from the outside as a spectator was quite a thrill! I had a great time, met some wonderful judges, and got to meet a couple of our fans! We got some interesting questions from our fans, though many of these will have to wait until after Innistrad's FAQ comes out. Just as a reminder, we can't answer any questions about Innistrad and its many horrors (and no, nay-sayers, double-faced cards are not one of those horrors!) until after that FAQ is released. Until then, there may be comprehensive rules changes we aren't aware of, and we don't want to give you any misinformation!

Modern seemed like a fun format, and we love it here - a new format means new interactions, and new questions from you! If you've got any questions about any format, please send them to [email][email protected][/email], tweet them to @CranialTweet, or even ask us in person! We'll fit as many as we can into our column here.


There were many copies of
Vesuva questions at PT Philly!




Q: What's the interaction between Vesuva and Blood Moon? Will I still get to copy something? Will it still enter the battlefield tapped?

A: Vesuva has a replacement effect that modifies how it enters the battlefield. This means that it's not on the battlefield when you're choosing something to copy, and Blood Moon hasn't affected it yet! When it does enter the battlefield, if you didn't choose a basic land to copy, you're going to wind up with a Mountain until you can get rid of Blood Moon.




Q: If I play One With Nothing to discard my hand which contains two Basking Rootwallas and a Vengevine, could I get all three into play?

A: Yep! When you discard your hand, madness lets you put the Basking Rootwallas into exile instead of your graveyard, while the Vengevine waves at them as it goes directly to your yard. Then you can cast both Basking Rootwallas, and the second will trigger Vengevine's return ability and it'll bask with its Rootwalla friends on the battlefield.




Q: I've got a Sacred Ground and a land enchanted by a Wind Zendikon. If I block a 2/2 Wolf token with my Zendikon'd land, will the land wind up on the battlefield or in my graveyard?

A: Sadly, it'll go to your yard and then wind up in your hand instead of sticking around the battlefield. Your opponent doesn't control the state-based action that says your creature with lethal damage on it is put into your graveyard; that's a game rule, and no one controls state-based actions. If you really want to keep your Zendikons safe, Terra Eternal is the way to go!




Q: I have a Bridge from Below in my yard, I have one non-token creature in play. My opponent has one non-token creature in play, and he casts Wrath of God. Will I get a 2/2 zombie token creature from my Bridge from Below or will it be exiled before I get my token due to my opponent's creature hitting the yard too?

A: Even though one of Bridge's triggered abilities triggers from something that happens to your opponent, you still control both of its triggered abilities. You can put them on the stack in any order you want. So if you put your token creation onto the stack last, it'll resolve first and you'll get a token before the other triggered ability exiles your Bridge.




Q: A card with flashback gets played from a graveyard, say Dread Return. Can that spell be countered with a regular old Counterspell, or does it have to be "Stifled" (like cards with Unearth do)?

A: Though unearth and flashback appear similar, mechanically they work very differently! Unearth is an activated ability; you can tell this by looking at the rules for it (or the reminder text) which states that it's written as "cost: effect". The colon indicates that it's an activated ability, and you'll need a Stifle or Stifle-like effect to counter it. With flashback, you're actually casting the spell, just from a different zone than usual, so it can be countered.




Q: Can you cast Shock, targeting yourself and then redirect the damage to a Planeswalker you control? I know that you can't redirect damage from a Slagstorm, but what about direct damage spells and abilities?

A: Only non-combat damage from a source an opponent controls can be redirected to your planeswalkers. When it comes to planeswalkers, there's no difference between damage from a source that targets and one that doesn't; any damage has the same planeswalker damage redirection rule applied to it.




Q: So, our group had some questions about Dark Hatchling. Dark Hatchling says "When Dark Hatchling enters the battlefield, destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated." Does this mean that we aren't able to cast Dark Hatchling without a legal target on the battlefield?

A: Dark Hatchling, as a spell, doesn't target anything, so you can cast it even if there won't be a legal target for its ability when it resolves. When Dark Hatchling resolves and enters the battlefield, if there's no legal target for its ability, the ability will just fall off the stack (with a neat little *whoosh* sound if you're playing on Magic Online).




Q: So, I have an Ashling the Pilgrim equipped with a Scythe of the Wretched and I use it's ability three times, Burninating the peasants (In this case, a Thunder Dragon and a Bladewing the Risen) along with herself. Assuming everything dies, how much stuff can I bring back with the Scythe?

A: You can bring back three creatures, including Ashling if you want. All creatures die simultaneously, and Scythe triggers based on the game state right before that event, so it triggers for each creature. Since you control all the triggers, you choose the order the triggers get put onto the stack. Whichever creature comes back last will keep the Scythe.




Q: I ran across an unusual situation that someone else described to me:

"Splintering Wind, Retraced Image, and Splinter. Splintering Wind makes Splinter tokens (surprise surprise), and without a defined name, they're just named "Splinter". Retraced Image puts cards onto the battlefield as long as they have the same name as a card in your hand. You cast Retraced Image on a Splinter token and put Splinter onto the battlefield."

A: While this may have appeared to work a long time ago, these kinds of shenanigans obviously shouldn't be allowed to work. And there's even a rule that says so!

307.4. Sorceries can't enter the battlefield. If a sorcery would enter the battlefield, it remains in its previous zone instead.

If you try to put Splinter onto the battlefield, it just sort of shakes its head and says "No" and stays in your library.




Q: How does combo of Bog Initiate, Ashnod's Altar and Reassembling Skeleton work with cards like Fresh Meat, Caller of the Claw or Bitter Ordeal? If I sacrifice the Skeleton thousand times, do i create thousand tokens / remove his entire library?

A: Each time the Reassembling Skeleton changes zones, it's treated by the game as a new object. Even though it's the same physical card going to your graveyard a thousand times, the game sees a fresh new Skeleton going to your yard and you'll create lots of tokens or mill your opponent for more cards than could reasonably be in his or her deck!




Q: If I control a Pandemonium and cast a Hostility, will I get six 3/1 elemental tokens or just do 6 damage?

A: Just six damage, unfortunately (unless that's what you want!). Pandemonium's ability isn't a spell, and it's not the one dealing damage, just doing the targeting. It's making Hostility deal the damage, and Hostility isn't a spell either while it's on the battlefield.




Q: I have Nin, The Pain Artist in play with Empyrial Plate equipped, with zero cards in hand. If I use Nin's ability on herself with X = an absurdly large amount, will Nin die or live?

A: Nin, deals damage and draws you cards all during the resolution of her ability. Since state-based actions aren't checked until after the ability is done resolving, your hand will be chock full of cards and Nin will have toughness equal to that chock-full-number plus one!





There are no cards banned from playing in
Standard, just played in Standard.
Q: Can I get penalized or banned from a tournament for showing up as a Magic character and acting in character (verbally only with no verbal attacks on my opponents)?

A: At this past GenCon, we had a player show up dressed as Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and he entered a Standard event. While Jace might be banned from Standard, he's not banned from playing in Standard, so the vacationing planeswalker was allowed to play. So long as you aren't doing anything to disrupt the tournament, the important thing is that you're having fun!




Q: My opponent has a Tarmogoyf out and only has a Creature, Sorcery, Artifact, and an Enchantment in the yard. This would make the Goyf a 4/5. Now if I cast a Dismember targeting the Goyf giving it a -5/-5 would it die?

I believe it wouldn't, because by the time SBAs are checked the Dismember is in the yard and being an Instant it would raise the Goyf to a 5/6. Is this a correct assumption?

A: You've got that right! State-based actions aren't checked until immediately before a player would get priority, and that's after Dismember has resolved. At that point, it's in your graveyard, so Goyf is bigger. It's a 0/1, but assuming the graveyard doesn't change between now and then, it'll be a 5/6 when the -5/-5 wears off.




Q: So the other time around, I saw a decklist, nothing special, simply an Oath of Druids deck with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. But it had an interesting twist: it packed 3 copies of Dragon Breath, so that his Emrakul could get haste when the Breath was put into the graveyard through the Oath.

And here is the problem I noticed: the Oath throws Emrakul onto the battlefield, then puts the other cards into the yard. So does this work?

A: This combo does work. Dragon Breath and Emrakul are both hitting the yard and battlefield simultaneously, because there's only one verb to do so in Oath's ability. Then once that's done, you check for anything that should trigger. Emrakul's power is big enough to trigger Dragon Breath, and you get a hasty Eldrazi out of the deal!





Force of Will for free, twice: greedy play,
or greediest play?
Q: So, let's say I control Dralnu, Lich Lord, and have Force of Will in my graveyard. I activate Dralnu to give my Force of Will Flashback. Can I Flashback the Force of Will for its mana-less alternate cost?

A: You'll need to pay full price (3UU) for the Force. Flashback is an alternate cost, and so is Force of Will's alternate cost, and you can only use one alternate cost to cast a spell.




Q: I block a Marisi's Twinclaws with two Goblin Turncoats. Is it possible to save one?

A: It is, by sacrificing one of them in true Goblin fashion. Before the first combat damage step, sacrifice one Goblin Turncoat to the other to regenerate it. When Marisi's Twinclaws deals combat damage, the remaining Goblin will be tapped, removed from combat, and have all damage cleared off it. The removed from combat is the important part here, because it means the Twinclaws won't be able to hit it again on the return swing.




Q: What happens if an opponent plays Fact of Fiction and then you play Plagiarize?

A: Then they're less likely to take any draw spells that they would have wanted to cast this turn, but otherwise this has no real interaction. Plagarize specifically replaces draws, and Fact or Fiction doesn't say the word "draw" anywhere on it. The cards go from the top of their library to their hand, but that's not an instruction to "draw" cards.




Q: When I cast a tutor spell - Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, etc - do I have to name the card I'm looking for immediately or do I get to search my library first for any card that fits the conditions on the tutor?

A: Many players name a card when they're searching, because often times they'll play that card immediately after, or they're telling their opponent that they're getting a key combo piece in order to win. You don't need to name a card though, and in fact you don't even need to pick what you're going to get until the tutor starts resolving and you're searching through your library!




Q: Can I Doom Blade a Gideon Jura when he's a creature?

A: Sure! Gideon doesn't change color, so he's still white. And he becomes a creature, so once that 0 loyalty ability resolves, he's a legal target for anything that wants a creature to target. Doom Blade isn't damage, so there's nothing to prevent, and Gideon will die.




Q: Does a Halfdane targeting Llanowar Elves become 1/1 or 2/2 if the Elves is equipped with Grifter’s Blade?

A: You're probably thinking of copy effects, which indeed only copy the printed characteristics of a card and wouldn't take Grifter's Blade into account. And according to Halfdane's flavor text, he is from Tolaria, the homeplace of many of our most famous copy effect spells and lands. But rather than copying a creature outright, Halfdane just sets his power and toughness to the power and toughness of another creature, so he will be a 2/2.




That's all for this week! Come back next week when we'll get even closer to answering Innistrad questions!

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