Cranial Insertion: Magic on the Beach!



Cranial Insertion
Magic on the Beach
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

Cranial Translations
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When are they going to make
waterproof card sleeves?
Teaching new players is always a fun thing, whether you're a judge or just another player looking to show someone what the game is about. These days many people have heard of Magic from the Duels of the Planeswalkers game or other marketing campaigns, but playing with physical cards is alien to a lot of people. Well last weekend I got to teach a new player how to play... at the beach. While I wouldn't recommend this normally as you can get sand in a lot of uncomfortable places (by which I mean in the card sleeves, obviously), my set of Magic 2012 learn-to-play decks was up to the task! Introducing new players to the game is a lot of fun no matter where you do it, especially if everyone looks great in a bikini. Not that I was wearing one....

Hey look, a distraction! Remember to write in your questions to [email][email protected][/email] or tweet them to @CranialTweet!




Q: I've got my opponent's Scion of Darkness under Mind Control, and attack with it. He blocks with a 6/5. Can I take the Scion of Darkness right back, thanks to trample damage?

A: You can. All damage is dealt simultaneously, and immediately after, state-based actions are checked just before triggered abilities go on the stack. Scion of Darkness is put into its owner's graveyard, which is conveniently the same player it just dealt damage to. You'll be able to get the Scion right back without a fragile Aura keeping it under your control.




Q: Shrine of Boundless Growth's ability is a mana ability, therefore when I activate it and sacrifice it any other abilities are activated and put onto the stack only after i get my mana from the shrine. With that said, it is possible for me to pay for something such as Furnace Celebration's triggered ability which triggers upon the shrine getting sacrificed with the shrine's mana.

A: Mana abilities don't use the stack, but ones like Shrine of Boundless Growth are still activated abilities and can cause triggered abilities like Furnace Celebration's to trigger. The mana will be in your pool, so you can use it to pay for Furnace Celebration.




Q: So, say my opponent taps out to cast Lightning Bolt and then Reverberates it to give me lethal. If I then tap out to Reverberate his Reverberate, and then Cancel his Lightning Bolt, would the game end in a draw? It seems like Cancel would resolve and remove the Lightning Bolt from the stack. Then my Reverberate would repeatedly resolve, creating a copy of my opponent's Reverberate with an opportunity to change the targets. Since his Reverberate's target is now invalid, I have to repeatedly target his Reverberate, drawing the game in the process. Is all of this correct?

A: All of it except the game ending in a draw! Let's say your opponent Bolts you, then maintains priority and casts Reverberate. You get priority, then cast Reverberate, targeting his Reverberate, and then Cancel his Bolt. No one else does anything, so Cancel resolves, and Lightning Bolt gets countered. Now your Reverberate resolves, and you change the target to his Reverberate. You can change the target of this new Reverberate, but you don't have to - you can legally change the target to the Reverberate that's currently resolving, or refuse to change the target at all. You can't target something illegal normally, but if the target starts out illegal, you don't need to change it. Since it's totally up to you to continue this loop or not, you can't cause the game to end in a draw by doing it over and over - you'll have to end the loop eventually, or you'll be guilty of stalling.




Q: If my opponent plays a Day of Judgment while he has a Knight Exemplar and two other Knights, what dies? Just the Knight Exemplar?

A: Yup, just that guy. Day of Judgment tries to destroy everything at the same time, and only non-indestructible creatures will end up getting blown up. The other knights are indestructible at the time, so they'll live to fight another day (unless that day is equally judgmental).




Q: If my opponent casts a Char on my creature and I return it to my hand, does he not take the 2 damage because the spell has nothing to target anymore?

A: Char has a nasty drawback, but that only happens if it resolves. Char isn't targeting him, it's only targeting your creature. When that creature's not there anymore, Char is countered upon resolution and none of its effects happen.




Q: If my opponent casts a Lightning Bolt on my Phantasmal Dragon and I counter it, does my Dragon still go in the graveyard because it was targeted?

A: Sadly, just being targeted by a spell is enough to break the illusion. One Phantasmal Dragon becomes the target of a spell or ability, the triggered ability goes on the stack and will resolve and cause it to be sacrificed even if the spell or ability that caused it to trigger is removed from the stack.





The lifeguards only stopped
alcoholic beverages and pets,
not Magic cards.
Q: I attack with a Sun Titan and a Phantasmal Dragon, and have a Divine Favor in my yard. Can I slap the Aura on my Dragon without killing it?

A: Yup! Auras entering the battlefield get to attach themselves to something. This isn't the same as targeting, which only happens when you're casting an Aura spell. If you saw an Aura on an Illusion at the M12 prerelease or launch party, that's the only way it could've gotten there!




Q: If I play a Stonehorn Dignitary and then Clone it in the same turn, how many combat phases does my opponent skip?

A: They won't be attacking for at least two more turns. If an effect causes someone to skip their "next" something multiple times, each of those "next" things waits for the next time it could apply. The first effect makes them skip their first next combat phase, and the second one makes them skip their second "next" combat phase.




Q: I'm playing Commander with a friend, and my commander is Omnath, Locus of Mana. I have Omnath out on the field as well as 15 mana in my pool and a Veldaken Orrery in play. It is my opponent's first main phase, and he casts Day of Judgment, which resolves. I put Omnath back into the command zone. He tries to immediately move to the next phase, which would empty my mana pool, but I want to cast Omnath before he can do this, saving my mana. Am I able to, or can he get to his next phase and empty my mana pool?

A: There's no way he can cheat you out of recasting your commander. A step or phase doesn't end until each player passes priority without taking any actions on an empty stack, so you can't leave the phase until everyone's decided not to do anything. Day of Judgment resolves, and then he (the active player) gets priority. Him passing priority doesn't end the phase though; you'll get priority and be able to recast Omnath before that happens.




Q: If I use Rhys the Redeemed to copy the tokens made by Nacatl War-Pride, do those tokens go away at the end of the turn?

A: Nacatl War-Pride's triggered ability only causes tokens it created to be exiled. The tokens that Rhys makes just look identical to them, but are created by Rhys, not the War-Pride and thus will survive the mass cat-astrophe at the end of the turn.




Q: I have a Telepathy out, and my opponent casts a Vision Skeins. Since I'm seeing everything everyone draws, I want to see what he draws first so I can make sure he's not drawing a Tormod's Crypt in case I want to dredge from my yard. Is there any way I can do this?

A: Assuming he's the active player, yes! When something instructs multiple players to draw at the same time, first the active player draws all his or her cards, and then the rest of the players do so in turn order. So if you're not the active player, you'll get to see everything he draws before deciding what to do with the dredge cards in your yard.




Q: I was at a prerelease and had lethal damage on the board, but my opponent had a Fireball in his hand and enough mana to kill me. He asked "Do you have a Negate in your hand?" and I lied and said "Yes" and he scooped. Did I do anything wrong?

A: That's up to you, morally, but the DCI doesn't have any issue with lying about the contents of your hand or library (to your opponents, at least!), which are hidden zones. If he really wanted to win, he could've just cast the Fireball for lethal and seen if you were really telling the truth!




Q: Does Phytohydra set up a prevention effect for the damage, or does it completely skips damage prevention and modify all damage into +1/+1 counter?

A: Phytohydra works strangely; unlike other cards that prevent damage and do things with the damage prevented, Phytohydra skips all that and just directly turns the damage into +1/+1 counters. So even unpreventable damage will still be "prevented".




Q: There are five Dragons on the battlefield. Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund enters the battlefield and steals them all. Next turn, I cast a Clone. Obviously the "Legend Rule" applies, but do I still get all the dragons?

A: Yup! State-based actions will put both Karrthuses into their owner's graveyards, and then its triggered ability will go on the stack. When it resolves, you'll get control of all the dragons still left on the battlefield after the two legendary ones have finished settling their differences.




Q: I've got a Vengeful Pharaoh in my yard, and my opponent attacks me with a Viscera Seer. I take 1 damage, and then target the Viscera Seer with Vengeful Pharaoh's ability. If he sacrifices the Seer in response, will the Pharaoh still end up on top of my library?

A: Nope! Vengeful Pharaoh does a bunch of things when a creature deals combat damage to you, but all of those things are part of a triggered ability with one target. If its target is removed from the battlefield, for example by being sacrificed, then the triggered ability is countered and none of its effects happen.





Sea Serpent can always attack
on Long Island.
Q: This time the Vengeful Pharaoh on the battlefield, and my opponent's attacking me with a Jor Kadeen[, the Prevailer/CARD] and a Armored Warhorse. I block the legend, and its first strike kills my Pharaoh... but will the Pharaoh be in the graveyard for the regular-striking horsie to trigger it?

A: Yup! There are two combat damage steps here: a first strike combat damage step and then another in which creatures that didn't deal damage in the first combat damage step deal damage. First strike kills your Pharaoh in the first combat damage step, and then after that step ends, there's another combat damage step in which the poor horse invokes the vengeance of your Pharaoh.




Q: Can Master Thief steal a planeswalker forever with Liquimetal Coating?

A: "Forever" is a long time, and a pipe dream for a 2/2 with no evasion! You can turn a planeswalker into an artifact and steal it with Liquimetal Coating, but the Thief stops caring about whether or not the planeswalker is an artifact as soon as it lifts it. Once you lose control of Master Thief, you'll also lose your planeswalker.




Q: Will a Benalish Veteran attacking into two Circle of Flames survive?

A: Sadly, no. Both Benalish Veteran's ability and Circle of Flames's ability triggers on it attacking. They go on the stack in Active Player/Non-Active Player order, meaning that Benalish Veteran's trigger goes on the stack first, followed by both Circle of Flames's. They'll resolve first, hitting the Veteran for 2 damage before it gets pumped.




Q: My opponent blocks my Beast token with his Cudgel Troll, and he goes to regenerate it. I know if I play Turn to Frog on it, it won't remove the regeneration ability from the stack, but if I let the ability resolve and then turn the Troll into a Frog, will that stop it from regenerating?

A: Nope, it'll just be a confused and regenerating frog. The regeneration ability puts a regeneration shield on the creature, and even if it loses the ability that put that shield on there, it's still the same object and will regenerate.




Q: If I control Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Phyrexian Unlife and have -2 life, and Phage the Untouchable hits me, do I still die?

A: Phage has infect, which makes her deal damage in the form of poison counters, and you can't get those! But, not being able to get poison counters isn't the same as not being able to be dealt damage. Phage is still dealing you damage, it just has no visible effect... unless you count "losing the game" as a visible effect.




Eli will be here next week, so come back next Monday!

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