Cranial Insertion: Mirrodin Pure Evil



Cranial Insertion
Mirrodin Pure Evil
or, Rotten to the Core

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese


Cranial Translations
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Rotten to the Core
Welcome back to Cranial Insertion! The Great Work is compleat. Mirrodin has been corrupted beyond recognition by Phyrexia's glistening oil, and it is now known as New Phyrexia. In much the same way that the Phyrexians have transformed Mirrodin, New Phyrexia promises to transform the Magic metagame. New Phyrexia is already transforming the rules questions we're seeing in our inbox, and the frequent questions about Tezzeret and Inkmoth Nexus are being crowded out by even more frequent questions about Spellskite.

If you have any questions you'd like to have answered, please email them to [email][email protected][/email] or tweet them to @CranialTweet. We'll email or tweet back, and your question might appear in a future issue.




Q: I have a 1/1 that has a +1/+1 counter on it, so it's a 2/2 at the moment. My opponent is trying to kill it with Grim Affliction by putting a -1/-1 counter on it and proliferating the counter. Does that work? I thought the counters cancel each other out so there wouldn't be a -1/-1 counter there to proliferate.

A: Sadly, your opponent's clever trick is perfectly legal. It is true that -1/-1 and +1/+1 counters cancel each other out, but that only happens as a state-based action, and state-based actions aren't checked during the resolution of a spell. During the resolution of Grim Affliction, your dude has both kinds of counter on it, so your opponent can proliferate the -1/-1 and kill your guy.




Q: I control a Leonin Relic-Warder and cast Phyrexian Metamorph. If I copy the Relic-Warder with the Metamorph, can it exile itself with its enter-the-battlefield ability, return it with its leave-the-battlefield ability, and repeat that arbitrarily often to gain silly amounts of life with Soul's Attendant?

A: Yes, that works exactly as you describe. The Phyrexian Relic-Wardermorph is an artifact, so it can exile itself with its enter the battlefield ability. In doing so, it becomes the card that's exiled by the enter-the-battlefield ability, and it leaves the battlefield, which triggers its leave-the-battlefield ability. When that ability resolves, it returns the card that was exiled by the enter-the-battlefield ability, which is a Phyrexian Metamorph. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed!




Q: My opponent is casting Gitaxian Probe by paying 2 life. Can I counter it with Mental Misstep?

A: Certainly. The converted mana cost of a spell is determined only from the mana symbols in the mana cost that's printed in the spell's card frame, regardless of what was actually paid to cast the spell. The converted mana cost of Gitaxian Probe is always 1, so Mental Misstep can counter it.




Q: Does Melira, Sylvok Outcast prevent Etched Monstrosity from entering the battlefield with the -1/-1 counters?

A: Yup! Entering the battlefield with counters counts as having those counters placed on it, which Melira doesn't allow. You do as much as possible, so Etched Monstrosity enters the battlefield without the five -1/-1 counters it usually has. On the downside, you won't be able to draw three cards for WUBRG, but on the upside you're getting a 10/10 beater for 5 mana!




Q: If Viridian Betrayers and an infect creature with first strike are attacking and unblocked, do the Betrayers gain infect by the time they deal their damage?

A: Certainly. As soon as the first striking infecter deals its combat damage, your opponent is poisoned immediately, so Viridian Betrayers immediately gains infect.




Q: Let's say I control Bludgeon Brawl, Liquimetal Coating, and a Germ token that's enchanted with an Eldrazi Conscription. (Don't ask how that happened, it's a long story!) If I turn the Conscription into an artifact with Liquimetal Coating, does the Germ get +8/+0 in addition to the +10/+10?

A: Yes, sir! The Conscription is now a Tribal Artifact Enchantment -- Eldrazi Equipment Aura, and it is attached to the little Germ token. The Germ token is the Conscription's enchanted creature because the Conscription is an Aura, and the Germ token is the Conscription's equipped creature because the Conscription is an Equipment. The Germ gets both benefits, so it's a monstrous 18/10 trampler with annihilator 2. Nasty!





And the winner in the category
"Most in need of additional reminder text" is...
Q: I've heard that Spellskite can grab an Equipment my opponent controls while my opponent is equipping it to one of his creatures. Is that true?

A: Absolutely not! Spellskite can only redirect a target of a spell or ability if it could be legally targeted by that spell or ability. Your Spellskite is not a legal target for the equip ability of your opponent's equipment, so it can't redirect that ability to itself.




Q: I control Precursor Golem and two Golem tokens. If I cast Twitch on one, can I tap one and untap the other two, or do each of the copies of Twitch have the same choices made for them?

A: Twitch doesn't say "Choose one --," so the choice of tapping or untapping is not a modal choice. The choice is made on resolution, not on announcement, which means that you can make a different choice for each copy of Twitch.




Q: I have a Darksteel Axe that is a creature thanks to Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, and I copy it with Phyrexian Metamorph. Is the Phyrexian Metamorph an indestructible creature now?

A: No. With the exception of other copy effects and some other effects that aren't important here, copy effects only copy what's printed on the card. In other words, when you copy an animated Darksteel Axe, it's just like getting another Darksteel Axe from your bag and putting that on the table, so the result is a lifeless Darksteel Axe.




Q: If I animate Veteran's Armaments with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, will the resulting creature get the toughness bonus from Veteran Armorsmith?

A: Yup! It's weird, but true. The card types tribal and creature share the same list of subtypes, which is collectively referred to as creature types. Soldier is a creature type, and a Tezzed-up Veterans Armaments is a Tribal Artifact Creature -- Soldier Equipment. Since it is a creature with the subtype Soldier, it is a Soldier creature and as such it gets some sweet +0/+1 love from Veteran Armorsmith.




Q: If I let Capricious Efreet's ability trigger, target itself and two enchantments, then Mirrorweave everything into a Dryad Arbor, what happens, exactly? Can my Efreet Arbor be destroyed?

A: No, the Efreet Arbor can't be destroyed. Since it's a land now, it's an illegal target for its ability. The ability still has remaining legal targets, so it resolves and does as much as it can to the remaining legal targets, which in this case means destroying one of those at random. That's about as close to targeted enchantment destruction as you'll ever get in red, with just a bit of help by white/blue, and green!




Q: Let's say I control a Sovereigns of Lost Alara. I attack with the Sovereigns and I fetch a Shape of the Wiitigo with its ability. On my next upkeep, do I add a +1/+1 counter on my Sovereigns or remove a +1/+1 counter from them?

A: You'll add a counter! The Shape asks the Sovereigns if they attacked or blocked since your last upkeep. Since the Sovereigns did in fact attack since your last upkeep, they say "Why yes, we did!" The Shape didn't see this happen, but it's a very trusting Aura, so it generously gives the Sovereigns a +1/+1 counter for their efforts!




Q: If I have an Omen Machine out can I still replace my draws with something else like dredge?

A: Nope. Omen Machine does not create a replacement effect that replaces draws. It makes drawing a card an impossible action, so the event "draw a card" never even comes into existence in order to be replaced by dredge.




Q: If I sacrifice my Safehold Elite while Sigil Captain is in play, and Sword of the Meek is in the graveyard, can I get the counters from the Captain and the Sword on the Elite?

A: Yes, that's possible. Unlike Sigil Captain, which has an intervening if-clause that checks for the creature being 1/1 both at the time the ability triggers and again when the ability resolves, Sword of the Meek only checks the creature's power and toughness when the ability triggers. If you stack the triggers just right and let the Captain's ability resolve first, you'll get a not-so-meek Safehold Elite wielding a nifty Sword.





"What have you done to
my beautiful plane?!?"
Q: How does Karn Liberated interact with cards that are brought into the game from outside the game with, for example, Spawnsire of Ulamog?

A: Those cards will simply be shuffled into your library for the restarted game. Anything else would be way too awkward, especially with things like Research or Death Wish where your opponent didn't even get to see which cards you brought into the game.




Q: How does Phyrexian mana interact with Trinisphere?

A: It doesn't, really. Phyrexian mana is not a type of mana. It represents a cost that can be paid with one colored mana or with 2 life. Trinisphere looks at the mana you're actually paying. If you're paying life, you're not paying any mana, so it doesn't count towards the 3 mana that Trinisphere is making you pay. For example, to cast Gitaxian Probe under a Trinisphere, you'll either have to pay 2U or 2 life and 3.




Q: Does the combination of Torpor Orb and Living Plane make Lotus Cobra sad?

A: It sure does! Poor Cobra! Any land enters the battlefield as a creature thanks to Living Plane, which is exactly the kind of event that Torpor Orb silences with its ability. Lotus Cobra's ability wants to trigger, because a land entered the battlefield, but Torpor Orb says it doesn't trigger, so it doesn't trigger.




Q: Can I respond to my opponent's Word of Command?

A: Of course! Word of Command only allows your opponent to control you once it starts to resolve, and it won't resolve until you've had a chance to respond to it. This gives you plenty of time to cast any spell you'd rather not your opponent cast for you, or just to counter Word of Command.




Q: In a Commander game, I cast Rise from the Grave, targeting my dead Massacre Wurm. My opponent was out of bounce spells, but I was fairly certain he had counter spells in hand. Was I obligated to remind him that him being at 2 life and having Hedron Crab in play would be a good reason to counter my Rise from the Grave?

A: You are certainly allowed to help your opponent play the game, and I would encourage you to do so in a friendly game, but you are under no obligation to assist your opponent in playing the game. Greater awareness of the game state and superior tactical planning should give a player an advantage, so if your opponent doesn't foresee the deadly consequences of letting Rise from the Grave resolve, he has nobody to blame for his loss but himself.




Q: Suppose I'm playing Standard FNM, and my opponent just won 2-0. Before he shuffles everything back up into his deck, I see that he put his hand down on the table and there is an M10 card it. No other illegal cards had come up in the previous 2 games we played, but I know this is still incredibly illegal. When I report this to the judge, is the person disqualified, and do I get a win?

A: Players used to get disqualified for playing an illegal deck way back in the day, but nowadays a player is only disqualified if he knew he couldn't play with the deck, which seems unlikely. At FNM, playing with an illegal deck isn't even a Game Loss. The player would simply have to replace any illegal cards with basic lands.




And that's all the time we have for now. Thanks for glistening, and please come back next time when Brian brings us more news from New Phyrexia.

- Carsten Haese

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