Cranial Insertion: Iron Anniversary



Cranial Insertion
Iron Anniversary
or, yay, even more metal puns!

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese


Cranial Translations
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I like useful gifts.
Here's one that produces red mana.
Welcome to the seventh year of Cranial Insertion! Six years ago, Eli started this little column, and here we are six years later, still going strong. Apart from our writers, much of the credit for this column's continued success is due to you, our loyal readers, who keep us in motion on a never ending stream of Magic rules questions. Please keep it up and send your questions to [email][email protected][/email]. We'll answer your question by email, and it may even be selected to be published in a future issue.

Traditional gifts for a sixth anniversary are made from iron, so our anniversary gift to you is this fine selection of rules questions from the metal plane of Mirrodin. However, before we dive into the questions it is my distinct pleasure to give you an update regarding the charity tournament I organized recently.

As regular readers know by now, I organized a charity tournament to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Cast a Spell on MS. This event happened a little over a week ago, and the results were phenomenal. A grand total of 74 players attended the event, and we raised $1300 for the National MS Society. Apparently, the spell we cast on MS is Unified Will! I'd like to thank all the players for attending, and the sponsors for making this event possible. I'll definitely run this again next year, so keep your eyes peeled for announcements in early 2012.

Now, let's move on to the questions.




Q: At the Mirrodin Besieged prerelease, my opponent equipped his Core Prowler with Mortarpod, sacrificed Core Prowler to shoot a -1/-1 counter at my Goblin Wardriver, and then proliferated the -1/-1 with Core Prowler's leave-the-battlefield ability. Was that a legal play?

A: Nope. Mortarpod's ability goes on the stack first, and paying for it triggers Core Prowler's ability. Core Prowler's ability resolves first, so there is no -1/-1 counter on your Wardriver yet to be proliferated.




Q: I control a Necropede that's equipped with a Piston Sledge, and Necropede is my only creature. Can I sacrifice Necropede to pay for the Sledge's equip ability in order to trigger the Necropede's counter-shooting ability?

A: Yup! To activate the Sledge's ability, you first choose the target and then you pay the cost. You can legally target the Necropede because you still control it at the time you're targeting it. The equip ability will eventually get countered on resolution because you'll have sacrificed its target, but your mission of shooting a -1/-1 counter at an unsuspecting creature has been accomplished anyway.




Q: So, I play a Hedron Crab and a land, and I mill a Vengevine with the Crab's landfall ability. If I then cast a Memnite, does the Vengevine come out of the graveyard?

A: Sure! It doesn't matter where the Vengevine was when you cast your first creature spell of the turn. When you cast a creature spell while Vengevine is in your graveyard, it asks the game whether that was your creature second spell. The game says yes, so the angry weed hops out of your graveyard and smacks your opponent around a bit.




Q: If I cast Blue Sun's Zenith, can I draw the same Blue Sun's Zenith again?

A: No, that's not possible. You follow the instructions on the card in order, so you draw first and then you shuffle the Zenith back into your library. At the time you're drawing cards, the resolving Blue Sun's Zenith is still on the stack.




Q: So, I control a Knowledge Pool, and my opponent casts some random spell. In response to the Pool's trigger, I cast another spell, and then I bounce the Pool with Master Transmuter. What happens to the Pool's triggers now?

A: The Pool's abilities are independent from the Pool, so the abilities still resolve. Your spell gets exiled, and then you get to cast a card that was previously exiled with it. Then your opponent's spell gets exiled and he gets to cast a card from the Pool. The remaining cards will sit uselessly in exile because the Pool that exiled them doesn't exist anymore. When you cast the Pool again, it'll be a new object with no memory of its previous existence.




Q: If I control two Vigors, do they prevent damage that would be dealt to each other?

A: Absolutely. When a card uses its own name, it only refers to itself unless otherwise specified. Each Vigor exempts itself from its own prevention effect, but it's still being sheltered by the other Vigor's prevention effect.

Q: What about my other creatures, do they get double +1/+1 counters if I control two Vigors?

A: Unfortunately not. Each Vigor creates a prevention effect that prevents the damage to your creatures, and you choose one to apply. Once that prevention effect is applied, no more damage is being dealt to your creatures, so the other Vigor's effect has no damage to prevent and turn into +1/+1 counters.





Ooh, pretty!
Q: I know when a tutor spell is cast, I have to counter it before the card is chosen, but what about spells that require a coin flip or die roll, such as Stitch in Time. Can I wait to see the result of the coin flip before deciding whether to counter it?

A: No. The only things you know about a spell when you decide whether to counter it are the things that are announced when the spell is cast. For most spells, that's just what the spell is and what it's targeting. Flipping a coin is part of Stitch in Time's resolution, and Stitch in Time only starts to resolve after you've decided not to counter it.




Q: If I hit Eternal Witness with Genesis Wave, can Eternal Witness return the same Genesis Wave to my hand?

A: Certainly! Eternal Witness enters the battlefield during Genesis Wave's resolution, but the enter-the-battlefield ability has to wait a bit for Genesis Wave to finish resolving before it can go on the stack. By the time the enter-the-battlefield ability goes on the stack, Genesis Wave has just entered the graveyard, so it's a legal target for Eternal Witness' ability.




Q: When do Leylines enter the battlefield if they're in my opening hand? If I somehow get an Opalescence onto the battlefield in turn one, can I swing with my Leylines or do they have summoning sickness?

A: Swing away! Leylines get dumped onto the battlefield before the game begins. This means that you have controlled those Leylines since the beginning of the turn, so they're not suffering from summoning sickness.




Q: I control an Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, and my opponent controls a face-down creature. He turns it face up and reveals an Echo Tracer. Can I respond by making it white and give my creature protection from white?

A: Yes, you can. While turning a face-down permanent face up doesn't use the stack, Echo Tracer's ability is a plain triggered ability that uses the stack, so you can respond to it.




Q: What happens if I control both Humility and Akroma's Memorial?

A: That depends on which one entered the battlefield later. Both effects are applied in the same layer (layer 6, the ability-granting-and-removing layer), and neither effect depends on the other, so the effects are applied in timestamp order. If Humility is more recent, it wins and your creatures are humble 1/1s without abilities. If Akroma's Memorial is more recent, your creatures have all the abilities it gives them. They're still only 1/1, though, so trample might not be very useful.




Q: I cast Head Games on my opponent while I control Leonin Arbiter. What happens?

A: Well, that's a neat way of shuffling your opponent's hand into his library. When Head Games resolves, you do as much as possible, so your opponent puts the cards from his hand on top of his library. Then you're told to search for that many cards to replace them, but you can't, so you don't. Your opponent then puts no cards into his hand, and then he shuffles his library.




Q: My opponent casts Defense of the Heart while I control several creatures. On my next turn, I cast and sacrifice Mindslaver. When I control his turn, can I force him not to find any creatures when Defense of the Heart's ability resolves?

A: Yes, for two reasons! For one, Defense of the Heart's ability specifies "up to two creature cards," so looking for zero cards is perfectly legal. Even if zero weren't a legal choice, the fail-to-find rule would kick in. Despite its contents being clearly visible to you, your opponent's library is still a hidden zone, and he's searching it for cards with a certain characteristic, so he's allowed to fail to find such cards.





Not very pretty, but pretty useful.
Q: If I sacrifice a Myr Propagator token to Bosh, Iron Golem, does it do 3 damage or no damage?

A: It does 3 damage. Tokens usually don't have a mana cost, but that's only because normally nothing gives them a mana cost. A token that's a copy of an object gets all copiable characteristics of that object, including its mana cost, so it has the same converted mana cost as the original.




Q: Can I use Necropotence's ability if I control Platinum Emperion?

A: Nope. While you control Platinum Emperion, you can't pay any amount of life except 0. Since Necropotence's ability requires you to pay 1 life, you can't activate its ability.




Q: If I control Djinn Illuminatus, can I replicate a kicked Burst Lightning? If so, how much do I pay per copy, R or 4R?

A: Yes, you can, and it'll only cost you R per copy to do so. Djinn Illuminatus gives Burst Lightning a replicate cost that's the same as its mana cost, and Burst Lightning's mana cost is always R. When the replicate ability resolves, it makes exact copies of the original, and since the original was kicked, the copies will be kicked as well.




Q: So, we were playing a game of Commander, and one of my opponents used Merieke Ri Berit to steal my commander. If I Lignify Merieke, do I get my commander back?

A: Afraid not. The resolution of Merieke's ability creates a change-of-control effect with a certain duration, and the effect is independent from the ability that created it, so losing the ability won't make the effect end. However, the lignified Merieke doesn't have the ability that allows your opponent to keep her tapped, so she'll untap which triggers the delayed triggered ability that destroys your commander.




Q: I'm running a Sharuum the Hegemon Commander deck, and was wondering how Mycosynth Lattice works with the mana color restriction rules. Would it allow me to use the off-color abilities on Door to Nothingness or Obelisk of Alara?

A: Sure! Mycosynth Lattice is not trying to produce off-color mana. It simply allows you to pretend that the mana you are allowed to produce is the mana you need. Of course, you can't run Door or Obelisk in your Sharuum deck, but you can certainly use their abilities if you steal them from your opponent.




Q: In what could be an ironic twist, how do you choose which questions to answer in any given article?

A: I won't speak for the other writers, but I simply let Moko tell me which questions I should answer. Ook!




And that's it for now. My next issue will be after the regional Nationals Qualifier tournaments that happen in North America on April 16th, so if any of you are going to one of those, I wish you good luck. I'll be at the NCQ/PTQ double-header in Toronto that weekend, which should be a lot of fun!

Please join us again next week for a special April Fools' Day celebration!

- Carsten Haese

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