Cranial Insertion: Happy New Myr!



Cranial Insertion
Happy New Myr!
or, Here's to another year of reckless puns

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese





Let's toast to a happy new year!
Welcome to the first Cranial Insertion of 2011! As we look forward to another year of answering your most burning Magic rules questions, let's take a moment to reflect on the year that was. I joined our trio of writers exactly one year ago, and what a fun year it was! We saw lands coming to life, ginormous monsters battling the denizens of Zendikar, and finally the exciting return to the metal world of Mirrodin. Each event was marked by a wave of unique and interesting card interactions and rules questions, and this trend will undoubtedly continue with the releases of Mirrodin Besieged and beyond.

If you haven't made your new year's resolutions yet, here's a suggestion: Send your Magic rules questions to us at [email][email protected][/email]! As before, we'll always answer your questions by email, and your question might even appear in a future issue of Cranial Insertion.




Q: I read in a tournament report that a player won a game by casting Twisted Image on his Precursor Golem. How is that a game-winning move?

A: Well, it's not necessarily a game-winning move by itself, but it's a pretty awesome move. Assuming that the Precursor Golem was not alone and had a couple of Golem buddies with him, this play basically means "draw a ridiculous number of cards." With just one Precursor Golem and his two token buddies, Twisted Image gets copied twice, which means you draw three cards for just one blue mana -- Ancestral Recall says hello! -- and the number of cards gets even bigger if there are more Precursor Golems and/or Golem tokens than that on the battlefield. As long as you avoid decking yourself to death, you'll get to dig potentially very deep into your library to find your win condition and decide the game in your favor.




Q: I control a Liege of the Tangle that has turned one of my lands into a land creature. If my opponent Arrests the land creature, can I still tap it for mana?

A: No. Arrest shuts down all activated abilities, and tapping a land for mana is an activated ability. Arrest doesn't make an exception for mana abilities, so it unfortunately renders your land creature entirely useless.




Q: I control an Oracle of Mul Daya and I've already used my additional land drop for the turn. I Clone the Oracle and sacrifice the original to Phyrexian Vault to draw a card, and the next card is a land. Can I play that land?

A: You sure can! The cloned Oracle of Mul Daya creates a new effect that grants you an additional land drop that you haven't used, so you get to play another land.




Q: If Mimic Vat and a creature are destroyed at the same time, can the Vat's ability still exile the creature?

A: Sure! Mimic Vat's ability is a leave-the-battlefield ability, and permanents that leave the battlefield at the same time see each other doing so. The ability is independent from its source, so it still resolves and exiles the creature card even if the Vat isn't there at that moment.




Q: So, here's the situation: I control a Sorin Markov that's ready to go ultimate and my opponent has a Mindslaver that's ready to be popped. During my turn, I activate my Sorin in order to control my opponent's next turn. If I pop my opponent's Mindslaver during that turn, does that let me control his next turn, too?

A: No. While you're controlling your opponent, you don't control any of his permanents. He is still the controller of his permanents, and all spells and abilities still create the same effects they would normally create. You merely get to be a puppeteer that tells your opponent what to do. When you tell him to activate Mindslaver's ability, it's still his Mindslaver and his ability. The ability resolves and creates a redundant effect that gives him control of his next turn, not you.




Q: Why do people say Mogg Fanatic sucks because of the M10 rules changes?

A: I wouldn't say that Mogg Fanatic sucks, but it is true that the M10 rules have made that little explosive Goblin slightly worse than he was before. Before the M10 change, Mogg Fanatic could block an X/1 attacker, put combat damage on the stack and then blow up in the face of another X/1 in response, thus killing two dudes in an unintuitive two-for-one trade.

Since M10, combat damage doesn't use the stack anymore, so if the Goblin blocks an attacker that would kill him and you let him deal combat damage, he'll die from combat damage before you get the chance to activate his ability. If you want to use the activated ability, you have to use it in the declare blockers step, and then he won't be around to deal and receive combat damage. In other words, you now have to choose between combat damage and the activated ability where previously you could have both.




Q: Does targeting one of the tokens from Wurmcoil Engine with Maelstrom Pulse destroy both tokens?

A: It sure does! When an effect creates a creature token without an explicit name, its name is derived from its given creature type or types. The tokens are therefore named "Wurm" and "Wurm," so the Pulse pulverizes both of them.





Chug! Chug! Chug! Ahhhh!
Q: Will my opponent's Kitchen Finks persist if I kill them with Grasp of Darkness?

A: Certainly. To stop a creature with persist from persisting, it needs to have a -1/-1 counter on it. Grasp of Darkness gives the Finks -4/-4 without using any counters, so it won't interfere with the Finks' persistence.




Q: So, I was reading the Comprehensive Rules, because I'm weird like that, and I stumbled across the rule that describes Time Stop, rule 712. Part of that rule says "All objects not on the battlefield that aren't represented by cards will cease to exist the next time state-based actions are checked." This seems to apply to emblems, so does that mean that Time Stop is a secret weapon against the pesky emblems that Elspeth, Koth, and Venser make?

A: Nice try, but no. While it's true that emblems are objects that aren't on the battlefield and aren't represented by cards, the sentence you quoted is not an instruction to make emblems vanish. It's a slightly inaccurate reminder rule that summarizes stuff that's described elsewhere, namely in the rule that describes state-based actions. Since there is no state-based action that makes emblems vanish, emblems are safe from Time Stop.




Q: I control Thought Reflection, Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar, and Temple Bell. What happens to my draw when I activate Temple Bell's ability?

A: You get to choose the outcome! Both Thought Reflection and Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar create a replacement effect that want to modify the event "you draw a card." Since you're affected by that event, you choose one of those replacement effects, modify the event accordingly, and then you rinse and repeat until no more replacement effects are applicable and the modified event actually happens.

If you apply Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar's effect first, you're no longer drawing a card, so Thought Reflection's effect no longer applies and you perform the modified draw by looking at the top three cards of your library, putting one into your hand and shipping the other two to the bottom of your library.

If you apply Thought Reflection's effect first, you're now drawing two cards, and Azami's Familiar's effect applies to each of them. In that case, you look at the top three cards of your library, put one into your hand, ship the other two to the bottom of your library, and then you do the same thing again to the next three cards of your library.




Q: What happens if I use Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker's ability on a creature of mine and my opponent grabs it in response with Word of Seizing? Changing controllers doesn't cause my creature to become a new object, does it?

A: You're right, your creature is still the same object, so Kiki-Jiki's ability can still find it. Unfortunately, the ability doesn't like what it finds. As the first step of its resolution, it checks whether its target is still legal, and the target for Kiki-Jiki's ability must be a nonlegendary creature you control. The creature you targeted doesn't fit that bill anymore, so the ability is countered on resolution.




Q: If I control Wild Pair and cast a Hada Freeblade, can I grab another Freeblade with Wild Pair's ability?

A: Yup, that works. Both Wild Pair's ability and Hada Freeblade's ability trigger at the same time when Freeblade enters the battlefield. Since you control both abilities, you decide the order in which they resolve. If you let Wild Pair's ability resolve first, Freeblade is still a 0/1 and can be paired up with another Freeblade from your library.




Q: If I control Lich's Tomb and Darien, King of Kjeldor and I'm dealt damage, can I make the Soldier tokens first and then sacrifice them to the Tomb?

A: Absolutely! The damage triggers Darien's ability and the life loss that results from the damage triggers Lich's Tomb's ability at the same time. As before, you decide the order in which they resolve, so letting Darien's ability resolve first ensures that you have just enough Soldiers to toss into Lich's Tomb.




Q: I'm building a Commander deck with Intet, the Dreamer as my commander, and I'm wondering how its ability works with lands. Does the ability allow me to play more than one land per turn?

A: Nope. The ability uses the verb "play," and the game pays close attention to how many lands you play in a turn. You're normally only allowed to play one land per turn, and any land you play using Intet's ability counts toward that limit. To bond with lands more quickly, you either need to raise the limit with effects such as Explore or Oracle of Mul Daya, or use effects that tell you to put lands onto the battlefield such as Harrow or Primeval Titan.





You drank all the booze without me?!?
Rrraaarrrrrgh!!!
Q: I have a Demigod of Revenge in my graveyard and one in my hand, and I cast the one in my hand. If my opponent counters the one I cast, what exactly happens?

A: There are two possible outcomes, but the Demigod from your graveyard comes back no matter what. The ability that brings it back triggered when you cast the second Demigod, and countering the second Demigod doesn't "untrigger" that ability.

Whether the second Demigod also comes back depends on whether your opponent is letting the triggered ability resolve before countering the Demigod. If he responds to the ability, the countered Demigod goes into the graveyard and then the ability promptly brings it back. If he lets the ability resolve first, only the first Demigod comes back and then the countered Demigod goes to the graveyard and stays there for a while.

Which outcome actually happens is a sticky question because the situation involves player communication. The answer depends on a judge's investigation of exactly what was said and done by whom, so it's impossible to make a useful general prediction.




Q: I control a bunch of Slivers and a Ghostflame Sliver to make them all colorless, and then my opponent drops a Painter's Servant, naming black. Who wins, the Sliver or the Scarecrow?

A: What we've got here is an interaction of two continuous effects, so we open our rulebooks to rule 613, and it tells us that color-changing effects are applied in layer 5. The two effects don't depend on each other, so they're applied in timestamp order. Ghostflame Sliver came to the party first, so its effect turns all Slivers a nice shade of colorless, and then Painter's Servant's effect paints them in ugly black. If the tables were turned and you played Ghostflame Sliver after Painter's Servant, the Sliver's effect would win.




Q: Now I control a Two-Headed Sliver and a Hunter Sliver, and I attack my opponent with a Sliver. If I provoke one of his creatures to block my Sliver, how does the effect from Two-Headed Sliver interact with that?

A: That depends on how many creatures your opponent has that can block the provocative Sliver. Provoke creates a blocking requirement, whereas Two-Headed Sliver's effect creates a blocking restriction, and your opponent must block in a way that fulfills as many requirements as possible without violating any restrictions.

Blocking only with the provoked guy violates the restriction, so that's right out. Blocking with no guys at all stays clear of the restriction, but it fails to meet the requirement. Blocking with the provoked guy and one or more other guys as backup fulfills the requirement and it stays clear of the restriction, so if that's an option, that's what your opponent must do.




Q: I have a Commander deck with Akroma, Angel of Fury as my commander. Can I cast her face-down from the command zone for 3, and if so, do I have to pay the extra cost to cast her again later?

A: Yes and yes. The morph ability functions in any zone from which the card could be cast, and your commander can be cast from the command zone, so it's legal to cast Akroma face-down from the command zone. The extra cost of 2 for each time you cast your commander from the command zone previously still applies, since the alternative cost only replaces the mana cost that's printed in the corner of the card.




Q: We were playing a game of Planechase, and Naar Isle got out of hand. That made me wonder, can I make Naar Isle go crazy even faster by proliferating its flame counters?

A: Sadly -- or fortunately, depending on your point of view -- that doesn't work. Proliferate only works with counters on players or permanents, and planes are neither. Permanents are objects on the battlefield. Planes aren't on the battlefield, they are the battlefield. Having a plane land on the battlefield would be really weird and recursive like a picture by M. C. Escher.




Q: I've got an Omnath, Locus of Mana that's 2/2 thanks to a green mana that's floating around in my mana pool, and I also have an untapped Forest left. If my opponent casts Sudden Shock to kill Omnath, can I save Omnath by pulling a green mana from my untapped Forest in response?

A: Yes, that works! It's a common misconception that you can't respond to split second spells at all, but in reality there are a few things that you can do in response to a split second spell. Activating mana abilities is one of those few things. The green mana is added to your mana pool immediately, so it immediately makes Omnath tough enough to survive the Sudden Shock. I bet your opponent learned not to make that mistake again!




And with that, I'm all tapped out for this episode. On behalf of the Cranial Insertion writers and our translators, I wish you all the best in 2011! All Will Be One! Ahem... I mean, until next time!

- Carsten Haese

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