Cranial Insertion: Friday Night Before Christmas Magic



Cranial Insertion
Friday Night Before Christmas Magic
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese



Hello everyone! Christmas is over, but I hope everyone who could enjoy Friday Night Before Christmas Magic did! Attendance might've been a bit lower than the average FNM, but hopefully the holiday spirit got a few people out to enjoy the spirit of the holidays with their fellow [i]Magic[/i] players! We at Cranial Insertion are still recovering from our holiday party, and our new team of foreign language translators even got to participate this year! (Our present to them: even more hard-to-translate puns!) Thanks to our inbox, it's like Christmas for us all year long, with fresh presents of rules questions flowing in there all year long.

So keep sending your questions in to [email][email protected][/email] and we'll keep bringing you these helpful articles all through 2011.


Ooo, shiny!




Q: I have a doubt with Wild Evocation. I think we would be able to play only instants or something with flash, because at the beginning of the upkeep we can't normally play creatures, enchantments, or sorceries.

A: You can cast pretty much anything during the resolution of Wild Evocation. The "if able" is just there for any restrictions on casting spells, such as a lack of a legal target for the spell. Wild Evocation is telling the player to cast the spell during the resolution of its triggered ability. As you probably know, you can't normally cast any spells during the resolution of a spell or ability, even instants... unless specifically instructed to. Wild Evocation says "cast this spell now!", so you can cast it no matter what it is.




Q: I was playing against my opponent who had played his first turn land drop and passed. On my turn I played a land and cast Duress. Upon looking at his hand I noticed that he had seven cards in his hand, an obvious illegal amount. I called for a judge but the judge did not give my opponent a game loss violation. What is the proper ruling?

A: At Regular REL (FNM, prereleases, little local tournaments) the judge would just take the excess number of cards from the player's hand (one, in this case) and put them on top of the player's library. It's early enough in the game to make it Improper Drawing at Start of Game instead of Drawing Extra Cards, because the extra card must've been drawn accidentally with the opening hand or in the player's first draw step. At Competitive and Professional REL, the penalty for Improper Drawing at Start of Game is to take one [i]more[/i] than the excess number of cards and put them on top of their library.

Since it's easier to accidentally draw an extra card in your opening hand or forget to skip your first draw step, the penalty is different from Drawing Extra Cards. If the game hadn't actually begun yet, the cards would simply be shuffled into the player's library.




Q: Does shroud to all my artifacts provided by Indomitable Archangel from metalcraft prevent the +2/+2 buff from Tempered Steel and/or the +1/+1 buff from Myr Galvanizer to other Myr? Also, can the Myr Galvanizer's ability to untap all other Myr still be used if that shroud effect is in play?

A: None of those things actually target your artifacts, so they'll keep on applying even though your artifacts have shroud. The only thing shroud does is prevent spells and abilities with the word "target" in them from targeting your artifacts, and neither of those cards target anything.




Q: I enchant my friend's creature with Mind Control, and then use Bazaar Trader's ability on it, naming myself to gain control of it. Next turn, my friend Naturalizes the Mind Control. Who gets the creature?

A: You're gonna keep that creature. Bazaar Trader creates a continuous control-changing effect that doesn't end, but Mind Control only lasts as long as it's on the battlefield generating its own effect. Once Mind Control is gone, Bazaar Trader's effect is still there, holding the creature onto your side of the battlefield.




Q: If I have a Chameleon Colossus with one +1/+1 counter on him, and he activates his power/toughness doubling ability, where will he be after one activation?

A: He'll be a 10/10. Chameleon Colossus's activated ability checks its power as the ability resolves and gives it +X/+X, and with the counter on him, his power is 5. So he'll be a 4/4 with a +1/+1 counter and +5/+5 until end of turn, which makes him a beefy 10/10.




Q: Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer put a bribery counter on a creature so it can't attack or block. Does the creature get to attack if Gwafa leaves the battlefield or does the bribery counter keep it from attacking?

A: Gwafa's second ability that says creatures with bribery counters on them can't attack or block is a static ability that only works while he's on the battlefield. Once he's gone, the bribed creatures keep their shiny bribery counter (bribery counters must be worth like a million bucks in the multiverse), but won't care about it unless Gwafa Hazid returns.




Q: I've been told this is true, but I'd like to know why a Saproling token made by Flash Foliage can block an unblockable creature. Similarly, if my opponent has a Moat and I attack with a Baneslayer Angel and pay for Militia's Pride, can that token be put onto the battlefield tapped and attacking?

A: A Saproling token from Flash Foliage can be blocking an unblockable creature, and a non-flying creature that's put into play tapped and attacking can get around a Moat for much the same reason. Restrictions on creatures being able to block or attack only matter when that creature is declared as a blocker or attacker, and that only happens if they're declared as attackers/blockers in the declare attackers or declare blockers step.





Give them no quarter!
Q: Say I have down a Mirror Gallery and four Krark's Thumbs and I play a Game of Chaos. If my math is correct I would flip sixteen coins and pick which ever one I wanted meaning the chances of me losing are 1:65536. Mind you my math could be wrong. Would this work?

A: We're not going to nickel and dime you here - multiple Krark's Thumbs do indeed multiply the number of coins you flip to find a winner. The odds of losing sixteen coin flips in a row are 1 in 2^16, which works out to 1 in 65536. I'd wager a pretty penny that 65,536 games haven't been played where this situation could have happened. Precursor Golem and Rite of Replication is dollars to donuts still one of the craziest math questions we've gotten, but this shows there's still some crazy ones out there.

Even though it's extremely unlikely to lose all the flips, but you can't just use probability to say "I win!" because there's less than a 100% chance here.




Q: I was looking old cards and I saw White Ward. Its original text says it doesn't get removed by the protection from White that it grants. My question is this, if a creature affected by an enchantment like Pacifism or Bonds of Quicksilver gains protection from white or blue respectively, the enchantment will be destroyed?

A: Yep, old cards like White Ward were kind of oddballs. A creature with protection from a quality can't be enchanted by something with that quality, and there's a state-based action that makes Auras fall off if they're enchanting an illegal permanent. White Ward and a few other cards from back in the day had clauses in their rules text stating that this state-based action didn't remove them, but that doesn't apply to Auras that don't have this ability.




Q: Everyone knows that Extended season is right around the corner and I have a question about my deck composition. If all I have are three promo Figure of Destinys, what do I need to do to keep from getting DQ'd for having older, slightly warping foil cards? Should I run other foils in the deck such as a mix of lands and commons? I really don't want to go out and buy non-foil versions, but I don't want to get DQ'd for "Marked Cards" or whatever. What would you advise?

A: We'd definitely advise a mix of other foils in your deck as well. If the only foils in your deck are some old, warped Figure of Destiny cards, and a judge feels you can get an advantage from this fact, you might get a Marked Cards penalty. There's no rule saying you can't play with foils, but many players seek out non-foil versions of cards (particularly prerelease promos which seem to warp easier) just for this reason. The only [i]real[/] answer we can give here is to make sure your foils don't warp. Mixing them up with other foils won't help if your Figure of Destiny ones are warped.




Q: In a multiplayer game, I've got a Phage the Untouchable in my yard, and Mindslaver one of my opponents. On his turn, I make him use Geth, Lord of the Vault to resurrect my Phage on his side, causing him to lose. Does Phage then go back into my yard so I can try this trick again once I get Mindslaver back?

A: Great trick, but it only works once! When a player loses in a multiplayer game, everything they own leaves the game with them, and all control-changing effects end. Then everything else they controlled, which are usually only things put onto the battlefield under their control with effects such as Bribery, Acquire, Geth, etc., gets exiled.




Q: We're in extra turns in a single elimination match, but both of us control Platinum Angels. At the end of the five turns, my life total is higher. Who wins the game?

A: You do! I know Platinum Angel says "You can't lose the game", but that only applies to game rules. The sudden death rule that says the player with the higher life total wins at the end of five turns in a single elimination match is a tournament rule, so it overrules Platinum Angel and the round can end.




Q: I'm going off with a storm deck and just resolved a Mind's Desire for twenty copies. I just want to shuffle my deck thoroughly once and flip cards off the top, but my opponent is insisting we shuffle and cut for each copy. That seems like a big waste of time; can I insist that we use that shortcut, or do we both need to agree?

A: As a judge, the first thing I'd find out is [i]why[/i] he wants to shuffle each time. Some players seem to be afraid to take shortcuts they normally wouldn't because it feels "wrong" to them, but there's always the possibility, whether they know it is or not, that they're planning on wasting time in the match by making you shuffle. After shuffling thoroughly once, the deck should be randomized sufficiently. If neither player is taking any actions between copies of Mind's Desire resolving that would change the order of your library, there should be no reason why you'd need to randomize an already random library.




Q: During my upkeep, my opponent casts a Mistbind Clique and controls a Bitterblossom and a Faerie token. He chooses to champion the Faerie token. If I Lightning Bolt it in response, does he now have to sacrifice the Mistbind Clique and save me from tapping my lands?

A: Only if he doesn't choose to champion the Bitterblossom instead. In fact, once your opponent has chosen to champion something, it's too late to kill what he would champion - though you do get a chance to kill any potential champions while the champion trigger is on the stack.




Q: I know Doomed Necromancer can't sacrifice and target itself in the yard because I pick a target before it's sacrificed as a cost, but does that make it [i]always[/i] an illegal target? i.e. can my opponent flip up a Willbender and make the Necromancer's ability target itself instead of my Akroma, Angel of Wrath?

A: Yes. The only reason Doomed Necromancer isn't a legal target for its ability is that you choose targets before you pay the costs while activating an ability, so it just isn't there yet. Once it [i]is[/i] there, it's possible to change the target to it.





Scry 3, 2, 1... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Q: So basically, epic stupid luck in a big Commander game had the blue players tapped out of mana and allowed me to cast Genesis Wave at a whopping 36 mana. After sorting through the permanents that I wanted to enter the battlefield, I noticed that I had both Doubling Season and Elspeth, Knight-Errant set to enter the battlefield at the same time. I'm wondering if there's any interaction at all with Doubling Season - will she come in with enough counters to go ultimate?

A: Oh no. Doubling Season does double the loyalty counters that planeswalkers enter the battlefield with, but the catch is that Doubling Season has to be on the battlefield before the planeswalker planeswalks in. Otherwise the replacement effect doesn't exist before the event it would've replaced, and therefore can't replace anything. The possibly dozens of other permanents you put onto the battlefield at once will have to suffice!




Q: Does me having a Platinum Emperion prevent my Wurmcoil Engine from dealing damage to my opponent, since I can't gain life?

A: Your life total can't change, but that won't stop your Wurmcoil Engine from taking a chunk out of your opponent's life total. Platinum Emperion stops the life gaining part of the damage from happening, but not the damage itself.




Q: So say, I'm playing Commander and I have Uril, the Miststalker as my general. I cast Uril for 5 and he gets killed. Later in the game Dragon Fangs winds up in my graveyard and I cast Uril again for 7, will this trigger Dragon Fangs and cause it to attach itself to Uril?

A: Unfortunately, the converted mana cost of an object never changes, and even Commander's little extra cost rule doesn't change it. Uril will have to wear his Dragon Fangs the old fashioned way.




Q: What happens if I play Spell Blast or another spell that has a target with CMC X and doesn't specify "or less" like Wargate and accidentally set X higher than I intended to? Should I instead say "oops", call a judge, and see if he'll let me untap a land and spend X=8 on my Spell Blast like I should have?

A: Yep, that's exactly what'll happen. Spell Blast needs a target with converted mana cost equal to X, so anything without CMC=X isn't a legal target. A judge would tell you to back up, untap your mana, and put the Spell Blast back in your hand since you committed an illegal action.




Q: My opponent casts Volition Reins on Sylvok Replica, which is the only artifact or enchantment on the battlefield. Can I sac the Replica without a legal target?

A: Judge answer: No. Helpful Cranial Insertion answer (because we're still in the Christmas-y mood): You do have a legal target - the Replica itself! Since you choose targets before you pay the costs to activate an ability, the Replica can try and kill itself. Its ability will be countered when it goes to resolve due to the Replica not being there any longer, but luckily the cost of sacrificing it accomplishes that goal just as well.




Well that's it for me for this year - see you in 2011!

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