Cranial Insertion: Eight Crazy Rules Questions

Cranial Insertion
Eight Crazy Rules Questions
Give or Take a Few Questions
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in Spanish here.]
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[This article is available in Portuguese here.]

Happy Hanukkah! Hanukkah was very early this year, so we're actually on the fifth night of the holiday. You were all so kind to send us gifts of questions to our inbox, and it just so happens that we got you guys and girls out there a whole bunch of answers! We're celebrating Hanukkah by spinning a dreidel to see who goes first, and using chocolate gelt as poison counters. Our suggestion is to start with ten and eat them as you gain poison counters. You can use them as life totals too, but that's a lot of chocolate.

Before we get to these questions, I just have to remind everyone to send in their rules questions to [email][email protected][/email].

Nissa is a Jewish name! For Hanukkah
she wants Nissa's Chosen to have the
"basic" supertype.

Q: It's late in a game of EDH, and I think my Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deck is ready to combo out. I control a Rift Elemental, a Djinn Illuminatus, and a Feldon's Cane alongside my draconian genius of a General. If I suspend Wheel of Fate and speed it onto the stack with Rift Elemental, will I be able to deck or kill all of my opponents by replicating Wheel of Fate twenty times, and Caning my graveyard when my library gets too thin?

A: Niv-Mizzet as a general is broken enough without this combo, which sadly doesn't work. Wheel of Fate has no mana cost, so you can't replicate it as you can't pay a mana cost that doesn't exist. Don't confuse this with converted mana cost though! Since Wheel of Fate doesn't have a mana cost, its converted mana cost is zero.

Q: But that converted mana cost of zero means I can copy it with Izzet Guildmage, right? With the Guildmage, Training Grounds, and a Rite of Flame, I think I could still go infinite and copy Wheel of Fate if I take it off of suspend with Rift Elemental. Or am I missing something there?

A: That works! You can easily generate oodles of mana when R gets you RR (or however much you'd get from your Rite normally). Izzet Guildmage asks for Wheel of Fate's converted mana cost, which is zero, definitely less than three! Then all you need to do is sweep the time counters off Wheel of Fate and go nuts.

Q: I have a Daru Warchief on the battlefield and would like to suspend a Benalish Commander. Does the Warchief essentially give me one free colorless mana to throw towards the suspend cost?

A: Suspending is a special action, not casting a spell, so things that would reduce the casting cost of a spell don't affect it. But when those counters all come off, you do cast the spell from exile. Normally you wouldn't even notice a spell you're not paying for costing less. However, if something is making you pay additional costs to cast the spell (such as Sphere of Resistance), then Daru Warchief will reduce that cost.

Q: I control one Knight Exemplar and various other less-than-exemplary Knights. My opponent casts Wrath of God. Do any of my peeps survive?

A: All your peeps survive! Except for the Knight Exemplar, that is. Wrath of God and most other such effects try to destroy every creature at once. When that destruction event happens, all your other Knights are indestructible. If you have more than one Knight Exemplar out, they'll make each other indestructible, and that'll make that Wrath pretty one-sided in your favor!

Q: If Wild Pair is on the field and I cast Apocalypse Hydra so it enters the battlefield with 14 counters, could I search for Pentavus, or could I search for Plated Slagwurm?

A: Wild Pair checks the total power and toughness of the creature as the trigger resolves, and since the Apocalypse Hydra is a 14/14, that means you can only search for something with a total power and toughness of 28. The only creatures in the game that qualify for this are ones with characteristic defining abilities that determine their power and toughness, because those functions in all zones. So you can pull up a Magnivore if there are fourteen sorceries in all graveyards, or a Serra Avatar if you have 14 life, and so on. Pentavus is a 0/0 while it's in your library; those counters are only on it while it's on the battlefield.

Q: I've stolen an animated Mishra's Factory with Merieke Ri Berit. At the end of the turn, what happens to the Factory? Do I lose it because it's not a creature any longer?

A: Merieke's templating doesn't account for random things like that happening, but the rules are clear on what happens - you still control the permanent, and it'll be destroyed if Merieke becomes untapped. Merieke's ability only cares about the target being a creature when it needs to check if its target is legal, and that's during activation and resolution of the ability. In the same sense, "that creature" on her card really means "that object", and Mishra's Factory will explode should Merieke become untapped.

Q: I blast my opponent with Searing Wind, but he flashes in a Leyline of Sanctity in response to my Pyromancer Ascension trigger. If I then copy the Wind still on the stack with the Ascension, do I have to change its target to myself?

A: You can leave the target right where it is, even though it's now illegal. You can't change the target of a spell to an illegal target, but rule 114.6c says you aren't forced to change the target to a legal one:

114.6c If an effect allows a player to "choose new targets" for a spell or ability, the player may leave any number of the targets unchanged, even if those targets would be illegal. If the player chooses to change some or all of the targets, the new targets must be legal.

I asked Nicol Bolas what he wanted
for Hanukkah, and he just said "everything".
Q: When the non-active player recieves priority and casts a spell, does he regain priority afterwards or is it always given to the active player first?

A: The non-active player gets priority back. When a player takes an action while having priority, that player gets priority back after taking that action.

Q: A situation came up where a Necrotic Ooze was on the battlefield and another was in the graveyard, along with a Reassembling Skeleton. Now the Ooze in play has the Reassembling Skeleton's ability, can it call up its downed brethren from the yard?

A: Unfortunately your creatures in the yard are stuck there. When Necrotic Ooze gets an activated ability, it's treated as though all the names in the ability are replaced with its own. That's because when an activated ability uses the name of the card it's on, it actually means "this object". And since the Ooze's ability it gets from the Skeleton mentions it works from the graveyard, it only works from that zone - you can't activate it from the battlefield at all!

Q: Can you explain what happens if I cast a Flame Jab using the retrace effect with a Pyromancer Ascension in play? I am just not certain about the timing on when Pyromancer Ascension checks the graveyard.

A: The first step to casting a spell is to take it from the zone it's in (the graveyard in this case) and put it onto the stack. Once you've finished choosing targets, paying costs, and all that, the spell is cast. This is when Pyromancer Ascension looks for spells with the same name in the yard, but now your Flame Jab has taken a momentary diversion onto the stack.

Q: My opponent controls an activated Pyromancer Ascension and casts a Bituminous Blast. He says that because the blast is copied he gets to cascade twice while I say that he didn't actually cast the card twice and he cascades once. Which one of us is right?

A: You are! (Studies show our readers like it when we tell them they're right.) Cascade only triggers when you cast the spell, and Pyromancer Ascension puts it directly onto the stack without being cast.

Q: I control some lands, a few of them being basic, and a few of them being non basic. I also have Prismatic Omen out. If one of those non basic lands gets targeted with my opponent's Wasteland, did he just waste his land for nothing? Or does Wasteland actually take out a basic land in this case?

A: No, he actually couldn't have wasted his land! Though Prismatic Omen gives your lands more land types, it doesn't say anything about making them basic. Since it doesn't change their supertype, they're still legendary, non-basic, basic, or whatever they were before.

Had he targeted a basic land, then that's an illegal action, and it'll be rewound up until the point where Wasteland is back on the battlefield. If it's a tournament, he'll get a penalty for a Game Rule Violation as well!

Q: I have a Teferi's Veil on the battlefield. I unearth my Dregscape Zombie and attack. It's unblocked, deals damage and phases out. Since it doesn't leave the battlefield, I assume it won't be exiled but phased out. What happens next turn when it phases back in? Will it be exiled or just go the graveyard if it eats a Lightning Bolt?

A: You're right that the action of phasing out doesn't cause your Zombie to be exiled. Phasing no longer makes a card change zones, it just sort of "doesn't exist". At the end of your turn, unearth triggers and looks to exile the Zombie... but it can't find it, so nothing happens. This won't trigger every turn, just the turn you unearthed it - but the replacement effect that makes Dregscape Zombie exile itself if it would change zones is still sticking around, so the Zombie is bound for exile sooner or later.

Q: My opponent has two Tectonic Edges and enough mana to use both, and I've got four non-basic lands. He declares that he's going to tap both Tectonic Edges and destroy two of my non-basic lands, but is that right? Shouldn't the second one be countered because I don't have four or more lands any more?

A: Seeing if you control four or more lands is only a restriction on activating Tectonic Edge's ability, so your opponent's play was legal. The fact that you only control three lands when the second one tries to resolve is irrelevant, because it's already on the stack.

Q: What would happen to a Progenitus if it was put into play by Mimic Vat? The final ability appears to be targeted but Progenitus has protection from everything. Does it stay in play?

A: It would take a miracle to get Progenitus into the graveyard so Mimic Vat can nab him. The dude normally hates the graveyard, but something like Sudden Spoiling or Humility would do it. Should you jump through the necessary hoops to get him exiled underneath Mimic Vat and make a token, he'll still die at the beginning of the next end step. Mimic Vat's trigger doesn't say "target", so it doesn't target him.

Jace would probably want a playset
of Jace, the Mind Sculptor for
Hanukkah. I mean, who wouldn't?
Q: If I use Volition Reins to gain control of my opponent's Elixir of Immortality, what happens to the Elixir when I activate it? I gain 5 life and shuffle my graveyard into my library, but does the Elixir get shuffled into my opponent's library?

A: Strangely this little templating snafu was fixed, but hasn't made its way into Gatherer yet. A card you own can never end up in anyone's hand, graveyard, or library other than your own during the course of the game. The Elixir gets shuffled into its owner's library, and your graveyard gets shuffled into your library. Usually these are one and the same, but control-changing effects can cause strange things like this to happen.

Q: I have a question about Last Laugh's second bit of text, the one regarding sacrificing it if no creatures are in play. Lets say I have a Sprouting Phytohydra, and through some means, Last Laugh kills it, and the sacrifice trigger goes on the stack. If the Phytohydra one goes on after Last Laugh's and resolves first, putting a token into play, will I still have to sacrifice Last Laugh?

A: When Last Laugh's last ability triggers, it's already doomed. Last Laugh's trigger condition only checks whether there are no creatures on the battlefield when it triggers. Even if you manage to make a token before the trigger resolves, it's still going to resolve and end the laughter. This is even true if there are temporarily no creatures on the battlefield while a spell or ability is resolving, such as Momentary Blinking the only creature on the field. State-based actions aren't checked during the resolution of a spell or ability, but trigger conditions are!

Q: I Clone a Puppeteer Clique and it dies. Does it come back, and if so, as a Puppeteer Clique so it can swipe something else?

A: It can, but only if a Puppeteer Clique is still on the battlefield for it to copy! Your Clone copies everything about the Clique, including the fact that it has persist. That means when it's put into a graveyard from the battlefield, its persist ability triggers and brings it back. Once it changes zones from the battlefield to the yard though, it loses all memory of it being a Puppeteer Clique and re-enters the battlefield as a Clone. As it does, you'll get to choose something else to copy, which could very well be the same Clique that you copied the first time around!

Q: I use Liquimetal Coating to turn my opponent's Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon into an artifact, then tap it with Rust Tick. Do I have to keep turning it into an artifact and tapping it again with Rust Tick every turn?

A: You can keep making Mr. Skittles an artifact, but it won't matter. Once Rust Tick bites down on an artifact, it'll stay tapped so long as Rust Tick remains tapped. The only time being an artifact matters is for targeting purposes.

Q: My opponent and I each have a Precursor Golem and two of its buddies, but he's got an Indomitable Archangel giving his Golems shroud. Can I get around that by hitting one of my Golems with a Slice in Twain, clearing out all the Golems on the field?

A: That's a nice try, but all you'll do is kill your dudes. Precursor Golem makes you copy the spell for each Golem that spell could target. Golems with shroud can't be the target of spells, so your guys will get Sliced in Twain and your opponent's will be safe.

Well that's it for me this week! Enjoy the rest of Hanukkah, and Carsten will be here with a late Hanukkah gift/early Christmas gift of many questions next week!


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