Cranial Insertion: Going South

Cranial Insertion
Going South
or, Greetings from Louisville

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

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

Sadly, I didn't see any of those.
Welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! If you've read my last issue three weeks ago, you'll know that I've been to a judge conference in Louisville recently, and I'm now looking forward to Grand Prix--Nashville. Of course, by the time you're reading this, Nashville is already over and I'm sure that was awesome, too, but for now that's still in the future and I'm still digesting the impressions from Louisville.

If you're a judge and you're offered the chance to attend a judge conference, I have two words for you: Do it! You'll get all the fun of working at a big tournament--the socializing with other judges, the exchange of ideas, the sharing of experiences, and the EDH sessions--but without the pressure of running a tournament! I knew going in that it would be an awesome experience, and I wasn't disappointed. I didn't collect any rules questions at the conference, but fortunately we get a steady stream of those into our mailbox at [email][email protected][/email]. Please continue to send your questions in for private answers by email and possible use in a future issue.

Q: My opponent controls Platinum Emperion, and I control Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. Can I target my opponent with Ob Nix's landfall ability to get counters on Ob Nix?

A: No, you can't. When the landfall ability resolves, it asks you whether you want to have your opponent lose three life or not. Unfortunately, Platinum Emperion says that it is impossible for your opponent to lose life, so the following rule kicks in and says that you can't choose that option:

Quote from Rule 608.2d »
If an effect of a spell or ability offers any choices other than choices already made as part of casting the spell, activating the ability, or otherwise putting the spell or ability on the stack, the player announces these while applying the effect. The player can't choose an option that's illegal or impossible, with the exception that having an empty library doesn't make drawing a card an impossible action (see rule 120.3). [...]

Ob Nix only gets counters if you choose to have the targeted player lose three life, and you're not allowed to make that choice, so Ob Nix will be sad and won't get any counters. If you really want those counters, you'll have to target yourself with the ability.

Q: Can Doom Blade destroy a planeswalker? If not, how can I get rid of my opponent's planeswalker?

A: Planeswalkers are entirely different card types than creatures, so unfortunately Doom Blade won't be able to destroy a planeswalker any more than it could destroy a Forest. Planeswalkers are permanents, though, so they can be destroyed by anything that destroys permanents, such as Vindicate. You can also get rid of a planeswalker by attacking it, or by dealing non-combat damage to your opponent and then redirecting the damage to his planeswalker. There are other ways, too, but those are the most common ones.

Q: What happens when a creature with double strike gains first strike?

A: Not much of anything, really. It'll have both first strike and double strike, but except for effects that specifically look for the presence of first strike, it'll behave exactly like a creature that only has double strike: It'll assign damage in the first combat damage step, and then it'll assign damage in the second combat damage step. The added first strike doesn't change this behavior at all.

Q: If I have a Novablast Wurm and Sovereigns of Lost Alara and attack with just the Wurm, can I stack the triggers so that I get to stick an Aspect of Mongoose on the Wurm before the Wurm's trigger blows up the Sovereigns?

A: You sure can! You control both triggers, so you get to choose the order in which they go on the stack. Then again, that choice doesn't actually matter, since the Sovereigns' ability becomes independent from its source once it's on the stack, so even if you let the Wurm blow up the Sovereigns first, you'll still get to search up an Aura and put it on the Wurm.

Q: My opponent has an active Pyromancer Ascension, and he plays Call to Mind on a Lightning Bolt. He returns the Lightning Bolt to his hand and then returns his Call to Mind to his hand, claiming that he's using the copy to return the Call to Mind. Does that work?

A: Not so much, no. The original Call to Mind, which is represented by the physical card, goes on the stack first, and it'll wait there until it resolves and goes to the graveyard. Pyromancer Ascension makes a copy of Call to Mind, and the copy goes on the stack above the original. The copy can't target the original Call to Mind, since that's still sitting on the stack. To pull off this combo, your opponent would need two physical copies of Call to Mind, one in his hand and one in the graveyard, so that they can tag each other out of the graveyard.

Q: My opponent controls a Leyline of Sanctity and assorted creatures. I Staggershock one of his creatures. At the end of his turn he blows up a Ratchet Bomb that managed to clear all the creatures from the board. Will I be forced to target myself when Staggershock rebounds?

A: Only if you really want to. Casting a spell on the rebound is optional, so you can either choose to cast it targeting yourself or leave it stranded in the exile zone.

Propagator?!? I barely know her!
Q: If Myr Propagator dies after it made token copies of itself, what happens to the tokens? Do they die, too?

A: Nope, the tokens stick around. This works the same as making a photocopy of a document. In the same way that a photocopy doesn't shred itself when the original is shredded, the tokens will live on as Myr Propagator tokens.

Q: Will my Tunnel Ignus' ability trigger if both it and several of my opponent's lands are put onto the battlefield when a Warp World resolves?

A: Yes, it'll trigger many times! Enter-the-battlefield abilities check the game state right after something has entered the battlefield, and each land sees that your opponent had another land enter the battlefield, so the ability triggers for each land that gets warped in.

Q: If an enchantment is an artifact because of Liquimetal Coating, can Geth, Lord of the Vault get it after it dies?

A: No, Geth won't be able to get his Phyrexian claws on it. Once the enchantment changes zones, it becomes a new object without any relation to the permanent it was on the battlefield. It is no longer affected by Liquimetal Coating's effect, so it's not an artifact card in the graveyard.

Q: What's going on with Nim Deathmantle in EDH? Can I use it in a deck with a nonblack general?

A: Sure, that's no problem at all. It contains the word "black" on it, but it doesn't contain any black mana symbols, so it's perfectly fine. The rule that restricts your deck to the colors of your general only checks mana symbols, and there are no colored mana symbols on Nim Deathmantle, so you can stick it into any deck.

Q: If I control Jace's Erasure and an effect such as Jace Beleren's first ability makes me and my opponent draw simultaneously, will my opponent draw his top card and mill his second, or mill his top card and draw his second?

A: Jace's Erasure's ability triggers during the resolution of the all-players-draw ability, but it'll wait to go on the stack until all the drawing is done, and it'll resolve later still. This means that your opponent draws the top card and mills the second.

Q: Can Prototype Portal make tokens of artifact lands such as Tree of Tales? If yes, is there a limit to the number of token lands I can have?

A: Tree of Tales is an artifact, so it's perfectly legal to imprint it on the Prototype Portal. Its converted mana cost is zero, so you'll get a free artifact land on each of your turns just for tapping Prototype Portal. The four-of rule only applies to cards in your deck, so there's no limit to how many Tree of Tales tokens you can make. Now go ahead and find out just how sick of an affinity deck you can build with this!

Q: I have Dream Halls out and my opponent casts Deus of Calamity by discarding Wilt-Leaf Liege. Does Wilt-Leaf Liege get put onto the battlefield because Dream Halls' ability allowed it to be discarded?

A: Nope, he won't get that free Liege! The Liege was discarded as a cost, so it wasn't discarded due to an effect, let alone due to an effect his opponent controls.

Q: My opponent has a Mindslaver in play and the means to use it next turn, and I have a Dispense Justice in my hand. Rather than allowing my opponent to force me to attack and cast Dispense Justice on myself, I want to cast it without any attacking creatures on the battlefield just to get rid of it. Can I do that?

A: Yes, that's legal. Dispense Justice doesn't target any attacking creatures. It merely targets a player, and when the spell resolves, that player does as much as possible, which turns out to be nothing at all if there aren't any attacking creatures around at that time.

Look ma, no "target!"
Q: If my opponent controls Honor of the Pure and Sterling Grove and I cast Aura Flux, will both of his enchantments get an upkeep tax from Aura Flux, or will Sterling Grove protect Honor of the Pure from this effect?

A: Both his enchantments will gain the upkeep tax. Aura Flux's ability does not target Honor of the Pure because it doesn't use the word target, so shroud is irrelevant.

Q: If I enchant my opponent's creature with Second Wind and tap the Aura to tap his creature, does Second Wind untap in my untap step or in his?

A: Auras and equipment don't tap or untap along with the creature they're attached to; they tap and untap on their own. A permanent usually untaps during its controller's untap step, and you control Second Wind even though it's attached to your opponent's creature, so it'll untap in your untap step.

Q: I'm on 3 life, my opponent is on six life, and I have a Liliana's Caress on my side. My opponent has no cards in his hand, and I'm trying to finish him off in his upkeep by casting Careful Consideration on him. One of the cards he draws is a Lightning Bolt and he decides to keep it. Can he cast the Lightning Bolt before Liliana caresses him to death?

A: Yes, unfortunately he can do that. Liliana's Caress' triggered ability uses the stack and your opponent can respond to it. His Lightning Bolt resolves and kills you, so the game ends right there with him as the winner. Since the game is over, the abilities on the stack that would have killed him very soon are irrelevant.

Q: So, here's the situation. I control a Precursor Golem and a couple of Golems, and my opponent has a bunch of non-Golem creatures. If he casts something nasty like Terminate on one of my Golems, can I respond with Shields of Velis Vel on him to make his spell backfire and take out all his creatures?

A: I like the way you think! Your plan is deliciously evil and works perfectly. Precursor Golem's ability uses the stack, so you can respond to it, and it only looks for what Golems are out there when the ability resolves. By the time it resolves, Shields of Velis Vel has turned your opponent's army into a bunch of Mutant Ninja Turtle Golems and they will succumb to his own spell. For added evil, you could save all your Golems except for the spell's original target by casting Ego Erasure on yourself!

Q: So, I was playing this game at a PTQ and I got out a Clone Shell, exiled something with it, and then the game ended before the Clone Shell died. My opponent claims that I have to show the exiled card at the end of the game and that I'd get a game loss penalty for Failure to Reveal if I didn't. I ended up just showing him the card because it wasn't a big deal, but now I'm wondering, was he right?

A: No, that's not right at all. For one, Failure to Reveal only applies in situations in which revealing the card is necessary to prove that a prior action was done legally, for example when you resolve Mystical Tutor. If you're asked to reveal a card and it's not necessary to prove that a prior action was legal, not revealing the card falls under the less severe Game Rule Violation. However, in this situation, no rule or effect even asked you to reveal the card. There is a rule that requires you to reveal face-down cards at the end of the game, but that only applies to face-down spells and permanents. It doesn't apply to cards that were exiled face down.

By the way, when your opponent tells you something about the rules that seems fishy to you, you don't need to take him by his word. A PTQ will most likely have several judges present, and they'll be delighted to come over and answer any rules questions you have if you raise your hand and yell "Juuuuudge!"

Q: I recently broke my hand, just in time for an upcoming Grand Prix. Given that I basically can't shuffle, is there any way that I could still be allowed to play or should I cancel my travel arrangements as soon as possible?

A: The general answer and DCI policy is that players with physical impairments are accommodated as much as possible without harming the integrity of the tournament, but whether you'll be allowed to play is a judgment call by the tournament's head judge, so if you need a definitive answer you should try to contact him or her in advance. In general, you should be fine if you can bring a friend who isn't playing in the tournament and have him or her shuffle for you. You could also ask your opponent or a judge to shuffle for you. In any case, you'll be held to the same time limits as the other players.

Speaking of time limits, I'm all out of time for now. Thanks for reading, and I hope to have seen you in Nashville. Eli will be back next week with more questions and answers and most likely some leftover turkey. Don't miss it!

- Carsten Haese


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