Cranial Insertion: Trick/Treat is Not a Split Card

Cranial Insertion
Trick/Treat is Not a Split Card
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

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

Hello boys and ghouls! As you can guess from my horrible pun, Halloween is coming up, and on Halloween weekend is Magic Game Day. Feel free to show up wearing a costume; I heard Eli might be attending his as a zombie, Carsten will be going as a mad scientist, and Moko will be dressing up as a real live monkey! I'm dressing up as a Tarmogoyf of course, if I can find a way to dress up as what appears to be a blotch of angry-looking paint holding some terrified-looking dude.

Send in your questions (and Halloween candy) to [email][email protected][/email]!

Sadly, proliferate + All
Hallow's Eve = not a combo.

Q: In a recent casual game I was playing in, my opponent was playing a deck with infectious creatures. He claimed that they don't deal damage, but still give -1/-1 counters or poison counters. Is he correct, or do creatures with infect trigger cards like Darien, King of Kjeldor?

A: Creatures with infect still deal damage, but that damage is handled differently. For players, it's dealt in poison counters, and for creatures, it's dealt in -1/-1 counters. But it's still damage, so things that trigger off damage being dealt will still trigger.

Q: I equip my Ichor Rats with a Blight Sickle and attack, what happens? Since wither and infect both replace the damage, do I get to choose whether it's wither or infect damage?

A: Infect and wither both modify how a creature deals damage, but only infect changes how it's dealt to players. For creatures, they both have the same result: -1/-1 counters. It's easy to say a creature with infect deals damage to players in poison counters "instead" of loss of life, but that's not really true, as "instead" has a very specific meaning in Magic, and that's replacement effects. Infect and wither don't "replace" damage, they just change what the damage results in.

Q: My opponent hits one of my Precursor Golems with a Lightning Bolt, and in response I cast a kicked Vines of Vastwood on it. My opponent says just the one I target gets +4/+4, while the others only get shroud, because Vines wasn't kicked on them. Is he right?

A: He's wrong! All your Golems will get +4/+4 and shroud until end of turn. When copying a spell, you copy everything about it, including the choice made to kick it.

Q: If I have a creature equipped with Heavy Arbalest and I tap the creature to deal damage, can my opponent play Tel-Jilad Defiance on my creature in response to both unequip the Arbalest and somehow remove my activated ability from the stack?

A: Your creature will suddenly decide it doesn't much care for artifact-y things and drop the equipment. A creature with protection from something (artifacts) can't be equipped by something with that quality (being an artifact), so it'll fall off due to state-based actions. However, once the ability is on the stack it'll stay there unless it's countered, so this won't stop the damage.

Q: If someone has no cards in hand, but their opponent controls a Painful Quandary, can they choose the "discard a card" option when casting a spell?

A: Nope. You can't choose to perform an impossible action, so you can't choose to discard a card. The only quandary you'll have is whether to cast that spell and lose 5 life, or don't and... don't.

Sakashima is really good
at making Halloween costumes.
Q: In an EDH game, my opponent copied my general with Sakashima the Impostor and said Sakashima worked differently and copying my general wouldn't result in both of them dying to the "legend rule". Why's that?

A:The legend rule is a state-based action that says if two legendary permanents are on the battlefield and they both share the same name, they're all put into their owners' graveyards. Sakashima gets around this by keeping its name, so there's no name conflict there.

Q: What's the deal with this "mono artifact" thing on some older artifacts like Rod of Ruin?

A: Way, way back in Magic's history, artifacts worked a little differently. Non-creature artifacts with static abilities like Howling Mine only worked while untapped, and "mono artifact" meant that activating the artifact's activated ability required tapping it. Why they didn't say so on the card when they had a perfectly good "tap" word (they weren't up on the symbol yet), the world may never know.

Q: Can I choose whether to have a spell rebound or have it countered to be imprinted on Eye of the Storm if I have both Eye and Cast Through Time out?

A: These two cards don't interact very well unfortunately. Eye of the Storm triggers when a spell is cast, while rebound exiles the spell as it resolves... so you can see where the problem is!

Q: If I have Hive Mind and Cast Through Time out, do the copies of the spells all have rebound for each player?

A: Nope. Copies of spells only copy the printed characteristics of that spell, plus any copy effects. But even if the spell had rebound printed on it, the copies that Hive Mind creates aren't cast from their controllers' hands, so they wouldn't rebound anyway.

Q: How do spells with split second work when countered and used through Eye of the Storm? If I place it in the middle of the stack, can no one else respond as its still cast and part of the whole chain sequence?

A: Eye of the Storm and split second interact strangely. Once a spell with split second is on the stack, no other spells can be cast as long as it's still on the stack. The problem is, the split second spell won't leave the stack in the middle of Eye of the Storm's triggered ability resolving (while it's still saying "play these copies!"), so if you want to maximize your Eye of the Storm usage you'll get to pick one (and only one) split second spell to cast with it as the last spell... and then no more copies can be cast.

Q: If the spell with rebound has an X in the casting cost does it rebound with an X = 0 or the same X that I initially cast it with?

A: It might be the same card, but since the card changed zones it's a new object to the game, and it doesn't remember what you paid X with. You're also casting it without paying its mana cost, so X is automatically 0.

Q: Let's say I have a Doubling Cube out and Mana Reflection along with seven Forests. I tap all seven Forests for fourteen green mana, but what happens when I activate Doubling Cube?

A: Mana abilities like Doubling Cube's don't use the stack, but still follow the same rules for activating abilities. After paying the cost to activate it, you'll have eleven green in your pool. Now Doubling Cube wants to add eleven green to your mana pool, but Mana Reflection doubles that to add twenty-two mana instead!

Q: Can an Arc Trail target only one creature twice? I know that it says "another" creature but my friend says that it can kill a Lodestone Golem by targeting it twice for both damages.

A: "Another" means exactly that - you need to pick two targets for Arc Trail, no more, no less.

Q: Do I have time during my upkeep to activate a Raging Ravine before my rebounded Distortion Strike goes on the stack?

A: Yep! Rebound triggers at the beginning of your upkeep, but the spell is only cast (goes on the stack, targets are chosen, that whole deal) when the rebound trigger resolves. Activate your manland in response to the trigger and you're golden.

Q: I've got a Leyline of Sanctity on the field that my opponent didn't notice, and no creatures. He plays a sixth Mountain with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle out, and targets me... but then I remind him he can't do that. Does he have to deal 3 to himself?

A: He has to target himself, and gets a Game Rule Violation warning in a tournament for choosing an illegal target, but doesn't have to Bolt himself for 3. Valakut says "you may" deal the 3 damage, so even though he has to pick a legal target for the ability, he doesn't need to do anything else with it.

Q: I put an Accorder's Shield on my Palladium Myr and attack. Do I have time before blockers are declared to tap it for mana and cast Slice in Twain to get rid of a blocker?

A: Yup! After attackers are declared, all players get priority, starting with the active player (you). Since you're still in the declare attackers step, your opponent hasn't gotten a chance to declare blockers step, letting you blast potential blockers out of the way using mana from your vigilant Myr.

Q: Will Bond of Agony work in conjunction with Platinum Emperion?

A: Only if you want to do it for 0. You can't pay any amount of life if you control Platinum Emperion, so you can't cast it for anything more than 0.

"Sorry, we're all out of the good
costumes by now... but we've got a large
selection of Chimney Imp masks!"
Q: What happens if I control an Agent of Masks and Platinum Emperion?

A: You can't gain life, so you'll only benefit from Agent of Masks half-way. Granted, that benefit is your opponents losing the game a little faster. Agent of Masks' ability will do as much as possible, making all your opponents lose 1 life... unless they also control Platinum Emperions.

Q: If I tap Rust Tick, targeting an artifact, then in response to the ability use Voltaic Key to untap it, then activate it again, will a single Tick keep two artifacts tapped down?

A: Nope - Rust Tick's ability has a duration, and that duration ends as soon as it's no longer tapped. If an effect would end before it begins, it doesn't happen at all; it doesn't even start to happen and then end! So the first activation won't do anything, but the second one will.

611.2b Some continuous effects generated by the resolution of a spell or ability have durations worded "for as long as . . . ." If the "for as long as" duration never starts, or it ends before the moment the effect would first be applied, the effect does nothing. It doesn't start and immediately stop again, and it doesn't last forever.

Q: Someone told me I couldn't use foil cards in my deck unless my entire deck and sideboard was foil. Is he right?

A: No way - there's nothing in the rules that prevents players from using their cards. Foils that are very warped however may be considered marked, and you also may get a marked cards penalty if judges feel that you can potentially gain an advantage from your foils such as being easily able to cut to certain cards. If you've got a good mix of foils and non-foils in your deck and they aren't warped (which you might want to double check), you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

Q: When flipped, does the converted mana cost of a flip card like Nezumi Graverobber become 0? There's no mana cost at what becomes the upper right part of the card.

A: Something being in the upper right doesn't define a card's mana cost, converted or not - otherwise, Future Sight futureshifted cards wouldn't have one! A card's converted mana cost is printed on the card, and printing it on both top and bottom would be redundant and make it look like you could cast either half.

Well that's it for me this week. Carsten will see you after Halloween!


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