Cranial Insertion: From the Vault: Questions

Cranial Insertion
From the Vault: Questions
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in [url=
]Spanish here[/url].]

From the Vault: Questions contains twenty-something new battle-tested questions, culled from throughout the (very recent) history of the Cranial Insertion inbox. This limited-edition set also contains an exclusive preview question, about a mythic rare from the October Magic set code named "Lights."


  • 20 Premium foil questions, including 3 with new art
  • A collector's guide
  • Each question has been printed using a foil process (if you quickly raise and lower your brightness settings on your monitor, it looks like they're shiny) unique to the "From the Vault" series.
  • The 20 questions are all printed in the current question frame – for several, it is for the first time.
  • From the Vault: Questions will be available world-wide, and will have an extremely limited print run.
  • All questions are tournament legal. This means that these questions are legal for use in any tournaments where the original printings are still legal... even if that's only EDH.

Scars of Mirrodin official spoilers have started rolling in, but please don't send those in until after the prerelease - until then, we don't have all the details about any potential rules changes and whatnot, so we don't want to answer questions based on information that we don't have yet!

Nevinyrral's Disk shows off the new,
extreme foiling process.

Q: If I popped Elspeth, Knight-Errant's ultimate and gotten a shiny new emblem that makes my stuff indestructible, what happens when I use my Nevinyrral's Disk?

A: Everything is destroyed! That is, except for your indestructible permanents. And hey, the Disk itself is indestructible, so it sticks around too! Nevinyrral's Disk doesn't sacrifice itself as a cost to activate its ability; back when it was printed, it was pretty much a given that the Disk would take care of that when its ability resolved, but I guess they didn't know that almost a decade later there'd be cards that let you abuse this.

Q: Why don't I deck myself automatically when I have a Thought Reflection on the battlefield and draw a card? It looks like I'd draw a card, but instead I'd draw two cards, and each of those draws would force me to draw two more instead, and so on until I lost the game....

A: As you may have guessed, Thought Reflection isn't an insta-lose card, nor is it an insta-win card with an Angel's Grace and a combo deck. Each replacement effect can only apply to a given event once; in this case, it's to replace "draw a card" with "draw two cards". As Thought Reflection was doing the replacing, its effect won't apply a second time. With two Thought Reflections out, you'll choose the order of the replacement effects, so they'll be cumulative. But you'll need quite a lot of them on the field in order to deck yourself.

Q: With a Gravity Well and Stormtide Leviathan out, can creatures with flying attack at all?

A: Stormtide Leviathan puts a restriction on creatures being declared as attackers if they don't have flying or islandwalk. All that matters is that they have flying (or islandwalk) when they're declared as attackers, but although Gravity Well triggers when attackers are declared, it won't make them lose flying until after Stormtide Leviathan's already given them the thumbs up. Or whatever Leviathans have.

Q: Why can you respond to Sensei's Divining Top with Voltaic Key to draw itself and another card? Won't Top go to the top of your library before you can respond with Voltaic Key?

A: Putting a card on top of your library in order to activate it's effect seems logical, doesn't it? But if Top worked like that, it'd just make you draw itself, and the card would only be very good instead of "broken in every format." Top's putting-on-top is part of the ability, not the cost, so if it's untapped and then tapped again in response, it'll draw draw two cards: whatever the top card of your library was, and then itself. There's a lot of "top/Top" puns I could make here, but I think I'll save them to keep your heads from spinning. Whoops.

Q: I've got a Deathbringer Liege and cast a Zealous Persecution. Can I tap and kill one creature, or do I need to kill a creature that's already tapped at the time the abilities triggered and went onto the stack?

A: If Deathbringer Liege said "you may destroy target tapped creature", you'd need to pick something that was already tapped when both abilities triggered, but thankfully it doesn't! Instead it says "You may destroy target creature if it's tapped", so you can stack the triggers to tap the creature, then destroy it... if it's still tapped at the time the assassination-style ability resolves.

Ooo, new frame!
Q: Can Karn, Silver Golem target an Akroma's Memorial in my graveyard to make it a creature so I can reanimate it with Scarecrone?

A: Nope. When a spell or ability refers to a card type or subtype and doesn't use the word "card", "scheme", "spell", or "source", it's referring only to a card of that type/subtype on the battlefield.

Q: What if Akroma's Memorial dies while it's a creature? Can I use Scarecrone to return it then?

A: Once an object changes zones, it becomes a new object to the game, and nothing that previously applied to it will apply to it anymore, including that handy animation effect.

Q: Is there any way I can time it so my Royal Assassin kills an attacking Ulamog's Crusher before the Eldrazi's annihilator ability triggers?

A: Nope. Declaring the Eldrazi as an attacker is what causes it to become tapped, which also triggers the annihilator ability. Killing the Eldrazi at this point isn't going to stop its ability from resolving, but a dead Eldrazi on your opponent's side isn't a bad thing.

Q: If I give my only non-land permanent shroud in response to my opponent casting an Oblivion Ring, will he have to pick a legal target for it, even if it's one on his own side?

A: Yes, but be careful, not many removal spells work this way! Oblivion Ring (and its smaller cousin Journey to Nowhere) have abilities that target when they enter the battlefield; they don't target while they're on the stack. If you let the O-Ring resolve and have him target your permanent, and in response to that give it shroud, the ability will be countered on resolution. Giving your permanent shroud in response to the O-Ring means a target hasn't been picked for it, but he'll need to pick a legal one when it does enter the battlefield.

Q: I have a Volrath's Shapeshifter that's being targeted by a Terminate. In response, I activate its ability and discard a Woodfall Primus. Will my Shapeshifter persist as a Woodfall Primus, and nuke something when it re-enters the battlefield?

A: Yes to both parts. When it leaves play, the game'll look back in time and see that it had persist, and return it to the battlefield. It'll return as the top card of your graveyard, which will be the Woodfall Primus at that point unless some other creature card gets in there.

Q: After my Llanowar Elves is untapped with provoke, is there still a time when I could tap it so it doesn't have to block?

A: Yup! Provoke isn't so useful against creatures that can tap on command. It's a triggered ability that triggers during the declare attackers step, so once it resolves, both players need to pass priority without doing anything for the step to end and the declare blockers step to begin.

Q: I put a Luminous Wake on my Ajani's Pridemate and attack with it. My opponent says it won't get pumped until after it deals damage, but I say it'll get four +1/+1 counters before it hits him. Who's right?

A: Neither of you, but for different reasons! You're right that the Pridemate will get pumped before it deals damage (in the declare attackers step, when you've still got a whole declare blockers step to go through before the combat damage step), but remember that it only gets one +1/+1 counter for each time you gain life, not a +1/+1 counter for each point of life you gain.

Q: My Greater Gargadon gets its "cast me!" trigger Stifled when I take the last time counter off it. Can I still sacrifice things to it, or put more time counters on it with Timecrafting?

A: To be suspended, a card needs to be in the exile zone and have time counters on it. If your Gargadon has no time counters on it, it's not suspended any longer, and you can't activate his ability there.

Q: I've got four green mana in my pool and cast a Momentous Fall, wanting to sacrifice my Omnath, Locus of Mana. How many cards will I draw, five or one?

A: Whichever of those two numbers you want to draw! I'm guessing it's the bigger one. When you cast a spell, you can pay the costs for it in any order. If you spend your green mana first, Momentous Fall will see Omnath as a 1/1, but if you sacrifice Omnath first, when the game looks back to see how big he was the last time he was on the battlefield, he'll have been a 5/5.

Q: Are EDH generals immune to the legend rule?

A: No, and they haven't been for a while now! Generals used to be "super legendary", as in they'd stick around while their lesser-legendary same-named clones (or literally Clones) were sent to the yard, but it was since changed.

Q: Does a Chalice of the Void on zero stop players from casting Force of Will for its alternate casting cost?

A: Nothing can change the converted mana cost of a card other than X-spells on the stack and some copy effects, so even when casting a free Force of Will its converted mana cost will be five, as rare as it is for someone to pay for a Force of Will in full.

Q: My opponent cast a Yawgmoth's Will. Normally that'd mean he wins, but I think I see an out: if Yawgmoth's Will works the same way as Leyline of the Void, then Helm of Obedience will kill him, right?

A: It'll make him lose his library, but won't kill him. Yawgmoth's Will and Leyline of the Void both have replacement effects that exile cards that would be put into their graveyard from anywhere, so Helm of Obedience will deck him. He won't lose the game until he tries to draw a card however.

Side note: We can answer questions
about this one because it's
officially released in
From the Vault: Relics.
Q: I attack with a creature equipped with Sword of Body and Mind, but my opponent has a Leyline of Sanctity. If my equipped creature deals combat damage to him, will I be forced to mill myself?

A: Leyline of Sanctity doesn't have much to do about the Sword, as none of its abilities target. You'll get a Wolf and your opponent will mill ten cards.

Q: If we're playing Planechase, and my opponent reveals Panopticon and he's also going first, does he get to draw a card thanks to his plane?

A: The first Planechase card turned face-up at the start of the game doesn't trigger its abilities. Who "we" in your question means matters though - if "we" is just the two of you, then he skips his draw step and won't get the benefit of the Panopticon. But in a multiplayer game other than Two-Headed Giant, the first player doesn't skip their draw step, so they'll get to draw two cards for their turn.

Q: Are we supposed to keep the lands in the pack when drafting?

A: Nope, they're all yours, just like the tip card. Basic lands come out, according to the Magic Tournament Rules:

After picking up the booster, players should remove and keep any non-foil basic land cards and/or any other cards that are not from the expansion of the opened booster. Foil basic land cards should be left in the booster and drafted with the other cards.

Also as a side note, if you're doing a wacky draft where you've got lots of pre-Shards of Alara packs mixed in, keep the lands in the packs; lands in Shards of Alara and forward replaced a common with a basic land, so taking the land out will result in a 14-card pack while the older packs have 15 cards!

Q: If I've got a Pyromancer Ascension and cast a spell with the same name as one in my graveyard, does it still get a counter even if my opponent pops a Relic of Progenitus in response?

A: Yep! Pyromancer Ascension doesn't have one of those "intervening if" triggers that check whether the condition is true both when it triggers and resolves. It triggers when you cast a spell that has the same name as one in your yard, but doesn't care whether or not it's there when the ability resolves. If it did, it'd say "When you cast a spell, if it has the same name as a card in your graveyard...." It doesn't, so it gets a counter no matter what. Good luck putting another counter on though any time soon, unless you have a third copy of that card in your hand!

Well that's it for me this week. Next time I'll see you, we'll be smack dab in the middle of Scars of Mirrodin excitement, see you then!


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