Cranial Insertion: I visited Columbus...

Cranial Insertion
I visited Columbus
...and all I got was a bunch of Humility questions!

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in Spanish here.]

Simple text, complex interactions!
Hello again! Grand Prix--Columbus is in the books, and it was an awesome event. A crowd of 1297 players filled the convention center for the main event, and it seems that every one of them was playing Humility. I kid, of course, but I did get quite a few questions about that card at the Grand Prix, so I'll talk about those along with a bunch of other interesting interactions that came up.

In addition to questions from the Grand Prix, as always I'll also answer questions from our mailbox at [email][email protected][/email]. If you've got a question you need answered, even if it's not about Humility, go ahead and send it in! You'll receive an expert answer from one of our writers, and we might use it in a future issue.

Q: I control Humility, and my opponent has a creature with Sword of Fire and Ice attached to it. When that creature connects with me, does the extra damage and card draw still happen?

A: It sure does! The extra damage and card draw come from a triggered ability of the Sword itself. Humility doesn't even try to touch that ability, so it still works even in the presence of Humility.

Q: How does Humility affect modular creatures such as Arcbound Worker?

A: The modular creature still gets its +1/+1 counters according to its modular ability, because those counters come from a replacement effect that changes how it enters the battlefield. This replacement effect is applied before the creature enters the battlefield, so it's not influenced by Humility.

Of course, when the modular creature dies, it will be unable to hand its counters off to another creature, since the triggered ability that makes that happen triggers from the battlefield. This ability does not exist while Humility has anything to say about it, so the ability doesn't trigger.

Q: Does Humility stop Gempalm Incinerator from roasting me to death?

A: Nope, sorry. Humility only affects creatures on the battlefield. Gempalm Incinerator's cycling ability works in its owner's hand, where Humility can't touch it, and the damage-dealing ability triggers from the graveyard, where Humility can't touch it either.

Q: Wow, that really sucks. Is there anything that Humility can actually do?

A: Lots of things! It's really good at giving judges headaches. As far as usefulness within the game is concerned, it makes the Zoo player's Tarmogoyf tiny, shuts down the Goblin player's Warren Instigator, and makes the Fish player's Coralhelm Commander useless, just to name a couple of examples.

Q: So, what about Pithing Needle, can that shut down Gempalm Incinerator?

A: Yup! As long as the ability is not a mana ability, Pithing Needle says "No" to activated abilities of any source with the chosen name, regardless of which zone the source is in when the ability is activated. If you name "Gempalm Incinerator", your opponent will be unable to cycle it, so you're safe.

Q: Speaking of Pithing Needle, can it shut down dredge cards? What about flashback?

A: No and no. Neither dredge nor flashback are activated abilities. Dredge is a static ability that generates a replacement effect that kicks in when you would draw a card. Flashback is a static ability that gives the card a way to cast it from the graveyard for an alternative cost.

I'll show you mine if you show me yours.
Q: When I resolve Show and Tell, do I have to show my opponent what I'm choosing before he makes his choice?

A: You can, but you don't have to. I'll let the rule speak for itself:

Quote from Rule 101.4a »

If an effect has each player choose a card in a hidden zone, such as his or her hand or library, those cards may remain face down as they're chosen. However, each player must clearly indicate which face-down card he or she is choosing.

Q: A couple of weeks ago you said that Angel of Despair can destroy Humility if they both are put onto the battlefield with Eureka in that order. What happens if they're put onto the battlefield with Show and Tell instead?

A: That's very different. With Show and Tell, the chosen cards enter the battlefield simultaneously. After Angel of Despair has entered the battlefield, the game checks for any enter-the-battlefield abilities that have triggered, but Humility is already there at that moment, so the Angel's ability doesn't exist and won't trigger.

Q: My opponent is swinging at me with a bunch of animated Mutavaults and I can't block enough of them to stay alive. Can I Vial in a Magus of the Moon to save myself?

A: Nice try, but unfortunately that doesn't work. Magus of the Moon turns the Mutavaults into Mountains and takes away their ability to animate themselves later, but it doesn't remove the effect that was already created earlier in the turn. Adding the subtype Mountain to them does not remove the type "creature" from them, so the Mountain-vaults will still be very much alive and coming at you on a mission to bury you.

Q: I crack a Wooded Foothills at the end of my opponent's turn, and in response my opponent Submerges my Tarmogoyf! I'd rather draw my Goyf next turn, so suddenly I don't feel like shuffling my library. Can I choose not to use Wooded Foothills' ability and just leave my library alone?

A: Sorry, no, the ability is not optional. You may shortcut the search and choose not to find a Mountain or Forest, but you'll have to shuffle your library in any case. I'm afraid your Goyf will get lost in the shuffle.

Q: If I cast a Renegade Doppelganger and then unearth an Extractor Demon, can I attack with both of them right away?

A: No. While the unearthed Extractor Demon gains haste due to the resolution of the unearth ability, that effect does not get copied by the Doppelganger. The Doppelganger still has summoning sickness and is unable to attack.

Q: My opponent just cast Esper Charm in "discard" mode, targeting me. Can I Reverberate it and choose the "draw" mode for the copy?

A: No, that's not possible. The choice of mode is a copiable value, so your copy will also use the "discard" mode. You can change the target to your opponent, but Reverberate does not allow you to change the mode.

Q: Can Sun Titan bring a land back from the graveyard?

A: Absolutely! A land card has no mana cost, so its converted mana cost is 0. That means it's a permanent card with converted mana cost 3 or less and Sun Titan has no problems bringing it back from the graveyard.

Q: My opponent controls Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and four Mountains. Now he casts Primeval Titan, tutors up two Mountains, and claims that I take 6 damage from Valakut. Is that true?

A: Unfortunately, yes, that's true. Both Mountains enter the battlefield simultaneously, and after that happens, the game checks if any abilities were triggered by this event. Your opponent controls six Mountains at that time, so each of the two new Mountains sees five other Mountains that your opponent controls.

The bigger they are,
the harder they fall on you.
Q: How much damage will I do to my opponent if I Fling Emrakul, the Aeons Torn at him and then Reverberate the Fling?

A: You'll do a whopping 30 damage to your opponent. When a spell refers to information about objects used to pay its cost, the copy will use the same information, so both the original and the copy will smack your opponent for 15 damage.

Note that this only works for objects used to pay the cost. Mana payments are not objects, so a copied Firespout will result in nothing but hot air.

Q: If I cast a Lightkeeper of Emeria and kick it four times, how many counters will my Ajani's Pridemate get? Four or one?

A: Just one, I'm afraid. Lightkeeper of Emeria's enter-the-battlefield ability constitutes only one life-gain instruction, so the Pridemate's ability only triggers once regardless of how often you kicked the Lightkeeper. "For each time it was kicked" indicates multiplication, not repetition.

Q: If I have a Leyline of Anticipation out and flash a Serra Angel in at the end of my opponent's turn, can she attack during my turn?

A: Certainly! The summoning sickness rule doesn't care how long you've controlled the creature. It cares since when you've controlled the creature. If you've controlled the creature since the beginning of your turn, it can attack, and you have controlled Serra Angel since the beginning of your turn. The fact that you haven't controlled her for very long before that point doesn't matter at all.

Q: What happens when an animated Gideon Jura gets hit with a Lightning Bolt when Leyline of Punishment is out?

A: The damage can't be prevented, so it's not prevented, so it's dealt normally. Of course, nothing is quite "normal" when you are dealing damage to an object that's both a planeswalker and a creature. Because it's a planeswalker, you'll remove three loyalty counters from it, and because it's a creature, you mark 3 damage on it.

Q: So, what happens if we replace Gideon Jura with a Protean Hydra in that scenario? Will it still lose its counters?

A: Yes, it will. The Hydra's damage prevention effect still applies even if it fails to prevent the damage. The additional effect of removing counters still occurs, so the Hydra will lose three +1/+1 counters and it'll have three damage marked on it.

Q: Am I crazy or will Training Grounds allow me to prevent 3 damage for each 1 I spend on Vengeful Archon's ability?

A: I don't know if you're crazy, but that is an evil little combo you've got there, and it works just the way you expect. You announce X=3, so the cost for the ability is 3, which Training Grounds reduces to 1. When the ability resolves, it creates a prevention shield that's good for 3 points of damage, and there is no limit to how many of those shields you can create.

And that's it for now! That almost didn't hurt at all, did it? Please join us again next week when Eli will return with another fine selection of interesting rules questions.

- Carsten Haese


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