Cranial Insertion: I Visited Bant

Cranial Insertion
I Visited Bant
...and all I got was this crummy Emblem
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in Spanish here.]

Well another fantastic prerelease and release are in the books, and along with the release of Magic's newest and greatest core set, there's a whole host of new rules documents updates for us to talk about. The Tournament Infraction Guidelines got a facelift, with Regular REL (the rules enforcement level for FNM and all the other-night-and-afternoon M's at your local shops) getting a major overhaul, the Comprehensive Rules got a few updates, and the Oracle updated again as well. Unlike Carsten and Eli, I haven't been touring the wide world of Magic, but as the title suggests I did get a nice souvenir from Bant....

Before we get to the questions, remember you can always send in your questions to [email][email protected][/email]!

Why's it an "emblem" and not a "sigil"?

Q: Sooo... what's this about "Emblems"?

A: An emblem is a new game object players can get. It exists in the game's newish command zone, in which Archenemy cards, Planechase cards, and EDH generals reside. You control it, but nothing can ever interact with it, so it's basically like some super ultra enchantment that'll never go away as long as you're in the game.

Elspeth, Knight Errant is the only card that gives players an emblem currently; the ability worked before because indestructibility isn't an ability. Elspeth's ultimate affects permanents you control for the rest of the game because making things indestructible doesn't set characteristics. If it did set characteristics (like "Creatures you control have +2/+2"), it'd only apply to creatures you controlled when the ultimate went off. An emblem basically solves this by giving creating an object the has the ability rather than a one-shot effect that has wacky interactions with setting characteristics.

Q: I'm kind of scared of going up against Obstinate Baloth in a PTQ come Extended season. If I Thoughtseize my opponent who only has one card in hand, and that card is a Baloth, can I fail to find and let him keep it there instead of the battlefield?

A: We got this question a lot when Wilt-Leaf Liege was big, and I've already started hearing it again. Hopefully this'll prevent any misinformation: you can only "fail to find" when searching a hidden zone. Thoughtseize just has you "choose a card", which isn't a search at all! Besides, the player's hand is public information while it's revealed, so Thoughtseize is like a Shock, Beast Attack, and Life Burst all for B. Too bad you're on the wrong side of all that.

Q: If I use Experiment Kraj to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature with level up, what abilities does Kraj get?

A: Well for starters, it definitely gets level up, because it's an activated ability (cost: effect). However, those counters you put on it won't do much unless it later becomes a copy of a leveler dude. For example, putting a +1/+1 counter on a Lighthouse Chronologist will let Experiment Kraj level up for U, but he won't give you extra turns even if he or the Chronologist is leveled up as far as it can go. Experiment Kraj will be able to ping for 3 if there's a +1/+1 counter on a fully-leveled Brimstone Mage though, because that's an activated ability. It doesn't matter how many level counters are on Kraj, just the amount of counters on the Brimstone Mage.

Q: My opponent has a Yixlid Jailer out, but I still want to pull off some sacrificial shennanigans with Reassembling Skeleton. If I activate the Skeleton's ability while it's on the battlefield, then sacrifice it, will it reassemble onto the battlefield?

A: Nope, your skeleton will be a pile of useless bones. Since Reassembling Skeleton's ability states where it works from, you can only activate it from the graveyard.

Q: How does the new EDH mulligan rule work exactly?

A: Even though this new mulligan rule for EDH was released a few months ago, many players still don't know how it works. Shuffling a 99-card deck is a huge pain, so EDH games use the "partial Paris mulligan" now. When you draw your hand, you can exile any number of cards from it face down, then draw that many cards minus one. You can repeat this process as often as you like, remembering that each time you do it you'll be down a card. Once you decide to keep your hand, you shuffle all the face-down exiled cards into your library and start the game. When your games can last hours, the less time you spend shuffling the better!

Q: If I counter a kicked Sphinx of Lost Truths with Desertion, when I get the deserting Sphinx, do I discard three cards?

A: This riddle's been puzzling people for quite some time, and this Comprehensive Rules update finally gives a solid answer. Presently, rule 400.7c says this:

Abilities of a permanent that require information about choices made as that permanent was cast use information about the spell that became that permanent.

You could have interpreted that to say that because the Sphinx was kicked as a spell, its ability will see that when it becomes a permanent. Now this rule is being changed to be clear that this only happens when the permanent results from the spell resolving, which it clearly isn't if Desertion has countered the spell and then given you the creature.

This is probably the most common
question I was axed at the release events.
Q: I steal an Assault Griffin wielding a Warlord's Axe with Act of Treason. Do I get the Equipment too, or does it fall off?

A: It won't fall off, but you won't get it, but you won't exactly lose it, either. You only gain control of the creature, not the Equipment - but the equipment's attached to the creature, and since most Equipment has no way to move it around other than whenever you could cast a sorcery, your Assault Griffin is going to be bashing your opponent in the face with his own Axe. Only the equip ability targets a creature you control; once it's on a creature, it won't fall off.

Q: If I use Act of Treason to steal my opponent's Angelic Arbiter, can I attack with it?

A: Yup! Angelic Arbiter's ability only affects the opponents of the controler of the Angel. It affects you right up until you gain control of it during the resolution of Act of Treason, and then it affects your opponent for the rest of the turn.

Q: My Royal Assassin is about to be taken with Act of Treason, but I've got tapped creatures I'm worried about. In response, can I tap it to kill itself for the good of the rest of my team?

A: It's a noble effort, but you can't do this. You'll need to pick a target before paying the costs, so Royal Assassin won't ever be a legal target for its own ability.

Q: If I attack with my Cyclops Gladiator and target the defending player's Royal Assassin, will the Assassin still die if it taps to kill my Cyclops?

A: Yup! Unlike some flavorful creature-dueling abilities, Cyclops Gladiator doesn't say it has to be on the battlefield when its ability resolves. If it's not around when its ability resolves, the game will still need to know its power, so it'll use its last known information to see how much damage Royal Assassin will take.

Q: My opponent has an Angelic Arbiter out, and I cast a spell, which is Mana Leaked and countered. Can I then attack, since I never successfully cast my spell?

A: But you did cast a spell! "Successfully cast" is a very outdated term from a time of interrupts and spell batches. Even though your spell was countered, it was still cast, and now you can't attack this turn.

Q: If someone uses Flickerform to exile their general, can I Stifle the return trigger to leave it in exile forever, or will it go to the command zone?

A: The choice to put the general in the command zone is only made at the time when the general would go to the graveyard or exile zone. Once it's in one of those zones, it's stuck there until it changes zones again somehow.

Q: At the release, my opponent forgot to shuffle a creature that was exiled with Brittle Effigy back into his library, and we didn't notice until halfway through the next game... but he didn't get a Game Loss! What gives?

A: The rules for Regular REL tournaments have been made much more lenient on players. While this would be a Game Loss at a Competitive or Professional REL event, at prereleases, releases, FNMs, and other types of local tournaments a judge will just shuffle the missing card into the randomized portion of the library and continue the game. If someone has an illegal card in their deck, or are missing cards so the deck's under the legal limit, basic lands will replace those instead.

Q: I have a Sun Titan enchanted with Primal Cocoon. Can I negate the whole downside of Primal Cocoon by attacking with Sun Titan and stacking the triggers so it returns Primal Cocoon to the battlefield attached to Sun Titan?

A: Once Sun Titan bursts free of its Cocoon, that's it until next turn. Both Sun Titan's ability and Primal Cocoon's ability trigger when Sun Titan attacks, and even though you can put them on the stack in whichever order you like, you need to pick a target for Sun Titan's ability as soon as it goes onto the stack, and at that time Primal Cocoon isn't in the graveyard... unless you have one already in there you want to swap in and out. But that'd require playing two Primal Cocoons.

Q: If I have no cards in my library and cast See Beyond, will the card I put back save me for another turn?

A: Nope, in fact, you've just lost the game this turn instead of next one. Though state-based actions aren't checked during the resolution of See Beyond, the state-based action that kills you here is "If a player attempted to draw a card from an empty library since the last time state-based actions were checked, he or she loses the game." You did just that, so you'll lose the game the next time state-based actions are checked, as weird it is to "deck out" without an empty library.

Q: I was playing sealed at the release, and after my first round opponent thrashed me, he offered to look at my sideboard and told me I should've been playing another color. Is it too late to switch now, or will I have to play every game one with a subpar deck and board into my awesome one for game two?

A: Happily you can use your new and improved deck for every game for the rest of the tournament. In limited tournaments that don't use decklists, you can change your deck permanently whenever you want, and at those Regular REL events, it's not cheating to help someone with their deck. Especially at prerelease events where the format's uncertain, my deck I end the tournament with rarely has the same forty cards I started with!

The most :3 art in all of Magic!
Q: Does Diminish remove abilities? It doesn't say, but I've had a few opponents try to tell me it does... most similar cards work that way!

A: It doesn't, as many players found out the hard way at M11 limited events; a Diminished Baneslayer Angel is still a problem, though a much tinier one.

Q: How does Diminish interact with Giant Growth these days?

A: Not too well for the Diminish player! A creature's power and toughness are figured out using a system of layers, and things that set a creature's power and toughness are always applied before things that modify a creature's power and toughness. No matter if Giant Growth was cast before or after Diminish, it'll still give the creature +3/+3, so you can have a 4/4 Giant Diminished Giant Spider.

Q: Can someone block a Vulshok Berserker with a Prodigal Pyromancer, tap the Pyromancer to deal 1 damage, and then have combat damage finish off both the Berserker and Pyromancer? I thought they couldn't since damage doesn't use the stack anymore.

A: It's time to further quash this misconception! Even though damage doesn't use the stack anymore, players still get priority after blockers are declared but before the combat damage step, and as we've covered many times before, tapped creatures deal combat damage.

Q: Will the card I put into my hand with Dark Tutelage trigger "whenever you draw a card" effects like Jace's Erasure?

A: Nope. To draw a card, you take the top card of your library and put it into your hand, but that doesn't mean that taking the top card of your library and putting it into your hand is drawing a card. If you're actually drawing and not just "putting", the effect will specifically use the word "draw".

And that's it for me this week! Tune in next week to see if we've run out of M11 questions (spoiler alert: probably not!)


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