Cranial Insertion: The Eleventh Hour





Cranial Insertion
The Eleventh Hour
or, I bet you saw that one coming!

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese


[This article is available in Spanish here.]


Berlin, Germany, Summer 2010
(artistic approximation)
Welcome to week two of celebrating the arrival of Magic 2011! As Eli mentioned in the last issue, I am on vacation, so I didn't have the time to participate in any prerelease or release tournaments for Magic 2011. Instead, I have been enjoying (or enduring?) the Heat Wave that somebody seems to have cast over Germany, but that's not stopping me from bringing you a fresh helping of Magic rules questions and answers. Our inbox at [email][email protected][/email] has been brimming with questions about interesting card interactions from all corners of the multiverse, so please enjoy this latest selection from our inbox and please keep the questions coming to feed our future issues.

As a note to any of our readers heading out to San Diego ComicCon, both Eli and our editor, Dan, will be judging Magic events there Thursday through Saturday. Moko will be there as well.




Q: So, I was playing in a five player EDH game, one player had an It That Betrays out, and I got a copy of it with Rite of Replication. A third player sacrificed a Strip Mine to nuke a land. Can the other guy with It That Betrays and I now bounce the Strip Mine between ourselves and blow up all lands on the board?

A: Yes, that works. First, one of you gets it from the third player (determined by Active Player, Non-Active Player in turn order). Then, when you sacrifice it, he gets it, and when he sacrifices it, you get it. Note that this requires you and your opponent to cooperate with each other, and there's nothing stopping your opponent from starting to blow up your lands, too. Also, your opponents might throw pillows at you and/or ban you from the play group, since EDH is supposed to be fun, and there aren't a lot of things that are less fun than one-sided land destruction.




Q: I am an archenemy with four opponents and set I Delight in Your Convulsions in motion. If one of my opponents has only 1 life, how much life do I gain?

A: Each of your opponents loses 3 life, and you gain that much life. While it's impossible to pay life you don't have, you can certainly lose life you don't have. Your opponent goes from 1 life to -2 life and will probably lose the game very soon. A total of 12 life was lost, so you gain 12 life. Muahahaha!

Q: By the way, what is the difference between damage and loss of life?

A: The difference between damage and loss of life is analogous to the difference between rain and getting wet. One can cause the other, but they are not the same.




Q: If I target Ink-Treader Nephilim for both instances of "target" for Soul's Fire, thus triggering the Nephilim's ability, will every creature that can be a target of Soul's Fire deal damage to itself as a result?

A: Sure, but that play isn't quite as awesome as you're hoping, since only creatures that can legally work as targets in both slots of Soul's Fire will be targeted by the copies. Since Soul's Fire's first target needs to be a creature you control, you're basically telling all your creatures to punch themselves in the face while your opponent's creatures just point and laugh at them.

Q: In another situation, I control Soul Warden and Ink-Treader Nephilim, my opponent controls three creatures, and I cast Turn to Mist targeting my Nephilim. Assuming that all creatures can be targeted by the Nephilim copies, do all of the creatures return to play at the same time, or can I arrange the copies so that my Soul Warden comes back first and I gain life from the other creatures coming back?

A: The creatures return to the battlefield due to a delayed triggered ability that triggers at the beginning of the end step. Those triggers all trigger at the same time, but they resolve one by one. Since you control them all, you get to decide the order in which they go on the stack, so you can arrange the abilities such that Soul Warden comes back first.




Q: If I have two 2/2 wolf tokens in play and use Master of the Wild Hunt's ability targeting my opponent's Tidehollow Strix, is there any way at all for me to avoid having both wolves killed?

A: Probably not. Your opponent's Tidehollow Strix will deal a total of 2 damage to your wolves, divided however he sees fit. Unless he has some reason for not wanting both your wolves dead, he'll probably have the Strix deal 1 damage to each one, killing both, and there's not much you can do to avoid that short of putting your opponent under a Mindslaver effect, which seems like an awful lot of effort to save a 2/2 wolf token.





Anti-anti-mill tech, now back in Standard!
Q: What happens to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and its Eldrazi titan friends when they go to an opponent's graveyard while I control Leyline of the Void?

A: Thanks to your Leyline, the titan actually won't go to the graveyard at all! The trip to the graveyard is replaced with a trip to the exile zone, the titan's ability does not trigger, and the titan simply stays exiled. Good for you, bad for him!




Q: What happens if Divine Intervention goes off inside a Shahrazad-created subgame?

A: The subgame is a draw, which means that nobody wins the subgame. Since everybody who participated in the subgame failed to win it, everybody will lose half of their life.




Q: Can Norin the Wary swing for damage or does he see his shadow and run away?

A: He sees his shadow and runs away. He is a creature, and his ability has no exclusion for himself (which would say something like "whenever another creature attacks"), so attacking with him triggers his ability and he is gone even before the declare blockers step begins.




Q: My opponent is alive at -8 life because I control an Abyssal Persecutor, and I connect with an unblocked Glory Seeker that's equipped with a Quietus Spike. What happens when the Spike's triggered ability resolves?

A: With a few exceptions that don't apply here, a calculation that determines the result of an effect uses 0 instead of a negative result. Instead of losing -5 life, your opponent will lose 0 life and stay at -10 life.




Q: I cast Torrent of Souls to bring back a Bogardan Hellkite and there's a Bladewing's Thrall in my graveyard, so it'll come back, too. Does the Thrall get +2/+0 and haste from the Torrent of Souls?

A: Sadly, it will not. Torrent of Souls will only affect creatures that you control at the moment it resolves. The triggered ability that returns the Thrall doesn't even go on the stack -- let alone resolve -- until Torrent of Souls has finished resolving.




Q: I was told that I can't use Gideon Jura's +0 ability the turn I cast him because he'll suffer from summoning sickness. If that's true, isn't that ability totally useless as he would always have summoning sickness?

A: Well, you can activate the +0 ability right away, but he'll be subject to the summoning sickness rule as soon as he becomes a creature, so this won't be very useful unless you can somehow give him haste or maybe Fling him at your opponent for a particularly hilarious finishing move. Fortunately, the summoning sickness rule doesn't care about when a creature has become a creature; it only cares about since when its controller has controlled it. Once you have controlled Gideon since the beginning of your turn, you can animate him and attack with him normally even though he wasn't a creature at the beginning of your turn.




Q: If my Hellkite Charger is enchanted with Bear Umbra, do I have to pay for the Charger's ability immediately or can I stack it so that Bear Umbra's ability resolves first?

A: You only pay for the Charger's ability when that ability resolves. Both abilities trigger when the Charger attacks, and because you control both of them, you can put them onto the stack in the order you choose. If you choose to put the Umbra's ability on top of the stack, you'll untap your lands first and then you can tap them again to pay for the Charger's ability.




Q: If I activate Alluring Siren's ability, can the targeted creature attack my planeswalker?

A: Probably not. Alluring Siren's ability creates a requirement that the creature must attack you if it's able to do so. Your planeswalker is not you, so attacking your planeswalker does not fulfill the requirement. If the creature is for some reason unable to attack you, then the requirement is void and the creature can either attack your planeswalker or just stay at home and not attack at all.





"I see a green Ooze and
I want to paint it black..."
Q: Let's say I control a Mitotic Slime, and Painter's Servant set to black is on the battlefield. Is it possible to pay 6 life, sacrifice Mitotic Slime, and then sacrifice the two tokens it produces to pay the alternative casting cost for Demon of Death's Gate?

A: Unfortunately, that won't work. You have to pay the full cost all at once, so you need to have three creatures to sacrifice at the moment you begin casting the Demon. The triggered ability that creates the green-painted-black Ooze tokens will resolve way too late to help you with the Demon's alternative cost.




Q: I control Ashenmoor Liege and my opponent targets it for both effects of Agony Warp. How much life does he lose?

A: Only 4. The Liege's ability triggers when the process of casting a spell that's targeting it has been completed, or when a spell's target is changed to the Liege, or when a spell targeting the Liege is put on the stack. The Liege is becoming the target of Agony Warp only once even if both instances of the word "target" are referring to it.

Q: I control another Ashenmoor Liege and my opponent tries to Lightning Bolt it. In response, I Giant Growth it to save it, so my opponent Twincasts the Bolt to make sure the Liege dies. How much life will he lose from that?

A: That'll be 8 life, please. The Liege becomes the target of the original, and then it becomes the target of the copy, so the ability triggers twice.




Q: I cast Eureka and choose to put Angel of Despair onto the battlefield. My opponent puts Humility onto the battlefield. Does the Angel still get to destroy a permament? If so, can it even destroy Humility?

A: Yes and, surprisingly, yes! Even though triggered abilities don't get put on the stack in the middle of a spell's resolution, they can (and do) trigger in the middle of a spell's resolution. The Angel had its enter-the-battlefield ability when it entered the battlefield, so the ability triggered. It'll wait until Eureka is done resolving to go on the stack, and it'll go on the stack even though the Angel has lost that ability by then. The target is chosen when the ability is put on the stack, after Eureka is done, so Humility is indeed an eligible target for the ability.




Q: I control an unflipped Jushi Apprentice and have 9 cards in hand. If I activate the Apprentice's ability and copy it with Rings of Brighthearth, what happens when both abilities resolve?

A: Flipping a permanent is a one-way street. Once a permanent has been flipped, it can't become unflipped. The first time the ability resolves, the Apprentice flips and becomes Tomoya the Revealer. The second time, you're asked to flip a permanent that's already flipped, which is impossible, so nothing happens except for the card draw.




Q: Let's say I have an Abyssal Persecutor and I swing at my opponent who has less than 6 life. He doesn't block, so now he is only being kept alive by my Abyssal Persecutor. Is there a moment at which I can Condemn my Persecutor this turn yet, or do I have to wait until next turn to pull off that move?

A: I have good news for you: You can finish your opponent right then and there, and you actually have two moments at which you can do this. Attacking creatures and blocking creatures are considered attacking and blocking all the way through the end of the combat phase, which ends with the end of combat step. After the Persecutor has dealt the finishing blow, you receive priority in the combat damage step, and then you receive priority again in the end of combat step. Either moment is an equally good opportunity to Condemn the Persecutor to the library and finish off your opponent.




Well, that's all the time I have for now. Before I go, I'd like to mention that Grand Prix--Columbus is coming up soon. Eli and Brian couldn't fit this one into their schedules, but I will do my best to represent the Cranial Insertion team. Come on down to Columbus and keep an eye out for me!

- Carsten Haese

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