Cranial Insertion: Going to 11

Cranial Insertion
Going to 11
or, Wait, Did You Really Not See That Joke Coming?

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in
">Spanish here.]

Angels should not look like
they have hentacles.
So, did you all have fun at the M11 prerelease? We sure did! Carsten's on vacation and couldn't work the one near him, but Paskoff and I worked ours in New York and Tucson, respectively. Lots of Titans stomping around, a few Angels soaring the skies, and a few oozes oozing all over the world.

We are, of course, disappointed by the lack of monkeys in M11. Maybe next year.

This article answers a handful of questions that we got about the new set before the prerelease, as well as some of the questions we got at the prerelease. Make sure that you also read Magic 2011 FAQ page">the Magic 2011 FAQ page for some other big questions – you think core sets are nice and simple, and then along come some Leylines to throw a spanner in the works.

If you still have questions, send us an email at [email][email protected][/email]! Not only will we answer your question, it might appear in a future column and you may become rich and famous. Note that the former is much more likely than the latter.

Q: M10 rotates out when M11 is released, right?

A: Wrong! A few years ago, core set rotations were based on other core sets, but that changed with M10. Now, core sets rotate as part of the block immediately before them. So M10 is tied to Alara block, and will rotate when Scars of Mirrodin rolls in and kicks Jund out of Standard. That means that for about 2.5 months, both M10 and M11 will be legal together in Standard, happily casting spells together before their love is torn asunder by the cruel march of progress.

Q: What exactly does the deathtouch change actually change?

A: There's one somewhat-meaningful change, and one broadly meaningless change. The meaningless change: combat damage assignment order is not irrelevant for deathtouch. It still kinda is – you only have to assign 1 damage to the first guy in order before you can move on to the second, then 1 more damage to get on to the third – but if your opponent does something after blockers are ordered that makes you want to kill the third and fourth guy rather than the first and second with your 2/2 deathtoucher, you're out of luck.

The more meaningful change is that, for the purposes of assigning combat damage, 1 damage from a creature with deathtouch counts as "enough damage to destroy that creature." So your 2/2 deathtouch blocked by a 1/3 creature will deal 1 damage to your opponent if your deathtoucher somehow gains trample.

Q: Can I still Lightning Bolt my opponent's planeswalker when he has out Leyline of Sanctity?

A: Oddly enough, you can't. To "bolt a planeswalker" is a DCI-sanctioned shortcut (that is, your opponent's not allowed to complain if you use it) for "I target you with this spell, and when it resolves, I will choose to deal the damage to your planeswalker unless you respond to the spell."

But the key bit there is "I target you" – that can't happen while your opponent is rolling in fields of blue flowers.

Q: If I pump Water Servant to 0/9, can I then make it 8/1 going the other way?

A: No can do. A -2/9 creature deals 0 damage just like a 0-power creature, but its power is still actually -2. Activating the +1/-1 ability will bring it to -1/8, not 1/8.

Putting the counter on Coiled Tinviper
earns you special geek points.
Q: I have Mycosynth Lattice out and I cast Phylactery Lich. Can I put the counter on itself?

A: Nope. Hiding the phylactery is a replacement effect that modifies how the Lich enters the battlefield. You have to pick where it'll go immediately before it enters, and immediately before the Lich enters the battlefield, the Lich is not on the battlefield, so it can't be chosen.

Q: I'm at 28 life, and my Holy Strengthed Serra Ascendant blocks a 4/4. Will it survive?

A: It will! As part of combat damage being dealt, the Ascendant takes 4 damage and deals 2 damage and you gain 2 life. You immediately go to 30 life, and the Ascendant immediately gets +5/+5 – this isn't a triggered ability, but a continuous effect that's checked, well, continuously. When state-based actions come around, the game finds a 7/8 with 4 damage and shrugs.

Q: If two creatures with lifelink deal combat damage at once, does Ajani's Pridemate get one counter or two?

A: It'll get two counters. Multiple simultaneous instances of lifelink lifegain via different sources of damage don't coalesce into one.

Q: Two Frost Titans attack. If they both target the same creature, will it stay tapped for two turns?

A: The Titan's effect says that it won't untap during the creature's controller's next untap step; both apply only during that untap step. This is different from effects that say to skip the next step, such as Yosei, the Morning Star, which might be what you're thinking of; in that case, once you skip once, the second skip effect can't apply then. In this case, the two effects merely modify the rules for the one step..

Q: Can Gargoyle Sentinel block Juggernaut?

A: Sure, it's not a Wall. Walls have defender as a design rule (but not as a game rule), but not all creatures with defender are Walls.

Q: Will Fire Servant let me deal a 3-1 split on damage from Forked Bolt?

A: Fire Servant modifies the damage as it's dealt, but the split happens well before the damage is dealt, as you announce the spell. All you can do is 2-2 or 4 to one target.

Q: How big is Earth Servant after I Diminish it?

A: It'll be 1/butt. The setting effect of Diminish always applies before the +0/+X effect of Earth Servant itself, so it'll become 1/1 before getting +0/+X.

Q: My opponent attacks with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Can I sacrifice Mitotic Slime, its babies, and most of its grandbabies to fulfill the annihilator?

A: No, your familicide will be restricted to one generation. The abilities that makes babies and grandbabies are triggered abilities, which won't go on the stack until after the annihilator trigger resolves and won't resolve until shortly after that. Meanwhile, all six annihilator victims must be sacrificed at the same time.

Q: In response to Combust, he gives his Baneslayer Angel protection from red. It still dies, right?

A: Baneslayer will laugh and survive. Combust can't be countered by spells or abilities, but it can be countered by the game rules – and the game rules say that something with protection from red can't be the target of a red spell. If it were Rolling Earthquake for 5 with the damage made unpreventable somehow, the Angel would die since the damage couldn't be prevented by protection, but the targeting aspect of protection still works against Combust.

Aw, it's so cute even
as it's burning my face!
Q: At the beginning of my upkeep, can I get my Spawn from Awakening Zone then shuttle the Jinxed Idol over to my opponent before it shocks me?

A: No such luck. At the beginning of your upkeep, both the Zone and the Idol trigger and the triggers are put on the stack before you can do anything. Even if you pass the Idol over to your opponent, it's too late to stop the trigger already on the stack from dealing 2 damage to you.

Q: I activate Sorcerer's Strongbox, untap it with Voltaic Key, and activate it again. If I win both flips, do I get six cards?

A: You do! Drawing three cards isn't contingent upon sacrificing the Strongbox. If you can't sac it, you do as much as possible: draw three cards.

Q: If my opponent has Angelic Arbiter out, can I respond to declaring attacks with instants?

A: Declaring attackers doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to; it's a turn-based action. If your opponent jumps the gun and tries to declare attackers without letting you act in his beginning of combat step, you can say "wait, before that..." or even the incorrect-but-okay "in response to that..." but you're not actually responding to anything. You're just doing something first.

There is no way to both attack and cast a spell with Angelic Arbiter against you unless the Arbiter dies or changes control somewhere in there.

Q: Does "this turn" on Angelic Arbiter refer to the turn that I cast it?

A: No, it refers to the turn that it currently is.

Q: What happens when I Time Reversal with Cast through Time out?

A: Rebound changes what the spell does when it tries to go to the graveyard at the end of resolution. Since Time Reversal's own effect exiles it during resolution, it never tries to go to the graveyard at all, and rebound can't be applied.

Q: Is Wild Evocation only good with lots of instants or Leyline of Anticipation?

A: When an effect says to cast a spell or that you may cast a spell without a time frame like "this turn" attached, that's an explicit permission: cast it now. During the resolution of the trigger. This is a time where you normally can't cast anything at all, not even instants, but you can cast any spells the effect tells you to regardless of card type because something is giving you permission here.

Q: If I attack Alice with Ancient Hellkite and Bob with some other creature, can I use the Hellkite to cook Bob's creatures?

A: When an ability of an attacking creature refers to the "defending player," that means the player it's attacking. The Hellkite can only burninate the creatures it's flying over. (Or towards, if you're going to cook some birdies out of the sky.)

Q: Can I exile my opponent's Primeval Titan with Mystifying Maze in some way so that he doesn't get his two lands for combat, only for when it comes back?

A: There's no way to do that. In order to get the Titan lost in the Maze, it has to be attacking; as soon as it attacks, the trigger fires. Even if you exile the Titan, the trigger will still resolve and fetch up some lands.

Q: So, Gaea's Revenge works like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, right? I can get rid of it with Oblivion Ring?

A: Emrakul has protection from colored spells, but Gaea's Revenge can't be the target of nongreen spells and abilities from nongreen sources. Oblivion Ring's trigger is an ability, and it's from a nongreen source, so it can't target the Revenge.

That's all for this week, but come back next time when Carsten adds in more fun new questions, as well as returning to non-M11 questions about Standard, the new Extended, and whatever else you ask us about!

Until next time, don't let yourself be limited by the cold constraints of possibility!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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