Cranial Insertion: Not-So Massive Rules Overhaul

Cranial Insertion
Rotating Goyfs
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in Spanish here.]

Hey man, what gives? When I want my Goyfs to rotate, it's because I'm turning them ninety degrees and putting them into the red zone, not because they're leaving a format. The biggest news recently is the Extended rotation - starting now, it starts with Time Spiral block and then changes every October, just like Standard. So while Goyf sticks around, it's only for another three months, and then Time Spiral block's out of Extended... forever! Whether you like or hate the change, we love it here: any big change in a format means lots of new rules questions, and more fuel for our inbox!

So send in your questions to [email][email protected][/email]! I'm sure we'll see a lot more now that Extended has completely gotten a face-lift and some long-forgotten rules nightmares are born again.


Q: My friends and I have some confusion about assigning combat damage. I thought I could just assign combat damage of my attacking creatures in any way I wanted, but my friend says I can only decide on the order and the first creature is dealt up to lethal damage and only then would deal damage to the second.

A: There's still a little bit of confusion among players how the M10 changes affect combat. The attacker is the one who decides the order of blockers, not the defender - otherwise walls would be pretty broken! You'll need to assign at least lethal damage to the first creature in line before you start assigning damage to the second in the conga line, and so on.

Q: If my opponent blocks my Stomper Cub with five Eldrazi Spawn tokens, can I assign all five damage to one token and none to the others so the rest spills over to the defending player?

A: Nope, you need to assign damage to each creature in order before assigning any to the defending player. Trample damage isn't "any extra damage dealt to the defending creature spills over", it actually has to be assigned to the player (or planeswalker, or planeswalking player) to hurt them, and to do that all the defending creatures must be assigned lethal damage.

Q: How does Void Maw work with creature tokens? Let's say I have a Void Maw and a Carrion Feeder out and three creature tokens, can I sac the creatures to the Carrion Feeder and then immediately pump Void Maw with the creature tokens? What if I try to pay the cost of Void Maw's ability with a creature token while Carrion Feeder's ability is still on the stack? Essentially, when exactly do the tokens disappear from non-battlefield zones?

A: You won't be able to do this. As soon as the tokens leave the battlefield, they cease to exist as a state-based action before you get would priority to activate Void Maw's ability. Your poor otherworldly horror will stay hungry.

Q: So this guy stole my Aven Mindcensor with a Sower of Temptation. I want it back, so I Path to Exile the Sower. When does my Aven Mindcensor come back? I need to know whether my opponent can search just the top four cards or his entire library.

A: Just a little off the top - four cards, to be exact. As soon as Sower goes away, its continuous control-changing effect ends and you get the Mindcensor back. This happens during the resolution of Path, even though no one gets priority during the resolution. First the creature is sent to the exile zone, which gives you the Mindcensor back, then the search happens.

Q: If I give my creature that's enchanted with Narcolepsy protection from blue, will the Aura fall off?

A: Protection prevents things from being damaged, enchanted, fortified, equipped, blocked, and targeted by things with the specified quality. The important one in this is (you guessed it) enchanted, so Narcolepsy will fall off due to state-based actions.

Q: If permanents have shroud would it protect them from Schemes like Tooth, Claw, and Tail?

A: Yup! Shroud means "this can't be the target of spells or abilities", and the scheme and others like it require the Archenemy to pick a target. And it always has to be a legal one.

You'd feel humble too if you were
in a Phil Foglio painting!
Q: Does Humility stop enters-the-battlefield triggered abilities on creatures?

A: Humility strips creatures of all abilities from the moment they enter the battlefield. So when they do, the game doesn't see the creature having any triggered abilities when it looks to see if anything should be triggering.

Q: Can I use Bringer of the Green Dawn in my Savra, Queen of the Golgari EDH deck?

A: None of the Bringers of the Color Dawn are playable in any EDH deck that isn't five-colored. Cards are illegal to use in an EDH deck if any of the mana symbols in them don't match the mana symbols in your general's mana cost, and the Bringers have all five mana symbols in their text box even if you don't plan on casting them using that.

Q: My opponent has a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Elspeth, Knight Errant in play. I have a Sarkhan the Mad with 4 loyalty and no dragons on the battlefield. If I resolve a Broodmate Dragon and subsequently activate Sarkhan's -4 ability, can I redirect the non-combat damage from one dragon to a particular planeswalker? Or can I only redirect the damage from both dragons to one planeswalker?

A: Each dragon is its own unique source of damage, not Sarkhan himself - he's just aiming them. And since each one is a separate non-combat damage source, you can redirect 4 damage to Jace and 4 damage to Elspeth if you want.

Q: My opponent is about to cast a non-instant spell, and taps his lands to start casting it. Can I legally respond to him tapping his lands and play Silence, leaving him without a way to cast the card and having him stay tapped out on my next turn?

A: Nope - tapping a land, or any permanent for mana, is a special ability that doesn't use the stack. The only exception to that is if the "mana ability" targets - then it's not a mana ability and does use the stack, so it can be responded to.

Q: Where can I find the banned/restricted lists for different formats?

A: The B&R list for all constructed formats can be found on The Mothership at

Q: But wait, Mr. Goyf! I don't care about all those boring constructed formats! What about Elder Dragon Highlander?

A: Ohhh, that's what you meant! That can be found at the official site: Keep in mind that since EDH isn't yet a sanctioned format, the EDH banned list is an "unofficial official" banned list - most people follow it, but there's certainly nothing keeping your playgroup for banning certain cards or allowing certain cards in friendly games.

Q: What happens if my creature gets Ousted, but I have no cards in my library?

A: If something would put a card into your library in a certain position, but that position is impossible, it just goes onto the bottom of your library. Make sure to shuffle!

Q: So let's say I have Seer's Sundial and Oracle of Mul Daya out. My top card is a land, and I put it into play. Can I reveal the next card on top of my library before I decide whether or not to pay 2 and draw a card?

A: Not only can you, you must! With things that tell you to play with the top card of your library revealed, your top card is always revealed. This doesn't use the stack, it's just a fact about the top card of your library, so you'll always reveal before you decide whether or not to pay 2.

Competing for Player Rewards with
yourself won't get you much treasure.
Q: Due to forgetting my DCI card a bunch of times, I somehow have a bunch of DCI numbers at different stores. What should I do?

A: Knowingly using different DCI numbers at different tournaments to protect your rating is fraud, but I hear a lot about players who early in their Magic playing career routinely forgot their DCI numbers and had to sign up for new ones a bunch of times. In that case, you should probably get them merged - not only will it help your rating be more accurate, but your Magic Player Rewards won't be so hot if you're only getting credit for them half the time you play.

Contact Wizards of the Coast's customer service department ( and they should fix you right up!

Q: My opponent attacks with a Kaldra token equipped with all three pieces of Kaldra equipment. If I block it with a Woodfall Primus, is there a way to stack the triggers so it comes back, or will Sword of Kaldra exile it no matter what?

A: Strangely enough, the Sword doesn't do anything if the creature is actually destroyed by the equipped creature. When Sword's triggered ability goes to resolve, Woodfall Primus is already in a different zone, and as such a new object that the triggered ability has lost track of. Not only will it persist, there's nothing at all stopping it!

Q: Does Hazezon Tamar's ability give you tokens equal to the number of lands when he enters the battlefield, or when the trigger resolves?

A: When the trigger resolves. Whenever a spell or ability asks you information about something in the game, it'll always check when it resolves unless it specifically says otherwise. A good example of this is the storm mechanic, which tells you specifically to count the number of spells cast before the storm spell was cast, not as the storm trigger resolves.

Q: If I Overrun some vanilla Sand Warrior tokens, will Muraganda Petroglyphs stop being their friend?

A: It will. The Sand Warriors will gain trample, which is an ability, so they no longer have no abilities.

Q: As the tale goes, Hedron Crab once had a "may" in its text, but it was removed due to the "impossible choice rule" -- if the opponent had less than three cards in the library, milling for three was an "impossible choice", and thus couldn't have been made. How is this any different from Ob Nixilis facing an opponent with less than three life?

A: A player can lose life they don't have. Paying life is a different issue (see Bond of Agony - it's not a "draw the game" spell!)

Q: Can I copy a creature with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker at end of turn, then keep it the next? This was supposed to get fixed with the M10 rules change, right? I played against a guy, though, who had asked judges about it recently, and he said it's still possible.

A: It is still possible. The only thing "fixed" with such effects is the wording; instead of "at end of turn", it's now "at the beginning of the end of turn step". Same thing, just a little bit clearer on when it actually happens. Once the beginning of the end of turn step passes and all triggered abilities that should trigger there do so, any such other effects will wait around until the next beginning of the end of turn step.

Q: I have a Renegade Doppelganger in play. I cast a Bloodthrone Vampire and have the Doppelganger copy it, then sac a bunch of creatures to the Doppelganger. If I then turn the Doppelganger into something else, will it keep the bonus from the Vampire's ability?

A: It will! The copy effects apply in a much earlier layer than the power/toughness buffs of the Vampire's ability, so it'll keep them when it becomes a copy of something else.

Q: Can Vampire Hexmage save a creature with a mannequin counter on it from Makeshift Mannequin from eventual death to a targeted ability?

A: Sadly, no. Ironically, targeting the creature with Vampire Hexmage's ability will cause the target to be sacrificed, and then the Hexmage's ability will be countered on resolution for doing exactly what you were attempting to prevent.

And that's it for me this week! Keep sending in those emails!


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