Cranial Insertion: Zombie Moko Goes to Washington

Cranial Insertion
Zombie Moko Goes to Washington
or, Zombies Go Hungry at Congress

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in [url=]Spanish here[/url].]

Zero calories!
As those of you who met us at Grand Prix—DC know, Moko didn't really go to Washington, DC. Sorry to disappoint you. I offered to take him, but he'd starve among the blighted dearth of savory grey matter, so he stayed and harassed my cat while I was gone.

Or while I am gone... while I... like Paskoff last week, I'm having some glitches with tenses. I'm actually starting to write this article just as he finished his and put it up for editing before the Grand Prix, and I'll be finishing this article on the flight home from DC. Ever wonder how high altitude affects rules-column writers? Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, send in any questions you have to [email][email protected][/email] and we'll get an answer back to you. Here's a sample of the last week's goodies!

Q: When Gideon Jura stops being a creature, what happens to any Auras with enchant creature that I've put on him?

A: The Auras attached to Gideon will suddenly realize that they have enchant creature but they do not currently enchant a creature. This makes them very, very sad Auras, and state-based actions will cause them to plummet off the battlefield into your graveyard.

Q: What does annihilator do when I attack a planeswalker?

A: Any time something cares about the "defending player" and a planeswalker is under attack, the controller of that walker is the defending player. He'll have to sacrifice some permanents, possibly including the planeswalker. If the planeswalker is sacrificed, the creature won't damage anything.

Q: What if then the planeswalker is sacrificed but I ninjutsu in Ninja of the Deep Hours? Where does the Ninja go?

A: Ninjas come in attacking the same player or walker as the creature they ninjaed out. So your Ninja will be attacking the planeswalker that is no longer there – that's fine. It still won't deal any combat damage at all since there's nothing to assign it to. It can't suddenly change directions or plow through and hit you.

Q: What happens if I cast Time Warp on turn five of overtime?

A: Then you get an extra turn... that you don't get to actually take. After the fifth turn is over, the match is over, period.

I can't believe it's not butter!
Q: I exiled my opponent's Spreading Seas with Oblivion Ring, but then he destroyed the O-Ring. Who decides where to put the Seas now?

A: You're the one returning the Seas, but 303.4f tells us that we don't care. The player who gets to chose where the Aura goes is the player under whose control the Aura is entering the battlefield. Your opponent, the owner of the Seas, gets to pick where his Seas goes.

Q: Who loses if I Harm's Way damage from Phage the Untouchable from me back to its controller?

A: Phage will deal damage to both of you at once, so it triggers twice. Phage's controller chooses the order to put these triggers on the stack, and after one resolves, the game's over so the other won't ever resolve. Unless you've got your opponent under the effects of Mindslaver or certain narcotics, your opponent will have you lose first.

Q: I am having trouble figuring out how to execute the effect of Surreal Memoir when the rules state that the order of cards in a graveyard cannot be changed. What should I do?

A: If you're playing in a Standard, Extended, or Limited event, it's easy: randomize your graveyard. You're allowed to do that in tournaments that don't allow any graveyard-order-matters cards.

If you're in a format with Urza's an earlier block, then it's time to pull out a d6! Number the instant cards in your graveyard, then roll. So if you have four cards to choose from, the topmost one is 1, the bottom one is 4, and you reroll the die on a 5 or 6.

Q: I rolled C earlier while on the Undercity Reaches plane, but now I have eight cards in hand and want one to be in my graveyard. Can I discard anyway during my cleanup?

Q: Do I have to apply totem armor, or can I let my creature die if I want?

A: These two questions have roughly the same answer: neither is optional, so even when the good thing is actually bad for you, you're stuck with it. The same way you can't ignore bad stuff because you don't like it, you can't ignore good stuff if it turns out you don't like it.

You have no hand size, so you can't discard as part of the cleanup step. The Aura has totem armor, so the destruction will be replaced with destroying an Aura.

Q: Aren't Walls really, really good post-M10? I just block with attackers with my powerful creatures and a big Wall, and put the Wall first in the damage assignment order.

A: If the rules worked the way you thought, they'd be awesome! Unfortunately, you're a little bit off. The attacking player chooses the damage assignment order for the blockers, not the defending player, so walls are only as good as they were before. (Well, that plus ROE's defender subtheme!)

Q: I sacrifice Sterling Grove while enchanted with Wheel of Sun and Moon. Can I get the same Grove?

A: You sure can. The Grove is put on the bottom of your library as a cost to activate the search ability. It'll be down there long before the ability resolves and the search happens.

Q: What all is copied on the Rite of Replication token?

A: Oh boy. Quite a list to recite! Luckily, one rule very handily answers all of this:

706.2. When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s characteristics and, for an object on the stack, choices made when casting or activating it (mode, targets, the value of X, whether it was kicked, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on). The “copiable values” are the values derived from the text printed on the object (that text being name, mana cost, card type, subtype, supertype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, toughness, and/or loyalty), as modified by other copy effects, by “as . . . enters the battlefield” and “as . . . is turned face up” abilities that set characteristics, and by abilities that caused the object to be face down. Other effects (including type-changing and text-changing effects), status, and counters are not copied.

Q: I control a Bloodghast and I play Phyrexian Tower. Can I respond to the landfall trigger by turning the Bloodghast into mana and then get it back?

A: There won't be a landfall trigger, so it's all moot. 112.6i tells us that Bloodghast's landfall trigger only triggers while it's in the yard. You'll need to sacrifice the Bloodghast to something else first to get it back with the Tower.

Procrastination for the win.
Q: My Gideon Jura got Delayed. I can attack with him the turn he comes out of suspend, though, right?

A: Nope, you can't. Suspend gives haste if it's a creature spell, and even though Gideon can become a creature right fast once he enters the battlefield, he's still not a creature spell.

Q: I cast Sakashima the Impostor and an opponent responded with Gather Specimens. Can I copy something dinky to give to him, or does he get to choose what gets copied?

A: He'll get to choose. If any replacement effects modify under whose control the creature enters (which only applies to Gather Specimens!), they must be applied before any other replacement effects.

Q: What's the difference between "cast" and "play" on new cards?

A: Purely templating. "Play" is used when you might be able to either play a land or cast a spell; if playing a land isn't an option, "cast" is used. In general, there is no difference. Some people think the difference is in starting to cast, or in actually resolving, but no; there is no difference.

Q: My Nicol Bolas attacks my opponent's Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. Does the planeswalker discard his hand? Or does the game explode because a paradox has occurred? Will this game state summon the Doctor?

A: The Doctor won't come to help out, but that's okay because there isn't any real problem here. Bolas pre-walker and Bolas post-walker aren't both legendary and aren't both planeswalkers, so they can happily coexist, at least as happily as Bolas coexists with anything else in the multiverse.

As for the discarding, it won't trigger. Bolas triggers when it deals combat damage to a player, and even though Nicol Bolas is better than you, he's not a player, just a planeswalker. Old Bolas won't trigger at all, no one discards, and the game goes on.

Q: What's Gideon Jura's converted mana cost when he's attacking me?

A: The same as when he isn't attacking you. Gideon as a creature is still the same object, with the same 3WW mana cost, and the same CMC of 5.

Q: How can these sleeves be marked! I just bought them!

A: The unfortunate truth is that sleeves, like any other manufactured product in the world, can have quality issues. Sometimes it's just a couple of sleeves with marks. Sometimes, especially if the sleeves come in two mini-packs of 40, half of the sleeves will be noticeably different from the others.

The fact that your sleeves are brand-new and marked isn't a judge issue; go back to the dealer and request a new pack or a refund. But it doesn't excuse you from the need to have unmarked sleeves; check your new sleeves before you start playing.

Q: I cast Path to Exile on his creature, and he put it into the graveyard and we didn't catch it for a bit. Who gets the Game Rule Violation penalty here?

A: You both do! This is a fairly recent change to the Magic Infraction Procedure Guide: if one player controls the source of the effect but another player actually performs the action, neither one of you is merely getting a Failure to Maintain Game State warning; you're both engaged in actions incorrectly, so you're both violating game rules.

Q: My opponent blocked and killed my Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and we didn't realize until after he cast a bunch of stuff on his turn that Ulamog can't be killed by ordinary blockers. It was a casual game, so we just put it back, but what would a judge have us do in a tournament?

A: In this case, your opponent didn't specifically take an action, so he gets Failure to Maintain Game State warning, while you get a Game Rule Violation warning.

The real question is: can the Head Judge rewind this?

Most judges will say no: stuff has been cast, decisions have been made. You can't do a partial rewind and just stick Ulamog where it should be; it's all or nothing.

Of course, opinions will vary by judge, so you can't plan on anything – but, then again, if you're making plans based on infractions, you're edging towards cheating. Just play the game right.

Q: Do you have to win a Grand Prix Trial to play in a Grand Prix?

A: Grand Prix are open to everyone! Except those naughty people on the suspended list, but who cares about them? A GPT gives you a few byes, though, which means you can show up for the player meeting early and then get food and coffee before you start playing in round 4.

And that's all for this week. I'll be back in a few weeks for our grand Archenemy special, where I can finally exercise my devious talent for maniacal laughter. (Editor's Note: He's distressingly good at it)

Until next time, may all your time loops remain stable!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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