Cranial Insertion: Future Sight (Not the Set or the Card)

Cranial Insertion
Future Sight (Not the Set or the Card)
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in Spanish here.]

One of the tricky things about writing these articles in advance is that I often forget that my article comes out sometimes a week after I finish writing it. (Articles are rarely written live at midnight, it's a terrible strain on our typing fingers.) Case in point, I sat down at my keyboard all ready to tell you how excited I was for Grand Prix Washington DC this weekend and how our loyal readers should come see Eli and I there... and then I realized that by the time this article "airs", I'll already be exhausted from it! I thought about writing this article in the future past-tense, but that in itself was exhausting, and I haven't read The Restaurant at the End of the Universe lately enough to have had rememberinged how to have done it... see what I mean?

Okay, now that I've taken some Tylenol for that headache, it's time to get to your questions... or perhaps I've already gotten to them? Feel free to send us your questions either now or sometime in the future at [email][email protected][/email] and we'll get to them as soon as we already did.

"The future, Paskoff?"
"That's right readers - all the way to
the set Magic 2011!"

Q: I have an infinite mill combo going, but my opponent has an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in his deck. Can I just employ the theory that I'll keep doing it until his library is ordered the way I want it to be?

A: No, the tournament rules don't allow that kind of shortcut. There's no such things as "infinite" in Magic, so you'll need to pick a number and say you're doing it that many times. Since you can't guarantee you're going to get the desired library order in that many tries, you can't use this shortcut.

Q: If there's a Painter's Servant naming blue, can Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre's "when you cast" ability target Emrakul, the Aeons Torn?

A: Nope! Ulamog's "when you cast" ability is a triggered ability, and its source is a spell on the stack - in this case, a colored spell, which Emrakul has protection from.

Q: If the aforementioned Painter's Servant is still on the battlefield, can Eye of Ugin fetch up anything?

A: Nothing much at all actually. Painter's Servant colors things in all zones, including your library. All it'll do for you is to be a really expensive way to shuffle your library.

Q: Is Emrakul, the Aeons Torn legal as an EDH general?

A: Yes! All you need to do is find 99 other cards to play that don't have any colored mana symbols anywhere on them.

Q: What's the deal with artistically modified cards? I have a few cards that artists have extended the art on, are those legal in PTQs?

A: It really depends on how the cards are modified. If they're painted in a way that they're easy to cut to when cutting your library, i.e. because the paint added too much thickness, it might get you a Marked Cards infraction. When in doubt, leave the pretty cards on display in your binder and play with ones that haven't been modified.

Unless you can see into the future,
you can't tell what may get fetched up!
Q: If a player swings with a Sovereigns of Lost Alara, can I wait to see which Aura he's grabbing before I decide whether or not to Heat Ray it or not?

A: Nope - you can do it in response to the triggered ability, but one the search starts, no one will get priority until after the Aura's attached and the ability has resolved completely.

Q: How does Aven Mimeomancer work with levelers? If my opponent puts a counter on my Nirkana Cutthroat and I level it up to the third level, is it a 5/4 or 3/1?

A: Just a 3/1 still. The Mimeomancer's ability and the leveler's stats apply in the same layer, but Aven Mimeomancer's ability always has a later timestamp than the leveler creature, so it'll always take precendence no matter how high you level your leveler.

Q: I was playing against my friend who had a Gigantomancer on the battlefield while I had an Aven Mimeomancer on my side. If I put one of the Mimeomancer's feather counters on his Gigantomancer during my upkeep, would his activated ability be able to overwrite the feather counter?

A: Yes! You've got two power/toughness setting abilities here, and neither one is a characteristic-defining ability, so they'll apply in time-stamp order.

Q: Can I Swerve a spell to an illegal target just so it'll fizzle?

A: No - you need to have a legal target to change to, or you can't change the target at all. Otherwise you could easily Swerve a Doom Blade onto, say, a land.

Q: I know that when multiple creatures are being put into my graveyard at the same time, I choose the order. So if my opponent hits me with a Plague Wind and I have an Academy Rector and a Glory Seeker, can I have the Academy Rector die first so I can fetch up a Grave Pact and have my opponent sacrifice a creature?

A: No; though you choose the order the creatures are placed in the graveyard, that order only has some relevance for some semi-obscure old cards from way back when that care about graveyard order. They're still all being destroyed at once, so although you can fetch up a Grave Pact, it'll only help if more of your creatures die.

Q: When I cascade into a Borderland Ranger, do I randomize the cards I missed on before or after I search and shuffle?

A: If the missed cascade cards end up on the bottom of your library, it'll only be because they were randomly put there by shuffling. When you cascade into a card like Borderland Ranger, you cast it and put it onto the stack, and then finish up the cascade by putting the other cascade-whifs onto the bottom of your library in a random order that doesn't matter because you'll soon be searching and shuffling.

Q: If we get 18 people at FNM, can we just do four rounds with a cut to top eight rather than the five rounds we're supposed to?

A: Outside of premier events, there's no real required number of rounds. The minimum is three rounds, but anything after that is the tournament organizer's call! We do four rounds with no cut to top eight at my FNM place, with a payout based on record, and we regularly get around forty players. Just tell your TO to be careful - shave a round off with enough players, and you could wind up not having an X-1 make top 8!

Q: Can I get infinite mana with Mana Reflection and Basalt Monolith? Someone told me this didn't work because Basalt Monolith can't untap itself with its own mana.

A: Whoever told you that is probably confused and still thinking of an outdated wording of Basalt Monolith. See, to prevent infinite combos with Power Artifact, the card was originally errated to not allow Basalt Monolith's own mana to untap it. But then the power-level errata was removed, and now there are some ridiculous infinite mana combos in EDH!

Q: Can a creature with deathtouch and trample assign 1 damage to the blocking creature (assuming it is larger than X/1) and the rest to the defending player?

A: Sorry, but you'll still need to assign lethal damage. Even though 1 damage from a creature with deathtouch will destroy the creature, "lethal damage" is always the creature's toughness minus any damage already marked on it.

Q: I have an Ulamog's Crusher. My opponent enchants it with Brink of Disaster. When it is declared as an attacker next turn, I know it will be destroyed, but will my opponent have to sacrifice two permanents from the annihilator trigger?

A: Your Crusher won't go out without a bang - or two bangs, actually. Declaring the Crusher as an attacker causes two things to happen: the Crusher to become tapped, and the Brink of Disaster to trigger. Your annihilator trigger will go on the stack first, followed by Brink of Disaster's, meaning his Brink of Disaster will resolve first. This works out in your favor, because since the Aura will be gone when the annihilator trigger resolves, he won't be able to sacrifice his Brink to Crusher's annihilator trigger!

Q: Lion's Eye Diamond has a mana ability, so why can't I cast a spell, then use Lion's Eye Diamond to pay for it while just discarding the rest of my hand?

A: Lion's Eye Diamond does have a mana ability, but with a strange restriction that only lets you activate it at the time you could cast an instant. You get a chance to activate mana abilities while casting a spell, but not instants.

Will I get this question at the GP?
Depends if I judge any EDH events
I guess!
Q: What happens if I cast Brainstorm when I control a Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar?

A: You'll look at the top three cards of your library, pick one, and put the rest on the bottom of your library... then do that two more times. This is because when you draw multiple cards, you draw them one at a time, so there's time for the replacement effect to kick in for each draw. After that, you'll take two cards from your hand and put them on the top of your library. That's a lot of digging for one blue mana!

Q: If I sacrifice a Glory Seeker with an Eldrazi Conscription on it to Momentous Fall, do I draw two cards and gain 2 life or twelve cards and 12 life?

A: Twelve and 12! Though the Glory Seeker isn't enchanted with the +10/+10 Aura any longer on account of being dead, the game doesn't care - it uses last known information to determine how many cards and how many lifes... er, much life, you should gain.

Q: I Polymorphed a Saproling token into an Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre last turn, but I'm kind of hoping for something bigger this turn. Since Ulamog can't be destroyed, can he be Polymorphed?

A: Ulamog is a legal target for Polymorph, but chances are you already know that. What you might not know is that even though Ulamog can't be destroyed, that doesn't stop Polymorph from doing as much as possible. You'll flip up cards until you get something big, but the plucky Ulamog will continue on his path of annihilation.

Q: With a Narcolepsy on my Brimstone Mage, can I still tap it in response to the Aura's trigger?

A: Yup! The key here is that Narcolepsy has a triggered ability. That uses the stack, so you can respond to it in any way you see fit. Lots of players will just leave their creature tapped while Narcolepsy's on it. This is an acceptable shortcut, but a bad habit if it causes you to forget important things like your dude having abilities to use.

Q: I attack with a fully leveled-up Beastbreaker of Bala Ged, and my opponent blocks with a 4/4 and a 2/2. If I use Harm's Way to redirect 2 of the combat damage from the 2/2 back at itself, will the defending player take 2 trample damage?

A: Killing a blocker before combat damage is a good way to let your tramplers through - but it needs to be done before combat damage. Harm's Way can't redirect damage before it's attempted to be dealt, and before that, combat damage must be assigned - and that damage is already assigned at the 2/2, not the defending player.

Q:I use Domestication on a creature with power 4 or greater, then after the ability triggers at end of turn, I use an Aura Finesse to move the Domestication to another creature with power 3 or less. Will Domestication still die?

A: It'll live to steal another day! Domestication has an "intervening if" trigger, which means its trigger condition needs to be true both when it triggers and when it resolves.

Well that was fun! By the way, if you're going to be in DC this weekend... er, visit the Air & Space Museum. I hear it's lovely!


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