Cranial Insertion: Eldrazi Crossing



Cranial Insertion
Eldrazi Crossing
or, What Would You Do with One Million Mana?

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in Spanish here.]


Everybody needs to touch,
you know, now and then.
Now that we've got Eldrazi bouncing here and there and everywhere, dudes buying levels rather than killing things for them, and spells boingling all over, it's time to take cover under a convenient table and look at some Rise of the Eldrazi questions! Judging by the set's 58-page FAQ document, many of you will find this set a bit more intricate rules-wise than Zendikar and Worldwake.

Before we dive into the [email][email protected][/email] mailbag, we have some mad props to give. Or maybe they're only slightly-miffed props, or possibly even content-with-their-existence props. Honestly, we don't care about these props enough on a personal level to delve their feelings. The point is, on our Fifth Anniversary article, Moko listed our authors past and present. However, he forgot one of the most important: Tom Fowler, who not only wrote in the past, but continues to help us answer the mailbag and brainstorm ideas for special occasions. Give him some extra lovin'!

And now, time for some Eldrazi!



Q: What rotates out when ROE rotates in? Just ALA, or the whole block?

A: Neither – nothing rotates. While ROE is a large expansion, and being a large expansion means you draft it alone, it is the third set of the Zendikar block. It has no impact on rotation, it rotates with ZEN and WWK (and M11) at some point in the future, and it is legal for Zendikar block constructed events.



Q: Can I choose colorless for Curse of Wizardry or Emerge Unscathed?

A: Colorless is the absence of a color. It isn't a color that you can choose. This has always been true, but it may be more relevant now than ever!



Q: What happens to my exiled rebound card if there are no legal targets for it during my upkeep?

A: Then you can't cast it when the rebound trigger resolves. Nothing says to put it into your graveyard, however, so it will sit in exile for the rest of the game, pining for the sweet meadows of the stack or even the graveyard.




Truth is on sale at Albertsons
for $2.99 a pound.
Q: If I've got Cast through Time and then I cast Time Warp and Twincast it, do I get four extra turns?

A: Nope. The rebound triggers resolve one at a time. If you resolve the Time Warp's rebound trigger first, it will go on top of the Twincast rebound trigger, give you an extra turn, and then vamoose to the graveyard. Twincast won't be able to target it.

If you do it in the opposite order, there is no Time Warp for the Twincast to target at all. So you'll only get three extra turns. What a pity.



Q: An official article on mtg.com said that if I cast a retrace spell from my graveyard with Cast through Time I get to rebound it. How does that work?

A: It works by going back and editing the article, apparently. That is, you do not get to rebound it since you didn't cast it from your hand; the article was updated to reflect this.

Remember, you have to cast the spell from your hand, not just pay the cost for it or cast it, in order for rebound to kick in. Flashback, retrace, and cascade are all pretty bombo with Cast through Time. Especially the last one – the first two at least let you copy it once more than usual, but cascade doesn't even do that since you cast it from exile.



Q: If Renegade Doppelganger copies a leveler, and I level it up a couple times, will it keep those levels in case I cast another leveler later?

A: Sure. When the copy effect ends, nothing says to remove the counters it may have gained, so you'll end up with a 0/1 Renegade Doppelganger with some level counters. Any power, toughness, or abilities gained by leveling won't be around anymore since those rely on the abilities of the leveler card, but if the Doppelganger later becomes a different leveler, the counters will apply just the same as if you dropped them on in any other way.



Q: I cast three Emrakul, the Aeons Torn via Spawnsire of Ulamog. Do the extra turns stack?

A: Extra turns do accumulate. You take an extra turn after this one (this turn, extra #1) and then you take another turn after this one (this turn, extra #2, extra #1) and then you add in a third turn after this one (this turn, extra #3, extra #2, extra #1). After this turn ends, you go through those one at a time, possibly laughing maniacally as you do so.

Q: Do I get any Emrakuls after that's all resolved?

A: And even saucier, you do get an Emrakul! Since you're not just putting them, but you're casting them, they resolve one at a time. The first one resolves, then the second one resolves and they wander off to the graveyard get a drink, and then the third one resolves. Since the first two already left, it has no clue that there's an Emrakul Drinking Party going on, and it'll chill on the battlefield to nom your opponent's stuff.



Q: Can I sacrifice an Eldrazi Spawn for mana the same turn I get it?

A: The only time you can't activate an activated ability right away is when it uses the T or Q symbol. Any other cost, such as "Sacrifice this," "Tap a creature," or "Sing a little song" doesn't have a prohibition on being paid right away, so you can activate the ability from the get-go.



Q: Will It That Betrays get me legends that die to the legend rule?

A: Nope, the "legend rule" doesn't result in a sacrifice – they are simply put into their owners' graveyard. The specific word "sacrifice" must be used for It That Betrays to perk up and yoink. No SBAs cause a sacrifice; they all either destroy or cause a "put" like this.



Q: My friend and I both control It That Betrays when a third player sacs a creature. Who gets it?

A: That depends on turn order and whose turn it is. When multiple things trigger at the same time, like these two Its, the triggers are put on the stack in APNAP order. That is, first the active player puts all of his triggers on the stack, then each nonactive player in turn order does the same. So if it's your turn, your trigger goes on the stack first, then the other. The last one put on the stack will resolve first and get the permanent back.

Once one It has taken the permanent, it's no longer in the zone it went to after being sacrificed, so the other triggers can't pull it back.



Q: I control two It That Betrays and my opponent sacrifices a creature. Can I sacrifice it for something or other between the two triggers so I still end up with it?

A: No can do. Once the creature comes back, it's a brand new object with no relation to the old one, even if it happens to go back to the graveyard before the second It trigger resolves. The second trigger won't be able to find it, so it won't come back.



Q: What happens if my opponent sacrifices Nissa's Chosen to It That Betrays?

A: Thanks to rule 603.6, we know that if Nissa's Chosen goes to any hidden zone (library or hand, really), it can safely hide from It's sticky fingers. (Or should be that be Its? Oh man, my editor's going to have fun with this.) You won't get anything when the triggered ability resolves.

Trigger events that involve objects changing zones are called “zone-change triggers.” Many abilities with zone-change triggers attempt to do something to that object after it changes zones. During resolution, these abilities look for the object in the zone that it moved to. If the object is unable to be found in the zone it went to, the part of the ability attempting to do something to the object will fail to do anything. The ability could be unable to find the object because the object never entered the specified zone, because it left the zone before the ability resolved, or because it is in a zone that is hidden from a player, such as a library or an opponent’s hand. (This rule applies even if the object leaves the zone and returns again before the ability resolves.) The most common zone-change triggers are enters-the-battlefield triggers and leaves-the-battlefield triggers.




The problem may be fixed
with a stitch in time.
Q: I control Omnath, Locus of Mana and have GGGG floating. I cast Momentous Fall and sac Omnath. How many cards do I draw?

A: You'll draw five and gain 5, unless you really want to only draw one card and gain 1 life. The mana makes Omnath a 5/5, and then you can pay the costs for Momentous Fall in any order. If you pay the mana first, Omnath is a 1/1 when you sacrifice him, so sad. But if you sacrifice Omnath first, the game will see that it was a 5/5 the last time it was hanging around the battlefield, and paying the mana later won't change that.



Q: Attacking with a guy with annihilator in 2HG, I have to declare which defending head sacs a permanent. But does that head now have to be the player the Eldrazi damages?

A: Nope! The head you choose for the triggered ability is entirely unrelated to the head you choose to assign combat damage to.

Speaking of 2HG, remember, Giant Fans (and Giant Fans): Anything that asks for your life total now bypasses that goofy rounding-half-the-total thing and just uses the team's total. Much easier, but new!



Q: What happens if I make Gideon Jura into a creature, put a +1/+1 counter on him, and then activate his first ability via Experiment Kraj?

A: Then, on that player's next turn, all of his creatures get really, really sick of Kraj pulling shenanigans with planeswalkers and they all set out to go to his house and attack him... and then they remember that Kraj is not a planeswalker nor a player, so they can't. "If able" kicks in there: they are not able, so they're free to attack Kraj's controller, Gideon, another opponent, or whatever.



Q: Can I block with Merfolk Skyscout, untap another creature, and block with that, too?

A: All blockers must be declared together, at the same time, in the middle of which no one receives priority to do anything. Triggers, like our Skyscout friend's here, won't even go on the stack until someone would get priority, well after blockers are all done being declared.

The same goes for attacking with the Skyscout and untapped a tapped creature to swing – ain't gonna happen. Just substitute the word "attack" for "block" above.



Q: If Warp World puts out Mnemonic Wall, can I get back Warp World?

A: Sure! Similar to the above situation, no one will get priority until Warp World has completely resolved, and the Wall's trigger won't go on the stack until then. You don't choose a target for the trigger until it's actually put on the stack. The final step of resolution is to put Warp World into the graveyard, so it'll be sitting there enticingly at the time you pick a target for the Wall's trigger.



Q: If I tap Overgrown Tomb for G, will Nirkana Revenant give me a B, too?

A: Sure, you tapped a Swamp for mana! You didn't tap it for black mana, but it's still a Swamp, and you did tap it for mana. You'll get BG.



Q: Is there any way I can use Staggershock to kill a 4/4?

A: Everlasting Torment or Paradox Haze. That's about it. There's no way to get normal damage to last between turns, and there's no normal way to cast Staggershock so that you get the copy on the same turn. You can't cast spells during your untap step, and as soon as the upkeep step begins it's too late to cast anything to get it to trigger at the beginning of the upkeep, which has already passed.



Q: What does Training Grounds do with morph? Cheaper to turn face down, or cheaper to turn face up?

A: Neither, actually. The cost to "turn it face down," 3, is really the cost to cast it as a spell face down. That isn't an activated ability. The cost to turn it face up, its morph cost, is a special action. It's also not an activated ability.

To pick out activated abilities, look for the :. All activated abilities have them, and any keyword abilities that are activated will have them in the reminder text.



Q: Does Linvala, Keeper of Silence stop mana abilities? I thought they were totally unstoppable.

A: If the mana abilities use a : as noted above, they're stopped. It's unusual to say that mana abilities can't be activated, and they can't be countered or targeted on the stack since they don't use the stack, but they can be prevented just fine.



All that, and the questions have only started. Come back next week when we field a bunch more of these Eldrazi brain-nibbling menaces.

Until next time, be careful what you sacrifice!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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