Cranial Insertion: The Eyes of March

Cranial Insertion
The Eyes of March
or, The March of Eyes of Orms-by-Gore

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in Spanish here.]

oh hai
It seems like only yesterday that we were getting ready for Worldwake, and it's already time to start looking forward to Rise of the Eldrazi. Where does the time go? Possibly devoured by an interplanar parasite.

But we've still got several weeks of WWK questions, along with some Legacy favorites after the smashing success of GP—Madrid, to cover before the Eldrazi come for us! Got questions of your own? Send them in to [email][email protected][/email] for an answer, and you may even see it in a future article.

Speaking of future articles, we're proud to add Italian to the short list of languages that get a CI translation! The fine folks over at Italian Magic Judges have translated a couple; if you speak Italian, encourage them to continue!

So, feast your eyes on these questions, and see if you can find some humor in the cornea puns. If not, you can still be good pupils and learn lots.

Q: So say that I have a Butcher of Malakir on the battlefield and a Wurmcalling in hand. Can every 2GG I spend become a Chainer's Edict with buyback?

A: Sure – there's nothing saying that X for Wurmcalling can't be 0, so you're welcome to make a 0/0 Wurm, get Wurmcalling back, and then have the Wurm promptly die for being even less useful than your average annelid – but what matters is that it did enter the battlefield before dying. That triggers the Butcher, who has some strong feelings regarding little wurmies.

Q: If I cast a Slaughter Pact on my own turn, then my opponent casts and activates Mindslaver on his turn, will I lose the game if he refuses to pay the upkeep cost?

A: You will. The happy shiny new rule 116.3c clarifies that even if paying a cost is mandatory, activating mana abilities to make yourself able to pay that cost is not mandatory.

Q: If I have an Etherium Sculptor out, do I only have to return a land to my hand to cast Mistvein Borderpost?

A: Etherium Sculptor looks at the cost and reduces it; the cost in question may be the mana cost in the top right, or it may be an alternate cost such as the Borderposts' alternate cost. With a cost of "1, Bounce a land," the cost will be reduced to "0, Bounce a land."

Q: Can I change the text of a land with Glamerdye so that when it is tapped it will not produce its normal color of mana?

A: 305.6 tells us that basic land types convey the ability "t: Add [mana symbol] to your mana pool" – there isn't a color word there, though, just a mana symbol, and Glamerdye isn't potent enough to dye those.

As bad as it is, it does produce
mana while Eye of Ugin does not.
Q: I cast Sower of Temptation and target my opponents' Tarmogoyf to gain control of it. Next turn, my opponent uses his Vodalian Illusionist to phase out my faerie. What happens to the Tarmogoyf? What happens when the Sower phases in?

A: As soon as the Sower phases out, the "for as long as" duration of its gain-control ability expires since, as far as the effect's concerned, it's no longer on the battlefield. The goyf goes back to your opponent. When the Sower phases in, all excited to peek at its goyf-in-a-cage, it'll be disappointed to see it gone: the effect does not somehow resume once it's ended. Since the Sower isn't entering the battlefield, it won't trigger, either.

Q: I only have one Golgari Grave-Troll in my graveyard and I'm supposed to draw two cards. Do I have to dredge once and draw, or can I dredge once, and then dredge again if I turn over something with dredge?

A: 119.2 shows us that draws are always individual actions, even if you're instructed to draw many at once. So perform one action entirely – draw a card, but instead dredge – and then after that's complete, consider the next action. If you dredged into another card with dredge, you can dredge it for your second draw.

Q: Can I Stifle dredge?

A: Stifle only counters activated and triggered abilities. Activated abilities always have the magical colon in them ( : ) and triggered abilities always include "when," "whenever," or "at." For modern cards, and most older cards, the reminder text will include the colon or a trigger word if it's one of those sorts of abilities, or you can check the CR. Dredge doesn't have any of those; it's a replacement effect, so Stifle can't stop it.

Q: If I control Humility and my opponent casts Meddling Mage anyway, does he get to name a card? Will it ever do anything?

A: He does get to name a card. Replacement effects, such as that of Meddling Mage, apply before it actually moves, when it still has the ability. With a card named, that card will be unplayable once Humility's gone or if the card's name is Chimney Imp.

Q: What do I get when I Rite of Replication a face-down Grinning Demon?

A: A frowny Demon, of course. And a 2/2 blank creature, with no color, name, creature type, or abilities. The hidden characteristics of the Demon aren't copied, and the token itself is face up, so it can't be unmorphed.

Q: Is cascade searching, so I could use my Archive Trap?

A: In Magic, some words have very special meanings. "Search" is one of those. Any time there is a search, it will explicitly say so, and cascade does not say so. You'll have to pay full price to spring your trap.

Q: Can I get any color of mana out of Reflecting Pool with a luckless Gemstone Caverns?

A: Nope, but you can at least get a colorless mana. For Reflecting Pool, we care about what types of mana could be generated if the abilities were activated right now, whether or not activating them is actually possible. For Gemstone Caverns, activating the ability will produce a colorless mana since it has no luck counter. Compare this to a counter-free Vivid Grove, which has an ability that may not be possible to activate, but would produce any color if you did somehow activate it.

Wiki the story of this guy. Seriously.
Q: If I'm on the play, and I choose to use Serum Powder, do you have to say whether or not you're mulliganing before I get my new seven?

A: Nope. Serum Powder modifies the declaration of mulligans by giving you an option: rather than make your mulligan choice, you can exile your hand and pick up that many. Then you pick up where you left off, needing to make your mulligan decision. Your opponent won't choose until after you choose – even though mulligans are performed simultaneously, the choices to do so are made sequentially.

Q: If I Ponder with Vampire Nocturnus out, will my opponent see the three cards I pick up?

A: He won't. While you're looking at the top three cards of your library, they are still the top three cards of your library. He only gets to see the top one. After you put them back, he'll get to see the new top one before you shuffle and/or before you draw.

Q: If I use Jace, the Mind Sculptor's 0 ability with a Sphinx of Jwar Isle on the battlefield, can I peek at the top card once I've drawn my three, while deciding which two to put back on top?

A: Unlike Ponder, Jace is cool and lets you actually draw the cards you're holding in your hand. Since you do draw them, the top card would be revealed after you pick each one up, and your opponent would be able to see all three and the next one down. Now, that assumes Mr. Nocturnus is still hanging around, but the Sphinx is very, very similar. The only difference is that you can peek, and your opponent may not. So peek away!

Q: My opponent controls three basic lands and a Rootbound Crag. I also control three basic lands, and a Tectonic Edge. Can I cast Boom and target a basic land of his, and my own Tectonic Edge, respond to my own spell by tapping the Tectonic Edge to sacrifice it, destroy the Rootbound Crag, and leave him at two lands and me at three?

A: That's quite a mouthful (eyeful?) but it works. Since Boom is on the stack and hasn't resolved yet, your Edge and his basic land are both still hanging around. You sacrifice your Edge to blow up his Crag, and then when Boom goes to resolve, it will see one land missing. Since it still has a legal target, it does not care, though.

This comes up a whole lot at all levels of play – a lot of players seem to think that a spell is countered if any of its targets are illegal. No. A spell is only countered if all of its targets, every single one of 'em, is illegal. Sure, some spells won't have an effect without all of its legal targets, but those are rare and strange, and Boom isn't one of them.

Q: I don't understand the interaction between Cunning Sparkmage and Basilisk Collar. I thought deathtouch only worked for combat damage. Cunning Sparkmage's activated ability does not deal combat damage, does it?

A: You've learned incorrectly: any damage from a source with deathtouch, not just combat damage, results in the state-based action knocking off the damaged creature. The Sparkmage certainly doesn't deal combat damage; "combat damage" is only damage assigned and dealt as a result of the turn-based actions in the combat damage steps.

Q: I control a Subterranean Shambler equipped with Basilisk Collar. It dies, but since it triggers from the graveyard, won't its damage not kill things?

A: The Shambler actually triggers from the battlefield. Things that trigger specifically on going from the battlefield to the graveyard look back in time to determine whether or not they should trigger, based on the ability as it then existed and the event as it happened.

Since the trigger's coming from the battlefield, the source is the Shambler on the battlefield. But lo, it's nowhere to be seen! So the game uses its last known information to determine its characteristics, and one of those is "i can has deathtouchies." And if damage is dealt to a creature by a source with deathtouch, that happy little state-based action comes in to wipe that creature away.

Q: When my opponent casts Hit targeting me, and the only creature/artifact I have on the board when it resolves is Empyrial Archangel, where does the damage end up?

A: Even though no one gets priority in between the Angel being sacrificed and the damage being dealt, those are discrete actions that happen one at a time. After the first action, there is no replacement effect to stop the second action from poking you in the eye sockets, so you take all 8 damage.

Q: In Two-Headed Giant, which head is combat damage assigned to by default if we don't want to tip off our opponents that we have shenanigans?

A: There is no default, intentionally – if you suspect or know that the damage assignment is going to be relevant, you need to make it clear. If you don't want to give anything away, assign damage explicitly throughout the game, or establish early on that you're always assigning it to player A.

Q: This question arose during our last Cube Draft: could I play a Swamp as an Ancestral Vision thanks to Richard Garfield, Ph.D.?

A: You can try, but since you can't pay the mana cost, you fail. (Technically, "with the same mana cost" can't synch up cost-less spells, but that's black-bordered land. I'd bet you that Mark Rosewater would rule otherwise for silver-bordered land!)

Q: What happens in a multiplayer game when an opponent has an Abyssal Persecutor and an effect says I win?

A: In multiplayer games, "you win" translates to "everyone else in your range of influence loses." Assuming there is no range of influence here, everyone should lose... but no one can, thanks to our demonic buddy! Except for the poor schmuck that called him up at 3am to get out of bed and get on the battlefield. He sure can lose.

Q: Is there anywhere I can go online to discuss a rules situation with some judges other than emailing you guys?

A: Hop onto IRC – we're on the EfNet network. There's #mtgjudge to discuss judging issues, #mtg for idle chatter, and the brand-new #mtgrules to just ask rules questions and get rules answers without a lot of background noise. I'm EliShffrn there, Carsten is Carsten, and Paskoff is BJPaskoff when he's around.

Well, the eyes have it for this week. Come back next week for a goyftastic helping of rules, and remember – the following week is CI's fifth anniversary! Man, I've been doing this a long time.

Until next time, keep your eyes on the prize!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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