Cranial Insertion: Choices in Your Head

Cranial Insertion
Choices in Your Head
or, They Tell Me to Pet a Monkey

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

I kinda want one of these.
Happy new year, folks! With the bright shiny new 2010, we also come into Extended season and cold season! And what better way to celebrate the CI team being high on cough medicine than to let you write the column? So, open up your word processing program, pick up a number 2 pencil, put it down, try in vain to find a monkey as cool as ours, get in trouble with the ASCPA trying to zombify it, and enjoy!

Okay, we won't make you do all of the work. But it is indeed time for one of our quiz articles! You'll get a question and five answers below – choose your answer in your head (this isn't formal enough to bother setting up any way to mark your answers) and then click the button to reveal whether your answer was right or not.

Note that unlike other quiz columns, some of these questions have multiple correct answers! The lead-in to the answer selection will note if multiple answers may be correct.

The answers to these questions are here, but what about the other questions bouncing around in your head? Send those in to [email][email protected][/email] for an answer, and your question may even be published in a future column.

As for now, the quiz's the thing!

Q: What can I do when Goldmeadow Stalwart wants to come out of suspension from Jhoira of the Ghitu?

A: The answer(s) is/are...
A: Pay 3 for it.
B: Don't pay for it.
C: Reveal a card for it.
D: Neither reveal nor pay.
E: Tell it to get you a cookie first.

All of the above!
Granted, demanding a cookie from an inanimate object is not likely to have productive consequences.

Since suspend instructs you to cast the spell without paying its mana cost, you still have to cover any mandatory additional costs. You can reveal a Kithkin or pay mana to get the Stalwart, but there is a little wrinkle. You must cast the spell if able, but if you don't have mana in your mana pool, the game will not see you as being able to cast the spell, even if you do have lands you could tap to generate that mana. If you really want, you can choose not to cast the Stalwart and let it remain in exile forever.

Q: My opponent sacrifices one Nantuko Husk to another. What can I kill off with Lightning Bolt to reduce the damage I'll take in combat?

A: The answer is...
A: The Husk he wants to sacrifice.
B: The Husk he's sacrificing to.
C: Either Husk.
D: Neither Husk.
E: The player who is at 3 life.

B, and really E, too!
I've seen E three times. It always makes me giggle inside.

The sacrificed Husk is sacrificed as a cost to activate the ability, so it's gone before anyone can do anything about it. However, even though that one's gone right away, the activated ability is still put on the stack and you can respond before the other Husk gets +2/+2.

Q: A Phytohydra with no counters but equipped with Fireshrieker and Behemoth Sledge attacks and a Spearbreaker Behemoth with a Galvanic Arc on blocks. What's the most I can trample over? How much life do I gain?

A: The answer is...
A: Phytohydra deals 3 damage to the Behemoth, you gain 3 life. Then Phytohydra deals 3 damage to the Behemoth, and you gain 3 life.
B: Phytohydra deals 3 damage to the Behemoth, you gain no life. Then Phytohydra deals 5 damage to the Behemoth, 3 to your opponent, and you gain 3 life.
C: Phytohydra deals 3 damage to the Behemoth, you gain 3 life. Then Phytohydra deals 5 damage to the Behemoth, 3 to your opponent, and you gain 8 life.
D: Phytohydra deals 3 damage to the Behemoth, you gain 3 life. Then Phytohydra deals 2 damage to the Behemoth, 6 to your opponent, and you gain 8 life.
E: Your head asplode.

D, 3-3-2-6-8!
Even though the Behemoth is indestructible, damage is still dealt, and you still gain life for the damage the Phytohydra deals. Five counters go on it as first-strike damage is dealt, and the 3 damage to the Behemoth is still marked on it, even though it won't practically matter. Since this damage is marked, you only need 2 more for "lethal" damage, even though it won't be lethal in this case, and your 8/8 Hydra can assign the remaining 6 to the defending player.

Q: My Steppe Lynx has a Crown of Fury on it, then I play a land and swing. My opponent Ovinizes it. What do I have now?

A: The answer is...
A: 3/3 kitty with first strike
B: 3/3 kitty without first strike
C: 1/1 kitty without first strike
D: 0/1 kitty where first strike does not matter anyway
E: You're a kitty!

B, 3/3 kitty!
Back before M10, there was a series of qualifications for what applied in the same layer as Ovinize's setting and what applied later, but now it's all easy: any + and – applies after. So we have a 0/1 kitty, which is quite normal, that gets +2/+2 and +1/+0 for a total of 3/3.

Since the Lynx already had a Crown on before Ovinize resolved, Ovinize has the later timestamp and will wipe the first strike. If the Crown were added later, somehow, then it would still have first strike.

Everyone do the rhino dance!
Q: I control Liability and a Dauntless Escort I stole from my opponent. After combat, I sacrifice it. Who loses life?

A: The dauntless answer is...
A: It goes to your graveyard and you lose 1 life.
B: It goes to his graveyard, but you lose 1 life.
C: It goes to his graveyard and he loses 1 life.
D: It goes to your graveyard, but he loses 1 life.
E: It goes to my graveyard, and I gain 1 life.

C, it's all on him!
A card can never go to any graveyard but its owner's, so you know it has to be B or C. Most triggers that trigger on going to a graveyard say that "you" do something, but Liability says that "that player" loses 1 life, and the only player mentioned is the player to whose graveyard the permanent goes. As weird as it seems, your opponent's the one to lose a life here.

Q: What happens if Dralnu, Lich Lord gives Ancestral Visions flashback?

A: The answer is...
A: The flashback cost is 0 and you can cast it.
B: The flashback cost is null and you can't cast it.
C: The flashback cost is null but you can suspend it.
D: The flashback cost is 0 and you can cast it or suspend it.
E: Ancestral Visions starts screaming about the Charlies.

B, that sure was useless!
Ancestral Visions has no mana cost, so it will have no flashback cost – 0 is just its converted mana cost. A null mana cost can't be paid, so you can't cast it, and you can only suspend cards from your hand.

Q: I have Bonesplitter on an Elf token and then my opponent Reality Ripples the token. When do I get what back?

A: The answer, given that this happens during your untap step, is...
A: The Elf token comes back with the Bonesplitter attached.
B: The Bonesplitter comes back, the Elf token never comes back.
C: The Elf token comes back and the Bonesplitter comes back unattached.
D: Neither ever come back.
E: This answer has been phased out.

D, gone, baby, gone!
A token that phases out ceases to exist, even though it's not changing zones and is still on the battlefield. The Bonesplitter indirectly phases out, being attached to something phasing out; things that phase out indirectly phase in along with whatever they were attached to. Since the token never phases in, the Bonesplitter won't, either.

Q: In what zones is Transguild Courier a multicolor card?

A: The answer, so colorful that many may be correct, is...
A: On the battlefield.
B: In your library.
C: In the exile zone.
D: In your sideboard.
E: In your trade binder.

All of the above!
An ability that says that a creature "is" one or more colors, creature types, or that its power and/or toughness "are" equal to some number is a characteristic-defining ability (CDA). CDAs apply everywhere – in all zones and outside the game. So no matter where you look, you'll find a WUBRG card with an A cost.

Q: What happens if I discard Guerrilla Tactics to my opponent's Oona's Prowler?

A: The answer is...
A: It triggers since an opponent's effect made you discard it.
B: It doesn't trigger since you control the effect.
C: It doesn't trigger since it's not discarded to an effect.
D: It depends whose turn it is.
E: Ook ook.

C, no gorillas for you!
B is also kinda correct since you do control the effect, but even if your opponent did control it, you wouldn't get a trigger. The real issue is that you're discarding it as a cost rather than as part of the effect, so it won't trigger.

Q: My opponent controls Tolsimir Wolfblood with a -1/-1 counter and Runeclaw Bear, and I cast Solar Tide entwined. What dies?

A: The answer is...
A: First Tolsimir is destroyed, then the Bear is small enough that it lives.
B: First the set of objects to be destroyed is determined, then they're all destroyed at once.
C: First the set of objects to be destroyed is determined, then Tolsimir is destroyed, then the Bear.
D: You choose which order to carry out the modes in, so you can destroy the Bear first.
E: Wait, someone played Runeclaw Bear? Anywhere? Ever? Madness!

A, it's alive! ALIVE!
The actions on Solar Tide are performed in the order printed, regardless of in what order you say you're choosing them. When you have multiple verbs without the word "simultaneously," things are done sequentially, so answer B is right out. The "determine the set of objects" rule only applies to figuring out what's affected by a continuous effect from a resolving spell or ability, and being destroyed isn't a continuous effect, so this doesn't apply here. You'll just destroy all small creatures, then look at the board for big creatures and destroy any that are big at this point - and the Bear is back to a safe 2/2.

And you thought pigeons were bad.
Q: I control Transcendence, Worship, and a creature, and I'm at 1. My opponent swings with Rhox War Monk and I, of course, don't block. Do either of us gain life?

A: The answer is...
A: He gains life for lifelink, you gain no life.
B: Neither player gains life.
C: Both players gain life.
D: He gains no life, you gain life for Transcendence.
E: Worship me, you puny fools! Bwahahaha!

A, all of his life for him!
With Worship, the damage is still dealt, so he does gain life. However, Worship changes the result of that damage. Normally 3 damage would mean that you lose 3 life, but Worship changes it to you losing no life, so Transcendence doesn't trigger.

Q: I have no way left to win, but I can keep spitting out chump blockers to survive until time is called. Is that a problem if I do?

A: The answer will eventually possibly be...
A: Yes, it's Slow Play.
B: Yes, it's Stalling.
C: Yes, but there is no specific penalty.
D: No, it's not a problem.
E: No, but there will be baseball bats outside waiting for you.

D, I've got 99 problems but a chump blocker ain't one of em!
As long as you play at a reasonable pace, it's fine to try to survive. If you spend a lot of time trying to think of what to do or checking your yard and library over and over, we'll be heading towards slow play; if you do it intentionally, then it's stalling. But play quickly, and you'll be fine.

Q: I cast Hideous End targeting a black creature and notice as soon as he changes his life total. How do you judges fix things like that?

A: The answer, and there might be more than one in the end, is...
A: Untap your lands.
B: Put Hideous End back in your hand.
C: Put Hideous End back on the stack with a different target.
D: Nothing at all.
E: Opponent un-subtracts 2 from his life total.
F: Return the creature to the battlefield.
G: Freak out because I gave you more than five answers.
H: DQ for Cheating, obviously.
I: for an I.
J: Warning or something for Cheating.
K: Overuse a joke.

A, B, E, and F!
D may be a valid answer, depending on exactly what happened, but the fix for a Game Rule Violation is to rewind if feasible, and if nothing else has happened in response to or after the Hideous End, that seems eminently doable.

To rewind, rewind everything that happened since the illegal action: your opponent gets his life back, Hideous End returns to your hand, the lands you tapped for mana to cast it are untapped. Oh, and the creature comes back out of the graveyard, that's fairly important, too!

"He broke a rule? Cheats!" and "he'd probably get a warning for Cheating" are two pet peeves of mine. Cheating is always a DQ, and most mistakes are unintentional.

There you go! That wasn't too hard, was it? The Rules Advisor exam at the Judge Center is a little longer, a little harder, and has five viable answers, but if you did well and haven't tried out already, consider taking some practice exams and then the Rules Advisor test.

Until next time, may life come to you in multiple choice!

- Eli Shiffrin


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