Cranial Insertion: Attack of the 20/20 Goyf



Cranial Insertion
Attack of the 20/20 Goyf
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson


L2 NY

I can barely believe it, but this is my twentieth Cranial Insertion article! It seems like only yesterday that Eli was telling me to start typing up my first ever article (which, as I fire up my history in Firefox, turns out was a year ago on November 3rd. I really need to keep track of these things with more than sequentially-numbered .txt files.) and I was lost in a sea of Mirrorweave questions. These days Warp World plagues my dreams, but I still love answering rules questions and writing these articles every three weeks or so. As this is basically my anniversary column, I wanted to thank all the players who send in rules questions. There's a few of you who send in lots of questions every week, and while I'd like to name them all here, I'm afraid I'd leave one out; plus the mailbag's semi-confidential, I guess. I also want to thank all the CI writers past and present who helped develop this column and got me where I am today. Any aspiring judges out there, this is one of the best resources out there for learning what you need to know!

Okay enough with the sappy stuff. You can help me come up with another twenty articles by sending your questions into [email][email protected][/email]! I can't personally answer every rules question (there's only so much Goyf to go around), but someone highly qualified to answer your question will get back to you... and your question might even end up here!




Q: I cast Body Double. It resolves. I choose Phage the Untouchable in my graveyard. I then cast Rite of Replication on my Body Doubling Phage. Do I get a token creature that is a copy of the card Body Double, or do I have another Phage the Untouchable and a nasty trigger to deal with?

A: Oh it's Mirrorweave all over again! Normally something that copies something else only copies printed characteristics, but it also copies other copy effects. Body Double is a copy of Phage, so you're going to have another copy of Phage and you're going to lose the game if you don't do something fast.




Q: I'm being attacked by a 3/3 Beast token. Can I Harm's Way the damage back to the attacking player's Garruk Wildspeaker?

A: Nope. Damage that would be dealt by a source a player controls can never be redirected to a planeswalker that player controls, and combat damage is excluded from the planeswalker-damage-redirection rule. It might seem counter-intuitive in cases like this, but that's the rule. Harm's Way isn't actually doing the damage here, the attacking creature is.




Q: Can get two copies of a split card with Gifts Ungiven, i.e. two Research // Developments and two Fire // Ices?

A: Research // Development's name is Research and it's Development, but that doesn't work for Gifts Ungiven. Gifts needs four cards with different names, so if you get two copies of Research // Development, that's violating the "cards with different name" rule because the game sees that there are two cards with the name Research.




Q: What happens if my Vesuvan Doppelganger copies a Chronozoa during my upkeep and then dies without a time counter on it?

A: The copies your Vesuvan Chronozoa creates are copies of Chronozoa, but copy effects copy the printed characteristics plus other copy effects, so the tokens will still have the shape-changing ability.




Q: If a Darksteel Colossus is being put into my graveyard, but my opponent has a Leyline of the Void on the field, what happens to my Colossus?

A: It'll get shuffled in, if you want it to. Both Leyline and the Colossus have replacement effects that replace Darksteel Colossus going into your graveyard. Since you're the controller of the affected object, you get to choose what happens to it.




Q: Can I use Harm's Way to redirect the damage that a Deft Duelist would deal?

A: Sure! Even though Deft Duelist has shroud, Harm's Way's only target is the creature or player you're going to redirect damage to.





This dude here actually caused
more questions than you can
possibly imagine.
Q: If my opponent has a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir on the board, can I cast Vedalken Orrery to timestamp over Teferi and allow me the use of instants again?

A: Nope. The Orrery doesn't speed up your spells, it just lets you cast them whenever you could cast a spell with flash. And with Teferi on your opponent's side, even spells that already have flash can only be cast whenever you could cast sorcery.




Q: How does Pyromancer Ascension interact with flashback and retrace? i.e., if I have the Ascension on the field and a single Flame Jab in the 'yard, can I retrace the Flame Jab to put a counter on the Ascension? Similarly, what if I have a (single) Momentary Blink in the graveyard and flash it back?

A: Neither one's going to interact very well with Pyromancer Ascension. In both cases, the first step in casting the spell is to move it from the zone it's in (the graveyard) to the stack. Then you announce targets, pay costs, etc., and then after all that the spell becomes cast and triggers "when you cast" type abilities.




Q: Can I choose to discard my hand to stop a Perplex from countering my spell, even if I have no cards in my hand?

A: Yup. To discard your hand means to discard each card in your hand. In this case, all zero of 'em.




Q: My Tarmogoyf is is being targeted by an uncounterable Banefire with X=7. If I tap my Mother of Runes to give the Tarmogoyf protection from red, will it save it from Banefire?

A: Banefire can't be countered by spells or abilities, but it can still be countered by the rules of the game! Mother of Runes's ability isn't actually countering Banefire, so the "can't be countered by spells or abilities" clause doesn't affect it. In order for Banefire to resolve, its target must be legal both when it's announced and when it tries to resolve. It was legal to target the Tarmogoyf with a red spell when Banefire was announced, but once it tries to resolve and sees that Tarmogoyf can no longer be targeted by red spells, it'll be countered by game rules.




Q: If I Twincast a Banefire, is X automatically 0 for the copy?

A: The value of X is a copiable characteristic, so Twincasting a Banefire is a great way to ruin someone's day.




Q: I can't really afford Dark Depths, but can I use Vampire Hexmage to take all the counters off a suspended Greater Gargadon?

A: I'm afraid you'll only be able to remove a single counter from a suspended Greater Gargadon by saccing your Hexmage. Vampire Hexmage says "target permanent" and Greater Gargadon is only a permanent while it's on the battlefield.




Q: If I play a Kor Hookmaster, what happens if I target a creature that's already tapped?

A: The tapped creature will remain tapped during its controller's next untap step. The "it doesn't untap" part of the effect isn't reliant on the creature tapping as a result of the Hookmaster's ability.





Some rules have changed since
I started here, but this was really
the only question I could find whose
answer had changed significantly.
Q: I block my opponent's Cairn Wanderer with a Troll Ascetic, and the Wanderer has double strike and deathtouch. How many times do I need to regenerate my Troll Ascetic to keep it alive?

A: Just the once. Thanks to the new deathtouch rules introduced in M10 (and way after my November 17th, 2008 article where I tackled this question), damage dealt by a creature with deathtouch causes the damaged creature to be destroyed. There's two relevant state-based actions here; Troll Ascetic has lethal damage on it, and it's been dealt damage by a source with deathtouch since the last time SBAs were checked. Now since there's two SBAs trying to do the same thing (destroying Troll Ascetic), it's only being destroyed once. You only need a single regeneration shield to prevent this destruction, where you used to need two.




Q: Are there any rules on what I can and can't use as a token?

A: There's few hard and fast rules on what you can and can't use to represent a token. You'll want something relatively card-sized, something that has an obvious tapped/untapped position, and so on. The only restrictions on what you can use are that you can't use a face-down card if your deck is unsleeved (and I'd strongly discourage using one if your opponent's deck is unsleeved) and you can't use a sleeve that's the same kind as those sleeving your deck. Oh, and you can't use anything a judge deems confusing or inappropriate/offensive, of course.




Q: Can I use Chandra Ablaze's first ability without any cards in my hand, just to put a counter on her?

A: Sure! Discarding a card isn't a cost to use that ability, so you can use it even without anything to discard.




Q: How many planeswalkers can I have in my deck? Some casual players I was playing with told me I could only have one of each in my deck, and even then only one on the field at a time. Is there any truth to that?

A: Not at all! You can have up to four copies of any planeswalker in your deck, and you can certainly have more than one planeswalker on the battlefield as long as each one has a different planeswalker subtype. I've been getting a lot of casual players joining my tournaments lately, and this is one of the most common questions they have.




Q: Do tokens stay in the graveyard long enough to activate my Crypt of Agadeem before state-based actions remove the tokens from the game?

A: Nope. There are actually times when you can activate the Crypt with tokens in the graveyard (during the resolution, but the Crypt specifically says creature cards.

(Since it was asked, I and the other CI writers wracked our brains to figure out a way this might be relevant, supposing it was even relevant to Crypt of Agadeem at all. This is what we came up with. Sacrifice Kill-Suit Cultist targeting a token you control, then play Chain Lightning targeting the token. The token would be dealt damage, but it's replaced with instant death, so the token winds up in your graveyard. When it comes time to pay RR for Chain Lightning, you're allowed to play mana abilities while the token is still in your graveyard as SBAs aren't checked yet. However like I said, it won't really matter, as Crypt only counts creature cards in your graveyard.)




Q: After activating Quest for Pure Flame's ability, does it double all damage sources I control would deal this turn? Or is it a one shot, one source effect?

A: As a judge, the worst thing we can do when making a ruling about a card is to assume we know exactly what a card does. Case in point, this card - until very recently, I assumed its last ability read "a source", not "any source", but I also never had to make a ruling on it. It wasn't until the question was asked and I nearly answered wrongly until I said "Wait a minute, let me read that." "Any" source refers to literally anything you control that would deal damage that turn after the ability resolves, not just one single source.




Q: There's been a lot of discussion among my friends about the recent disqualification at Worlds where a player was disqualified for not reminding his opponent to deal damage to his wolves when he tapped his Master of the Wild Hunt, and some of us were wondering: Why does a player have a responsibility to remind his opponent to play correctly?

A: I've heard a lot of talk recently about how some players think this policy needs to be reviewed because it forces players to "play for" their opponents, but the fact of the matter is that each player has a responsibility to maintain the game state. You can let your opponent get away with bad plays and forget "may" triggers all day, but once it comes down to mandatory effects that you notice, you simply can't sit by and let them slide. Master of the Wild Hunt's ability can't fully resolve until the creature divides its damage among any number of the affected wolves, so by willingly allowing that to happen (as the player in question, by all accounts, admitted to after the match), he knowingly let the game continue on illegally in order to take advantage of it, which is Cheating -- Fraud.

I should mention that this is what the player was disqualified for after a thorough investigation by the head judge. Whether or not you believe his story, this is what the answer would be. What actually happened might seem like a debatable subject, but for the purposes of this question (and the investigation at Worlds), we'll assume we'll assume the head judge's investigation at the event was correct.




Here's to another 20 articles!

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