Cranial Insertion: Ups and Downs



Cranial Insertion
Time Passes By
or, But the Questions Keep Coming!

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson


Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Because I feel like kidnapping a satellite.
Wait, how did it get to be November already? Last time I looked, it was summer, and now the temperature is falling to a bitterly cold 70°F and I'm planning next year's tournament schedule. (I'm planning on judging at PT—San Diego, PT—Amsterdam, and GP—Baltimore, for those stalking me.)

Oh well, on with the show! We've got another happy shiny pile of questions to answer today, with a lot more tournament-rules stuff than usual and a couple really hot interactions. Fire off any questions you're left with after this article to [email][email protected][/email], and yours can show up in a future article – at the least, we'll answer it for you.

Follow the bouncing monkey, and let's dig in!



Q: Even if I shuffle with Ponder with a Vampire Nocturnus out, will my opponent see the card I end up drawing? What if I don't?

A: Many cards will be seen! After you put the top three cards back in any order, your opponent will see the card there since you’ve completed one action and another hasn’t come up yet. Then if you shuffle, he’ll see what’s there post-shuffle. And then finally, you draw, and he’ll see the next card down.



Q: A Magma Phoenix blocks his Sprouting Thrinax. Will 3 damage be dealt to everything before or after the Saprolings enter the battlefield?

A: It must be his turn since you’re blocking. There are two triggers that want to go on the stack at once, so we put the active player’s on the stack first: the Thrinax trigger. The Phoenix trigger goes on top of that and resolves first, smacking everything for 3 damage before the Thrinax trigger resolves. The Saprolings will live.



Q: Let's say I block with a creature, then tap it to use some activated ability. Will it still deal combat damage?

A: Crazy. I’m seriously baffled as to why this question is suddenly so popular – tapped blocking creatures have dealt combat damage since 1999, and that hasn’t changed. If anyone knows where this misconception is stemming from, please let us know!



Q: Intimidate's been used to replace all instances of fear, hasn't it?

A: As of now , none of them have. While fear is no longer being printed on cards, it’s still a functionally distinct ability like fading, phasing, and horsemanship that doesn’t just cease to exist because it’s discontinued.




Vampires roasting on an open fire.
Q: Let's assume Mark of Mutiny steals a creature equipped with Blazing Torch. Since the Torch gives the ability to the creature, can I activate it?

A: Only if you cheat. Part of the cost of activating the ability is "Sacrifice Blazing Torch." Since you only gained control of the creature and not the Equipment, you can't sacrifice the artifact, and you can't pay the cost.



Q: Looking at a bunch of old cards, and I pulled up one creature that says it's a "snow creature." What does that mean?

A: Cool stuff, but not much useful stuff. Snow is a supertype. It has absolutely no inherent rules meaning; some other cards just refer to snow cards, snow creatures, or mana generated from a snow permanent (the S symbol). Until you see an ability refer to "snow" or that snow symbol, you can safely ignore the snow supertype.



Q: Am I allowed to cast Volrath's Shapeshifter for 1UU with Iona, Shield of Emeria on top of my graveyard and choose a color and hose everyone really early?

A: Thanks to Morningtide you can! Previously, Volrath's Shapeshifter wouldn't count any enter-the-battlefield replacement effects as it entered, but now it does due to a rules change involving changeling: 614.12 says that we do consider any abilities an object has when determining how enter-the-battlefield replacement effects should apply, and the Shapeshifter has an ability that then grants it a replacement effect.



Q: A spell's going to hit me for damage. Can I Harm's Way damage to a planeswalker?

A: No, that's not going to happen very much at all. For one, you can't target a planeswalker, just a player, with Harm's Way. If you target an opponent with Harm's Way, you can redirect the damage to his planeswalker... but only if the damage is noncombat damage from a source you control. So if you Earthquake, you can redirect the damage your 'quake would deal to you to the player then to the planeswalker, but you can't redirect his Lightning Bolt to his walker, only to him.



Q: Despite my Maelstrom Nexus out, I want to cast Feldon's Cane, but I don't want to shuffle. Can I just not cascade?

A: "May" doesn't appear anywhere in there, so cascade ain't optional. You're going to be exiling your entire library, then randomizing (but not shuffling, hah!) it and putting it back.



Q: Everyone's trying to break Bloodghast here. Will Bloodghast trigger twice if I Harrow so I can bring it back, sacrifice it so something or other, and bring it back again?

A: Eh, it'll trigger twice, but after one resolves and you sacrifice the Bloodghast, the Bloodghast in the graveyard will be a different object than the one that triggered. The second resolving trigger won't return it.



Q: The Minion Reflector trigger resolves and I copy a kicked Gatekeeper of Malakir, is the copy kicked?

A: Even though copying a spell will copy whether or not it's kicked, permanents aren't kicked or not – you look back to the spell that it was. The token was never a spell, so it wasn't kicked, and it won't trigger.



Q: Lots of times I just forget card names. So if I Pithing Needle "the GB fetchland," or do I have to remember its name?

A: I wouldn't demand that you remember every card name ever. Any time you have to name a card, uniquely identifying it is good enough. The logic is that since you could just ask a judge to get the name of a uniquely identified card, your opponent shouldn't waste time with this extra step. "That fetchland you have" isn't good enough, or "the GB land," but "the GB fetchland" is fine.



Q: At FNM, I opened a foil Misty Rainforest. Can I get a proxy?

A: There is only one circumstance where it is okay to make a proxy: The card is damaged in the course of the tournament. This means that either you open a card damaged in a limited event, or you bring an undamaged card to a constructed event and it becomes damaged. Wanting to preserve the value of a card isn't a reason that a judge may issue a proxy.




FIRE GOOD!
Q: After wandering the planes a bunch, we ended up on Naar Isle, but it's a 2HG game. How does this work now?

A: Naar Isle does cute things in 2HG. And by cute, I mean painfully burny. The player on the right is the "controller," but any "you" on a plane card refers to every player on the team whose turn it is. There are two "you"s having an upkeep, so it triggers twice; add one counter, deal N damage, then add another counter and deal more damage. Ouch.



Q: Entering combat in Two-Headed Giant, I swing with Goblin Guide. How do I know who has to reveal the top card now?

A: Very plainly: it's your choice! Any time a triggered ability says for the "defending player" to do something, you pick one of the two defending players at the time the triggered ability resolves. So only one of the two players, of your choice, will reveal and possibly get a land.



Q: Evidently Magic Game Day was "24-K." What does that mean?

A: Not a lot at the event, but a whole lot if you care about your DCI rating. The K-value of an event is the maximum amount by which any single match can affect your rating. For example, a 32K event can cause you to gain 32 points if your rating is low enough and you beat someone with a rating high enough. You'll usually gain or lose fewer points than that, though, unless there's a huge rating disparity and the results are the opposite of what that disparity would suggest.



Q: Tonight I saw a player Hideous End a Surrakar Marauder, and I wondered: what can I do if I see players making a mistake in another game?

A: For Regular and Competitive events, you can tell the players "hold on, something's wrong, let me get a judge." At Professional events, you just get a judge. At no level may you tell them what is wrong or try to correct it yourself unless you're actually a judge at that event.



Q: On the webcast, I saw this nifty "Sudden Death" thing where the first change in life total makes someone win. Is that a special Pro event thing?

A: Remember, Sudden Death is fairly uncommon, as Time Spiral showed us. First of all, the event must be single elimination, not Swiss pairing. Second, both players must have equal game wins – one or zero – and have equal life totals when the five extra turns run out. If it's 1-0 when turns run out, the game is a draw; if it's 1-1 and one player has more life, that player wins right then. But if it's 1-1 or 0-0 and life totals are tied, you play to the first change of life total, then the higher life total wins... even if that higher life total is reached by Healing Salve!



Q: A while back with M10, I heard that the rules changed and that if my opponent shuffled my library, I don't get to make a final cut. But I saw someone do that at Pro Tour—Austin!

A: Players on the Pro Tour don't always do everything perfectly; you heard correctly the first time. They made a mistake in this case, since that cut was not allowed.



Q: Razing my opponent's lands with Obsidian Fireheart made them all gang up on me and kill me. Will they still take damage on their turns so I can kill one from beyond the grave?

A: Indeeeeed! The lands gain the trigger, and the counters don't vanish when the player leaves. The lands will continue to trigger and ping, so you can kinda sorta win despite losing! Technically, you lost, but hey - who's going to let a technicality like that stand in the way of a casual game?



Q: ZEN drafting, my opponent was running a U/B deck, but after game one, he went to the land station and sideboarded in some Mountains and red cards! Can he really sideboard in lands he didn't take at first?

A: Exactly that. A player's limited sideboard contains a theoretically infinite number of all basic lands. Most players do grab those lands at the start, but they can get them later if they change their mind about using a transformational sideboard.



Q: I heard that EDH is sanctioned now, what's up with that?

A: Nothing. This is not true. EDH is now supported by the Comprehensive Rules, but not by the DCI.



That's a wrap for this week. I'll be back at the end of the month to usher us into December on a gentle snowfall of more questions; Aaron will take care of our next snowdrift next week.

Until next time, enjoy the San Diego PTQ season!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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