Cranial Insertion: The Calm Before the Storm



Cranial Insertion
The Calm Before the Storm
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson


Send us your hot, hot questions!

Ah, the calm before the storm, so to speak. The Standard PTQ season is over (yay!), Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor and Eventide are entering their "lame duck" term, and we at Cranial Insertion are gearing up for Planechase and Zendikar questions that will no doubt be pouring in over the next couple of weeks. That's not to say we don't still have a lot of questions to answer: thanks to your emails and the questions our fans ask us in person at tournaments, we'll never run out of questions!

Next week Eli will be planeswalking to Planechase land, but in the meantime, enjoy these questions that you sent in! (Oh, and send more to [email][email protected][/email]!)




Q: If I attack with a guy with trample and deathtouch, can I just assign 1 damage to the blocker and let the rest trample through?

A: No, deathtouch is not "lethal" damage. When it comes to assigning trample damage, trample doesn't take into account any abilities such as deathtouch, protection, or prevention effects such as Harm's Way or Safe Passage. When it comes time to deal damage, the only number you need to worry about is the blocking creature(s)'s toughness minus any damage already assigned to it.




Q: Can I name Heritage Druid with Pithing Needle?

A: Yes you can, it just won't do anything. However, if your opponent doesn't know this, it just might save your ass - I've seen it happen in real life, though I expect that the Pithing Needle player didn't fully read his card either. You're not obligated to tell your opponent that Heritage Druid has a mana ability, but you can't stop them if they try to activate it either.




Q: If I pump my Figure of Destiny to a 2/2, and then Mirrorweave everything into a copy of a Baneslayer Angel, how big is my Figure now?

A: Just a 2/2. A 2/2 with first strike, lifelink, vigilance, and protection from demons and from dragons, but still a 2/2. Mirrorweave takes effect in the copy layer, but the 2/2-setting effect happens way above it in layer 7b.




Q: With Capricious Efreet, what happens if I choose a Darksteel Ingot as the target on my side of the field?

A: Basically, you're safe from the Efreet's backlash. The most it can do is punch the Ingot angrily with no effect, so if the Darksteel Ingot's number comes up, it won't be destroyed.





I'm hoping for a
Rules Question Elemental
in the next Un-set.
Q: If I hit a Sulfuric Vortex with Solemn Offering, do I gain 4 life?

A: Yep! You follow the instructions on Solemn Offering in order: first you destroy the target, and then you gain 4 life.




Q: So what if there's an Opalescence on the battlefield and I Lightning Helix the Sulfuric Vortex?

A: That's a no-go. Not only does Lightning Helix deal the three damage and gains you the three life all at the same time, so it's impossible to gain life, but it also gains you life as part of the resolution of the spell... and Sulfuric Vortex won't die until Lightning Helix fully resolves and state-based actions happen.




Q: Say I have a Nantuko Vigilante in my graveyard and I cast Yawgmoth's Will. Can I play the Vigilante face-down?

A: Sure! The key here is that Yawgmoth's Will lets you cast things from your yard, but doesn't say "without paying its mana cost" which would make it an alternate cost that'd conflict with morph's alternate cost. You can play the Vigilante face-down, though it won't be much of a surprise anymore.




Q: I have a Tangle Wire with four counters on it and a Smokestack with two counters on it, my opponent has six permanents, and it's his upkeep. Can I make it so he sacrifices two permanents, then taps the rest?

A: Yep! All you need to do is say "I'm putting the Tangle Wire trigger on the stack first, then Smokestack's." or simply, "Sac, then tap" will do... or any variation on the idea. At the beginning of each player's upkeep, triggers go on the stack in Active Player/Non-Active Player order. You're the non-active player, so when it's your turn to stack your triggers, you can put them on the stack in any order you like.




Q: How does Hypergenesis interact with Confusion in the Ranks if neither of us controls any non-land permanents when Hypergenesis goes off, but I put a Confusion in the Ranks into play followed by each of us putting down a few creatures?

A: With lots of paper, or a good memory. Every creature put into play after Confusion in the Ranks gets put into play will cause it to trigger, but they won't go onto the stack until Hypergenesis is finished resolving. Then the active player puts their triggers onto the stack, followed by the non-active player, and all targets are chosen as soon as the triggers go onto the stack. Each trigger has to target something another player controls, other than the controller of the creature that triggered the Confusion. If the creature isn't still controlled by another player on resolution, the trigger is countered; if the exchange can't be made because, perhaps, you stole one of his creatures first, then nothing is exchanged and nothing happens. Your triggers will resolve first, so if you want to trade your small stuff for his big stuff, just yoink his stuff that triggered Confusion and he won't get anything else off of you but your lil dudes.




Q: What about Confusion in the Ranks and Warp World?

A: That won't work at all. Creatures, lands, and artifacts all come in first, then enchantments (like Confusion in the Ranks) come into play. So Confusion in the Ranks will never trigger at all for everything except enchantments that come in after it. This is one of the rare simple situations that come up with Warp World.




Q: If my opponent tries to Path to Exile my Sakura-Tribe Elder, can I stack it in such a way that I get two lands out of the deal?

A: Nope. The Elder was the sole target of the Path to Exile, so when it goes away, Path will be countered on resolution and none of its effects will happen. Back in my day, we got one land with Sakura-Tribe Elder and we liked it! (Well, we could also do some funny combat-related tricks with it.) Kids these days are so greedy, sheesh!




Q: I have a Zephyr Sprite on the battlefield equipped with a Magebane Armor. If I cast Jump on it to give it flying, then later on decide I want to make it lose flying, can I pay 2 to re-equip the Armor to itself?

A: No, equipment only gets a new timestamp when it becomes attached, and nothing will happen if you just play the equip ability targeting the Zephyr Sprite already wearing it. Plus what kind of player are you if you want to force your creatures to get undressed and dressed in front of you? Pish.




Q: If I cast a Clone and copy a creature with devour, can I still have it eat some creatures?

A: Sure! Clone's clone replacement effect applies, and now suddenly there's another replacement effect (devour) to apply, so you'll apply that next and get to munch some critters.





The Comprehensive Rules are very
intimidating - asking us is easier!
Q: Can I evoke a Cloudthresher and adds it seven power to the rest of the power of the creatures I control so I can activate my Mosswort Bridge, or will it be sacrificed before I get a chance?

A: Cloudthresher's "sacrifice me" is a triggered ability that triggers when it enters the battlefield if its evoke cost was paid. So there's time to activate abilities like Mosswort Bridge's while that sacrifice trigger is on the stack.




Q: Should I take this rare, or a card that'd go well in my draft deck? I don't want to pass money, so can I ask someone how much this card's worth? Can I ask you, judge?

A: Sorry, you're out of luck. If you're that worried about passing "money", take a look at a price guide before you sit down and draft to see what the big money rares are. You definitely can't ask players (that'd be revealing what's in your pack) and you can't ask judges either, as we can't give you any information that might influence your pick.




Q: Is it possible to sanction a draft where everyone gets random packs?

A: As long as everyone gets the same random packs, you can. Everyone needs to get the same amount and type of packs for a sanctioned draft, but those packs can be anything you want: everyone can get a pack of Ravnica, Time Spiral, and Morningtide, or even a pack of Mirrodin, Legends, Alpha (protip: Moxen go great with the whole affinity thing in Mirrodin), and Coldsnap.




Q: If I Mindslaver my opponent who has a Time Vault out, can I make him skip his next turn to untap it?

A: Nope - he'll decide whether to skip his turn before the turn actually starts, so he can skip it if he wants. Good news for you is that if he does, you'll get his next turn, because that one never took place.




Q: If I have a Doubling Season on the battlefield and play a Jace Beleren, does he come into play with double the counters? What if I use his +2 ability, does he get four counters then?

A: Yes, and no, in that order. Doubling Season will double the amount of loyalty counters Jace comes in with, but putting counters on Jace to activate his ability is a cost, not an effect, so Doubling Season won't do anything to make him more loyal.




Q: If I tap my Goblin Welder to try to exchange my Sensei's Divining Top on the battlefield for my Sundering Titan in my graveyard, can I tap my Top in response to draw a card and still get a Titan?

A: That doesn't work, but I admit it's not totally obvious why if you're just going off the card and not the Oracle text. Well, that's not entirely true - "exchanging", as the original card says, is impossible if both targets are illegal, but if you didn't know that, the Oracle text makes it abundantly more clear:

Choose target artifact a player controls and target artifact card in that player's graveyard. If both targets are still legal as this ability resolves, that player simultaneously sacrifices the artifact and returns the artifact card to the battlefield.





Q: I played an Impulse at a tournament and put the three other cards on the bottom of my library, then shuffled... but then the judge came over and told me I wasn't supposed to do that, adn the card's been errated to say I don't shuffle anymore. Is that even true?

A: Oddly enough it is. The most recent printing of Impulse was in the Beatdown box set, and that one left out the line about shuffling your library afterwards; most likely because it didn't make sense to both put the cards neatly on the bottom in an order of your choice and then randomize them into the rest of your library. Wizards decided to go by the most recent printing of the card when choosing which Oracle wording Impulse had, so now it doesn't make you shuffle.




Well that's it for this one! Come back next week when Eli will roll some dice and plane-hop around answering all your Planechase questions!

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