Cranial Insertion: The Golden Standard



Cranial Insertion
The Golden Standard
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson


Choose Lhurgoyf.

The other day I was talking in a chatroom and someone brought up Cranial Insertion, to which someone's reply was "It's a great article... if all your questions come from eight-man Elder Dragon Highlander games." Well, it's true - the questions we cover in our articles are sometimes obscure stuff that hardly ever comes up, but demonstrates a key aspect of the rules. By far the only complaint I ever get about Cranial Insertion is that we don't cover enough Standard questions, so for all of you who actually play constructed formats where you can actually play *shudder* four of a card (blasphemy!), I'm devoting this article to questions that actually come up in the most popular constructed format around that has a minimum deck size of 60 cards. It's going to be hard for me to fight off the urge to include any EDH questions, but I think I can do it!

If you have any burning rules questions, send 'em in to the standard place: [email][email protected][/email].




Q: I'm in a Time Sieve mirror match....

A: Okay, I'm watching for slow play.

Q: Thanks! But actually, my question is, if I activate my Time Sieve and in response my opponent activates his Time Sieve, and then I activate another of my Time Sieves... who takes the next turn?

A: You do. When multiple additional turns are created, the last turn created happens first.




Q: We're in extra turns, and I'm turn four and finally have my Time Sieve combo online. Can I keep creating extra turns until I win?

A: No, each extra turn created will actually take up one of the five additional turns. This is Wizards having mercy on us so decks that truly take infinite turns don't have matches that go on for hours, days, and weeks if they can't win.




Q: What happens if I forget to draw a card from Howling Mine?

A: If it's caught within a turn cycle, you'll immediately put the trigger on the stack and then draw a card. If it's been longer than a turn, you're out of luck. But either way, you'll be getting a warning for a Missed Trigger, and if it wasn't caught immediately, your opponent will also get a Warning for Failure to Maintain Gamestate to encourage both of you to pay closer attention in the future.




Q: I'm playing Five Color Control and I have about a dozen Vivid Lands in play, and only one of them has a counter off of it. Can I just stick a counter on that one and say the rest have two?

A: No. There's clearly a visual difference between Vivid Lands that have two counters on them and Vivid Lands that don't have any counters on them, and blurring the line between those two can lead to bad times and big confusion down the road. If you're playing 5C, bring some dice with you!





She was getting jealous of all the
attention Harm's Way's been getting
in our articles lately.
Q: Can I play a Firespout off of Bloodbraid Elf?

A: Yes, but I wouldn't recommend it. You're casting it without paying its mana cost, so you're not spending red or green, and it'll do a whole lot of nothing when it resolves.




Q: When my opponent plays a Bloodbraid Elf, do I get to see what he cascades into before I choose whether or not to counter the Elf?

A: You can, if that's what you want to do. Technically you can jump right in with a counterspell in response to the cascade trigger, but I like idea of waiting for the cascaded-into spell to be played better. Whatever he cascades into will go onto the stack on top of the Bloodbraid Elf, so you can choose which spell most deserves your countermagic.




Q: How does Bloodbraid Elf interact with Ethersworn Canonist?

A: They trade in combat, usually, but a more interesting way they interact is when a Bloodbraid Elf is cast and it does its cascade thing while Ethersworn Canonist is in play. In that case, you'll still cascade, and stop when you hit a card that costs less than Bloodbraid Elf... but since you already cast Bloodbraid Elf, you can't play whatever you hit unless it's an artifact.




Q: One more Bloodbraid Elf question - if I cascade into a Wren's Run Vanquisher, do I have to pay 3 or reveal an Elf from my hand?

A: Yes, even though you're casting it without paying its mana cost, you are still required to pay any additional costs.




Q: Can I play Cruel Ultimatum even if I don't have a creature card in my graveyard to return?

A: Cruel Ultimatum only has one target - your opponent. Everything else about it doesn't target, so if parts of it can't happen, they just don't, or do as much as possible. It's also why you can play Cruel Ultimatum even if your opponent only has two cards in hand, or doesn't have a creature to sacrifice, or if you don't have three cards in your library to draw. Actually, you might not want to play Cruel Ultimatum in that case.




Q: Will a Great Sable Stag die from double Infests?

A: It will, actually. Infest isn't targeting the Stag, so it'll affect it just fine.




Q: If I have a Wizened Cenn and a Goldmeadow Stalwart in play when a Volcanic Fallout happens, does my Stalwart live?

A: Nope. Wizened Cenn dies, and then her +1/+1 bonus goes away too, leaving the Goldmeadow Stalwart as a 2/2 with two damage on it.





I can't tell you how good it feels to
resolve this in my Wort, the Raidmother
EDH de--- er... Warp World Standard deck.
Q: Do tokens count for Warp World's effect?

A: Tokens are permanents, so they'll count when you're figuring out just how much world you're going to warp. They'll cease to exist as soon as they hit your library, but they still help.




Q: If I have a Fertile Ground on a Forest, can my opponent's Exotic Orchard tap for U?

A: No, Fertile Ground doesn't actually add any abilities to the land that make it produce anything other than G.




Q: Wake Thrasher's triggered ability triggers during the untap step, so does that mean my opponent can't Lightning Bolt the merfolk, since no one gets priority during my untap step?

A: Though Wake Thrasher's ability triggers then, you're right in that no one gets priority during the untap step. So the ability won't actually go onto the stack until a player would get priority, which is at the beginning of your upkeep. Then your opponent has the opportunity to make some fried fish.




Q: My opponent played a Mulldrifter and drew two cards, but we quickly realized that he didn't actually have any blue mana. Isn't that Drawing Extra Cards?

A: Nope - it's a card drawn through an illegal action, which makes it a Game Rule Violation, and a Warning for that. These days, the rules are clear: It's only Drawing Extra Cards if someone was supposed to draw X cards and drew more than X.




Q: My Faeries-playing opponent has a Sower of Temptation stealing my Kitchen Finks. If I play Volcanic Fallout, whose control does the Finks come back under?

A: It doesn't matter who controls the Finks when they die; the important thing about persist is that the creature will always come back under its owner's control.




Q: So my opponent tries to flash in a Spellstutter Sprite to counter the Volcanic Fallout, which I let resolve, and then he tries to target the Volcanic Fallout. Since Volcanic Fallout can't be countered, was that an illegal play?

A: Not really. Foolish maybe, but not illegal. Spellstutter Sprite doesn't target anything until it resolves and enters the battlefield, so even if Volcanic Fallout was an illegal target for Volcanic Fallout (it isn't - nothing says spells can't target it and try to counter it... they just won't do much usually), playing Spellstutter Sprite was still legal. It'll get wiped out with all the other Faeries.




Q: My opponent has no blockers, but she does have a Snakeform for my Hellspark Elemental (which I played from my hand). Will the Hellspark Elemental survive the turn?

A: Yes; Snakeform wears off after Hellspark's triggered ability would have triggered, so it'll stick around for another turn. In somewhat of an ironic twist though, it'll die at the end of your opponent's next turn, possibly making the Hellspark Elemental quite confused about being on something called "the defense".




Q: If my opponent tries to genocide my Burrenton Forge-Tenders with a Maelstrom Pulse, can I sacrifice the one he targets even if there's no red source around to choose?

A: Yep - you choose a source on the resolution of Forge-Tender's ability, not on announcement. This way you can turn your opponent's multiple-for-one into a one-for-one.




Q: In EDH, does my general need to be in the same sleeves as the rest of my deck?

A: He/she doesn't need to be wearing the same outfit as the rest of your cards, but it's a good idea to have an extra sleeve nearby in case they do wind up in a hidden zone like your hand or library.

...Aw hell. Well it was mostly Standard questions! Join us next week when Aaron answers questions about whatever format he feels like!

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