Cranial Insertion: More Heavy Metals



Cranial Insertion
More Heavy Metals
or, We've Got Good Chemistry

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson


Lars? Is that you?
Let me start by handing out these safety goggles. I trust that you all know how to use them, so you can put those on while I begin. I was really excited when Paskoff told me to bust out with the heavy metals this week. He must have heard about my table in the shape of a periodic table where I keep samples of each element. We'll start with those, then move on to some simple compounds, and end with an overview of the metal processing industry. Now, some of these substances--

What's that?

It's supposed to be what?

Oh. Then I guess we won't be needing these radiation dosimeters after all. Well, while I put those away, let me remind you to send your questions to [email][email protected][/email]. You can ask about Metallica, metallic bonds, or Metallic Slivers, but we prefer the questions about Magic.




Q: My opponent has an Illusionary Servant, and I cast Fists of the Anvil on it so it'll die. My opponent responds with a Cancel, and seems to think that he's saved it.

A: He's wrong. The Illusion's ability triggered when you cast your spell, and it's on the stack under the Cancel. That's what he has to deal with. Countering the Fists of the Anvil accomplishes nothing.




Q: Suppose I try to target my opponent's Illusionary Servant with a Molten Frame. The creature isn't an artifact, so I'll have to take back the spell, but it still became the target of a spell, so I'm thinking it'll still have to be sacrificed. Is that true?

A: Oh, no, you can't sneak a benefit out of doing something that's against the rules! If a player rewinds an illegal action, it's like it never happened at all. The Illusion won't trigger from a spell that was cast illegally. And don't deliberately break the rules like that; it makes judges unhappy.




Q: How exactly does Silence work? Does it affect all spells cast after it? Like if I wanted to respond to it with a Quick Silver, could I do that?

A: Silence does nothing to spells cast earlier in the turn because they've already been cast. It does a similar but different nothing to anything cast in response, because Silence can't actually stop anything until it resolves; that's when it sets up its new rule. If you don't mind talking to yourself, you can always respond to Silence.




Q: I used a Mine Excavation to get back my Ethersworn Canonist, and my opponent responded with Confound. Is that a legal play?

A: No, it isn't. Your Excavation isn't a legal target for Confound, because it doesn't target a creature. Creatures exist only on the battlefield; if it's in your graveyard, it's just a card. Or, to continue the metaphor, a corpse. Or maybe a piece of scrap? I'm not actually sure whether Esperites get buried or melted down.





You know, this guy really
ought to be an Elemental.
Q: Three of us are playing a free-for-all multiplayer game, and I attack one opponent's Liliana Vess with my Titanium Golem. During the declare attackers step, my other opponent casts Word of Seizing on Liliana. What happens here?

A: Fortunately the rulemakers anticipated that kind of wackiness and gave us rule 506.4, which provides that a permanent is removed from combat if it changes controllers. Once Liliana gets seized, she's no longer being attacked. The block of Titanium is still attacking, and the defending player doesn't change, but he probably won't block, as the unblocked Golem won't deal any combat damage.




Q: I have an Primal Plasma that's a 3/3. It gets Mirrorweaved into a Runeclaw Bear. I'm not sure whether it would become a 2/2 or remain a 3/3.

A: It'll become a 2/2. Both effects apply in the same layer, and since there's no order of precedence defined for them, we just go by timestamps. The Mirrorweave effect will overwrite the Golem's color-setting effect.


Q: Would the same logic apply to a red Alloy Golem?

A: No, because that card's effect doesn't apply in the same layer. You don't set any of the card's characteristics when it enters the battlefield, you just make a choice. The end result is the same, though, as the Mirrorweave obliterates the Golem's own ability before it ever has a chance to be applied.




Q: Is my Metallurgeon able to save himself from impending peril?

A: He's an artifact, so he's a legal target for his own ability. I imagine he just welds his broken parts back together.




Q: I control Mycosynth Lattice and March of the Machines, so my Ajani Goldmane is also an artifact creature. Then I use Experiment Kraj to put a counter on Ajani. Can I now gain vast amounts of life and put zillions of huge flying tokens on the battlefield?

A: This is a combo that crops up from time to time, mostly because it works exactly the way you think it does. Kraj has all of Ajani's abilities, but because Kraj isn't a planeswalker, he's not limited to using them just once per turn. It's all of the power with none of the responsibility. Isn't it great?




Q: Can I make a Burnt Offering out of an evoked Ingot Chewer? I've always heard you can't sacrifice something to two different effects.

A: You've heard right, but that won't stop you here! When you cast Chewie for his evoke cost, the sacrifice is part of a triggered ability that pops up when he enters the battlefield. You can respond with your Offering, and pay the cost of the offering by sacrificing him. You wouldn't be able to sacrifice him for any other costs, but the evoke sacrifice isn't a cost; it's an effect.




Q: If Inferno Elemental blocks a Leaden Myr, will the Myr be destroyed if a Fog is cast to prevent damage?

A: The Myr will be destroyed. Fog prevents combat damage, but the 3 from the Elemental's ability isn't combat damage; it's just damage that happens to be dealt during combat. "Combat damage" refers to the damage dealt as a result of attacking, blocking, damage assignment, and the rest of that sequence of turn-based actions.




Q: What happens if I cast Bituminous Blast and cascade into Ertai's Meddling? Can I cast it if there's another spell I want to meddle with?

A: If you're casting the spell without paying its cost, then X can't be anything other than zero. It's Ertai's Meddling, so X can't be zero, either. Because you can't choose a legal value for X, you can't complete the process of casting the spell, so you just can't cast it that way at all.




Q: Tainted Sigil says it does stuff "this turn," so if I crack it to gain life, then later use my Onyx Goblet, do I gain life from that too?

A: "This turn" is just telling you where to check for life loss. Some other cards use that phrase to indicate how long an effect is going to last, but that's not what the Sigil is doing. Its ability is a one-shot effect, meaning that you gain life, then it's done. It won't pop up again later to have you gain more life.





The most useless structure in all of Magic.
Q: I really, really don't want to lose this game, so I've enchanted my Platinum Angel with Indestructibility, then enchanted that Indestructibility with another, then that one too, and that one too. What happens if my opponent casts a Maelstrom Pulse on one of the Indestructibilities?

A: The one at the end of the chain gets destroyed. When the Pulse resolves, it attempts to destroy everything named "Indestructibility," and there's only one that's destructible at that time. Your opponent will have to work a lot harder to make you lose!


Q: Well, he pulled out a Simic Guildmage and used it to move the Indestructibility that's enchanting the Angel so that it enchants the last Indestructibility instead. Is that even legal? Do my enchantments stay on the battlefield?

A: Sure, that works. They end up in a loop where each one is enchanting the next, like a Magical ring of benzene. They're all enchanting legal permanents, and they're all indestructible too, so they'll stick around pretty much no matter what. Of course, they're not really useful to you anymore, but that's probably what your opponent had in mind.




Q: When I cast a spell that only targets an opponent, like Mind Knives, while I control a Hive Mind, do I get hit by the copy, or do they get hit twice?

A: When you cast your Mind Knives, your opponent gets to make a copy. He controls the copy, so when it says "target opponent" it means one of his opponents. He gets to stab you for a card right before you stab him.

If, for some reason, your opponent decides not to change the target of his copy, it'll still be targeting him when it tries to resolve. He's not an opponent of himself, so it'll be countered on resolution because its target is illegal. In no case will your opponent get stabbed by two Knives. That'd be overkill!




Q: My Wispmare blocked a Mercurial Kite, and I used Desert to finish off the bird. But when I went to untap the Wispmare, I was told they wouldn't untap. Why is that? I read about how creatures with bribery counters can attack and block after Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer leaves the battlefield.

A: The difference is in where the relevant abilities show up. Gwafa Hazid has a static ability, all on its own line, restricting what bribed creatures can do. He makes that happen just by being on the battlefield. The "no untap" restriction from the Kite is bundled into its triggered ability. It doesn't have any effect until that ability resolves. When that happens, the restriction becomes a continuous effect that exists independently from the Kite; one that'll stick around even if the Kite exits the battlefield.




Q: Can I use Goblin Welder to swap a Mox Emerald on the battlefield for a Sculpting Steel in my graveyard, and have it copy the Emerald?

A: That works! You apply the Steel's replacement effect before it moves, and because the cards change zones simultaneously, the Mox is still on the battlefield when you decide what to copy.




Q: I cast a Fireball to kill three 1/1 Saproling tokens for a total cost of 5R. Thanks to my Maelstrom Nexus, the Fireball has cascade. I can cast the Ore Gorger I flip off the top, right?

A: You certainly know that cascade lets you cast a spell that costs less. You're likely aware that the comparison is based on converted mana costs. But you've probably missed the fact that the converted mana cost of your Fireball is 4. Fireball's mana cost is XR, and the converted mana cost is determined from that, using the value chosen for X. The extra fee you pay for having more than one target isn't part of the mana cost, even though you spent mana on it, so it won't help you cascade into a bigger spell.




Q: Can I select Bosh, Iron Golem as my EDH General?

A: One of the most basic rules of EDH is that you can't play with cards that have any mana symbols other than the colors of your general. Bosh is colorless, so if he's your general, you can't have any colored mana symbols--but he himself has a R in his text! By the rules, he can't be in the deck, which makes it impossible for him to be your general.

That said, EDH is mostly a casual format, so if you want to build a Bosh deck, just check with your local group. Don't count on taking that deck to any EDH tournaments, though.




I hope we've all learned something today. Whoever broke into my box of Promethium and stole the sample has probably learned that "Pm" doesn't stand for Platinum. If that was you, you'll need to pick up one of those dosimeters after all. Have a great week!

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