Cranial Insertion: Encore, Encore!



Cranial Insertion
Encore, Encore!
or, en-Kor, en-Kor!

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson


Everyone's excited to see
Liliana in a corset.
Spanish here.]

Finally, it's the moment we've all been waiting for: Magic 2010 is out, the M10 rules changes are in effect, Standard is being swept by a wave of tumultuous change, and world peace has spontaneously broken out as a religious cult worshipping Moko has replaced Christianity, Islam, and Judaism as the dominant global denomination. Okay, maybe not that last one, but that's only because you, dear readers, aren't working hard enough.

Of course, sets always bring new questions. Core sets usually didn't – just a bunch of reprints – but M10 has new cards! And not only new cards, massive rules changes! So the end result, M10 is going to result in more interesting questions for you to read about than Conflux. Just look at the M10 FAQ page. Today's column is going to collide with the FAQ a little as we re-cover the most F of the AQ, but you should read over both for the fullest picture of what questions are important to know.

Also, remember that the Comprehensive Rules have undergone a very significant update, being completely reorganized and with lots of tiny adjustments throughout. It's 159 pages, and not meant to be read straight through by mere humans... but our readers are cool enough to do it, anyway. Almost every rule has a new number, so if you're some sort of freak like me that knows that 420 is state-based effects and 502.9 is trample, you're going to have to relearn things – and even learn some hot new terminology.

Still got questions after this article and the FAQ? I'm sure you do! Send them in to [email][email protected][/email], along with your hymns of praise to Moko, who sorts our mail and delivers us from sanity while leading us into temptation, but the delicious kind. Amen.



Q: After first-strike damage is dealt, can I do things before normal combat damage?

A: You sure can. For first and double strike, there is an additional combat damage step, with priority passing in it. This is how it's worked before, and it hasn't changed at all. The only difference regarding priority to do things is the loss of one priority pass between combat damage being assigned and being dealt. This is handled in 510.5.



Q: If I give trample to a creature with deathtouch, can it assign 1 damage to each blocker and the rest to the player?

A: Nope. Deathtouch modifies how you can assign damage to creatures, and it results in a state-based action (le gasp, not an effect anymore! SBEs are SBAs now! See section 704.) that murderizes that creature. But it doesn't alter the rules for what's considered "lethal damage" or for how trample interacts with the rules for considering lethal damage. (Trample is now 702.17) You'll still have to deal a bunch of damage to each blocker if you want to go through to the defending player.



Q: If I block an attacking creature with a Goblin token and then sacrifice it to deal 2 to my opponent before combat damage, will the attacking creature hit me since it's not blocked anymore?

A: It's still blocked. Sure, there's no blocking creature now, but once a creature becomes blocked, it stays that way until the combat phase is over or until something specifically removes it from combat. So unless it has trample, it's not getting through. 509.1h deals with this situation.



Q: Can I assign part of the damage for one creature, assign damage for some other creatures, then come back and assign the rest of the damage from the first creature again?

A: No. You can go through the creatures in whatever order you like, but you always assign all of a creature's damage at one time. This is the same as it's been for a while, but now 510.1e specifically covers it.



Q: My opponent attacks with Mass of Ghouls, and I double block with Norwood Rangers and Grizzly Bears. When's the last point where I can use a Healing Salve to save one of my creatures?

A: Unless there's a first- or double-striker involved, that would be the Declare Blockers step. Players get priority in that step after the blocking assignements and line dancing is complete. In the Combat Damage step, damage will be assigned and dealt all before anybody gets priority to cast a spell.




Q: Um... that Salve does still save one of my creatures from the Ghouls, right?

A: It does! Unfortunately, it won't necessarily be the one you wanted to save. If your opponent puts the Grizzly Bears in the front of the line, you can cast your Healing Salve upon it, but your opponent can just assign all 5 damage to the Bears to kill them. He has to assign 2 damage to the Bears before continuing, but he can assign more if he wants to.




Q: Poor Bears. What if I use Iron Will to save it instead?

A: You'll save both your blockers! Now that the Bears are tougher, the Ghouls can't assign them lethal damage. And because your opponent put the Bears in front, that also means he can't assign any damage to the Rangers. The bent sword is definitely superior in this situation.



Q: How do I order Palace Guard's combat damage if it blocks multiple creatures?

A: Just like the attacking player orders the blocking creatures, the defending player orders the attacking creatures if one of his creatures is blocking more than one of them. So you'll put one creature first, and that creature takes the whole 1 damage from the Guard. The whole bit about ordering critters is in excruciating detail in rules 509.2 and 3.




Oh, you said not to
press the red button?
Q: If I enchant a planeswalker with Indestructibility, will it stick around if it runs out of loyalty?

A: Having 0 loyalty isn't a case of destruction - it's just a state-based action that plops the walker into the yard. Since it's not destruction, being indestructible doesn't matter, and away it goes! (Remember, SBAs are section 704 now, not 420.)



Q: How can I tell if an older card has the old triggered "lifelink" wording, or the actual ability lifelink?

A: Pretty simple: if the card isn't printed with the word "lifelink," then it doesn't have lifelink. The only exception is Loxodon Warhammer, which was printed both with and without lifelink, so the latest printing wins and it has lifelink. Note that this isn't a rule-rule, but a rule that the templating team followed when creating the Oracle text of older cards.



Q: If I exile a creature with deathtouch using Selfless Exorcist, will my Exorcist die?

A: It sure will. Deathtouch used to be a triggered ability, and it wouldn't trigger from the graveyard. But now it's just a placeholder - the rules look at the source of damage to see if it had deathtouch, and thus the SBA relating to death by deathtouch will be applied even though the source wasn't on the battlefield.

The same is also true of lifelink and wither. Selfless Exorcist can also end up with -1/-1 counters or giving someone life! How selfless of him.



Q: I equip a Siege-Gang Commander with Gorgon Flail and throw him at a creature since he's my only Goblin left. Does it kill it?

A: Similarly to the last question, this is also a significant change from previous rules. Previously, deathtouch wouldn't trigger because the source had left the battlefield long before the damage was actually dealt. Now, since the game is looking for information about the source, it uses last known information and sees that the Commander had deathtouch the last time it was on the field, and the creature will die a messy death.

And just like in the last answer, you could also gain life if the Commander had lifelink, and leave behind counters if it had wither.



Q: I have a bunch of 2/2 creatures and my opponent casts Pyroclasm. Can I save two of my creatures with Harm's Way or only one?

A: All of the Pyroclasm damage is dealt at once, so it's all "the next time." It's all being dealt to permanents you control (well, all of it that matters for this question anyway). You can choose which 2 of that damage to prevent, and save two of your critters.



Q: Sphinx Ambassador confuses me. Frown

A: Yeah, it'll do that. This card was originally templated by a Vorlon, which explains a lot.

To sum it up in normal terms:
First, go through your opponent's library and pick out a card.
Hold it up without revealing it, and say "Guess what this is!"
If you're holding up a creature and he guesses wrong, you put it onto the battlefield under your control.
Otherwise (if he guesses right or if you didn't even choose a creature!) you shove it back into his library and he shuffles without ever knowing what you picked.



Q: Black Knight's reminder text doesn't say it can't be equipped by white Equipment. Does this mean I can give him a Behemoth Sledge to carry?

A: No, protection hasn't changed at all. There are just no colored Equipment in the core set, and the reminder text covers the more likely cases, not every possible one. Check out rule section 702.14 for all the rules.



Q: Can I choose a different target for each Wolf when I activate Master of the Wild Hunt?

A: Nope - the ability has one target, and all of the Wolves pounce on that one target and lick it to death because that's what cute lil puppy dogs do.



Q: With Waylay's new errata, can I cast it on my opponent's cleanup step and swing on my turn somehow?

A: Nope, you couldn't before and you can't now. If you manage to do something during a cleanup step - and you usually won't be able to, making this sorta moot - there will be another cleanup step and the tokens will be sacrificed at the beginning of that step. 514.3a describes this strange cleanup behavior.




Wakey wakey,
fertilizer and backey.
Q: What'll happen if I Doom Blade Awakener Druid in response to its trigger?

A: Then it'll be dead before its "for as long as" duration has started - and the effect never begins since the duration is already over. The Forest will never be a Treefolk at all, not even for a brief instant.



Q: Can I get sideboard cards with Mirror of Fate or not? I thought "exiled" cards were the same as "removed from the game" cards before.

A: Sure, exiled cards are the same as what used to be known as "cards removed from the game" - but these are not the same as "cards outside the game." Your sideboard is not in the exile zone (it's outside of the game) so you cannot fetch it with Mirror of Fate, making that Mirror a lot less broken.



Q: Do I shuffle the seven cards for Mirror of Fate, or do I get to stack my deck?

A: Since the Mirror doesn't tell you to shuffle, you don't have to randomize them. And since you're putting many cards in a zone without an order specified, you can order them as you wish and don't have to tell anyone the order. Bwahaha!



Q: How does Serum Powder work with the new mulligan rules?

A: In a sneaky way! Serum Powder lets you go powder your hand any time you could take a mulligan. So according to happy new rule 103.4a, the process will work like so:

Assume your opponent is playing first. He says "I'm mulling this." Then you get the choice. Now, you can Powder before you make the choice. If you do, you get to choose to mulligan or not after seeing what the Powder gets you. And then your opponent and possibly you mulligan at the same time.



Q: How do Serpent of the Endless Sea and Bog Wraith work in Two-Headed Giant?

A: Both cards care about what a defending player controls, so if either player has the correct land type, the cards will be satisfied. Note that for Bog Wraith, it's entirely unblockable if either player has that land type - no creatures, not even those of the other player, can block it.



Q: If I Harm's Way damage from a creature with deathtouch, is that damage still lethal?

A: It still is. Harm's Way doesn't change the source of the damage, just where the damage ends up. Since a source with deathtouch dealt the damage, it'll still kill any creature it hits.



Q: If Wall of Frost blocks my Kalonian Behemoth, will the Behemoth stay tapped on my next turn?

A: It will! Shroud doesn't stop the Wall's ability, since the Wall does not target. The Wall's ability also triggers as soon as the Behemoth becomes blocked, so it'll set up the "no untappy!" effect before damage is dealt at all, and then the Wall's continued existence doesn't matter for that effect to do its thing.



Q: Can I just play with Nantuko Husk instead of Vampire Aristocrat since they do the same thing?

A: No. They have the same activated ability, but they have different names (which is all that really matters for format legality) and different creature types (which matters in terms of "yes, they actually do function differently sometimes!").



Q: Can I draw a Nantuko Husk's head on Vampire Aristocrat, then? Or have him chewing a Nantuko Husk going "om nom nom?"

A: Sure, those are fine. Artistic modifications to cards touches a rather gray area of the rules, and it's ultimately up to the Head Judge to allow or disallow the cards. But a modification that is purely artistic or contains words but no advice will be okayed by most judges.



We'll call that a wrap for this week, then. Come back next week for an update on our most popular article ever: the layer system re-explained under the new rules.

Until next time, don't forget to tithe to your zombie monkey lords.

-Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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