Cranial Insertion: Revolution

Cranial Insertion
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson

He's been pushing for change.
In case you haven't been paying attention, we're counting down to the release of the new M10 Comprehensive Rules, the most significant revision since those released with Sixth Edition ten years ago. They'll be out soon, but in the meantime, there are some new tournament rules to review! The Magic Tournament Rules took effect on the 1st, so grab a copy and start reading!

We're going to take a look at some questions about the new tournament rules, but the new game rules are going to wait until next week. I wanted to answer all your burning questions about what the future holds, but Eli sent Moko to chew on my head for a while as a reminder that the Comprehensive Rules haven't been published yet. There's not much longer to wait until you can send all the questions you've been holding to [email][email protected][/email] where we'll greet them with unbridled joy.

For now, let's get started with a few questions about the new rules that I can answer:

Q: When do the new Comprehensive Rules go into effect? Is it at the prerelease or the release date? What rules do we use for games played in between the two?

A: The prerelease this coming Saturday will showcase not just the newest set of cards, but also the latest, greatest revision of the Magic Comprehensive Rules. They'll go into effect for that tournament, and that's what we'll all be using from that point forward.

Q: But when does Tenth Edition rotate out? I heard the rotation schedule for core sets is changing.

A: It is indeed changing, but the change doesn't kick in until next year. Tenth Edition goes out when Magic 2010 comes in. Magic 2010, in turn, will stick around for a while after Magic 2011 is released, and rotate out along with Alara block.

Q: I read that only the most recent core set is legal in Standard tournaments. So even if I have cards from Tenth Edition, I'll have to get the same cards again from M10?

A: Not at all! The list of legal sets establishes what cards are allowed in the format, but it's the name of the card that's the important thing. As long as the name is the same as a card that shows up in M10, you'll be able to play it in your Standard deck just fine, no matter when it was printed.

Q: So I'm playing my Thrinax deck, and my opponent has Crystallized my Sprouting Thrinax. It's not doing me any good like that, so can I sacrifice it to Scarland Thrinax and cash it in for some tokens, or does that send it away?

A: You don't have to target your Crystal Thrinax to sacrifice it that way, so the Aura's ejection mechanism doesn't trigger. It'll go to the graveyard and sprout into a fine crop of Saprolings.

Ganking n00bs since 1993.
Q: When do attacking creatures become tapped? Can I send my Royal Assassin to kill one of them before it hits me?

A: Your opponent turns attacking creatures sideways as part of declaring attackers, during the Declare Attackers step. Players get priority in that step right after that happens, so you can send in your Assassin to eliminate one of them before he reaches you. If you want to get double duty out of your Assassin, you could even have him block one guy, then tap to shank another one. You'll get priority to play his ability after blockers are declared in the Declare Blockers step, before you move on to combat damage.

Q: What happens if I sacrifice my Burrenton Forge-Tender in response to a Puncture Bolt?

A: The little Kithkin leaps out in front and prevents the single point of damage that would be dealt by the Puncture Bolt. It can't stop the -1/-1 counter; that goes right through and lands on the target anyway. If the original target had just 1 toughness, then the sacrifice was in vain!

Q: Will a Dark Confidant help me build up more counters on my Hoofprints of the Stag?

A: The Confidant puts a card from the top of your library into your hand, but it doesn't say "draw" anywhere, so you're not drawing a card, even though the end result is pretty much the same. The Hoofprints won't trigger from the Confidant.

Q: I've been cranking out green Elf Warriors with Imperious Perfect, as well as green and white ones with Rhys the Redeemed. My opponent played a Maelstrom Pulse on one of the green ones, and said that all the green/white ones would die too. I said that they wouldn't, because they're not the same kind of token. Who's right?

A: This one goes to your opponent. It doesn't matter that the tokens came from different sources, or even that they're different colors. All the tokens are named "Elf Warrior," and that's what Maelstrom Pulse cares about. They'll all get sucked into the vortex of doom.

Q: Can I use Ajani Vengeant's first ability if there are no tapped permanents?

A: Sure! The ability doesn't require that you target something that's tapped; you just have to target a permanent. If, for some reason, there are no other permanents to choose from, you can always have Ajani target himself -- he probably won't tap for anything anyway.

Q: I have a Mutavault enchanted with Living Terrain, and I'm attacking with it. My opponent Disenchants the Living Terrain. What happens now? Is the Mutavault still attacking? What if I animate it in response to the Disenchant?

A: If you let the Disenchant resolve, then the Mutavault stops being a creature, and it's immediately removed from combat. If you respond by paying 1 to make it a 2/2, then there won't be any point in time where the Mutavault isn't a creature, so it'll keep on attacking, even though it got a little bit smaller as it charged along.

Q: I'm attacking with my ninjas, and after blockers my opponent played a Sudden Death on an unblocked Ninja of the Deep Hours. Can I ninjutsu out another Ninja and save the one who's otherwise going to die?

A: Sorry, that Ninja is doomed. Ninjutsu is written neatly on cards as something like "Ninjutsu 1U," but what it really means is "1U, Reveal this card from your hand, Return an unblocked creature you control to its owner's hand: Put this card into play from your hand tapped and attacking," and that doesn't fit on the card. The colon in the ability's formal definition is what lets you know it's an activated ability, and except for mana abilities, those can't be played while something with split second is on the stack.

Q: My opponent has a Godhead of Awe when I plunk down my Lord of Extinction. My guy has the later timestamp, so he gets to be big, right?

A: Only if you think 1/1 is big. The Extinctionator has what's called a "characteristic-defining ability," because it's defining its own power and toughness. That's always going to be applied first, before anything other effect that changes power and toughness, so the Godhead will always overwrite it and make it a 1/1. Timestamps don't enter into this situation at all.

Q: After my Grizzly Bears was blocked by a Snapping Drake I used my Scepter of Dominance to tap the Drake, but my opponent said that the Bears would still die. Is that right?

A: Those poor Bears. They're going to be ripped apart by an angry Drake. Tapped creatures can't block, but a blocking creature that gets tapped can still deal combat damage.

Hooray! I'm helping!
Q: I've been thinking about Phyrexian Dreadnought, and I was wondering if I could use Vision Charm to avoid the sacrifice. If I can, what happens when it phases back in?

A: When the Dreadnought's triggered ability resolves, it demands a tribute of powerful creatures. You can choose whether or not to pay this cost. If you choose not to, then you have to sacrifice the Dreadnought. But you can't sacrifice something that's not in play, so if the 'Nought has phased out in the meantime, it's safe. Even better, phasing in doesn't cause comes-into-play abilities to trigger, so you get away without having to sacrifice anything. If you've been looking for a card to use in place of or addition to Stifle, you've found it.

Q: I attacked with a Tidehollow Sculler and a Hypnotic Specter. My opponent blocked the Sculler with his Hill Giant, which killed it. Does the card from the Sculler go back into his hand before he has to discard to the Specter?

A: Your choice. The Specter will trigger when combat damage is dealt, but before that can go on the stack, the Sculler dies a little bit more, and his ability triggers too. Now there are two triggered abilities that have to be put on the stack, and you control both, so you put them on the stack in whichever order you want. If you yanked a good card with the Sculler, which seems likely, you can send it back to your opponent's hand so there's a chance of getting rid of it. Or, if you know there's something already in his hand that you need to hit, you can keep the Sculler's card out of the way. It's up to you.

Q: So I've got Multani's Presence on the board, and I play Shattering Spree, replicated five times, with everything targeting my opponent's Mox Emerald. I should draw a bunch of cards, right?

A: Actually you'll draw just one card. The first copy to resolve will destroy the Mox, then everything after that will be countered on resolution because the target is illegal. But Multani's Presence triggers when a spell you played is countered, and you didn't play any of those extra copies. You did play the original spell, so you'll draw a card when that one fails to destroy the Mox.

Q: It's an Extended tournament, and my opponent has a Valor in his graveyard that I keep forgetting about. Can I move it to the top so that I don't forget?

A: No, you can't. Graveyard order doesn't matter in Extended, but it's your opponent's graveyard, so he's the one who decides its order, not you. The recent rules change allows you to alter the order of your own graveyard and nobody else's.

Q: I did a lot of sideboarding this match, and I can't remember exactly what I have to change back before the next round starts. Can I ask for my decklist so I know for sure what needs to come back out?

A: Yes, you're entitled to ask for your decklist, for exactly this reason. The tournament staff are often really busy, so there's no guarantee they'll be able to get it to you in time, but they'll certainly do their best.

Q: I've got a big pile of the old player rewards tokens that have the standard Magic back, but I never used them because the tournament rules said I couldn't. Is it true that I can use them now?

A: The rules were meant to prevent confusion over what's a card and what's a token. It's not good to take an extra card from your sideboard, or your trade binder, and slap it facedown as a token. It looks like a morph, and if the card gets bumped into your graveyard or something, it could end up being used as more than just a token. The old wording was a little too strict, and could be read to prohibit tokens that have the Magic back, but that's been clarified in the new rules. You can use those tokens; just don't use the backside.

Q: Is there any kind of limit on the notes I can use in between games? I've heard players making plans to bring binders with extensive sideboarding notes, along with reminders of what cards to watch out for.

A: The new tournament rules allow "brief" notes to be referenced between games. If these players are flipping through thick binders that contain more than just a page or two, they're going to be incur a penalty for slow play, and those notes will be disallowed.

Q: I've heard that if my opponent shuffles my deck after I present it to him, I don't get one last cut anymore. Is that true?

A: It is! You generally don't have to worry about your opponent stacking your deck, so that final cut wasn't really doing anything except providing an opportunity for shenanigans. Once your opponent shuffles, that's it; no more cutting or shuffling.

If you checked out the new Magic Tournament Rules right after they came out, like the good little tournament player that you are, you may have noticed a reference to cutting your deck after your opponent shuffled it. That was an error, and the reference has been removed in the most recent revision.

Thus ends the last Cranial Insertion to be written under the Sixth Edition rules. Eli will be back next week, taking on the Rules Revolution of 2010. Farewell!


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