Cranial Insertion: Two Numbered Polyhedrons



Two Numbered Polyhedrons
or, Paradise

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Aaron Stevenson


Mmm, is this...mango?
[This article is available in Spanish here.]

A new month is beginning, and it's come with a pile of your questions. That's great! The only thing better than kicking back in a tropical locale is answering rules questions -- unless maybe it's answering rules questions in a tropical locale. How fortunate, then, that Pro Tour: Honolulu is right around the corner! It'll be a veritable cascade of rulings, and it's all-Alara, all the time. If you're attending, look me up and give me some of your questions; I'll stuff them in my shirt pocket and bring them back with me. Or you could send them to [email][email protected][/email]; that way they won't get destroyed in the wash.

I expect we'll have some good questions from Alara block emerging from the PT, but in the meantime, we've got some from all over. Let's check them out:



Q: Can I use Incandescent Soulstoke with Vigor? The latter is an Elemental Incarnation, after all, not just an Elemental.

A: An Elemental creature is one with the Elemental creature type. The extra creature type doesn't make any difference.



Q: If I control a Snow-Covered Island, and a Reflecting Pool, can I tap the Pool to activate my Boreal Centaur?

A: Snow isn't really a type of mana; the S symbol just means "one mana of any type, produced by a snow permanent." A mana's type is its color, or lack thereof. Even if you have a Snow Island, no mana you get from the Pool can be used to pay S unless you've found a way to give it the Snow supertype. And in that case, it's not really a pool any more, it's more of a frozen pond.



Q: I have a Graven Cairns enchanted with Trace of Abundance. Can I tap the Cairns, get a R or B from the Trace, then run that through the Cairns to get BR?

A: That's a nice idea for bootstrapping your filter land, but it won't work. Trace of Abundance triggers on playing a mana ability of Graven Cairns, and you haven't played the ability until you've paid all of its costs. It won't trigger unless you get B/ from somewhere else, or you tap the Cairns for 1 instead.



Q: If I sac a Fulminator Mage and my opponent Path to Exiles it, can I use its sac ability again to make sure it ends up in the graveyard?

A: That scenario can't happen the way you describe. When you play the Fulminator Mage's ability, you put the ability on the stack, pay the cost, and then you can pass priority to your opponent. By the time he can play a Path to Exile, your Mage is already in the graveyard.




You are getting very sleepy...
Q: I equip my Hypnotic Specter with a Mage Slayer and attack. If my opponent doesn't block, how many cards does he have to discard?

A: The Hypnotist will deal damage once with that big honking sword you've given him, and then again with the ordinary spear he usually prefers. The discard ability will trigger each time, so your opponent will have to discard twice. As an added bonus, he'll also start clucking like a chicken.



Q: I have a Story Circle set to white, and I use it to prevent damage that's going to be dealt by my opponent's Nightsky Mimic. After that resolves, he makes the Mimic black with Aphotic Wisps. Does the damage still get prevented?

A: No. If a prevention effect keys off of a certain quality, like the source's color, it double-checks when the damage would be dealt. If it doesn't match up at that time, the prevention effect doesn't apply.



Q: Can I use Hindering Light to stop an Oblivion Ring?

A: Oblivion Ring sure does feel like it's a spell that targets something. But feelings are deceiving, because it's not the spell that targets, it's the triggered ability on the permanent that spell becomes. Hindering Light won't help you against an Oblivion Ring, because the spell doesn't target.



Q: I have an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and a Gauntlet of Power naming black. Can I tap an Island for BB?

A: Yes, that works. You can tap that basic land for B, which is the chosen color, so the Gauntlet will give you a bonus B.



Q: My opponent has a Lich's Mirror and goes to 0 life while I have a Psychogenic Probe in play. The way the Mirror is written, he shuffles stuff away, then his life becomes 20, so he'll take 2 from the Probe and go to -2 before he goes up to 20. What happens there? Does he lose the game again?

A: Things don't quite happen the way you've imagined. The Probe triggers while your opponent is busy not-losing, but the ability won't go on the stack until all the resets have finished. He'll be at a full 20 when the Probe finally gets around to drilling 2 points of damage from his new brain.



Q: If my opponent plays Deny Reality and the cascade goes on the stack, can I play a Moonhold to keep them from playing a cascaded creature?

A: You can certainly play Moonhold in response to the cascade trigger, and that'll stop your opponent from playing a creature card if he cascades into one. Keep in mind that you won't know whether or not he gets a creature card until the trigger's actually resolving. At that point, you won't get priority back until after he's already played the new spell. You'll have to play the Moonhold before he starts flipping if you want it to be effective; there's no way to wait and see if he hits a creature before you play it.



Q: I control Dragon Appeasement. I unearth a Hellspark Elemental. What happens at end of turn? Do I get a card from sacrificing the Elemental?

A: You can do it either way. At end of turn, there'll be two triggers to deal with: one printed on the card that tells you to sacrifice Sparky, and one built into the unearth ability that has you remove him from the game. You can put them on the stack in either order. If you have the unearth "RFG it" ability resolve first, you can't sacrifice it, so you won't draw. Done the other way 'round, you do sacrifice it, so you will draw. Note that the card ends up RFG'd in either case because of the replacement effect that's also built into unearth.



Q: Can I use Tel-Jilad Stylus to kill a token my opponent got from my Hunted Horror?

A: Your opponent may think those are his tokens, but as far as the Stylus is concerned, they're all yours. The owner of a token is the player who controlled the effect that created it. You controlled the Horror's triggered ability, so you can etch those tokens into oblivion.




Triplex: You'll do a triple take!
Q: While my opponent is under the effect of a Sen Triplets, do I get to tap his lands to play his cards, or do I have to use my own?

A: The Triplets are pretty good, but not quite that good! In general, you can't play mana abilities of permanents you don't control. The Triplets don't change that, so you'll have to be tapping your own lands (and/or artifacts and creatures) to pay the costs of stuff from your opponent's hand.

Keep in mind, though, that you can play a land card from your opponent's hand, and it'll come into play under your control. That should help you pay colors you don't have in your own deck.



Q: Can I use an alternate cost to play a card through Sen Triplets?

A: Sure! The Triplets let you play the card, but they don't tell you how you have to pay. If you want to spend 1 and pick up a basic land to pay for the Borderpost in your opponent's hand, you can do that. And if the card has any additional costs, like kicker or entwine, you can pay those too. In fact, you'll have to pay additional costs if they're mandatory, like with Goldmeadow Stalwart.



Q: My opponent plays a Volcanic Fallout while I have a Kitchen Finks with no counters and a Nantuko Husk. Is there any way for me to stack the damage from the spell so that my Nantuko gets pumped up to survive, and the Finks persist back into play?

A: Not really. One of your creatures is going to die and stay dead. Damage from a spell doesn't go on the stack separately from the spell itself; it happens when the spell resolves. If you sacrifice the Finks to pump your Husk, it'll pop back into play in time to get toasted.



Q: My opponent's starting his combo of Swans of Bryn Argoll and Seismic Assault. Can I sacrifice my Burrenton Forge-Tender to stop the combo before it starts?

A: You can use the little Kithkin to prevent all the damage that would be dealt by Seismic Assault this turn. The trouble is that the Swans have a built-in damage prevention effect, and since you have two or more prevention effects trying to prevent the same damage, the Swans' controller gets to choose which one to apply. He'll probably keep choosing the one that fills his hand with cards.

Your buddy's sacrifice wasn't completely in vain, though, since your opponent can't kill you with that Seismic Assault this turn. Better hope he can't play another one!



Q: If I have a Wheel of Sun and Moon in play, enchanting myself, and it's destroyed, does its replacement effect apply? Will the Wheel end up on the bottom of my library?

A: It sure does. At the time you'd be putting the card into the graveyard, the Wheel is still in play, so its replacement effect is active. The effect is applicable to the event that's about to happen, so the effect will be applied. Your Wheel, and anything else going to the graveyard as part of the same event, will go to the bottom of the library instead of the bin.



Q: In an EDH game, one player set off his Time Bomb for a large number, killing one of the other players. Then he cracked his Tainted Sigil to gain a bunch of life, but we weren't sure whether it would be able to use Last Known Information for the life lost by the player who's not in the game anymore.

A: He'll gain the life, but not because of Last Known Information. LKI only comes up when you need to know current information for something that's no longer around. The changes in the now-deceased player's life total is just regular information about events that happened earlier, and the Sigil knows about that stuff just fine.



Q: If I have a large amount of mana coming my way (because of a Braid of Fire, for example), can I activate my Demonspine Whip when it's not equipped to anything? And if I can, what happens?

A: Sure, you can pump your excess mana into the Whip, even when it's not equipping anything; there's no restriction on when you can play that ability. When the ability resolves, it will attempt to give the equipped creature +X/+0. If there isn't an equipped creature, the ability just does nothing.



Q: What's the last point at which I can play Fight to the Death and have it kill things?

A: That would the the end of combat step, which is the very last part of the combat phase. Once a creature blocks or becomes blocked, it's a blocking/blocked creature until the combat phase ends, unless it gets removed from combat. Remember that regeneration removes a creature from combat, so if a creature regenerates from combat damage, you'll miss it by waiting until the end of combat step!



And that's all we have for now. Keep sending those questions, and if you haven't made plans for the weekend, come down to Honolulu and spend some time playing Magic! We'll keep a draft seat open for you!

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