Cranial Insertion: States-Based Effects

States-Based Effects
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Diane Colley

The most popular card in Standard.
Your friendly neighborhood Goyf here again--that is, if your neighborhood is New York, and "friendly" depending on whether or not the clock reads AM or PM. The 2008 State Championships are over, and competition was fierce all over the US and Canada. Lots of players equal lots of rules questions, so this week's article will be mostly about the questions we've gotten from States.

If you had any interesting questions from States that we didn't answer here or just questions in general, send them in to [email][email protected][/email] so we can post them in a future article!

Q: I got a Dauntless Dourbark at States, and wouldn't you know, it'd go perfectly in my Dauntless Dourbark deck that I'm playing at said tournament! Can I slide it into a sleeve in place of a non-foil Dourbark?

A: A daunting question indeed! (Don't worry, that's the last pun of this article, I swear!) Having normal black or white borders and a normal Magic: the Gathering card back, the Dauntless Dourbark you got for playing in States would have been perfectly legal to play in your deck at States.

Q: If I have four Forests and a Mighty Emergence in play and I play a Dauntless Dourbark, will it get two +1/+1 counters when it comes into play?

A: Even though Dauntless Dourbark is a 4/4 while it's on the stack, it'll count itself and be a 5/5 when the time comes around for Mighty Emergence to check its power.

Q: Can I Esper Charm my opponent at the end of his draw step so that he discards the card he just drew before he can play non-instant, non-flashy things?

A: "End of the draw step" is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, if you want to make your opponent ditch the two cards in his hand, you can even tell him you're doing it at the beginning of his draw step. That's because the draw step begins by his drawing a card, which is a special action that doesn't use the stack at all...and happens before you even get priority to play Esper Charm.

Q: If I have Everlasting Torment in play and my opponent has a Runed Halo out naming Demigod of Revenge, can I still attack him with the Demigod? Will it even do anything?

A: Protection stops four things - well, six things, technically, but then the following acronym wouldn't work: D.E.B.T. That stands for Damaged, Enchanted, Blocked, and Targeted. There's also Equipped and Fortified, but those two came about after the DEBT acronym was established. There's no "A" in DEBT (although there's technically an F and another E), so you can rightly assume that the protection granted by Runed Halo doesn't stop a Demigod from attacking. It'll stop the damage though...unless there's something preventing prevention effects from preventing damage. Like Everlasting Torment, for instance.

The allure of a Sower of Temptation
question is hard to resist.
Q: I really want my opponent's Glen Elendra Archmage on my side. If I play a Sower of Temptation and target it, can he sacrifice it in response?

A: Not unless there's a non-creature spell on the stack for him to target. One of the first steps to playing an activated ability is to choose a target for it. If he can't, then he can't play the ability and you'll get his Archmage to join Team [Your Name Here].

Q: My opponent and I both have a Reveillark in play. He has a Mulldrifter in the graveyard, and I have a Sower of Temptation in mine. When I Wrath, can I steal his Mulldrifter with my Sower?

A: Good old APNAP. That's Active Player/Non-Active Player. When you Wrath, both Reveillark triggers try to go on the stack, and they do so in APNAP order. First, the active player's trigger goes on the stack, and you pick your target. Then your opponent's trigger goes on the stack above yours, and he picks his target. The top object on the stack - his trigger - resolves first, bringing back his Mulldrifter, and once the Mulldrifter's trigger resolves and he draws, your trigger resolves. Your Sower comes back, and it can target the Mulldrifter. If it had been his turn, the triggers would be reversed, and your Sower would come back with nothing to steal, followed shortly by the Mulldrifter.

Q: Can I put the card Tidehollow Sculler steals face-down underneath the Sculler itself?

A: Nope. It's not that putting the removed card under Sculler is a problem (just be careful if you're using the same sleeves!), but putting it face-down is a big no-no. Cards that are removed from the game are removed from the game face-up by default, unless they say otherwise.

Q: My Goldmeadow Stalwart attacks my opponent's Ajani Vengeant, and I make a token with Militia's Pride. I want it to join the fight against Ajani, but my opponent says creatures attack the defending player by default. Where's the Kithkin token headed?

A: Anywhere you want! If a creature is put into play attacking, its controller usually chooses who or what it's attacking unless the card says otherwise. Your opponent's confused about the shortcut for declaring attackers, where if a player declares an attack without saying anything, all attacking creatures are attacking the defending player (and not any of their planeswalkers) by default.

Q: After my Reveillark attacks and deals its combat damage, can I then Condemn it to get back two creatures?

A: Sure! There's a little window of opportunity that goes unnoticed in most games called the End of Combat Step. Normally, players pass priority in this step without even realizing it, but since you're still in the combat phase and your Reveillark is still an attacking creature, it's a legal target for a Condemn. You can also Condemn the Reveillark with combat damage on the stack if you want.

Q: In response to my opponent making his Figure of Destiny a 4/4, I hit it with a Snakeform. Does that get rid of the old effect that makes it a 2/2 so it'll reset to a 1/1 when Snakeform wears off?

A: Snakeform might be temporary, but Figure's activated abilities last forever. The effect that makes it a 2/2 applies in the same layer as Snakeform's 1/1-setting effect. The 2/2 effect is still there, it's just masked by Snakeform - and once that wears off, Figure of Destiny will be back to its old, slightly-improved self.

Q: I Thoughtseize my opponent and find out that all he has in his hand is a Wilt-Leaf Liege and a Forest. Do I need to choose the Wilt-Leaf Liege, or can I "fail to find"?

A: Choosing to fail to find something only works when searching a hidden zone. Normally, a player's hand is considered a hidden zone, but while it's revealed, it's public information. However, Thoughtseize doesn't have you actually search anything--you just need to choose a card if you're able to. "Failing to find" doesn't apply. The only card you can choose is the Liege, so you'll have to deal with the 4/4 some other way now.

Q: If I play Soul's Fire to have my Hostility deal six damage to my opponent, will I get six tokens?

A: Nope, you'll just do six boring damage. Or more accurately, Hostility will do the six damage, which is why its replacement effect doesn't do anything--Hostility only prevents damage done by spells. Soul's Fire stands back and orders the creature to deal the damage, since it doesn't want anything to do with the whole deal.

Q: I control a Chalice of the Void set at 0 and a Sphere of Resistance in play. Can I play a Chrome Mox?

A: It'll be countered. The converted mana cost of Chrome Mox is always zero, no matter what kind of effects are increasing the cost you need to pay to play it.

There are signs on the ring
Which make me feel so down
Q: If I activate Elspeth, Knight Errant's "make a Soldier" ability, then duplicate the ability with Rings of Brighthearth, does she get two loyalty counters instead of one?

A: Putting the loyalty counter on a planeswalker is part of the cost of the ability, not the effect. The Rings will copy the ability on the stack, but since you're not paying Elspeth's activation cost to play the copied ability, she won't get another counter for the copy.

Q: I block my opponent's Cairn Wanderer with a Troll Ascetic, and the Wanderer has double strike and deathtouch. How many times do I need to regenerate my Troll Ascetic to keep it alive?

A: You'll need to regenerate your Troll Ascetic twice. In the first combat damage step, Cairn Wanderer deals four damage to Troll Ascetic, which triggers deathtouch. Then state-based effects are checked and Troll Ascetic would be destroyed due to lethal damage, but it regenerates. Then deathtouch goes on the stack and resolves, trying to destroy Troll Ascetic again, but it regenerates a second time. Since the first regeneration removes it from combat, Cairn Wanderer doesn't deal any damage to it in the second combat damage step, so you don't need to regenerate your Troll any more this turn.

Q: My understanding is that with Intuition, you must find exactly three cards; but I was told that with Gifts Ungiven, I could find less than four if I wanted. Why the difference? Gifts doesn't say "up to four".

A: Both cards require you to search your library for a certain number of cards, but the main difference is that Gifts lets you search for cards with a specific quality, while Intuition just searches for cards. No matter what the odds of it being true, you're not obligated to show your library to your opponent to prove that you don't have four cards with different names in there for Gifts Ungiven, but it's a little hard to convince someone you don't have three cards in your library for Intuition. Unless, of course, you actually have less than three cards in your library.

Q: I have a Windbrisk Heights in play that's gotten swapped around between players and then finally Boomeranged. What happens to the removed card now?

A: It'll stay removed from the game face-down forever, but the weird thing is who gets to look at it. Although it's not printed in the card's reminder text (which is too long as it is), the rules for Hideaway say that any player who once controlled that Windbrisk Heights can look at the removed card.

Q: I attack with two Knight of Meadowgrains and make two tokens with Militia's Pride. Can I then activate my Windbrisk Heights to put a Wizened Cenn into play?

A: It might sound strange, but even though you have four creatures attacking, only two of them actually attacked. To attack with a creature, you need to declare it as an attacker during the declare attackers step. Creatures that came into play attacking were never declared as attackers, so you can't play the card under Windbrisk Heights.

Q: If someone's using a foreign language card in a US tournament, do they need to have an English version of the card on them to show what it does?

A: All Wizards-printed cards, regardless of language, are useable in any tournament. You can carry around an English version of the card if you want, but it's probably not a good idea to reach into your binder for a card in the middle of a tournament; that gets judges suspicious. But if anyone's not sure what a card does because it's in a different language or if it's textless, you can always ask a judge to give you the English Oracle text.

Q: We're playing a multiplayer EDH game and two players have a Prince of Thralls out. A third player sacrifices a Sakura-Tribe Elder. What happens to the Snake?

A: The whole Active Player/Non-Active Player thing gets a little confusing when multiple players are involved. In a multiplayer game, first the active player's triggers will go on the stack, and then each player, in turn order, will put their triggers on the stack. So let's say Player A controls the Sakura-Tribe Elder, Player B controls a Prince of Thralls and would take the next turn, and Player C is going last and also controls a Prince. Player C's trigger goes on the stack last, so it resolves first, and Player A can pay three life. If he doesn't, Player C gets the Elder. Then Player B's trigger resolves, and Player A can pay three life. If he doesn't, then Player B gets the Elder... unless Player C had already swiped the Elder. In that case, nothing happens whether Player A pays three life for B's trigger or not, because the game lost track of Sakura-Tribe Elder when it changed zones.

Well, that about wraps up this week. I hope everyone had a good time at States and Champs last weekend!

Stay tuned next week when we give you an exciting choice: Who will be the second new Cranial Inserter? Yes, another one! Unfortunately, Diane has to take leave of our illustrious crew to focus on her studies, and Eli and I are torn on who should replace her. So join us in seven days as Moko introduces our candidates!


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