Cranial Insertion: Attack of the 8/9 Goyf

Attack of the 8/9 Goyf
By Eli Shiffrin, Diane Colley, and Brian Paskoff

Greetings! Brian Paskoff here - Pasgoyf to my friends - the newest writer for Cranial Insertion and a certified judge from New York. I'm proud to be a member of CI, the column that helped me tremendously on my path to becoming a certified judge. Like doctors, sea invertebrates, monkeys, and...whatever the heck a Shiffrin is...before me, I'll be delivering the answers to all the burning rules questions you send in to the CI mailbag. For over half a year now, I've been writing and running a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome (contact me about it if you live in the area!), but although I've ghost-written a few questions here and there for CI, this is my first article for a major website.

If you have any rules questions for us to answer, send them in to [email protected]! We have hard-working judges answering questions around the clock, and we might even use one of your questions in the next week's Cranial Insertion!

The cruelest of all Ultimatums.
Brilliant Ultimatum is only
cruel to the person who played it.

Q: Is Wild Ricochet as good against Cruel Ultimatum as I think it is? Will it turn the Ultimatum on my opponent, then copy it and hit them again, making them wish for the sweet release of the "scoop phase"?

A: While Wild Ricochet works against the Cruelest (and most playable) of the Ultimatums, it's nowhere near that good. Wild Ricochet lets you change the target of a spell, but Cruel Ultimatum says "target opponent." And while you're changing the target, your opponent still controls the spell itself, and they're not their own opponent (no matter how many bad plays they make), so you can't change the target to Cruel Ultimatum's controller.

You made the copy though, so you control it and can make that copy target Cruel Ultimatum's original controller. But it'll go onto the stack on top of the original one, so yours will go off first, then your opponent's - so you'll just about break even, except he'll probably have more cards in hand than you. On second thought, maybe Wild Ricochet isn't the best choice. Unless you're playing a multiplayer game where Cruel Ultimatum's controller has multiple opponents.

Q: If I control a Scrapbasket and make it all colors, then flip over a Vesuvan Shapeshifter to copy it, is the Vesuvan Shapeshifter all colors too?

A: No, your Vesuvan Shapeshifter will look just like one of those old-fashioned colorless artifacts you hear us old-timey Magic players talk about. When something copies something else, it only copies its printed characteristics, plus any copy effects already applied to it. It will have Scrapbasket's activated ability though, so you can pay one generic mana to make it all colors if you want.

Q: If I Twincast a Torrent of Souls that had both red and black paid to play it, do I get to return a creature and give all my dudes +2/+0 too?

A: If black was paid to play Torrent of Souls, you get to Zombify a creature, and if red was paid, your guys get +2/+0 and haste. But no mana was spent on the copy of Torrent of Souls (and it wasn't even played in the first place), so it'll just be a priority speedbump on the stack, doing absolutely nothing when it resolves. You pick a target before you actually pay for the spell though, so you can bluff your opponent by picking a target for the copy and hope they fall for it by countering it. Of course, that won't work on anyone who's read this article!

Q: Can I Swerve a Pacifism that my opponent is playing onto one of his own creatures?

A: You can! You'd probably never think about it if you were looking at an Aura spell that doesn't have reminder text on it, but Aura spells actually do have a target while they're on the stack. And since there aren't any Auras that enchant multiple permanents, all of them qualify for the "spell with a single target" qualification of Swerve.

Q: Can I Swerve an Oblivion Ring?

A: While Oblivion Ring is an enchantment that deals with a single target, much like an Aura, the main difference between Oblivion Rings and Auras is that Oblivion Ring is not an Aura. That's a pretty big difference, if I do say so. Oblivion Ring the spell doesn't target anything, it merely comes into play, and its triggered ability is the one that does the targeting.

Q: I have a Where Ancients Tread out and play a Cylian Elf. Can I play Resounding Roar on it when it comes into play to make Where Ancients Tread deal 5 to something?

A: Sadly, it's too late for your beefy Elf to make Where Ancients Tread deal damage. The ability would have triggered after Cylian Elf came into play, if its power was five or greater. By the time you're able to play Resounding Roar on Cylian Elf, the condition for WAT triggering has come and gone.

Go easy on that Halloween candy!

Q: I reanimate my Kitchen Finks with Makeshift Mannequin, and my opponent tries to Magma Spray it to stop me from doing that ever again. Will the Mannequin counter stop the Magma Spray from removing the Finks from the game?

A: It will! While Magma Spray is getting played, its controller chooses Kitchen Finks as the spell's target, which triggers Makeshift Mannequin's ability. Once it finishes getting played, the triggered ability goes on the stack on top of Magma Spray, forcing you to sac your Ouphes. They persist, but they're treated as a new object, so Magma Spray no longer has a legal target and gets countered.

Q: At the beginning of my upkeep, I have a Stingscourger in play that I just played last turn. With the echo trigger on the stack, can I Snakeform it so it sticks around forever?

A: Your Goblin will be hitting the bin if you don't pay its echo, albeit as a very confused, very dead snake. Removing the echo ability from the creature doesn't change the fact that the echo trigger is on the stack, and the game will know that the Sting-snaker is still the same object that generated said echo trigger.

Q: I just got seven Marble Chalices in a draft! Wowee! Can I use them all in my deck?

A: In a limited deck, you can use as many copies of a card as you have, and in a small set like Shards of Alara that's drafted by itself, this can happen a lot. In fact, I've gotten so many copies of this question I could add seventeen land and call it a deck, and still have some left for my sideboard!

Q: My opponent plays a Wrath of God. Is there any way I can make a Saproling token with a Jund Battlemage and have it survive the nuking?

A: Anything that's played in response to the Wrath will go on top of the stack, above the Wrath itself. So it'll resolve before the Wrath does, leaving your Saproling only a few priority passes away from extermination. You won't be able to play Jund Battlemage's ability after the Wrath resolves, because by that time it's already in the graveyard.

Q: If I have multiple Stoic Angels out, can each player untap one creature for every Stoic Angel in play, or is it just one creature total?

A: It's just one creature, no matter how many Stoic Angels there are in play. Stoic Angel's static ability modifies the rules for the untap step, limiting the number of creatures that player can untap to one.

Q: If I suspend a Howling Mine with Jhoira of the Ghitu, and control a March of the Machines when Howling Mine comes out of suspend, will the Mine have haste? I want to attack with it so it'll be tapped when my opponent takes her turn.

A: Good question! Unfortunately, your Howling Mine won't be able to swing that turn. This is because only creature spells get haste when they come out of suspend, and no matter how animated your Howling Mine feels once it's in play, it's still not a creature spell on the stack.

Q: If I Nameless Inversion a Murderous Redcap in response to its ability, is my creature safe from the Redcap dealing damage to it?

A: Unfortunately, no. Murderous Redcap's triggered ability is independant from its source, so even if the Redcap gets removed from play, it'll still deal damage. But just in case you know that part, there's more! The amount of damage the Redcap will do is equal to its power, but since it's not in play anymore, we use last known information to see what its power was the last time it was in play. It was a 5/-1 creature, so it gets to deal 5 damage, not 2.

The obligatory Mirrorweave rules
question. Now I feel like a writer!

Q: I have Hostility in play, and my opponent has a Sarkhan Vol with six loyalty counters on it. I don't want him to make dragons, so I Incinerate my opponent, with the intent to redirect the damage to Sarkhan when it resolves. Does this work?

A: Hostility is relatively docile when it comes to planeswalkers. There are two replacement effects affecting the same thing (in this case, your opponent) - the planeswalker damage redirection rule, and Hostility's damage prevention. Because of this, the affected object (and I'd refrain from calling your opponent an "object") gets to choose which order these replacement/prevention effects are applied. If they apply Hostility's first, you'll get three 3/1s with haste and there will be no damage for you to redirect to Sarkhan. If they apply the damage redirection first, the damage will be dealt to Sarkhan because Hostility's prevention effect only works on non-combat damage that's going to be dealt to players.

Q: My opponent attacks with three Kithkin Soldier tokens, and I flash in a Plumeveil to block. Once I block, my opponent plays Mirrorweave on my Plumeveil to make everything into Plumeveils. Don't the Kithkin get removed from combat because they now have defender?

A: I promised myself I'd avoid the M-word in my first rules article, but since this came up in one of my tournaments recently, I feel obligated to answer. The defender ability only stops a creature from being declared as an attacker in the declare attackers step; it doesn't have much relevance to a creature that's already attacking.

Q: If I Call to Heel my Tidehollow Sculler in response to its first ability, what happens when it leaves play and tries to return "the removed card" before it ever gets removed?

A: "The removed card" doesn't exist at the time when Tidehollow Sculler's second ability resolves, so it'll resolve... and return absolutely nothing. Then its first triggered ability will resolve, removing a card in your opponent's hand from the game forever!

Q: If I have a sorcery like Wrath of God under a Shelldock Isle, can I play it during another player's turn?

A: Not only are you allowed to play non-instant, non-flashy things under a hideaway land when you could play an instant, the mechanics of hideaway pretty much force you to. See, you play the removed card under a hideaway land during the resolution of the ability. Normally, you can't play anything at all during the resolution of an ability, so since it instructs you to, you ignore the normal timing rules for playing that spell.

Q: I attack for lethal damage, and when I declare attackers, my opponent activates his Shelldock Isle to reveal a Sanity Grinding and mill me for the entirety of my library. Do I lose the game?

A: You might be feeling a little light-headed, but who cares - you're winning! You don't lose the game for having an empty library, you only lose if you try to draw a card from that empty library.

Q: In a multiplayer game, I Oblivion Ringed my friend's Tarmogoyf, and a few turns later I was killed by two of its brother Goyfs. When I leave the game, what happens to the original Tarmogoyf?

A: Poor Goyf! That'll learn ya for picking on them. In a multiplayer game, once a player loses, they leave the game forever. Everything owned by that player (your O-Ring), and all spells and abilities they control on the stack cease to exist. Even though the Oblivion Ring is leaving play, its return ability triggers, but can never go on the stack because its would-be controller doesn't exist anymore.

Q: At our FNM, the draft lands are kindly provided by the store, but some of them are in bad shape from being used so much and being so old. Can I still use them, or do I have to buy sleeves?

A: If your lands are marked, you're going to have to either find lands that aren't marked or use sleeves. It's nice to share lands, but any card that gets shuffled and played with a lot will be noticeably more worn than the fresh new cards from the packs you just opened. You get a few new fresh lands in the packs in Shards of Alara, but on average you'll only get three - not enough to build a 40-card deck with. Single packs of fifty sleeves are cheap and will last you many drafts if you're good to them.

Q: So I untapped, passed my upkeep, drew a card for my draw step, didn't do anything during my first main phase, and attacked and resolved combat. Then I said "Go-NO WAIT!" without pausing, because I forgot to play a land. My opponent said "Nope, you said go!" and didn't let me play the land. Is it really too late?

A: I can't guarantee this at higher levels of play, but at local tournaments, an excited "GO-OHGODNO,WAIT!" won't cause the rest of your turn to be skipped. So long as nothing transpires between you saying "Go" and screaming "WAIT!", it's rare that a judge would allow you to be robbed of part of your turn like that. There is a problem though if a judge thinks a player is trying to gauge their opponent's reaction to see if they had any end-of-turn effects, but if you legitimately say go and instantly realize you didn't mean to, that's fine... although please try not to make a habit of it. The bottom line is, Magic is a game of cards, not of confusing wordplay. (Unless said confusing words are on the cards themselves, which they often are.)

Q: My friend was looking at my trade binder the other day for a Figure of Destiny, but he didn't want my promo ones because he said he wouldn't be able to use them at States. Is he right?

A: Well, sort of. If all the copies of Figure of Destiny in his deck were foil and nothing else was, that'd be a problem. Foils tend to warp and bend differently than non-foil cards, no matter how careful you are or what kind of sleeves they're in. If you can shuffle a deck and cut to the Figures even "most of the time", that's Marked Cards - Pattern, an automatic Game Loss. It always comes down to the head judge's discretion if he or she determines your cards are marked, but chances are if you suspect they are, then they are. BUT, avoiding foils altogether is a drastic measure! You can avoid Marked Cards penalties by making sure you have a decent distribution of foil and non-foil cards so that when you shuffle, you don't always cut to a foil, and keeping your cards in sleeves when you're not using them - they won't warp noticeably unless they're left out too long. To calm your worries even more, practically everyone has foil promo Figures at tournaments, and 99.5% of them aren't in danger of getting a Game Loss.

Well that's it for me this week; I hope you enjoyed my first article! Hmm that seems a little cliche to say, but it feels good, so yay. Next time I see you it'll be a little before Thanksgiving, where I'll have some more questions you can hungrily gobble up! Ha!


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