Cranial Insertion: Ave Atque Vale

Ave Atque Vale
By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

It’s getting to be that time of year again. A Pro Tour is nearly upon us, Worlds is within sight, and most importantly, Halloween is right around the corner! Haunted houses, ghoulish jack-o-lanterns, copious amounts of candy, and even zombie chimps are all in season right now. So grab yourselves a piece of pumpkin pie, curl up with a mug of your favorite witch’s brew, and join us for our weekly foray into the world of the rules.

If you have questions for us, you can send them to [email][email protected][/email]. Moko is busy this time of year, but he always has time to eat brains sort questions and pass the interesting ones on to us.

On a personal note, this will be my last article as a regular member of the CI rotation. We’ll talk about that more at the end. In the meantime, we have a bunch of questions to cover!

Obligatory Halloween pic.
Q: I have a morphed creature and a Cemetery Puca. If the morphed creature is put into the graveyard before it is turned face up and I use the Puca’s ability, what does it see the morphed creature as? Will it be a 2/2 colorless?

A: It will. The creature was never in play face-up; it only ended up that way because it left play to go to the graveyard. The Puca will use the creature’s last-known information (LKI), and the last time it existed in play, it was an extremely vanilla 2/2. So your Puca will be bland 2/2, with only its copy ability saving it from Very Vanilla status.

Q: If you use unearth and then use a Blink effect (like Turn to Mist) on that creature, does the creature get removed from the game permanently or will it return to play?

A: We’ve done this question before, but it’s common enough that it’s worth running again.

The replacement effect that unearth sets up only cares if the creature would go somewhere other than the RFG zone. Spells like Turn to Mist and Momentary Blink are considerate enough to send the creature there anyway. Unearth won’t keep track of it, and thus, it will return to play.

Q: I enchant an ordinary creature my opponent controls with Fractured Loyalty. As that creature's controller attacks with it, I use Frostling’s ability, gaining control of the creature. My opponent then plays Predator's Strike targeting the creature. So, my question is, how does that work?

A: It works out pretty well for you. Unless you enjoy being attacked, that is. As soon as the Fractured Loyalty trigger caused by Frostling resolves, you’ll gain control of the creature. At that point, it leaves combat because its controller changed. Even if your opponent manages to get it back in short order, it’s still sitting out this round.

Attacking Creature
A creature becomes an attacking creature when (a) it’s declared as part of a legal attack during the combat phase and (b) all costs to attack, if any, have been paid. It remains an attacking creature until it’s removed from combat, it stops being a creature, its controller changes, or the combat phase ends.

Look, she's wearing Halloween colors.
Q: My opponent enchants my Nezumi Cutthroat with Clinging Darkness. In response, I play Blessing of Leeches on it. Can I just keep paying for the Blessing’s ability and draw the game? Does something else happen?

A: Something else does happen: your Cutthroat is going to die. A creature with 0 toughness is put into its owner’s graveyard as a state-based effect, and regeneration can’t do anything about that.

Q: In a Two-Headed Giant game, a Stoic Angel is in play. Does each player get to untap a creature, or does each team untap one creature?

A: Each player can untap one creature. Restricting it to one per team (in addition to a wording change), would make Stoic Angel into Stodgy Angel. Any time an effect refers to a player’s step or phase in a 2HG game, it will affect each player on the team individually (unless that effect is causing a step or phase to be skipped).

Q: If a creature has haunt and persist, can I choose which to use when it dies without a -1/-1 counter?

A: You can. Both triggers will go onto the stack when the creature dies. Since you control them both, you choose the order in which they’re put onto the stack and, thus, the order in which they resolve.

Q: If a creature with persist (and no -1/-1 counter) is haunted and dies, will it come back haunted, or will dying make it forget it was haunted?

A: Dying makes the creature forget everything. This includes the likely grisly way it met its demise, as well as the fact that some random other creature was following it around and making spooky noises. The creature that returns to play is a brand-new object and was never haunted. The creature doing the haunting will loiter in the RFG zone for the rest of the game, and it won’t even have anyone to try and scare with its spooky sounds.

Q: If I make a token copy of Broodmate Dragon with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, will the token produce a 4/4 dragon; and if it does, will the token's token survive?

A: The token’s token is not just a token token. Wait, that’s probably hard to understand. The token created by Kiki-Jiki will create its own token. Since that token wasn’t created by Kiki-Jiki, it’s not going to run away at the end of the turn. DIABOLICAL~!

"But Cephalid Constable, I wasn't
robbing these graves! I was just
getting into the Halloween spirit!"
Q: You recently wrote about Skill Borrower flipping if it has the abilities of a flip card like Nezumi Graverobber. Maybe its the part of me that wants to do horrible things to the rules of Magic, but since the characteristics of a flipped Graverobber technically don't exist in the current game state, wouldn't a flipped Skill Borrower become an undefined permanent on the board?

A: It is possible, in some cases, to do horrible things to the rules of Magic. This, however, is not one of those cases. A flipped permanent with no “flip half” will just use its normal characteristics; flipping only replaces the normal characteristics with flipped characteristics if the latter exist. Any characteristics that don’t exist on a flip half (like the mana cost of Nezumi Graverobber, or every characteristic of Skill Borrower) are unaffected.

508.2. In every zone other than the in-play zone, and also in the in-play zone before the permanent flips, a flip card has only the normal characteristics of the card. Once a permanent in the in-play zone is flipped, its normal name, text box, type line, power, and toughness don’t apply and the alternative versions of those characteristics apply instead.

Q: At my local FMN I'm playing a mill deck, and it's my main phase. I ask my opponent to give me library count; and he tells me he has 8 cards left. I then play a Memory Sluice with its conspiratorial copy in attempt to deck him. But he miscounted, he had 9 cards left! If I had known that, I wouldn't have played (and subsequently conspired) Memory Sluice. What should I do? Can I go back?

A: You can go back under two very specific circumstances:

  1. You have a De Lorean, equipped with a flux capacitor, and can get it up to 88 mph in short order, or
  2. You are a bespectacled Japanese man who can stop and manipulate time.
The DCI Penalty Guide doesn’t allow for rewinding the game just because someone made a disadvantageous play due to receiving incorrect information. What you should do in this case, of course, is call a judge. It’s possible your opponent legitimately miscounted the number of cards in his library. That would make him guilty of Tournament Error—Player Communication Violation, and that’s a caution at Regular REL. If, after talking to the player, the judge believes that he deliberately misrepresented the number of cards in his library, that’s Cheating—Fraud, and it earns him a DQ from the event.

Q: When I attack with Flameblast Dragon, can I choose to play its triggered ability and pay for it by playing Burnt Offering, sacrificing that same dragon?

A: You can. You don’t have to pay for the Dragon’s trigger until it resolves, and you can sacrifice the Dragon for mana from Burnt Offering to pay for that triggered ability. Keep in mind, though, that the Dragon’s ability triggers (and resolves) during the Declare Attackers step. If you sacrifice it to Burnt Offering, it won’t be in play to deal combat damage when the time comes for that.

Q: I'm under the impression that the cards in your Fact or Fiction piles are still technically in your library, and so that if Narcomoeba is in the pile that you send to the bin, it will magick itself into play. However, this seems really odd. Is this really how it works?

A: Odd as it may seem, that is how it works. All five cards from Fact or Fiction are just revealed from your library. They remain that way right up until you decide where each pile is going. Since the cards never left your library, Narcomoeba, despite the fact that it probably sat on the table while your opponent decided how to split the piles, sees itself as going right from the library to the graveyard. Who needs dredge?

Q: If I respond to Murderous Redcap's comes-into-play ability with a Giant Growth on the Redcap, how much damage will it deal? One half of our group says 5, the other half says 2. Since we neither can take votes nor use the average of 3.5, I hope for your help in this issue.

A: Half your group is right.

Which half? TUNE IN NEXT WEEK!

. . .

Oh, all right. Since it’s my last week and all, I won’t keep you in suspense. Redcap will deal 5 damage in this case. Its power isn’t calculated until the triggered ability resolves. That means things like Giant Growth will cause it to deal more damage, while things like Dizzy Spell will cause it to deal less. And a Murderous Redcap that deals 0 damage because of Dizzy Spell isn’t really very murderous. It’s more of a Mildly Inconveniencing Redcap.

Q: I put together an updated version of the old Trix combo for MTGO. Just tried playing it again today since the last update, and when I exchanged control of the Illusions of Grandeur and neglected to pay the upkeep, the game made me lose 20 life, even though it was leaving play from my opponent's side of the board. Which way is correct according to real Magic rules, and not some silly MTGO bugs?

A: Whoever controls Illusions of Grandeur when it leaves play is the one to lose the 20 life. Since your opponent controlled it in this case, he should have lost the life. It looks like this is a bug, and you should report it thru the software’s reporting client.

Q: During my turn, I enter my upkeep. My opponent has 1 card in her hand, I control Cunning Lethemancer, and a Rekindled Flame resides in my graveyard. During my upkeep, can I choose Cunning Lethermancer’s shenanigans to take place first; and then, since my opponent no longer has any cards, get Rekindled Flame back?

A: This doesn’t work the way you want it to. Rekindled Flame’s triggered ability has the pesky “intervening if” clause in it. At the beginning of your upkeep, if your opponent has any cards in her hand, Rekindled Flame won’t even trigger. That Cunning Lethemancer got rid of that card doesn’t factor in at all.

404.3. A triggered ability may read “When/Whenever/At . . . , if [condition], [effect].” The ability checks for the stated condition to be true when the trigger event occurs. If it is, the ability triggers. On resolution, the ability rechecks the condition. If the condition isn’t true at either of those times, the ability does nothing. This rule is referred to as the “intervening ‘if’ clause” rule. Note that the word “if” has only its normal English meaning anywhere else in the text of a card; this rule only applies to an “if” that immediately follows a trigger condition.

"Ach, Hans, run! It's... uh...
it's a giant Halloween mask!"
Q: Say I have a Doomgape in play. . . .

A: I have a Doomgape in play.

Q: Mad

A: Hey, this is my last week doing this. Were you not expecting the Bad Joke Floodgates to open?

Q: Fair enough. Anyway, I have a Doomgape and I give it double strike with Double Cleave. If it is blocked by a 1/1 creature, 9 damage gets through with first strike, but does the normal damage go through (as the 1/1 blocker is dead) or simply not happen?

A: It goes thru. In grisly, spectacular fashion. Trample and double strike interact very nicely if you’re the attacking player. In this case, you assign first strike damage with a 1 and 9 split. Then, because your creature has trample, you can assign its regular damage (any that would exceed the blocking creature’s toughness) to the defending player. Since there is no blocking creature anymore, that would be all 10, for a total of 19 to your opponent. Owies.

Bonus: Double strikers without trample can’t assign combat damage to the defending player, even if they killed their blockers with first strike damage. The attacker is still considered to be blocked, and only attackers with trample can assign extra damage to the defending player.

Non-Magical Bonus: I always spell "through" as "thru" because all those extra letters annoy me. I'm very much in the Eddie Izzard camp that spelling it "through" is cheating at Scrabble. Anyway, Woapalanne, who usually edits CI when I write it, always changes it to the cheating-at-Scrabble spelling, and IMs me with a bunch of frowny faces. I'm hoping he'll leave one instance of "thru" alone, this one last time.

(His Grand Exalted Editorialness, the Evil Betty, Who Has Been Editing Tom For Some Time Now: Fine, you get your wish. But no going-away present for you now.)

That brings us to the end of this edition of CI. As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s my last as a regular member of the rotation. I might get sideboarded in if all the regulars are busy, but that will be it. Remember the submissions we were taking? Well, we picked the ones who laughed the most at our jokes the best of them to join the team. You’ll see the new guys in the coming weeks. Moko is working with them on their zaniness, and also trying to avoid eating their brains.

Why am I leaving? The main reason is that Magic hasn’t been as much fun for me, in any capacity, for about a year and a half now. I’ve tried to do a few things to rekindle the fire to its earlier levels, but it’s just not happening. I’d rather someone who still has that fire for the game be the one to deliver you questions and answers every week. A secondary reason is that I want more time to focus both on non-Magic writing and on some professional development. I've been writing CI for three years now. It's been a good run, but it's time to do something else.

It’s been real, it’s been fun, and it’s even been real fun. Hail and farewell.

-Tom Fowler


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