Cranial Insertion: Liches Aren’t Quitters



Liches Aren’t Quitters
By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

“Welcome to the new world, sir.” It was appropriate at the end of The Hunt for Red October, and it’s appropriate now. We’re out of Lorwyn and its twisted reflection, Shadowmoor, and on to a world divided into five distinct shards. We’ve also bid adieu to approximately eleventy thousand cards from Standard, while welcoming in only 229. It’s a new world out there, and we like new worlds, since they give us lots of material for questions!

Should you have any questions about the worlds old or new, you can send them to [email][email protected][/email]. We pick the best, the most interesting, and the ones we can most easily make into jokes for the column, but we answer everything we get.

Most of the questions in this article will be about Shards of Alara, of course. These were taken from the CI mailbox, Prereleases, and Launch Parties.



"I'm starting with the minion in the mirror."
Q: I am at 1; my opponent is at 5. I have a Minion Reflector in play. I play a Welkin Guide, and thus there are two triggered abilities that need to resolve. I attempt to stack the effects like so:

1) I pay 2, creating a Welkin Guide token.
2) I target the new token with the +2/+2 ability from the original Welkin Guide, making it a 4/4.
3) I target the new token with its own triggered effect, making it a 6/6, swinging for the win with a hasty flier.

However, my opponent says that I cannot stack the effects in that way, and if the effect of 2) is to be put on the stack, it has to have a legal target to go on the stack in the first place. Is he right?

A: He is. At the time the original Welkin Guide’s triggered ability goes onto the stack, its newly-minted twin brother is still being minted. Mmmm, mints. Anyway, that token won’t be created until Minion Reflector’s triggered ability resolves. Since the token doesn’t exist yet, you can’t target it with the original Welkin Guide’s ability.


Q: I have in play and control a Skill Borrower and a Leonin Den-Guard. The revealed top card of my library is a Lightning Greaves. Can I Equip the Skill Borrower to the Leonin Den-Gaurd?

A: Nope. Equipment that’s a creature can’t equip other creatures. In a recent poll, creatures were fine with equipment latching onto them but gave a resounding thumbs-down to other creatures doing the same. Even though Skill Borrower is more comely than the average creature, there are still rules against this kind of fraternization.

Bonus: Even if it were possible, it would still be pointless. Skill Borrower only borrows activated abilities, so you could pay the equip cost, but it wouldn’t have any of the static abilities of the equipment.


Q: If I control two Empyrial Archangels and my opponent deals 14 damage to me in one turn, can I choose to split the damage so that each angel gets 7 damage, or does my opponent get to choose how the damage is split?

A: That depends very much on how he deals that 14 damage. One big Blaze? One Angel takes it all. A pair of 7/7 creatures? For each source of damage, you can choose where it will go. Your opponent never gets to make this choice.

419.9a If two or more replacement or prevention effects are attempting to modify the way an event affects an object or player, the affected object’s controller (or its owner if it has no controller) or the affected player chooses one to apply. If any of those effects are self-replacement effects (see rule 419.6d), one of them must be chosen. If not, but any of those effects would modify under whose control an object would come into play, one of them must be chosen. Otherwise, any of the applicable effects may be chosen. Once the chosen effect has been applied, this process is repeated (taking into account only replacement or prevention effects that would now be applicable) until there are no more left to apply.



Q: If I have an Empyrial Archangel in play and my opponent deals damage to me using a creature with wither, will my angel get -1/-1 counters?

A: Yes, it will. While the Angel redirects damage to itself, the source of that damage never changes. If the source has wither, the Angel will get -1/-1 counters. If the source has deathtouch, your Angel is going to be very, very sad.



OM NOM NOM... what, Warp World?
Q: Can you explain what happens if I play Warp World and Warp into play a Mycoloth and three other creatures?

A: There will be much scooping of permanents, much shuffling, and many confused looks from your opponent. After that, your Mycoloth will be its regular 4/4 self. Devour is a comes-into-play replacement effect, and that means Mycoloth can’t devour a creature that’s coming into play at the same time. Creatures to be devoured have to be in play before the hungry creature comes into play.


Q: My opponent had Soul's Might and Manaplasm in his deck; and he said that against his previous opponent, he put 6 counters on the Manaplasm just by playing Soul's Might (no other spells that round, no other pumping). I said that those 2 cards didn't interact that way. He disagreed, and nobody knew the rules well enough to clarify. Who is right?

A: Your opponent is. When X is defined in the text box of a card, as opposed to being a cost or part of playing the spell, then the value of X is determined upon resolution. In this case, Soul’s Might causes Manaplasm’s ability to trigger. When that trigger resolves, Manaplasm will be a 6/6. Soul’s Might will see that the ‘Plasm has a power of 6 and put that many +1/+1 counters on it.


Q: If I play Soul's Fire on a creature with a certain ability (wither, lifelink, deathtouch, etc.) will it change the way Soul's Fire deals damage? For example, if I play Soul’s Fire on my Scuzzback Maruaders, will it deal 5 damage in the form of wither? Or if I use it on Stigma Lasher, will it cancel my opponent's ability to gain life?

A: Soul’s Fire causes the creature itself to deal damage. Anything that replaces, modifies, or triggers on noncombat damage from that creature being dealt will happen. Thus, the damage from Scuzzback Marauder will be wither damage. Stigma Lasher will still make Timmy cry into a pile of Alabaster Potions, and Exalted Angel will gain you life.



"Gather ginormous owl... check."
Q: I have Militia’s Pride in play. My opponent plays Gather Specimens after I declare my attackers. What happens now?

A: That depends on what you do. You have some number of Militia’s Pride triggers waiting to resolve. Let’s say it’s three. When each of those three triggers resolves, you have the choice to pay W. If you don’t pay, your opponent doesn’t get a token. If you take leave of your senses long enough to pay each time, then your opponent gets three tapped 1/1 Kithkin Soldier tokens.

Why aren’t they tapped and attacking? Because of this nifty addition to the Comp Rules:

306.b If an effect would put a creature into play attacking under the control of any player except an attacking player, that creature does come into play, but it’s never considered to be an attacking creature.



Q: What if I play Clone and my opponent plays Gather Specimens in response?

A: Then he gets your Clone. The good news is that, unless you’re a Marvel Comics character from the 1990s, you don’t have to worry about it being a clone of you. The bad news is that your opponent will get to make the choice for what Clone is copying, since it comes into play under his control.


Q: My opponent plays Gather Specimens. I play a Skizzik with kicker. Since he didn’t pay the kicker cost, does the Skizzik stick around?

A: It does. The kicker cost was paid, which is really all Skizzik cares about (it also doesn't care who paid the cost). Gather Specimens doesn’t change additional costs like kicker being paid. Since you helpfully paid the kicker cost, your opponent gets to keep the Skizzik.


Q: If I concede, does Lich's Mirror cause the loss to be replaced?

A: Liches aren’t quitters. Do you think it’s an easy process to accrue gobs of magical power, then become a lich when you finally die? Because Liches are hard-working undead, a Lich’s Mirror will not reward you for conceding.

102.3a A player can concede the game at any time. A player who concedes leaves the game immediately. He or she loses the game.


So you leave the game first, and then you lose. Because the game is over once you leave it, Lich’s Mirror won’t help you.

Bonus: One of my old D&D groups had a running joke about a lich on a murphy bed. No, I didn't understand it, either.


Q: I want to search for Chalice of the Void with Tezzeret the Seeker’s ability. How many loyalty counters do I need to remove?

A: Chalice costs XX, so you’ll need to remove 2 x 0 loyalty counters. For those of you who slept thru your math classes, that’s still 0. Since there’s an X in the mana cost and we’re not talking about a spell on the stack, X is undefined, so we use 0. Since you’re putting the Chalice directly into play, you can’t pay for X, so the Chalice’s triggered ability will counter spells with CMC 0. I get the feeling, though, that if you’re searching out Chalice with Tezzeret, you’re OK with that.


Q: My opponent played Blister Beetle, trying to kill my 1/1. Can I use Hindering Light to save it?

A: Nope. Creature spells never target. Creatures sometimes have comes-into-play abilities that do (and the Beetle does), but that’s the ability doing the dirty work, not the spell. Hindering Light doesn’t hinder abilities at all.


Q: I have Manaplasm in play. I play a spell, which gets countered. Does my Manaplasm still get fatter?

A: It will. Manaplasm only cares that you played a spell. It doesn’t care what happened to that spell. This is probably because it’s an ooze, and oozes are stupid. Once you’ve played your spell, Manaplasm will trigger. As long as that ability resolves, it doesn’t matter what happens to the spell.

Bonus: Older cards used to refer to a spell being “successfully cast.” In today’s more progressive Magic world, we only care if spells are “played.”


Q: Does Fact or Fiction do anything if Mindlock Orb is in play?

A: It does. Mindlock Orb prevents players from searching libraries. Fact or Fiction, however, doesn’t cause you to search; it causes you to reveal the top five cards of your library and hope your opponent can’t split them intelligently. FoF away!

Bonus: EOTFOFYL, amirite?



Do us all a favor and DON'T recite
the flavor text to your opponents.
Q: My opponent is at 3 life and plays a spell that can’t be countered. Can I still play Punish Ignorance to kill him?

A: You can. Punish Ignorance won’t be able to counter an uncounterable spell, but the bonus Undermine and Absorb effects will still happen, since they’re not contingent on the spell being countered.


Q: I pay the unearth cost of Sidraxis Specter. My opponent responds by removing it from the game. Does that happen, or does it get unearthed right away, before he can do that?

A: Your Specter will not be returning to play. Unearth is an activated ability. You paid the cost and put it on the stack. If the ability resolves and the creature card has gone MIA from your graveyard in the meantime, then nothing happens. Your opponent gets the chance to respond once you put the ability on the stack and pass priority, though.


Q: In play are a Hissing Iguanar and a Grizzly Bears. A Wrath of God is played and sends everything to the graveyard at the same time. Does the Iguanar see the Bear hitting the graveyard and thus trigger to do a point of damage?

A: It will. For leaves-play abilities, the game will “look back in time” to what things looked like just before the leaves-play event. This will cause the Iguanar to trigger and ping your opponent.

410.10d Normally, objects that exist immediately after an event are checked to see if the event matched any trigger conditions. Continuous effects that exist at that time are used to determine what the trigger conditions are and what the objects involved in the event look like. However, some triggered abilities must be treated specially because the object with the ability may no longer be in play, may have moved to a hand or library, or may no longer be controlled by the appropriate player. The game has to “look back in time” to determine if these abilities trigger. Abilities that trigger specifically when an object leaves play, when an object is put into a hand or library from a public zone, or when a player loses control of an object will trigger based on their existence, and the appearance of objects, prior to the event rather than afterward.



Q: If I play Clarion UItimatum, can I search for another Deft Duelist?

A: Yes. Clarion Ultimatum just has you choose five permanents. It doesn’t target the permanents, so the Duelist’s shroud won’t stop you.


That’s all we have for this edition of CI. Check back next week, when we’ll have more questions from ALA, and probably from elsewhere around the Multiverse as well.


-Tom Fowler

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