Cranial Insertion: Time Travel

Cranial Insertion
Time Travel
And Other Things You Can Do During The Resolution Of A Spell

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

Hello, all! 'Tis I, your loyal tidepool-dwelling judge-turned-frazzled-college-student. This week's article is full of whatever I could scrape out of my skull after writing a humanities paper and solving The Multivariable Calculus Problem Set From Hell, but fortunately the questions sent to Moko this week were of quite high quality, so the article turned out well in spite of me. Props to all of you who sent questions. Keep it up! [email][email protected][/email]. You know the drill.

Also, everyone should be excited for the Shards of Alara article next week and the imminent appointment of a new Cranial Inserter! Ooo! Ahh! Hurry up and apply if you're planning to!

Okay, let's hit the questions.

Cards or DEATH.
I'm sorry, you're all out of cards.

Q: I have three cards left in my library and attack my opponent for lethal damage. He blocks 4 of it with his Swans of Bryn Argoll. The unblocked damage is still lethal, so when combat damage resolves, who loses?

A: Both of you do. Because Swans of Bryn Argoll sets up a replacement effect, the card drawing will happen as part of the resolution of combat damage. The next time state-based effects are checked after damage resolves, the game will find your opponent with 0 or less life and you having attempted to draw cards from an empty library. Since you're both losing simultaneously, the game is a draw.

Quote from 420.3 »
Whenever a player would get priority (see rule 408, "Timing of Spells and Abilities"), the game checks for any of the listed conditions for state-based effects. All applicable effects resolve as a single event, then the check is repeated.

Q: I control Phyrexian Etchings with four time counters on it and Puca's Mischief. At the beginning of my upkeep, I put Phyrexian Etchings' trigger on the stack first, then Puca's Mischief's. When the Mischief trigger resolves, I choose to exchange control of my Etchings with my opponents Gray Ogre. What happens when the cumulative upkeep trigger from the Etchings resolves?

A: Since you control the Etchings trigger (as dictated by the fact that you controlled its source when it triggered), you will be the one who has to pay or sacrifice it. Since you don't control it, you can either pay or... not sacrifice it. It will still get an age counter, though. Your opponent would do well to obtain some black mana ASAP.

Quote from 410.2 »
Whenever a game event or game state matches a triggered ability's trigger event, that ability triggers. When a phase or step begins, all abilities that trigger "at the beginning of" that phase or step trigger. The ability is controlled by the player who controlled its source at the time it triggered.

Q: Do I shuffle after resolving Impulse or not?

A: You don't shuffle anymore. It may tell you to shuffle on the card, but reading the friendly card isn't always the best advice - sometimes you need to read the friendly Gatherer for the most up-to-date, official card wording.

Q: With Prismatic Omen in play, Global Ruin is cast. How exactly does Global Ruin work under those conditions?

A: You can save any five lands and sacrifice the rest. Global Ruin asks you to select one Plains, one Island, one Swamp, one Mountain, and one Forest, then sacrifice every land you didn't select. It does not ask you to pick a {basic land type} and sacrifice all other {basic land type}s for each basic land type.

Q: While resolving Hypergenesis, I put Court Hussar into play. Does its comes-into-play ability resolve quickly enough for me to put a card I've drawn into play with Hypergenesis?

A: Nope. Because the hypergeneration of various things is all part of the resolution of Hypergenesis, nothing can happen during that process that isn't part of that process. Nothing. Not a thing. Court Hussar's comes-into-play trigger will be put on the stack the next time a player would receive priority, which will be after the resolution of Hypergenesis, and you won't pick up a card until this trigger resolves.

Quote from 420.3 »
Whenever a player would get priority, the game checks for any of the listed conditions for state-based effects. All applicable effects resolve as a single event, then the check is repeated. Once no more state-based effects have been generated, triggered abilities go on the stack, and then the appropriate player gets priority.

This reminds me of an old judges' joke that goes like this: How come a rooster can't lay an egg during the resolution of a spell or ability? Because he was still waiting to put it on the stack! Hahaha! Isn't that the funniest joke ever? No? Obviously you're not sophisticated enough to understand my humor.

They tried to make me pay with Remand,
I said, "Judge! Judge! Judge!"
Q: If I cast Mana Leak targeting my opponent's spell, and he chooses to pay the three mana, can I then Remand my own Mana Leak and cast it again so he has to pay another three?

A: No. The choice to pay and subsequent payment (or frowny faces) for Mana Leak are part of its resolution. The last step in this resolution is the removal of Mana Leak from the stack and placement in the graveyard. I mean, you could Remand it during its resolution. Oh wait, no, you can't. Remember the rooster joke? Exactly. You can Remand your own Mana Leak before your opponent has had a chance to pay, or not at all.

Quote from 413.2c »
If an effect offers any choices other than choices already made as part of playing the spell or ability, the player announces these while applying the effect.

Q: My opponent has a Swans-dredge-Seismic-Assault loop going, and he's going to kill me eventually unless he gets really unlucky. Do I have to wait for him to actually kill me, or can I just say he wins?

A: If you're bored sitting there watching your opponent play the game, you can always concede. Always! It's one of the cardinal rules of Magic: a player may concede and get the heck out of Dodge at any time, even while the rooster is waiting to lay its egg.

Q: So my opponent has me under that lock, but I want to see if he gets unlucky and can't actually kill me. Can I refuse to concede, even though there's almost no chance I'll survive?

A: Of course you may. A player is never under any obligation to concede, no matter how much his or her life - er, game state - may suck. The times when a player could reasonably be forced to concede are so very, very slim, it's never going to matter for you. Just cross your fingers and hope your opponent gets unlucky so you win!

Q: What if my opponent can't stop the loop he has me in, but he can't win, either? Does one of us have to concede now?

A: Nah. In this case, it's your responsibility to call the game a draw. This only applies if your opponent's really in an infinite loop that he can't stop - if he can stop it by choosing not to do something, he must stop it, even if that means he'll lose. Otherwise, assuming neither of you want to choose to do something outside of the loop, the game has to be a draw.

Q: My opponent casts Magus of the Moon, and in response I activate my Treetop Village. What will I have this turn? What about next turn, when the animation effect wears off?

A: This turn you will have your 3/3 Ape. Once the Village's continuous effect is in place, it doesn't matter if the land itself loses the animation ability. Once its monkeynucleosis has worn of, though, you will be left with naught but a Mountain.

Quote from 418.3a »
A continuous effect generated by the resolution of a spell or ability lasts as long as stated by the spell or ability creating it (such as "until end of turn").

Q: I have a Blowfly Infestation out and block my opponent's Kitchen Finks with my persisted Gravelgill Axeshark. When the Axeshark goes to the graveyard, since I'm the non-active player and my trigger goes on the stack after the persist trigger, can I choose to put the -1/-1 counter on the Kitchen Finks when it comes back?

A: Your flies won't be pestering your opponent's Finks. When combat damage resolves, there are two triggers - your opponent's persist trigger, and your Blowfly Infestation trigger. Since he's the active player, the Finks' persist trigger goes on the stack first, and then your Blowfly Infestation trigger goes on the stack right above it. As soon as it does, you need to pick a target for it, and the Finks isn't in play yet.

Q: Can we run FNM without a top 8 playoff?

A: Knock yourself out! (Not literally.) FNM doesn't require a T8 playoff, but the organizer should announce whether or not there is one at the start, and can't change his mind halfway through the event.

Q: If I have two creatures with the same power, one of which is indestructible, can I select the indestructible creature to destroy with Porphyry Nodes and have it survive? Is this analogous to targeting an indestructible creature with Hex?

A: No and no. With Hexing an indestructible guy, all you're doing is selecting it as a target. Hex doesn't know it's going to have no effect until it resolves. Contrarily, with Porphyry Nodes, you're not targeting anything. Porphyry Nodes demands that you destroy a creature, so you must do this if possible, and in the situation described, it is possible. Unless Mr. Indestructible's power is strictly less than that of all the destroyable creatures, you will have to kill something.

Q: How does the Development side of Research // Development work with Maralen of the Mornsong in play?

A: Because Maralen makes drawing impossible, your opponent cannot chose to have you draw a card. You get a bunch of happy tokens.

Quote from 413.2c »
If an effect offers any choices other than choices already made as part of playing the spell or ability, the player announces these while applying the effect. The player can't choose an option that's illegal or impossible.

What to a laser and a goldfish have in common?
Neither of them whistles.
Q: My Figure of Destiny is a 2/2. I activate its 4/4 ability, and in response, my opponent casts Snakeform on it. Will the 4/4 ability overwrite the snake-makery?

A: It would, but for the fact that Figure of Destiny (or should I call you SNAKE?) is no longer a Spirit when its ability resolves, but merely a wiggly little snake, and therefore the ability will do nothing. Where is your destiny now, huh? HUH? That's what I thought.

Q: My Lunk Errant attacks, and I make a token with Militia's Pride. My friend says my Lunk Errant won't get the +1/+1 and trample bonus, but I think it does. Who's right?

A: You are! Your Giant might have a Kithkin buddy tagging along, but the Lunk-head was leading the way. His ability triggers when attackers are declared if he's the only one attacking, which he was: the Kithkin Soldier token was put into play attacking, after attackers were declared.

Q: I know that Eventide was legal for Standard tournaments on release day, but will Shards of Alara be, too? If so, will it kick out Time Spiral block? That seems pretty abrupt, with the set just released.

A: It may be abrupt, but tis the truth. On October 3rd, Shards will come dancing onto the stage and Time Spiral block and Coldsnap will be booed out - or gleefully chased out with pitchforks and torches, in the case of Tarmogoyf. This may result in one pretty wacky FNM while people scurry to get cards, but it's only one week; by the next week, you should all be drowning in ALA wrappers and have all the cards you need.

Q: My Durkwood Tracker's wielding a Blight Sickle. What happens if I activate him, targeting an attacking Cloudthresher?

A: Blight happens. First the Tracker will deal 5 damage to the Cloudthresher in the form of -1/-1 counters; wither applies to any damage, not just combat damage, and the Tracker gets +1/+0 from the Sickle. Now the little baby 2/2 Cloudthresher scrunches up its face and cries, slapping the Tracker for a measly 2 damage. The Tracker laughs. Your Grizzly Bears blocks and eats the once-mighty Cloudthresher. There is much rejoicing. (yey.)

Well, that's all for this week. I hope you laughed at my unfunny jokes as much as I did. Five points to anyone who can name the sources of all five pop culture references in this article. One point per reference, no partial credit.

Since you sent such wonderful questions this past week, you have proven that you have the potential to please Moko. Now you have to do it again. This is the problem with overachieving, folks. The bar just gets set higher. [email][email protected][/email]. Make Moko happy.


Until next time, may you always have the option to play or draw.

Your sleep-deprived, caffeine-addled friend,

Diane Colley
DCI Level 3 Judge
Portland, Oregon


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