Cranial Insertion: You Have a Choice

You Have a Choice
or, We Are Your Voice

By Moko the Zombie Rules Chimp

Blasphemy, and not the
good kind like me.
You were expecting an article from Eli, right? Well, you're wrong! He's busy judging a Vintage tournament and left me here to write something for you all. Normally I'd sic some fleas on him for this outrage, but his tournament isn't real Vintage; it's ten-proxy Vintage. And let me tell you, boys and girls, a Black Lotus splashed on a Mountain isn't a Black Lotus, it's an abominable travesty to all that is unholy. For shaaaaame. I just bet there won't even be any real decks with Sengir Vampires flying into Scryb Sprites, just "Tendrils" and "No-Land Belcher" and "Grindstone Combo."

So, seeing as we also have a very special announcement at the end of this article, I think it's only fair that I test you lot and see how much you're learning. If you fail, I'll know, and I'll come and eat your brains in the night.

Send me fan mail and more questions at [email][email protected][/email] for next week. After that, we'll be rolling around in Alara questions for a month or so, but someone will still answer your non-ALA questions.

Q: Will my Cairn Wanderer have protection from all colors if Pristine Angel is in my graveyard?

A: The answer is...
A: Yes, since the Angel is not tapped in your graveyard.
B: No, since the Angel is neither tapped nor untapped in your graveyard.
C: Yes, since the default is for it to have protection.
D: No, since the ability granting protection doesn't apply in the graveyard.
E: Yes, as long as your graveyard is perpendicular to your other untapped permanents.

D, it doesn't work there!

The Angel is neither tapped nor untapped while in your graveyard, since only permanents have status such as tapped/untapped, flipped/unflipped, and face-up/face-down. But the real issue that the ability simply doesn't work in the graveyard. It's not a characteristic-defining ability since it's conditional, and those are the only abilities that function in the graveyard without specifically saying so.

Q: What do I do if I mulligan to six but accidentally draw seven cards instead?

A: The answer is...
A: Take another mulligan.
B: Shuffle two random cards into your library.
C: Shuffle one random card into your library.
D: Put a random card on top of your library.
E: Commit seppuku.

B, take two!

The policy was once to force a mulligan; that's changed. Now the policy is to remove one card that shouldn't be there plus one extra card as a penalty and shuffle those two in. The player may then continue to mulligan down to four, three, two, one, and eventually zero cards in hand.

Option E is also viable, except that splattering your neighboring tables with ichor might be considered unsporting conduct.

Q: Will Pyroclasm deal damage to a Burrenton Forge-Tender?

A: The answer is...
A: No, protection prevents it.
B: Yes, but it's reduced to 0 by protection.
C: Yes, and it'll die since Pyroclasm doesn't target.
D: No, since Pyroclasm targets it.
E: Burrenton Forge-Tender does not have protection from my stick on fire, does it?

A, protection prevents damage!

Protection stops targeting, which Pyroclasm doesn't do since it doesn't specifically say "target." It also prevents blocking, enchanting, equipping, and fortifying, none of which Pyroclasm ever does unless you're doing something dramatically wrong. But protection also prevents all damage from a source – "reduced to 0" is an outdated concept; it's simply prevented.

Q: I have a Darksteel Colossus in my library, and my opponent hits me with Grindstone with Painter's Servant naming Blue. What happens now?

A: The answer is...
A: The game's a draw since you'll never stop milling.
B: The game's a draw unless your opponent chooses to stop milling.
C: You'll end up with the Colossus in your graveyard.
D: You'll end up with just the Colossus in your library.
E: You punch your opponent in the face.

D, the game goes on with a Colossus in library!

You'll keep milling two cards for a while. If you mill a land and the Colossus, the Colossus is then shuffled in before milling any more. Eventually, you'll be down to just the Colossus. When you mill that one card, it won't satisfy Grindstone since you didn't mill two cards that can share a color, so it'll stop there.

Note that if you have two or more Colossi, you'll eventually be in a situation with two of them being repeatedly milled and then the game's a draw.

Q: In a Two-Headed Giant game, I attack with Nacatl War-Pride. Opponent A has two creatures, and opponent B has four. How many kitties do I get?

A: The answer is...
A: Your opponents' choice of two or four.
B: Six.
C: Your choice of two or four.
D: It depends on which player is directly across from you.
E: Not enough to make a satisfying meal.

C, you choose how many!

Rule 606.7a covers the weirdness of "defending player" when there are multiples. In this case, since it's a one-shot effect, you pick a defending player. The team isn't a player, so you don't get six cats, and "the player across from you" has absolutely no meaning in 2HG. (It might on MTGO, but MTGO 2HG is not real 2HG so it doesn't count.)

Q: My opponent controls Cathedral of Serra for some reason and swings with Cho-Manno, Revolutionary and Crovax, Ascendant Hero. I block with a big creature, then blast the Cathedral into bits with Rith's Charm. Can I put all the damage on Crovax now, or does he still get to choose?

A: The answer is...
A: He chooses since the creatures are in a band.
B: You choose since the creatures are no longer in a band.
C: You choose because the creatures no longer have banding.
D: He chooses because they're his creatures.
E: Wait, Cathedral of Serra in play? It's the end of the world.

C, no one has banding!

Once a band is established, it remains until combat is over. Till death or end of combat do they part and so on. However, neither of those creatures has banding anymore, so the part of banding that modifies combat damage assignments won't be in effect, and you'll assign damage as usual.

If the blueprints were clearer,
I'd commission one made for me.
Q: I block an attacking Sylvan Messenger with Urza's Avenger and Frogmite. Then the Messenger gets two Giant Growths. Can I give the Avenger banding so I can shuttle all the damage to my Frogmite and not take any trample damage?

A: The answer is...
A: Yes, a blocker has banding.
B: No, they didn't form a band.
C: Yes, they formed a band after Urza's Avenger gained banding.
D: No, banding has no effect while blocking.
E: Only if Urza's Avenger ties Frogmite to its head and dances.

A, who cares if they're in a band?!

Creatures do not form bands while blocking. They can't find a good bassist. While blocking, all that matters is that at least one creature with banding (or two with the same bands-with-other ability) are blocking a creature, and then banding's combat-damage-assignment-modification rule kicks in and lets you fuddle with the damage.

Q: Is there any way I can play Mirrorweave on my Bringer of the Blue Dawn in time for my five creatures to all trigger and net me ten cards?

A: The answer is...
A: No, by the time you can Mirrorweave, the beginning of the upkeep is over.
B: Yes, just Mirrorweave at the end of the previous player's turn.
C: Yes, just Mirrorweave during your untap step.
D: Yes, if something gains a beginning-of-upkeep trigger during the upkeep, it triggers then.
E: Yes, if you're willing to disrupt the flow of time, cause a paradox, and end all existence as we know it.

E, Paradox Haze will kill Magic!

Alternatively, looking from a purely rules aspect, the answer is A. Mirrorweave lasts "until end of turn," so it wears off during the cleanup step and there is absolutely no way (in real Magic, not Un-land) to have it carry over. No players can play any spells under any circumstances whatsoever in the untap step, either, so nyah.

Q: How does Leyline of Singularity interact with two face-down Exalted Angelss?

A: The answer is...
A: They die for having the same name, "[null]".
B: They aren't legendary since they're face down.
C: They survive since they don't share a name.
D: They die for having the same name, "Exalted Angel," even though the name isn't visible.
E: Their name is Robert Paulson.

C, no-one here knows your name!

Two creatures without names can't share a name, just like I can't share bananas with you if I don't have any. (Which I don't. You should send me some.) "Null" is not a name, and certain countries may fine you if you try to prove me wrong. Face-down-ness doesn't stop the legendary supertype from being applied in layer 4, too.

Q: Can I play Reverent Silence for its alternate cost under an Everlasting Torment?

A: The answer is...
A: No, since life can't be gained.
B: Yes, but no life will be gained.
C: Yes, and life will be gained since it's a cost and can't be replaced.
D: Yes, effects can't prevent costs from being paid.
E: No; if you can fit under Everlasting Torment, you're too small to play Magic.

A, you can't pay the cost!

Having someone gain life is the cost; costs can indeed be replaced and rendered unpayable, and this cost can't be paid if choosing to have someone gain life is an illegal action. You'd get a different answer with Sulfuric Vortex, though, which uses a different wording.

Q: I control Doubling Season, three Forgotten Ancients (with one, two, and three counters on them) and an Ornithopter. My turn starts – what's the most counters I can end up with on my 'Thopter?

A: The answer is...
A: 12 counters.
B: 34 counters.
C: 22 counters.
D: 6 counters.
E: 42 counters.

B, math sucks!

The key point here is that "moving" a counter from guy A to guy B does count as a counter being placed on guy B, so they'll be doubled. Also, you don't choose how many counters to move off of the Ancient until its trigger resolves, so counters added before it resolves will be moveable.

To max out your counter count, move three from guy C to guy B, so B has 3+3+2=8 counters. Then move all six counters from B to A for 8+8+1=17 counters. Now toss them all on the Ornithopter, and it gets 17+17=34 counters.

If you got this one wrong, don't feel too bad. It's more of a player question than a judge question, since a judge would only need to know if it's possible to end up with N counters, not the highest N possible. For fun, try to list every possible counter total for Ornithopter in the forums.

Q: Murderous Redcap comes into play, and then I use Flowstone Overseer's ability on him four times. How much damage will the Redcap deal when its trigger resolves?

A: The answer is...
A: 6 damage.
B: 4 damage.
C: 2 damage.
D: 0 damage.
E: 42 damage.

B, he goes pump pump splort!

After two of the activations resolve, you'll have a 4/0 redcap that will go crying into the graveyard for being a wuss. The other two will be countered since the target is gone, even though the Redcap will return to play first – that's a new object with no relation to the one that just died.

Eventually, the original Redcap trigger will resolve. Our dear friend Redcap is no longer in play (even if his mysterious identical twin brother is) so the trigger will have to use the Redcap's last known information to figure out how much damage to deal. And what was the Redcap's power just before it left play? 4! So 4 damage will be dealt.

Q: I Drain Life a 3/3 creature for 6 with Everlasting Torment in play. How much life do I gain?

A: The answer is...
A: 6 life.
B: 3 life.
C: 0 life.
D: -3 life.
E: 42 life. Come on, you know you want to choose it this time!

C, no life for you!

Everlasting Torment says you can't gain life anyway. Sometimes they're a lot easier than they look!

But there's a fun bit of sneakiness here without the "can't gain life" clause. Drain Life cares about a player's life total before Drain Life deals damage, but it cares about a creature's toughness after damage; this rarely matters, except that Drain Life is dealing 6 damage in the form of -1/-1 counters so you've got a -3/-3 creature now. Gaining -3 life is just impossible, and it didn't deal -3 damage anyway; Drain Life would just use 0 here and gain you 0 life even if Everlasting Torment didn't stop you.

Okay, I'm done. Bye all!

Oh, yeah, I had a special announcement.

Think you did well on today's little quiz? Well, Tom's looking to retire from writing, and the only way he can get free is by finding a replacement. Do you want to replace Tom as my writing slave and answer lots of rules questions and become famous on the intarwebs? I'm sure you do! Go here to see the application – it'll be there until October 3rd. If you're reading this after that date, man, you're slow. And you're too late.

Good hunting!

- Moko


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