Cranial Insertion: The Answer, My Friends

The Answer, My Friends
or, Finally, No Mirrorweave Questions

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

Flying stuff!
Welcome back to another week of exciting Cranial Insertion questions! In a minor miracle, we haven't received a single new Mirrorweave question in the last week, although we did get a couple of Snakeform questions. Maybe by next week, these two cards will have stopped dominating the question scene.

We do have a huge grab bag this week from the [email][email protected][/email] from all sorts of formats, including chaos multiplayer, one of the most popular unsanctioned formats! So read on, and expand your brain.

Just don't let your brain expand past the boundaries of your cranium.

That would hurt.

Q: Rule 422.1 says that actions that move cards out of the library can't be reversed. Doesn't this contradict the Penalty Guide for Drawing Extra Cards and rewinding a Game Rules Violation?

A: First, let's take a look at the exact wording of that part in question:

Quote from Rule 422.1 »
Players may not reverse actions that moved cards to a library or from a library to any zone other than the stack.

This rule says that players can't rewind, but the rule doesn't say anything about judges. (Rightly so, since the Comprehensive Rules deal with how to play the game, not how to run tournaments.) The assorted tournament documents (Magic Floor Rules, Universal Tournament Rules, and Penalty Guide) supercede the game rules where necessary to maintain the tournament.

Q: Is there a point in your upkeep (assuming no triggered abilities need to be resolved) at which you, as the active player pass priority before your draw step which would allow an opponent to hit you with Time Stop?

A: Yup! In order to pass out of the upkeep step and get into the draw step, both players must pass priority without doing anything in-between. If the nonactive player wishes to play something, the active player must give him that opportunity.

Q: I have a Diabolic Servitude resurrecting some random dork in play. My opponent activates his Oblivion Stone, simultaneously destroying everything in play. What happens to my Diabolic Servitude?

A: Oblivion Stone will send everything to its owner's graveyard - which isn't really oblivion, further proof that truth in advertising is dead. Diabolic Servitude and that other creature were both destroyed, so both of Diabolic Servitude's triggers will go off. Since the creature isn't in play, it won't be removed from the game by the final trigger, but the middle trigger will remove that card from the graveyard. You still won't get Diabolic Servitude back since it's not in play, and that trigger looks for the Servitude in play, not the one in the graveyard.

Q: My opponent is playing dredge. He flashbacks Dread Return and has Bridge from Below in his graveyard. In response to the triggered ability from Bridge from Below, I sacrifice a creature. Does he still get the zombies?

A: Nope, you're safe from his gang of brain-munching Zombies. Bridge from Below has what's called an intervening "if" clause. These sort of clauses pop up in the form of "[Trigger word] [trigger condition], if [if condition], [action]." If the if condition isn't true at the time the ability should trigger, the ability won't trigger at all. If the if condition isn't true at the time the ability resolves, it fails to do anything and simply resolves with no effect, leaving the stack to go get an ice-cold Slurpee.

Here there be goats.
Q: If I have a Springjack Pasture in play with a Reflecting Pool, does my Pool reflect any color of mana?

A: It does. When a choice is involved, such as how many goats to sacrifice, or how many counters to remove, Reflecting Pool evaluates what mana that land "could produce" by considering any possible permutations of the choice, even impossible choices like sacrificing nonexistent goats.

Q: I have an Ashenmoor Liege in play, and my opponent plays Tarfire targeting me. If I cast Imp's Mischief to make it target my Liege, will my opponent take 4 damage?

A: "Becomes a target" has its very simple English meaning: before, it was not a target, and now it is. Since the Liege was not a target of Tarfire, and now it is, it will trigger, spaz out and squeal a bunch, and sock your opponent in the face for 4 damage.

Q: Is it true that I can play Hellkite Overlord in my Vintage deck?

A: You sure can! Because Hellkite Overlord has been printed for public release and distributed, has black borders, and a normal back, it meets all of the qualifications of a Magic card. So you can play with the Overlord in your Oath decks...but not in your Standard or Extended decks, since the From the Vault box set isn't an expansion set and doesn't count for any of the "most recent sets" legalities.

Q: Are targets chosen before or after opponents have a chance to counter a spell?

Q: When do I choose which modes I want to use for Primal Command?

A: Uh oh, people are forgetting how to play a spell. Next thing you know, they'll be attempting to perform a simple burn spell and end up setting the world on fire. Slant Or not. Luckily, the process of playing a spell, like so much of this game, is designed so that players can gloss over it until they run into a weird situation.

It's time to break out the awesome mnemonic:

All Crazy Teenagers Have Tried Magic Pills.

Which stands for:
Announce that you're playing the spell.
Choose additional or alternative costs, modes, and other finicky details.
Target as appropriate.
How the spell affects the targets, if necessary.
Total up the cost.
Mana abilities may be played now.
Pay all the costs in any order.

After that, the spell has become played, and the player who played it receives priority. Note that the same process applies to activated abilities as well.

So you'll pick targets in step 3 there, well before anyone receives priority to do anything; and the modes for the Commands are picked in step 2, before targets are chosen.

Q: Why do enchantments come into play separately on Warp World? It seems like the card's text could be much shorter.

A: If everything came into play at once, you'd have a problem with Auras. They couldn't come into play attached to anything coming into play at the same time, and there probably isn't anything left in play due to Warp World. This is very sad. So enchantments come into play last so that Auras won't be entirely pointless.

Q: If my opponent has my creature removed with Oblivion Ring and I play Warp World, will I count that creature when determining how many cards I get?

A: Not only will it not count, it won't even come back into play until after Warp World has resolved, so it'll survive the world warp! Oblivion Ring leaves play during the resolution of Warp World and triggers then, but the trigger doesn't even go on the stack until after Warp World has entirely resolved, and the obliviated creature won't return until this trigger resolves.

Q: As far as I am aware, no abilities can be placed on the stack during the untap phase, but I am not sure how this can be affected by triggered abilities that resolve during this phase. If I control a Murkfiend Liege and a Seedborn Muse, both will trigger but can I respond to the first one resolving, by putting a creature into play with Elvish Piper?

A: Ah, but neither Murky nor Seedy have a triggered ability. Triggered abilities can be picked out by the very specific usage of "when," "whenever," or "at." Those two cards merely modify what actions are taken during the untap step (it hasn't been a phase for a long time, if it ever was) and don't trigger.

You are correct that nothing can be put on the stack, since that requires priority, so the Piper's ability can't be played either.

Q: If my target for Spitting Image leaves play, does Spitting Image use last known information to make my copy?

A: Nope, Spitting Image is simply countered upon resolution since all of its targets are gone, and nothing at all happens.

Q: My opponent on MTGO played a green spell so his Tattermunge Duo had forestwalk, then attacked. So I Snakeformed it, but it still had forestwalk. What gives?

A: Sounds like a bug. Layer 5 is the layer for both "gains forestwalk" and "loses all abilities," so the last one should win, and it shouldn't have forestwalk. Oops. Report it and let the awesome programmers poke at it!

Have no fear!
Wait, it does have fear.
Q: In a multiplayer game, I'm down to very low life and have Dread out. My opponent attacks with a bunch of creatures so that I'll definitely die; will those creatures die, too?

A: They'll live long and prosper. Dread will trigger when they hit you, but you'll die as soon as state-based effects are checked. Once you've left the game, these triggers will want to go on the stack, but rule 600.4c says that your triggers can't go on the stack at all since you're dead and gone.

Q: Can Edgewalker reduce the cost to play Oracle of Nectars?

A: It can, if you choose to pay W to play it. The choice of which color you want to pay per hybrid symbol is chosen in the "Choose" step of playing a spell, and then it'll be taken into account when you get down to the "Total" step.

Q: With Teferi's Moat in play, can my opponent's Elves still attack my Ajani Goldmane?

A: Sure. Ajani is not you (unless your parents really, really hated you and/or were clairvoyant), and Teferi's Moat only stops creatures from attacking you.

Q: Can I have two Garruk Wildspeakers in play with Mirror Gallery?

A: Sadly, the "legend rule" is not the "planeswalker rule." The legend rule only looks at the permanents' name and is one specific rule in the 420.5 section. The planeswalker rule is another; it looks at the subtypes, not the name. So if you have Balthor the Stout and Balthor the Defiled in play at once, no one cares. But if you have Ajani Goldmane and some future card with the Ajani planeswalker subtype, they'd both go splort.

Q: Can Beseech the Queen fetch me up a land?

A: It always can. Lands have no mana cost, which means that they have a converted mana cost of 0. Since it's rather impossible to control a negative number of lands, 0 will always be less than or equal to the number of lands you control.

Q: What does Stigma Lasher do in Two-Headed Giant?

A: It lashes one player, but not both, each time it attacks. When a creature goes unblocked, its controller chooses which head to assign its damage to. All of Stigma Lasher's 2 damage must go to the same head, and that head will be unable to gain life for the rest of the game.

Q: If my opponent hit me with Stigma Lasher in a 2HG game, can I target my teammate with Primal Command's life-gain mode?

A: You can, and it will even have an effect! Players gain and lose life individually, and the result is applied to the team's total. So you can't gain life, but your teammate can, and that will cause the team life total to go up.

Q: I control Crumbling Ashes and Midnight Banshee. Can I get the Banshee's ability to resolve first so I can destroy a creature that didn't have a -1/-1 counter on it earlier?

A: You can have the Banshee's trigger resolve first, but it won't help you with your Ashes. A legal target must be chosen for Crumbling Ashes's trigger as soon as it's put on the stack; if there is no such legal target, it's taken right back off the stack immediately.

Q: Can I judge events if I'm not a judge yet?

A: You can; in fact, you must in order to become a certified judge. You'll need to work two events with a judge who can certify you as part of the certification process. Anyone at all can judge any event, although for practical reasons it's absurdly rare for a non-certified judge to judge a Pro Tour or Grand Prix.

And we're done for today; we're rapidly approaching the Shards of Alara release with exciting new mechanics and new cards to dominate our mailbox with confusion!

For those of you going back to school, watch out for Magic clubs (or, as we had in school, "chess" club...) and groups to help drag new unsuspecting players into your addiction.

Until then, happy hunting!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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