Cranial Insertion: Answering Spree

Cranial Insertion
Answering Spree
or, You Can Never Have Enough Questions

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

We use a secret technique
to get so many events so close
together in Arizona.
Regionals is out of the way, and Arizona's one lonely PTQ is over and done with, and we've even fought our way through a Grand Prix Trial for Denver – now it's time for a few boring weeks until Eventide's prerelease. And what better way to pass the time than taking rules questions from the audience!

As always, drop us a line at [email][email protected][/email] if you have any questions, from the most basic to the more arcane, from tournament policy to Unhinged. Remember, corner cases taste like blueberries and make Moko happy.

Q: What does Reverse the Sands mean when it says that each player must receive at least one life? Does that mean that the spell won't do anything if a Platinum Angel is keeping me alive at 0 life?

A: Reverse the Sands only refers to life totals, not life points. Your life total is the number of life points you have – so each player must receive one total, even if that total is 0 life points. You could think of this as passing around the dice, counters, papers, abaci, or whatever you use to keep track of your life.

Q: How would Countryside Crusher and Abundance work together? Would you be able to choose land and just kill all the land in your deck at once to Crusher?

A: They don't work together at all. They just pull each other's hair and scream. Abundance only replaces cards you draw, and Countryside Crusher makes you reveal cards, not draw them.

They do put aside their differences and stop fighting for one thing, though: You can actually "draw" lands again by filtering away the nonland cards with Abundance instead of drawing!

Q: How do I explain the difference between lands and mana to new players?

A: This is one of the most common mistakes among new players: The invisible mana and invisible mana pool versus visible lands and visible "part of the table where you put all those lands" You can try explaining that tapping a land – or Llanowar Elf, or playing Dark Ritual – is like taking money out of an ATM (or beating up an Elf and stealing his wallet, or printing your own cash at home) to pay at a cash-only store. Carsten Haese also came up with a fantastic way to describe it so that the player remembers that there is a difference:

Quote from Carsten Haese »
Saying "I pay three swamps" is analogous to saying "I'd like to drink a glass of cow."


Q: Will Flourishing Defenses trigger when Grief Tyrant comes into play?

A: It sure will – four times! Counters are "placed" when they come into existence, and since after they come into existence they're on a creature you control, Flourishing Defenses flourishes with glee and gives you Elf babies.

Big birds create big messes.
Q: My opponent is running the Reveillark combo, has activated Mirror Entity one million times and is happily milling me, but then I run into a Gaea's Blessing. Does he have to keep milling me after I shuffle and so on for eternity?

A: Establishing the Reveillark death-and-rebirth loop is a shortcut. As soon as you mill Gaea's Blessing, it triggers and interrupts this shortcut. Since the shortcut has been interrupted, your opponent may choose to change the loop. This includes Extirpating the Blessing, forcing you to draw a bunch of cards, or letting the Mirror Entity activations resolve without continuing to mill you fruitlessly.

Your opponent can't shortcut this as "mill until Gaea's Blessing is the only card left," though, since a shortcut can only shortcut a process a number of times and not until a desired result is reached. Your opponent also can't go through the milling and shuffling just to waste time – that's some stalling there.

Q: Can I destroy a Chalice of the Void with one counter on it with a replicated Shattering Spree?

A: The original Shattering Spree will be countered, but the copies will seek vengeance. The only spell you play is the original; the others are put on the stack without being played, so they will not trigger Chalice of the Void, and the Chalice will get shattered into spree and tossed in the Spree.

Q: Living End resolves, and I have Soul Warden and Grizzly Bears in my graveyard. Will I get 1 life, can I choose to, or will I not gain life?

A: You will have to gain 1 life, whether or not you want to. You have no choice, you will gain 1 life and you will like it.

Section 410.10 covers all of the joys of zone-change triggers. For a comes-into-play trigger, you check the game state post-event. After the event, the Warden's triggered ability exists and one other creature came into play, so you gain 1 life. Since there is no "may" in the ability, you have to gain it.

Q: At Regionals, my opponent drew a card and forgot Countryside Crusher's trigger. Shouldn't this be a Game Loss for Drawing Extra Cards because he drew a card he wasn't supposed to?

A: He drew a specific card that he wasn't supposed to, but did he draw a card when he wasn't supposed to, or did he forget a trigger and draw a card at a time when he was supposed to, even if that might not be the actual card that he would have drawn had he correctly resolved the trigger? You have to look at which infraction was actually committed here.

Q: If I play three Slaughter Pacts, will paying 2B for one during my upkeep satisfy them all since I did pay 2B?

A: Nope. The Pacts don't look around and say "oh, you paid mana, I'm happy then," they demand payment upon resolution of the delayed triggered ability. If you don't pay up during the resolution of the trigger, they make you go sleep with the Merfolk.

Q: Does Yixlid Jailer stop persist triggers?

A: Persist is a leaves-play trigger, and those are handled specially according to 410.10d. Rather than check post-event, like the Essence Warden a few questions ago, it checks pre-event. Because the creature with persist had persist while it was in play, before the leaves-play event, it will trigger, even though it no longer has persist in the graveyard.

Q: Can I tap and untap a Devoted Druid a couple times for Gilt-Leaf Archdruid?

A: Magic has a mana pool to store mana, a calciform pool to store counters, and a knowledge pool to store noes, but it does not have a Druid-tap pool to store how many times you've tapped your Druids. You must tap all seven Druids at the same time as you pay the cost for the Archdruid's ability.

Q: Does Heartmender take counters off Wall of Roots?

A: Wall of Roots gets -0/-1 counters instead of -1/-1 counters, so Heartmender won't take those off. Who ever thought that there would be a drawback to not getting a power reduction?

Q: I attack with an animated Mutavault, Treetop Village, and assorted other critters. My opponent Mirrorweaves my Mutavault to get my guys out of combat. Does my Treetop Village stay in combat?

A: It does! Even though it becomes a copy of Mutavault, its own animation ability still applies to it making it a 3/3 green Ape with trample (named Mutavault). This ability doesn't not apply at any point, so it remains a creature continuously, and it stays in combat.

How is this boar not suffering
third-degree burns or worse?
Q: Does blocking trigger Ashenmoor Liege? What about Firespout?

A: Even if you tap an attacking creature with your blocker to say "I block that guy," you're still not targeting it, you're only touching it. Declaring blockers does not target at all, so Ashenmoor Liege will not trigger.

Firespout has a different issue going on. Read its text - it doesn't say "target" anywhere, does it? Does it have any keywords like enchant or provoke that include "target" in their rules text? Nope! Ergo, it doesn't target. It just sprays fiery nontargeted wrath across the board. (But not wrath wrath, just a little bit of wrath. Wrathlings.)

Q: Will Midnight Banshee put counters on my Ashenmoor Liege?

A: A nonblack creature is a creature that answers "no" to the question "are you black?" – not a creature that answers "yes" to "are you white, blue, red, or green?" Ashenmoor Liege is black, so it's not nonblack, and the Banshee won't give it counters.

Q: If my opponent has protection from red, can he choose to take 5 damage for Browbeat?

A: It's perfectly legal for a red source to deal damage to something with protection from red. This damage will just be prevented.

Q: Eternal Witness comes into play, and my opponent targets Incinerate in his graveyard. In response, I Memory Plunder Incinerate and kill the Witness. What happens when the trigger resolves?

A: The physical Incinerate card will be back in your opponent's graveyard since it goes there after it resolves and kills the Witness, but it'll be a new object there, and not the same Incinerate that the trigger targets. Since the target is gone, the trigger is countered upon resolution and your opponent doesn't get it back.

Q: I want to sacrifice Burrenton Forge-Tender to fizzle a Tendrils of Corruption targeting it, but the only red source is my attacking dragon. Can I not choose anything, or choose a land?

A: If a legal choice exists as the ability resolves, you must choose it. You can't choose a non-red source, and you can't choose to not make a choice. You certainly can play the ability while no legal choice exists, but since there is a legal choice here, that's the choice you'll make.

Q: If I play Firespout for RGG, can I choose to ignore the R so my ground pounders don't get fried?

A: Unfortunately, Magic meets reality in that you can't ignore things that you don't like, like death and taxes and mana color. You paid R for Firespout, so your creatures without flying will take some damage.

Q: I play Pact of Negation. Can I put the Pact itself on top of my library to remind me to pay its upkeep trigger?

A: Not a good idea. UTR 37 allows you to put small markers on top of your library, but specifically says that cards may not be used.

Q: Since wither is still damage, can my creature regenerate from it?

A: Damage dealt by a source with wither is still damage dealt, but the damage isn't put on the creature. A creature is only destroyed when the damage put on it – not the damage dealt to it – is equal to or greater than its toughness. In the case of wither, it has 0 toughness or less and is simply put into its owner's graveyard without destruction or possibility of regeneration.

Q: What do I need to study to become a judge?

A: Oh boy. First off, study up on your rules – you can download the Comprehensive Rules here.

But that's only the start. You also need to know the Universal Tournament Rules, Magic Floor Rules, and Penalty Guide. You can download those at the DCI Document Center.

Once you're good with the rules, hop on over to the DCI Judge Center and take some practice exams, then the Rules Advisor exam. Once you pass, contact a level 3 judge or level 2 Area Trainer near you to work a few events and then take the actual judge test. You can find those people with the People section at the Judge Center.

That's all for this week. Enjoy the exciting Block Constructed season – remember, that's Lorwyn, Morningtide, and Shadowmoor cards only.

Until next time, don't drink the cow.

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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