Cranial Insertion: Flood of Questions

Cranial Insertion
Flood of Questions
or, It's Raining Qs and As

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

Eli's house is on the left. If you
look closely, you can see Moko
peeking out the window.

Welcome back to the crepuscular glory that is Shadowmoor! Appropriately enough, clouds are building up over Tucson as I write this, blotting out the sun but unfortunately not throwing the city into never-ending night. Maybe it'll throw us into temporary flooding. It'll break 100°F again tomorrow, I'm sure.

With the Standard-format Regionals right around the corner and a Block Constructed PTQ season on the horizon, Lorwyn and Shadowmoor interactions are the real buzz, but our faithful readers know that wacky Vintage interactions make us happy and don’t send us sobbing to the corner.

Moko's got a lot of use out of his urchin-spine letter opener, and now he's hungry for more – send all your questions to [email][email protected][/email], and we'll direct our flow of ideas your way.

Q: How does Block Constructed work with the mini-blocks?

A: In a strange new way. Normally Block Constructed is a boring mash-up of decks based on the block's one major mechanic. But for all Constructed purposes, including Standard, Block, and the Standard/Extended rotation, Lorwyn and Shadowmoor are treated as one mega-block. That means that when you go to your Block Constructed PTQs, you can use any cards from Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor, or Eventide.

Note that if you play with Eventide cards between the Prerelease and the set's release, you'll have an illegal deck. And if you play with Eventide cards in a PTQ before the Prerelease, you're in really deep trouble.

Q: How do drafts work now? LMS? SSS?

A: Drafts work however your organizer or play group wants. LMS (that is, drafting one pack each of Lorwyn, Morningtide, and Shadowmoor) is entirely acceptable, as is SSS, or even Antiquities, Urza's Saga, Mirrodin, and Darksteel (screw Fifth Dawn, it didn't get me a Christmas present so it doesn't deserve any love). As long as everyone receives the same number and type of boosters, it's legal.

For high-level events, including Nationals coming up, drafts will be run with three packs of Shadowmoor.

Q: Do I have to choose a target for Traitor's Roar when I play it, or after it resolves?

A: Targets are always, always, always chosen while playing a spell or activated ability. Of course, this means that your opponent can tap the target for some other ability and make it an illegal target for Traitor's Roar, but that's just why you don't target Imperious Perfect with Traitor's Roar.

Q: If I control only Reflecting Pool and Tolarian Academy, can I tap the Pool for U?

A: You sure can. Even though resolving Tolarian Academy's ability wouldn't add any mana to your mana pool, that ability is defined to produce blue mana.

The blob is a lie.
Q: Bioplasm says right on the card that a * is 0 while not in play, but you said that a Tarmogoyf in the graveyard will count itself. What gives?

A: Who are you going to trust – a mad doctor, wiggly dusk sea urchin, demon judge, and zombie monkey; or a stupid little pile of goo? Does our coolness not totally trump any Ooze in the game?

Aside from us being just that awesome, the Ooze is also old. When it was printed, its printed reminder text was true. The rules have since changed so that characteristic-defining abilities apply anywhere, even in the graveyard, even under your bed, even in your pants in the wash.

Q: Will Painter's Servant naming "red" let me conspire any spell I play thanks to Wort, the Raidmother?

A: You've stumbled upon quite a conspiracy. Now you must die.

The very first step of playing a spell is to put it on the stack, at which point it becomes red immediately and gains conspire. Then the second step is to choose variables, including additional costs you'd like to pay such as conspire. Now you can copy any instant or sorcery you play by tapping Wort and PaintServ!

Q: What happens if I give my opponent a creature with echo using Puca's Mischief with the echo trigger on the stack?

A: When the echo trigger resolves, it'll tell you to sacrifice that creature. However, since that creature rolled away off your sacrificial altar into the sanctuary of your opponent's side of the table, you can't sacrifice it – you can only sacrifice permanents you control.

Just wait until your opponent's turn when echo triggers again and that creature finds itself under his knife...

Q: A creature has an Equipment attached to it and Enchanted Evening is in play. Will Winds of Rath destroy that creature?

A: The definition of an "enchanted creature" is one with an Aura attached. Your Equipment may be a bit more ephemeral than it was before, but it's still not an Aura. The Winds coming out of Rath will tear your equipped creature to tiny bits.

Q: Will Everlasting Torment stop Teferi's Moat from preventing my attacks?

A: "Prevent" has a very specific meaning in Magic's rules lexicon. An effect must specifically use the word "prevent" in order to "prevent" something. Blocking stops you from taking damage, so it certainly does prevent it – but only in a metaphorical sense and not as far as Magic is concerned. Teferi's Moat will still stop you from attacking.

Q: Will Everlasting Torment let Shock kill a Paladin en-Vec?

A: Protection stops four things: Damage, Attachment, Blocking, and Targeting. You can remember the acronym "DABT" because it's a stupid word that should be "DEBT" but then Wizards went and printed Equipment and ruined the "Damage, Enchanting, Blocking, Targeting == DEBT" mnemonic, then printed Fortifications and further trashed the beautiful simplicity of DEBT. And this little rant is how you'll remember DABT forever. It's almost DAFT!

So, you should have seen two key words there: "damage" and "target." Since Shock targets the Paladin, protection from red will still stop the Shock from slapping him around.

On the other hand, since the "stopping damage" part of protection is spelled out in the rules as "prevent all damage that would be dealt," Everlasting Torment will giggle with manic glee and Pyroclasm will deal 2 damage to the Paladin.

Q: If I control Reaper King and then I play his nefarious identical twin brother, will I get to Vindicate something?

A: You will. The second Reaper King will come into play, and the original one will scream "Why ya doin' this?" and the second one will scream "I'm bad Reaper, and you're good Reaper!" and then the first one will trigger. Then both Reapers go off to watch a certain movie in your graveyard because state-based effects tell them to, and finally the trigger is put on the stack. It doesn't matter that the original Reaper King is now busy munching on popcorn; the ability triggered.

Q: I have a Painter's Servant in play set to black. I attack my with another creature and my opponent blocks with a Safehold Duo. Then I play Inquisitor's Snare on his Duo. In response to the Snare, my opponent then taps his Scuttlemutt to make his Safehold Duo only blue until end of turn. The question is, would his Duo still die to the Snare because of Painter's Servant's continuous effect, or would it stay alive?

A: It'll stay alive. Painter's Servant's ability and Scuttlemutt's both apply in layer 5, and neither is dependent on the other or a characteristic-defining ability, so they're applied in timestamp order. First the Duo becomes green, white, and black; and then it becomes only blue.

Q: Can I name Assembly-Worker for Runed Halo and stop Urza's Factory from manufacturing my death?

A: Well, Assembly-Worker is indeed a card (click the autocard link above if you don't believe me!) so it's a valid choice of a card name for Runed Halo. Since Urza's Factory creates tokens with the subtype Assembly-Worker, they will also be named Assembly-Worker. Your shiny halo will protect you from them just as well as from the Assembly-Worker card. Note that this Runed Halo won't protect you from Mishra's Factory, since its name remains the same when it gets up and walks into the red zone.

Bah weep gragnah wheep ni ni bong!
Q: Will Doubling Cube be affected by Mana Reflection?

A: The definition of "tap a permanent for mana" is "to play a mana ability of a permanent with tap symbol in its cost." Doubling Cube's activated ability produces mana, so playing it is indeed tapping a permanent for mana. Mana Reflection will happily reflect this and give you twice the mana out of the cube.

Q: If I have GGGGG in my pool and activated Doubling Cube with Mana Reflection in play, how much do I end up with?

A: First, you'll pay GGG to activate the ability, leaving you with GG. To double the amount of mana in your pool is to add to your mana pool mana equal to the amount and type already in it, so Doubling Cube will try to add GG to your mana pool. Mana Reflection sees this, and ups the addition to GGGG. Add this to the GG already there, and you end up with a grand total of GGGGGG.

The mana already in your pool will not be doubled since it's not being added to your pool at all.

Q: Will Mirrorweave plus Lurebound Scarecrow wrath the board because we don't control any undefined-color permanents, or will the ability never trigger?

A: If an ability includes an undefined choice, that part of the ability has no effect; if this undefined choice is in the trigger condition of an ability, the ability can never trigger. Refer to rule 503.7, which Gavin Duggan has masterfully dubbed the "segfault rule."

Q: If Mirrorweave makes all other creatures a copy of the 4/4 red and green Giant Warrior creature from Giantbaiting, will they have haste and "Remove it from the game at end of turn" as well?

A: The other creatures will have haste, since the Giant token comes into play "with" haste – "haste" is treated as "written" on the token, and thus a copiable value, so zoom they go!

"Remove it from the game at end of turn" is a delayed triggered ability set up by the resolving spell, though, and not an ability given to the token. This will not be copied, and will only affect the actual token put into play via Giantbaiting will be removed.

Q: How does wither work with Swans of Bryn Argoll?

A: The same way as any other damage. Remember, wither only changes the result of damage that has been dealt; damage from a source with wither can be prevented, doubled, or otherwise manipulated just like damage from any other source.

Q: So how does Painter's Servant interact with imprint?

A: Painter's Servant sees a red card in all eight of the game's zones and wants it painted black. Or blue. Maybe even with an extra coat of red (no, being "doubly red" has no significance whatsoever). Imprinted cards are in the removed-from-game zone, so they'll get splashed by PaintServ. This means that if you have a Dune-Brood Nephilim imprinted on a Chrome Mox and PaintServ naming "blue," you can tap the Mox for any color of mana.

Q: How do multiple triggers work in Two-Headed Giant compared to one-on-one Magic?

A: In normal Magic, triggers are put on the stack in APNAP order. First the active player puts all of his or her triggers on the stack in any order he or she likes, then the nonactive player does so.

In 2HG, we have ATNAT order – active team, nonactive team. First the active team puts all of its triggers on the stack in any order, regardless of which player on that team controls which triggers. Then the nonactive team does the same.

Q: Does Jaws of Stone deal 0 damage if I copy it since I didn't play it?

A: Part of copying an object on the stack is copying how it affects multiple targets - namely, the division or distribution of such a thing as damage. While it is true that the "number of Mountains you control as you play Jaws of Stone" is a tricky thing since the copy wasn't played, the division of damage is maintained, and will not change for the copy.

So if you choose to deal 3 damage to one target and 2 to another because you control five Mountains as you play Jaws of Stone, and then conspire it through the awesomeness that is Wort, the copy will be primed to deal 3 damage to one target and 2 damage to another target.

Remember: The division of damage that will be dealt by a spell is made during step four of playing a spell, not during resolution. (You haven't forgotten ACTHTMP, have you?)

Q: Why hasn't Bounty of the Hunt been fixed to look like Shambling Swarm? The current Oracle text is functionally different than the printed version.

A: It would be nice if this card could be restored to its original wording, wouldn't it? After all, we have the rules technology now to make it work as printed! But then along came Coldsnap. And with Coldsnap, Coldsnap theme decks. Which included cards from Ice Age and Alliances. And Bounty of the Hunt was included in the "Aurochs Stampede" theme deck with the non-counter wording. Since this is the most recent printing, it's the one that's official.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned for next week when it rains cats and dogs, and Cranial Insertion does its good deed for the year by encouraging you to support your lolcat humane society by adopting an animal companion! Remember, a puppy is for life, not just for dinner. Er, Christmas.

Until next time, sing in the rain.

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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