Cranial Insertion: We Have Arrived



Cranial Insertion
We Have Arrived
By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

As I’m sure you all have seen, Shadowmoor included the best card yet to be printed in Magic: the Gathering: Dusk Urchins. Do not think this was merely a lucky coincidence for me, oh no. Believe me when I say that it has taken years of working hard, hiding in tide pools, and telepathically possessing members of R&D to release our forces into print. The Mothership has long been waiting this day. Bile Urchin was a simple test-run. Dusk Urchins was our first true success. Believe me, it will not be our last.

I’ve been giving Moko some urchin-like augmentations, including attaching to his wrist a sharp spine that functions as a letter-opener. In an effort to test this new feature, we ask that you send plenty of rules questions to us at [email][email protected][/email].

Dear readers, bask in the glory of your future rulers. We are the urchins, and we have arrived.


Tonight, the Dusk.
Tomorrow night, the Early Evening.




Q: I activate Knacksaw Clique during my opponent's turn and remove the top card of my opponent's library from the game. It's a Dusk Urchins. Can I play it? What if I activate the Clique in my main phase and turn over a land?

A: While Knacksaw Clique does let you play the removed card until end of turn, it does not let you ignore the normal timing permissions. You may play Dusk Urchins only in your main phase when the stack is clear unless something says otherwise.

Likewise, you may play lands removed with the Clique only in your main phase, when the stack is empty, and when you haven’t already played a land that turn.




Q: I have Dusk Urchins in play, enchanted with Epic Proportions, with seven -1/-1 counters on it. My opponent puts Godhead of Awe into play. Will my Dusk Urchins live, or will I draw seven cards?

A: You will draw seven cards. Since all of these are power and toughness altering continuous effects, they all apply in layer six of the continuous effects layers. Within layer six, Godhead of Awe applies in layer 6b, the –1/-1 counters apply in layer 6c, and Epic Proportions applies in layer 6d. This makes Dusk Urchins a 6/6 with seven –1/-1 counters. It will die as a state-based effect and you will draw seven cards.

Quote from 418.5a »
Inside layer 6, apply effects in a series of sublayers in the following order: (6a) effects from characteristic-defining abilities; (6b) all other effects not specifically applied in 6c, 6d, or 6e; (6c) changes from counters; (6d) effects from static abilities that modify power and/or toughness but don't set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value; and (6e) effects that switch a creature's power and toughness.





Q: If I control Wingrattle Scarecrow and a black creature (let's say... Dusk Urchins), and my opponent resolves Wrath of God, will my Scarecrow persist?

A: Yes. Persist is a leaves-play triggered ability. As such, when Wingrattle Scarecrow is put into the graveyard, the game “looks back in time” to check if it had persist when it left play. Since Dusk Urchins and Wingrattle Scarecrow left play at the same time, Wingrattle Scarecrow did have persist at the last moment it was in play. Persist will trigger.

Quote from 410.10d »
Abilities that trigger specifically when an object leaves play, when an object is put into a hand or library from a public zone, or when a player loses control of an object will trigger based on their existence, and the appearance of objects, prior to the event rather than afterward.






Not to be confused with
Neverending Torment.
Q: I have Everlasting Torment in play, and Dusk Urchins attacking. My opponent blocks, and with damage on the stack, Consigns my Urchins to Dream. Will the damage still be wither damage? What if he Consigns my Everlasting Torment?

A: Everlasting Torment makes the game treat every source as though it had wither, so the damage will still be "wither damage" no matter what.

In a slightly different scenario, where Blight Sickle is equipping the Urchins, the outcome is different. When damage that originated from an absent source is dealt, the game uses last known information to determine characteristics of that source. If you Consign the Urchins, the game will look to last known information to see if the Urchins had wither or not. The last time the Urchins were in play, they had wither, so the damage will be wither damage.

Alternatively, if you consign the Everlasting Torment, the game doesn’t need last known information since the source is still in play. When the damage is dealt, its source does not have wither, so it will be dealt as regular damage. Note that whether damage is wither damage or not is determined when the damage is dealt, not when it is assigned.

Quote from 310.4b »
The source of the combat damage is the creature as it currently exists, if it's still in play. If it's no longer in play, its last known information is used.





Q: Cowardice and Tatterkite are in play. Grief Tyrant has five -1/-1 counters on it, and is attacking. I'm blocking it with a 3/2 black Ouphe creature. When combat damage resolves, will Tatterkite be returned to its owner's hand via Cowardice, or will Grief Tyrant be unable to target Tatterkite?

A: Grief Tyrant can (and must) target Tatterkite, even though the ability can do nothing to Tatterkite. When Tatterkite is targeted, Cowardice will trigger.

Not only did they print a card named after me in this set, but also one named after my cat Tatterdemalion. If you haven’t yet feared a conspiracy, you should get on that.




Q: I have Mistmeadow Skulk in play, and my opponent controls Dusk Urchins. If I don't kill those Urchins, I will lose. If I play Breath of Darigaaz with kicker, will my Skulk be protected from the damage?

A: No, it will not. The converted mana cost of the spell on the stack is the numbers in the upper-right corner, along with the value paid for any X. It does not count kicker, entwine, evoke, or any other alternate or additional costs. Your skulk gets toasted.

Quote from 203.3 »
The converted mana cost of an object is a number equal to the total amount of mana in its mana cost, regardless of color.


Quote from 203.4 »
Any additional cost listed in an object's rules text or imposed by an effect isn't part of the mana cost.





Q: I control Prismatic Omen, Blood Moon, Reflecting Pool, and Island. Can I tap my Reflecting Pool for black to cast my Dusk Urchins?

A: It depends on the order that Prismatic Omen and Blood Moon came into play. The both create continuous effects that apply in layer 4, so they will apply in timestamp order. If Prismatic Omen came into play most recently, Reflecting Pool is a swamp, and can tap for black mana. If Blood Moon came into play most recently, Reflecting Pool is a Mountain, and can only tap for red.

In either case, Blood Moon wipes Reflecting Pool’s original ability, so it will not be able to produce whatever the Island can produce using that ability.

Rules 418.5a – 418.5k explain the layer system for continuous effects in detail. Excruciating detail.




Q: In a tournament match, the only things in play (since my opponent Incinerated my Dusk Urchins!) are basic lands and two Grim Poppets (we each control one of them). During my main phase, I activate my Grim Poppet three times targeting his Grim Poppet. My opponent then does the same, targeting my Grim Poppet. Once we let the top-most activation on the stack resolve, my Grim Poppet gets a counter, and I activate it to put the counter back on his Grim Poppet. He does the same. Can we just keep doing this until time runs out? Once we enter the five extra turns, how can we complete them if we never leave this main phase? Help!

A: First off, I know that this was answered last week, but due to the hullabaloo around this question, I don't think it's a bad idea to revisit it.

This loop is enough to give any judge permanent mental and emotional scars. Since each activation of a Grim Poppet depends on the other player replacing the –1/-1 counter, rule 421.3 applies.

Quote from 421.3 »
If a loop contains optional actions controlled by two players and actions by both of those players are required to continue the loop, the first player (or the first involved player after the active player in turn order) chooses a number. The other player then has two choices. He or she can choose a lower number, in which case the loop continues that number of times plus whatever fraction is necessary for the active player to "have the last word." Or he or she can agree to the number the first player chose, in which case the loop continues that number of times plus whatever fraction is necessary for the second player to "have the last word." (Note that either fraction may be zero.)


In other words, the non-active player (your opponent, in this case) will “win” the loop, unless he chooses to let you “win” the loop. Once the loop is resolved, you must continue with your match.

What is truly hideous about this situation is the fact that, once more of the activations have resolved, there will be more than one counter to pass around. Even though the counter-swapping may not be perfectly repetitive, it can still constitute a loop, and the non-active player will have the last word.

The loop rules are left intentionally ambiguous to allow judges to intervene in cases like this and stop exceedingly dilatory, potentially endless sequences of actions.

To recapitulate, when dealing with loops involving actions taken by more than one player, the non-active player will always "win" the loop, unless he chooses not to do so.

My brain is in so much pain now. I need therapy. Thanks a lot.




Q: I control Dusk Urchins, equipped with Lightning Greaves. My Urchins are attacking, and my opponent blocks them with his Wall of Blossoms. With damage on the stack, can I activate my Stonehewer Giant and attach a Blight Sickle to my Dusk Urchins, giving them wither and dealing wither damage?

A: Yes. Stonehewer Giant’s ability does not target anything, so shroud will not stop you from equipping your Urchins. Additionally, you determine whether damage is wither damage when it is dealt, and when it is dealt, the Urchins will have wither, so their damage will be wither damage.

Whether the damage will wither the defender depends on whether the damager withers, and whether the damager withers its damage depends on whether the Blight Sickle’s on.




Q: I have Dusk Urchins in play, equipped with Blight Sickle, and with two -1/-1 counters on them. If I sacrifice my Urchins to my Bloodshot Cyclops, targeting my opponent's Dusk Urchins. Will I get to deal 3 damage or 5? Will it be wither damage?

A: You will deal 3 non-wither damage. Bloodshot Cyclops deals damage equal to the power of the creature permanent you sacrificed, not the creature card that represents that permanent. In addition, the damage is dealt by Bloodshot Cyclops, not Dusk Urchins, so the Blight Sickle won’t matter.

If you attach the Blight Sickle to the Cyclops, though, it will be wither damage. It’ll even be wither damage if you sacrifice him to himself.

Blight Sickles may sound like they are related to popsicles and fudgesicles, but they have a decidedly less pleasant effect when applied to the tongue. They also may sound like they are related to bicycles and tricycles, but they have a decidedly more less pleasant effect when applied to small children.




Q: I want to Glittering Wish for the Dusk Urchins in my sideboard. Can I play Painter’s Servant, name “blue,” and wish for my Urchins?

A: No. You cannot paint cards in your sideboard. Painter’s Servant only affects cards in any of the 8 zones of the game.

Quote from = 217.1 »
217.1. A zone is a place where objects can be during a game. There are normally six zones: library, hand, graveyard, in play, stack, and removed from the game. Some older cards also use the ante and phased-out zones.


The sideboard is not a zone, so cards in the sideboard can’t be painted. If they could, what’s stopping Painter’s Servant from painting all the cards in the game next to you? The entire tournament? Your walls? When will it end?!

You can paint and wish for Urchins in the removed-from-game zone, though. My advice is simply to have as many Dusk Urchins at your disposal as you can.





There are many copies.
Q: I attack with Hungry Spriggan and Dusk Urchins. Both triggered abilities trigger and resolve. I then Mirrorweave, making everything into a Hungry Spriggan. Does the +3/+3 ability get copied, or will my Hungry Urchins (Dusk Spriggans?) die?

A: You have a dead Hungry Spriggan.

Quote from 503.2 »
When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object's characteristics (name, mana cost, color, card type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, toughness, loyalty)… Other effects (including type-changing and text-changing effects), status, and counters are not copied.


The +3/+3 is not copied, and you wiped Dusk Urchin’s ability, so you don’t get to draw any cards. Way to go. Next time, Mirrorweave everything into Dusk Urchins. You cannot lose with Dusk Urchins.




That is all for this week, future minions. Remember to send us more rules queries at [email][email protected][/email].

Until next time, may the spiny ones be with you.

Diane Colley
Level 2 Judge Trainer
Oberlin, Ohio

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