Cranial Insertion: Shadowmoor Infiltrator

Cranial Insertion
Shadowmoor Infiltrator

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

Greetings from the dusky, twisted shores of what used to be Lorwyn! Last weekend, Prerelease events for Shadowmoor happened all over the world. This weekend, you get another chance to play with the new cards, as Launch Parties fire off in a place near you. If you missed your chance to go to the Prerelease, make sure you get to a Launch Party (née Release Event). If you went to the Prerelease, then double your fun!

Our questions for this week are a mix of those from the CI mailbag and those from the floor of my Shadowmoor Prerelease. If you want to send us your questions, don’t wait for another Prerelease—use the CI mailbag at [email][email protected][/email].

On with the questions!

Fresh from Ye Olde Starbucks
Q: What happens if I end up discarding a */* creature to Cragganwick Cremator?

A: Then you deal * damage to the player you targeted. Before you try and figure out how to subtract an asterisk from a numeral, though, remember that characteristic-defining abilities function in all zones. You’ll use the power of the creature card as it exists in the graveyard. For Tarmogoyf, this will be at least 1.

Q: If I turn all my lands into Swamps with Elsewhere Flask, what happens?

A: All your lands become Swamps. You can then use them to broker huge profits on shady real estate deals. Or you can tap them for black mana Being a shady real estate miser is more interesting, but tapping for black mana is actually supported by the rules of Magic. Because your lands are Swamps, they will have the inherent mana ability of Swamps, and all their other abilities will be gone.

Q: If Tatterkite gains persist via Cauldron of Souls, what happens, since it can’t have counters placed on it?

A: Then it returns to play without a counter on it. Putting the counter on is just something that happens when the creature returns to play, not a requirement for returning it to play.

Q: Will my opponent’s Grief Tyrant trigger my Flourishing Defense?

A: It will. And that will probably cause him some grief. Grief Tyrant comes into play with its four -1/-1 counters, but the game still sees that as counters being placed on a creature. That will trigger Flourishing Defense four times, and give you four Elves. When the Tyrant dies, the -1/-1 counters it ships to another creature will also trigger Flourishing Defense.

Q: If I copy Jaws of Stone with Conspire/Fork,does the value of X stay the same, even if Jaws of Stone specifically says that X is defined as you play it, and the copy has the same text, but is never actually played?

A: When you copy a spell, one of the things you copy is how that spell affects multiple targets. That means the division of damage will stay the same. So, if you divided the damage 2-3-4 between three targets, your copy will allow you to pick three new targets. One of those new targets will take 2 damage, another 3 damage, and another 4 damage. The total amount of damage won’t change for the copy, and you won’t be able to split it up differently.

Bonus: Targets are also copied when you copy a spell. However, since this would make most spells and abilities that copy spells quite sucky, most allow you to change the target by saying, “You may choose new targets for the copy,” or something very similar.

503.10. To copy a spell or activated ability means to put a copy of it onto the stack; a copy of a spell or ability isn’t “played.” A copy of a spell or ability copies both the characteristics of the spell or ability and all decisions made when it was played, including modes, targets, the value of X, and additional or alternative costs. (See rule 409, “Playing Spells and Activated Abilities.”) Choices that are normally made on resolution are not copied. If an effect of the copy refers to objects used to pay its costs, it uses the objects used to pay the costs of the original spell or ability. A copy of a spell is owned by the player who controlled the spell or ability that created it. A copy of a spell or ability is controlled by the player who put it on the stack.

My playmat version is a 6/6.
Q: Let’s say I have Kulrath Knight in play, along with a 1/1 creature with first strike and wither. If that creature’s first strike damage puts a -1/-1 counter on one of my opponent’s creatures, does his creature get removed from combat?

A: Nope. Kulrath Knight’s ability just means that creatures with -1/-1 counters can’t be declared as attackers or blockers. If a creature is already attacking or blocking and then gains a -1/-1 counter, it will still be attacking or blocking.

Q: If I have Urza's Incubator out, naming scarecrows, can I pay RUBG for the cost of Reaper King? Effectively negating the 2/ cost?

A: You can do this if the cost you’re paying for Reaper King includes generic mana. In that case, the Incubator will reduce the cost by 2. So if you were paying 2RUBG for Reaper King, Urza’s Incubator would reduce that to RUBG.

Q: My opponent plays a Grim Poppet on his turn. On my turn, I play my own Grim Poppet. After I pass priority, he uses his Grim Poppet to put a counter on mine. In response, I do the same thing to his. The only other permanents are our lands. This looks like it’s going to be a mess. What happens?

A: The result is that your Poppet will get a -1/-1 counter and die.

The reason is that you’ve put the game into a loop. The active player (you, in this case) chooses a number of times to perform the loop. Your opponent can either agree to that number or choose a higher one. The loop then happens that many times. Because this essentially gives him one more use of his Poppet than you get, your Poppet will die.

421.5. If the loop contains optional actions controlled by different players and these actions don’t depend on one another, the active player chooses a number. In APNAP order, the nonactive players can each either agree to that number or choose a higher number. Note that this rule applies even if the actions could exist in separate loops rather than in a single loop.

Q: Can I respond to conspire?

A: You can respond to something by conspiring—especially in a 2HG game, since conspiring with yourself is a sign that the men in the white coats are coming—but you can’t respond to the conspire ability. It’s an additional cost to play the spell, and you don’t get priority until after all the costs, regular and additional, have been paid.

Q: If Wort, the Raidmother gives a spell with conspire another instance of conspire, can I do it twice?

A: Yes, presuming you can pay the costs. Basically, you can conspire once for each instance of the ability a spell has. Normally, spells have just one instance of conspire, which gives you one chance to make a copy. If Wort gives a spell another instance of conspire, then you can tap four of your creatures and end up with two copies.

Q: Can I respond to the counters being put on my creature from Incremental Blight by using Fate Transfer to save it?

A: No, you can’t. If the number of counters put on the creature will cause it to have a toughness of 0 or below, then it will be put into your graveyard as a state-based effect before you gain priority.

Q: If I didn’t pay black mana when I played Torrent of Souls, does that mean I don’t get my creature back?

A: That’s right. You only get the Reanimate part of the spell if you spent black mana when you played Torrent of Souls. Otherwise, you just get the most expensive Army of Allah ever.

Q: How does Faerie Swarm interact with Godhead of Awe?

A: Not very well. Or very well. I guess it depends on who controls what.

Faerie Swarm has a characteristic-defining ability that sets its power and toughness. In the P/T layer of continuous effects (layer 6), that is sublayer a, meaning it gets applied first. Then Godhead of Awe stomps all over that value and replaces it with 1/1, since its ability gets applied in layer 6b. Your Faerie Swarm will be quite puny by swarm standards.

Q: When a creature with persist goes to the graveyard, can I remove it before it comes back?

A: Sure. Persist is a triggered ability that, when it resolves, will return the creature to play with a -1/-1 counter on it. While the creature card is in the graveyard and persist is on the stack, you can respond normally. If the card isn’t in the graveyard when persist resolves, it won’t be returned to play.

Anyone want to danse a waltz?
Q: If I want to use Faerie Macabre’s activated ability, where exactly does it need to be to remove the cards?

A: The activated ability requires you to discard Faerie Macabre. By definition, this means it has to be in your hand. In fact, the Comp Rules glossary entry for “discard” begins as so: "A player discards a card by putting a card from his or her hand into his or her graveyard.”

Q: If Everlasting Torment is in play, can the alternate cost of Skyshroud Cutter be played?

A: Nope. If your opponent can’t gain life, whatever the reason, then you can’t make them gain life as a cost. You have to be able to pay all the costs when you play a spell, and that one can’t be paid if players can’t gain life.

Bonus: People actually play with Skyshroud Cutter?

Q: Painter's Servant is in play and the player enchanted with Wheel of Sun and Moon has exactly three cards remaining in his library. Does the game end in a draw when the ability of Grindstone is performed on that player?

A: It will. Grindstone normally says: "Put the top two cards of target player's library into that player's graveyard. If both cards share a color, repeat this process."

With the Wheel out, instead you "Reveal the top two cards of target player's library and put them on the bottom of his or her library. If both cards share a color, repeat this process." By the time the process is repeated, the library contains three cards again, so the Grindstone will continue grinding. On and on and on, 'til the break-a break-a of dawn so the game enters a loop and ends in a draw.

Q: Memory Plunder seems to indicate that I could use it to play a sorcery when it's not my turn. Is this correct?

A: It is. Memory Plunder gives you a clear instruction with no duration: you may play that spell without paying its mana cost. Because it has no duration, that means you actually have to play the spell right then and there. This means you can do things you normally couldn't, like play a sorcery on your opponent's turn.

Bonus: Compare this to Mind's Desire, which allows you to play the removed cards until end of turn. That does not allow you to play sorceries (or other types of spells) when you normally couldn't.

Q: If I discard Wilt-Leaf Liege to my opponent's Oona's Prowler, do I get to put it into play?

A: The controller of an ability is the player who played it. In this case, that's you. Even though Oona's Prowler is your opponent's permanent, you're still the one activating the ability, so you control it. This is exactly like the interaction (or non-interaction, if you prefer) of Oona's Prowler and Dodecapod.

That's all we have for this week. Have fun playing in your Shadowmoor Launch Parties!

Next week: Mistmeadow Skulk and Tarmogoyf picket for the most insidious Future Sight reprint of all: Emblem of the Warmind.

~Tom Fowler


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