Cranial Insertion: Third Time's the Chimp

Cranial Insertion
Third Time's the Chimp
or, I've Been Undead How Long?

By Moko

I dream of glowy people.
So while your normal authors are partying to celebrate the third anniversary of Cranial Insertion, they asked me to write a super special column. However, we have a big surprise for you (and the future of Cranial Insertion) next week, so I can't be bothered to write something "special." Besides, I finally get to play around on the computer without anyone watching over my shoulder. This is special enough! Now if I can just get Craigslist to stop deleting my requests for brains...

Since I'm writing, I haven't bothered sorting the [email][email protected][/email] mailbox. I delegated this task to the toaster oven. But I am sorely disappointed in its performance, which has consisted mainly of setting our readers on fire. I did not delegate that responsibility, and the inflammation of our audience remains my job.

Here are some questions that I salvaged from the flaming ruins of Eli's kitchen.

Q: If two Volrath's Shapeshifters are in play and the top card of my graveyard is a Protean Hulk, and my opponent plays Wrath of God, will I get two Hulk triggers?

A: The Hulk's trigger is a "leaves play" trigger, and remember - those look back in time to before the object left play to determine whether or not to go off. Even though you put the Shapeshifters in your graveyard in a certain order, that's only because you can't quantum-merge them into two cards sharing one spot; they do go to the graveyard at the same time, and both will trigger since they were Hulks before they left play.

Q: Will Clone targeting Bosk Banneret cost 1 less?

A: Since when does Clone target? I don't see the word "target" on it anywhere, nope nope. Not since the ancient original version, which was just silly.

Even if Clone did target, it's still not copying anything until it's come into play. It's just a Shapeshifter spell, so it won't be any cheaper.

Q: Does Kithkin Greatheart in my graveyard give my Cairn Wanderer first strike?

A: Characteristic-defining abilities apply in all zones, which makes them awesome. Kithkin Deadheart does not have a CDA, though, which makes him suck. A CDA can only define color, power, toughness, or subtypes - not abilities. This isn't a CDA, and it does not specifically apply in that zone, so the Kithkin won't have first strike.

Q: Are planeswalkers legendary?

A: Do they have "legendary" on them? No? Surprise! They aren't!

Except in flavor terms. Well, not really even then. Who's ever heard of Liliana "Does This Dress Show Enough Cleavage to Summon Creatures?" Vess before she got a card?

There's just a "planeswalker rule" that's extremely similar to the "legend rule," that's it.

You will be visited this night
by three rules gurus and a
zombified monkey.
Q: If I have Abundance in play and my opponent has a Forced Fruition in play, when I play a spell can I use Abundance's effect for all seven cards or just the first one?

A: You can use it for the whole lot of them. In fact, you can see what you get from one "draw" before you decide whether to draw or not for the next one! Multiple card draws are done sequentially, and the choice of how to handle each is done immediately before doing so, after the previous draw.

Q: Will Abundance's replacement effect save me from being decked by the fruit?

A: Yup, unless the fruit is a banana. Nothing will save you from them.

Abundance changes "draw" to "do stuff and put a card in your hand," and "put a card in hand" is not the same thing as drawing. You only lose the game when you have to draw a card and can't.

Q: Could you tell me when mana burn occurs?

A: Yes.

Q: With Glorious Anthem in play, can Pendelhaven target a 1/1 creature?

A: Sure, if it's a 1/1 creature. So that means that if you have, say, a Clone that isn't copying anything, you can target it.

A Saproling will be 2/2, though, not 1/1, so no, you can't target that.

Q: If I target Marsh Flitter with Pendelhaven, and then sacrifice a Goblin to it after Pendelhaven's ability resolves, how big is it?

A: Both Pendelhaven and the Flitter's abilities apply in the same layer: layer 6b. So this just comes down to timestamps. First Pendelhaven makes your Faerie a 2/3 Faerie, and then the Faerie's Goblin-chewing habits make it 3/3.

Q: Hey, wait, you said you'd tell me when mana burn occurs!

A: No I didn't, you just asked if I could tell you.

Okay, okay. No one's done that joke in a long time and I like it.

Mana burn occurs at the end of each phase. This means that at the end of the draw step (which itself is after the untap and upkeep steps), at the end of each main phase, at the end of the cleanup step (when you discard etcetera), and at the end of the end of the end of the end of the... ahem, end of the end of combat step.

Q: What is the difference between "attach" and "equip" on Equipment?

A: One's an ability, one isn't. "Equip M" means "M: Attach this to target creature you control. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery."

Hey look! Attach is in there! Yeah. "Attach" is just something you do; any old effect can tell you to attach something, and equip is just one ability that does so. Other effects that tell you to attach may be triggered abilities that let you put stuff on other players' guys (Cloak and Dagger), or just the same thing as equip but you can play it without the sorcery timing restrictions (Cranial Plating).

Q: Can I tap a Merrow Commerce to ride the Vodalian War Machine?

A: As little sense as that makes, sure. It's a Merfolk. The War Machine says to tap a Merfolk, and never specifies "Merfolk creature."

Remember that enchantments don't dance? I bet they don't drive well, either. Hope you've got one hell of an insurance plan for that War Machine.

Q: Where do I get the three Swamps for Dark Ritual?

A: You... don't? Swamps are not black mana; they're just full of black mana, like a baby is

[The following analogy has been changed to protect your sanity. We apologize for any trauma thus far inflicted. -Cranial Insertion Management]

like an orange is full of orange juice. When you tap a Swamp for mana, it's like sucking the juice out of an orange. The juice goes to your belly, and the black mana goes to your mana pool. Your body uses the orange juice for fuel, you use the black mana to pay for a spell. The mana pool is imaginary; it's not a real zone anywhere that you can physically see.

And many moooore!
Q: I was planning on entering a tournament with a Merieke Ri Berit deck with Thousand-Year Elixir and then I realized that I can untap her with the Elixir with Merieke's trigger still on the stack to take multiple creature in the same turn. My friend argues that once she untaps the creature dies regardless of whether the ability resolved yet. Who is right?

A: I'm right. That was easy.

In this case, you and I agree. As Merieke's ability resolves, it creates a delayed triggered ability that looks for Merieke untapping or leaves play. If Merieke becomes untapped before that delayed trigger starts looking for it to become untapped, then the ability isn't around to see it yet and doesn't care.

Q: Can I pay the kicker on creatures I put into play with Elvish Piper?

A: Nope. Kicker is an additional cost to play some creature spells. You can't pay it unless you're playing the creature, which is not the same as putting it into play.

Q: My opponent asked me "What's Venser's creature types?" Can I just say "Human" and leave it there?

A: That depends on the rules enforcement level of your event. At a Competitive (Pro Tour Qualifier, Grand Prix day one) or Professional (Pro Tour, Grand Prix day two) event, this is considered "derived information" - that means that the characteristics of an object, including its types, can be answered with half-truths.

At a Regular REL, which includes FNM, any "derived" information is instead considered "free" information - you have to be entirely honest. If your opponent asked "Is Venser a Human?" you could say "Yes" without informing him that it's also a Wizard, but if your opponent specifically asks for the types, you must answer fully and truthfully.

Q: What should I do if my opponent is rather... fragrant, and fighting back the urge to vomit is affecting my ability to play?

A: First off, vomiting on the playing field and/or his deck is not a solution, as gratifying as it may be.

Second, call a judge. Then ask the judge to step away from the table. Don't be a jerk and accuse your opponent of being a stinky poopy head in front of him, just tell the judge away from the table. The judge, in consultation with the organizer, may ask your opponent to leave or put your table somewhere with better air circulation.

After three years of being undead, my flesh has mostly stopped decaying, so I hope you're not trying to insult my delightful simian fragrance. If you are, please send my your address so I can eat your pets.

Q: At end of turn, I pay 10 life to Necropotence. Do I get to keep all ten cards?

A: If you pay all that life at the end of your turn, you won't get any cards for a while. You have to pay life before the end of turn if you want cards.

Aside from that, no, you won't get to keep them all. Necropotence's delayed trigger that says "put it in hand!" triggers at the end of turn step, and you discard during the cleanup step, which comes after the end of turn step.

The end of turn is not the end of turn. We are feeling very metaphysical today, hmm?

Q: I Threaten my opponent's Reveillark and then rip its head off. Do I get to bring back creatures, or does he?

A: You were the one controlling the Reveillark when it entered Headless City, so you'll be the controller of the trigger. Here's that look-back-in-time thing again.

Q: My opponent has a Sulfur Elemental and I play Mirror Entity. Can I activate the Entity a few million times before it dies?

A: No, the Entity is just dead. You need priority to activate its ability over and over, and before you get priority, state-based effects will chuck the Entity into your graveyard.

Q: If a creature with lifelink hits a planeswalker, does the creature's controller gain life?

A: Damage to a planeswalker translates into loss of loyalty counters, but the damage is still dealt. Lifelink triggers on any damage dealt at all, to anything, so the player will still gain life.

Q: I keep hearing that all Shapeshifters now have changeling and count as all creature types. This can't be right, can it?

A: It isn't right. You can tell because the Oracle text for those non-changeling Shapeshifters has not been changed to give them changeling.

So what did you learn today, boys and girls?

The important lesson is that being undead lets you get off scot-free with serious amounts of property damage and gratuitous violence. So remember, when you die, opt for zombification.

Happy hunting!

- Moko the Rules Zombie


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