Cranial Insertion: Into the North

Cranial Insertion
Into the North
or, Now I'm Back and It's Way Too Warm

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

This is an accurate depiction of
some parts of Canada, not
including Vancouver.

Eh, I'm back from Grand Prix Vancouver, with unfortunately fewer stories than I had hoped. With only 395 players, there were fewer opportunities for truly interesting calls.

When the border agent asked us where we were from, I wanted to reply "We're from the internet. We're here to post captions on your moose," but I figured that might get me deported and then I'd never get to write today's Cranial Insertion. Sigh, the sacrifices we make to bring you this article.

A pile of today's questions come from just that Grand Prix, and another pile comes from our [email][email protected][/email] inbox. Got a question? Let us know, and we'll answer it! We might even use your question as evidence of our celebrity status to avoid deportation from foreign nations.

Q: If an Ovinized Reveillark dies, do I get to return some creatures?

A: You won't. Abilities that trigger on an object leaving play look back in time to determine whether or not they should trigger, and at the time that Reveillark left play, it had no abilities which could trigger.

Q: If I have 10 life, one opponent has 10 life, and another opponent has 30 life, and I play Feudkiller's Verdict, will I get a Giant?

A: A Giant is yours! Having more life than "an opponent" means just that - if any opponent exists with less life than you, the Feudkiller is happy and awards you a new friend. Compare this to the following question...

Q: If I have two Merfolk, one opponent has five Merfolk, but the other opponent has no Merfolk, can I use Peer Pressure to steal all the Merfolk because I have fewer than another player?

A: Here, you can't pressgang the other Merfolk into obedience because you don't control more Merfolk than each other player.

The difference is that "more than any other player" means that for any player you could compare yourself to, you have more; and "more than another player" means that for any one player, you have more.

Q: If I hit a Wolf-Skull Shaman with Nameless Inversion with its kinship trigger on the stack, will he still get a Wolf if he reveals an Elf?

A: No puppies for your opponent! Since the Elf is no longer in play, the kinship trigger will use the Elf's last known information to determine whether or not a match can be made, but the last time the Elf was in play, it was a typeless 5/-1.

This card has no effect on drafts.
Q: While drafting, we all passed the second pack to the left, right after passing the first pack to the left. How do we fix this?

A: If no one's drafted a second card yet, just pass them the right way. If they've started in on the second pick, just pass the third pack to the right. It's not the optimal way to run drafts, since the Universal Tournament Rules specifies left-right-left, but it's better than removing all the packs and starting the round of picks over again.

Q: Will Countryside Crusher get a +1/+1 counter if a face-down Zoetic Caverns is put into my graveyard?

A: Abilities that trigger on an object being put into the graveyard "from anywhere" are not "leaves-play" triggers, so they look at the game after the leaves play event. Since the Caverns in the graveyard is indeed a land, the Crusher will trigger and get yet another counter.

Q: What exactly does protection from black do?

A: Ah, an oldie, but such a good question that comes up every so often.

There's a simple acronym to remember protection. Protection from black prevents:

Damage from a black source
Enchanting by a black enchantment
Blocking by a black creature
Targetting by a black source

This acronym is slightly outdated - along with "Enchanting," you also have to remember "Equipping" and "Fortifying," but the acronym is so easy to remember, and these last two come up so rarely.

Q: Are there any rules about using foreign-language cards in a sanctioned event?

A: The only rule is that you can't use foreign-language cards in an attempt to confuse your opponents. (German Forest with Plains art, I'm looking at you.) You must also know the card's English name so that if an opponent requests the Oracle text of that card, you can tell the judge so the judge can look it up.

No DCI rule at all exists that bans foreign cards from a tournament just because they're not in English.

Q: What happens if I use Hunt Down to tell a creature without flying to block a creature with flying?

A: Well, you just told a creature to do something that is entirely impossible. So you are promoted to a managerial position, given a raise and your first pick of interns, and your hair grows pointy.

But as far as the game is concerned, nothing happens. Hunt Down does include "if able," and non-fliers are not able to block fliers.

Q: If I sacrifice a creature with Brion Stoutarm and then copy the ability with Rings of Brighthearth, how is the power of the sacrificed creature determined for the copy? Does it use the same power as the creature for the original, or none since there is no creature?

A: It will use the same power as the original ability's creature. Part of rule 503.10 says:

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.

Q: I play a Vigor Mortis and Twincast it. Does the copy see green mana paid and put a counter on the other creature, too?

A: This won't happen, though. While the creature that you sacrifice for Brion is an object, mana is not an object, so 503.10 does not apply here.

Q: I turn a face-down Riptide Pilferer face up after no blockers are declared, and I have a Stinkdrinker Bandit in play. Does the Pilferer get +2/+1 now?

A: Nope. Abilities that trigger when something "attacks and isn't blocked" trigger immediately after the declaration of blockers, before any player receives priority. At that time, your Pilferer is not a Rogue, it is a blob. A big, gooey blob of non-Rogue-ishness.

Q: Can I just take 7 damage from Lord of the Pit if I don't want to sacrifice my creatures?

A: When the Lord of the Pit demands a sacrifice, it really demands it! You have no option: you must sacrifice another creature if able. The damage is just the result of a case where you have no other creatures to sacrifice, and is not an option that you can choose.

Arise, my minions!
Make me a sammich!
Q: Can I block an attacking creature with Fendeep Summoner, then tap the Summoner to animate a couple of my Swamps, and block with them, too?

A: Alas, your Swamp Treefolk Warriors will arrive too late to the party. All blockers must be declared at the same time, and no player receives priority to do anything until after all blockers have been chosen. So you can either block with the Summoner, or tap the Summoner to get two Warriors to block with and have the Summoner tapped and unable to block.

Q: Do Thornbite Staff and Moonglove Changeling make a combo?

A: If by "combo" you mean "machine gun of infinite death and doom," you're right! [Note: While there is usually no infinity in Magic, there are exceptions. One is Mox Lotus. The degree of how broken Black Lotus is is another. The amount of doom packed into this combo is a possible third.]

The important fact is that deathtouch triggers on any damage dealt, not just combat damage.

Q: Since Vesuvan Doppelganger's upkeep trigger has a target, what happens if I get rid of that target? Will it use last known information?

A: Nah. Just like any other triggered ability, activated ability, or spell, if the target is illegal, the whole shebang is countered. Nothing happens, wait till next turn to copy something.

Q: Can Laquatus's Disdain counter madness spells?

A: If a spell with madness hits your graveyard, it's too late to play it. Part of madness is a replacement effect that changes "discard to graveyard" into "discard to the RFG zone," so that card never touches your graveyard until after you play it or choose not to play it.

Q: Will Krosan Drover reduce the cost of a really expensive Ivy Elemental?

A: If by "really expensive" you mean "at least 5 for X," then yes. You determine the value of X during the second step of playing a spell, and then figure out the cost later on in the fifth. Since the value of X is taken into consideration while a spell is on the stack, and since X has already been declared, an Ivy Elemental for 5G will cost you 3G instead.

Q: Reveillark brings a Vesuvan Shapeshifter and Mulldrifter into play, and no other creatures are in play. Can the Shapeshifter copy the Mulldrifter?

A: It sure can't. You need to figure out how your replacement effects are going to work before the event that they're replacing occurs, and the Shapeshifter's comes-into-play-as ability is a replacement effect. Before the Reveillark trigger brings the creatures into play, there are no valid objects for the Shapeshifter to copy, so no choice can be made other than not to copy anything.

Q: Can I make an Elemental with Hoofprints of the Stag during my upkeep?

A: Sure. Hoofprints does not have a "sorcery timing!" restriction; it only restricts you to using it on your turn, but you can play the ability any time you could play any other activated ability, so long as it's your turn.

Q: After playing Piracy, can I sacrifice my opponent's Geothermal Crevice for mana?

A: Piracy allows you to play mana abilities of objects you don't control, but it does not allow you to sacrifice objects you don't control. You can't pay the cost of this mana ability, so you can't play it despite Piracy's claims that you can.

Q: What sets will rotate out of Extended this fall?

A: Invasion block, Odyssey block, and Seventh Edition. Onslaught block will remain in Extended - this is a change from previous announcements.

Additionally, Extended will start a yearly rotation, where it rotates just like Standard: newest block in, oldest block out. Devin Low will discuss this in depth on Friday's column at, so don't miss that one if you play Extended.

That's all for this week. Join us next Monday when we launch our monkey-fueled invasion of Iceland for no particular reason other than the geothermal hot pools!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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