Cranial Insertion: Always Avoid Affected Alliteration



Cranial Insertion
Always Avoid Affected Alliteration
or, Eschew Obfuscation

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley


Fly, you fools!
Morningtide has been on store shelves for weeks, but it's Extended that's getting the PTQ season love at the moment. The questions we've been getting in the CI mailbox are similarly divided. Even Standard still sees some play, between FNM and City Champs. Poor Morningtide, released to the world with no sealed or draft season to prop it up and make it smile.

Don't leave our mailbox similarly bereft! Email us your questions to [email][email protected][/email].

Let's see what questions we have this week...




Q: Can you use the reinforce ability of a Rustic Clachan from the graveyard if you have Crucible of Worlds in play?

A: Ah, Crucible of Worlds. For a card with an ability that looks so simple, it certainly spawns many questions about what you can (and, much more often, can't) do with it. This one falls into the CAN'T department. Crucible of Worlds lets you play land cards from your graveyard. That's it. You can't cycle them, you can't use other activated abilities requiring them to be discarded, and you can't stuff them in your ears and thumb your nose at your opponent. Well, Crucible doesn't stop you from doing the last one, but good sense should. The important part is that the land cards are not actually in your hand, and things like cycling and reinforce need them to be.

502.77a Reinforce is an activated ability that functions only while the card with reinforce is in a player's hand. "Reinforce N—[cost]" means "[Cost], Discard this card: Put N +1/+1 counters on target creature."





Q: My Weight of Conscience enchants my opponent's creature and I tap Surgespanner and another Merfolk to put Weight's "Remove enchanted creature from the game" ability on the stack. I pay 1U to put the Surgespanner's ability of "return Weight of Conscience to my hand" on the stack as well. I return Weight of Conscience to my hand. Then I attempt to resolve "Remove enchanted creature from the game." Even though the creature is no longer enchanted by Weight of Conscience will it still be removed from the game using "last known information"?

A: Yes. Here's how the sequence works.

Step 1: Announce the Weight of Conscience ability. Pay the cost, which is tapping Surgespanner and another Merfolk.
Step 2: Surgespanner's ability triggers, since it became tapped. Choose a target for it (in this case, Weight of Conscience).
Step 3: Resolve Surgespanner's ability. Here, you get the option to pay 1U. If you do, you bounce Weight of Conscience.
Step 4: Resolve Weight of Conscience's ability. Since the Weight is no longer in play, the game will use last-known information to determine what the "enchanted creature" was. All the oblivion with none of the ring.
Step 5: Profit!




Q: When I cast Evangelize, does my opponent have to choose and target a creature that he controls as I announce the spell (since targeting is part of playing the spell), or can he play Sprout Swarm in response and give me a crummy Saproling Token?

A: Targets for a spell are always chosen as part of playing the spell. This is true even if the player who plays the spell isn't the one choosing the targets (which rarely happens, but Evangelize is a good example of it). Your opponent has to choose a target before he has priority to play anything in response. In short: no, he can’t.




Q: Similarly, with Magus of the Abyss in play, does my opponent have to choose and target a creature he controls when the triggered ability goes on the stack? Or can his Sprout Swarm spit out a Saproling and wave its hand saying, "Pick me! Pick ME!!!"?

A: Yes, the same principle applies. Targets have to be chosen to complete the action of playing the ability, and that happens before either player gets priority to play something else.





Wait, those words start with
different sounds, even though
they start with the same letter!
Q: With Yixlid Jailer in play, does my Body Double have the leaves-play ability when it copies a Reveillark in my graveyard?

A: It does. When you copy an object, you copy its printed characteristics, as modified by other copy effects. There are no other copy effects at work here. Even though Yixlid Jailer is busy erasing the abilities off of all cards in graveyards, Body Double is clever enough to see past his shady handiwork. The Double-Reveillark will have the leaves-play ability just like a real Reveillark in play would have.

Bonus: A few other things can also modify a copy effect. None of them are relevant in the context of the question, but if you want to see them anyway, then check out rule 503.2.




Q: So if the Double-Reveillark dies while Yixlid Jailer is in play, does the ability trigger?

A: It will. Rule 410.10d tells us that leaves-play triggers look back in time to just before the ability would trigger. At this point, the Double-'Lark was in play, where it had an ability. Thus, the ability will trigger when it leaves play.




Q: Are creatures that are put into play attacking considered to have attacked for purposes of spells like Relentless Assault and Fury of the Horde?

A: It depends on what the definition of is "attacked" is.

Thankfully, we know that definition. A creature that attacked refers to the verb "to attack." In Magic, that has a specific meaning: a creature that was chosen as an attacker during the declare attackers step. By contrast, an "attacking creature" is any creature that has been flung headlong into the red zone, regardless of whether it actually "attacked" in terms of the game. Since both of those cards refer to creatures that "attacked," the answer to your question is no.

Bonus: Those creatures don't have haste, so even if you use another method of untapping them, they won't be able to attack again.




Q: I have two Battletide Alchemists in play and someone attacks with a 4/4 creature that is not blocked. Can I prevent the entire 4 damage or will they both prevent the same 2 damage?

A: What we have here is multiple replacement effects. You're the affected player in this case, since you're the one taking the damage, so you decide in what order they will be applied. Then any others will apply if applicable. That's a lot of "apply" forms in the span of a couple sentences, isn't it?

Here's how it actually works out: you apply Alchemist A, which prevents 2 damage. Since you're still staring down 2 more damage, Alchemist B can be applied and prevent that. So the result is that you take no damage.

You may now apply this application, if applicable to your application of applying applicable applications.




Q: I put a creature with morph into play with Illusionary Mask's ability. Can I turn the creature face up by paying its morph cost? If so, does it retain its mask counters?

A: There is an important part of the morph ability, which says:

Any time you could play an instant, you may show all players the morph cost for any face-down permanent you control, pay that cost, then turn the permanent face up.


So if you would rather pay the morph cost rather than the almost certainly cheaper cost of "remove all mask counters," then you certainly may. It's your mana; spend it however you want. If you do turn the creature face-up via its morph cost, the mask counters remain, but they don't serve any further purpose. Kind of like the appendix.




Q: If a creature is turned face-up by removing mask counters, does the action trigger "whenever this creature is turned face up" abilities?

A: It sure does. You're turning the creature face up, after all. Whichever way you choose to pay it, the result is that you're turning the creature face up, so any "when ~ is turned face up" abilities will trigger.




Q: If I play Stomping Slabs and reveal multiple other Stomping Slabs, do I deal some multiple of 7 damage?

A: Yes, you do. That multiple, however, will be 1. Stomping Slabs, even if you're playing some weird format in which you could reveal seven other cards named Stomping Slabs, will only deal 7 damage to the targeted creature or player. Think of it this way:

Did you reveal a card named Stomping Slabs?

If YES, then takes 7 damage.
If NO, then you should consider not playing this card anymore.




Q: I see a lot of people playing with Reveillark. Can a Reveillark get a Tarmogoyf back from the graveyard?

A: It depends on what else is in the graveyards of both players. Tarmogoyf's characteristic-defining ability (CDA) that sets its power and toughness functions in all zones. So even though its power and toughness are rarely relevant outside of the in-play zone, those values are known when certain effects come around asking questions. If there are no more than two card types in all graveyards, then Tarmogoyf can be retrieved by Reveillark. If there are more than two, then the Goyf's power is at least 3, and it can't be returned.




Q: My opponent is playing the Dredge deck. If I steal one of his creatures with Vedalken Shackles and get that creature killed, will it remove the Bridges from Below in his graveyard?

A: Nope. It's his creature, so it will go to his graveyard, even though you controlled it when it died, and he gets a Zombie. Cards that leave play bound for a hand, library, or graveyard, always return to the appropriate zone of their owner. The owner of a card is the player who began the game with the card in his maindeck or sideboard.

Bonus: Yes, it's "Bridges from Below" and not "Bridge from Belows." If that confuses you, then you shouldn't think about William Safire going into Burger King and ordering two Whoppers Junior.





This card name is
repetition, not alliteration.
But Moko made me.
Q: I have a Garruk Wildspeaker in play. On my turn, I play a Mutavault and tap it for mana to play a spell. Can I use Garruk to untap the Mutavault and another land, then attack with the 'Vault?

A: Only if it somehow manages to gain haste while all of this is happening. To attack with a creature, you need to have controlled it continuously since the start of your turn. Since you haven't, and the Mutavault (presumably) does not have haste, you can't attack with it.

Bonus: If you untap this freshly-played Mutavault with Garruk and make it into a creature, you can't tap it for mana, either, for the same reason.




Q: If I play Gaddock Teeg the turn after Enduring Ideal has resolved, does it stop the epic copies?

A: Nope. The epic copies aren't actually played. If they were, then Teeg would shut that down. However, the epic triggered ability puts a copy of the spell on the stack, and Teeg is blissfully unaware of things like that happening.




Q: If Counterbalance counters an enchantment spell I play while I have Verduran Enchantress in play, do I still draw a card?

A: Yes, you do. Drawing the card is not contingent on the enchantment spell resolving, just being played. So if you went through the process of playing the spell, then the Enchantress will trigger. Regardless of what happens to the spell after you play it, you'll draw a card unless the Enchantress' ability is countered.




Q: My opponent plays Shriekmaw, targeting my Tarmogoyf. Can I counter that with Rebuff the Wicked?

A: I believe that your opponent played Shriekmaw. However, I disbelieve that he played Shriekmaw targeting your Tarmogoyf. The reason for this is very simple: creature spells do not target. Shriekmaw, as a spell, has no targets. When it resolves and becomes a creature, it has a triggered ability, and that ability has a target. Since Rebuff the Wicked only counters spells which have targets, and not abilities, it will not save your Tarmogoyf from a shrieking demise.




Q: Do multiple Greatbow Doyens stack?

A: If you pile them neatly atop one another, yes. It also helps if you don't turn a fan on.

Having multiple Greatbow Doyens in play causes each to trigger when an archer you control deals damage to a creature. So if you have an archer deal 6 damage to a creature while you have three Doyens out, each will trigger. The result is that the damaged creature's controller will take 18 damage.




Q: I just want to be sure here... Reveillark will trigger off of things like Momentary Blink, Boomerang, and Oblivion Ring, correct?

A: Correct. Reveillark has a leaves-play trigger. This will trigger as long as it leaves the in-play zone, not just when it goes to the graveyard. All of the spells you mention cause it to leave the in-play zone, so each one will triggers its leaves-play ability.




That's all we have for this edition of CI. We're coming up on three years of doing this column soon, so stay tuned for the weirdness and shenanigans we have in store for that!

-Tom Fowler

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