Cranial Insertion: Hear Those Sleigh Bells Thrumming




Cranial Insertion
Hear Those Sleigh Bells Thrumming
or, Stone Cold Coalition Honor Guard

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

We here at Cranial Insertion do not have access to Santa's mailbag, nor would we ever want it. Sorting the world's naughty from the nice is too monumental a job even for three certified judges.

However, we do have access to the [email][email protected][/email] mailbox, and sorting through your rules questions is just our cup of egg nog!




Q: How do The Abyss and Magus of the Abyss interact with flagbearers like Coalition Honor Guard? My impression is that the opponent could choose any legal target, but if a non-flagbearer is chosen then I (the controller of the ability) would change it to a flagbearer. Is this correct?

A: The answer to this question changes depending on who controls the Abyssal permanent and who controls the flagbearer, so there are three answers to this question.

If you control both the flagbearer and the Abyss: The flagbearer only triggers for spells and abilities you don’t control. Even though your opponent chooses the target for the triggered ability of the Abyss, you still control the permanent with that ability and consequently control the ability. The flagbearer’s ability will never trigger.

If you control just the Abyss: Any attempt to target a non-flagbearer creature with the Abyss ability by either player will cause the flagbearer to trigger. You will get to choose the new flagbearer to be targeted by the Abyss (even if you didn’t choose the original target).

If you control just the Flagbearer: Same as above, but your opponent will always choose the new target for the Abyss even if you chose the original target.




Q: If I have Timber Protector in play and several other treefolk, and my opponent plays Damnation, which creatures die? How about if my opponent uses Ashling the Pilgrim to do heaps of damage to everything?

A: Damnation tries to destroy all creatures in play simultaneously. Since Timber Protector doesn’t make itself indestructible, it will be destroyed; however it will be in play at the time all your other treefolk are trying to be destroyed, and save them.

What happens with Ashling depends on how much damage it does. Let’s assume it’s doing at least as much damage as the toughness of the toughest treefolk you’ve got. Ashling damages all the creatures simultaneously. Then state-based effects see a Timber Protector with lethal damage and destroy it. (The other treefolk aren’t destroyed at the same time because they’re still indestructible.)

Before a player gains priority, state-based effects are checked again and see a whole lot of lethally damaged treefolk, who are summarily destroyed.

Remember kids: only you can prevent elementally-created forest fires.




Q: If I play a Pact of Negation targeting a spell and my opponent Cancels it, do I still have to pay the 3UU on my next upkeep?

A: “Pay me or lose the game” is a delayed triggered ability set up during the resolution of the Pact. If the Pact is countered, it doesn’t resolve, so the triggered ability is never created. You don’t even get the option to pay the mana on your next upkeep, so no Citadel of Pain dodging for you!




Q: Are you allowed to place a marker, such as a die, or a counter on your library to remind you to pay for pacts?

A: Before the Pacts were printed, you were never allowed to place any kind of marker on top of your library for any reason. But before the Pacts, there weren’t many triggered abilities that made you lose the game if you forgot about them.

To that end, the Universal Tournament Rules were altered to allow markers on the library. Here’s the rule:

37. Game Markers
Game markers, such as tokens or reminders of a game effect, may not be designated by cards with identical backs as the cards in a player’s deck if the deck is unsleeved. If the deck is sleeved, game markers may not have sleeve backs identical to those on the cards in the player’s deck.

Small items (i.e. Glass beads, dice, etc...) may be used as markers and placed atop your library (for example, as a reminder for upkeep effects). Cards may not be used. These markers may not disguise the number of cards remaining in a player’s deck or completely obscure the top card of the deck.

A judge may disallow the use of game markers that may cause confusion with regard to the state of the game, or that are deemed inappropriate or offensive.


The important rules regarding markers on your library, in brief:

1)If your deck is unsleeved, you can’t use another Magic card as your marker.

2)If your deck is sleeved, you can’t use the same sleeve for your marker.

3)The marker can’t hide your deck.

4)The marker can’t be something that you’re using to represent something else in the game. If a d6 is being used to keep track of your Saproling tokens, you can’t put that same die on top of your library.

As long as you follow those rules, Pact away!




Q: Are you allowed to take notes during a game, such as what was in someone’s hand when you Thoughtseize them?

A: Notetaking is allowed by Section 28 of the Universal Tournament Rules, with a few restrictions:

1)You may only view notes taken during the current match. If you Thoughtseize your opponent in Round 1 and meet him again in the finals, you can’t look back at your notes to see what was in his hand the first time.

2)Notes must be taken in a timely manner. If you can scribble down your opponent’s hand in 10 seconds or so it won’t be a problem, but if you’re a slow enough writer that it takes you a minute to list seven cards, you’ll probably get a warning for slow play from a judge.

3)You can’t take any notes during the draft portion of a tournament.

EXTRA: In previous versions of the rules, your notes were considered public information that your opponent could request to view at any time. This provision has been removed from the rules; you are no longer required to display your notes to your opponent. (The fact that you're taking notes is public information, for whatever that's worth.)




Q: I gain control of my opponent’s Siege-Gang Commander with Sower of Temptation. I then cast Momentary Blink on the Commander. What happens to the Siege Gang? Do I get the tokens it creates? Also I believe that the Sower is no longer “attached” to the Commander and I can now blink it to steal another creature, correct?

A: As Momentary Blink states, the targeted creature is returned to play under its owner’s control. Since your opponent owns the Commander (“owner” being defined as the player who started the game with the card in his library or sideboard), it will return to play under his control. Since he controls the Commander as it enters play, he controls its triggered ability and will gain the tokens.

Even though your Sower was controlling the Commander before the Blink resolved, the Commander that’s now in play is considered a new object, so the Sower has no effect on it. You can play Momentary Blink on the Sower and target a new creature with its triggered ability when it re-enters play.




Q: Does ripple stack? If I have a Thrumming Stone in play, and I play Surging Flames, do I ripple for 8? If there are two Thrumming Stones in play, do I ripple for 8 when I play a spell?

A: Ripple doesn’t “stack,” exactly. (The word “stack” has a specific meaning in Magic, referring to a zone, so I don’t like to use it for any purpose other than that.)

In these cases, you have two different “Ripple 4” triggered abilities. These are two separate abilities and as such must be resolved separately, so you resolve one first and then the other. In other words, you have to make decisions looking at your first four cards without yet knowing what the next four cards are, so it’s not functionally identical to “Ripple 8.”

Q: If I have Thrumming Stone in play, and I play a Grapeshot, do I ripple for each copy of Grapeshot?

A: Playing the Grapeshot will cause the Thrumming Stone to trigger, so you’ll get to Ripple 4 then. However, the copies created by Storm are not played; they’re simply placed directly on the stack. They won’t cause Thrumming Stone to trigger.




Q: I play a Windbrisk Heights turn 1, removing Reconnaissance from the game. On turn 4 I manage to attack with three creatures. Does this trigger the Windbrisk Heights immediately or only after combat? I'm asking this because it says "if you attacked . . ." which implies it must have happened and thus only after combat has finished.

A: The ability of Windbrisk Heights (and the other Hideaway lands) that allows you to play the removed card never “triggers.” It’s an activated ability that you can play at any time, but that will only allow you to play the removed card upon resolution if a certain condition has been met.

In the case of Windbrisk Heights, as soon as you have declared a legal attack of three or more creatures, you’ve met the condition. You don’t have to wait until the combat phase is over to activate its ability and play the removed card.

EXTRA: It’s a common misconception that, once you’ve activated a Hideaway land, you can play the removed card at any time during that turn. Since the ability doesn’t give you a duration, you can only play the card as that activated ability is resolving; you can’t save the effect until later in the turn.




Q: I control a Treetop Village, along with a Forest and Karplusan Forest. My opponent controls a Furnace of Rath, a Stuffy Doll and 5 tapped Mountains. I make my Village into an ape and attack. He blocks with the Doll.

How much damage is dealt to the Stuffy Doll, and to my opponent, as the Furnace is in play and the tree/ape has trample?

A: The Furnace doesn’t affect how much damage you get to assign in combat; it simply doubles the assigned damage as it’s being dealt. So putting combat damage on the stack here is no different than normal. Your animated Village assigns three damage, so let’s assume you assign one to the Stuffy Doll and two to the defending player. The Furnace will double both of those, so the Doll will sustain two damage and the defending player four.

Then Stuffy Doll triggers because it took damage. Assuming your opponent chose you as the player for Stuffy Doll, its triggered ability will assign two damage to you, which the Furnace will double to four.




Q: In a Two-Headed Giant game, my partner and I are playing a Goblin/Storm pair of decks. On out turn's 1st Main Phase, the following occurred.

1. I play a Goblin Cohort; it resolves.
2. I play some other small goblin creature (can't remember which); it resolves.
3. Partner plays Brightstone Ritual; it resolves putting 2 red mana in his pool (only 2 goblins in play).
4. He plays a second Brightstone Ritual, using one of the in-pool mana; it similarly resolves and he has 3 red mana in pool
5. He plays a Seething Song; it resolves and he has 5 red mana in the pool.
6. He plays Ignite Memories; it goes on stack.
7. While on stack, opponent plays Counterspell targeting the original version of Ignite Memories.
8. While the Counterspell is on the stack, he plays Pact of Negation, targeting one of the Ignite Memories copies.
9. I play Reiterate, targeting one of the Ignite Memories copies.

The primary question is: how many times does the Ignite Memories "fire" or "go off?"

Sub-questions: 1. Does each copy of a Storm spell have storm - not for the purposes of counting additional resolutions of the spell's effects, but for purposes of any spell (like Reiterate, Twincast, Fork) that might copy it? 2. Would it have made any difference if I'd played the Reiterate at a different time targeting the original iteration of the Ignite Memories, rather than one of its copies?

A: (See if you can do the math on this one yourself before peeking.)
First, let’s count how many copies of Ignite Memories are on the stack after the storm trigger resolves. (We’re assuming this happens before your opponent plays the Counterspell, otherwise they couldn’t respond to it with a Pact targeting one of the copies)

Goblin Cohort = 1
Random goblin = 2
Brightstone Ritual #1 = 3
Brightstone Ritual #2 = 4
Seething Song = 5
Ignite Memories = 6

So there are six copies on the stack (counting the original) before anything else happens.

Assuming both the Counterspell and the Pact resolve properly, this will remove the original Ignite Memories and one of the copies, leaving four copies on the stack.

Then your Reiterate resolves, adding another copy onto the stack, for a total of 5.

Barring any other effects, that’s how many copies resolve: 5.

As for the sub-questions:

1)Each copy of Ignite Memories has Storm, because that’s a copiable characteristic of Ignite Memories. However, Storm can only trigger when a spell is played. The copies of Ignite Memories created by Storm certainly aren’t played (if they were, the game would enter an infinite loop of copies being created that can’t ever resolve). Copies created by other spells like Reiterate aren’t played either, so they won’t cause Storm to trigger again.

2)No, it wouldn’t have made a difference. Each copy of Ignite Memories “looks” just like the original, with the same characteristics including rules text. Copying the original wouldn’t have caused Storm to trigger again.




This will be my last article of 2007... so to all of our readers, Happy (insert your favorite holiday taking place in December or early January here)!

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