Cranial Insertion: The Fire Is Not Delightful

Cranial Insertion
The Fire Is Not Delightful

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Well, the weather outside is frightful... and so is our fire. The CI stocking isn’t full of cool presents, or even switches and coal (do parents even threaten to fill their kids’ stockings with that stuff anymore?). No, we have a lot of questions in our stocking, and we’re going to go through them today before we let Moko toss them in the fire. If he doesn’t eat them first.

If you want to add a question to our stocking, you have to climb our snow-covered Mountain, deal with the glacial rays we use for perimeter defense, make your way past our pet mountain yetis, travel over our frozen moat, then open the door to nothingness at the front of the cabin stronghold. If that sounds like too much, then you can email us at [email][email protected][/email]. We’ll answer your question, but we might call you a wimp for not braving the elements.

Let’s see what questions the stocking holds...

This... is my boom stick!
Q: If I steal a creature with a Loxodon Warhammer equipped to it, who gains the life?

A: You do. For a while, at least. Loxodon Warhammer gives the equipped creature lifelink, and that means that the creature’s controller will gain life equal to its damage dealt. Since you’re currently the controller of the creature, you’ll be the one gaining the life. The Warhammer, however, is still your opponent’s permanent, and he can equip it to a creature he controls when it’s his turn again.

Q: Is this different than stealing one of my opponent’s creatures that he enchanted with Armadillo Cloak?

A: Yes. Loxodon Warhammer gives lifelink to the creature. Armadillo Cloak does not: the ability that causes its controller to gain life belongs to the enchantment. Even though you control the creature, the Armadillo Cloak is still your opponent’s enchantment, so he’ll be the one to gain life when the creature deals damage.

Bonus: That lifegain won’t save him from dying, though. If your opponent is at 4 life and you swing with a 4/4 that has his Armadillo Cloak on it, he’s a goner. The lifegain ability doesn’t trigger until the creature deals damage. Unfortunately (for your opponent, at least), state-based effects will see him at 0 life long before he can enjoy the benefits of that ability.

Q: I have a Greater Gargadon equipped with a Loxodon Warhammer and my opponent has a Bottle Gnomes in play. During combat, my opponent blocks Gargadon with Bottle Gnomes. Before combat damage goes on the stack, my opponent sacrifices Bottle Gnomes to gain 3 life. Does Greater Gargadon still deal damage to him?

A: Yes. It deals a heaping helping of damage, in fact. Enough to leave plenty of squishy holiday leftovers for any Lesser Gargadons in the area. Normally, the Gargadon would not deal any damage in this case, since it was blocked by a creature. However, the Loxodon Warhammer gives it trample, and trample makes things more interesting. Since Big Gargs has trample, you can assign damage above the blocking creature’s toughness to your opponent. But wait, you say... what blocking creature!? Since the blocking creature was sacrificed before damage was put onto the stack, you can assign all 12 damage right to your opponent. Ouch!

Bonus: On a slightly more technical note, trample lets you assign any damage above what’s considered lethal damage to the blocking creature(s) to your opponent. Lethal damage is a creature’s toughness less any damage already on it (also less any damage being assigned at the same time, for the rare case of one creature blocking multiple attackers). So lethal damage for a Bottle Gnomes that’s already been Shocked would be 1. Lethal damage for a Darksteel Gargoyle that’s been hit with Electrostatic Bolt is 0—it’s not destroyed because of the lethal damage, since it’s indestructible, but it’s a lethally-damaged creature until the end of the turn, so trample away!

Q: I’m playing a token deck, and one of my tokens gets hit with Echoing Truth. Will this cause them all (they’re all the same type) to be returned to my hand?

A: Yes. Unless the effect that creates it specifies otherwise, a token’s name is its creature type. Thus, a 1/1 Saproling token has the name “Saproling.” One of them getting hit with Echoing Truth causes all other permanents with the name “Saproling” to be returned to their owners’ hands.

Q: Do the tokens actually go into my hand?

A: Technically, yes. They will then cease to exist as a state-based effect. But if you don’t want a handful of Pokemon cards, or bits of paper, or d6es, then you can just ship your tokens off to the side right away.

Q: I sideboarded in Avoid Fate for game 2. Again, my opponent hits one of my tokens with Echoing Truth, and I play Avoid Fate on it. Do any of my tokens get returned?

A: Nope. You countered the spell, so none of its effects will happen.

Q: Through a clever combination of cards, I manage to turn Timber Protector into a Forest. Does it now make itself indestructible?

A: Nope. “Other Treefolk and Forests you control” can be read as “Other Treefolk and other Forests you control.” Think of it as the distributive property of multiplication applied to a Magic card. Other (Treefolk + Forests) would be the expression.

This is also stated in the Lorwyn FAQ, but our explanation is much cooler.

Q: How does first strike work when my Thoughtweft Trio is being blocked by multiple defenders?

A: The same way it works in one-on-one combat, really. There’s a little more math involved when you have several creatures ganging up on one, but the mechanic functions the same way. Since the Trio has first strike, you assign its power (5) in damage first, and you can divide that up among the blocking creatures. Once that damage has been resolved, then surviving blockers deal their combined power in damage to Thoughtweft Trio.

Here are a few scenarios to illustrate it:

- Thoughtweft Trio is blocked by six 1/1 Elf Warrior tokens. You have 5 first-strike damage to deal. You could choose to deal all 5 damage to just one token. If you do, the remaining five will take down your Trio. The best way to assign the damage is 1 each to five of the tokens, which will kill them. The remaining token will assign only 1 damage to the Trio.

- Thoughtweft Trio is blocked by a 2/2, a 3/3, and a 4/4. Again, you have a lot of options with your 5 damage. Killing the 4/4 means your Trio bites it when the other two blockers assign their damage. The best play is to kill the 2/2 and 3/3 with first strike, and then the 4/4 will assign its damage and not kill the Trio.

- Thoughtweft Trio is blocked by Imperious Perfect and her retinue of four 2/2 Elf Warrior Tokens. That’s a combined 10/10—looks like your Trio is doomed here, right? Not if you do things right. The Elf Warriors are only 2/2 so long as Imperious Perfect remains in play. So the best play here is to assign 2 damage to the Perfect, then 1 each to three of the tokens. When that damage resolves, state-based effects will sweep the dead Perfect to the graveyard. Then those three Elf Warriors will be 1/1 creatures with 1 damage on them, and they’ll get swept off right behind her. The remaining 1/1 token doesn’t do much to your 5/5.

Man, all this wandering and all I've
found are bug eyes and a potbelly.
Q: I’m being attacked by a Cairn Wanderer (no relevant cards in any graveyards), a Sentinels of Glen Elendra, and a few random elves. If I play Eyeblight’s Ending on the Sentinels before I declare blockers, can I still block the Wanderer with Seedguide Ash?

A: No, you can’t. Cairn Wanderer is always nosing around in graveyards for useful body parts, and as soon as spies a pair of freshly-discarded wings, he’s going to put them on and shout, “Up, up, and away!” As soon as a creature card with a relevant ability goes to a graveyard, Cairn Wanderer gets that ability. By the time you declare blockers, the Wanderer will be a flying creature, and Seedguide Ash won’t be able to block it.

Q: So if I block it with Seedguide Ash, then kill the Sentinels, the block is still legal?

A: Yes. The block was legal at the time you declared it. If the attackers gains some evasion ability (like flying) after the block has been declared, then it’s too late to matter. Note that you have to finish declaring your blockers before you play Eyeblight’s Ending on the Sentinels. If you push your Seedguide Ash in front of the Wanderer, then hastily kill the Sentinels, it’s too late to go back and block the elves.

Q: Is Ovinomancer a nice combo with Thousand-Year Elixir?

A: It sure looks like one. You can play the sheep master and stack his comes-into-play trigger. In response, you can use his activated ability to return himself to your hand and swap one of your opponent’s creatures for a 0/1 Sheep token. When the comes-into-play ability resolves, you can choose not to return the three lands, since Ovinomancer is safely back in your hand.

Q: Tim and Harry are in a three-way multiplayer game. Tim controls Avarice Totem. Harry controls Loxodon Warhammer. Tim uses Avarice Totem's ability to exchange itself for Harry's Loxodon Warhammer. A few turns later, Harry loses, never having gotten a chance to use Avarice Totem for himself. Harry gets his Loxodon Warhammer (and any other cards he owns) back. What happens to Tim's Avarice Totem?

A: He gets it back. When Harry leaves the game, any change-of-control effects that were allowing him to control someone else’s permanent(s) end. So Tim gets his Avarice Totem back and can use it to steal more things.

Q: How does clash work in 2HG? Which opponent do I clash with?

A: Clash just says “an opponent,” so you pick one. If you know that one player has a land or an expensive spell atop his deck from a previous clash (or some other effect), you can certainly use that knowledge when making your decision.

Q: If I use Amoeboid Changeling to make one of my creatures have all creature types before it dies, can I later play that creature from the graveyard with Haakon, Stromgald Scourge?

A: Nope. The creature card in your graveyard is a different object than the creature that gained all types. As it sits in the graveyard, the only type(s) it has are the ones printed on its type line. Unless one of them is Knight, Haakon won’t be much help to you.

Eat some lava, Garruk.
Q: If I play Molten Disaster, can I redirect the damage it would deal to me to one of my planeswalkers?

A: No, you can’t. This is the rule for redirecting damage to planeswalkers:

212.9g If noncombat damage would be dealt to a player by a source controlled by an opponent, that opponent may have that source deal that damage to a planeswalker the first player controls instead. This is a redirection effect (see rule 419.6c) and is subject to the normal rules for ordering replacement effects (see rule 419.9). The opponent chooses whether to redirect the damage as the redirection effect is applied.

The criteria are: (1) must be noncombat damage, (2) would be dealt to an opponent. While you may succumb to inner conflict at times, you are never your own opponent in a game of Magic.

Q: My opponent has a Teferi’s Moat (naming white), and I have a creature that can fly over it and a Militia’s Pride. When I attack with that flier, does the token I make get to attack also?

A: It does, for this turn. Teferi’s Moat prevents nonflying creatures of the chosen color from being declared as attackers. The token made by Militia’s Pride comes into play tapped and attacking, so it gets around that restriction. Next turn, though, that token will have to sit idly by and watch a newly-created friend leap across the moat.

Q: I was playing in a sealed deck PTQ, and it was obvious during a game that my opponent had no idea he could attack my planeswalker. I don’t have to remind him of that, do I?

A: Nope, you can leave him blissfully unaware. You’re not responsible for him knowing how to play the game. If he misunderstands something, as long as that misunderstanding doesn’t cause anything illegal, then you’re well within your right not to correct him. It would certainly be sporting of you to offer a correction, but it’s not unsporting to let him continue to think he can only attack you.

Q: My opponent Delayed a Goldmeadow Stalwart of mine, and it’s about to have its last time counter removed. When I removed the counter and played it, my opponent said I had to reveal a Kithkin card or pay :3mana:? Is he right?

A: He is. Goldmeadow Stalwart makes no distinction between being played normally (from your hand) and being played off of suspend (from the RFG zone). While you don’t need to pay the spell’s mana cost, you do need to pay any mandatory additional costs. If you’re unable to, the spell will remain in the RFG zone until the game ends.

Q: When will the upcoming Morningtide set be legal for Constructed play?

A: The release of the set is the first weekend in February (Friday the 1st through Sunday the 3rd), and it becomes legal on the 20th of the—wait, what’s that?

* Dr. Tom ducks a piece of crumpled-up paper stapled to a dead trout

This page, while slimy from the trout, appears to be from the brand-new edition of the Magic Floor Rules, updated 1 December. Take a gander what they say about new set rotation [This was the only change in this update, so don't bother rushing to view the document. -Ed.]:

104. New Releases
The following card sets are scheduled for release during 2008. They become tournament legal for DCI-sanctioned tournaments on the dates listed:

Morningtide Limited and constructed formats: February 1, 2008

Shadowmoor Limited and constructed formats: May 2, 2008

This... this means that cards are now Constructed-legal on their street release dates! OMG You no longer have to wait until the 20th of the month to play new cards in any Constructed event.

On another note, it looks like I get to have fish for dinner...

Q: Does this affect when cards rotate out?

A: Right now, we don’t know. It used to be easy to say that a block (or multiple blocks, when talking about Extended) would rotate out on the 20th of October. Of course, it also used to be easy to say that sets would rotate in on the 20th of whatever month. For now, I would presume the rotating-out policy to be as it has been, unless an official announcement changes that. If such an announcement comes down, we will pass the word along to you. Remember that Shadowmoor isn't causing anything to rotate out, so we have many months before this matters.

That’s all we have for this edition of CI. Since the Floor Rules updated recently, we should be getting an updated Penalty Guide, too. Any changes you need to know about will be covered here.

Next week: All about the new “things that feel shady, but really aren’t” category in the PG!

-Tom Fowler


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