Cranial Insertion: Questionable Content



Cranial Insertion
Questionable Content
or, It's a Grab-Bag Week!

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson


Being dug up out of the
graveyard since 2002.
Many retailers, players, and judges feared that Lorwyn would be underpowered, boring, and a constructed flop; seems that they were pretty wrong, judging by the number of questions we've seen lately on the new Standard. But it's time to wean ourselves off of this and get back to our regular cornucopia of conundrums from the [email protected] mailbox.

Moko is so very angry that the Ape tribe was not a focus of the new set, you see.

But that's okay, because if he whines too much, I just inflict Gratuitous Violence upon him. He's undead, so it's not animal abuse, right?

Right?

Um... hey, look, shiny questions!




Q: Why does a regenerator need two regeneration shields when a bigger creature with deathtouch hits it?

A: Because it will be destroyed twice. Deathtouch is a triggered ability that triggers on combat damage. As combat damage assignments resolve, your regenerator will get smacked hard in the face and deathtouch will trigger. Then state-based effects are checked, and that creature is destroyed. But lo, regeneration replaces this! Too bad that deathtouch trigger is still triggered, and is then put on the stack waiting to gleefully smush the creature a second time.




Q: Is there any way to Disenchant Animate Dead before it brings Akroma, Angel of Wrath back to play?

A: You can indeed do this. Animate Dead has gone through a dozen or so revisions, but almost all of them include one key point: a triggered ability that returns the creature from the graveyard to play so long as Animate Dead is in play as this trigger resolves (as noted by the intervening "if" clause (When X, if Y, Z)). If you blast the enchantment into oblivion, the trigger won't return Akroma.

It's worth noting that under the most recent revision of Animate Dead (which is the wording on the Gatherer, not MagicCards.info - the latter still needs to be updated), an Akroma returned to play by Animate Dead will then stomp the Animate Dead into the graveyard, resulting in a trigger that will destroy her. Unless you think your opponent plans to Momentary Blink her, you don't need to bother killing the enchantment.




Q: If I Weed Strangle Purity, will it be shuffled into its owner's library before or after we clash?

A: Purity has a triggered ability, as denoted by the "when" at the start of it. This trigger will trigger but not be put on the stack until Weed Strangle has entirely resolved, so Purity will be sulking in the graveyard as you clash.




Q: Does Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir stop the spell you play with Mosswort Bridge?

A: Teferi does; he's a big meanie like that. The hideaway lands instruct you to play their hidden card during the resolution of their activated ability, and that is very much not a time in which you can usually play a sorcery.

You end up with one effect saying that you may do something, and another imposing a restriction. Restrictions win out over permissions in Magic.





Honey, I broke the crust.
Q: Can I redirect Molten Disaster's damage to my planeswalker?

A: Nope. You can only redirect noncombat damage that a source you control would deal to an opponent's planeswalker. If your opponent has a planeswalker, too (hopefully not the same one you have, or we have a different issue), you can have your Molten Disaster deal that damage to that planeswalker instead of your opponent.

And if it's your opponent's Molten Disaster, he'll be the one to choose whether it hits you or your planeswalker, not you.




Q: Can I Gigadrowse a planeswalker?

A: Old-school planeswalkers never needed sleep, but this new breed does feel the occasional need to curl up with a teddy bear. Planeswalkers are permanents, and any permanent can be tapped.

Being tapped won't mean a darn thing to a planeswalker, though.




Q: Can I target Akroma, Angel of Wrath, who is actually a mannequin, with a Terror just so she dies and then rewind that because the Terror was illegal or have Terror countered?

A: Oh, that's sneaky. So very sneaky. No. That is not a legal play. You can't play Terror without a legal target, and Akroma is so very not a legal target. The entire process of playing the Terror would be rewound, and Akroma would never have been targeted by it because that never happened. [Jedi mind wipe]




Q: Can Kinsbaile Balloonist under a Gravity Sphere attack into a Magus of the Moat and give itself flying?

A: The Balloonist doesn't have flying, does it? After it charges into the battlefield, it suddenly remembers "oh yeah, I can fly," but it does not have flying (or give someone else flying) until after it's legally been declared an attacker - which can't be done if it doesn't have flying.




Q: Will Furnace of Rath double damage dealt by attacking creatures that are attacking a planeswalker?

A: What does it say on the card? Planeswalkers aren't creatures or players, so no doubling from combat damage. An attacking creature doesn't attack the player and redirect; it just attacks that planeswalker!

In the case of a Shock, the result is more interesting. There are two replacement effects: Furnace, and the planeswalker damage redirection option. The player taking the damage chooses which one to apply first, and the Shock player chooses whether or not the damage is redirected to the planeswalker.

The optimal play is for the player to apply the redirection first. If you choose to hit the planeswalker with your Shock, Furnace of Rath won't apply and it will take 2 damage. But if the other player merely takes off four loyalty counters, that is legal - that player can choose to double the damage and then offer to redirect it.




Q: If I tap ten Snow-Covered Plains and then stick it all in my Doubling Cube, will I get 14 snowy white mana out?

A: Mary had a little cube, its mana white as snow - but it can't all be used to pay a S cost since it was not produced by a snow permanent. Seven of the white mana, leftover from the original batch, will have been produced by your snow permanents, but the seven other white mana from the Cube was produced by the non-snow Cube. The Cube makes mana of the same type, and that includes only color or lack thereof, and no restrictions or other qualities about that mana.




Q: Is it legal to come to Friday Night Magic with a deck consisting of nothing but 60 basic lands, just for the laughs?

A: Neither the Universal Tournament Rules nor the Magic Floor Rules forbid you to make a deck as a joke. "Any number of basic lands" means just that - knock yourself out.

Funny story time! Back before Tenth rotated in and Dragonstorm was the scourge of the Standard scene, a player attended a Friday Night Magic with a tricked-out Dragonstorm deck... without any Dragons. His goal was to combo out, get four to six copies of Dragonstorm on the stack, and then see if his opponent would scoop before he fruitlessly searched his deck. I believe he won three matches this way before he was found out.




Q: You always say to call a judge if there's a problem, but we don't have a judge at our Friday Night Magic tournaments. Who should I call?

A: Call the judge. It is required that someone serve as a head judge at every sanctioned event - a neutral arbiter of disagreements who has the final say on rules issues. This person does not have to be a certified judge to be a judge, and does not necessarily have to walk around the floor with the standard appropriate judge presence, but there must be such a person present. If there is not, the tournament isn't even a valid sanctioned tournament and should be reported for investigation.




Q: Why is rule 211 blank? Would it be that much trouble to renumber them?

A: In a word, yes. Several resources refer to rules by the numbers, and the DCI Judge Center has a huge, huge number of questions that all use very precise rules citations. All of those would have to be changed - hundreds of manhours of work that are easily avoided by intentionally leaving the rule blank for now. Don't worry, sooner or later it'll grow up into a brand new rule.





Everything is indeed squishable.
Q: A 5/5 trampler smacks my planeswalker with two loyalty counters on it. Do I take 3 damage?

A: Nope. That creature isn't attacking you at all. It's way off to the side where your planeswalker has set up a little nest. Since the creature isn't attacking you, trample damage can't be assigned to you.




Q: My opponent controls an Elvish Handservant, and I play a Giant spell. He doesn't make a motion to add a counter; do I have to remind him that a trigger is on the stack?

A: Not at all! You're not required to help your opponent play the game, as long as you don't allow anything illegal to come to pass. Forgetting an optional trigger and thereby implicitly choosing not to use it is entirely legal, as evidenced by section 123 in the Penalty Guidelines.




Q: If my Birds of Paradise have deathtouch, will they kill things they block?

A: Only if your Birds get some power somehow. Unfortunately, perching on attackers and whitewashing their heads just doesn't count as dealing damage, as embarrassing and horrifying as it may be. In their natural state, the Birds just make blockers stop and clean themselves off, but don't deal any combat damage at all.




Q: Will Scion of Oona give Faerie Tauntings shroud? How would that work?

A: Sure, why couldn't noncreatures have shroud? Your Faerie enchantment just can't be the target of spells or abilities like Disenchant and Harmonic Sliver. Notice how the +1/+1 ability specifically references creatures; since the shroud ability only references "Faeries," it means any permanent with the subtype Faerie.




Q: Can I tap a creature with Springleaf Drum for mana as soon as I play it?

A: No. You have to wait until it resolves.

Once it's resolved and in play, you can tap it right away for the Drum. "Summoning sickness" only stops a creature from using abilities that use the tap symbol as a cost on that creature, and any ability that just has "tap an untapped creature" as a cost are fine to pay right away.




Q: Does Vesuvan Shapeshifter target? I thought it didn't, but the Grand Prix coverage said it did.

A: We've heard this question a whole lot. Vesuvan Shapeshifter does in fact not target; the coverage incorrectly describes how the rules work, and is most likely the result of the poor, overworked coverage team misunderstanding what the players were doing. But their job is to bring the news, not to interpret the rules, so cut them some slack - kudos to the coverage team for lots of awesome, thorough coverage!




Q: Chronozoa is, obviously, a blob. Can Neck Snap destroy it, since it has no neck?

A: Neck Snap forces a spine into it, and then snaps it, sending shards of sharp spinal slivers throughout the Chronozoa's tender flesh.

Or: Magic isn't always logical judging by art or flavor. It's the same way a Headless Horseman can wear a Helm of Kaldra (he puts it on his lap) or a Birds of Paradise can wield a Loxodon Warhammer (it carries it by the hatch).

Enjoy these goofy little disconnects from reality, but don't take them too seriously!




Q: I control Guile and my opponent plays Temporal Extortion. If I pay half my life, can I play the Extortion?

A: Nope. You made a choice that caused his spell to be countered, but he controlled the trigger that caused you to make that choice and actually countered the spell.

Now, if you played the Extortion with Guile in play, you'd get to play the Extortion again if your opponent didn't realize the evil combo and paid half his life. Sneaky, sneaky!




Q: Can I have Fiery Justice deal 2 damage to my opponent and 3 damage to that opponent's planeswalker?

A: The redirection effect that lets you damage a planeswalker instead of an opponent is all or nothing; you can't split up the damage during the redirection, and you can't target the player twice with two sets of damage.




That's all for this week. All you in the US, have a happy turkey day, and remember - red wine goes best with Angel meat, and Akroma does not have protection from red if you eat her.

Cooking her may be a bit of an issue, though.

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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