Cranial Insertion: Quizzing Phelddagrif

Cranial Insertion
Quizzing Phelddagrif

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

With States in the record books and a sealed PTQ season kicking off, Lorwyn is still on everyone’s mind. We’re getting lots of questions about Lorwyn cards in the CI mailbox, and we’re passing most of them on to you. This time, we’re going to cover cards new and old in the popular quiz show format! It’s been a few months (the Future Sight release) since we did one of these, and we know they’re always popular with you, our awesome readers. So this time, you get to read the question, look at the answers, and pick the right one. Think you can wear the zebra stripes of a DCI judge? Think you have the knowledge to be a Rules Advisor? This might help you find out.

After you’ve finished wracking your brain with these questions, send us your own! [email][email protected][/email] is the address. We’ll answer the question, and the odds are good that we’ll use it in a future column. And if it’s a future quiz show column, you might even get to answer it yourself!

Please take out your #2 pencils. Write your name and DCI number clearly at the top of the page. Fill in the circle completely, and do not color outside the line. Partial credit will not be given, but we’ll like you a little more if you laugh at the joke answers. Ready? Here we go!

Good: Can be used to collect creatures.
Bad: Only big enough to hold 1/1's.
Q1: My opponent uses his powers of Persuasion to take my Epochrasite. While he still controls it, it dies. When its last time counter is removed, do I get the Epochrasite, or does my opponent get it?

A. You get it. It began the game in your deck, and an opponent cannot play a card that you own.
B. You get it. Objects in the RFG zone have no controller, so the owner of the card will control the suspend triggers and play the spell.
C. The opponent gets it. He controlled the leaves-play trigger, so he controls the “play-me” trigger of suspend.
D. The opponent gets it. Epochrasite is the same object, so it “remembers” who controlled it last.
E. You get it if you point at something behind your opponent, then take the blasted card while he’s distracted.

B is the droid you’re looking for. Objects in it have no controllers. They do still have owners, though, and since it’s your Epochrasite, it will trigger at the beginning of your upkeep steps. When the last time counter is removed, you get to play the spell.

Q2: I control both Opalescence and Lucent Liminid. Is my Liminid a 5/5 or a 3/3?

A. A 5/5, because Opalescence affects creature enchantments just as well as noncreature enchantments, and changes P/T just the same.
B. A 5/5, but only if Opalescence came into play first; otherwise, the Liminid’s later timestamp means it remains a 3/3.
C. A 3/3, because it’s already a creature. Since Opalescence can’t add a type, its entire effect fails to apply.
D. A 3/3, but only if the Liminid came into play first.
E. You played Opalescence? DQ!

Nothing in the text of Opalescence says it doesn’t apply to creature enchantments. Thus, it will happily overwrite the Liminid’s printed P/T values with the values it likes better. You have a 5/5, and you have a right answer if you went with A.

Q3: I control Glen Elendra Pranksters. If I play a Pestermite during my opponent’s turn, can I return the Pestermite to my hand?

A. Yes. Pestermite is a creature you control.
B. Yes. Pestermite is in play when the Pranksters’ ability triggers.
C. No. Pranksters’ ability triggers when you play Pestermite, so the ‘Mite is still on the stack, not in play.
D. No. The Pestermite wasn’t in play when the ability triggered, so you can’t choose it when the ability resolves.
E. You can return it at any time, as long as you make a DC 20 Sleight of Hand check.

It’s C. The Pranksters’ ability triggers when you play the spell. Thus, it goes onto the stack on top of the Pestermite spell, and will resolve before the mighty ‘Mite ever comes into play.

Q4: What happens when I Momentary Blink a Shriekmaw I played with evoke? Let’s say I stacked the sacrifice trigger (which I’m trying to respond to with Blink) atop the destroy trigger and there are no responses from the opponent.

A. When Momentary Blink resolves, Shriekmaw is RFG’ed and returned to play. You get another destroy trigger. Since you played this spell with evoke originally, you also get another sacrifice trigger.
B. When Momentary Blink resolves, Shriekmaw is RFG’ed and returned to play. You don’t get another destroy trigger, since you didn’t play it from your hand. However, you do get another sacrifice trigger, since you played this Shriekmaw via evoke initially.
C. When Momentary Blink resolves, Shriekmaw is RFG’ed and returned to play. You get another destroy trigger. This Shriekmaw is a new object, and since you didn’t play it at all, there is no sacrifice trigger for evoke.
D. When Momentary Blink resolves, Shriekmaw is RFG’ed and returned to play. You get neither a destroy nor a sacrifice trigger, since you didn’t play Shriekmaw at all this time.
E. Your opponent is seven. He calls you a meanie, cries, and tears up your stupid Shriekmaw.

It’s C again. Shriekmaw comes back into play when Momentary Blink resolves. This is considered a brand new Shriekmaw, though, and since you didn’t play it at all, you couldn’t have played it with evoke. Thus, there’s no sacrifice trigger. Shriekmaw did come into play, though, so you get another destroy trigger.

Q5: How does Colfenor’s Plans interact with the Wishes that care about card type (Burning Wish, Cunning Wish, etc.) or color (Glitttering Wish)?

A. Not very well. The cards are face-down, so the game can’t determine which cards are which type or colors. You can get a random card from among this group with Death Wish, but that’s it.
B. Not very well. You can look at the cards normally, but not while another spell is on the stack, so you can only get a random card with Death Wish.
C. Colfenor’s Plans lets you look at the cards, so you can freely pick one that’s appropriate for whatever Wish you played.
D. Colfenor’s Plans lets you look at the cards, but you can’t use any Wish to get a face-down card, even if you’re allowed to look at it.
E. You have to have a death wish to play cards like Colfenor’s Plans. Ha ha ha, get it? What? Why are you looking at me like that?

Uh-oh, I sense a pattern! It’s C again. You’re normally not allowed to look at face-down cards, which makes most of the Wishes useless. Even Death Wish can only fetch you a random card from among a set of face-down ones. However, since Colfenor’s Plans lets you look at the cards, you can identify their characteristics, so you can Wish for them without losing half your life. Note that you do have to reveal the card you retrieve, so no shenanigans!

1UUU: Wreck you. What could
possibly be cryptic about that?
Q6: I control Eyes of the Wisent, and my opponent controls Guile. I play Mulldrifter, and he responds with Cryptic Command, choosing to counter a spell (Mulldrifter) and bounce a permanent (Eyes). How many Elementals will I end up with if he wants to play the Mulldrifter?

A. One. Your opponent can choose the order of the modes for Cryptic Command. If he chooses to bounce your Eyes first, then they won’t be in play when he plays your Mulldrifter via Guile.
B. One. Cryptic Command countering Mulldrifter triggers Guile. Eyes of the Wisent is bounced, then Guile’s triggered ability lets your opponent play Mulldrifter.
C. Two. Cryptic Command countering Mulldrifter triggers Guile. He has to play the spell right away, so the trigger goes on the stack immediately. Your opponent will play Mulldrifter before Eyes of the Wisent gets bounced.
D. Two. Cryptic Command countering Mulldrifter gets replaced by Guile removing it from the game and letting your opponent play it. This means Mulldrifter gets played before Eyes of the Wisent is bounced.
E. As many as you want, as long as you have a token to represent each one.

The pattern ends, as D rears its rounded head. Cryptic Command would normally counter Mulldrifter, but Guile has a replacement effect. That changes the first part of Cryptic Command from “Counter Mulldrifter” to “RFG Mulldrifter, then you can play it.” (The answer of two does presume your opponent will play the Mulldrifter that Guile removed - he can choose not to.) Before Eyes of the Wisent goes back to your hand, it will see two blue spells played by your opponent: Cryptic Command and Mulldrifter. Two spells, two triggers, two tokens.

Q7: I play Wren’s Run Packmaster with just one other Elf in play. In response to the Packmaster spell, my opponent kills that Elf. Can I use the Packmaster’s ability to make Wolf tokens before I have to sacrifice it?

A. Yes. Champion is a triggered ability and can be responded to normally.
B. Yes. You have priority to play spells and abilities before champion triggers.
C. No. You must resolve the champion trigger before you can play other spells and abilities.
D. No. Because you can’t champion an Elf, you can’t use the Packmaster’s ability.
E. Yes, but only if you howl like a wolf under an eerie full moon. Aarrrooooooooooo!

Champion is a triggered ability. It goes onto the stack when you play a creature that has the ability, and both players can respond to it normally. Thus, the answer is A.

Q8: My opponent plays Phage the Untouchable, and I Delay it. When he plays it off of suspend, will he lose the game?

A. No. The game knows this Phage was originally played from his hand.
B. No. Phage isn’t actually played when the last time counter is removed, so the ability won’t trigger.
C. Yes. Phage was played from the RFG zone.
D. Yes. State-based effects will see that Phage was not played from his hand.
E. Yes, because Phage = bad touching.

Phage loves touching people in mean ways and even poisoning their drinks! A rapscallion like that will delight in making you lose the game, especially when you play her from the RFG zone, which is what you’re doing when the last time counter is removed. C is popular today.

Q9: I have Purity in play; my opponent has Hostility. He Incinerates me. What happens?

A. It depends whose turn it is. If it’s your opponent’s turn, Hostility applies before Purity, so he gets some tokens.
B. It depends whose turn it is. If it’s your opponent’s turn, the APNAP rule means Purity will apply and prevent the damage (and gain you 3 life).
C. It doesn’t matter whose turn it is. Your opponent played Incinerate, which means Hostility, as his permanent, always triggers first.
D. It doesn’t matter whose turn it is. You have competing replacement effects trying to modify Incinerate’s 3 damage. Pick one.
E. The power of purity can quell hostility for only so long. Then hostility will reign supreme, but it must eventually cow before purity. Thus, the game enters a loop on philosophical grounds.

Both Hostility and Purity have prevention effects, and both are trying to modify the 3 damage that Incinerate wants to deal. Since you’re the one under the gun, you get to pick which one applies. Unless you’ve just taken a nasty blow to the head, you’ll certainly choose to apply Purity’s effect. Since the Incinerate damage will be prevented, Hostility’s effect can no longer apply. D was the right answer.

Q10: Do cards like Propaganda make my opponent pay 2 mana to attack one of my planeswalkers?

A. No. Your opponent chooses to attack you or a planeswalker you control, and only pays 2 mana if he attacks you.
B. No. Your opponent attacks, and after attackers are declared, decides which creatures attack you or your planeswalker.
C. Yes. Any creature declared as an attacker will incur the payment of :2mana:.
D. Yes. Creatures start out attacking you, so even if the opponent changes that to a planeswalker, he still had to pay :2mana:.
E. Yes. Volrath is fluent in all languages, so he can whisper mean things to your creatures no matter what.

A is for answer, as in the correct answer. When your opponent is declaring attackers, he declared then and there, for each creature, whether a creature is attacking you or one of your planeswalkers. Propaganda doesn’t care if your planeswalkers get drubbed in combat.

Q11: My opponent plays an X spell... let’s say it was Blaze. If I have some way to flash in Gaddock Teeg, will that effectively counter the Blaze?

A. Yes. Teeg will see the X spell on the stack, and since it can’t be played, it will fail to resolve and go to the graveyard.
B. No. Teeg has no effect on spells played before it came into play.
C. Yes. Teeg will see the X spell on the stack, and since it can’t be played, it will leave the stack and be removed from the game.
D. No. Teeg’s ability only applies if it was in play at the start of the turn.
E. Yes, because kithkin get a bonus to their reflex saves.

Gaddock Teeg, like Meddling Mage and Teferi before him, is not a counterspell. Once an X spell or noncreature spell with CMC 4+ has been played, Teeg can’t do anything to stop it if he comes into play afterward. The spell has been announced and put onto the stack at that point, which is far too late for Teeg’s ability to matter. B was the answer.

Q12: Can Smokebraider’s mana ability be used to play a face-down Elemental creature?

A. No. You have to use Smokebraider’s mana ability before you get a chance to decide if you’re playing the creature face-down.
B. Yes. It’s an Elemental spell, even if it’s face-down.
C. Yes. You choose the card you’re going to play when you use Smokebraider’s ability, and the game knows that was an Elemental.
D. No. When you turn the card face-down, it has no creature type, so Smokebraider’s mana can’t be used.
E. No, because smoke isn’t an element. Neither are 99.5% of things that supposedly make up “elementals” in Magic, for that matter.

When you play a card face down, turning it face down and making it a very generic creature spell are the first things you do. It becomes so generic that it’s no longer an Elemental, meaning Smokebraider’s mana ability can’t help you pay for it. No matter what the card says on it, when you play it face down, it's just a generic spell. D was the right answer.

Rule 502.26b says, in part:
502.26b To play a card using its morph ability, turn it face down. It becomes a 2/2 face-down creature card, with no text, no name, no subtypes, no expansion symbol, and no mana cost. Any effects or prohibitions that would apply to playing a card with these characteristics (and not the face-up card’s characteristics) are applied to playing this card.

Puny human! Where are Twinkies!?!
Q13: Under which of the following circumstances does a Tarmogoyf die? (Choose all that apply.)

A. A 2/3 Tarmogoyf is targeted with Incinerate. There are no instants in any graveyards.
B. A 1/2 Tarmogoyf is targeted with Tarfire. There is one instant in a graveyard, but no tribals.
C. A 1/2 Tarmogoyf, enchanted with Regeneration, blocks Moonglove Winnower. Tarmogoyf’s controller has green mana available.
D. A 3/4 Tarmogoyf is targeted with Psionic Blast. There is already an instant in a graveyard. However, the Psionic Blast player responds by using Withered Wretch to remove that instant. The ‘Goyf’s controller then sacrifices Moonglove Extract to kill the Wretch. There was already a creature in a graveyard, but no artifacts.
E. As above, except that there was already an artifact in a graveyard.
F. A 3/4 Tarmogoyf is in play when Wildfire is cast. The lands sacrificed will be the first cards of that type in any graveyard.
G. A 1/2 Tarmogoyf is targeted with Char. In response, its controller sacrifices an “animated” Blinkmoth Nexus to his Arcbound Ravager. There are no creatures, artifacts, or lands in any graveyard before that happens.
H. Nuclear holocaust, when Tarmogoyfs will fight off Giant Cockroaches to eat all the Twinkies that remain.

Let’s go over them all, shall we?

A. ‘Goyf will be 3/4 when Incinerate resolves, and will thus survive the 3 damage. State-based effects aren't checked until after Incinerate has completely resolved and gone to the graveyard. By then, Tarmogoyf will have gotten the +1/+1 boost.
B. ‘Goyf will be 2/3 when Tarfire resolves, and will thus survive the 2 damage.
C. Dead ‘Goyf! Tarmogoyf is dying for two reasons here: combat damage and deathtouch. Regeneration can stop one of those destruction events from happening, but with just green mana open, not both.
D. ‘Goyf starts out as a 3/4. Then he shrinks to 2/3 when the instant is removed. Then he becomes 3/4 again when Moonglove Extract hits the graveyard. Finally, he’s a 4/5 when Psionic Blast becomes the lone instant in any graveyard. Verdict: ‘Goyf lives.
E. This time, the ‘Goyf is dead. Moonglove Extract hitting the graveyard doesn’t mean anything, so ‘Goyf is still a 2/3. Psionic Blast getting binned makes him a 3/4 with 4 damage on him. Verdict: dead ‘Goyf.
F. Just like a 4/4 Magnivore with four sorceries in the graveyard survives a Wilfdire, so does Tarmogoyf in this case. A land hitting the ‘yard makes ‘Goyf a 4/5, and the 4 damage from Wildfire is not enough to finish him.
G. Blinkmoth Nexus is an artifact creature land when it’s “animated.” When it’s sitting in the graveyard, though, it’s just a land. A 2/3 Tarmogoyf dies to Char like it’s his job.
H. Neither nuclear holocaust nor Giant Cockroaches can kill a Tarmogoyf. All the creatures, lands, instants, sorceries, artifacts, and tribals in the graveyard after a nuclear holocaust means there will be a lot of fat Tarmogoyfs running around.

Q14: The spells flew fast and furious one game, and a Simic Signet that I had Naturalized never made it to the graveyard. It wasn’t until the next turn, when my opponent played a Simic Sky Swallower, needing the mana from that Signet, that we both noticed what had happened. What would a judge do here, presuming there’s no cheating?

A. The Signet should have been destroyed. This is an illegal game state. The Signet player gets a game loss, while the Naturalize player gets a warning for Game Play Error: Failure to Maintain Game State.
B. The Signet should have been destroyed, so destroy it. Return the Sky Swallower to the Signet player’s hand. Warnings for both players.
C. The Signet should have been destroyed, so destroy it. Leave the Sky Swallower in play, since it was legally cast. Warnings for both players.
D. The Signet should have been destroyed, but it wasn’t. The current game state isn’t technically correct, but there’s nothing illegal about it, either. Leave things as they are. Warnings for both players.
E. The Signet should have been destroyed, but it wasn’t. The current game state is damaged as a result. Leave the Signet in play, but put the Sky Swallower back in its owner’s hand. Warnings for both players.
F. Give each player a sword and have them settle the dispute like real men! (Complete with frilly, poofy shirts and powdered wigs.)

Under the old Penalty Guidelines, any of these might have been viable answers. With the move to the new Penalty Guide, the aim of the DCI is consistency. Before, judges made a lot more judgment calls, so the same situation could get handled differently on consecutive weekends. That might be OK if you’re a savvy enough judge to make those judgments, but it sucks if you’re the player involved. “Why was this same situation ruled the opposite way last weekend?” you may ask. And that would be a very valid question.

Situations like this can’t be covered specifically in the Penalty Guide. All judges can do is use the philosophy of infractions and penalties, with the goal of a consistent approach, to handle the mess. In cases like this, it’s very easy to think the game state is “broken” in some way. After all, there’s an artifact that should be in the graveyard, and a very large creature that is only in play because that artifact never made it to the graveyard. What’s illegal about the game state, though? Are there any creatures which are lethally damaged? Any enchantments hanging around on things they’re not supposed to be enchanting? While this game state isn’t technically right, it’s certainly legal, and both players let it get to this point.

Thus, judges will apply state-based effects (there are none here, but applying SBEs cleans up game states which are actually illegal), issue the appropriate penalties, and move on. Yes, this means that you’re now staring down a flying 6/6 untargetable monster, all because you didn’t notice that the Signet you Naturalized went to the graveyard. That’s unfortunate, but it’s also a very good reminder that you need to pay attention when you play Magic. D was the answer.

All of this would happen after an investigation, of course, to make sure there was no cheating involved. Dishonesty changes the infractions significantly.

And that brings this edition of CI to a close. How did you do on the quiz? If you got 10 right, then you got just over 70%. If you got 12, 13, or 14 right, I would recommend that you look into becoming a certified judge, or at least a Rules Advisor. Experienced judges can teach novices many things, but a strong foundation in rules knowledge is not easily taught. That’s something you need to develop on your own first. If you’re interested in learning more about being a judge, then visit this page.

Next week: The Phelddagrif stops quizzing and resumes Questing.

A final note: Today (Monday) is the observance of Veterans Day in America. If you're reading this and you're a current or former member of the United States Armed Forces, then we thank you for your service.

~Tom Fowler


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