Cranial Insertion: Lorwyn Looms Large

Cranial Insertion
Lorwyn Looms Large

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Another week, another CI – and plenty more questions plucked from our overflowing mailbox. Lorwyn has been a popular set in the weeks since it debuted, and along with that popularity comes a barrage of rules questions! We’ll get to those today, and we might even be able to fit in a few questions not related to Lorwyn.

Your questions, about any set, can be sent to [email][email protected][/email]. Not only do you get your question answered, but there’s a really good chance we’ll use it in a future column. The more you send us, the less work we have to do!

On a site note, MTGS has been having server problems of late. A few hours before our normal publication time, they seem to be fixed so let's hope they stay that way. We want these articles to be read by knowledge-hungry Magic players, not an audience of malfunctioning ones and zeros. (Especially since we can’t decipher the questions they send us . . . “011011 01011 01111 01101 11001 10101 10110 01010 11110 01011 10011 00100 00001 10000 10111 00100 11001 01001 00000 01100 00101 11011 10110 01010 11100 11011 011110 110110 101100 101?” isn’t really something we can use, even once Ted deciphers it.

There is a technical difficulty with attachments, though, which means we'll have to re-use old images. To compensate for this, the captions will be extra random.

Let’s shake the mailbag and see what falls out.

Behold my swirl of toothpaste!
Q: I have Gaddock Teeg in play, and my opponent tries to play Flametongue Kavu

A: Let me stop you there. Gaddock Teeg forbids noncreature spells of CMC 4 or greater from being played. We answered a question like this a couple weeks ago, but based on questions I’ve gotten at events and heard from players, it’s still a source of confusion. FTK, Shriekmaw, Nekrataal . . . there are other similar creatures out there, and all of them are quite effective at sending Teeg to the big kithkin retirement home in the sky.

Q: If I play Conspiracy, does it change the creature types on tribal spells?

A: Nope. Conspiracy affects creatures you control, and creature cards you own that aren’t in play. Tribal cards, while they have creature types, are not creatures, and thus aren’t susceptible to any conspiracy theories.

Q: Suppose my opponent has an Oona's Prowler in play and I have a Dodecapod in my hand. Can I pitch the Dodecapod to give the prowler -2/-0 until end of turn and still get a 5/5 'pod? I guess the real question is whether I control the ability because I activated it, or if my opponent controls the ability because he controls the prowler.

A: Your Dodecapod will stay dead in this case. Oona’s Prowler is your opponent’s permanent, but you control the ability of it when you activate it. Because you’re discarding Dodecapod to an ability you control (and as a cost to that, no less!), your ‘Pod won’t get to come back.

Q: I have Pandemonium in play and am at 2 life. My opponent has an empty board and an arbitrary amount of life. He clashed into Sudden Shock last turn. If I play Hostility, Pandemonium triggers, then Hostility triggers and makes 3/1 elemental shamans, but then Pandemonium triggers again . . . does this lead to an infinite loop (and therefore a draw?)

A: No loop for you. Hostility only cares about spells you control dealing damage. Pandemonium’s ability has creatures deal damage. Even though you can deal 6 to your opponent when you play Hostility, Hostility won’t trigger off of that, since there was no spell dealing damage.

Q: Does champion target? So could I champion a Scryb Ranger with Mistbind Clique?

A: Champion does not target. The ability goes onto the stack, and you choose a creature to remove when it resolves. This means it’s perfectly legal for you to remove Scryb Ranger with Mistbind Clique’s champion ability.

Bonus: The only spells and abilities which target will explicitly say they do; the exception is Aura spells on the stack, which target the object to which you’re trying to attach them.

Monkeys are awesome!
Q: Would Scryb Ranger gain the bonuses from Scion of Oona if I had both in play?

A: Sure. Protection doesn’t factor into things here. Protection does four things, which we commonly abbreviate DEBT. A permanent with protection from ~foo~ cannot be:


By ~foo~ spells and abilities from ~foo~ sources. Scion of Oona is happy to share its perks with Scryb Ranger, even if they never can quite connect on a high five.

Bonus: A permanent with protection from ~foo~ also can’t have ~foo~ fortifications attached to it. But there’s no F in DEBT, though the whole thing could be arranged to spell BE DEFT (blocked, enchanted, damaged, equipped, fortified, targeted.) DEBT is a classic mnemonic, but if fortifications keep getting printed, it might be time to say that protection allows you to BE DEFT.

Q: What happens when a Sower of Temptation gains control of another Sower of Temptation? For example, I have Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir in play and my opponent plays Sower of Temptation, targeting it. On my turn I play Sower of Temptation targeting his Sower of Temptation. Who would control Teferi after that?

A: That’s a lot of temptation being sown! Sower of Temptation’s triggered ability gives you control of the target creature so long as that Sower remains in play. It doesn’t have to remain in play under your control. In this case, your opponent will keep your Teferi. You control his Sower, but the control effect that gives him control of your Teferi is still active. If you want Teferi back, you’ll have to sow some temptation his way.

Q: Let's say I have a Planeswalker in play, along with Rings of Brighthearth. Does this mean that when I use Jace Barelan's ability to mill my opponent for 20, or Ajani Goldmane's to give all my creatures +1/+1 counters, I can simply pay 2 mana to copy the ability? Furthermore, can I keep doubling the effect from Rings of Brighthearth as long as I have the mana, or is it a one-time copy only?

A: Yes, you can pay 2 mana to copy the activated ability of any Planeswalker with Rings of Brighthearth. When you activate the Planeswalker’s ability, Rings triggers. When that trigger resolves, you get the option to pay 2 mana to copy the ability. It is, however, a choice that you get only one time. You can’t pay 4 mana to get a second copy of the ability.

I am the walrus!
Q: If I use Rings of Brighthearth to copy Brion Stoutarm’s ability, do I have to sacrifice an additional creature?

A: Nope. When you make a copy of a spell or ability, you don’t need to pay any of the costs of the original spell or ability. This is a good thing, since you couldn’t tap Brion again without a lot of help. When the copy resolves, it will deal damage, and cause you to gain life, based on the power of the creature you originally sacrificed.

Q: If I have a Furnace of Rath in play, does it double just the damage of a Fodder Launch or both effects of Fodder Launch?

A: Furnace of Rath will only double the damage dealt by Fodder Launch. Effects like -X/-X to a creature are never considered damage, so they won’t be affected. Furnace of Rath makes Goblins no better at launching themselves at others.

Q: Can I target a non-targeted spell, like Tidings, with Wild Ricochet so I can get the effect as well?

A: Sure. While there’s no target to be changed, you can still copy the spell. In this case, you’ll get a copy of Tidings, and since Tidings doesn’t target, both you and your opponent will draw 4 cards. Compare Wild Ricochet to Shunt: Shunt specifies that it must target a spell with a single target. Wild Ricochet only targets an instant or sorcery spell, of the targeted persuasion or not.

Q: Can I use Wild Ricochet to effectively "counter" a Counterspell by both redirecting the Counterspell to target the Wild Ricochet and using the copy I get to counter the original Counterspell?

A: Either option will work. Counterspell will get countered if the copy you make targets the original, and it will get countered upon resolution if you change the target of the original to Wild Ricochet.

Q: I play a Shock, and my opponent casts Wild Ricochet targeting it. What happens if I cast Wild Ricochet targeting my opponent's Wild Ricochet?

A: Then you can change his Wild Ricochet and make it target yours. His Ricochet will be countered on resolution, and he won't get any copies of anything. Hah!

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Q: I control a Deadwood Treefolk and a Dauntless Dourbark. My opponent plays Damnation. Can I return the Dourbark using the Deadwood's ability?

A: Yes. Deadwood Treefolk’s triggered ability won’t go onto the stack until after Damnation has resolved. At that time, Dauntless Dourbark is in the graveyard and is thus a legal target for the ability.

Q: If I use Deathrender’s ability to put a Force of Savagery into play, will it survive?

A: Yes. When Deathrender’s triggered ability resolves, you choose a creature card in your hand, put that card into play, and then attach Deathrender to it. This is all happening while the ability is resolving, so state-based effects have to sit around and wait for the ability to finish. By the time Deathrender is finished resolving and state-based effects are being checked, the normally-8/0 Force of Savagery is a 10/2 and remains in play.

And now, we turn the floor over to some non-Lorwyn questions. . . .

Q: What happens when I play Kaervek's Purge on a face-down Zoetic Cavern? I know that the cost to play the Purge is (0)BR, but does the Purge then deal 2 damage to the Cavern's controller, or 0 damage?

A: Kaervek’s Purge refers to “that creature’s power.” Since creatures only exist in play, we know it’s referring to the creature as it last existed while in play. Because of that, your opponent is taking 2 damage.

Q: My opponent casts Assassinate on my Platinum Angel, and in response, I play Twitch to untap it. Does it still die?

A: The Angel will survive. Targeted spells check the legality of their targets twice: when they are initially played, and when they are about to resolve. The Angel was a legal target at the time Assassinate was played, since it was tapped. However, she became twitchy and untapped, and when Assassinate checked again, it found the Angel was no longer a legal target. Assassinate will be countered upon resolution.

Q: If I play a nongreen multicolored spell with a Quirion Dryad in play, does it get two +1+1 counters?

A: How many spells did you play? That’s what the Dryad wants to know – it counts spells, not their colors. Whenever you play a spell with :symw:, :symu:. :symb:, or :symr: in the cost, even if all of them were present, the Dryad sees only one spell, and its ability triggers only one time.

CI bunny does not like server problems!
Q: Chromatic Sphere is the only card I can find that has a mana ability on the same line as another ability (drawing the card). I assume it's considered a mana ability when using it, and the effect of drawing the card does not hit the stack?

A: Yes, Chromatic Sphere is a mana ability. In the past, some wacky things have happened because the card is drawn as part of the mana ability. Thus, we got the “fixed” version of it in Chromatic Star, which doesn’t have the same baggage attached to it.

Q: So you could lower an affinity cost, and pay for the spell with the Chromatic Sphere (or Star) as well?

A: Yes. Affinity is a cost reducer, and the number of artifacts is counted when you’re figuring out the cost of the spell. Once that cost has been determined, it is “locked in” and won’t change. So if you have a board of Vault of Whispers, Darksteel Citadel, Chromatic Star, and Arcbound Worker, you can still play Thoughtcast. First, you announce it and put it onto the stack. Since it doesn’t have a mode or targets, we can skip ahead to how much it costs. Thoughtcast normally costs 4U, but we have to apply cost increasers and cost reducers to that. There are no increasers here, and with four artifacts in play, you get to save 15% on your car insurance 4 mana on Thoughcast, leaving its final cost at a mere :symu:.

“Oh no!” you think, “I don’t have any Blue mana!” Not to worry. Now that the cost has been locked in, you can play mana abilities. This means you can sacrifice Chromatic Star (or Sphere), gain the blue mana you were heretofore lacking, and pay for Thoughtcast.

That’s all we have for this week. Next week: the MTGS server is officially given errata to have suspend. Frown

-Tom Fowler


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