Cranial Insertion: Law and Disorder: Special Rules Unit

Cranial Insertion
Law and Disorder: Special Rules Unit
or, You Don't Want To Get Sued, Do Ye?

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

In the Magic rules system, some questions are considered especially heinous. At MTG Salvation, the dedicated writers who investigate these questions are members of an elite team known as the Cranial Insertion writers. These are their answers.


Q: What happens to Nacatl War-Pride if there is a Dueling Grounds in play? Does the fact that the tokens come into play tapped and attacking override the “no more than one creature can attack” rule?

A: When an effect says that creatures “can’t attack,” it really means those creatures can’t be declared as attackers. (The same holds true for “can’t block” effects and declaring blockers.) If an effect causes a creature to become an attacker or blocker without being declared, such as that of the War-Pride, these effects are circumvented.

Q: If there is a Firemane Angel in play with a +1/+1 counter on it, and an Experiment Kraj in a graveyard, can the owner of the Kraj pay 6WWRR during his upkeep and return it to play?

A: No. Abilities printed on cards with permanent types (land, creature, artifact, or enchantment) are only applicable when they’re in play. A Kraj in your graveyard can’t inherit abilities from creatures in play.

EXTRA: There are some exceptions to that rule, which is Rule 402.8:

1) Characteristic-defining abilities (ex. Tarmogoyf)

2) The ability specifies what zone(s) it works in (ex. Bridge from Below)

3) An ability that modifies the spell’s play cost functions on the stack. (ex. Rakavolver’s kicker)

4) An ability that restricts or modifies how a spell can be played functions everywhere. (ex. Haakon, Stromgald Scourge)

5) An ability that modifies how a permanent enters play functions as it’s entering play. (ex. Clone)

6) An activated ability with a cost that can’t be paid while the permanent is in play functions from anywhere its cost could be paid. (ex. Simian Spirit Guide)

Q: I was wondering, if I have a Sleeper Agent in play under my opponent's control can I play a Clone in order to get another one in play on my opponent's side, or will it come under my control and damage me during my upkeep?

A: The decision on which creature to Clone is made as it’s entering play. So when the creature enters play, it’s already a Sleeper Agent with the control-changing triggered ability, and you can hand it off to your opponent.

Q: Can you could respond to the token-making triggered ability of your opponent’s Bridge From Below by sacrificing a creature (say a Ravenous Baloth or whatever), causing the Bridge to be removed and no tokens be generated? Or, since the ability already triggered, does it resolve and create tokens?

A: When a triggered ability has an intervening-if clause, two things happen differently from plain old triggered abilities:

1) If the clause isn't true at the time the ability would trigger, it doesn't trigger.
2) If the clause isn't true at the time the ability would resolve, it resolves without effect.

So if you were to wait until the "token-generating" ability of your opponent's Bridge were on the stack, then somehow got a creature into your graveyard, the "remove" ability would trigger and go on the stack on top of the token ability. The remove ability would resolve and remove the Bridge from the game, then the token ability would try to resolve, see that the Bridge is no longer in the graveyard, and do nothing.

EXTRA: The rule for intervening-if clauses is Rule 404.3:
404.3. A triggered ability may read “When/Whenever/At . . . , if [condition], [effect].” The ability checks for the stated condition to be true when the trigger event occurs. If it is, the ability triggers. On resolution, the ability rechecks the condition. If the condition isn’t true at either of those times, the ability does nothing. This rule is referred to as the “intervening ‘if’ clause” rule. Note that the word “if” has only its normal English meaning anywhere else in the text of a card; this rule only applies to an “if” that immediately follows a trigger condition.

Q: In a multiplayer game, I have a 5/5 Vulturous Zombie in play, and one opponent has a 1/1 creature in play and is at 3 life. I play a Sulfurous Blast during my main phase dealing 3 damage to all creatures and players. Does my Zombie get a +1/+1 counter for his creature going into the graveyard, or does he die "too fast" for that to happen?

A: There are indeed two state-based effects here whose conditions become true during the resolution of the Sulfurous Blast: a player with 0 or less life, and a creature with damage equal to or greater than its toughness (a.k.a. lethal damage). Per Rule 420.3, when multiple state-based effects are pending, they resolve as a single event. Therefore, the creature goes into the opponent's graveyard at the same time he loses the game, then before state-based effects are checked again, the player and all objects he owns are removed from the game. So yes, the Vulturous Zombie will still get its counter.

Q:I have three untapped Grizzly Bears in play while my opponent has two of them in play. During my combat phase, I attack with two of them and my opponent uses both of his Grizzly Bears to block them. If I play Wrap in Vigor, will my other bear be tapped as well?

A: This question goes to the definition of regeneration, which we can find in Rule 419.6b:
419.6b Regeneration is a destruction-replacement effect. The word “instead” doesn’t appear on the card but is implicit in the definition of regeneration. “Regenerate [permanent]” means “The next time [permanent] would be destroyed this turn, instead remove all damage from it, tap it, and (if it’s in combat) remove it from combat.” Abilities that trigger from damage being dealt still trigger even if the permanent regenerates.

As we can see from this definition, the creature doesn't tap until "the next time it would be destroyed this turn." So unless something happens that would normally cause the third bear to be destroyed, it will remain untapped.

Q: If I control Mirror Gallery, Coat of Arms, and two Mistform Ultimus, how big is each Ultimus?

A: We've been seeing this question or variations on it quite a bit recently, especially with the upcoming "Changeling" keyword in Lorwyn that will allow non-legendary creatures to have this ability.

The answer is: not nearly as large as you'd like. When Coat of Arms grants its bonus, it only counts creatures which share at least one creature type, not how many creature types each creature shares. So if the two Ultimi are the only two creatures in play, they will each only get +1/+1.

Q:I cast Tendrils of Agony after playing five other spells this turn. My opponent responds with Fork. Does my opponent get additional copies of Tendrils?
A: Storm is an ability that triggers when the spell it's printed on is played, as defined in Rule 502.30a:
502.30a Storm is a triggered ability that functions on the stack. “Storm” means “When you play this spell, put a copy of it onto the stack for each other spell that was played before it this turn. If the spell has any targets, you may choose new targets for any of the copies.”

Cards like Fork, Twincast, Reiterate and the like create copies of the targeted spell and put them on the stack. The copies are not "played," so they won't trigger Storm. The net effect is that your opponent will gain 2 life and you'll lose 2 life, then (assuming that wasn't enough to put you at 0 or less life), you will have six effects each causing you to gain two life and your opponent to lose two.

Q: I have multiple suspended spells due to be played next turn when my opponent puts an Arcane Laboratory into play. What will happen at the beginning of my upkeep?
A: Per Rule 502.59a:
502.59a Suspend is a keyword that represents three abilities. The first is a static ability that functions while the card with suspend is in a player’s hand. The second and third are triggered abilities that function in the removed-from-the-game zone. “Suspend N—[cost]” means “If you could play this card from your hand, you may pay [cost] and remove it from the game with N time counters on it. This action doesn’t use the stack,” and “At the beginning of your upkeep, if this card is suspended, remove a time counter from it,” and “When the last time counter is removed from this card, if it’s removed from the game, play it without paying its mana cost if able. If you can’t, it remains removed from the game. If you play a creature spell this way, it gains haste until you lose control of the spell or the permanent it becomes.”
The third ability of Suspend instructs you to play the spell. Since Arcane Lab restricts you to playing one spell a turn, you'll have to be careful in how you stack the "remove a counter" triggered abilities of suspend. The first such ability to resolve will cause a "play that spell" ability to go on the stack, and when you resolve it, you'll be able to play that spell. All the other spells coming out of suspension will be unplayable, and will remain removed from the game.

Q: If I have a Djinn Illuminatus in play, and I play a Pact of the Titan, can I receive infinite giants?
A: Not infinite (as "infinite" doesn't have any meaning in Magic), but you can certainly get a very large number. Djinn Illuminatus will give the Pact a replicate cost of 0, which is usually a very easy cost to pay. When you play the Pact, simply name a number of times you want to pay the replicate cost, and you'll get that many additional giants.
Of course, you'll also have to pay 4R for each giant you created in your next upkeep if you don't want to lose the game.
EXTRA: This trick only works on instants and sorceries with a printed mana cost of 0. "Costless" spells like Evermind or Ancestral Vision have a nonexistent mana cost and therefore a nonexistent replicate cost, and nonexistent costs can't be paid.

Q: If I play Twincast targeting my Exhaustion, will my opponent skip his next two untap steps?
A: It's a common misconception that Exhaustion causes the targeted opponent to skip his next untap step. This isn't what Exhaustion really does. Its text is:
Creatures and lands target opponent controls don't untap during his or her next untap step.

This doesn't cause any step or phase to be skipped; it simply modifies what happens during the target opponent's untap step. (Note that any permanent that isn't a creature or land that opponent controls still untaps normally.)
Therefore, Twincasting an Exhaustion will cause the opponent's next untap step to be modified twice in exactly the same way, and will have no additional effect.

Stay tuned next week for Judge Fowler's bench report from the Lorwyn prerelease!


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