Cranial Insertion: Love's Labor Days Lost

Cranial Insertion
Love's Labor Days Lost

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Welcome to another CI that's just dripping with knowledge and fun. This week, we're shaking out the mailbag again, so keep the questions coming. Today is Labor Day in the US, a holiday we share with our Canadian neighbors to the north (though they call it "Labour Day" and would probably prefer to be called our "neighbours tou the nourth"). To the rest of the world, happy Monday, and doesn't it suck to have to go to work today? Cool

The CI mailbag at [email][email protected][/email] has been bustling in recent weeks. We like that—both the fact that the mailbag is hopping and the word "bustling." As this column has carved out a larger niche for itself in its two-plus years online, the volume of the mailbag has grown right along with it. So thanks for sending us your questions, and keep them coming. This way, you're doing half the work for us!

Let's see what Magical questions we got this week...

Q: If a Ghitu Encampment is destroyed while it's a creature, does the Bridge from Below in the opponent's graveyard get removed from the game?

A: That bridge leads right to the removed from game zone. Zone-change triggers "look back in time" to just before the event triggered. The animated Encampment went to the graveyard as a creature, even though it reverts to being just a land once it's there. That's enough for Bridge from Below to pack it in, though.

Q: If I have Abundance in play and have managed to get all lands out of my deck. Can I effectively stack my deck on the next turn by choosing "land" and then, upon not finding any, decide the order of my deck, therefore stacking my deck?

A: Stacking your deck feels like cheating, and it usually is, but this is one time you can legally do it. When you choose "land" with Abundance, you're not going to find any. You then get to put all the revealed nonland cards back on the bottom of your library, and you can do this in any order without revealing the order to your opponent. You have now effectively stacked your deck, and can choose "nonland" to replace future draws and get the cards you want.

217.2d If an effect puts two or more cards on the top or bottom of a library at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order. That library's owner doesn't reveal the order in which the cards go into his or her library.

Placed by The Gobleons
Q: If I play Goblin Lore while I have Abundance in play and replace all of the draws, will I still have to discard for the Lore?

A: You will. Goblin Lore doesn't care that you replaced the draws with Abundance. That seems very goblin-like, doesn't it? You draw four cards, or replace some number of draws with Abundance, and then you discard three cards.

Bonus: Compare Goblin Lore to Read the Runes, which says, "For each card drawn this way..." Read the Runes won't count any draws you replace with Abundance; you'll only discard or sacrifice for cards you actually drew.

Q: Say I've played Nostalgic Dreams, removing two cards.

A: I've played Nostalgic Dreams, removing two cards.

Q: What?

A: You told me to say it.

Q: Wow, who does that? Anyway, suppose I the Twincast the Dreams—do I get one that returns two cards from my grave or one that does squat?

A: You get two cards back. When you copy a spell, the value of X is a known quantity and is a copiable value.

503.10. To copy a spell means to put a copy of the spell onto the stack; a copy of a spell isn't "played." In addition to copying the characteristics of the spell, all decisions made when the spell was played are copied. These include mode, targets, the value of X, and optional additional costs such as buyback.

Q: Say my opponent wanted to kill two 1/1's and a Gossamer Phantasm with his Electrolyze. Is he allowed to target the Phantasm for 0 damage while dealing 1 to each 1/1? Precisely which rule in the CR governs these situations?

A: No, he isn't allowed to do that. If you're dividing something, like damage, among several targets, then you have to assign at least 1 to each target. You can't target something for 0 damage off a spell like Electrolyze, even if the rest of your targets are declared (and damaged divided) correctly. The rule that governs this is 409.1e, which says:

409.1e If the spell or ability affects several targets in different ways, the player announces how it will affect each target. If the spell or ability requires the player to divide or distribute an effect (such as damage or counters) among one or more targets, or any number of untargeted objects or players, the player announces the division. Each of these targets, objects, or players must receive at least one of whatever is being divided.

Blood, death, vengeance... and tokens?!
Q: I control a Varchild's War Riders enchanted with Custody Battle and I stack the triggers so that Custody Battle's effect goes on top of the War-Riders'. If I choose to have an opponent gain control of the War-Riders, how does its cumulative upkeep trigger resolve?

A: Rather messily. Your opponent will gain control of Varchild's War-Riders. Then the cumulative upkeep trigger resolves. You controlled it when it went on the stack, and you still control it now, even though you no longer control the War-Riders. You can choose to pay it, in which case you'll be giving your opponent some more tokens. Or you can choose not to pay it, but the War-Riders can't be sacrificed now, since you no longer control them.

Q: If I play Coalition Victory in a Grand Melee game, does it do what it is supposed to?

A: Meaning, does it make you win the game? Well... sort of. The rules don't support Grand Melee very well at this point, but this is how it was ruled during the big Grand Melee game at GenCon: if you play Coalition Victory, all other players in your range of influence (ROI) lose the game. If you're playing with a group that doesn't use ROI, you'll have to come up with a mutually-agreeable solution. One method is to change it to make a single target opponent lose the game. Another is to ban "you win" cards in your group.

Q: I have a Patagia Viper and one of its tokens, and I play Biorhythm. My opponent responds by sacrificing lands to get his Greater Gargadon into play. He ends up with 3 life, and I attack through with my flying snake for 2, then use Skull Catapult to deal the final 2 damage. After we finish the game, my opponent realizes that he didn't tap anything with his Onslaught when Greater Gargadon came into play. What happens?

A: Onslaught is a mandatory triggered ability, and it was missed. This is what the Penalty Guide tells us about mandatory missed triggers like this:

If the trigger requires a choice that does not have a default action or a trigger with no choice will have an effect on the visual representation of the game, and the error is caught within the scope of a turn cycle (see below for definition), resolve the forgotten ability using game-specific timing rules. For example, in a Magic game, the forgotten ability would be placed on the stack. The player may not make choices involving objects that were not in the zone or zones referenced by the trigger when the ability triggered. If the error is discovered partway through an action (such as choosing blockers in Magic, or a shift in Dreamblade), back up to the beginning of that action. If the error is discovered after a turn cycle, continue the game without resolving the forgotten trigger.

For Magic, a turn cycle is defined as the time from the beginning of a player's step or phase to the end of that player's next same step or phase. For Dreamblade, it is defined as a single phase. If a turn cycle would end in a skipped step or phase (but not turn), the turn cycle expires when the step or phase is skipped.

This wasn't caught within a turn cycle, since the game has already ended by this point. The outcome of the game isn't going to be overturned, but both of you will receive warnings. Your opponent will get one for Game Play Error—Missed Trigger, and you'll get one for GPE—Failure to Maintain Game State. Maintaining an accurate game state is the responsibility of both players, and that includes things like triggered abilities.

Bonus: Because the missed trigger allowed you to win the game that turn, a judge should investigate for shenanigans. Even if everything was on the up-and-up and it was an honest mistake, you should expect a few very serious questions because that mistake won you the game.

Q: Is it legal in a tournament to separate my maindeck and sideboard with a differently-sleeved card that's not in my deck?

A: It's legal, but I have some words of caution for you. First, you should make sure it's a card that you could never play in your deck. Make it something not in your color(s) or not even in the format. Second, the sleeve color should be very different. A slightly lighter hue of green isn't going to cut it here—if your deck is in green sleeves, your divider should be in blue, or some other very different color. (Just be careful not to let that blue sleeve frolic with the yellow ones.) Finally, why do you have to use a Magic card as the divider? You could use a card from another game, a couple of index cards cut down to size, a couple of worn poker cards, the tip cards from Tenth Edition, etc. None of those would create the potential confusion that a card would.

As always with something like this, you should ask the head judge of the event before you start playing.

Q: Body Double is played, and Vesuvan Shapeshifter in a graveyard is chosen. What happens? Can Body Double/Shapeshifter turn face down? Face up? Does it even live long enough?

A: Whether it lives long enough depends on what happens once it's in play, but it will certainly survive the coming-into-play process. The Body Double becomes a Shapeshifter as it comes into play, so it gets to make the copying choice a coming-into-play Shapeshifter would make. This means you choose a creature in play, and your Body Double/Shapeshifter becomes a copy of it as it comes into play. Because it's a Vesuvan Shapeshifter, it has the triggered ability that can turn itself face down, and it has morph. If you turn it face down and then face up again, you can choose something else to copy.

Q: What is the time limit for deck construction in multiplayer drafts?

A: It's normally 30 minutes. For 2HG drafts, the team has 40 minutes to build their pair of 40-card decks. Keep in mind that these are only guidelines, not set-in-stone rules, though they should be applied pretty consistently.

Q: This year, our head judge refused to check our sleeves before the tournament. Last year, he did that so players could be sure about legal or marked sleeves and their foil count. Is it correct for him not to do this?

A: I can't say I've ever seen this service refused, but it is a service that's offered at the head judge's discretion. If the event turnout was a lot higher than expected, placing a lot of extra work on the staff before round one, then I suppose the HJ could cite time concerns and say his judges (and himself) can spend their time getting the event ready for all the players, as opposed to helping just one. I can't say whether the refusal was "correct" or not, since I wasn't there, but I hope the judge had a good reason, and I hope he was courteous when he turned you down.

Half-naked combos shouldn't go running off
running into the woods by themselves.
Q: If I make a Splinter token with Splintering Wind, play Clone choosing the token, then play Mask of the Mimic sacrificing the token and targeting Clone, searching for the sorcery card Splinter, will it come into play, or have I done something wrong? I was under the impression this combo had been killed.

A: It's been killed deader than Jason Voorhees. OK, maybe that's a bad example. Freddy Kruger? No, no. Michael Myers? Gah! Why won't horror movie psychos stay dead? Anyway, yes, this "combo" is dead. Rules 212.5d and 212.7d tell us that instants and sorceries can't come into play, and if they would for some reason, they remain in their previous zone instead.

Q: If Llanowar Reborn is in play, will a Magus of the Moon coming into play trigger its graft ability?

A: No, it won't. The graft ability will be removed before the Magus could trigger it. Remember, when a permanent is coming into play, we do the following three things, in order:

1. Apply replacement effects.
2. Apply continuous effects.
3. Check for triggered abilities.

The Magus enters play. There are no replacement effects at work here. We do have a continuous effect, though—the Magus makes all nonbasic lands into Mountains. This means that, by the time we get to step 3, Llanowar Reborn has become a Mountain and no longer has a graft ability to trigger.

Q: If I have a Looming Shade and announce that I'm going to pump it five times, does it die if my opponent Shocks it? He says it was a 1/1 because I put all five activations on the stack at once, but obviously I would have let each one resolve before playing the next. What happens here?

A: Grey areas like this are going to be cleared up in the new Player Communication Policy. It will be released by the DCI and available from the Document Center very, very soon. From what I've heard, it's going to be added to the end of the latest Penalty Guide. It hasn't been released as of early Sunday night on 2 September, so keep an eye out for it. The official policies regarding this and many other shortcuts, as well as other aspects of player communication, will be covered in that document. Check back next week when Eli discusses this document some more.

Q: When is Lorwyn going to become legal for Constructed play?

A: On 20 October 2007. At that time, the entire Ravnica Block (Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guidpact, Dissension) will leave Standard. Coldsnap will remain in Standard and is scheduled to rotate out with the Time Spiral Block.

Q: So how do these new planeswalker cards work?

A: Short of giving Tarmogoyf +1/+1, we really don't know yet. Some details have emerged, and you can find them in the usual places on this site, but we don't know the complete rules for planeswalkers. Until we do (meaning, until the set FAQ or primer for Lorwyn comes out), it wouldn't be responsible of us to answer questions about any of the new cards. We want to give accurate answers, not guess based on incomplete and imperfect information.

We'll be covering plenty of Lorwyn cards in a few weeks, though. The prereleases are only four weeks away!

[And shortly after publication, Wizards revealed how planeswalkers work. Check here if you want to see, but we'll still defer questions on them for now. -ed.]

You won't have to wait four weeks for the next CI, though. We're back next week, with more questions from all over the Magical landscape.

-Tom Fowler


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