Cranial Insertion: Big Arrow!

Cranial Insertion
Big Arrow!

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Welcome to another fun- and fact-filled edition of CI. Between the time I wrote this intro and the time you’re reading it, 10th Edition has booted 9th Edition out of Standard, shaking up that format. We’ll be covering some questions on 10E cards that are new to Standard, along with cards from all over the Magical landscape.

This is the time of year when National Championships are going on all over the world. In the US, we have ours (along with the MSS Championship) the weekend of the 27th through the 29th, and they’re in my hometown of Baltimore for the second time in three years. [My hometown, too! -Eli] Eli will be working the event, and I’ll be doing event coverage for If you see us, come up and say hi. Moko will also be wandering around, so try not to expose your brains.

Whether or not you see us at US Nationals, you can still send us your rules questions to [email][email protected][/email]. We empty the mailbag pretty often here, so there’s a good chance you’ll see your question here in the column, allowing you to brag about it to all your friends. (Note: we are not responsible for any friends you may lose if you do this.)

One final note before we begin: the subtitle for this article comes from the 10E Release event held at my local store. One player attacked with a first strike creature, and the defending player used Ballista Squad to shoot it down. The attacker apparently thought the defending player was blocking, because he confidently said, “First strike.” The defender’s reply? “Big arrow!” I don’t think it’s spelled out in the Comp Rules anywhere, but a big arrow does trump first strike.

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

Who's afraid of a Needle?
Q: In our 10th Edition Release event, my opponent played Pithing Needle, naming Razormane Masticore (I had one in play). Does the Needle affect the Masticore at all?

Well, it’s pointy, and even a lion with a mane of razors might get hurt by a pointy thing. But other than that, no, Pithing Needle has no effect on anything Razormane Masticore does. Razormane has three abilities, one of which is static (first strike), and two of which are triggered (the upkeep discard or sacrifice, and the draw step damage). Pithing Needle only stops activated abilities.

Bonus: The original Masticore, however, has two activated abilities, so the Needle is much better against the original poison lion.

Q: During my upkeep, my suspended Hypergenesis resolves. There are no creatures in play. Via Hypergenesis, I put a creature into play, then my opponent puts a creature into play, then I put Ixidron into play, then my opponent passes, then I put another creature into play, then we both pass. Is Ixidron the only face-up creature?

A: While all of these creatures are coming into play during the resolution of the same spell, they are being put into play as separate and distinct events. Ixidron will affect the two creatures put into play before it, turning them face-down. The last creature you put into play will be face-up.

Q: Mindleech Mass tells you to play a spell in your opponent’s hand when it deals damage. Some people in my group say you can only play instants or creatures with flash, since this happens in the combat phase. Are they correct?

A: Nope. While there are timing rules governing just when you can play certain types of spells, there’s also another important rule: cards can break the rules of the game. Mindleech Mass is one such rulebreaker, blithely disregarding the game’s timing rules and letting you play whatever kind of spell you want from your opponent’s hand. This all happens while the Mass’ ability is resolving. If you play a creature, enchantment, or artifact spell, you will control the permanent that spell becomes.

Bonus: Mindleech Mass’ ability ignores normal timing restrictions, but that’s it. You couldn’t, for example, play a Necrologia that was in your opponent’s hand, since that spell can only be played at a specific point in the turn.

Q: If I add a mana from Boseiju, Who Shelters All to my mana pool, and my opponent then makes Boseiju leave play somehow, is the sorcery or instant I play using that mana uncounterable?

A: Yes. Boeseiju does not have to be in play for the mana it produces to have that special property. The 1 mana you get from Boseiju will have the "an instant or sorcery played with me can't be countered by spells and abilities" property once it's in your mana pool, and it retains that property until you use it.

Q: What happens if I double the mana in my pool, and I have the 1 mana from Boseiju in there?

A: Then you have an additional 1 mana in your pool (plus whatever additional mana you would gain from the doubling), but this 1 mana will not have the special nature of the original Boseiju mana.

Q: I am trying to figure out rule 500.4, particularly this line:

If there are multiple scenarios in which all restrictions are being followed and the maximum possible number of requirements are being followed (even if not all of them are), then any of those scenarios are legal.

Let’s say player A is attacking with two creatures. One has the ability “must be blocked by exactly one creature if able,” and the other has the Lure ability (all creatures able to block it must do so). Player B has two vanilla creatures capable of blocking. What are the blocks that follow the maximum number of requirements here?

A: First, let’s go over all of the possible blocking decisions B has. We’ll call the attackers Attacker1 and Attacker2, with Attacker2 having the Lure ability. The vanilla blockers will be Bear1 and Bear2. (Remember, these are just possible blocks, not necessarily legal in this scenario. We’ll sort them out at the end.)

Option 1: No blockers at all.
Option 2: Bear1 blocks Attacker1, Bear2 does not block.
Option 3: Bear1 blocks Attacker2, Bear1 does not block.
Option 4: Bear2 blocks Attacker1, Bear1 does not block.
Option 5: Bear2 blocks Attacker2, Bear1 does not block.
Option 6: Bear1 and Bear2 both block Attacker1.
Option 7: Bear1 and Bear2 both block Attacker2.
Option 8: Bear1 blocks Attacker1, Bear2 blocks Attacker2.
Option 9: Bear2 blocks Attacker1, Bear1 blocks Attacker2.

The requirements make some of the scenarios illegal right off the bat. How many requirements are there, though? Attacker2 puts a requirement on each blocking creature that the creature must block Attacker2 if able. Attacker1 has a requirement that exactly one creature must block it if able. This means the legal choices are as follows:

--Bear1 blocks Attacker1, Bear2 blocks Attacker2.
--Bear2 blocks Attacker1, Bear1 blocks Attacker2.
--Bear1 and Bear2 both block Attacker2.

In the first two cases, both creatures’ requirements are being met: Attacker1 is paired off against exactly one blocker, and the remaining blocker is the only creature able to block Attacker2. In the third scenario, Attacker2’s requirements are being met (remember, the Lure ability creates a requirement for each blocking creature), but Attacker1’s requirement is not. However, no creatures are legally able to block it now, so this is perfectly fine—we’re following the maximum possible number of requirements.

This mage collects bad flavor text.
Q: I have Persuasion on my opponent’s Horseshoe Crab. I attack with Razormane Masticore, and my opponent plays Aura Graft, moving Persuasion to my Masticore. Does he now control the Masticore?

A: He does. When you play Aura Graft, you gain control of the Aura you’re targeting, and then move it to another permanent it can enchant. The “You control enchanted creature” line in Persuasion’s rules text refers to its controller. Because your opponent controls the Persuasion, he now controls the Razormane Masticore it enchants.

It gets worse, though: he also gets his Horseshoe Crab back, since the control effect granted by Persuasion ends when it stops enchanting something.

Q: I play Damnation, and my opponent responds with Venser, Shaper Savant. He chooses to return the Damnation to my hand. Is it countered?

A: No, but it’s still not going to resolve. The Damnation spell is removed from the stack, and the card is returned to your hand. Countering a spell is something that is specifically defined in the game, and has its own entry in the Comp Rules. While the result may effectively be the same (the spell leaves the stack and does nothing), it’s important to note that Venser does not counter spells. That makes him particularly good against things which avoid counterspells, like a hellbent Demonfire.

414. Countering Spells and Abilities

414.1. To counter a spell is to move the spell from the stack to its owner’s graveyard. Countering an ability removes it from the stack. Spells and abilities that are countered don’t resolve and none of their effects occur.

414.2. The player who played the countered spell or ability doesn’t get a “refund” of any costs that were paid.

Q: Conspiracy says that it affects “creature cards you own that aren’t in play.” Does this include creature cards in the removed from game zone?

A: Yep. While the RFG zone is shared, each card in that zone has an owner.

Q: So if there were a hypothetical Wish that said, “You may choose a Goblin card you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand,” would I be able to use it to get any creature card in my sideboard, while the Conspiracy (naming Goblins) was in play?

A: Let’s see what it means to be “outside the game.”

Outside the Game
An object is “outside the game” if it’s in the removed-from-the-game zone, or if it isn’t in any of the game’s zones. All other objects are inside the game. “Outside the game” is not a zone. See rule 217.1e.

The sideboard is an area that is not in any of the game’s zones. While this card doesn’t exist, I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t fetch any creature from your sideboard. The cards there are creature cards you own that aren’t in play.

The owner of a card is the player who started the game with that card in his or her deck or, for cards that didn’t start the game in a player’s deck, the player who brought the card into the game.

Q: My Outrider en-Kor is blocked by a Hill Giant with Umezawa’s Jitte attached to it. I use the Outrider’s ability three times to redirect the damage to three different creatures. Does Umezawa’s Jitte trigger 3 times?

A: Toshi’s Broken Pointy Stick earned its nickname for a reason, but even it isn’t this good. The Jitte will trigger only once in this case. Even though the en-Kor is spreading the Hill Giant’s combat damage around, it deals damage only once, so Jitte will trigger one time.

Q: I have Rite of Passage out and use the Outrider en-Kor’s ability, targeting itself an arbitrary number of times. Will Rite of Passage trigger for each point of damage dealt to the Outrider, or will the first point of damage use up all the replacement effects?

A: If you’re “redirecting” several points of damage that are all dealt at the same time, then you’ll only get one trigger out of Rite of Passage. For example, if the Outrider took 2 damage in combat, and you redirected the damage to itself, then it will trigger Rite of Passage only one time. It will also send your Outrider riding out to that en-Kor house in the sky unless its toughness is already above 2.

Many rules questions are hidden
in those murky depths.
Q: If Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is in play along with Illusionary Terrain, with types chosen so that Swamps are Islands, are all basic lands Islands in addition to their other types, or are they just Islands?

A: They’ll just be Islands. Urborg adds the Swamp subtype to all lands in play, but it specifies that the lands are Swamps in addition to their other types. Illusionary Terrain has no such text. It takes any basic lands that are at least partially Swamps (which, with Urborg in play, will be all basic lands) and makes them solely into Islands.

212.6e If an effect changes a land’s type to one or more of the basic land types, the land no longer has its old land type. It loses all abilities generated from its rules text and its old land types, and it gains the appropriate mana ability for each new basic land type.

Q: If cards in my hand have been removed from the game, face down, and I play a Cunning Wish to get one back, I think I have to pick one of the face down cards at random. What happens if the card I choose isn’t an instant? Is the spell countered?

A: Actually, you only pick among face-down cards at random for Death Wish. That’s because Death Wish can fetch any type of card, so even though you don’t know the type of a random face-down card, it doesn’t matter. For the other Wishes, you need to be able to identify a card of a certain type (an instant in the case of Cunning Wish) you own outside the game. Since you can’t identify an instant from among a group of face-down cards, you can’t Cunning Wish for anything in that group.

Q: I have a creature with Temporal Isolation on it. Can I attack with it, put combat damage on the stack, then sacrifice the Isolation to have the creature deal its damage?

A: Provided you have some way to sacrifice the Isolation, this works. You can’t just randomly sacrifice it because you want to. Temporal Isolation only prevents damage from being dealt; it doesn’t prevent combat damage assignments from going onto the stack. If the Isolation leaves play after that assignment is on the stack, but before it resolves, there’s nothing stopping the damage from being dealt anymore.

Q: Is a Thunderblade Charge played from the graveyard removed from the game, or does it stay in the graveyard?

A: It goes from the graveyard to the stack when you play it. Once it resolves (or has been countered), it will return to the graveyard, like any other spell does under those circumstances. The only way it would get removed from the game would be if some effect specifically did that.

Q: How does Abundance work when I’m drawing multiple cards, like with Harmonize?

A: Because “draw 3 cards” is treated as three distinct instances of “draw a card,” you have the option to apply Abundance’s replacement effect to each of your draws (remember that Abundance’s replacement effect is optional). If you apply it to your first draw, you’ll choose land or nonland, reveal cards until you hit the right kind, then put any other revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order. If you want to replace all your draws from Harmonize this way, you’ll do the same for the second, then the same for the third.

Q: Why does Gaea’s Herald say “creature spells can’t be countered” and not “creature spells can’t be countered by spells or abilities,” like it used to?

A: Because Hasbro is going broke and couldn’t afford the extra text. With the success of Transformers at the box office, perhaps it’ll come back for 11th Edition. Or maybe the reason is because creature spells can only be countered by spells and abilities. Urza’s Rage has the “by spells or abilities” proviso because "uncounterable" instants and sorceries can still be countered by the game rules. If you target my creature with Urza’s Rage, and I give it protection from red with Shelter in response, then Urza’s Rage is countered upon resolution. The game rules see that its target is no longer legal and counter it. Creature spells don’t have that baggage attached to them, since they don’t target anything when you play them.

Q: How does Joiner Adept interact with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth?

A: She probably walks carefully around it. I mean, can you imagine getting that muck on your shoes? These two cards don’t really interact at all. The Adept will still give your lands the ability to tap for any color of mana. Urborg tacking Swamp onto their type lines isn’t going to change that. The last sentence in rule 212.6e says:

If a land gains one or more land types in addition to its own, it keeps its land types and rules text, and it gains the new land types and mana abilities.

So all your lands are Swamps in addition to their normal types, and they still have the ability given to them by Joiner Adept.

That’s it for this week’s edition of Cranial Insertion. If you’re within driving distance of Baltimore, you should stop in for Nationals (aka Magic Weekend). Even if you’re not qualified for the big events, there are always a ton of side events running, and grinders on Thursday to get in. This year also features another Super FNM, and there’s the Game of the Year on Saturday nights, where Richard Garfield and friends shuffle up the really big cards. There’s really something for everyone who likes Magic going on that weekend, so stop by if you can.

-Tom Fowler


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