Cranial Insertion: Fiery Soot Mafia

Cranial Insertion
Fiery Soot Mafia
or, Vote Eye of the Storm

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Poor Eye of the Storm. Even if it is a townie, it's just too confusing to live.

And for those of you who were wondering, I've never played a Mafia game before but might be interested in trying one out. (Eli says that Moko would be more than happy to play with Ted, except that he'd lose control of himself on that part where everyone closes their eyes. Then they look like prey.)

Anywho, it's time to dip into the [email][email protected][/email] mailbag. The traffic has been a little light this week, so please to be asking more questions!

Q: What happens when you pay four out of the five mana for the cost of Pact of Negation's triggered ability? Can you even do that?

A: When the Pact Mafia comes knocking, "I'll give you the rest tomorrow" isn't an acceptable answer. They don't even bother breaking kneecaps anymore.

Whenever an effect instructs you to spend a certain amount of mana, you can't choose to only spend part of it. You either have to spend all of it on that effect or you can't spend any of it. This is also true for spells like Mana Leak; you can't choose to only spend 2 even if you just want to get the mana out of your pool.

Q: I'm at 5 life and my opponent targets me with Fiery Justice. Do state-based effects check the game state and kill me before I gain 5 life?

A: State-based effects are only checked when a player would gain priority. Players don't gain priority during the resolution of a spell or ability, so the first time they'd be checked is after Fiery Justice has finished resolving and is in its owner's graveyard. By this time you've already gained the five life so state-based effects won't ever notice that short period of time where you were at 0.

All this talk about soot is making
Smokestack's ears burn. Or whatever it
is an inanimate object hears with.
Q: I'm targeting a 2/3 Tarmogoyf with Strangling Soot with no instants in any graveyard. What happens? Is this anything like what happens with a 3/4 Tarmogoyf targeted by Sudden Death?

A: No, not in this case. Whereas cards like Sudden Death or Lightning Blast need a state-based effect to actually get the targeted creature out of play (thereby having to wait until after the spell has resolved and is in its owner's graveyard), Strangling Soot does all the work itself. By the time the Strangling Soot has finished resolving, the Tarmogoyf is already in its owner's graveyard, so changing its power and toughness won't save it.

(At this point the CI team would like to express its displeasure with the references of soot in Time Spiral without an homage to the industrial phenomenon that started it all.)

Q: If there is an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play, will I be able to search out two Mountains from my library with Korlash, Heir to Blackblade's grandeur ability?

A: Just exactly what Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth does seems to be a popular topic here at CI. The CompRules have a rather useful entry here:

200.9. If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes a type or subtype, but doesn’t include the word “card,” “spell,” or “source,” it means a permanent of that type or subtype in play.

Therefore, Urborg can only affect objects in play, not in your library, graveyard, or anywhere else.

Q: I control Mesa Enchantress and Lucent Liminid, and my hand is empty save for Pentarch Ward. I play the Ward, targeting my Liminid, and my opponent responds with Incinerate on the Liminid. Does the Enchantress's trigger resolve in time for me to save my Liminid with the Bandage on the top of my deck?

A: When you play the Pentarch Ward, the triggered ability of your Enchantress goes on the stack immediately before either player can gain priority. Assuming the opposing player is trying to play Incinerate while that trigger is still on the stack, then the trigger won't resolve in time for you to draw the Bandage.

Q: I control Eye of the Storm...

A: Next question.

Drat, we're obligated to answer this, aren't we?

Scum, werewolf, mafia,
whatever you want to call it...
this card causes record headscratching.
Q: ... and I flashback a Think Twice. Can the Eye of the Storm pick up the Think Twice?

A: Flashback represents two different abilities, defined in Rule 502.22a. Here's the second ability, which is a replacement effect:

“If the flashback cost was paid, remove this card from the game instead of putting it anywhere else any time it would leave the stack.”

That "anywhere else" means "anywhere other than the RFG zone." If the spell is being removed from the game for some other reason, such as by Eye of the Storm, then the replacement effect doesn't have anything to do, and the game will behave just as if that Think Twice was played normally.

Q: With an Eye of the Storm out, I play a spell with buyback. Which wins, buyback or the Eye? And if buyback succeeds, will the spell still be added to the Storm?

A: Buyback is yet another one of those keywords that represents multiple abilities, including a replacement effect. Rule 502.16a defines that replacement ability as:

“If the buyback cost was paid, put this spell into its owner’s hand instead of into that player’s graveyard as it resolves.”

The spell has to resolve for buyback to be meaningful. Since Eye of the Storm takes the spell off the stack before it gets to resolve, buyback doesn't do anything.

Q: My opponent plays Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. Can the spells on my Eye ever be played as long as Teferi is out, ever?

A: Played? Yes.

By you? No.

"Any time you could play a sorcery" is a shorthand for any time when all three of the following things are true:

1)It's your main phase.
2)You have priority.
3)The stack is empty.

The problem with Eye of the Storm is that it keeps telling you you're supposed to be playing the copied spells during the resolution of its triggered ability. Since abilities have to finish resolving before they leave the stack, that means requirement #3 isn't met, and you're not going to be playing those spell copies anytime soon.

Your opponent, though, can easily play all those spell copies as Teferi doesn't change the timing rules for his spells.

Q: Can my opponent use a instant and or ability in my draw step after I have drawn a card?

A: The draw phase always begins with the "game action" of the active player drawing a card. This doesn't use the stack. Then, after any appropriate triggered abilities (think Howling Mine) go on the stack, the active player gets priority. Since the step doesn't end until both players pass consecutively while the stack is empty, your opponent will indeed be able to use activated abilities and instants during the step.

Q: If I Momentary Blink my Thornweald Archer with combat damage on the stack, will deathtouch still trigger?

A: First, it helps if we know what deathtouch is. Go go gadget Rule 502.63a:

502.63a Deathtouch is a triggered ability. “Deathtouch” means “Whenever this permanent deals damage to a creature, destroy that creature.”

Seems like it would work, until we keep in mind that an object that changes zones is considered to be a new object:

217.1c An object that moves from one zone to another is treated as a new object. Effects connected with its previous location will no longer affect it. There are four exceptions to this rule: (1) Effects that change the characteristics of an artifact, creature, or enchantment spell on the stack will continue to apply to the permanent that spell creates. (2) Abilities that trigger when an object moves from one zone to another (for example, “When Rancor is put into a graveyard from play”) can find the object in the zone it moved to when the ability triggered. (3) Prevention effects that apply to damage from an artifact, creature, or enchantment spell on the stack will continue to apply to damage from the permanent that spell becomes. (4) Permanents that phase out or in “remember” their earlier states. See rule 217.8c.

In other words, when the Archer leaves play and reenters play, it's not the same Archer anymore even though it's represented by the same physical card... the fact that it reentered play really fast doesn't change that.

Since the Archer in play with deathtouch isn't considered the same Archer that is dealing the damage, the deathtouch won't trigger.

And now into the week-long night until Dr. Tom steps in. I'm going to need some help from the doc on this one...


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