Cranial Insertion: Those Crazy Teenagers



Cranial Insertion
Those Crazy Teenagers
or, It's Simple

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson


When the moon hits your eye
Like lava ten million degrees high,
That's messy death.
And we're back, with even more questions from Regionals, and a whole slew from the mailbox! Looking back at both the box and the event, it seems that Blood Moon, that shiny little card from The Dark, that simple little bastion of simplicity . . . is pretty darn complicated. (Don't even get me started on Muraganda Petroglyphs, the most complex card that rewards simplicity.)

Since my campaign to rename "Time Spiral Block" to "Layer Interaction Block" has been unsuccessful, more new players will remain unwarned. A pity, since we have a limited Pro Tour coming up, then draft at Nationals, and Block Constructed PTQs all over the world! So brush up on your layers and hit some tournaments before Lorwyn shoves Ravnica out of Standard.

On to the questions. As always, you can email [email][email protected][/email] with even MORE questions, and our delightful zombified chimpanzee Moko will pass them to us . . . as long as you're not offering us millions of dollars from Nigeria or breast enhancement pills.




Q: Can you sum up everything Blood Moon does?

A: Sure: it confuses.

Short enough?

Oh, that's not detailed enough. Here we go. . . .

1) Blood Moon will remove all of a nonbasic land's subtypes in layer 4, and replace those with Mountain. This does not affect supertypes like legendary and snow, and does not affect other permanent types like creature or artifact.

2) In layer 4, when the land becomes a Mountain, it loses all printed abilities. This will cause abilities in layers 5 (Dryad Arbor being green, which isn’t easy under Blood Moon) or layer 6 (I'm pretty sure no such lands exist) not to be applied. It will also cause lands with layer 4 abilities (Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth) not to be applied due to dependency rules.

3) Any as-comes-into-play replacement effects (Boros Garrison coming into play tapped, Llanowar Reborn's +1/+1 counter and coming into play tapped) will still apply, since they apply before the land comes into play.

4) Any when-comes-into-play triggers (Boros Garrison's bounce, New Benalia's scry) will never exist while they are in play, and will not trigger.

5) Any leaves-play triggers (Flagstones of Trokair) will not trigger since the game looks back in time to determine what should have triggered on a leaves-play event. Not much happens when a Mountain leaves play.

I think that sums it up—if I forgot any frequently asked questions, please comment on this article and they'll be added in.




Q: Outside notes are illegal, and you can't look at your sideboard during a game, but can I write down my sideboard really quickly from memory after starting game one and refer to those notes?

A: Sure, that's fine. Keep in mind that you do not need to write your notes in such a way that your opponent can understand them. I suggest Wingdings.




Q: My Wildfire Emissary was blocked by two morphs. With combat damage on the stack, my opponent turned the one I assigned damage face up, and it's a Lumithread Field. What dies now?

A: No one. They all sit around the battlefield singing songs. Enchantments may not dance, but they can sure carry a tune.

When combat damage assignments resolve, the Emissary will find that the once-face-down creature is now not a creature, and its damage will not be dealt. Meanwhile, it will also find that the two damage coming at it are from a source that is currently white, and that damage will be prevented. The other face-down creature will deal 2 damage to the Emissary, which doesn't care.




Q: My opponent has 10 creature cards in his graveyard, including a Golgari Grave-Troll, so then he Dread Returns the Troll. How many counters does it get?

A: Ten. This is a weird interaction: The Grave-Troll's replacement effect replaces how it comes into play, so the counting of creatures in your graveyard is done before it actually has come into play. Since it is at no time anywhere except your graveyard or in play, and it's not in play yet, it must still be in your graveyard while the counting is done, and thus it counts itself.




Q: I Mindslavered my opponent and want to Dread Return his Sutured Ghoul and make the Ghoul remove itself from the game. Can I do that?

A: You can. This works a lot like the Grave-Troll situation above, except that since the Ghoul has removed itself from the game, it's a new object and won't end up coming into play at all.




Q: I cast Sprout Swarm, and it was countered and suspended by my opponent's Delay. Now when Sprout Swarm had the last counter removed, MTGO gave me the option of playing it or playing with buyback. I chose with buyback, but then MTGO proceeded to play the spell and put it back in my hand without charging me any mana!

A: That would be a bug. Playing a spell without paying its mana cost does give you the option to pay additional costs, but you have to actually pay those additional costs; they should not be covered for free.




Q: My opponent has Leyline of the Void out and Bridge from Below in the yard. If my creatures die, will they remove the Bridge?

A: The Leyline stops your creature from ever being put into the graveyard. When it tries to go there, it'll simply be removed from the game instead. Since your creature was never actually put into a graveyard, the Bridges go right on playing Bridge in your opponent's graveyard.





I bet the markings really
mean "Urza Was Here."
Q: Life and Limb makes my Forests into Saprolings - will they get +2/+2 from Muraganda Petroglyphs?

A: Ah, the Forest. Such a simple pleasure. All-natural trees growing all-naturally in all-natural soil next to the all-natural nuclear power plant. But no. Trees are too fracking complicated. They have an intrinsic mana ability: "Tap: Add green." And since trees are so horribly complicated, your living trees will not get a bonus from the Petroglyphs.




Q: Can I regenerate Skeleton Scavengers five times for 5 if it has one +1/+1 counter on it?

A: You can set up five regeneration shields, sure. These shields will last until the end of the turn, and each time one of these shields is used, the skeletons will get a +1/+1 counter. Note that if it takes any amount of damage all at once, only one shield will be used to wipe that damage off and regenerate it.




Q: I play Kor Dirge on my blocker, redirecting damage to a morph that wasn't blocked. My opponent responds to that by unmorphing the unblocked creature. It happens to be a Lumithread Field. Is the damage still redirected to it, although it's no longer a creature? Is the damage lost in the void? Is Kor Dirge countered or is simply resolved with no effect?

A: Let's start with the end: Kor Dirge is not countered because it still has one legal target – your blocker. If Kor Dirge only targeted the damage-goes-here creature, it would be countered, but that is not the case.

So eventually Kor Dirge's replacement effect tries to drop damage on your bright li’l enchantment. But it can't, since it's not a creature. So the damage doesn't go anywhere – it stays where it's supposed to go, and your blocking creature takes the damage.



Q: My opponent wants to play first, and I want to draw first. Can we just agree on that without using any random method?

A: You can, and it'll save you some time! Rule 101.2 specifically refers to any "mutually agreeable method," and then suggests some random methods, but it never specifies that a random method must be used.




Q: I got a warning for forgetting my Thallid's trigger, and then I got a game loss for forgetting it again later! Is that right? Shouldn't it always be a warning?

A: Nope. Section 40 of the Penalty Guidelines spells out that repeated offenses can be upgraded at a Regular-REL event, and should be upgraded at Competitive and Professional RELs. Assuming that your event was only Regular REL, the upgrade was not necessary, but certainly justified by the PG.




Q: Can I pay kicker costs multiple times?

A: Nope, you're thinking replicate; kicker is a "pay or do not pay" and not a "pay, pay, pay!" deal. You can only pay once




Q: If my teammate in a Two-Headed Giant game uses Word of Seizing on an attacking creature I control, will that save it from a Desert?

A: It will. Even though the creature won't change sides in the battle, rule 306.2 will still happily pluck it out of combat. Since the creature is removed from combat, it is no longer attacking, and Desert's ability will be countered since its target is illegal.




Q: What does Beacon of Immortality do with a negative life total?

A: It doubles it. There's no special Magic meaning to "double" – you multiply it by 2. And -100 times 2 is -200, so that'll be your new life total.




Q: While playing a Shahrazad subgame, can I target things up in the main game?

A: Just like in any normal game of Magic, except when you get Un- into the mix, you can only target objects in or removed from the current game. The main game is outside the subgame, not removed from it, so it's safe from your meddling spells.





This card will work
in MTGO v3.
Q: With three Locket of Yesterdays in play and two Sprout Swarms in my graveyard, I can play another Sprout Swarm by tapping a Saproling, buy it back, and repeat ad infinitum, right? MODO won't let me.

A: Well, if it's trying to stop your "ad infinitum," then it's working correctly – you can produce tokens ad absurdum, but not ad infinitum.

But it should allow you to constantly tap your new tokens to make more new tokens. Convoke does not use the tap symbol, so you can indeed tap them, and the Lockets should indeed reduce the total cost, buyback plus mana, to a single green mana that you can convoke away with a Saproling.




Q: Tenth Edition will be released on Friday the 13th, and our Release events have to be on Saturday the 14th. Can we do a Friday Night Magic draft with Tenth, too?

A: You can; a set is always legal for Limited formats such as Booster Draft on the day of its release, even if the official Release tournament isn't until later.




Q: When does Coldsnap rotate out?

A: Coldsnap will rotate with Time Spiral block and leave Standard on 20 October, 2008.




Q: Do you have any advice on memorizing the order of the layers?

A: Chant them.

1) Copy
2) Control
3) Text
4) Type
5) Other
6) Power and Toughness
6a) Characteristic-Defining Abilities
6b) Other
6c) Counters
6d) Static Abilities That Don't Set
6e) Switches

The Cs – copying and controlling – must happen early; the Ts – text and type – are less important, and you can remember that power and toughness must come last for their breakdown, so other must be layer 5.

To keep the top bunch straight, consider what Volrath's Shapeshifter would do if it were a copy effect instead of a text effect and you Confiscated it – it would copy your opponent's top creature, and then you'd gain control of it. Not intuitive at all, eh? That's why it has a text-changing ability, and not a copy ability – so that it gains text immediately after control changes.

For the power/toughness sublayers, remember: CDAs must come first, so they are layer 6a. Counters starts with a C, so that's layer 6c. Switches always come last, so they're 6e. And, against all logical expectations, the catch-all "other" layer is 6b and not 6d.

Q: What about the order of the steps of playing a spell?

A: Kudos to Denver judge and MTGRules-L NetRep Scott Marshall for this little mnemonic:

All Crazy Teenagers Have Tried Magic Pills

Which means:

Announce (and put the spell on the stack)
Choose (what it does, which modes, what additional costs to pay, X, etc.)
Target (if necessary)
How (it affects those targets, if there are options)
Total (cost: mana cost plus additional costs minus cost reductions)
Mana (abilities may be played now)
Pay (and then it becomes played)




That's a wrap for this week. We'll be back soon with even more fun and exciting questions - including YOURS!

No, wait, not yours. You're the one sending us "Magic Pill" spam that Moko keeps letting through. I think he's hinting at something that mortal minds are not meant to comprehend.

Coming to Pro Tour: San Diego? Keep an eye out for me! Tom and I will also both be at the US National Championship in July, where we can sign your Blood Moons.

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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