Cranial Insertion: All Standard, All The Time

Cranial Insertion
All Standard, All the Time
(well, at least this time)

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Regionals events just wrapped up in the US, as thousands of Magic players across the country battled it out for the invitations to Nationals. A lot of players and a lot of games means a lot of rules questions, and we have plenty of questions (both rules and policy/penalty) today taken from the floor of Regionals. It’s so many, in fact, that we won’t be shaking the CI mailbag for more questions until next week.

You can send us your questions (about any format, obv) to [email][email protected][/email]. We’re usually pretty prompt about answering the questions in the mailbag, and chances are good that you’ll see your question in a future edition of CI. And you get all that for only $19.99$0 per question!

How bizarre, how bizarre...
Q: I have a Golgari Grave-Troll in my graveyard, and I’m activating Magus of the Bazaar. I’m going to dredge back the Troll for the first draw. If another dredge card ends up in my graveyard as a result, can I dredge that one, too?

A: Sure. “Draw n cards” is really n separate instances of “draw a card.” The Magus instructs you to draw two cards, which is two separate instances of “draw a card.” You dredge back your Troll for the first one, putting six cards into your graveyard. Now you have one more draw looming. If one of those six cards is, say, a Stinkweed Imp, you can dredge that back to your hand also. Then you’ll discard three cards to complete the resolution of the Magus’ ability.

Bonus: It’s important to note that, while “draw n cards” really means “draw a card” n times, it’s still just one spell or ability. State-based effects don’t check between the draws, and no player gets priority until the spell or ability has completely finished resolving.

Q: My newly-played Vesuvan Shapeshifter is copying a creature with echo. At the beginning of my upkeep, I turn it face-down in response to the echo trigger. Do I still have to pay the echo?

A: Yes. When echo goes onto the stack, it’s not just a generic ability that says, “um, you need to pay some mana when I resolve.” Using Avalanche Riders as an example, the echo trigger is, “Echo 3R. Pay 3R when this resolves or I’m going to take my rocks and go home!” No matter how you stack the two upkeep abilities you have waiting (echo and Shapeshifter turning face-down), the game will know what the echo cost is, and you’ll need to pay it or sacrifice the Shapeshifter.

502.19a Echo is a triggered ability. “Echo [cost]” means “At the beginning of your upkeep, if this permanent came under your control since the beginning of your last upkeep, sacrifice it unless you pay [cost].”

Bonus: If the Shapeshifter had been in play for a turn or more and then copied an echo creature, echo would not trigger. It will only trigger on the first upkeep after the permanent came into play, and the Shapeshifter has been in play for more than a turn.

Q: My opponent has seven mana available and I have a Withered Wretch (and mana to use its ability). If my opponent plays Call of the Herd, can I remove it before he flashes it back?

A: No. The elephants are stomping on your hopes here. When Call of the Herd resolves, it puts a 3/3 green elephant token into play and then goes to the graveyard. The active player (your opponent) gets priority at this point, since the active player gets priority when a spell resolves. If he flashes back his Call of the Herd now, there’s nothing you or your Withered Wretch can do about it. If he decides to play a different spell or ability, then you can remove the Call when you get priority.

Q: I have a 3/4 Tarmogoyf in play that has taken 2 damage. My opponent Shocks it. This would be the first instant card in a graveyard. Does it live through the Shock?

A: Shockingly, yes. State-based effects are not checked until after Shock has resolved and the active player would receive priority. Because Shock goes to the graveyard as the final step in its resolution, Tarmogoyf will be a 4/5 with 4 damage on it when state-based effects check.

My hovercraft is full of eels!
Q: So if the Shock gets removed from the graveyard that turn, the Tarmogoyf will die?

A: Yes. Its power and toughness are constantly determined by its characteristic-defining ability. If Shock, the lone instant card in any graveyard, is removed from that graveyard, Tarmogoyf will become a 3/4 again, with 4 damage on it. Now state-based effects come around with a big cart and bell, saying, “Bring out your dead!” And even if Tarmogoyf tries to protest and say that it’s not dead, the game knows better, and whacks it on the head with a club.

Q: I have Aven Mindcensor in play, and my opponent plays Dragonstorm. I respond with Shadow of Doubt. What happens?

A: Shadow of Doubt wins, and your opponent will not be able to search at all. Aven Mindcensor is restrictive in what it lets you do, but it still lets you search. Shadow of Doubt prevents you from searching at all. The more restrictive effect is the one that gets applied.

This is also mentioned in the Future Sight FAQ entry for Aven Mindcensor:

* The _Ravnica_ card Shadow of Doubt prevents libraries from being searched at all, so its effect trumps this one.

Q: My opponent played Dragonstorm and put four Bogardan Hellkites into play. When can I play Sudden Spoiling to remove all of their abilities?

A: This is a difficult question to answer—not because the situation is difficult, but because the player clearly expects more than the card can do. Sudden Spoiling can be played after the first Dragonstorm copy has resolved and one Hellkite has come into play. Its ability will go onto the stack before you have the chance to play Sudden Spoiling. While the Hellkite will become an 0/2, its ability has gone onto the stack and will resolve. And any creatures coming into play after Sudden Spoiling resolves aren't affected by it. So there's really no time you can play Sudden Spoiling and remove the Hellkites' abilities. Sudden Spoiling might make the dragons puny, but you’re still going to take 20 to the face.

Q: In a common sight at Regionals, my opponent played Dragonstorm. He had the original spell plus three storm copies. I Remanded one of the copies and Delayed another. What happens to them?

A: The Remanded one will return to your opponent’s hand, albeit very briefly. You’ll draw a card for Remand, and then state-based effects will cause the spell copy in his hand to cease to exist. The Delayed copy will get removed from the game with three time counters on it, gain suspend, and then cease to exist as a state-based effect once Delay has finished resolving.

This is the state-based effect that is preventing these spell copies from living their dreams of being real spells:

420.5j A copy of a spell in a zone other than the stack ceases to exist. A copy of a card in any zone other than the stack or the in-play zone ceases to exist.

Q: If I Commandeer my opponent’s Castigate, can I target him?

A: Yes. And if you want the Castigate to do much of anything, you have to. Commandeer makes you the controller of Castigate, and allows you to choose new targets for the spell you’ve stolen. Castigate targets an opponent. No matter how deep your inner conflict, you are never your own opponent. If you don’t change the target of Castigate, it’s not going to do anything.

Two in play = really ruined.
Q: Um, both of us seem to have Academy Ruins in play. They’ve been there for a few turns now. What happens?

A: Both are put into their owner’s graveyards immediately. The player who played the second Academy Ruins gets a warning for Game Play Error—Illegal Game State, while the player who played the first Academy Ruins (and failed to notice the second one) gets a warning for Game Play Error—Failure to Maintain Game State. Making sure duplicate legendary permanents don’t remain in play is the responsibility of both players.

Q: But judge, we’ve both been using them, and my opponent just put a Triskelavus on top of his library before you got here. What now?

A: Nothing. State-based effects have been applied and warnings have been issued. The game state is now legal. Carry on. The fact that your opponent put a Triskelavus atop his library before the judge got there to enforce the legend rule is unfortunate. It’s also unfortunate that neither player noticed the duplicate Academy Ruins, especially since both were using them. “Rewinding” the game is no longer something judges generally do to “fix” the game state.

Q: I have a Glorious Anthem in play, and a Knight of the Holy Nimbus with 2 damage on it. At the end of my turn, my opponent flashes out a Sulfur Elemental. What happens?

A: Your 3/3 Knight becomes a 4/2 with 2 damage on it. This is lethal damage and destroys the Knight, which will happily remain in play unless your opponent pays 2 mana to prevent it from regenerating.

Q: It’s the start of my turn and I have a Vesuvan Shapeshifter in play, currently copying my Wall of Roots (no counters on either), and two cards in my hand. My opponent has a Plagued Rusalka, a Ravenous Rats haunted by Cry of Contrition, a random creature, and The Rack. After the upkeep triggers, he sacrifices his random creature and his Ravenous Rats to the Rusalka, both targeting my Shapeshifter. What happens?

A: We can track this using the stack. At the beginning of your upkeep, two things trigger: your Shapeshifter and your opponent’s Rack. They will go on the stack in active player, nonactive player (APNAP) order. So the stack initially looks like this:

The Rack’s ability
Vesuvan Shapeshifter’s ability

Then the random creature is sacrificed to Plagued Rusalka.

Rusalka’s ability, targeting Vesuvan Shapeshifter (Wall of Roots)
The Rack’s ability
Vesuvan Shapeshifter’s ability

Then the haunted Ravenous Rats is sacrificed.

Rusalka’s ability, targeting Vesuvan Shapeshifter (Wall of Roots)
Rusalka’s ability, targeting Vesuvan Shapeshifter (Wall of Roots)
The Rack’s ability
Vesuvan Shapeshifter’s ability

The haunted Rats hitting the graveyard causes Cry of Contrition to trigger, and its ability now gets added to the stack.

Cry of Contrition, (presumably) targeting you
Rusalka’s ability, targeting Vesuvan Shapeshifter (Wall of Roots)
Rusalka’s ability, targeting Vesuvan Shapeshifter (Wall of Roots)
The Rack’s ability
Vesuvan Shapeshifter’s ability

Presuming no further responses, the stack resolves in order. Cry of Contrition makes you discard a card. Your Shapeshifter gets -1/-1 twice from the Rusalka, making it a -2/3 in its current form. Then The Rack checks how many cards you have in your hand (one) and deals you 2 damage. Finally, Vesuvan Shapeshifter’s ability resolves, giving you the choice to turn it face-down.

Bonus: The Shapeshifter will die if it’s turned face down, since it currently has -2/-2 until end of turn from the Plagued Rusalka.

Q: Does my Mirari work if my opponent has a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir in play?

A: If by, “does it work?” you mean, “can I pay 3 mana to copy a spell and put that copy on the stack?” then yes. Teferi stops you from playing spells except when you could play a sorcery. Mirari doesn’t make you play the spell it copies (unlike Isochron Scepter). If you pay 3 mana when Mirari’s trigger resolves, it puts a copy of the spell onto the stack. Teferi is too busy kicking himself over the box office failure of Snakes on a Plane to care.

o/~ "Then let me build a bridge,
for I cannot fill the chasm." ~\o
Q: I have a Mirari in play and control no creatures. My opponent has Bridge from Below in his graveyard, and a few creatures in play. If I play Wrath of God and copy it with Mirari, does he end up with any tokens?

A: No. When you copy Wrath of God with Mirari, the copy goes onto the stack on top of the original Wrath. The copy resolves, destroying all creatures. Bridge from Below will trigger when your opponent’s creatures die, and that trigger will give him the appropriate number of Zombie tokens when it resolves. The original Wrath of God then resolves, destroying the freshly-made (well, in whatever sense that a zombie can be considered fresh) tokens. Because Bridge from Below’s first ability does not trigger on tokens dying, it will not create a new batch of Zombies.

Q: Judge, can you shuffle my library?

A: Huh? You mean shuffle your opponent’s library, right?

Q: No, I mean mine. I think you’ll give me better luck with my opening hand.

A: Judges aren’t responsible for your luck. We also can’t shuffle your library because of some superstition. A player can ask that a judge shuffle his opponent’s library, but not his own. You are responsible for shuffling your own library, regardless of your luck in drawing your opening seven cards.

Q: My opponent looked at his sideboard before deciding to play Glittering Wish. Is this illegal?

A: It is quite illegal, to the point of being a Very Bad Thing. While it might seem harmless enough, since Glittering Wish followed in short order, what if the Wish had been countered? (Even a tapped-out opponent could counter it with Pact of Negation.) The potential for abuse is very high here. It is illegal to look at your sideboard unless a spell or ability specifically instructs you to do so. This is actually considered Cheating—Outside Assistance according to the DCI Penalty Guide. Here is the relevant excerpt from the write-up for that infraction:

Knowledge of hidden information is a form of outside assistance, and any attempt to gain it, or reveal it when not allowed to is considered cheating

The sideboard is definitely considered hidden information. Looking at it when not specifically told to by a spell or ability is gaining this knowledge illegally.

Q: If I control Teferi, can I suspend Aeon Chronicler at the end of my opponent’s turn?

A: Yes. You can suspend a spell whenever you could play it. Because Teferi gives your creature cards flash, you can play them when you normally couldn’t, including at the end of your opponent’s turn. You could play Aeon Chronicler at the end of your opponent’s turn, so you can also suspend it then.

Q: Why am I getting a game loss for writing "Akroma" on my decklist!?

A: Because there’s no card in Magic with that name, meaning you have an illegal decklist. There are two creatures in Standard with "Akroma" in their names, as well as one artifact. (Extended is even worse, when you have to consider things like Akroma's Vengeance and Akroma's Devoted.) Because of the ambiguity, judges can't be sure which card you're playing, and that means you get a game loss for an illegal decklist.

One of the examples in the Penalty Guide of an illegal decklist is this:

H. A player in a Magic tournament lists 'Ar.Wurm' which could be either Argothian Wurm or Arrogant Wurm

Because "Akroma" could be any of three cards in Standard, this penalty applies.

So make sure you list the full English card name when filling out your decklists.

Bonus: Tendrils of Agony is not in Standard. Save yourself a game loss and write Tendrils of Corruption.

That’s all we have for this week. Next week, we’ll cover the gamut of formats. There are some Block Constructed events on the horizon, so send us questions about your favorite Time Spiral block cards!

-Tom Fowler


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