Cranial Insertion: Hot, Hot Rules Questions Inside

Cranial Insertion
Hot Hot Rules Questions Inside
or, Slip an Extra Bunny on the Barbie

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Happy Memorial Day if you're
in the US. Enjoy a BBQ!
Everyone else: BBQ anyway.
Hey, look, Future Sight's legal! Well, it was legal last Monday, too, but no one really cared - this past Friday was the first FNM with Future Sight, and people cared about that.

Too bad all of my players left town for Memorial Day vacations.

As always, send your rules questions to [email][email protected][/email] so we can help you and then shamelessly use your question for the glory of the monkeys! Remember, if you don't email us, the monkeys will be sad, and sad monkeys are more easily led into a bloody revolution by their zombie overlord.

Q: Let's say I have a Tel-Jilad Chosen. Conspiracy is in play, naming Saproling, as is Life and Limb. Can I fortify the Chosen with Darksteel Garrison?

A: Nope. We used to have the handy DEBT acronym for protection from FOO - "this can't be Damaged, Enchanted/Equipped, Blocked, or Targeted by FOO." Fortifications throw this for a loop a bit, so now you'll have to consider DABT, where the A is "have FOO Attached." But that really messes up our nice acronym. Frown

At any rate, the DEBT acronym is a memory device and not a rule into itself; the real rule 420.5k does include that Fortifications need to be attached to a legal object or they fall off.

Q: Will Ovinize make Marit Lage feel sheepish, or will he/she/it still be indestructible?

A: A little from column A, a little from column B. Marit Lage will be a lil 0/1 black sheep Avatar, but will still be indestructible.

Remember that "indestructible" is not an ability; it's just an aspect of the object. "This card is indestructible" is an ability that gives "this card" that aspect, but that's an ability that Marit Lage doesn't have, no matter what the shiny token card says.

Q: When exactly does mana burn happen? I know it's at the end of each phase, but what does that mean?

A: Mana burn happens as a game action whenever a phase changes. A phase ends after the draw step (beginning phase), going into combat (main phase), after the end of combat step (combat phase), going into the end-of-turn step (second main phase), and when the turn's over (end phase).

Q: If I attack with Ith, High Arcanist, can I activate him, targeting himself after his combat damage has already been dealt? Will I be able to untap him and still have his combat damage applied, since damage prevention cannot go back in time to undo the damage?

A: You can use Ith targeting himself at any time that he's an attacker, and an attacking creature remains an "attacking creature" until the end of the combat phase. So after combat damage assignments resolve, you can make Ith untap himself, and his ability will not go back in time and erase damage he dealt.

You can't stop Ith from taking damage doing this, though, since the ability also won't go back in time to erase damage dealt to him, and damage is all dealt at once. But if you give Ith first strike, you can tap him to untap himself after first strike damage assignments resolve so the blocking creature - if still alive - can't whack Ith back.

Q: Can Heartwood Dryad block both a creature with shadow and one without if it somehow gets to block multiple creatures?

A: It can. At some point in the past, Heartwood Dryad had errata saying that it "may block" as though it had shadow, which tied back into the ancient Spider ruling on choosing and other stuff that is no longer relevant, so some sites echo distant rulings from dim days where you make some sort of choice for the Dryad.

No more!

With its current wording, which is all that matters, it is capable of blocking creatures with shadow as though they did not.

Q: Can I Nix a morph since it has no mana cost?

A: A morph has no mana cost, but Nix doesn't care about that - it cares what was spent to play it, and 3 was indeed paid.

Nix can target it, though. Nix can target any spell, and it just won't do anything if mana was paid to play it. Remember to make sure that you're asking what you really mean to ask if you call a judge at a tournament with a question.

Q: How does Herald of Leshrac work in Emperor, if I give my teammate control of it after stealing a handful of lands from our opponents?

A: The Herald will keep all of his age counters, but won't get +1/+1 for lands that you stole, since you're no longer his controller. Your teammate can start stealing lands in large numbers from opponents in his range of influence, which will only be opposing Generals until one of them is killed.

The real bonus, though, is that if the Herald dies, you won't lose the lands that you stole. And for added shenanigans, you can just pass him back and forth every time his cumulative upkeep triggers, never actually paying his cumulative upkeep cost, so that no one ever has to return any stolen lands. Remember that you can't steal lands unless you can steal a land for each age counter, though, so this won't usually create a hard lock of land theft - just a really unfair situation.

Q: Do I have to discard my hand at the end of every turn if I control a Pyromancer's Swath, or only the end of a turn in which I play an instant or sorcery that deals damage?

A: At the end of every turn. The "At end of turn..." ability is on a new line, so it's not tied to the damage-increasing replacement effect at all.

Q: Do face-down creatures stay face-down when they phase out?

A: They do. Rule 504.5 clarifies this very specifically, but the general rule of thumb is "Stop any situation in which an Island could be played face down without all players knowing this before the end of the game." Since face-down cards phased out won't go to a zone where they can be confused with other cards, you can still keep track of them and verify that they have morph at the end of the game.

Q: In a previous article, you mentioned a Venser's Sliver going through a bunch of layers. If I used Last Gasp to give it -3/-3, wouldn't that make it -1/-1 in layer 6b so it'd die?

A: It'll be -1/-1 for a brief instant, but the game does not check state-based effects during the application of continuous effects, only when a player would receive priority.

Q: Can I create a million titans with Pact of the Titan and Djinn Illuminatus, or can I not pay the replicate cost?

A: The mana cost (and therefore the replicate cost) is 0, not [NULL], so you can pay it as many times as you like. I hope you have a plan to avoid paying four million generic and one million red mana in your next upkeep, though.

Q: I've heard that Seht's Tiger can counter a hellbent Demonfire. Is that right?

A: Yes and no. The Tiger itself can't counter anything, but the fact that you have protection from red (that is what you chose, right?) will cause Demonfire to be countered on resolution because it has no legal targets. A hellbent Demonfire can't be countered by spells or abilities, but game rules can counter it just fine.

Q: When do you choose the targets for Riddle of Lightning?

A: During the third step of playing it, just like any other spell. The "choose a target" wording is just to make the card easy to read, and doesn't change the fact that all targets are always chosen during step 3 of playing spells or abilities.

Q: Can I still concede if I've played Angel's Grace this turn?

A: Sure. The big Golden Rule of Magic, 103.1, makes a specific exception for the rules on concession so that no card can ever deny a player the right to concede and lose the game. Additionally, the Universal Tournament Rules (section 25) states that a player who chooses not to play should be assumed to have conceded, reinforcing one simple fact:

You can't make someone play if they don't want to.

(Without committing Unsporting Conduct--Aggressive Behavior, anyway.)

Q: If I Fork an Arc Blade, will the copy get removed from the game with time counters?

A: It will.

Too bad it generally won't matter.

As soon as state-based effects are checked, the copy will cease to exist, and all those time counters will be lost in space for all eternity. At least the copy won't trigger any "whenever a card is put into your graveyard from anywhere" triggers.

Because Myr are cute.
Q: Um... What color is Sarcomite Myr?

A: It's blue. Look at that shiny border.

Well, look at the mana cost. It's an artifact, and artifacts are generally colorless, but that's because they have no colored mana in their mana cost, not because they're artifacts. This Myr does have a colored mana symbol in its mana cost, so it's not colorless.

Q: Can I pay 1 and remove zero counters from Dreadship Reef just to get rid of extra mana?

A: Sure, 0 is a number, and there is no restriction on choosing 0 for X.

Q: Can I play Zoetic Cavern from my graveyard face down if I have Crucible of Worlds in play?

A: You cannot. To play a card face down, first you turn it face down and then you check whether you can legally play it. Once you turn the Cavern face down, the Crucible doesn't see a land anymore and doesn't allow you to play it.

Q: If I Delay my opponent's Seething Song, will he be forced to play it in three turns, or can he choose not to so he doesn't burn?

A: He must play it. When the last counter is removed from a suspended card, the final trigger says "You will play me, RIGHT NOW!" You can only ignore this trigger if it's impossible to do what it's asking with your available resources.

Q: Does turning Vesuvan Shapeshifter face up trigger comes-into-play abilities?

A: Nope. It doesn't come into play, it's just taking off its gooey morph-mask.

Q: Will Flash be banned?

A: No one knooooows. [Cue spooky music]

The next series of bannings will be on the first of June, so watch then. After that, bannings will happen again in September.

Q: My opponent has Riptide Mangler out and I have a Grizzly Bear out. He uses Riptide Mangler's ability to set its power to Grizzly Bear's power so that it's now a 2/3. I play Darkblast on the Mangler and it resolves, so Riptide Mangler is now a 1/2.

Can he use Riptide Mangler's ability to make it a 2/2 by setting its power to Grizzly Bear's power or will Dark Blast apply last, making it a 1/2 still?

A: The Mangler's power-setting ability applies in layer 6b, and so does Darkblast. Since neither depends on the other, you go down to timestamps, and apply each one in the order they resolved.

That's all for this week. Tune in next week as we approach Regionals for more strange interactions and to find out how YOU can use a simian army to ensure YOUR victory.

Until next time, remember: Inviting Jaya Ballard to your cookouts may sound sexy, but she's really too hot for you to handle.

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, AZ


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