Cranial Insertion: Magus Delay

Cranial Insertion
Magus Delay
or, Blame It on the Stone Rain

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

With Grand Prix: Columbus coming this weekend...

There will be no discussion of Protean Hulk or Flash.

There will, however, be plenty of answers for questions from the [email][email protected][/email] mailbag!

Q: Can you dredge the cards you discard from a Tolarian Winds? I'm not sure if you can use an activated ability mid way through a resolution.

A: It's true that you can't normally play activated abilities while another spell or ability is resolving. (The exception is that you can play mana abilities if an effect requires you to pay mana.) But that's a matter for another question, as dredge isn't an activated ability.

Dredge is a static ability that creates a replacement effect, which replaces each of your draws with the option to dredge if your library has enough cards. Since replacement effects work whenever the event they could replace happens, you can discard a Life from the Loam to the "discard" part of Tolarian Winds, and then replace one of your draws from the same spell with dredge to get the Loam back.

Q: How does Angel's Grace interact with Pact of Negation? Would I be able to play Angel's Grace before losing the game triggers?

A: No, but that's not what you need to do to avoid losing the game.

The very first thing that happens at the start of a player's upkeep step is that triggered abilities that trigger "at the beginning of upkeep" go on the stack. This happens before either player gains priority, so your first opportunity to play Angel's Grace is when the Pact's "pay or you lose the game" trigger is already on the stack.

However, as with other triggered abilities, this one doesn't do anything until it resolves. So playing Angel's Grace in response to the trigger means that its effect will be set up in time. Pact asks you to pay mana, you say "nu-uh," Pact says "well, you lose the then," Angel's Grace says "talk to the hand, not losing this turn," Pact walks off in a huff, and you continue with the rest of your turn.

Q: If Tendrils of Agony has multiple possible targets, and if I cast Seht's Tiger in response to the storm trigger, do the storm copies *have* to target my opponent, or can he leave me as the target so they all get countered because of an illegal target?

A: When the triggered ability of storm resolves and creates copies of the storm spell, the controller of the trigger has the option to change targets. If the player chooses not to change the targets, then the copies have the same target as the spell being copied. The player is not obligated to change targets if the original target has already somehow become illegal (in this case, by gaining protection from the spell's color). The copies, as with the original spell, will all be countered on resolution due to an illegal target.

Q: When a card asks to put cards you are looking at from the library on the bottom of your library, do you have the liberty to put them in any order?

A: Absolutely. This used to be written out on cards all the time, but WotC got tired of writing and just stuck it in the CompRules.

Quote from CompRules »
217.2d If an effect puts two or more cards on the top or bottom of a library at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order. That library’s owner doesn’t reveal the order in which the cards go into his or her library.

Q: With a Magus of the Future in play and a Predict on top of my library, when I announce that I am playing Predict and move it to the stack, do I get to see the next card of my library before Predict resolves? If so, what if Predict was a different card that required targets. Would the next card in my library be revealed before I had to declare my targets? (For instance, with Vexing Arcanix, to decide whether to target myself or my opponent.)

A: Yes, no, and maybe, in that order.

Wait, there were only two questions.

Okay, let's start with the first one.

You'll definitely get to see the top card of your library before the Predict resolves. That Magus of the Future might as well have the Hawk creature type, because it certainly watches your library like one to make sure that card is revealed.

However, there is a small window during which you can't see the top card of your library. Then again, since you can't see through it, "window" may be a bad word. So let's say there's a small opaque object through which you can't see it. This is defined by, strangely enough, the very next entry in the CompRules after our previous answer:

217.2e Some effects tell a player to play with the top card of his or her library revealed. If the top card of the player's library changes while a spell or ability is being played, the new top card won't be revealed until the spell or ability becomes played (see rule 409.1i).

That section 217.2 seems popular today.

Anyway, since the first part of playing a spell is moving it to the stack (keep this in mind for later), that would cause the top card of the library to change while playing the spell. So you won't get to know what that next card is until after you've chosen the targets and paid costs for the spell you're already playing.

Somebody should have told Cartman a Tendrils of Agony
with nine copies is much more effective.
Q: When both players have to dish out Leylines, the player playing first puts them down first right? One game my opponent put down two Voids, and I followed with a Singularity. Then we fought each other to the death with feather pillows.

A: I can't imagine how long that fight took. It's probably about as effective as trying to pummel someone to death with a wiffleball bat.

The active player chooses what Leylines in his hand to put into play first, and leaves them face down or otherwise unrevealed. Then the non-active player does the same... so the NAP will know how many Leylines the other player chooses to start the game in play, but doesn't know their identity.

In this example the exact order doesn't matter. The end result is the same: as soon as a player would get priority when the game starts, state-based effects will see two permanents with the legendary supertype named "Leyline of the Void" and whisk them away to the proper graveyards.

Q: What happens if, while I have a Bridge from Below in my graveyard, someone plays a Damnation? Can I choose how creatures go to the graveyard and create zombies before my opponent's creatures remove the Bridge, or is this something that depends on who has priority when playing the spell or ability?

A: Since you control the Bridge from Below, you'll control all of the triggers, so it's not an issue of whose turn it is or who has priority.

While you choose the order in which your creatures are placed into the graveyard, this doesn't affect how Bridge from Below resolves. All the creatures are hitting the graveyard as part of the same event, and the relevant ability on the Bridge will trigger for each of your creatures and for each of your opponent's.

What you're probably more interested in is whether you get to choose the order in which all those triggers go on the stack. As you control the source of the triggered abilities, you control all the triggers, so you get to make that choice. Putting all of the "remove Bridge from Below" triggers on the stack before the "get token creatures" triggers ensures you'll get your token creatures before the Bridge crumbles into the RFG zone.

Q: If I bounce a morphed creature does my opponent have to reveal it? What would the consequences be if a player refused to reveal the morph?

A: There are a few cases in which a face-down card must be revealed, per CompRule 504.6:
1)When a face-down object leaves the in-game zone for anywhere other than the "phased-out" zone,
2)When a face-down object leaves the stack for anywhere other than the "in-play" zone,
3)When the game ends, any face-down object in play, phased out, or on the stack must be revealed.

The consequences for not doing this depend on the situation; the best thing to do in sanctioned play is to call a judge and let them sort out the mess. The penalty will be different depending on the situation (whether the player really knew he was supposed to reveal the face-down object, if the object could legally be face down in the first place, etc.)

Q: I have an Erayo, Soratami Ascendant in play, and my opponent's Dragonstorm starts going off. After four spells are played, she activates and goes on the stack. She resolves and is flipped. Does her new ability activate against the card on the bottom of this stack?

A: Erayo's Essence's triggered ability (and it's important to note that all of the abilities of Erayo are triggered, not activated) can't "look back in time" to trigger. That triggered ability must be present when the trigger condition occurs, so it won't counter the first spell your opponent played that turn.

Q: With Magus of the Moon in play, will my artifact lands (like Seat of the Synod) still be artifacts so that I can sacrifice them to my Arcbound Ravager?

A: Yes. Magus of the Moon and its non-creature ancestor Blood Moon only change the land subtypes of non-basic lands to Mountain. They don't change any other types the land may have, so Seat of the Synod would be an Artifact Land--Mountain that can tap for R and still be easily sacrificed to a Ravager.

Q: With Magus of the Moon in play, will my cycle-lands (like Tranquil Thicket) also be mountains in my hand, or can I still cycle them?

A: Magus of the Moon affects "non-basic lands." Whenever a card type is referred to without any other qualifying noun, it only affects permanents with that type in play. (Contrast with Crucible of Worlds, which refers to "land cards," allowing it to work with what's in your graveyard.)

So Magus of the Moon can only affect non-basic lands that are in play; non-basic land cards in your hand are unaffected.

Q: If there is a Chalice of the Void with 0 counters in play, will my face-down creature spells be countered?


*waits for someone to point out that playing a creature face-down costs 3*

"But playing a creature face-down costs 3!"

Yes, it does, but the rules define face-down objects as having no mana cost. If an object has no mana cost, then its converted mana cost is 0. Since Chalice looks at the spell's converted mana cost, not what you paid to play it, it will counter any face-down creature played through Morph.

Poor Lumithread Field. If it had been adequately prepared
it wouldn't have to see such Grave Peril coming.
Q: With Grave Peril in play; you play Lumithread Field face down and then, with the triggered ability from Grave Peril on the stack, turn it face up. Will it die?

A: The Field will become quite terrified of its surroundings, so much so that it will go to the graveyard. When Grave Peril says to destroy "that creature," it means "the object that caused this ability to trigger." It doesn't check when it resolves to see whether that object is still a creature.

Some Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses would have helped.

Q: I play Conspiracy naming Saproling, Life and Limb, and Blood Moon in that order. Stomping Ground comes into play. What happens?

A: The universe implodes.

Well, nothing quite that catastrophic, but it's certainly not pretty.

All of these effects do something in layer 4 (type, supertype, and subtype changing effects), so the first thing we need to determine is whether any one is dependent on any other one.

An effect is dependent on another if all of the following are true:
1) Both effects are in the same layer,
2) Applying one effect would change the text or existence of the first effect, what it applies to, or what it does to what it applies to, and
3) Neither of the effects are characteristic-defining abilities.

As we've already established all the effects are in the same layer, that's #1. Now for #2...

Conspiracy: If Life and Limb makes a Forest a creature, then Conspiracy would affect that Forest.

Life and Limb: If Blood Moon makes something no longer a Forest, then Life and Limb won't affect it.

Blood Moon: If Life and Limb makes a Saproling a Forest, then Blood Moon would affect it. But since there are no creatures in play, Blood Moon is not dependent.

And none of these effects are characteristic-defining, as they don't explicitly define a characteristic of the object itself.

So now we apply the only independent effect: Blood Moon. Stomping Grounds becomes just a Mountain.

Neither Conspiracy nor Life and Limb have anything left to do now, so they sit back and play wiffleball.


Q:Now someone plays a Kobolds of Kher Keep.

A: Here we go again....

This time, Blood Moon is dependent on Life and Limb. We know they're all interdependent – a loop where each effect is dependent on at least one other effect. So per rule 418.5d, the effect with the earliest timestamp is applied first.

Conspiracy: The Kobold becomes a 0/1 Creature - Saproling.

Now we have to check the other effects for dependency again. Life and Limb is dependent on Blood Moon, since Blood Moon causes Stomping Grounds to stop being a Forest. But Blood Moon is also dependent on Life and Limb since Life and Limb creates a new nonbasic land for it to mess around with! Once again, we resort to timestamps.

Life and Limb: The Kobold becomes a 1/1 Creature Land - Saproling Forest, and the Stomping Grounds becomes a 1/1 Creature Land - Saproling Mountain Forest.

Blood Moon: Both become 1/1 Creature Land - Saproling Mountain. [Side note: MS Word is offering me directions to Creature Land and Saproling Mountain. I am intrigued. -Ed.]

Note that if you play a Kobold without a Stomping Grounds, or shuffle the order of the three type-changing cards, your answer may change.

Double phew.

At this point I'd like to step away from the mailbag to address an interaction that's been coming up a lot on various forums, namely what happens when Delay counters a spell that was played with flashback. (Cabal Therapy has always been my favorite such spell, so let's go with that).

Normally, when a spell is countered, it's put into its owner's graveyard. In the case of flashback spells, that doesn't happen because part of flashback is a replacement effect that says "If this spell would be moved from the stack to anywhere else, move it to the removed-from-game zone instead."

However, Delay introduces another replacement effect of a different kind to the mix. It has what's called a "self-replacement effect." These effects modify what another part of the spell would normally do. In the case of Delay, it replaces putting the countered spell in the graveyard by removing it from the game, giving it suspend, and putting three time counters on it

When a self-replacement effect is present, it is always applied first, then any other replacement effects are applied if they're still applicable. So in the case of Cabal Therapy being played by flashback, Delay tries to do its thing and remove the spell from the game. Flashback sees that the spell is already headed for the RFG zone and doesn't have any additional effect. So the Therapy gets its time counters and suspend.

Then a few turns later, the last time counter is removed and the Cabal Therapy is played. At this point it is considered an entirely new spell, with no "memory" of the fact that it was played by flashback. After it resolves, it will go to the graveyard.
So in short, the process of events when a flashedback spell is Delayed is exactly the same as when a normal spell is Delayed: it gets removed from the game, gets time counters, gets suspend, and will go to the graveyard when (and if) it eventually resolves.

Tune in next week (to the extent one can tune into a web site) for more harrowing rules interactions!


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