Cranial Insertion: The More Things Change

Cranial Insertion
The More Things Change
or, The More Monkeys Stay the Same!

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

So, the Future is on the shelves and legal for limited. Among the wackiness of Contraptions, Planeswalkers, and tapping enchantments, a more subtle oddity has gone much unnoticed: The Magic Comprehensive Rules took a few huge changes. Make sure to download the latest version so you can keep up with our answers; if you don't care to read 137 pages (I would have sworn the document would go over 145 pages, but I lost that bet. Now Moko gets to drive my convertible. God help us all.), you can read a list of the changes at our favorite Tog's website.

Go ahead and download and read. I'll still be here when you're done, clutching whatever's left of my precious car and sobbing.

All done? Then let's look at some Future Sight cards and how some cards work now that The Future has its grasp on them.

Fun Fact: Card image has no
rules significance. For instance,
you don't need to drop a Dragon
when you play Flash, nor a Totem.
Q: If my team plays first in a Two-Headed Giant game, who skips the draw?

A: Oh hey, look, a bright shiny rules change! With the Future Sight rules update, 2HG goes back to the old rule: the team which plays first skips the entire draw step. No more “secondary player only draws” silliness.

Spread the word as much as possible – everyone should know before they go to a 2HG tournament rather than be surprised when the tournament starts.

Q: Flash and Protean Hulk – people keep saying this is a combo, but the Gatherer rulings say it isn’t.

A: The Gatherer rulings were out of date and have since been corrected. The combo (put Hulk into play with Flash, then sacrifice it, fetching lethal damage with Disciples of the Vault) does work with the most recent errata to Flash.

The current policy is that a card’s wording with errata should match its most common printed functionality, and errata to power-down a card is against policy. Some cards like Phyrexian Dreadnaught look like power level errata, but that’s really just a reflection of how the rules worked Back Then.

So don’t expect Flash to receive any more errata. It might get the banhammer, though.

Because MaRo likes to make
judges' lives "interesting."
Q: How does Dryad Arbor under Humility? What about Blood Moon?

A: With Humility out, the Dryad looks a little green around the gills. But with Blood Moon, she’ll be seeing red – but won’t be Red herself.

“This is green” and “Everything loses abilities” are both layer 5 effects. Within each layer, apply all characteristic-defining abilities such as color-setters first, and then everything else. So the Dryad becomes Green, then forgets why she’s Green.

Blood Moon, though, makes her grow into a Mountain in layer 4, and because she gains a basic land type, she loses all of her other abilities, and the color-setting ability will never be around in layer 5 to apply.

Q: Sutured Ghoul removes Allosaurus Rider – is the Ghoul 1/1 or 0/0?

A: Neither – he’s huge.

This represents two changes to how the * on cards works. Previously, he would be 0/0 since 1+[undefined] was an undefined value; now “undefined” translates to 0 before you add 1 to it. This ruling applies to things like Lost Order of Jarkeld whose characteristic-defining ability involves a choice that may be invalid.

The second big change is that an unconditional ability that sets power and toughness applies in all zones – even removed from the game. So if you have 7 lands in play, your Ghoul will be 8/8. Play another land, and he goes to 9/9.

Q: If Dralnu, Lich Lord gives a card flashback, will [card]Yixlid Jailer[card] take it away?

A: Both of these effects are applied in layer 5, and applying the Jailer won’t change what Dralnu’s ability does or that it exists, so you go by timestamps. If the Jailer is in play before you play Dralnu’s ability, the card will have flashback.

Q: Can I suspend the top card of my library if I have Magus of the Future in play?

A: No can do. While you can suspend cards if you can play them, you can only suspend them from your hand.

Q: I have a Korlash, Heir to Blackblade in play. I play Mutilate. If I respond to it with Korlash's grandeur ability, will the two additional Swamps help Korly through the mutilation process, or will Mutilate get the boost too?

A: Mutilate will get the boost, too. You don’t determine the X for Mutilate until it resolves, so barring any other effects, Mutilate will always kill Korlash.

Q: If I attack with a Troll Ascetic, and my opponent blocks with a Thornweald Archer, do I have to pay the regeneration cost twice to let my Troll live?

A: You do. Poor troll. You’ll need to regenerate from the lethal damage, and then the deathtouch trigger will try to kill the troll again.

Q: What does Nacatl War-Pride do in Two-Headed Giant, besides make judges cry?

A: A lot less than in one-on-one. When you attack with it, you have a triggered ability asking about a defending player. Since there are two, you pick one of them. Then the kitty counts that player’s creatures, and you get that many kittens.

That’s not really judge-tear-inducing. Try having three War-Prides, Hivestone, lots of Slivers, Doubling Season and Mana Echoes. There’s a headache.

Q: How does Bitter Ordeal interact with Aven Mindcensor? Can I only remove the top four cards if I have ten storm copies?

A: You’re missing one very important thing: each copy resolves one at a time. So you’ll look at the top four cards, remove one of them, shuffle, and then look at the top four cards again – four entirely new and exciting (or bland and boring) cards.

You can’t shortcut this by picking up the top 13 cards, since that allows you to pick cards below the top four without picking any of the top four, and that’s not legal. The shortcut of picking up the entire library and searching all at once is usually fine as long as nothing is restricting what you can search, though.

Q: Can I play Slaughter Pact during my upkeep and pay for it right away? I don't like credit.

A: Sorry, that’s a credit card, not a debit card. The Pacts set up a delayed trigger that’ll go off on your next upkeep, and you can’t pay until that trigger resolves.

Beware the Swamp-devouring Volcanic Awakening.

Q: If I play Angel of Salvation and tap only a Centuar Omenreader to convoke it, does it cost 5WW or 3WW?

A: It’ll still cost you 5WW. During step b of playing a spell, you announce your intent to tap one creature for convoke. Then, after you determine the total cost of 5WW, you pay. Here’s where you tap the centaur as part of the payment , but oops, you’ve already locked in the total cost.

Q: What does Imperial Mask do in three-man team formats, anyway?

A: It’s an expensive Ivory Mask.

Look to your right. Teammate!
Look to your left. Teammate!
Look at the game you’re playing. No teammate.

And Imperial Mask only affects the game you’re playing. This isn’t Silver-Bordered Land.

Q: I play Scout's Warning during my main phase because of my opponent's Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. Can I then play a creature during combat?

A: Scout’s Warning says you can play creatures at weird times. Teferi sticks his fingers in his ears, sticks out his tongue, and says “NEENER NEENER YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” Since “can’t” overrules “can”, Teferi wins despite his lack of manners.

Teferi is a very rude man.

I suggest a Sudden Death for him.

Q: Can I target Spellwild Ouphe three times with Conflagrate so it only costs red mana to deal 3 damage to it?

A: Nope. You’re asked to choose multiple targets at once, and you can’t target the same object more than once for each instance of choosing targets.

Not only can you only target it once, targeting it several times wouldn’t help you. The Ouphe reduces the cost of spells by 2 if the spell targets it, regardless of how many times it does so.

Q: What happens to a face-down creature spell that gets Delayed?

A: It sits around and waits. As long as it’s waiting, it might as well turn face up and breathe a bit!

More to the point, a card removed from the game is removed face up unless the effect removing it explicitly says otherwise. When Delay is done holding the creature off, it’ll be played for free face up.

Q: If Sakashima the Imposter copies Baru, Fist of Krosa, can I discard another Sakashima for grandeur? Another Baru? Both?

A: Only another Baru. When a card uses its name, it usually just means “this card,” but “a card named” makes this a special case. The name won’t change with the copy effect, and Sakashima will still feel grander when you pitch the guy he’s impersonating.

Q: Could I play Imperiosaur with two Forests, each enchanted by Utopia Sprawl?

A: That won’t work. When you tap a Forest for mana, the Sprawl’s triggered ability is what’s adding another :symg:, not the Forest itself.

Q: If a Gibbering Descent stops me from having my next upkeep, will I never have to pay for a Slaughter Pact?

A: As long as you stay hellbent, you won’t have to pay for the Pact. But as soon as you actually have an upkeep, the credit card company will come pounding on your door.

“At the beginning of your next upkeep” isn’t the same as “at the beginning of your next turn’s upkeep” – the latter wording would never trigger if that one turn’s upkeep were skipped, but the former wording (which the Pacts use) will sit around waiting until the condition is met.

Q: How does Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir work with Dryad Arbor? Can I play it during my opponent's turn?

A: You can play it any time you could play an instant, since it has flash. But you can’t play it if you’ve already played a land this turn. And you can’t ever, no matter what, play it on an opponent’s turn. Rule 212.6b clears this up nicely:

Quote from CR 212.6b »
A player may not play a land during another player’s turn, even if an effect would seem to allow the player to do so.

Q: What does flashback do if the spell gets Delayed?

A: It stops caring. Flashback only cares if a card tries to go anywhere other than removed-from-game from the stack, so it ignores Delay pulling the spell out. Then, because the card changed zones, flashback no longer tracks it, and the card will be put into the graveyard when it’s eventually played and resolves.

Q: My opponent Delayed my Lightning Axe. I have a good card in hand, but only four lands. Do I have to discard my card?

A: You do. If there’s any way you can play a suspended card with all of your available resources, you must. Note that untapped lands aren’t mana, so if you don’t juice them for their yummy mana, you don’t have mana as an available resource.

Q: When does Future Sight become legal?

A: Two days ago! A set is always legal for limited formats (Sealed and Draft) as soon as it’s released.

It’ll be legal for constructed tournaments (including FNM and Grand Prix) on May 20th. A bit late for GP Columbus and City Champs Finals, but in time for Regional Champs.

A set is always legal for constructed formats on the next 20th following its release. For example, Coldsnap was released after July 20th, so it wasn’t legal until August 20th. Tenth Edition, on the other hand, will be released on July 13th and will then be legal on July 20th – an unusually short waiting period.

That's a wrap for this week. Don't forget, City Champs finals are coming up (if you're doing that in your part of the world), and if you're anywhere near the top eight players in your "city," go! Invitations to the Top 8 pass down if any of those eight players don't show up. And I don't know about you, but my organizer is running a lot of side events, including full-block drafts and possibly 2HG. Mmmm. Now I just need to figure out how to get to Phoenix.

Until next time, don't give monkeys your car keys. And enjoy the future!

-Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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