Cranial Insertion: Suture Fight!

Cranial Insertion
Suture Fight!

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

I have seen the future, and the card face is icky! At least, I have seen cards from Future Sight at our Prerelease (and the future-shifted card face is still icky). This week, we’ll be covering questions asked at that very event, so this article is 100% about Future Sight. Prereleases are full of questions about new cards, how the new cards work with existing cards, and interesting situations in general. Strap on your thinking caps for this one.

As always, you can send us your questions, about Future Sight or cards from any other set, to [email][email protected][/email]. We empty the mailbag pretty often in this column, so if validation from your friends is what you seek, we can offer you a small sliver of that.

This just in! As a special bonus to you, our esteemed readers, we’re doing part of this column quiz-style! It’s been a few months since we did one, and what better time to dust it off than with the release of a new set? However, because this is a new set, and because the quiz columns yield less content, we’re going to do half and half (or thereabouts) so we can still cram in a lot of questions.

Are your thinking caps on tight? Here we go. . . .

Q: How does Shapeshifter’s Marrow work in 2HG if both revealed cards are creatures?

A. Both revealed cards? It only triggers once. You get to choose which head will reveal their top card. If the revealed card is a creature, Shapeshifter’s Marrow becomes a copy of it.
B. It triggers twice, once for each opponent. The active player on the opposing team reveals his creature first, and that’s what Shapeshifter’s Marrow copies.
C. It triggers twice, once for each opponent. When the first ability resolves, the Marrow will copy that creature. When the second ability resolves, the Marrow will become a copy of that creature.
D. Both revealed cards? It only triggers once. The active head on the opposing team must reveal his top card. If the revealed card is a creature, Shapeshifter’s Marrow becomes a copy of it.
E. 1.21 gigawatts!!?

C. You have two opponents in 2HG, so Shapeshifter’s Marrow will trigger twice. You can stack those triggers in whatever order you want. When the first resolves (remember, we’re presuming both reveal creature cards), the Marrow becomes a copy of that creature card. The second ability is still on the stack and has to resolve. When that also finds a creature, the erstwhile Shapeshifter’s Marrow will become a copy of whatever that creature card is. Then it’s finished making copies, at the copier, copyrama.

Q: How do poison counters work in 2HG?

A. Whichever player you assign damage to gets a poison counter. When the team has 10 combined, they lose.
B. Whichever player you assign damage to gets a poison counter. When a player has 10 or more, he loses the game, causing his team to lose.
C. You assign damage normally to the team. Choose one player to get the poison counter. When a player has 10 or more, he loses the game, causing his team to lose.
D. You assign damage normally to the team, and give the team a poison counter. When the team has 10 combined, they lose.
E. The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

And in the future, just like the present, it’s B. While you attack and block as a team in 2HG, damage is always assigned to a specific player. If you have a creature that gives poison counters on dealing damage, then the player you damaged will be getting those poison counters. When a player has ten, state-based effects cause him to lose the game, which makes the team lose the game. And the match, since 2HG is a one-game format.

Q: Can Cloud Key set to creature reduce the cost of face-down creature spells?

A. No. Cloud Key will not be able to tell that the spell being played face-down is a creature spell.
B. Yes. It’s a creature spell, so the cost reduction applies.
C. No. You’re paying an alternative cost to play the creature spell, so you don’t get to apply cost reductions.
D. Yes, but it applies after cost reductions normally would, since you used an alternative cost to play the spell.
E. Tab? I can't give you a tab unless you order something.

B again. You’re playing a creature spell. Even if it’s face-down and paid with an alternative cost, it’s still a creature spell. Cloud Key will reduce the cost.

Q: How exactly do I assemble a Contraption?

A. Very carefully.
B. By reading the manual.
C. Pay someone else to do it for you.
D. What’s Moriok Rigger’s creature type again?
E. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth's gravitational pull?

It doesn’t matter! There’s no such thing as a Contraption in current Magic. Steamflogger Boss gave us a glimpse of a possible future, one where abilities like transfigure are running loose. Will there be Contraptions in the future? Who knows. But if there are, I’m sure Riggers will be assembling them, and that might make Steamflogger Boss a hot card in Vintage circa 2015.

(Moriok Rigger’s creature type, by the way, is Human Rogue.)

Q: I have a Vesuvan Shapeshifter copying an Epochrasite. When the Shapeshifter dies, what happens?

A. The copy effect ends as soon as it leaves play. It goes to the graveyard as a Vesuvan Shapeshifter and stays there.
B. It will remove itself from the game and gain suspend, since the creature was a copy of Epochrasite when it left play. When it is played again, it’s still an Epochrasite, so it gets the three counters.
C. It goes to the graveyard and the ability triggers. When the ability resolves, however, the card is no longer a copy of Epochrasite and will not be removed from the game.
D. It will remove itself from the game and gain suspend, since the creature was a copy of Epochrasite when it left play. When it’s played again, you choose a new creature to copy.
E. If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour . . . you're gonna see some serious ****.

It’s D. When the Shapeshifter dies, it’s a copy of Epochrasite. The game sees it as one, since leaves-play triggers have to look back in time to see what should really trigger (CR 410.10d). The Shapeshifter will remove itself from the game, get its three time counters, and gain suspend. When it’s played again after being “un-suspended,” it’s just like playing it any other time: you choose a creature to copy.

Q: Which of the following can allow a Force of Savagery to stay in play and not be sent packing for having a 0 toughness? (Choose all that apply.)

A. Gaea’s Anthem
B. Primal Forcemage
C. Stonewood Invocation
D. Thran Weaponry (already activated and still tapped)
E. Giant Growth
F. Activating Scale of Chiss-Goria
G. I'm sure in 1985 plutonium is available at every corner drugstore, but in 1955 it's a little hard to come by.

I hope it was only one, because there was only one right answer, and that’s A. Gaea’s Anthem is the only thing that will save your Force of Savagery. A continuous effect like the one the Anthem creates applies to a creature constantly, so there’s never a point when the Force is in play and not enjoying the lifesaving +1/+1 bonus. Let’s go over why the rest of them are wrong:

  • Primal Forcemage has a triggered ability. Before that triggered ability can resolve, state-based effects will see the Force has a 0 toughness and send it to the graveyard.
  • Stonewood Invocation and Giant Growth fail for the same reason: you can’t play them until you get priority after the Force resolves. State-based effects elbow you back in the priority line, however, and kick the Force into the graveyard before you can play either of those spells. Split second was something of a red herring here; while it’s useful in a lot of situations, it doesn’t do anything in this one.
  • Scale of Chiss-Goria is an activated ability, which you need priority after the Force resolves to play. This fails for the same reason the pump spells do.
  • Thran Weaponry was the real red herring here. It looks like it should apply, right? I mean, it’s already been activated and it’s still tapped, so all creatures get +2/+2, right? Yes . . . all objects that were creatures when that effect began, that is. Here’s the rule on this one:

418.3b The set of objects that are affected by continuous effects from spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities that modify the characteristics or change the controller of those objects is determined when that continuous effect begins. After that point, the set won’t change. Note that these work differently than continuous effects from static abilities

So the set of objects affected by the Weaponry’s bonus is determined when the continuous effect begins. After that, it doesn’t change.

“Choose all that apply” was deliberately misleading. Get used to being misled and misdirected if you want to take judge tests. There are a lot of almost-right answers out there that will lead you down the primrose path to nowhere.

Q: I attack with Nacatl War-Pride and its ability triggers. Before that ability resolves, my opponent destroys it. What happens? Do I still get tokens?

A. Yes. The ability triggered, and since it’s not being countered, it will resolve. Nacatl War-Pride is no longer in play, so the game will use its last-known information to create the tokens.
B. No. Nacatl War-Pride needs to be in play for its ability to resolve.
C. Yes. The ability triggered, and since it’s not being countered, it will resolve. However, since the War-Pride is no longer in play, the tokens will have undefined characteristics, so they’ll be 0/0’s that exist only briefly.
D. No. Destroying the source of a triggered ability removes that ability from the stack.
E. Well, that is your name, isn't it? Calvin Klein? It's written all over your underwear.

A, tokens abound! The War-Pride’s ability triggered, and since it’s not being countered by anything, it’s going to resolve. The original feisty feline is no longer in play, though, so what are the tokens going to be? Thankfully, resolving triggered abilities can use last-known information when they need to know something about an object that is no longer where it’s expected to be. In this case, LKI will tell the game the characteristics of the tokens, and the appropriate number of them will be made when the ability resolves.

Last quiz-show style question!

Q: I attack with a face-down Zoetic Cavern, which my opponent blocks with a Thornweald Archer. With damage on the stack, I use the morph ability and turn the Caverns face-up. My opponent thinks the Cavern is still destroyed. Is he right?

A. Yes. Even though the damaged object changed types, it’s still the same object, so it will still be destroyed.
B. No. The object has changed types, so the destruction effect no longer applies.
C. Yes. Damage was on the stack, so the Archer’s deathtouch ability has already triggered.
D. No. Noncreature permanents cannot be dealt damage.
E. Time circuits on. Engine running. Flux Capacitor... fluxxing. All right!

I hope you chose A . . .

. . .

. . .

Because I don’t want you to get them all right! Muahahahahaha! :p

D is the correct answer here. And the reason it’s correct is because of this little rule:

310.4c If a creature that was supposed to receive combat damage is no longer in play or is no longer a creature, the damage assigned to it isn’t dealt.

The Archer’s combat damage that was assigned to the Cavern will not be dealt because the Cavern is cleverly disguised as a land. Because damage can’t be dealt to it, the Archer’s deathtouch ability will never trigger.

Now for the traditional Q&A portion of the article.

Q: Can Ghostfire target a creature with protection from red?

A: Sure. While a spell’s color(s) is normally determined by the mana symbols in its cost, Ghostfire has a characteristic-setting ability that tells us it’s colorless. Feel free to scorch Silver Knights with it.

Q: Sprout Swarm with buyback costs 4G. Can convoke reduce this total cost, or only the original 1G cost?

A: Convoke can reduce the total cost to play a spell. Buyback is an additional cost, and when you play a buyback spell, you announce your intent to pay the additional costs after you announce the spell (CR 409.1b). That makes the total cost of the spell 4G. Convoke – which is also an additional cost and needs to be announced along with buyback – doesn’t apply until you start paying for the spell, and that comes much later. You’ll even be able to get the cost to 0, as long as you have enough guys to tap for convoke.

Q: I played a Kavu Primarch with kicker, and my opponent countered it with Delay. When I play the Primarch off of suspend, can I pay the kicker again?

A: You can. Suspend lets you play the spell without paying its mana cost. However, you are still required to pay additional costs (if able – with suspend, you can choose not to play mana abilities, be unable to pay the additional cost (and leave the spell removed from the game if that additional cost is a required additional cost)), and you have the choice to pay optional additional costs. Kicker would be one of those. When the Kavu is played, you will have the chance to pay its kicker cost and get the four +1/+1 counters.

Q: Can Bound in Silence enchant only Rebel creatures?

A: That wouldn’t be very rebellious, would it? Bound in Silence can enchant pretty much anything. It’s not restricted to a certain creature type; if it were, it would spell that out in the first line of its rules text. Instead, it just says “enchant creature,” so you can slap it on Rebels and non-Rebels alike.

Bonus: The advantage to Bound in Silence is that you can find it with Rebel search effects.

We don't know what the name means,
but we can tell you what the card does.
Q: Muraganda Petroglyphs confuses me. Frown

A: Me too. I don’t have the foggiest idea what a “Muraganda” is.

Q: No, I mean what it affects. What’s a creature with no abilities?

A: Oh. Well, I do have the foggiest idea about that. Basically, if a creature has any text in its text box other than flavor text, it has an ability. Even if that ability doesn’t mean anything while the creature is in play, it’s still an ability. So. . .

Goblin Raider? Ability.
Llanowar Elves? Ability.
Homing Sliver? Ability. (Two, actually.)
Akroma, Angel of Wrath? Yeah. Abilities.
Face-down Scornful Egotist? No abilities.
Face-up Scornful Egotist? Ability.

Those are pretty straightforward. What gets more challenging is when spells and abilities give creatures abilities. For example, a Venser’s Sliver by itself has no abilities. A Venser’s Sliver in play along with a Sedge Sliver, though, has an ability. An Eager Cadet has no abilities. An Eager Cadet targeted by the forecast ability of Spirit en-Dal has an ability. A Grizzly Bears has no abilities. A Grizzly Bears carrying a Loxodon Warhammer, though, has two abilities, both given to it by the equipment.

Generally, anything which says a creature “has ” or “gains ” is giving the creature an ability. When a creature “gets ,” it’s a power/toughness boost, and wouldn’t be an ability. There are probably exceptions to these guidelines, though, so check the cards involved and see if the creature is being given an ability or not.

Q: My opponent played Riddle of Lightning on one of my face-down creatures. In response, I turned it face-up to reveal a Zoetic Cavern. I said the spell would be countered; my opponent said he would still scry. Who is right?

A: A winner is you. Your opponent played a spell with a single target (your face-down creature). When that spell tries to resolve, its target is no longer valid, so it will be countered upon resolution. That means none of it happens, so your opponent will not get to scry.

Target: Wayne Campbell
Q: I played Judge Unworthy on one of my opponent’s attackers. He said that was fine, so I scried and revealed a card with CMC 4. My opponent then tried to use Oriss, Samite Guardian to prevent the damage to his attacker. Can he do this?

A: Not at that moment, no. Once Judge Unworthy starts resolving, no player will get priority to play spells or abilities until it has finished resolving. The first part of its resolution is scry 3. Then you reveal your top card and deal some amount of damage to the targeted creature. As the final part of its resolution, Judge Unworthy will be put into your graveyard. If the damage to the targeted creature would be lethal, state-based effects will send it to its owner’s graveyard before any player gets priority. Regardless, if your opponent let Judge Unworthy start to resolve, he has to wait for it to resolve before he can play anything. If he wants to use a damage-prevention effect, he has to do it in response to Judge Unworthy.

Q: How does Dryad Arbor work?

A: It’s a creature land. Because it’s a land, you can only play it as a land – during one of your main phases when the stack is empty. It counts as your land drop for the turn. Because it’s a creature, it’s affected by “summoning sickness.” This means you won’t be able to tap it for its mana ability the turn you play it. It can be affected by anything that affects a land or a creature. Stone Rain kills it just as dead as Darkblast.

Q: Does Arc Blade continually suspend itself?

A: Presuming it keeps resolving, yes. It will deal 2 damage to something, then remove itself from the game with three time counters on it. In three turns (or maybe fewer), the same thing will happen again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

That’s all we have for this week. There are still plenty of Future Sight questions out there, so we’ll keep covering them as we get them!

Next week: an article title that lacks a pun based on “Future Sight.” Maybe.

-Tom Fowler


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