Cranial Insertion: The Un-un Week

Cranial Insertion
The Un-un Week
or, Yet Another Failed Attempt at a Stuffy Doll-less Article

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

What is it about that Stuffy Doll? He's got more lives than a black cat bone, a mojo (not to be confused with our zombie monkey mascot Moko), and John the Conqueroo put together. Not bad for a doll that could never dream of being a hoochie coochie man.

Anyway, he certainly shows up a lot in the [email][email protected][/email] mailbag, which we turn to again this week to answer your questions!

Q: Can I search out a sorcery with Mystical Teachings if I then play Quicken?

A: Quicken only lets you play the next sorcery you play as though it had flash, but for purposes of playing it. That spell doesn't have flash when it's in your deck, so you can't find it with Mystical Teachings.

Bonus: Since Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir gives all creature cards you own that aren't in play flash at all times, controlling this ex-planeswalker means you can Mystical Teachings for a Grizzly Bear!

Q: In a previous Cranial Insertion article you mentioned that if an effect that creates tokens allows you to choose the creature type, you can't choose random creature types like Voltron, but you can however choose a creature type from the Un-sets. I believe the example was "child" from Little Girl. Considering, that Water Gun Balloon Game creates pink tokens, is Transguild Courier six-colored, thus getting +6/+6 from Blessing of the Nephilim. ?

A: Creature types are an unusual exception in the rules in that something which exists only in Un-world can affect "normal" Magic. All of the creature types that exist in Magic are listed in the CompRules glossary, and are legal choices for creature types.

Un-fortunately (snicker) that's where it ends. Colors that exist only in Un-world don't exist in regular Magic, which still has just five colors: Black, Blue, Green, Red, and White. So the biggest bonus you're going to get from Blessing of the Nephilim is +5/+5.

I shudder to think what would happen if all the potential colors of Avatar of Me were included...

Bonus: Mistform Ultimus is a Child Mutant Ninja Turtle. Give it a few years and WotC could be getting a nasty letter from Kevin Eastman's lawyers.

Q: If I cast a Final Fortune and then during the same turn an effect like the ability on Eater of Days causes me to skip my next turn will I completely avoid losing from the Final Fortune or will I just die at the end of my next turn, whenever that might be?

A: Congratulations, you've avoided fate.

Final Fortune creates a delayed triggered ability saying "You lose the game" that triggers specifically only at the beginning of the End-of-Turn Step of the turn it creates. If the turn it creates is skipped, then that End-of-Turn Step never happens, and the ability never triggers. The game continues happily on its way.

Bonus: Before you get any bright ideas about putting Final Fortune on an Isochron Scepter, don't leave home without your Ameri... er, Platinum Angel.

Q:If I have a deck comprised of entirely foreign cards would I be allowed to have bring English versions of the cards to show to other people? Could I be penalized for seeing the English version of other cards in my deck when I am riffling through the stack to find the one card I need to show my opponent?

A: While it may be courteous for you to have English texts handy for your cards, it's not necessary as any questions about card wording should be handled by a judge anyway. All judges should have access to Oracle during a tournament for the official wording of any card, even those who weren't printed "correctly" in English to begin with.

And to answer your second question, looking at the text of cards in your deck when the rules or an effect wouldn't normally allow you to could be construed as using outside notes, which is a Very Bad Thing. You do have the right to Oracle text - just don’t raise judge suspicions by looking at a pile of cards.

Q: How does Vesuvan Shapeshifter work with morphs like Brine Elemental? When you morph the Shapeshifter and target the Elemental, does it trigger its morph effect?

A: Thanks to the replacement effect on Vesuvan Shapeshifter, it certainly does. The ability that allows the Shapeshifter to copy other creatures is a replacement effect which alters what happens when it enters play or is turned face up. Therefore, when it's done turning face-up, it has the copiable characteristics of Brine Elemental, realizes it was just turned face-up, and puts a rather salty stop to your opponent's next untap step.

Bonus: "Salt" or "Basalt" appears in the names of ten different cards. "Pepper" appears in none. Picket Wizards until they come up with spicier card names!

Q:My thought is that with Saffi Eriksdotter and Verdant Eidolon out, you could sacrifice Saffi targeting the Eidolon and then sacrifice the Eidolon for G and get infinite mana. Given that rule 217.1c says that the Eidolon would be a new object when it hits the graveyard, I am thinking that Saffi must be setting a game condition. In that case given that Saffi says "until end of turn" it seems like Saffi and the Eidolon would be making an infinite mana supply. Is this right?

A: Not quite, and in your question you actually discovered the reason why.

First, let's look at 217.1c:

217.1c An object that moves from one zone to another is treated as a new object. Effects connected with its previous location will no longer affect it. There are three exceptions to this rule: (1) Effects that change the characteristics of an artifact, creature, or enchantment spell on the stack will continue to apply to the permanent that spell creates. (2) Abilities that trigger when an object moves from one zone to another (for example, “When Rancor is put into a graveyard from play”) can find the object in the zone it moved to when the ability triggered. (3) Prevention effects that apply to damage from an artifact, creature, or enchantment spell on the stack will continue to apply to damage from the permanent that spell becomes.

It's indeed true that the Verdant Eidolon is considered a different object when it hits the graveyard, as any object is considered a new object when it changes zones. However, this case falls under one of the exceptions, namely #2. Saffi's ability has to be able to "track" the targeted creature to the graveyard, otherwise the ability would be useless. So the ability returns the Eidolon to play, at which time it's yet another new object, and sacrificing the Eidolon for another mana won't allow it to come back again.

Q:If you play Sea Drake with only one land in play, both the Drake and the land remain in play. Does it happens the same if I play Dust Elemental with only one or two creatures in play? Is it possible to get at 6/6 flying creature for 4 mana with any drawback? And is it the same when you play Whitemane Lion with no creatures in play?

A: While on the surface both of these cards would appear to do the same thing, they don't. The difference is in one simple word: "target."

Whenever an ability with targets triggers and goes on the stack, you must have a sufficient number of legal targets. If you don't, the ability is immediately removed from the stack without effect. This is why you get to keep your one land when your Sea Drake comes into play: if you can't legally target two of your lands, the triggered ability simply vanishes from the stack.

Dust Elemental's ability lacks the word "target." This means two things for us. First, the ability can't be removed from the stack if there aren't enough creatures to bounce, as there are no targeting rules involved. Second, as with any other spell or ability resolving, you must fulfill as many of the instructions as possible. If you don't have at least three creatures in play, you must return as many as you have. And since Dust Elemental is a creature... it's going back to where it came from.

As long as where it came from is your hand. If it didn't come from your hand, it's going to your hand anyway.

Whitemane Lion meets the same fate. Even if you don’t control any other creatures when you play him, he’ll be in play when his ability triggers and will bounce.

Q: If I play a creature with Halcyon Glaze in play, and the creature is countered, does Halcyon Glaze become a creature?

A: Yeah!

Wait a second... how did Lil' Jon get in here?

Anyway, the Glaze triggers "whenever you play a creature spell." In other words, it triggers immediately after you've gone through the steps in section 409 of the CompRules for playing spells and abilities (a section I like to call Formula 409). So the Glaze's trigger is already on the stack before you gain priority again, let alone your opponent getting priority to play the counter. That trigger is going to resolve unless your opponent counters it with Stifle or the like.

Q: Is the equip cost of an equipment an activated ability? Can I use equipment when Null Rod is in play?

A: Due to pesky concerns like "not having enough space on cards," the correct text of Equip resides in the CompRules. A quick look at the definition of Equip should shed some light on this:

502.33a Equip is an activated ability of artifact Equipment cards. “Equip [cost]” means “[Cost]: Attach this Equipment to target creature you control. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.”

So it's definitely an activated ability.

As for the more general question of whether you can "use" equipment when Null Rod is in play, that depends on what your definition of "is" is.

Wait, did I say "is?" I meant "use."

While you can't play any activated abilities of equipment while Null Rod is in play, stopping equip/attach abilities from being played and pretty much shutting out Umezawa's Jitte from doing anything except gaining counters, continuous and triggered abilities on equipment still function normally. So if that Loxodon Warhammer is already equipped to a creature, it will happily smash, trample, and gain life for you even with a Null Rod in play.

Q: You mentioned in a previous article something about Stuffy Doll, Guilty Conscience, and infinite loops. If I control a Platinum Angel (or another "can’t lose from Stuffy Doll damage" card) and my opponent uses his Stuffy Doll (choosing me) with Guilty Conscience on it, does this end the game in a draw? Would there be an opportunity for me to turn my Fortune Thief face up once the doll was activated?

A: The game would most likely end in a draw in that case. While the loop itself has not changed (it still consists solely of mandatory actions), introducing Platinum Angel means that an infinite number of iterations of the loop would not cause a player to lose the game. Your life would simply keep going further into the negatives with no end in sight, so the rules step in and call it a draw.

And not just a "fake" draw like the Black Knight asks for... a real, nobody-wins-nobody-loses draw.

As for Fortune Thief, you would have plenty of opportunities to turn it face up during this loop. As both players must gain and pass priority before the triggered ability on top of the stack resolves, you get priority before the triggers of both Stuffy Doll and Guilty Conscience resolve.

Q: My opponent has two Cautery Slivers in play, while I have a Merfolk Thaumaturgist. I play Ovinize on one of his Cautery Slivers, which resolves, then I use Merfolk Thaumaturgist to switch its power and toughness. My opponent tries to sacrifice his sliver in response... is this possible?

A: No, it isn't. Not only does Ovinize remove the targeted Cautery Sliver's activated ability, it also removes the ability granted to it by the other Cautery Sliver. The end result is a 0/1 sliver that closely resembles an irritated sheep which doesn't know the meaning of "self-sacrifice."

Q: My opponent attacks with Lyzolda, the Blood Witch, and has an Anthem of Rakdos in play. (He also has no cards in hand). I block Lyzolda, then he puts damage on the stack and sacrifices Lyzolda to burn me. Anthem of Rakdos would double the damage to 4, but he also draws a card because Lyzolda is black... so is he still "hellbent" when I take the shock damage?

A: The easiest way to reason this out is to follow Lyzolda's effect in the order it's written. First, her effect deals 2 damage, which is doubled to 4 by Anthem of Rakdos. Then your opponent draws a card. Unless your opponent can do something with that card, he'll still be holding it when combat damage resolves. So Lyzolda will do 5 damage to your blocker (remember she got +2/+0 when she attacked) but not 10, as Anthem of Rakdos will no longer double the combat damage.

That's all for this week. Will next week be Stuffy Doll-less as well, or will he just keep turning up like a bad penny? Only Moko knows for sure...


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