Cranial Insertion: Full Future Sight Spoiler!

Cranial Insertion
Full Future Sight Spoiler!
or, Cotton Anniversary

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Luckily, this article has split second.
As I write this introduction, going by the timestamps on my 325-page Word file, it has been two years since I first hijacked the excitement of the then-upcoming release of Saviors of Kamigawa to bring to you this little column about rules. Good thing Cranial Insertion turned out to be more popular than Saviors.

We just did a terribly long article with no new content, and we decided it would be gratuitous to slack off for another article, so this anniversary article will have content. Oh yes it will. But instead of just plundering the [email][email protected][/email] mailbox, Thijs (returned to help gather questions for this article) and I shall write this article around a very important number.


Wait, that’s not a proper representation of the letter pi. Woe, MTGS, woe, what have you done to my delicious pi?!

Oh well, since pi is right out, I guess we'll focus on the number 2.

Moko and Thijs have helped me scour the mailbox for old questions we missed and asked local players for questions, watching closely for the number two. In Moko's case, the brain-picking was a bit more literal.

Q: When do we choose who is player A and player B for a Two-Headed Giant team?

A: A and B? You choose that as you register your decks, and A and B keep the decks listed as A and B throughout the tournament.

However, I suspect you mean "primary and secondary", who will draw and who will not should you play first. That is decided each time you sit down for a match, and is not recorded anywhere.

Q: The Magic Floor Rules say that a match should be three rounds. Does that mean that if I win two games, we have to play a third?

A: You need to read on a bit more. That rule also includes this:

Quote from "MFR" »
The match should continue until one player has won the majority of games as long as match time allows.

As soon as a player has won a majority - two - the match is over.

Q: Do spells with flashback allow me to overcome Null Profusion's two-card limit, or will my hand size stop me from drawing?

A: Your hand size only matters at one time: During the cleanup step when you have to discard down to your maximum hand size. Spells like Think Twice can pump your hand way over your hand size by drawing you cards and then netting you another card while playing it via flashback.

Q: A judge ruled that if I first switched a creature's power and toughness and then someone uses Erratic Mutation on it, it would get -2/+2 instead of +2/-2. Doesn't the Mutation take effect last since it resolved last?

A: The judge was correct. The infinitely fun system of layers causes an intuitive interaction nine times out of ten, and this one of those times that the interaction is not intuitive. But the answer is that power and toughness switches are always applied last, so while a creature is under a switch effect, anything that would raise its power raises its toughness and vice versa.

Q: What happens if two zones, like my hand and library or my sideboard and graveyard, get mixed up?

A: You shuffle all your other zones into your library and start a new game. This is what was formerly known as a "non-repairable game state" and is now known as "game rules violation, upgraded due to hidden zones." There is simply no sensible way to reconstruct the game as it was before the accidental shuffling, so it's over.

He's doing the hokey-pokey!
Q: When do I have to pay 2 to stop Knight of the Holy Nimbus from regenerating?

A: Any time before it would be destroyed.

You can stop it with combat damage on the stack.

You can stop it with a Shock on the stack.

You can stop it before you play Sudden Shock, but not in response to Sudden Shock since it's a nonmana activated ability.

You can't stop it after Shock resolves, since state-based effects will try to destroy it before you can do anything.

Q: My opponent took two minutes to go through his upkeep, but when I took two minutes to declare my attackers, I got a slow play warning. Why?

A: There are two big concerns here: One, was your opponent doing stuff during his two-minute upkeep while you sat and thought during your two-minute attacker declaration? Two, was a judge watching during his upkeep?

As to the first concern, a turn taking long because a lot is happening is not necessarily slow play. A turn that involves people sitting around staring at the ceiling is.

As to the second, judges aren't mind readers, nor do our eyes see all. (Or so we want you to think. When you pass your L1 exam, you're given the gift of second sight. Shh, trade secret.)

Q: If I play Return to Dust at the end of my opponent's turn, can I still pick a second target so Horobi, Death's Wail can kill it?

A: You can. No matter when you play Return to Dust, you can choose a second target. The choice to destroy that second target can only be made if you played it during your main phase, though.

Q: If I play Cerebral Vortex before I draw any cards and replace "draw draw" with "dredge dredge", will it still deal me damage?

A: After you draw-draw - er, dredge-dredge, the Vortex will count the number of cards you've actually drawn this turn. You haven't drawn any? Then it rears back and deals you a whopping ZERO damage! Oh, the agony!

Q: Vesuvan Shapeshifter copying Chronozoa dies and makes two tokens. If I turn one face down and then my opponent uses Break Open on it, what does it look like?

A: It looks like a Chronozoa again. Vesuvan Shapeshifter's copy effect is only limited to being face up because that's what it says on the Shapeshifter. Once you actually apply its copy effect, that limitation goes away, any other copy effects - such as Chronozoa's "oh crap I'm dead, better spawn" trigger - won't copy the limitation but only the copy effect.

Q: If Yore-Tiller Nephilim tills me a Leviathan, do I have to sacrifice two Islands?

A: Nope. You only have to sacrifice islands as a cost to declare the Leviathan as an attacker. If something puts it into play attacking, it's already attacking and past the "pay me Islands" barrier.

Q: Can Timebender target something with one time counter, or does it have to be able to remove two?

A: Timebender has no restriction on how many time counters the target needs to have in order to remove them - it could even have zero time counters. Compare the first choice ("target permanent") with the second choice, which does have a targeting restriction: "target permanent with a time counter on it."

Q: Why did Heart of Bogardan get a "minus two" in its erratum?

A: Because it counts age counters now, not "the last paid cumulative upkeep". If you don't pay the upkeep, the "last paid" one is your last turn's count. But an age counter is dumped on the permanent with CU before you're asked to pay it, and will be there when it's put into the graveyard.

Q: Is 0-5 a valid split for Fact or Fiction's two piles?

A: That's fine. The rule that says that you can't give something 0 while dividing things only applies to division while announcing a spell or ability, not to separation on resolution.

Q: If we're playing our five additional turns after time, do the two turns from Time Stretch count as part of those five, or do we actually get seven turns?

A: Any turns taken extra or skipped will count (or not count) as part of your five additional turns. Those five only count turns that actually start. With a couple of Time Stretches, you could take all five extra turns yourself.

Q: Will Sea Drake's triggered ability really do nothing if I don't have two lands?

A: It will do something - it will go on the stack, flop about, and fall off the stack.

After it goes on the stack, you pick targets. Since you are unable to choose the two targets it requires, it's removed from the stack and never has a visible effect on the game.

Why can't we get cubic snot?
Q: If Sakashima the Impostor comes into play copying a S.N.O.T., can I stick him to that S.N.O.T.? If I can, does he count as a S.N.O.T for squaring the power and toughness?

A: You can certainly make Sakashima jump into a pile of snot. The as-comes-into-play ability doesn't care what the creature's own name is, only that there is a S.N.O.T. for it to attach to.

For the squaring, though, S.N.O.T. doesn't technically work at all. With the wording that doesn't include "creatures named S.N.O.T.", it implies that its creature type must BE S.N.O.T., which it isn't. Since the card doesn't work at all under real rules, you must delve into Unrules.

I suggest that you make Sakashima count for the number you square. After all, this man can make himself look like a spatula or a Fog of Gnats, so looking like a pile of boogers can't be that hard.

Q: Can Hunting Wilds put two Overgrown Tombs into play untapped?

A: No, it will only put them into play tapped.

But then, if you paid the kicker, it will untap them.

And your living Tombs can run about causing havoc or tapping for black or green mana.

Q: Will Zombie Fanboy get two counters if I choose Phil Foglio as my artist, use cut-outs from his Girl Genius comic as tokens, and sacrifice those tokens?

A: Sure, why not. Phil Foglio is a valid artist to choose since he's drawn Magic cards, and these tokens have an artist, and that artist is none other than Mister Foglio! Unrules are all about fun, and this ruling is certainly fun, so it sounds like a plan.

Q: Will I still draw two cards if I target a token with Oblation?

A: Assuming you own that token, you will. You'll also shuffle your library. In theory, you're shuffling that token into your library, but shuffling the physical representation of that token could be tricky. Especially if you're using an action figure for the token.

At any rate, the token will cease to exist as state-based effects are checked after Oblation is done resolving, so there's no reason to actually shuffle the token into your library.

And to preempt the question I'm sure we'll hear otherwise: you draw two cards. If the token would end up on top of your library after the shuffle, it's still not a card and you wouldn't draw it.

Q: Do I have to remove two +1/+1 counters from the same creature for Novijen Sages?

A: Nope! Any two +1/+1 counters can come off from any of your creatures. That's why it says "among creatures" and not "a creature."

Q: Do the DCI Reporter errors with 2HG mean that the penalty guideline stuff from two weeks ago doesn't apply to 2HG anymore?

A: The new penalty guidelines most certainly still apply. If you have the document, scroll aaaall the way down to Appendix C - there are even instructions on how to use the new guidelines with the old Reporter version! The only change in the new penalties to accommodate the old program is the loss of match point loss penalties.

And now, by the time you're reading this, it's almost two years since our first article went live (11pm EST on 27 March, 2005). Thank you all for reading and for sending in all your questions, and for putting up with our sometimes unclear or incorrect answers!

Moko loves you all.

He loves you so very much.

And he smells your brains.

Until next time, invest in chimp repellant!

-Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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