Cranial Insertion: Crowned Kavu and Lobotomized Monkeys

Cranial Insertion
Crowned Kavu and Lobotomized Monkeys
or, Even More Questions About Stuffy Doll

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Apologies to Moko for the title. While we're not sure lobotomizing a zombie monkey is even possible, nor are we sure of the ill effects, we have no intention of pulling a Phineas Gage on him. (Google that name if you're interested.)

Before we delve into the [email][email protected][/email] mailbag this week, a bit of organizational news for Two-Headed Giant players:

Due to performance issues in the new DCI Reporter software with large 2HG events, TOs for the PTQs in this format have been asked to use an older version of the software. A work-around has been issued for how to use this older version with the new Penalty Guidelines we wrote about last week.

The new match point penalty option, however, is only available in the newest version of the Reporter software. Therefore, infractions that are listed in the new Penalty Guidelines as requiring a match point penalty in 2HG must be given a game loss penalty instead of the match point penalty.

We announce this because several players at this weekend's PTQs were confused that they were receiving game loss penalties for infractions that otherwise would only be match point penalties, including illegal decklists.

The DCI hopes to have these performance issues corrected in time for the upcoming 2HG Grand Prix, but if the problems persist, the game loss penalty will be used at that event as well.

Now onto your questions!

Speaking of the Penalty Guidelines, we received a few follow-up questions after our lengthy discussion of them last week.

Q: The CI article on 11 Mar 2007 left me with a question. Let's say you were playing in a sealed tournament and you and your opponent agreed to determine the winner based on a best 2-of-3 game of Vintage - would the players still be subject to a disqualification? After all, it is still a "game of Magic."

A: While it's still a game of Magic, it's not the game(s) of Magic that are being tracked for purposes of the tournament. The Penalty Guidelines wouldn't treat this any different from flipping a coin to determine the winner of a game: both parties will quickly find themselves removed from the tournament. (The fact that the infraction would be listed oddly as "randomly" determining the outcome is beside the point.)

Q: Would going to a constructed tournament with a 60-land deck to see how well you could do by just rules-lawyering be qualified as Unsporting Conduct?

A: The act of showing up with a legal deck consisting of 60-land is not, in itself, a problem. However, the new Penalty Guidelines give the judge a much clearer ability to upgrade the penalty for repeats of the same infraction, so racking up multiple Unsporting Conduct--Minor infractions for rules-lawyering may very well get you disqualified.

Q: If someone has a Darkest Hour in play and a creature with Protection from Black, and then I play a Flametongue Kavu, what happens? Can I target the protection creature, or is my Kavu black, making the ability Black and do I have to target my Kavu? If I can target the protection creature, does it die?

A: There are two different rules issues at play here: how static abilities affect permanents, and what Protection does.

Static abilities such as that of Darkest Hour affect a permanent immediately upon that permanent entering play. There's no time at which the Kavu is in play but not black. Therefore, when the Kavu's comes-into-play ability goes on the stack, it's definitely considered to be coming from a black source.

This leads to the definition of Protection. A mnemonic device many of us rules gurus like to use to summarize the effects of protection is DEBT. A creature with Protection from Black can't be:

Damaged by black sources of damage
Equipped or enchanted with black permanents
Blocked by black creatures
Targeted by black spells, or abilities from black sources

Therefore, you can't legally target the Protection from Black creature with the Kavu's ability in this case. If there is another creature in play that isn't protected, you can choose to target that creature... however, if the only two creatures in play are the protected creature and your Kavu, you'll have to target your own Kavu. The Kavu's triggered ability isn't optional; you must choose a legal target if one exists.

Q: Is it possible to put Pacifism on Calciderm? If that is possible, can I play Temporal Isolation on Calciderm too? And what about Troll Ascetic (or other creatures that cannot be the target of spells), can it be enchanted too?

A: Yes and no, no, and sort of... in that order.

Next question....

OK, maybe that was a bit confusing.

When you play an Aura spell, you must choose a target for it just as you'd choose a target for Shock. The target you choose is the object to which the Aura will be attached when it enters play. Since at this time it's still a spell on the stack, the text of cards such as Calciderm will prevent it from being legally targeted.

However, that doesn't mean Pacifism can't ever be on a Calciderm. If an Aura comes into play through some means other than being played as a spell (Retether, for example), then it doesn't try to find an object to enchant until it enters play, and it never targets the object it wants to attach itself to. So through that method, a Pacifism could attach itself to a Calciderm.

Another method of getting an Aura onto a creature like Calciderm involves aura-"moving" effects such as that of Crown of the Ages. Since the Crown only targets the Aura to be moved, not the creature it's on or the Aura's new destination, it can move an Aura onto a Calciderm.

So while you also can't play Temporal Isolation on a Calciderm, it is possible for a Calciderm to be enchanted by a Temporal Isolation.

And to answer the third question: Troll Ascetic will behave the same way as Calciderm, assuming the Troll and the Aura are being controlled by different players. The Troll's text won't stop you from legally playing Auras on your own Troll.

Q: My opponent played Rite of Flame and I let it resolve. Then I Extirpate him naming Rite of Flame. He says he has priority and that I can't play my spell. Doesn't that mean that I can't Last Gasp or Sudden Shock after someone plays a creature?

A: Whenever a spell or ability resolves, the active player regains priority. If you don't have priority, you can't play spells or abilities (with a few exceptions regarding mana abilities and playing a spell because an effect tells you to).

So your opponent was right in that you can't play a spell immediately following your opponent's Rite of Flame. He has priority, so you can't stick your nose, or rather your Extirpate, in. If he has another Rite of Flame he wants to play, you're not going to be able to play Extirpate to get it out of his hand.

At some point, though, your opponent will have to yield priority to you. If he doesn't play another spell, he has to yield priority to you to get the game to move to the next step or phase, as this can only happen when both players pass consecutively while the stack as empty. Your opponent also has to yield priority after he plays another spell or ability, as both players must pass consecutively before the top object on the stack can resolve. At either of those times, you can play your Extirpate.

(For much more on the subject of priority, see a prior CI article by Thijs.)

Q: If I remove a Simian Spirit Guide in my hand from the game to add R to my mana pool, does it increase the number of copies of Grapeshot created by Storm?

A: No, it doesn't. When you remove the Spirit Guide from the game, you're not playing the Spirit Guide. You're playing an activated ability of the Spirit Guide. If you want it to count for storm, you'll have to pay 2R and put the creature spell on the stack just as if it were a Jake LaMot... Raging Bull.

The same goes for any of the other activated abilities you can play on a card in your hand: Forecast, Cycling, Channel, etc.

Q: Does Blood Moon affect snow basic lands? I assume it doesn't since they actually are basic lands, though snow.

A: Blood Moon only affects lands that lack the supertype "Basic." It doesn't care about any other subtypes or supertypes the land may have, including Snow. That Snow-Covered Swamp in play is still going to be a Snow-Covered Swamp producing B after Blood Moon hits the table.

(I don't want to think about what a normal moon hitting a card table would do, let alone a bloody one.)

Q: In a previous Cranial Insertion article regarding Stuffy Doll and Porphyry Nodes, you wrote:

"If there are other 0-power creatures in play, and at least one isn't indestructible, then you must make the legal choice by picking one of those creatures. You can't choose the Stuffy Doll even if you want to ."

I'm not sure if that's correct, since indestructibility doesn't work the same way as untargetability or protection, where a player simply doesn't have the option of pointing certain effects at the card. Indestructibility doesn't prevent the card from having destruction effects aimed at it, it just stops the actual destruction from happening. On the other hand, Porphyry Nodes says to choose a card instead of "destroy target creature with etc."

So now I'm wondering, did somebody there goof up with their understanding of indestructibility, or am I failing to realize a crucial difference between "choosing" and "targeting"?

A: This question probably holds the record for receiving the most responses from people thinking we got it wrong. While it's not exactly intuitive, the answer in that article is correct.

There is a crucial difference between "choosing" and "targeting" in this case.

In Magic, players can't choose to perform an illegal action. Choosing to destroy a creature that can't be destroyed is illegal, just as choosing to pay 20 life when you only have 10 is illegal. This is why you can't choose Stuffy Doll with Porphyry Nodes.
A targeted destruction spell like Disenchant is different because it can legally target the Stuffy Doll; Stuffy Doll is an artifact and doesn't have any abilities preventing it from being targeted by anything. Choosing to target Stuffy Doll with Disenchant is not itself an illegal action; however, when the Disenchant resolves it attempts to perform an illegal action which is simply ignored.

There was one minor gaffe in the answer though, which doesn't impact the outcome of this interaction: We stated that "there's no legal choice" to be made if Stuffy Doll is the only 0-power creature in play when the triggered ability of the Nodes resolves. This was a bit misleading as there's no choice involved if only one creature in play has the lowest power; the Nodes simply tries to destroy that creature. The end result is the same though: nothing gets destroyed at all.

Speaking of everyone's favorite indestructible voodoo implement...

Q: Stuffy Doll. Guilty Conscience. Everyone says it's a super auto-kill. It looks to me like the kind of thing that forces the game to end in a draw, like an indestructible Tephraderm that deals damage to itself. Is this actually a viable way to win a game? And if this doesn't force a draw, then what criteria does a loop like this have to fulfill in order to do so?

A: The viability of the combo is an issue best left to the strategy writers, but we can affirm that the combo is definitely legal.

This combo (which involves Stuffy Doll dealing 1 damage to itself while enchanted with Guilty Conscience, thereby creating a loop of triggered abilities causing the Stuffy Doll to deal 1 damage to the opponent, then Guilty Conscience dealing 1 damage to the Doll) doesn't cause the game to end in a draw because it will cause a player to lose the game. The loop does consist solely of mandatory abilities as nobody can opt not to have the Doll or the Conscience not deal damage... however at some point during this loop, state-based effects are going to see the opponent at 0 or less life and cause the game to end.

To answer the second part of the question, a loop consisting solely of mandatory actions can cause the game to end in a draw if an infinite number of iterations of the loop would not cause a player to lose the game. There's a great example of this that happens frequently in Vintage play: playing Animate Dead when the only creature card in any graveyard is a Worldgorger Dragon.

The loop consists of four triggered abilities:

1)Animate Dead's comes-into-play trigger puts the Worldgorger Dragon into play.
2)The Dragon's comes-into-play trigger removes the Animate Dead from the game.
3)The Animate Dead's leaves-play trigger puts the Dragon into its owner's graveyard.
4)The Dragon's leaves-play trigger returns the Animate Dead to play.

This loop consists solely of mandatory actions (as there is no other creature to target with the Animate's CIP ability). No matter how many iterations of it occur, neither player will lose the game as it's not causing anybody to get poison counters, draw cards or lose life. Therefore, the game ends in a draw unless a player can somehow interrupt it and chooses to do so.

Q: I have a Karmic Justice in play, along with 4 other enchantments. My opponent plays Purify. Does Karmic Justice's ability trigger, allowing me to destroy 5 of my opponent's permanents, or am I out of luck?

A: We like to quote the CompRules for answers to questions like this because we believe it's a well-written rule that clearly explains what's going on.

410.10d Normally, objects that exist immediately after an event are checked to see if the event matched any trigger conditions. Continuous effects that exist at that time are used to determine what the trigger conditions are and what the objects involved in the event look like. However, some triggered abilities must be treated specially because the object with the ability may no longer be in play, no longer be in a zone visible to all players, or no longer be controlled by the appropriate player. The game has to “look back in time” to determine if these abilities trigger. Abilities that trigger specifically when an object leaves play, when an object leaves any visible zone for a hidden one, or when a player loses control of an object will trigger based on their existence, and the appearance of objects, prior to the event rather than afterward.

That "look back in time" phrase is the perfect summary: the game actually sees the game state immediately before the Purify resolved to determine what abilities trigger. Since there were 5 noncreature permanents in play and now there aren't, the Karmic Justice will trigger 5 times, allowing you to choose a target for each instance.

Q: In a multiplayer game, I play Castigate (or Lobotomy, or whatever) on an opponent. That opponent reveals his hand to me. Which of the following, if any, would it be acceptable to do at this point?

- Read the card names out loud.
- "Think out loud" about what each card could do to me if I allow him to keep it.
- Pass the hand around for all to see.
- Whisper about them to my team-mates (if I have any).

A: There appears to be an underlying misconception in this question, namely what "reveal" means in Magic. The definition of reveal in the CompRules glossary is "to show that object to all players." So saying that the opponent "reveals his hand to me" in a multiplayer game is inaccurate; the opponent is revealing his hand to all players in the current game. That makes the first and third items irrelevant; all the players can clearly see all the revealed cards, so announcing the names or passing the cards around is unnecessary.

"Thinking out loud" about what each card would do, or talking about each card with your teammates, may draw the attention of a judge if you're taking too long. While such talk isn't illegal, you should make it brief... probably not more than 5-10 seconds, otherwise you risk getting a penalty for playing slowly.

The answers here are a bit different for what happens if your effect only lets you look at cards instead of causing them to be revealed, such as with Extirpate. When looking at cards in a hidden zone, you are not bound to remain silent regarding what cards you see. Not only can you announce to everyone playing the game the contents of your opponent's hand, you're not even required to be truthful about it.

Q: I play a Sengir Nosferatu, but my opponent casts Final Judgment, removing it from the game. Undeterred, I cast a second Sengir Nosferatu on the following turn. I later attack with it and my opponent casts Wing Shards. Unsurprisingly, I decide to "turn it into" a bat. After combat I cast Clone.

If I copy the bat token, could I then pay 2BB and sacrifice both bats to return both of my Nosferatii to play ?

A: Nosferatuses, Nosferati, Nosferatii, Nosferata... what is the plural of that word anyway?

Anyway, you absolutely can do this. As the sacrificial ability of the bat token is defined by the effect that created the token, it is a copiable characteristic of that creature. So when you clone the bat token, you get the ability as well. Since the ability refers to "a card named Sengir Nosferatu" and not just "Sengir Nosferatu," you can use it to retrieve any card with that name that happens to be in the removed from game zone. (Yes, even if it's owned by your opponent, if you like him enough to give him a vampire.)

So congratulations, you're the proud controller of two Nosferawhatevers.

That's all for this week. Come back next week for Cranial Insertion's second anniversary! There may be cake. And the cake may or may not contain monkey hairs and rabbits.

-Ted Dickinson


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