Cranial Insertion: When Words Collide!



Cranial Insertion
When Words Collide!
or, Some Cards Do Silly Things

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Ted Dickinson

Welcome back for another exciting week of sticking rabbits in your sinuses! Friday was the first of December, and you know what that means. Not only is Kris Kringle one step closer to murdering us all in our sleep, but we’ve also had our big, exciting, earth-shattering December bannings. (For those of you not following along, there were none; the previous sentence is sarcasm.)

I also encourage all of you, if you haven’t done so already, to check out this report on the DQs at Worlds. It explains quite nicely what happened with the first six DQs and some points on what not to do in a tournament.

Now, onto the cards! Don’t forget to email your questions to [email][email protected][/email] - not only will at least one of us write back with an answer, but Moko may give it to us to use in a column! Or he could get bored and eat it.





Flip! Flop! CIP, Copy!
Q: I play Vesuvan Shapeshifter, copying a Court Hussar, and I did pay a White mana to play the Shapeshifter. Will I get to keep it?

A: Your li'l Shapeshifter will survive to frolic in the . . . um . . . whatever shapeshifters prefer to frolic in. Possibly brine. The shapeshifted Hussar is the same object as the Vesuvan Shapeshifter that you played, so the game will notice that you did pay :symw:.




Q: What happens to a face-down creature that gets hit by Momentary Blink?

A: It blinks a lot. It’s not crying, it’s just got dust in its eyes. When it stops blinking and comes back into play, it will suddenly find itself face up! Whenever something is removed from the game, it’s removed face up unless the removing ability specifies otherwise, and then nothing is turning it back face down when it returns to play.




Q: If I put a Clone into play with Hypergenesis, can I copy something else put into play with Hypergenesis, or do I have to choose something that was in play beforehand?

A: Things coming into play via Hypergenesis are put into play sequentially instead of all at once (such as with Show and Tell), so the other Hyper creatures will already be in play by the time Clone comes in looking for someone to imitate.




Q: How do you figure out what slow play is?

A: Judges aren’t called judges because we answer rules questions - we also make judgment calls, and this is a prime example since there is no specific limit to slow play. No document says “If you take more than 30 seconds to declare attackers, you’re playing slowly.”

So if there are no hard and fast guidelines, how do you avoid playing slowly? Don’t sit there waffling over how to block or what to play, try to figure out what you’ll do before that point comes up. Don’t let complicated boards throw you off; keep track of what’s out there and how you could block an alpha strike and which creature you’d prefer to kill if you draw the means to do so.

And practice. Practice making decisions quickly.




Q: Gorgon Recluse blocks a face-down Liege of the Pit, who is then turned face up. Does the Liege die?

A: Indeed he does. The Gorgon triggers on blocking the colorless creature, and its ability goes on the stack before the Liege can possibly be flipped face up. Note that the Gorgon does not have an intervening if clause (“When X, if Y, Z.”) but simply a normal trigger. It’s been triggered, and won’t check again to see if the condition is still true, so it’ll resolve normally and set up a delayed trigger to swat down the Liege at the end of combat.





Because all of your creatures
want to be Squires.
Q: If I Cytoshape a face-down Krosan Cloudscraper to turn it into a Squire, what does it look like?

A: The face-down characteristics apply after all copy effects in layer 1, so you’ll end up with a 2/2 face-down creature with Squire’s characteristics hidden. If you somehow turn it face up that turn, it’ll be a Squire.

Q: What if I make the Squire a copy of the face-down guy instead?

A: Then Squire becomes a 2/2 with no name, no text, no mana cost - but it’s still a face-up creature, at least. The face-down characteristics are copiable values, so they’ll be copied instead of the hidden, face-up characteristics.




Q: Can I Death Wish for my ante card?

A: Your friends will hate you if you do, you horrible person. Technically you can’t do that, but since ante is not part of any sanctioned event, you can change this rule if your group agrees.

Quote from CompRules »
217.1e An object is outside the game if it’s in the removed-from-the-game zone, or if it isn’t in any of the game’s zones. All other objects are inside the game. Outside the game is not a zone.


Quote from CompRules »
217.1. A zone is a place where objects can be during a game. There are normally six zones: library, hand, graveyard, in play, stack, and removed from the game. Some older cards also use the ante and phased-out zones. Each player has his or her own library, hand, and graveyard. The other zones are shared by all players.


Since ante is a game zone, it’s not “not in any of the game’s zones,” and is inside the game somewhere. Possibly next to the spleen.




Q: I’m down to 1 life, and my opponent is way up. Would I be unsporting if I used a Stuffy Doll (choosing me) and Pariah’s Shield to force a draw?

A: This isn’t really sporting, but neither is it unsporting. It’s perfectly valid to use in-game effects to force a draw to prevent yourself from losing.

Using out-of-game effects, such as the clock or a bazooka, is worse than unsporting; it’s flat-out cheating. Although one could argue that bazookaing your opponent would qualify as Unsporting Conduct--Severe. . . .




Q: Do I get more Dragons if I Twincast Dragonstorm?

A: You get one more Dragon - the one from the Twincast copy. This copy has storm, but storm won’t trigger since you didn’t play the spell.





Accio Facesplatter!
Q: Is Loxodon Warhammer a spell? I thought it was just an artifact.

A: Every card is a spell when it’s on the stack (and lands, which never use the stack, are never spells). It may seem odd flavor-wise, since the Warhammer is a thing and not an incantation, but imagine the Warhammer card on the stack as a spell that’s summoning the Warhammer to you, not as the Warhammer itself.




Q: I played a Russian card, and my opponent doesn’t know what it does. Should I search my library for an English copy to show him?

A: Absolutely not. That’ll get you a Procedural Error--Severe game loss for shuffling when you’re not supposed to (Unless you don’t shuffle. Do I really need to say why THAT’S bad? Hello, DQ paperwork!)

This is when you call a judge. We have the Oracle text for every card memorized. (Or we have it available upon request in some non-memorized form.)




Q: Can Govern the Guildless snatch Phyrexian Ironfoot?

A: The Ironfoot is not monocolored, it’s colorless. You can’t steal any artifacts with Govern unless you give it a color first, perhaps by forecasting the Govern.




Q: When does rule 103.2e ever matter?

A: In reality? Never.

Almost every example of winning and losing at once is really both players losing. There is only one circumstance in which you can win and lose at the same time: Sudden death mode of a single-elimination match. In single elimination, after time is called and five turns are taken, the highest life total wins. If they’re tied, you play until a change of life. So assume that both players are at 20 life and have no cards left in their libraries. You play Zap. You win because your life is higher, and you lose for having to draw a card and not being able to do so. If your opponent were at 1 life in a normal match and you had no cards left, you’d lose and your opponent would lose, so it’d be a draw. In this case, your win is replaced by a loss, so your opponent wins.

Like I said, this will never matter in reality.




Q: I have two Plague Slivers. one Essence Sliver, and 3 life. Will I die during my upkeep before I gain the life back?

A: No, your Slivers love you. That’s not flesh-dissolving venom; it’s happy Sliver slobber from them gleefully licking you.

Each “take 1 damage” trigger goes on the stack individually, and will resolve individually. After each resolves, it deals one damage and then Essence Sliver triggers to give you a life back. As long as you’re not at 1 life, you’ll survive.




Q: What are Swiss pairings?

A: When two people in Geneva love each other very, very much, they sit down to play a game of Magic. Now when you get eight or more people, you get a tournament (not an orgy). In single elimination, after you lose, you’re gone. In double elimination, after you lose twice, you’re gone. In Swiss pairings, you can play in each round, for as many rounds as there are. (You’ll notice that I did not continue the analogy. I did that on purpose. The analogies would get scary.)




Q: Can Pentarch Paladin set to Green blow up Forests?

A: Only if you somehow turn the Forests Green. In their natural state, lands are colorless; their ability to make mana of a color and their colorful text box does not give them a color. Color is determined by mana cost or by characteristic-setting abilities, neither of which lands have.




Q: Will Dralnu, Lich Lord let me play the Battery half of Assault//Battery for :symr:?

A: No, Dralnu isn’t that awesome. His ability gives the entire card flashback, but it doesn't attach a cost to the flashback ability until it’s put on the stack, at which only that half’s mana cost will be the flashback cost.




Q: If I animate all of my lands with Jolrael, Empress of Beasts and control a Sacred Ground, will lands that die in combat come back to play?

A: When a creature bashes another in the face, state-based effects cause the destruction. Since neither player controls state-based effects, Sacred Ground doesn’t care about the creature-lands.




That’s all for this week. Extended season is coming up fast, so start dusting off your old cards and look up their Oracle text - nothing's worse than triumphantly playing a spell and being told it doesn’t work like you thought it did.

Until next time, happy spellslinging!

-Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

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