Cranial Insertion: Coldsnap in the Desert

Cranial Insertion
Coldsnap in the Desert
or, The Saguaros Are Sad

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler

It is 42°C (108°F) outside, but everyone feels happily refreshed. Could this be the magic of Coldsnap?

No, it's just the air conditioner. Sweet, sweet air conditioner, how I love thee.

While I lounge in the sinful glee of chilling air coursing through my room and washing out the smell of rotting monkey, you get to read this exciting article! Still got questions? Send them to [email][email protected][/email]! We'll send you an answer, possibly use it in a future column, and we may even send you ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

(Please note that the likelihood of this last one is roughly zero.)

Q: Can I play Haakon, Stromgald Scourge from my opponent's graveyard with Shaman's Trance or does "you" only mean my opponent?

A: Yes, you can. From what the Trance does, for all intents and purposes of playing Haakon, he is in your graveyard. So the "you may play" on Haakon will apply to you - happy thieving!

Q: What happens if I forget cumulative upkeep and just draw a card?

A: Then you have implicitly decided not to pay the cumulative upkeep. The permanent gets an age counter and is put into your graveyard and you get a penalty. This is an official DCI policy, not part of the comprehensive rulebook. It's made to deal with the potential advantage gained by looking at your next card - if you have 7 mana available, have to pay 4 for cumulative upkeep, and know that you're drawing a Wrath of God, your decision is far more biased than if you hadn't looked.

Even if the next card wouldn't make any difference, it must be done this way for consistency's sake. If you already know what the next card is from Sensei's Divining Top or some other effect, though, the judge might allow you to go back and pay, but it would be equally fair to state that it is too late, once again in the name of consistancy.

Q: When I "ripple" a spell (say, Surging Dementia) do I get to pick the order that the cards go onto the bottom of my library?

A: Yes, you do. And no one else will know which order you put them in!

217.2d If an effect puts two or more cards on the top or bottom of a library at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order. That library’s owner doesn’t reveal the order in which the cards go into his or her library.

Squishy Spider
Q: If my Frostweb Spider (with no counters on it) blocks a 3/3 flyer, will it live?

A: The itsy bitsy spider is getting turned into a fine, pasty spider pulp. Frostweb Spider triggers right away, and sets up a delayed trigger for the end of combat -- he doesn't get the counter until then, if he's still alive. After the flier squashes him with 3 damage, he won't be around to get a counter anymore.

Q: I have a Djinn Illuminatus in play with a Thrumming Stone. I play Shock and replicate it once. Two questions now: Do my replicated copies also have "Ripple 4"? If I flip over another Shock with the ripple, can I pay R to replicate it?

A: Your replicate copies do have "ripple 4." However, since you didn't play them, the ripple ability will not trigger. Other Shocks you find with its ripple will have both ripple and replicate, and you will play them (or not, if you really don't want to shock anything else). Since you play them, you can pay any additional costs you'd like, including replicate.

Q: I remember that there's a rule about using abilities before an upkeep cost is played. So, can I or can I not tap Survivor of the Unseen for cards before I decide not to pay its cumulative upkeep?

A: Moko is crying now. He remembers that rule. It went the way of the dinosaurs a long, long time ago, with the advent of Sixth Edition. Maybe earlier than that. Nowadays you can respond to a permanent's upkeep trigger by using its ability, so you can use the Survivor before you choose. [The old rule on situtions like this forbade such things because of the "pending phase cost," in case you be curious. -Ed.]

Q: Can I play Panglacial Wurm from my library using a land putting I just put into play with Wooded Foothills's search?

A: Nope. Wooded Foothills has you search, put a land into play, and shuffle. This is sequential -- if you put the land into play, you're done searching, and no wurms for you.

If you already have enough mana available, you can drop the land out of your library first and then play the Wurm; that is an acceptable shortcut. But the land does actually come into play after you've played the Wurm, you've just set it aside from your library during the search for convenience.

Q: Oh dear god, what does Balduvian Warlord DO!?

A: He makes you yell, apparently. Within the confines of the game, he switches around blockers. While not technically correct, it's easiest to think of it this way: Move Creature X from in front of Creature Y and put him in front of Creature Z. Creature Z is now blocked by Creature X. If nothing's left blocking Creature Y, Creature Y is now unblocked.

Remember, X must be able to block Z legally, or you can't do that.

Q: Does the first Rune Snag I play make my opponent pay 2 or 4?

A: Only 2. While it's resolving, there are no Rune Snags in the graveyard yet, assuming no one else has played one. Your opponent has to pay 2 during that resolution, and then the Snag goes to the grave.

Q: I have Braids of Fire with 24 age counters on it, Sensei's Divining Top, and a Char in hand. I put the Braids trigger on the stack, and then my opponent blows up my top. Can I choose to get RRR from the Braids before I choose not to pay and sacrifice it?

A: Nope, no partial payments. You either pay the whole cost - adding RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR to your mana pool like a pirate, or pay nothing at all, adding 0 to your mana pool.

Q: My friend tells me that if I enchant my Snow-Covered Forest with a Utopia Sprawl that I can't use both mana for snow costs because the Utopia Sprawl isn't a snow permanent. Is this true?

A: It is true indeed. The triggered mana ability is on the Utopia Sprawl, which is decidedly nonsnowy, so the mana comes from the warm Sprawl instead of your snowy trees. This is also true of Heartbeat of Spring and Mana Flare.

Q: Can I assign my creatures' combat damage in Two-Headed Giant to one player when the other has Darien, King of Kjeldor so they don't get Soldiers?

A: Yes, you can. For each unblocked creature, you pick one head for it to wallop.

Not Standard legal, sorry.
Q: Are the Ice Age and Alliances cards in the Coldsnap precons legal for Friday Night Magic?

A: Are Ice Age and Alliances legal sets for Standard? Nnnnope. The cards are reprinted in spiffy new frames and with up-to-date Oracle text, but they have not been printed in a Standard-legal set.

Fun Fact: Your store CAN run an IA-AL-CSP *draft* for Friday Night Magic if they so wish. Just remember to use opaque sleeves since the old cards have slight differences in coloring and hue on their backs.

Q: How does Cover of Winter work against a swarm of 1/1 critters?

A: They all get lost in the snow. Cover of Winter prevents one damage from each individual creature for each age counter, not one damage from among the whole set of attacking creatures.

Q: What happens to Sheltering Ancient if my opponent controls no creatures?

A: Your Ancient pines away and dies with nothing to shelter. You can not pay the cumulative upkeep cost. (Why is he sheltering your opponent's guys, anyway? Shouldn't he be called "Traitorous Ancient"?)

Q: How does Commandeer interact with kicker cards like Urza's Rage?

A: Kicker doesn't care who paid the kicker cost, only that it was paid (by the player who played the spell in the first place, of course - you can't pay kicker for your opponent, no matter how much candy he offers you). It also doesn't counter, so you can snag that Rage and make your opponent rage at himself.

Q: What happens if in response to my Cryoclasm my opponent turns the Plains I targeted into an Island?

A: His Island sinks like the Titanic. Cryoclasm isn't modal, it only cares that the target is either a Plains or an Island, and at no point will it care if the land's type switches, as long as it's still one or the other.

Q: If I discard three land cards to Lightning Storm, does it deal 9 damage to four targets, or does it divide that damage?

A: No. Neither. Each time you pick a new target, that target replaces the old target, it doesn't become an additional target. It'll end up dealing 9 damage to the last chosen target.

Q: I'm flipping ten coins for Karplusan Minotaur. When do we decide the targets, after each flip or after all the flips?

A: With each flip, one of the Minotaur's abilities triggers. But they won't go on the stack until a player would receive priority - after all of the flips are over - and you don't choose targets until they do go on the stack.

Q: My opponent used Voidslime on my Cthulhu trigger when he was about to break free from his icy prison! What happens now?

A: Nothing will stop his tentacled highness! Iä! Iä!

Dark Depths has a state-triggered ability. It will trigger at any time that the condition is met and there is not already that triggered ability on the stack. So as soon as Voidslime resolves, Dark Depths will trigger immediately again, and Cthu- er, Marit Lage laughs at your opponent.

410.11. Some triggered abilities trigger on a game state, such as a player controlling no permanents of a particular type, rather than triggering when an event occurs. These abilities trigger as soon as the game state matches the condition. They’ll go onto the stack at the next available opportunity. These are called state triggers. (Note that state triggers aren’t the same as state-based effects.) A state-triggered ability doesn’t trigger again until the ability has resolved, has been countered, or has otherwise left the stack. Then, if the object with the ability is still in the same zone and the game state still matches its trigger condition, the ability will trigger again.

Q: What does Vanish into Memory do with tokens?

A: It gives you cards without discard. Note that the wording has changed significantly from the proposed YMTC version -- now it only makes you discard "if you do" return the creature to play. Tokens won't come back, so no discards. You also won't discard if you Vanish out a Blinkmoth Nexus or somesuch that comes back as a non-creature permanent, since it has no toughness.

Q: Will Tamanoa trigger when I cycle Gempalm Incinerator?

A: Nope. Gempalm Incinerator always has the quality of "creature," even if it's a creature card and not a creature.

Q: Brooding Saurian and Varchild's War-Riders is a combo, isn't it?

A: Not really. You own the tokens, but Saurian only fetches back nontokens.

99 abilities on the stack,
99 abilities…
Q: What does Thrumming Stone do when I play a creature with morph face down?

A: It hums a little. "Mary had a little morph, little morph, little morph. Mary had a little morph, the cleric was surprised." If you'd like, you may reveal the top four cards of your library. If none of them are nameless, you can't play any of them.

Q: I block a creature that's attacking me with Woolly Razorback and remove a counter. After removing a counter, it still has two Ice counters remaining. With damage on the stack, I sacrifice my Woolly Razorback to Nantuko Husk. Will the Woolly damage be prevented or will the seven damage be dealt?

A: Seven damage to the face. Without the Razorback in play, there is no prevention effect holding back his damage; that ability is not connected to the damage on the stack at all.

It's time to stop playing in the snow. We'll still have quite a bit throughout the next few months before Time Spiral, but now it's time to gear up for another exciting desert event: Grand Prix Phoenix! In just six week, we'll have one of those monstrous PTQs in my own backyard. Well, not literally. You couldn't fit 500 people in my back yard. Unless... Hmmm...

Until next time, act like a sardine!

-Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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