Cranial Insertion: Of Mice and Monkeys

Cranial Insertion

Of Mice and Monkeys

or, There Is No Theme, Only Questions!

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler

Two of this year's three Champs tournaments are over, a Pro Tour just went by, middle of the summer... so you'd expect the tournament scene to be quieting down now. But no, Wizards had to go and throw a snowball at us! The fun never stops, and our mailbox can attest to that – we've received lots of good questions at [EMAIL="[email protected]"][email protected][/EMAIL] lately, keeping Moko busy and away from the dangerous explosives and sharp weaponry in my workshop. Here are some of them, along with a bunch from the Limited Champs.

The questions, I mean. Not the explosives and blades. Sorry if I got your hopes up.

"Dart to the Face" will be
implemented as the penalty
after "match loss" before "DQ".
Q: What happens if I break a rule I didn't know about?

A: Just as in law, ignorance of the law is not a defense – you'll usually receive the same penalty anyone else would receive for the same offense. Part of participating in sanctioned events is a requirement to know all tournament rules, though I'd be surprised if more than 5% of tournament players knew *all* of them. (Did you know that you're required to shuffle your opponent's deck after he presents it at REL 3+ events? Rule 21 in the Universal Tournament Rules.)

There are some cases where not knowing the rules can be a mitigating factor, though not an excuse. No, we will not list them here. But don't freak out if you're caught breaking a rule you didn't know; apologize, promise that you've learned, and accept judgment.

You can find all of these happy shiny rules here on the Wizards web site - there are a lot of them, so set aside some time and a nice pot of tea.

Q: My opponent has Bottled Cloister in play with 4 cards removed from the game by it. I bounce it during my turn and inform him his cards won't be returning. Am I correct that replaying the cloister will not get those cards back?

A: You are indeed! As Thijs said two weeks ago and Tom said last week (regarding Firemane Angel), an object that leaves play and comes back is an entirely new object. This applies to more than just hot-haired angels; the Cloister will lose track of what it had bottled up.

Consider the mess if you *would* get those cards back. Your opponent would have to prove that this was the same physical card Bottled Cloister that had previously been in play.

Q: What happens if my black non-Ninja creature equipped with Shuriken flings his Shuriken at Eight-and-a-Half Tails, who then makes the Shuriken white and gives himself protection in response?

A: Ninjas drop from the ceiling and take your black creature to punish him for playing with their toys. It happens so fast that the creature doesn't leave play, enter play, or in any way, shape, or form affect the game.
8.5 Tails also laughs a lot. You see, the ability is on the black creature, so it is not countered. But the damage comes from a source that is now white, and it will be prevented. Now 8.5's controller gets control of the Shuriken, and no damage is dealt, so that freakish fox lives to cause more mayhem.

Q: Does the stack count as a zone?

A: No, the stack IS a zone. Smile Things just don't stay in that zone for very long.

Q: What happens if I play Sea Drake with an Island, Mox Sapphire, and Lotus Petal as my only permanents?

A: Your drake goes hungry. Note that it does not return "up to" two target lands – that'd be real easy, since you could just always return zero. It also does not return "two lands" but "two target lands", so when the trigger goes on the stack, you have to pick exactly two targets. But say hey, there aren't two lands! Woosh, the ability is taken off the stack because there aren't enough legal targets. Your drake runs wild and free, your Island stays in play, and your opponent steals your Sapphire while you're gloating.

Q: My opponent has Grand Arbiter Augustin IV in play and I have a Sickening Shoal and Kokusho in hand. Do I still have to pay 1 if I pitch Kokopuffs to smash Augustin?

A: Yes, you do. You don't have to pay the mana cost for the Shoal, but you do have to pay additional costs like the one Augustin sets up. It's similar to how you can't replicate a Train of Thought twenty times for free if you somehow play the card for free.

Q: It's a little late, but I'm wondering what I have to do to play in the Champs.

A: You have to show up and pay money. If it's a constructed format like Standard Champs in October, you have to bring a deck. You can sign up for a DCI card on the spot if you don't have a number, and there are no requirements as to your rating or previous tournaments. Have fun!

The poor neglected sideboard
just wished for some friends.
Q: Can I look at my sideboard during a game?

A: Sure. Look at that little pile of face-down cards, sitting all alone off to the side. It looks lonely. Poor pile. *sniffle*

But you can not look at their faces, which is what I know you're really asking. (Magic Floor Rules 122) The only exception to this, which will make your sideboard do a happy little dance, is an effect like Death Wish or Research // Development – those cards have been ruled to allow you to peek at your sideboard to fetch.

Q: Thijs had written a while ago about Reverse Damage and Flames of the Blood Hand interacting. But would that use up the shield? Rule 419.3 has me confused.

A: Let's look at that rule!

419.3. There are no special restrictions on playing a spell or ability that generates a replacement or prevention effect. Such effects last until they're used up or their duration has expired.

419.8b also includes the happy line "If for any reason the shield prevents no damage or replaces no damage, the shield isn't used up." Reverse Damage's shield didn't prevent anything because it couldn't, so it wasn't used up, and the shield will stick around until the next time Flames of the Blood Hand would deal you damage that turn, which is likely never. But if you changed the situation to Pestilence and Flaring Pain, it gets very interesting: you would take one damage and gain one life for each activation, with the shield sticking around until end of turn to let you play this trick over and over.

Q: I have a Tidewater Minion wearing a Peregrine Mask. Do I only have to pay 4 once for it to be able to attack?

A: You are correct! When something loses an ability, it loses all instances of that ability.

Q: My turn started and I wanted to forecast Pride of the Clouds. I started to draw my card before I remembered to do that, though, and now my opponent says that I can't forecast anymore. Is he right?

A: Once you draw your card for the turn, you've implicitly passed priority with the intent to end your upkeep and go into your draw step. If you haven't moved the card from your library, though, it will likely be ruled that there's still time to remember (similiar to ending your turn by saying "Go. Oh, wait, I want to do something!"). Again, this is a judgment call that may vary from judge to judge. It boils down to whether or not you could have seen anything of the card you're about to draw. If you picked up the card and looked at it before remembering, it's definitely way too late.

Q: A friend of mine is judging at an event. Can I call him over instead of just yelling for a random judge?

A: No. Just call "Judge!" and take the ruling of the one who answers. If you disagree, you can appeal the ruling to the head judge, but don't just appeal because the first judge wasn't your friend – that's very unsporting.

And absolutely do not say "I want to ask $name instead of you!", "I want a real judge!" or demand an appeal before a ruling is made. Those are not only unsporting, but very insulting.

Q: How does Humility interact with Treetop Village?

A: In ways that make many players and judges cry. Well, it's not really that bad. You can read over Thijs' article for all the fun details after I answer this one.

First the Village's ability makes it a creature (layer 4). Then Humility takes away the mana and animation ability, and it gives itself trample and greenness since its activation has a later time stamp than Humility (layer 5). Lastly, down in layer 6b, Humility makes it 1/1 and the Village's ability makes it 3/3. You end up with the Village just the way it would normally be, minus the two activated abilities.

Q: If I use Minister of Impediments on a creature, and my opponent uses Bathe in Light naming white, and I Reroute the Minister's ability, does the ability resolve before the Bathe?

A: Nope. Reroute changes the target, but does not affect the ability's placement on the stack – below the Bathe.

You'd also have to have selected a new target for the Minister, since the change is not optional. If you can possibly change the target when it resolves, you must. No other creatures in play? Well, what about the Minister himself? He can go tap himself.

Q: At the Coldsnap prerelease, can I ask the organizer for a bucket of snow-covered lands for my deck?

A: Nope, no more snow for you. The updated Magic Floor Rules (numbers 134 and 135) note that you can only request more of the five very basic lands, not the snowy basic lands.

Q: What happens if I get really, really mad and throw a chair at my opponent's head?

A: You know, a lot of non-card-specific rulings are a little subjective. This one is... not. Hello DQ paperwork and police involvement!

Q: In the middle of a game, I played a foil Spanish Ghost Council of Orzhova with no way to flicker him. On my opponent's turn, he played a foil Chinese Ghost Council. Can we trade them right then and there?

A: Happy trading! It doesn't matter if the cards in your deck stay are the same physical cards with which you started the tournament, only that they're the same card by name. Just make sure that your shiny new Council isn't markedly different from the rest of your deck if you're playing without sleeves, and that you switch sleeves if you're playing with them.

Q: Can my opponent use Prahv, Spires of Order to stop damage from my Simic Sky Swallower?

A: He can indeed. Prahv's ability does not use the word "target" at any point, so the ability does not target, and the SSS is a valid choice for damage to prevent.

Q: With Platinum Angel out, I've worked my way down to -10 life. Now I have Murderous Betrayal out - can I pay :symb::symb: to kill creatures? If so, what happens to my life? Do I go to -5?

A: You can go on a killing spree, but it won't change your life. Your negative life total is treated as zero, so "half your life" rounded either way is going to be zero. This isn't "paying life that you don't have" because it's just paying zero - you couldn't do this with Souldrinker, for example, because you *can't* pay life you don't have.

Q: What do I get if I play Twincast targeting a creature?

A: A procedural error caution? Twincast says "target instant or sorcery spell", not "target spell."

Q: Will Super Secret Tech pump up my foil face-down creatures? What about making it cheaper to play them?

A: Strictly speaking, no. While they are face-down, their shiny goodness does not exist, much like their name, color, and other types. However, if you're using sleeves that can feasibly be called "premium", I'm in favor of 3/3 morphs for 2 mana. This whole set's about goofing off.

Q: My opponent presents to me, along with his deck, a certificate stating that he is a recognized psychic. Is he cheating?

A: The DCI does not officially recognize non-cardboard, non-digital magic.
The real question is: Why isn't your opponent in Vegas?

It's starting to get chilly, so I'm going to put down the pen and wrap myself in kittens for warmth. We'll see you next week when the Coldsnap questions start – make sure to send any you have to us at [EMAIL="[email protected]"][email protected][/EMAIL] so we can answer them next week or the week after!

Until next time,

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ


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