Cranial Insertion: All Questions Great And Small



Cranial Insertion
All questions great and small

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler


Yes, there are answers to all your questions to be found in Cranial Insertion. But you've probably already begun reading them, because who reads rules columns for their introductions anyway?



Q: About Ebony Owl Netsuke, when is the condition of the trigger checked? Does it go on the stack and check when it resolves if the opponent has seven or more cards? Or does the player need to have seven cards for it to trigger in the first place?

A: The Netsuke has a triggered ability with an "intervening if-clause": it has the formatting "When/Whenever/At X, if Y, do Z." A condition Y that appears in this special format is checked both when the ability would trigger, and when it resolves. (A condition that doesn't appear as part of this special format is checked only once, when the ability resolves.) With the Netsuke, your opponent must have at least seven cards right when his upkeep starts in order for the ability to go on the stack, and he must also have at least seven cards when the ability resolves for the ability to do anything.


Economy lesson:
investing in a second cemetery
doesn't double the capacity, only
the number of zombies on the loose.
Q: Same question for Oversold Cemetery. What happens if I have two Oversold Cemetery in play and four creature cards in my graveyard?

A: If you have two Oversold Cemeteries in play, they will both trigger and go on the stack because you have four creature cards in your yard. One Cemetery's ability resolves, and then there were three. Now the other Cemetery's ability will do nothing when it resolves.



Q: I have a Firemane Angel in play. During my upkeep, my opponent Mortifies it in response to the gain-1-life trigger. It turned out that I didn't get to gain the point of life, but I don't fully understand why.

A: This card also has an intervening if-clause, but there's an additional complication. The condition here is "if Firemane Angel is in your graveyard or in play". When a card refers to its own name like that, it doesn't mean "a card named Firemane Angel". Rather, it means "this particular object". When an object changes zones, it's treated as a different object. So if Firemane Angel goes from in play to in the graveyard, it won't gain you life, because the particular Angel exists neither in play nor in the graveyard. In fact, if you were to use the Angel's activated ability to put it back in play in response to the trigger, the game would see it as yet another different Angel and still not let you gain one life.




Is that Kor, chanting in the distance?
Q: My opponent attacks with Kill-Suit Cultist, I block with Beacon Hawk. Damage goes onto the stack. I then play Carom to have the next 1 damage to the Beacon Hawk be dealt to my opponent's Squealing Devil. If my opponent sacrifices his Cultist targeting my Hawk to destroy it the next time it would receive damage this turn, what will be the result for my Hawk and his Devil?

A: As the game is about to deal a point of combat damage to your Hawk, it notices two replacement effects, both trying to convince the game to do something else instead: one want to have that point of damage dealt to the Squealing Devil instead of to the Hawk, while the other replacement effect wants the Hawk to die instead of receiving damage. The game turns to the controller of the object that would be affected by the original effect. That object is the Hawk, so that controller is you. You get to decide which of the two replacement effects to apply first; then the other one will be applied second, if it can. Presumably, you'll have the point of damage be redirected to the Devil. Now the other replacement effect doesn't apply anymore: it could only replace the event "Hawk receives damage", but that event isn't happening.



Q: I have a pro-black creature (from Hunted Horror) and my opponent has an Ostiary Thrull. He thinks he can tap my pro-black creature with his Thrull because he pays white mana to use the ability. I say he can't because it's a black creature using the ability. Who's correct?

A: You are correct. Abilities don't have a color of their own; protection cares about the color of the source of the ability. In this case, the source is a black creature, so it isn't allowed to target the pro-black creature.



Q: I was wondering if Swift Silence can be countered or not?

A: While Swift Silence is sitting on the stack waiting to resolve, it's just like any other spell. A spell played in response to it can still counter it, because Silence only starts countering other stuff when it gets to resolves.




I can't see the scape because of
all those Bird tokens!
Q: Recently, during a playtest bout with a friend, I played Chord of Calling choosing 4 for X with Dovescape in play. My friend says that only generates 3 tokens, but I disagreed, stating my case as Dovescape says "X is the spell's converted mana cost". Since it says "spell's converted mana cost" and not "card's converted mana cost" (like in the case of Hellhole Rats) I argued that 7 tokens should be generated instead. So who is right?

A: You're correct: while the Chord is a spell on the stack, its converted mana cost includes whatever value you chose for X, but while it's not on the stack, X doesn't contribute to the converted mana cost.

Q: Also, if I play Seek from Hide // Seek, my opponent can Spell Snare it, right?

A: Again correct: only one half of a split card is visible while it's a spell.



Q: When do you choose the nonlegendary creature for Cytoshape, when you play Cytoshape or when it resolves?

A: The nonlegendary creature doesn't have to be chosen until the spell resolves. Only a number of specific things have to be chosen when the spell is played, like modes and targets (see Cranial Insertion: How to Play a Spell for the complete list). The choice of nonlegendary creature isn't one of these things.



Q: Who decides the targets for Yosei, the Morning Star if I steal Yosei, then my opponent plays another one?

A: The Yosei that was under your control will put a triggered ability on the stack, also under your control. You'll get to choose the targets for that trigger, while your opponent gets to choose the targets for his. The active player (presumably your opponent) has to put his trigger on the stack first, and choose the targets for it when he does.




It was designed to inspire
questions of the "great" variety.
Q: I control Mirror Gallery, two Experiment Kraj, and two Basking Rootwalla. Each creature has a +1/+1 counter on it. Given enough green mana, how many times could I give each Experiment +2/+2?

I know with one Kraj, I could use the ability twice, since Kraj gains the ability from each Rootwalla and therefore has two instances of "1G: [this] gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Play this ability once each turn." But with a second Kraj, each gains two instances of the ability, and then each sees the other's two instances of the ability, and then each sees the two new instances of the ability the other gained from itself, et cetera. Where does it stop?

A: Both Experiments have a static ability that generates a continuous effect. When you want to determine what abilities the Experiments actually have, you have to go through all the continuous effects and apply each of them. Each continuous effect will only be applied once, however. So when one Experiment sees the other getting new activated abilities, the first won't also get some new abilities, causing a chain reaction.

The two continuous effects fall in the same layer, both depend on the other, and both are characteristic-setting (interaction of continuous effects blah blah blah), so the order in which the two apply depends on timestamp. I'll call the Kraj that entered play first Kraj 1, and the other one Kraj 2.

First, you apply Kraj 1's effect. It looks at all other creatures and sees two activated abilities among them, so it gains two instances of the Rootwalla ability. Then Kraj 2's effect gets applied. It sees a total of four abilities, so the second Kraj will end up with four instances.



Q: Can I discard a creature card to Tortured Existence without having a creature card in my graveyard?

A: Sorry, but as the saying goes, "Targets are chosen before costs are paid." There's no valid target to choose for the ability when it asks you to, so you're not allowed to play the ability.



Q: If my opponent activates Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree with Doubling Season in play and I respond by Mortifying Doubling Season, does he still get twice as many tokens?

A: No, he won't. Doubling Season has a replacement effect: its purpose is to modify events. To do that, it has to be around when the event occurs. If you get rid of the enchantment before Vitu-Ghazi's ability resolves, the token won't be doubled into two tokens.




Fortunately, this card doesn't
retroactively mess with your
life total anymore.
Q: What happens if I use Reverse Damage on my opponent's Flames of the Blood Hand?

A: As Flames of the Blood Hand resolves, it begins by dealing 4 damage to you. Reverse Damage (according to its most recent Oracle text) tries to prevent damage, but damage from Flames can't be prevented, so you'll end up taking that damage. Reverse Damage still does as much as possible, so you will also gain four life. Right after that, the last part of Flames of the Blood Hand sets up a replacement effect that will make it impossible to gain life anymore for the rest of the turn. After Flames of the Blood Hand is done resolving, you'll be sitting on the same life total that you started with.



Q: My opponent is attacking me with several creatures. I play Boros Fury-Shield using red mana, targeting my Ink-Treader Nephilim, my only creature in play. Assuming my opponent's creatures could be targeted by Boros Fury-Shield, do the Fury-Shield copies deal damage to my opponent (because they copy a Fury-Shield that does) or don't they, because no red mana was paid for them?

A: The copies of the Fury-Shield deal no damage. A copy of a spell copies the characteristics of the spell as well as any choices that the spell required to be made when it was played. What mana (if any) was spent on each spell isn't copied, so the game knows that no mana was spent to play the copies.



Q: I have a question concerning the interaction of Clone and Genju of the Fields. If I play the ability of the Genju, and animate the enchanted plains, is it then a legal creature for Clone to copy?

If yes, as I assume...

A: You assume correctly. Wink

Q: ... What happens to the Clone at end of turn? If I animated the Plains multiple times and gave it “Whenever this creature deals damage, you gain that much life” multiple times, would the Clone copy all instances of it?

A: Copy effects ignore all ordinary continuous effects. If you choose an animated Plains for your Clone to copy, then Clone will come into play as a Plains, without the effect that turns the land into a creature. It'll just be a "Basic Land - Plains". (well, it could be something fancier, like "Land - Plains Island". Or even "Basic Snow Land - Plains"?)

If you Cloned an animated Svogthos, the Restless Tomb, you'd at least be able to animate your Cloned version, but no such luck with the Genju's, I'm afraid. Frown



It's officially summertime, and as you know, things end with summer. July 1st will be the last article of Cranial Insertion, and then the column closes its doors. I've enjoyed our time together... What? Oh, nevermind, wrong column. Cranial Insertion isn't going anywhere, so keep the questions coming at [email][email protected][/email], and until next week everyone!

-Thijs van Ommen, The Netherlands

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