Cranial Insertion: Who's Afraid of Shining Shoal?

Cranial Insertion
Who’s Afraid of Shining Shoal?

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler

Dissension is in the books, we’ve emptied the mailbag, and we’ve taken a look at the wonderful word of abilities and effects. It won’t be long until we’re under the chilly spell of Coldsnap, plowing through a blizzard of questions about that new set. Until then, though, we have more questions to empty from the virtual mailbag, and some questions drawn from the floors of US Regionals, many of them involving Shining Shoal. With its resurgence in Standard, starting with the Teams format, this card has gotten a lot of play, and has thus generated a lot of questions.

Want to be in our mailbag, so we can use your question and you can tell all your friends that a world-famous (ahem) rules column quoted YOU? Just send us an email at [email][email protected][/email]. We’ll not only answer your question, but we’ll probably print it for the world to see. The only easier way to get your name in lights is to be a chubby, cheesy, bad-dressing, prematurely grey lounge act who dances like a deer taking its first steps, yet somehow manages to win American Idol. Grrrr!

(Not that I’m bitter over the gorgeous, sultry-voiced Katharine losing, or anything. . . .)

Q: If I attack with an Ornithopter, and Cytoshape it into a copy of my opponent’s Darksteel Colossus after he has declared no blockers, do I get to hit him for 11?

A: Most likely, yes. Your opponent could still respond with a spell or ability that might do something nasty to your newly-minted Colossus. If he doesn’t have anything, though, the pain train is coming to town, to the tune of 11 damage.

Q: What happens if I Cytoshape a Darksteel Colossus into a copy of a creature with graft?

A: The Colossus becomes not very colossal. Graft creatures have a base power/toughness of 0/0, so those will be the copiable values. This means the Colossus will be a 0/0 creature, and unless you have something like a Glorious Anthem to boost its toughness, it’s going to the graveyard as a state-based effect. Because the Colossus goes to the graveyard as a copy of the graft creature, it doesn’t have it’s “shuffle it into its owner’s library” replacement effect, so it will remain in the graveyard.

Bonus: “What’s a copiable value?” you ask.

Quote from CompRules »
503.2. When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s characteristics (name, mana cost, color, type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, and toughness) and, for an object on the stack, choices made when playing it (mode, targets, the value of X, whether a kicker cost was paid, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on). The “copiable values” are the values that are printed on the object, as modified by other copy effects, “comes into play as” abilities, and abilities that caused the object to be face down. Other effects (including type-changing and text-changing effects), status, and counters are not copied.

Q: If I sacrifice my Protean Hulk to Greater Good, what happens?

A: You announce Greater Good's ability and put it onto the stack, sacrificing the Hulk to pay its cost. On top of that, however, you put Protean Hulk’s triggered ability, which will go onto the stack after the Hulk hits the graveyard. The stack will resolve top-down: you’ll perform the search for the Hulk’s ability, then you’ll draw and discard for Greater Good.

Bonus: Puny human! Hulk smash!

Q: Can you sacrifice a creature like False Prophet just because you want to get the effect?

A: Nope. You can’t do anything that would affect the game state unless something in the game tells you that you can do it. This covers everything you might think of: sacrificing permanents, drawing cards, discarding cards, etc.

Q: When does Kamigawa Block rotate out of Standard? I’ve heard some people say it happens when Coldsnap is released.

A: Coldsnap’s release just adds another set to Standard. The three Kamigawa sets will not rotate out until Time Spiral becomes legal, which is scheduled to happen on 20 October.

Q: Does the untap ability of Gelectrode trigger when I copy instants or sorceries with Izzet Guildmage?

A: No, it doesn’t. For Gelectrode’s ability to trigger, you must actually play an instant or sorcery spell. Izzet Guildmage simply puts copies onto the stack; they are never actually being played.

Bonus: Compare the Guildmage to Isochron Scepter. You can see from the wording of Scepter’s ability that it lets you play the copy. A copy of a spell is still a spell, and since you’re playing it with Isochron Scepter, your Gelectrode’s ability would trigger.

Q: What is the difference between “at end of turn” and “until end of turn?”

A: One preposition.

Q: I meant rules-wise.

A: Oh, right. There’s quite a bit of difference, then. First, let’s take a look at the end phase, since that’s when both of these things happen.

312. End Phase

312.1. The end phase consists of two steps: end of turn and cleanup.

313. End of Turn Step

313.1. As the end of turn step begins, all abilities that trigger “at end of turn” go on the stack. (See rule 410, “Handling Triggered Abilities.”) Then the active player gets priority and players may play spells and abilities.

313.2. If “at end of turn”-triggered abilities are created or if cards with “at end of turn”-triggered abilities come into play after preexisting ones have already gone on the stack at the beginning of the end of turn step, those abilities won’t go on the stack until the next turn’s end phase. In other words, the step doesn’t “back up” so new “at end of turn”-triggered abilities can go on the stack. This only applies to triggered abilities that say “at end of turn.” It doesn’t apply to continuous effects whose durations say “until end of turn” or “this turn.” (See rule 314, “Cleanup Step.”)

314. Cleanup Step

314.1. If the active player’s hand contains more cards than his or her maximum hand size (normally seven), he or she discards enough cards to reduce the hand size to that number (this game action doesn’t use the stack).

314.2. After discarding, the following actions happen simultaneously: all damage is removed from permanents and all “until end of turn” and “this turn” effects end (this game action doesn’t use the stack).

314.3. If the conditions for any state-based effects exist or if any triggered abilities are waiting to be put onto the stack, the active player gets priority and players may play spells and abilities. Once the stack is empty and all players pass, another cleanup step begins. Otherwise, no player receives priority and the step ends.

“At end of turn” is a triggered ability (and we know this because triggered abilities begin with “at,” “when,” or “whenever”). It triggers at the beginning of the end of turn step. Any permanents with at-end-of-turn abilities will see those abilities trigger. Note that this happens only once: at the beginning of the end of turn step. What rule 313.2 means is that, if an at-end-of-turn ability tries to trigger after the time for this has passed, that ability will have to wait until the next turn’s end of turn step.

“Until end of turn” is a duration. It describes how long effects last. “Until end of turn” wears off during the cleanup step.

Fun with "at end of turn. . . ."
It’s possible to use the “at end of turn” window to your advantage. Let the end of turn step begin, and any triggers go onto the stack. Then, when that is over, play your spell or ability that has an “at end of turn” trigger. It won’t trigger until the next turn’s end of turn step. It is not possible, however, to do anything like this with “until end of turn” effects. They will always expire during the cleanup step.

Q: I have a Llanowar Elves enchanted with Aboshan’s Desire. My opponent Shocks it. In response I do something which gives me threshold. Before the Shock resolves, my opponent sacrifices his Tormod’s Crypt and removes my graveyard from the game. What happens to my Elf?

A: After all of that, your Elf is a goner. Here’s why: Shock checks for targeting legality twice: when it’s played and when it begins to resolve. The Elf is a legal target at both of those times. You did not have threshold when Shock was played, and you did not have it anymore when Shock began to resolve. That you had it in-between – briefly making your Elf untargetable – doesn’t matter.

Q: I’ve used Mindslaver on my opponent, who is playing a Goblin deck. If I make him play a Goblin Matron, can he still choose to "not find" anything with its search ability?

A: You’re making the choices for him, since you control the turn. If you do want him to find a certain card [like Skirk Prospector Unibrow -Ed], he can't decide not to. If you don’t want him to find anything with his search, then just say that, and he won’t find anything, even if there are Goblins in his deck.

507.3. The controller of another player’s turn makes all choices and decisions that player is allowed to make or is told to make during that turn by the rules or by any objects. This includes choices and decisions about what to play, and choices and decisions called for by spells and abilities.

Q: Does Grand Arbiter Augustin IV change the mana cost of spells my opponents play, for the purposes of things like Disrupting Shoal and Spell Snare?

A: No. A spell’s mana cost and converted mana cost are unchanged by cost increasers like the Grand Arbiter. Augustin changes what your opponent has to pay to play the spell, but the actual mana cost is unchanged. The only things which can change the mana cost of a spell or permanent are copy effects and the value of X.

Q: How can I tell when a sacrifice is part of the cost of a spell or ability?

Not an activated ability.
A: Newer cards will be worded properly, but for older cards, you’ll need to consult Gatherer for the updated Oracle wording. If a sacrifice is part of the cost of a spell, it will be worded as, “As an additional cost to play CARDNAME, sacrifice [something].” For an activated ability (templated as cost: effect – again, check Oracle to make sure you’re dealing with an activated ability and not just old templating, a la Vampiric Tutor from days gone by), the sacrifice will be on the left side of the colon. In all other cases, the sacrifice will be something you do upon resolution of the spell or ability.

Q: If my opponent plays Hidetsugu’s Second Rite, targeting me, can I mana burn in response to avoid losing?

A: Nope. Mana burn doesn’t cause you to lose life until the end of the current phase, and that won’t happen in time to save you from taking 10 to the dome. What you can do, though, is tap a painland for colored mana. Since this damage happens right away, you’ll be at 9 life, have a mana in your pool, and be quite immune to the 10 damage the Second Rite is trying to deal you. You could also play a spell or ability that causes you to gain life in response. As long as you’re not as 10 when Second Rite resolves, you’re safe.

Q: If I play Seize the Soul on a creature, and the creature is bounced before Seize the Soul resolves, do I still get to use Haunt?

A: No. For an instant or sorcery to haunt something, it has to resolve.

502.51a Haunt is a triggered ability. “Haunt” on a permanent means “When this permanent is put into a graveyard from play, remove it from the game haunting target creature.” “Haunt” on an instant or sorcery spell means “When this spell is put into a graveyard during its resolution, remove it from the game haunting target creature.”

The key words there are “during its resolution.” If the spell is countered upon resolution, as it will be in the case of the question, then no haunting occurs.

Fear my ability to confuse. . . .
Q: How does Shining Shoal interact with spells like Pyroclasm and Wildfire? Can I save more than one creature?

A: You sure can. The wording of Shining Shoal confuses a lot of people, and there’s a misconception that it can only save one creature. Its wording is, “The next X damage that a source of your choice would deal to you or a creature you control this turn . . .” “A creature” is singular, and that’s where the confusion comes in. That’s just the way damage redirection is worded, though, and doesn’t mean you can’t save multiple creatures under the right circumstances. If a source would deal X or more damage to multiple creatures you control, you can choose which damage to redirect until your X is used up. The key is that the damage must come from a single source.

So, if you have a pair of 2/2 creatures and a 1/1, and your opponent plays Pyroclasm, a Shining Shoal for 4 can save them all. You play Shining Shoal, announcing an X of 4, and choosing your target where the redirected damage will be assigned. This is the only target of Shining Shoal. When Shining Shoal resolves, you choose the source of damage. When the redirection shield is going to be used, you can choose to redirect 1 damage from each of your 2/2’s, and 2 damage from your 1/1. This will save all your creatures, and deal 4 damage to your opponent or a troublesome creature he controls.

Q: Since Shining Shoal only has one target, what happens if that target isn’t in play when it resolves?

A: Then the damage redirection “shield” will never be created, and the damage will happen normally. Anytime a spell with a single target sees its target as invalid when it tries to resolve, it is countered upon resolution with no effect. Shining Shoal is no different.

Q: I attacked my opponent with a creature equipped with Umezawa’s Jitte (no counters). He used Shining Shoal to redirect the creature’s combat damage back to itself. Does my Jitte still get two counters?

A: Even the death of its wielder in this case cannot stop the mighty Jitte. Shining Shoal redirects damage, but it doesn’t change anything else about it. Combat damage is still combat damage. Jitte will see the equipped creature dealing combat damage (to itself, in this case), and its ability will trigger. When that ability resolves, you’ll put a pair of charge counters on Toshi’s broken stick.

Q: My opponent plays Lava Spike, splicing on a Glacial Ray, and aims both at me. Could I redirect all five damage with Shining Shoal?

A: Yes. Spliced spells have their text added onto the original arcane spell. Lava Spike is the source of the five damage coming at you, and because that’s a single source, you can redirect all of it with Shining Shoal.

Q: Can I use Shining Shoal to prevent damage from a Hand of Cruelty?

A: Yes. Shining Shoal has only one target: the recipient of the redirected damage. It is not legal for you to choose Hand of Cruelty here, since its protection from White prevents that. It is perfectly legal, however, to redirect its damage somewhere else.

That’s all for this edition of Cranial Insertion. In the coming weeks, we’ll be bringing you questions directly from the floor of PT: Charleston, since both Eli and I will be working that event. In the meantime, keep your questions coming . . . even if they be about Shining Shoal.

-Tom Fowler


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