Cranial Insertion: Cauldron Bubble

Cranial Insertion
Cauldron Bubble

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler

Welcome to Cranial Insertion, everyone. For today, I plan to mix a recipe an old friend and fellow student of mine sent me. This friend became a bioengineer and joined the Simic Combine after we finished our studies. He claims that this recipe is their greatest invention: it can accomplish within a moment what nature would need millenia for. I'm very eager to see the result. While I'm stirring the kettle, I'll go over some Simic questions.

Q: What happens if I try to graft a +1/+1 counter onto a Simic Sky Swallower?

A: You'll get a bigger Sky Swallower. You can find the official rules for the graft ability in the Dissension FAQ, the latest edition of the CompRules, or in the CI article from two weeks ago. You will find that the rules text which the keyword "Graft" represents doesn't contain the word "target." Because the ability isn't trying to target the Simic Sky Swallower, it can move a +1/+1 counter to the flying Leviathan.

Q: What about Simic Guildmage? Can I use him to move counters and enchantments to my untargetable creature?

A: The Guildmage's counter-moving ability needs two creatures as its targets. It won't let you move +1/+1 counters onto or from the Simic Sky Swallower. However, the Aura-moving ability only targets the Aura to be moved, and not the concerned permanents or their controller. So you can use the Guildmage (or several other cards) to attach Auras to untargetable creatures.

Q: Can I use Biomantic Mastery when my opponent in a duel has Ivory Mask out?

A: Biomantic Mastery, on the other hand, does require you to target two different players. If you can't pick those targets, for example because one of the players in a duel is untargetable, then you'll be unable to play the spell at all.

The temperature must be high enough by now, so it's time to add the first ingredients. My friend asked me not to reveal the details of the recipe, but I can tell you that it starts with something every wizard will have access to. Or any non-wizard, for that matter. It will probably take some time before I can take it out of the kettle, given the quantities my friend insisted on.

Q: I play Might of the Nephilim on Transguild Courier. Later that turn, my opponent Quickchanges the Courier to be colorless. Does the bonus from the Might disappear?

A: Hold on, there's something wrong there. Quickchange allows your opponent to choose a color (one) or colors (more than one) for your Courier, but it doesn't allow your opponent to choose colorless (zero colors). So let's assume he makes it a single color instead, say White. However, that still wouldn't affect the Might's effect. The moment the Might resolves, it determines that the Courier has all five colors, so it creates a continuous effect that gives the creature +10/+10. Changing the colors afterwards doesn't alter the P/T bonus.

Compare this to Blessing of the Nephilim, where the continuous effect is created by a static ability rather than by a spell or another kind of ability. With static abilities, the size of the bonus would be recalculated all the time, and Quickchanging the creature could make it smaller or larger.

Q: I noticed that Flash Foliage has the text ". . . blocking target creature attacking you," which other token generators don't have. Exactly what advantage does this give me over something like Scatter the Seeds?

A: In many circumstances, you could just play Scatter the Seeds before declaring blockers, and have it accomplish the same effect as Flash Foliage. The big difference is that Flash Foliage doesn't require you to follow the steps of declaring the Saproling as a blocker the normal way, but instead decrees that the attacker is now blocked by the Saproling. This will allow you to have a Saproling token blocking an attacker with flying, landwalk, or any other form of so-called "unblockability." It will also bypass any of the other rules that only apply when blockers are declared the normal way.

Another difference that you can sometimes use to your advantage is that Flash Foliage can be played even after normal blockers have been declared. It can catch a Ninja that thought it got through unhindered, act as reinforcements after first strike damage has been dealt, or stop a Squirrel that suddenly turned big.

Well, those were the advantages from a rules standpoint. It's up to you to decide what to do with the card. Smile

The inside of this cauldron is starting to look rather funny. I wonder if I'll be able to clean this up again. Anyway, the next step involves dividing the mixture into several smaller portions, each of which except one gets some additional ingredients. Some ground dragontooth here, a bit of zeppelid colorant there . . .

Q: What exactly does Omnibian do? Does it make the creature into a 3/3 Frog creature with no abilities, or does it let the creature keep its abilities?

A: Omnibian only changes those aspects of the creature it mentions: its power and toughness, and its creature type. It will be 3/3 instead of whatever size it used to be (this effect applies in layer 6b - see Relearning Humility for details on the rules for continuous effects), and it will lose all its old creature types and have them replaced by Frog. Other aspects of the creature, such as its color, name, and abilities are unaffected.

Q: I got into an argument over the interaction (or lack thereof) between Coiling Oracle and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind. Can you clear it up?

A: The two don't interact. Niv-Mizzet is happy when you draw a card. Coiling Oracle will sometimes let you put the top card from your library into your hand; the net result is the same as drawing a card, but without the word "draw" actually appearing, Niv-Mizzet doesn't fire. (Sorry, that pun was intended.)

Q: Can my opponent respond to the Determined half of Bound // Determined by countering another of my spells?

A: Determined's text describes the effect that happens when it resolves: your other spells will be uncounterable this turn, and you draw a card. Before Determined resolves, this text is just sitting there on the card without doing anything yet, so your opponent will still be able to counter any spells you have on the stack at that time.

Some of the new additions don't seem to mix easily. I suppose I'll continue to stir those for a bit until I move on with the next step.

Q: I control Experiment Kraj and Cytoplast Rootkin, so Kraj has the Rootkin's activated ability to move counters. If I use Kraj's version of that ability, targeting a third creature with a +1/+1 counter on it, where does that counter go: to the Rootkin, or to Kraj?

A: The counter gets moved to Kraj. When a card refers to itself by name, it's actually refering to whatever object the ability is on. So if you used Kraj's version of the ability, the counter's destination is Kraj.

Q: Say I control Experiment Kraj, a Quicksilver Elemental with a +1/+1 counter on it, and a Rakdos Pit Dragon without counters. What happens if I have Quicksilver Elemental copy the Pit Dragon's abilities?

A: The Elemental gets the abilities, and then so will Experiment Kraj. You can pay the abilities on the Elemental with blue mana if you want, but the same isn't true for Kraj.

(Aside: neither Kraj nor the Elemental "copy" anything; they simply "gain" or "have" the activated abilities. This may sometimes make a difference, because the word "copy" has special significance in the rules.)

That should do it. Now, make small puddles of the liquid on specially shaped plates. It looks quite intriguing, but I still have to wait for everything to cool off before I will witness the secret of Simic life-enhancing technology first-hand. I hope it won't take much longer...

Q: I play Cytoshape to turn my Vigean Hydropon (with five +1/+1 counters) into a copy of Simic Initiate (with one +1/+1 counter). What does the Hydropon look like afterwards?

A: It will look like all information printed on the Hydropon is replaced with the information printed on the Initiate: it will be a Human Mutant with base power and toughness of 0/0 that can attack and block, but it will still have its five +1/+1 counters on it, making it 5/5.

Q: If I play Patagia Viper for :2mana::symg::symu:, can I return Verdant Eidolon from my graveyard?

A: A spell's mana cost and the mana you actually pay for the spell are two different things. A card's color(s) depend on the former, not on the latter. No matter what you pay for your Viper, it will still have Green as its only color, so it isn't multicolored.

Q: If I play Psychic Possession on my opponent, can I tape it to his head?

A: According to the rules, the enchantment is "attached" to the player. Physically representing this using tape may not be the intention of the rules, though. Simply placing the enchantment in front of its controller is usually a good enough way to represent the game state, certainly in a duel. If you and your opponent both like the tape solution better, go ahead.

The recipe is finally complete. Even a non-wizard looking at this would be impressed by the product, which is best described as a collection of many-colored glass beads. But any wizard will immediately recognize them for what they really are: I have created +1/+1 counters!

That pretty much sums up the Simic. Next week, Tom will take a look at the Azorius Senate's rules and laws. Send your inquiries to [email][email protected][/email], and we'll take it from there.

-Thijs van Ommen, The Netherlands


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