Cranial Insertion: Yo, Ho, Ho, a Demon's Life for Me

Cranial Insertion
Yo, Ho, Ho, a Demon's Life for Me
or, You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Slaughter

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, & Tom Fowler

Welcome back to Cranial Insertion! For our first of three Dissension guild weeks, we'll kick off with the one that knows the real meaning of having a bloody good time.

In the interest of audience participation, those of you who have submitted questions will get this exciting chance to die in graphical and memorable ways! A real experience to tell the grandchildren about, assuming you get zombified!

As always, you can send us questions at [email][email protected][/email], and one or more of us will answer them ASAP, and then possibly use your question in an article. If you include bananas, your question will have a higher chance of publication. Moko is bribable.

Q: What does hellbent do?

A: It sits there and looks pretty. "Hellbent" is an ability word -- it's absolutely nothing but a way for players to refer to the common mechanic of "as long as you have no cards in your hand."

* Woapalanne bends hell a little and nasally inserts it into your sinuses.

Grinning Demonfire!
Q: Can I blast Paladin en-Vec with Demonfire if it's hellbent?

A: No such luck. You're on the right track -- protection from red wouldn't stop the "damage can't be prevented" -- but then your train of thought took a side trip to the Bahamas. Your train of thought fills me with jealousy.

The important point is that Demonfire still can't *target* the Paladin due to the protection from Red.

* Woapalanne derails your train somewhere around Atlantis, where the merfolk remain vengeful from our thefts last year.

Q: What happens if Slithering Shade attacks and then my opponent makes me draw a card?

A: You get a card! Oh boy! Nothing else.

The defender ability only cares about the declaration of attackers during the declare attackers step of the combat phase. It doesn't mind if the creature is actually attacking, you just can't tell it to as long as it has defender (and, in the case of our Shade friend here, have a card in hand.)

* Woapalanne fills the plane with slithering snakes.

Q: I play Cackling Flames - when does it check my hand to see how much damage it does?

A: In this case, if your opponent makes you draw, it'll do something more than make you happy and a little closer to decking. Cackling Flames has a self-replacement effect that will only make the replacement if its condition is true when it needs to do its job p- that is, if you have a card in hand at the time it wants to replace its own damage (when it resolves, of course), it won't replace it and it'll only deal 3.

* Woapalanne lets loose the My Little Demon Ponies on Fire to lick your face.

Q: What happens to Ragamuffyn's ability if I sacrifice a Surveilling Sprite to it?

A: Not a thing. Ragamuffyn's ability can only be played if you're hellbent, but after it's played, she doesn't care anymore. Since the Sprite's triggered ability won't net you a card until well after the ability is played, you're good to go.

* Woapalanne sews your mouth shut with a baby ferret inside.

Q: If a Jagged Poppet and Dimir Cutpurse both hit my opponent, will he have to discard, or will the card from the Cutpurse stop the ability?

A: He's definitely discarding something -- the Cutpurse will make him discard, too. These abilities both trigger, so you choose the order. If you put the Poppet ability on the top, it'll make your opponent discard a bunch before you draw for the Cutpurse and he discards another precious card.

But if you put the Cutpurse ability on top of the Poppet ability, you've got a situation. The Poppet's ability has an intervening if clause, bless those cute lil things. It's formatted as "At/When/Whenever X, if Y, Z", so if Y is not true at the time it would trigger or when it would resolve, the ability won't happen. No more discarding.

* Woapalanne inserts an intervening if clause into your spleen.

Because jokes with Little
Girl are always funny.
Q: How many times will a 1/1 creature have to regenerate if I discard 3 cards to Kindle the Carnage?

A: What a well-formatted question. You're operating under the assumption that all three cards discarded will deal at least 1 damage, and that any of those three bursts would kill the creature. Well, it'll only need one regeneration shield. State-based effects aren't checked until Kindle the Carnage is entirely done resolving; they aren't checked between repetitions of the process. So you'll end up with a 1/1 with lots of damage on it, and it'd be destroyed once, so you'll only need one regeneration shield.

* Woapalanne Kindles the Carnage with a troop of Little Girls.

Q: What happens if I discard Hit // Run to Kindle the Carnage?

A: There is pain. Paaaain, I say. Pain because I slap you silly for not reading our Divide // Conquer article that went into lots of detail on split cards.

But I'll answer it here, and then you can go back and read that article. Kindle the Carnage asks Hit // Run for its converted mana cost, so it gets two answers - 3 and 5. So it'll deal 3 damage and 5 damage as a single event, which will usually look a lot like 8 damage.

* Woapalanne hits you with a land mine and runs!

Q: Is Stream of Life and Rain of Gore a combo?

A: No. Rain of Gore is sadly not as cool as False Cure. Rain of Gore only cares about life gain when an object a player controls gains that player life. It doesn't rain on gifts of life.

* Woapalanne unleashes a Rain of Al Gore.

Q: Turn one Mountain, Raging Goblin, Mox Jet, Bond of Agony, pay 19 life. Didn't I just win?

A: No. Bond of Agony does not have an alternate cost of paying X life -- you pay X life in addition to X mana. So unless you've somehow pulled off 20 mana on turn 1, this combo ain't gonna win.

* Woapalanne whams into you with a hatred-filled Raging Goblin.

Q: Can I burn Enemy of the Guildpact with Fire // Ice?

A: Yes, the Enemy of the Guildpact is not an Enemy of Old-School-Split-Cards. Those cards are multicolor, yes, but they turn into monocolor spells when you play them. Note the difference: anywhere but the stack, they aren't spells, and all of their colors shine through, but on the stack, only one half, with one color, exists.

* Woapalanne finely papercuts you in half with a Wax // Wane.

Q: Can an Unliving Psychopath take out Loxodon Hierarch? Watchwolf?

A: Unliving Psychopaths are selfless things. No matter how committed they are to die, they can't take out those guys. The victim's power must be less than the psychopath's, so its power must be 4 or more to kill a wolf, and 5 or more to take down that elephant. So pump it up. Pump it waaaay up. Activate it 0q38764502345 times! Wait, q isn't a number.

So as those activations resolve it'll turn into a 1/3, then a 2/2, then a 3/1, then a 4/0 - and then it drops dead from state-based effects before it can get any bigger and those other activations fail to do anything. Boom, dead psychopath. Rest in pieces. And dead creatures have some trouble using their other ability to kill things. Namely, it's dead before you can activate said ability. So the best you can take down is a 2-power creature.

Without assistance, that is.

* Woapalanne Schismotivates Unliving Psychopath and you and lets it go to town.

Q: If I ping my opponent's Sakura-Tribe Elder with a Rakdos Ickspitter and he sacrifices it in response, will he lose a life?

A: Nope, he won't. The Ickspitter's only target is illegal, so the entire ability is countered. The *entire* ability. No damage, no life loss, no demon slobber.

* Woapalanne gives you a very happy and loving Ickspitter who cuddles you and loves you and licks you to your painful demise.

How do you sacrifice this
guy with a little knife?
Q: Can I sacrifice any random creature to Lyzolda, the Blood Witch, or does it have to be Red or Black?

A: Lyzolda is an equal opportunity murderess. She'll kill anyone who wants a go at it. She just won't do anything fun following that murder unless you sacrifice a Red creature, Black creature, Red and Black creature, or chocolate sex toy.

* Woapalanne introduces Lyzolda to Savra and lets them play with Darigaaz -- in your bedroom.

Q: What does Nightcreep do to a Red and Black creature?

A: It makes it creepy. And nighty. And all Black. Setting the creature's color as Black will overwrite any other colors, even if it's already Black, so it won't be Red anymore.

* Woapalanne paints you black with asphalt tar.

Q: What does War's Toll do in 2HG?

A: Pretty much the same thing it does in normal Magic. Tom mentioned that we were getting it verified last week, so the discussion went to the infamous Judge List, where it was confirmed. Whenever you tap a land, it'll trigger to tap all of your lands, and if you attack, you attack with everyone you control. Whatever you do won't tap your teammate's lands or make his creatures attack, though.

* Woapalanne clobbers you with War's Troll.

Q: How does Pain Magnification work in 2HG?

A: Pretty niftily. When a creature goes unblocked, you choose which head it's going to hit, and the team loses life for the damage dealt. If an individual creature hits one head for 3 or more damage, that head discards a card. One creature can't make both heads discard, but you can pick a different head each time it hits to keep both of your opponents on their toes!

* Woapalanne performs an ancient ritual involving a magnifying glass, the sun, and your hair.

Q: Speaking of 2HG, have they figured out what Woebringer Demon does yet?

A: Yes, it doesn't get played. Woebringer Demons get no love.

If, on the off chance someone actually shows some tenderness for our poor ickle demonkins, the latest Oracle update did fix the recurring issue with Verdant Force, Woebringer Demon, Awakening and their ilk. Some of these cards now trigger "at the beginning of each upkeep" instead of "at the beginning of each player's upkeep." (Woebringer Demon remains in the latter category.) If they trigger at the beginning of EACH upkeep, one trigger goes on the stack. If they trigger at the beginning of each PLAYER's upkeep, two triggers go on the stack: one for each player whose upkeep is beginning (or 3 triggers for three-headed giant, etc). So check out to see how all of these cards work in 2HG now!

Important note: Not all of the autocard formats have been updated with the Oracle changes. If in doubt, check the Gatherer at the above link.

* Woapalanne brings you woe. Woe! WOE! And you die from angst overdose.

Q: Rakdos the Defiler ate all of my other permanents! What happens if he attacks now?

A: Rakdos goes hungry. If you don't have any non-Demon permanents to sacrifice, then you don't sacrifice anything. He doesn't really mind. He's been around for at least 10,000 years, so he can deal with it.

* Woapalanne juliennes you into player chips for Rakdos' after game party.

Q: How do Demonfire and Kill-Suit Cultist work together? Can the Cultist still kill the target even though it can't prevent the damage?

A: Ah, but the Cultist never tries to prevent the damage. Damage prevention is a very specific thing: it uses the word "prevent." The Cultist doesn't do that; he just replaces the damage with DEATH.

* Woapalanne drops an orca on you. You can prevent the damage, but you still get smothered by whale.

Q: Can Ghost Quarter target itself?

A: Sure. The ability will be countered upon resolution and you won't get to search for a land, but you have it target itself, then sacrifice it to pay the ability's cost.

* Woapalanne draws and quarters you for afternoon tea.

Q: If I make a Goblin with Rakdos Guildmage and have a Doubling Season out, do I have to sacrifice both Goblins at the end of turn, or only one?

A: They all get removed from the game - not sacrificed, which could make a difference. On the Guildmage, "it" refers to any and all tokens the ability produces, which is normally singular.

* Woapalanne surrounds you with goblins until the smell makes you keel over.

Q: I think my opponent is cheating - can you give him a warning?

A: No. If he's cheating, he gets a big fat DQ. If he's not, then he might get a warning for something else, or there might not be anything going on. (For example, unintentionally playing slowly is a caution or warning, but playing slowly on purpose to abuse the clock is savage cheats.)

Keep this one in mind: There is no penalty less than disqualification without prize for cheating. Cheating = doom. Please don't comment, "He should be given a game loss for cheating," because that's just silly.

* Woapalanne makes all cheaters die a very slow and very painful death with no comic value whatsoever because cheating is NOT funny. Frown

* Woapalanne eyes the corpses strewn about the studio floor.

Oops. Um . . . well, I hope I left enough of you readers alive to come back next week for Thijs to talk about his Dissension guild of choice. It's going to be a doozy -- this guild has inspired more rules questions than the entire Ravnica set!

Until next time, happy helling!

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ


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