Cranial Insertion: A Dissident is Here

Cranial Insertion: A Dissident Is Here
By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler

The Prerelease weekend for Dissension is now officially behind us, and the final set in the Ravnica Block has been welcomed to the Magical landscape. The final three guilds of Ravnica get their time in the sun, but the set has something for fans of the first seven guilds, too. We’ll be covering each of those guilds in-depth in the coming weeks. Today, though, we’re going to take a general look at Dissension. We’ll touch on the new mechanics and get into some questions on the new cards, with some of these questions coming directly from Prerelease floors.

As always, you can email us your rules and tournament questions to [email][email protected][/email]. We’ll answer your question (we’ll even answer it correctly if you tip us well) and we may use it in a future edition of CI. The only easier way to get your name in lights is to join a cult and jump on couches!

First of all, here are the new Comp Rules entries for the three abilities introduced in this set.

502.53. Forecast

502.53a A forecast ability is a special kind of activated ability that can be played only from a player's hand. It's written "Forecast — [Activated ability]."

502.53b A forecast ability may be played only during its controller's upkeep step and only once each turn. The controller of the forecast ability reveals the card with that ability from his or her hand as the ability is played. That player plays with that card revealed in his or her hand until the upkeep step ends or until it leaves the player's hand, whichever comes first.

502.54. Graft

502.54a Graft represents both a static ability and a triggered ability. "Graft N" means "This permanent comes into play with N +1/+1 counters on it" and "Whenever another creature comes into play, you may move a +1/+1 counter from this permanent onto that creature."

502.54b If a creature has multiple instances of graft, each one works separately.


Hellbent is an ability word that indicates that a spell or permanent is better if its controller has no cards in his or her hand. Only cards from the Rakdos guild (black, red, or black-red) have hellbent.

And with that out of the way, we’ll turn the floor over to Dissension questions.

Q: Cards I use for Forecast stay in my hand, right?

A: Yes. They remain in your hand the entire time. The cards just revealed for the entirety of your upkeep step, unless they should leave your hand at some point during your upkeep.

Q: What if a card with Forecast leaves my hand at some point during my upkeep, then ends up back in my hand? Can I use its Forecast ability again?

A: When a card changes zones like this, it is considered a new object and has no “memory” of what it might have done previously. You’ll be able to play the Forecast ability again in this case.

Q: Can I use Forecast to tell what the weather will be at my Prerelease?

A: Hey, I’ll write the jokes here, smartass.

Bonus: It rained at my Prerelease. Frown

Q: What happens when I move the last +1/+1 counter off a creature with Graft?

A: Then your creature will graft itself off to the graveyard. Unless something else is keeping its toughness above 0, it will be put into the graveyard as a state-based effect and may not regenerate.

Q: If I use Graft to move some number of +1/+1 counters to a creature with modular, can I still move those counters when the modular creature dies?

A: Yes. When the modular ability triggers, you target a creature to receive the +1/+1 counters. When the ability resolves, the counters will be moved. Where those counters came from doesn't matter; the ability will move all the +1/+1 counters that are on the creature as it resolves.

Johnny Blaze, is that you?
Q: Is the number of cards in my hand continually checked for Hellbent?

A: It depends. For cards which have a static ability relating to Hellbent, those cards will check the number of cards in your hand continuously. If the Hellbent ability on a permanent is an activated ability, the number of cards in your hand will be checked only when you try to play the ability. If a permanent has a Hellbent triggered ability, then the number of cards in your hand is checked both when the ability would trigger and when it would resolve. If you have at least one card in your hand in the former case, the ability won’t trigger; if you have at least one card in your hand in the latter case, the ability simply won’t do anything.

Q: Guardian of the Guildpact has “protection from monocolored.” What exactly does that mean?

A: You can treat it just like protection from any other quality. Guardian of the Guildpact cannot be damaged, enchanted or equipped, blocked, or targeted (DEBT) by any source that is just one color. Remember that hybrid cards like Giant Solifuge are multicolored. So you could enchant the Guardian with Pollenbright Wings, but not with Moldervine Cloak. You could block it with any of the Guildmages, but not with a Ghor-Clan Savage. You could target it with the ability of a Gelectrode but not with the ability of a Flametongue Kavu.

Bonus: Artifacts and lands are colorless, and because they have no colors, they are not considered to be monocolored.

Q: If I play Bond of Agony, I can pay my current life total and I won’t die because the spell is resolving, right?

A: Unfortunately, this is wrong. The life payment is an additional cost, and paying costs is the last thing you do when you play a spell or ability. Because the spell would go onto the stack once it has been played, players would receive priority. This means state-based effects will check. Being at 0 life when SBEs check is not a good idea, since it means you lose the game. [This also means that it's a real crummy card to have countered. -Ed]

Bonus: You can’t pay more than your current life total, either, since you can’t make any payments with something you don’t have.

Q: How does Elemental Resonance work with multicolored and hybrid cards?

A: If Elemental Resonance is enchanting a permanent that costs 1RW, then you’ll add 1RW to your mana pool at the beginning of your precombat main phase. Note that this is a triggered ability, not a mana ability. If Elemental Resonance is enchanting a permanent that costs :symwr::symwr:, then you’ll choose whether to add RW, WW, or RR to your mana pool.

Q: Does Transguild Courier count as a multicolored spell?

A: Transguild Courier has a characteristic-setting ability of, “Transguild Courier is all colors (even if this card isn’t in play).” This ability applies in all zones, meaning Transguild Courier is all colors when it is on the stack. Regardless of which colors you use to play it, this is a multicolored spell.

Because the War Tax was too low...
Q: How does War’s Toll’s second ability work in 2-Headed Giant? Would all creatures controlled by that team attack if able?

A: Not necessarily. “That player” refers only to whichever player controlled the attacking creature. So if just one player on the team controls a creature that attacks, the rest of his creatures that are able to attack will have to sally forth into the red zone. If both players decide to attack, then they’ll both need to send all their eligible attackers into combat. While it’s true that you attack (and block) as a team in 2HG, your creatures are still your creatures, and the requirement will apply to each player individually.

Since 2HG can sometimes be The Land of Interesting Interactions, we're getting this verified to make sure it's 100% correct. This is how it was ruled at our Prerelease, though, and I'm confident this is way the card will work in 2HG.

Q: Does Doubling Season interact with Graft as well as I’d like it to?

A: The interaction is pretty spicy, so I would think so. If you control a Doubling Season, your creatures with Graft will get twice as many +1/+1 counters as normal when they come into play. When you choose to move a counter with the Graft triggered ability, you’ll move only one, but it will get doubled into a second one.

Q: How does Transmute interact with the split cards? Can either half match the right converted mana cost for Transmute, or do the two halves need to add up to that number?

A: Transmute is asking for a characteristic (in this case, converted mana cost) from split cards. Transmuting Dimir Infiltrator, for example, asks the cards you’re searching for, “Is your CMC 2?” If either half of the split card could answer “Yes” to that question, then you can Transmute for it. For example, you could Transmute for Bound // Determined with either Dimir Infiltrator or Brainspoil. A hypothetical card with CMC 7 and Transmute would not be able to find Bound // Determined.

Bonus: If you really hear your Transmute cards asking the other cards in your deck about their CMC, then it might be time to switch to decaf.

Q: If I play Flash Foliage, can I have the Saproling token block something it ordinarily couldn't, like a flier?

A: Yes, you can. The legality of blocks is checked only when you declare blockers (during, naturally enough, the declare blockers step). Since the Saproling token is simply put into play blocking an attacking creature, the legality of the block will never be checked. That Saproling can jump in front of a flier like Mahamoti Djinn, a shadowy villain like Dauthi Slayer, a landwalker like Dryad Sophisticate, or even something that’s plain unblockable, like Dimir Infiltrator.

Bonus (Strategery): You could let a 1/1 or a 2/1 with first strike through and let it deal its first strike damage, then play Flash Foliage and have the Saproling block it. Because the first striker has already dealt its damage, it doesn't get another chance, and the Saproling will kill it.

Q: How does the Research part of Research // Development work in 2HG? Do we even have sideboards?

A: Like the Wishes from Judgment, in tournament play, Research can only fetch cards in your sideboard or cards already removed from the game. Because 2HG plays only a one-game match, it does not use sideboards (this is true in both Limited and Constructed 2HG). This means the card is restricted to finding things which have already been removed from the game. My suspicion is that the card is not intended to work this way in 2HG, which has proven itself to be a popular format. However, under the current rules and rulings, Research will only be able to retrieve cards already consigned to the RFG zone in 2HG.

"Well, we made Rite, and that sucked..."
Q: Can I use the Forecast ability on Writ of Passage to target my Azorius First-Wing?

A: No. Azorius First-Wing has protection from enchantments. Forecast is an activated ability, and in the case of Writ of Passage, it’s an activated ability (which targets) of an enchantment card. Because the game knows Writ of Passage is an enchantment card (it’s not an enchantment, since enchantments exist only in play), its Forecast ability cannot target the First-Wing. If a permanent has protection from [quality], the protection applies to [quality] sources which are permanents, and [quality] sources which are not in play.

Here is what the Comprehensive Rules tell us:
502.7a Protection is a static ability, written “Protection from [quality].” This quality is usually a color (as in “protection from black”) but can be any characteristic value. If the quality is a type, subtype, or supertype, the protection applies to sources that are permanents with that type, subtype, or supertype and to any sources not in play that are of that type, subtype, or supertype.

Q: Another question about Writ of Passage: let’s say I use the Forecast ability to make something unblockable until end of turn. Then I use Cytoshape to turn the unblockable creature into something larger, like a 4/4. Is it still unblockable?

A: Yes. The condition of power 2 or less is a targeting restriction. It will check when you play the ability, and again when the ability resolves. As long as it’s legal at both of those times, the creature’s power can be raised later in the turn. The fact that Cytoshape has disguised the creature as something else doesn’t matter, either. A creature targeted by Writ of Passage’s resolved ability essentially gains, “[this object] is unblockable until end of turn.” It’s still the same object after it’s been Cytoshaped.

Q: If my opponent plays Kindle the Carnage and discards a card with a high CMC, can I respond to that damage?

A: No, you can’t. Once your opponent discards a card at random, Kindle the Carnage is resolving. No player receives priority to play spells and abilities while a spell is resolving. Any responses you have would have to be before he starts discarding cards.

Q: OK, so I regenerate my creature in response. If he discards three different cards, how many times would I need to regenerate my creature?

A: The same number of times anyone attempts to catch a bullet in their teeth – just once. While it’s true that each discarded card creates a new instance of damage being dealt, regeneration removes all damage assigned to a creature. When your opponent chooses to stop discarding cards (or runs out of cards), Kindle the Carnage has finished resolving. At this time, state-based effects will check. When SBEs see your lethally-damaged creature, the single regeneration shield will replace its destruction, regardless of how many cards were discarded to Kindle the Carnage.

Those are 20 Dissenstion questions in the books. In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to focus on Dissension, devoting an article to each of the three guilds. CI completists will recall that we did this for Guildpact, also.

Many of the questions above were culled from real questions asked at our local Dissension Prerelease. I imposed on my fellow judges to share with me any interesting questions they got. Thanks to Brian, Paul, Cari, Martha, Andy, Jeff, Starr, Rick, and Ryan for helping me compile good questions from the event.

I hope everyone’s Prerelease experience was a good one. Don’t forget you can also play in Dissension Release events, scheduled for the weekend of May 5th, 6th, and 7th! Two weeks after all that, on May 20th, Dissension becomes legal in Constructed formats . . . just in time for Regionals. Next week, the Rakdos will defile this column and make it hellbent for their own evil ways. Muahahahahaha!

-Tom Fowler


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