Cranial Insertion: Here Comes the Rain Again



Cranial Insertion
Here Comes the Rain Again
or, Cards Are Falling on My Head ACK

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs von Ommen, & Tom Fowler

Ah, the smell of a new set on the horizon. It's a wonderful time when the rules shudder in fear of their new additions, possible subtractions, and Mark Gottlieb's lascivious gaze.

This year, it's also a time for a brand new format - team constructed! We'll look over the rules for this fun new way to play your favorite game before we delve into the mailbag for this week.

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: How is team constructed different from team sealed?


All I want for Christmas is
a Beta Black Lotus.
A: Pretty different. Scoring works the same - you play three simultaneous matches, and the team that wins 2 out of 3 of those matches wins the round. Each team has an A player, B player, and C player who only play the other team's A, B, and C players respectively, and the games are entirely separate, unlike Two-Headed Giant.

However, unlike team sealed, the teams may discuss their game with their teammates. You still can't do this in sealed, but you can in constructed, as long as you don't spend a lot of time doing so.

The other major difference is deck construction. Team constructed follows the unified deck construction rules: all of the team's decks, stacked together, must form a legal deck of at least 180 cards and each of those three decks must in itself be legal. No card may appear more than 4 times in the team's decks and sideboards, so you can't have three identical decks (unless you're all playing highlander decks. If you are, more power to you.)

The team constructed format also takes a card-set format, such as standard or vintage. Those rules apply as well, so no, for a team vintage tournament, you can't have four copies of Black Lotus in the team's decks, or even one in each deck, only one, period.

At any point, team members may offer assistance to teammates. However, as soon as a player leaves the table after completing his or her match, that player is no longer part of the team for purposes of communication. Player A can not walk around and chant Player B's opponent's hand.




Q: If I activate and attack with my Genju of the Cedars, and my opponent blocks with his Suntail Hawk, then Last Gasps my Genju, can I reactivate the Genju's ability to refresh his power and toughness?

A: Oops, we goofed last week! Last Gasp would only apply in layer 6d if it were a static ability - since it isn't, it falls into the catch-all of layer 6b, the same place as the Genju's effect. The end result is that time stamps do matter, and reactivating the Genju will override Last Gasp's punification.




Q: If I hit someone with a creature that has a Mask of Memory on it and decide to dredge once or twice will I have to then discard a card?

A: You do. "You may do X" is a choice you make when the ability resolves. Making that choice - to draw cards - is what turns on the "If you do" part, and even if you replace the draw with the dredge, you've still chosen the option that includes a discard.




Q: It seems that I could play a Copy Enchantment copying Dream Leash on an untapped, untargetable creature. If this is true, how exactly does that work?

A: It does work. Copy Enchantment comes into play as a non-Aura enchantment, so it doesn't target. As it comes into play, it becomes an Aura and slides on over onto a creature. Since Dream Leash only cares about the tappedness of a creature when it's announced, that won't matter at all here.




Q: I was at the Guildpact Prerelease, playing against an opponent who was drinking from a soda can. The match next to us had a particularly excitable character sitting next to my opponent, and at one point he suddenly became so enraged that he slammed his fists on the table, toppling the half-full soda can right into my opponent's open bag, filled with binders of cards. Luckily, no damage was done to his sheet-protected cards, but it took a few minutes to mop up the mess. A judge was never involved in the incident, and my opponent did his best to move quickly in assessing the situation, but I would like to know what a judge might have done for this situation.

A: If everything could be dealt with quickly with no damage, it'd fall under Unsporting Conduct - Major, and the player would receive a game loss. If there was lots of damage or if your opponent had to spend a lot of time to make sure that he didn't lose a large collection, and especially if some of a valuable collection were seriously damaged, Unsporting Conduct - Severe would be a distinct possibility: DQ without prize.




Q: What happens if a Darksteel Colossus dies with Humility in play?

A: The same thing that happens to everyone else.

Well, mostly everyone. As the Colossus is en route to his comfy dirt bed, he does not have a replacement effect, so he will not be shuffled into his owner's library.





Tempus Splort.
Q: My opponent worked up to 40 mana in his mana pool and then played Early Harvest. If I Time Stop now, will he mana burn for 37?

A: Ouch, yeah. Rule 509.1c describes more of what happens when the turn is suddenly ended - the current phase and whatever step you may be in within that phase ends and you go straight to the cleanup. Rule 300.3 says that whenever a phase ends, you get whapped with mana burn. So unless he can respond to your Time Stop by dumping all of his mana into something, he's in for some pain.




Q: If I remove Ghost Council of Orzhova and then end the turn with Time Stop, when does the council come back?

A: At the end of the next turn. Ending a turn skips the all-important end-of-turn step, which is where the council would resume its tably existence, and the ability will stick around until one of those happens again.




Q: What does Time Stop do with Topsy Turvy in play?

A: Cry. A lot. There are two ways to deal with this, and neither is official since "official" and "Unhinged" don't go together well.

One way is to follow the intention of Time Stop and skip to the next player's cleanup. No untapping, boo hoo.

The other way is to rewind to your cleanup step. This can cause some shenanigans, so you might not want to use this option. Or you might! Yay shenanigans that judges don't have to deal with!




Q: What happens if I play Shahrazad, then while in the subgame play another Shahrazad, then while in that subgame play a third Shahrazad?

A: You get a sub-sub-subgame. There is no limit to how deep the subgames can go, unless you're playing Enter the Dungeon and keep sticking tables under tables. The subgame directly above the current level of subness is treated as the main game for all purposes of that subgame.




Q: If I win a JSS Challenge on the day before my 16th birthday, can I still go to the championship?

A: Sure! As long as you win an invitation before you turn 16, you can play at the Championship.




Q: My opponent stole control of my Kokusho, the Evening Star, so I killed it on my next turn. Who loses life now?

A: It sounds like Kokusho just lost his life. Poor Kokusho. And now you'll lose life, too. Since your opponent controlled Kokusho when it died, he controls the triggered ability.




Q: Do tokens go to the graveyard when they die?

A: Yup, just like Darksteel Colossus with Humility, frogs, and seven out of ten kittens (don't ask about the other three). However, the next time state-based effects are checked, the token will cease to exist. It's not removed from the game - it just entirely ceases to be.




Q: Can I use Force of Will to counter a Leyline?

A: Only if the Leyline is played during the course of the game. If it's put into play at the beginning, it's not played, so it's not a spell and can't be countered. Additionally, no one gets priority at that time, so you couldn't possibly counter it.




Q: If I tap Boseiju, Who Shelters All for 2 with Heartbeat of Spring in play, can I make two spells uncounterable?

A: Nope. Under the glossary entry for "type", it clarifies that the type of mana is only the color or lack thereof. No other bonuses or restrictions are included in the type; they used to be, but not anymore.





There are no elves in Kamigawa.
Q: Can I use Minamo, School at Water's Edge to untap itself over and over and over as many times as I can pay a blue mana?

A: Well yeah. But that's stalling if it doesn't serve any purpose. And stalling is bad. Frown

Besides, everyone knows Seeker of Skybreak is the REAL way to stall the game into oblivion.

Just like the Seeker could target itself to create an untap loop, so can Minamo - it's legendary, after all. You can't quite untap forever since you'll need something else to provide blue mana for it.

The other issue is with loops. If you're going to do the same thing over and over, such as use Minamo to get rid of excess blue mana floating in your pool, you show the steps in the loop and say how many times you'll repeat it. Saying "I tap Minamo to untap Minamo for 10 minutes" is not okay. Saying "I tap Minamo to untap Minamo 4000 times" is fine.




Q: Can I play Sickening Shoal with X as zero so Celestial Kirin will blow lots of stuff up?

A: Zero is certainly a valid amount for X. Just make sure you have a creature to target - you can't play the Shoal without one.

Note that if you use the alternate cost, X has be the converted mana cost of the pitched card instead of zero and all those 2-cost things won't explode.




Q: Why don't we have any Grand Prix Trials?

A: Premier tournament organizers can only schedule a GPT for a Grand Prix happening remotely nearby, like within 500 miles or so. No upcoming GPs near you? That'd be why.

If there IS a GP coming up in your backyard and you don't have any GPTs scheduled, your PTO may simply think that they wouldn't do well. It's a sad choice but a perfectly valid one - Wizards and the DCI don't just hand out all those prizes, someone has to pay for them in advance and then recoup the cash with the event.




Q: Why don't we have more Pro Tour Qualifiers for Charleston?

A: Because Charleston PTQs are team constructed. Team events award more invites than a single player PTQ, so an area will receive fewer of the events but the same number of - or more! - invitations per Pro Tour.




Q: Can Tallowisp fetch Threads of Disloyalty?

A: Nope, it can not. Tallowisp can only get Auras with the exact text "Enchant creature" and no conditions after that or in between those words. Poor wisp.




Q: If I have a Cabal Pit in play (without having threshold) and my opponent controls Tsabo's Web does my pit untap in my untap step?

A: It does. As long as you don't have threshold, the land does not have an activated ability except that one that makes mana. It only has a static ability that promises an activated ability at some undetermined point in the future.




Q: Will Kamigawa block rotate out of the Standard format with Coldsnap, or with Time Spiral?

A: Time Spiral will be the one to do it in. Coldsnap will be standard-legal without affecting the rotation. It'll be with Kamigawa and Ravnica until Time Spiral comes along, and will remain legal until Time Spiral rotates out.




Q: Will Excruciator get around Worship?

A: Not really. Worship does not prevent damage, it just changes how that damage affects your life total. You'll still take 7 damage, and your life total won't fall below 1.




We're done for today. Join us next week for another of Thijs' scintillating one-topic articles full of joy and glee and other good things that may or may not include banana foster.

Until next time, enjoy your dissention with an extra serving of s!

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ

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