Cranial Insertion: Paper Anniversary



Cranial Insertion: Paper Anniversary
By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler

“What’s a paper anniversary?” you ask? Paper is the traditional gift between spouses to celebrate one year of marriage. We here at Cranial Insertion are celebrating our first anniversary of being an awesome rules column at an awesome site. If you want to get into the spirit of paper, print this out and share it with your friends. If you’d rather not appear to be insane, here’s what we’re going to do for this special occasion:

First, I’m going to do some Q&A, like we always do. Then Eli will regale you with tales of the genesis of this column, when Salvation was a wasteland bereft of an awesome rules column. Then, Eli, Thijs, and I will present something of a “greatest hits” assortment from the previous year. We’ll pick questions that were particularly challenging, answers which were particularly insightful, and exchanges which made us all laugh. There will be something for everyone, and if you’re a newcomer to CI, this will be a good chance to see how much awesome you’ve missed out on the past year.

Even though we've been at this a year now, our email address hasn't changed. It's still [email][email protected][/email]. Send us your rules questions and we may use them in a future column. The only easier way to get your name in lights is to be a tinpot dictator!

Let’s get into the new questions.

Part 1: Q and A

Q: What’s going on with Team Constructed tournaments? And what’s this “Unified Deck Construction” rule?

A: Pro Tour Charleston will introduce three-person Team Constructed to the professional Magic world. The qualifiers for this event will also be Team Constructed. So find two friends (or two people you at least don’t dislike) and go out and play! Before you do, however, there are a couple things you should know.

First, the Unified Deck Construction rule means all three decks combined cannot contain more than four copies of any card which is not a basic land. That means, if you want to play a set of Umezawa’s Jitte in your deck, neither of your teammates can play a single one, even in their sideboards. How you choose to divide up cards is a strategic concern, but be sure to pay careful attention to this rule, both when building your decks and registering them at the event.

Second, the format is like Team Limited in that each team has an A, B, and C player. A plays A, B plays B, and C plays C. Whichever team wins more of those three individual matches is the winner of the match (a draw is, of course, a legitimate outcome as well).

Third, there are rules for communication between players. Those of you with experience in Team Limited will know that those rules are quite strict. They have been relaxed for Team Constructed. Players may communicate during games, even going so far as to solicit playing advice from a teammate. This was confirmed on the judges’ mailing list earlier this week. Keep in mind that the games must still be played at an appropriate pace, and anything more than quick conversation can have you staring at a penalty for slow play.

Here's what the Floor Rules say about it:

140. Rules for Team Tournaments

141. General Team Requirements
Each individual team must have unique, team-specific information, including:
• a team name,
• a team affiliation, if applicable (sponsor, school, retail store, and so on),
• a team city,
• a team state/province,
• a team country, and
• team members (with their respective DCI membership numbers).

Multiple teams may have the same affiliation, city, state/province, and/or country.

142. Team Names
Wizards of the Coast reserves the right to disallow any team name it deems offensive and/or obscene. Tournament organizers and certified head judges should discourage teams from registering team names that may be considered offensive and/or obscene.

Once a team is registered at the professional level (meaning the team has registered and played in a team-format Pro Tour event), that name is considered taken and may not be used by any other team.

143. Team Composition and Identification
A valid team consists of two or three members, as appropriate to the DCI-sanctioned team format (see section 101). A team is identified by the individual DCI membership numbers of its respective members. Individual DCI members may be members of more than one team.

A team continues to exist as long as its respective members choose to identify themselves as a team. Any change in team membership (that is, the removal and/or addition of a member) constitutes a new team, with new team-specific information (see section 141). A team may change its name, affiliation, city, state/province, or country without becoming a new team.

144. Valid Team Participation and Player Designation
Sanctioned team tournaments are open to teams consisting of two or three members. Only valid teams of the appropriate size are eligible for a DCI-sanctioned team tournament. If a player drops or is disqualified from the event, the entire team is dropped from the event.

Each team entering a DCI-sanctioned tournament must provide the tournament organizer with its team-specific information (see section 141) when registering for the event. Failure to provide this information will result in the team’s disqualification from the tournament.

Example: A sanctioned three-person team tournament is open only to teams consisting of three members; teams consisting of two members cannot compete in this event.

Teams must designate player positions during event registration. For example, in a three player team event, each team must designate who is player A, player B, and player C. Players retain these designations throughout the entire tournament.

When two teams are paired against each other during the course of a tournament, the team members designated as player A play against each other, the team members designated as player B play against each other, and so on.

145. Team Constructed Tournaments
Event results for all DCI-sanctioned team Constructed tournaments (Vintage, Legacy, Extended, and Standard) are merged into one set of Constructed ratings for each team size.

Team tournaments using any DCI-sanctioned Constructed format must adhere to all applicable sections of the Magic DCI Floor Rules and DCI Universal Tournament Rules for Constructed tournaments.

Team Constructed tournaments use Unified Deck Construction rules: With the exception of basic land cards, a team’s combined decks and sideboards may not contain more than four of any individual card, counted by its English card title. (For example, if one player has four main-deck Naturalizes in a Team Constructed event, no other player on that team may have a Naturalize in his or her deck or sideboard.) If a card is restricted in a particular format, no more than one of that card may be used by the team. No players may use cards that are banned in a particular format.




The PTQs will use the Standard format, and the Pro Tour itself will use Ravnica Block Constructed.


Q: How do Goblin Warchief and Tin Street Hooligan interact?

A: Socially, I imagine. I have no insights into Goblin culture.

. . .

Oh, you mean from a rules perspective! As in, can you still play G and destroy an artifact with the Hooligan if you have a Warchief in play? The answer to that would be no. The cost reduction ability of Goblin Warchief is not optional. To determine what a spell costs, you start with the base cost (or alternative cost, if applicable and being paid), add any cost increasers, subtract any cost reducers, and voila! The result is how much you have to pay. So, we start with 1R and subtract 1 for the Warchief, leaving R. I submit that it is extremely challenging to use G to pay for R, so your Hooligan will not be kicking any artifacts down the street.


Q: If I have a Tallowisp in play, can I announce a spell (let's say Shining Shoal), then use the Wisp’s ability to fetch an enchantment to pay the pitch cost of the Shoal?

A: No, this doesn’t work. When you announce and play Shining Shoal, the Wisp will trigger, but the triggered ability won't go on the stack and resolve until you have *completely* played Shining Shoal. This would include paying for it, either with XWW or by pitching a card. You have to declare the value of X in the second step of playing a spell (after announcement), and also at that time state whether you are going to use an alternative or additional cost. All of this is well before the Wisp's ability resolves.

Quote from CompRules »
409.1b If the spell or ability is modal (uses the phrase “Choose one —” or “[specified player] chooses one —”), the player announces the mode choice. If the player wishes to splice any cards onto the spell, he or she reveals those cards in his or her hand. If the spell or ability has a variable mana cost (indicated by {X}) or some other variable cost, the player announces the value of that variable at this time. If the spell or ability has alternative, additional, or other special costs (such as buyback, kicker, or convoke costs), the player announces his or her intentions to pay any or all of those costs (see rule 409.1f).



Q: With a Mycosynth Lattice and Darksteel Forgein play, I drop a Saproling Burst and immediately remove three counters to make three Saprolings. My opponent plays Boomerang on the Saproling Burst. What (if anything) happens to the Saprolings?

A: They are not long for the world of Dominaria. As soon as the Saproling Burst leaves play, the Saproling tokens don’t know what their power and toughness is supposed to be (last-known information doesn’t apply here, since we’re talking about a static ability). Because of this, they’ll use 0 as the number and be put into the graveyard when state-based effects are checked. Being indestructible does not save a creature with a toughness of zero.


Q: Relentless Rats reads "A deck can have any number of cards named Relentless Rats." This doesn't mention sideboards! Can a deck not have 10 Rats and the sideboard 5? Or does the DCI term for "deck" encompass all 75 cards?

A: While the main deck and sideboard are clearly defined as separate entities, a player’s complete deck is 75 cards (presuming 60 and 15, of course). Because of this, and the way Relentless Rats was clearly intended to be used, you may have any number of Relentless Rats cards between your main deck and sideboard.

Bonus: Cranial Extraction will make you cry. Frown


Q: Is there any way that I can force my opponent into submission (or perhaps a concession) by making him shuffle his deck several hundred times? Would this work in a tournament?

A: No, it wouldn’t. If a library is shuffled, it is put into a random state. If it’s still in that random state, shuffling X times will still leave it random. Because shuffling several hundred times would both use up a lot of time and potentially damage someone’s cards, we could simply take a shortcut and say, “Ok, the deck has been shuffled [X] times.” Shuffling it just a few times will suffice for these purposes.

Note that if you insist that your opponent shuffles his deck hundreds of times, you are guilty of unsporting conduct and will be penalized accordingly. A judge may also find you guilty of slow play or (much worse) stalling after talking to you for a few minutes. Shortcuts are your friends.

Part 2: A Brief History of TimeCI

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Eli Shiffrin said, "Let there be bunnies!" And there were bunnies. And it was good.

Hmm. Not quite poetic enough. Let's try that again.

Once upon a March dreary, while I pondered bored and weary
Over many a quaint and curious thread of the Rulings For'm.

Oh screw that.

It was early March, 2005, and MTGS was just starting out its articles section. The mods, sitting around their dark and smoky room of evil like mods are wont to, came up with an evil, evil plan. "Let's put peanut butter on" – oh wait, wrong evil plan. "Let's make a regular column instead of just a slew of articles!" And the idea was praised by deep-frying underlings. Then someone suggested: "Let's get someone to write a rulings column!", and lo, did Craven set out to find a guru to write.

On 9 March, I signed on and began writing the very first CI article. Ten days later, Thijs joined the team, and Jeff Vondruska hopped on board 3 days later. (In September of 2005, the infamous Real Life stole Jeff from us, and we brainwashed Tom Fowler into joining our merry band.)

Our goal: To not just write a column answering rules questions, but to do so in a humorous and memorable way.

As part of the humor, I had randomly mentioned a chimpanzee who sorted my mail. But then something happened. The readers loved him! Moko's chest swelled with pride and silicone, then deflated a bit when I reminded him that he was definitely male, and then deflated even more when the air pressure in the stratosphere between Arizona and the Netherlands turned out to be lower than anticipated. But it's okay because Thijs reanimated him, so he could resume his mail-sorting duties. In November of 2005, Moko picked up his pen and ate it. Then he typed up his first Cranial Insertion article.

It's been a remarkably short and strange year. We've gone from a tiny article on a new site to one of the most recognized Magic articles online. Tom and I have both had readers recognize us as the writers at large events, and one day we're going to kidnap Thijs and drag him along with us to a Pro Tour or something. So thanks to all of you wonderful readers, double thanks to all of those readers who send in questions (and especially Josh Fleshman, who bombards us with good questions!). And thanks to the MTGSalvation mods and admins who got us this sweet gig. So raise your toast, here's to year two!

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge
Tucson, Arizona

Oh, and we've never actually said WHY there is a fluffy white rabbit in our logo. Now we will finally reveal this deep secret:

fnord

Part 3: The Greatest Hits Album

This is the part where we pick our favorite rules questions from the previous year. If we were a successful rock band, this would be the "filling out our contract with this greatest hits thing before we sign a zillion-dollar deal with another label" album. Unfortunately, we're not signing a zillion-dollar contract. Frown But because we can rest on our laurels as well as anyone, here is the best of CI from the first year.

Eli's Choices

From Guess the Theme Week!

Q: Can I play with two decks against two people, each with one, for 2HG?

A: That would be a multiple-personality-disorder giant, not a two-headed giant. While it sounds like fun for a casual game, you can’t do that for a sanctioned tournament. Each team must have the same number of players, and each player must have a unique DCI number.


From Fire Good!

Q: What would happen if my opponent spontaneously combusted?

A: Marshmallows.


From Welcome to the Fold!

Q: Can I use anything I want for a token?

A: Aaaalmost. You can use anything that does not otherwise disturb or confuse the game state. For example, you can not use cards for tokens if they’re sleeved and your deck is sleeved or if they are unsleeved and your deck is unsleeved. Them ain’t tokens – them face-down critters! This isn’t as important as it was during Onslaught block, but it’s still a bad thing.

Coins are very popular for tokens, but you must be able to clearly represent whether or not they’re tapped. If you can do this in a way that you, your opponent, and passing judges can easily understand, go for it. If not, stay away from coins, please.

Playing cards are good. I attack with my Jack of Spades.
Action figures are good. I block with Omnicron.
Coffee mugs are legal, but watch out for Shatter.
Pillows are a little too big. They disturb the game.
Playboy cutouts are bad. It’s mean to distract your opponent like that.
Playboy bunnies are bad. Why are you playing Magic if you have a Playboy bunny hanging around with you, anyway?
Real bunnies are bad. Tokens should not randomly walk away and munch on your sideboard.
Monkeys are very bad. Let’s not go there.
Bananas are good.

Thijs' Choices

From Who's Afraid of Continuous Effects?, updated in Relearning Humility

Q: I have Humility and two copies of Opalescence in my graveyard, and I play Replenish. What happens?

A: *silence*

From An Introduction to Magicese

Skip

Like instead, this word signals that you're looking at a replacement effect.

Q: I control Yosei, the Morning Star, then play a second Yosei. The Legend rule puts them both in the graveyard. Does that mean that I get to tap up to ten of my opponent's permanents and make him skip his next two untap steps?

A: Yes, your opponent will get hit by the effect twice. Both effects independently allow you to tap some of his permanents and set up a replacement shield. The next time your opponent would take his untap step, one of the shields is used up and he skips ahead to his upkeep. The other shield waits around to make him skip the untap after as well.

From The Firemind Speaks!

Q: With Djinn Illuminatus in play, I play Fiery Conclusion. I pay the spell's mana cost, plus two times extra for replicate (:3mana::symr::symr::symr: total), and I sacrifice the Djinn for Fiery Conclusion's additional cost. Does that work?

Niv-Mizzet: You sacrificed the Djinn?! That's an interesting idea, I've never tried that out. *flies away*

Gandalf: And he's gone. I hope he comes back soon, but I'll tell you the answer according to the rules in the meanwhile. Replicate does two different things. First, it gives you the opportunity to pay the replicate cost in addition to the normal cost, as often as you want. Second, when the spell becomes played, it creates the copies you paid for and allows you to change their targets. This second part is a triggered ability, that triggers when you play the spell. To be precise, this trigger event happens after you're done with all the other parts you need to do to play a spell, like choosing targets and paying costs.

While you're choosing what costs to pay, the Djinn is still around and gives replicate to the spell you're playing, so you're allowed to pay for replicates. Right after, you have to actually pay those costs. The Djinn mysteriously vanished, and so does replicate. Finally, the spell becomes played, but with replicate no longer around, no trigger goes on the stack and you don't get any copies, even though you might have paid for them.

Tom's Choices

From I <3 Tournaments:

Q: Sometimes, I see players mana weave their decks while they’re shuffling. Is this legal?

A: To answer this, we’re going to need to define what “mana weaving” is.

Here’s how I’m going to define it: knowingly arranging the lands and spells in your deck into a pattern designed to encourage good mana draws. Usually, this is in the classic “spell-spell-land-spell-spell-land” arrangement.

Whether or not it’s illegal depends on what you do after you mana weave. If you give a few halfhearted shuffles, then you’ve stacked your deck, and that’s cheating. A mana woven deck like that will earn you an early exit from the event, and a probable suspension from the DCI. You are required to present a sufficiently randomized deck, and a mana woven deck is far from that. Remember that spell clumps and land clumps are normal in a random distribution.

If, after mana weaving, you did a bunch of riffle shuffles and sufficiently randomized your deck, then your mana weaving was completely pointless. If the point of mana weaving is to reduce the likelihood of getting spell or mana clumps, then sufficient shuffling completely undoes your weave.

Basically, it comes down to the shuffling. If it was sufficient to randomize the deck, then the mana weaving was pointless. If it wasn’t sufficient to randomize the deck, then the mana weave affects the shuffle and the draws. This is cheating if it’s done deliberately. If it was done without the intent to cheat, perhaps by a rather naïve player who thought it was legal, then it’s not cheating, but it’s still Very Bad. In this case, I would tell the player that what he is doing amounts to deck stacking and strongly discourage him from doing it again. The DCI’s [O]fficial position is that a randomized deck after a mana weave is not a penalty, but it’s certainly not behavior that I want to encourage.

If you suspect your opponent is mana weaving and not sufficiently randomizing his deck, call a judge. The judge will look at the deck and, if necessary, talk to the player about his shuffling techniques. What you should NOT do if you think your opponent mana weaves is take matters into your own hands. Some players will do a three-pile shuffle after their opponent mana weaves, the result of which will be a pile of all or mostly lands ending up somewhere in his deck. (Three-pile shuffling your opponent's deck is fine in and of itself, but not as some retributive measure for a suspected mana weave.) Call a judge if you suspect shenanigans, and leave the vigilante justice to Bruce Wayne.

In short: don’t mana weave. If the judge thinks you did it with the intent of fixing your draws, you’ll get DQ’ed and probably suspended. If the judge thinks you did it with no malice aforethought, you’re still going to get a penalty and a good talking-to. In addition, spiders will pee on your head while your sleep. See, it’s just bad times all around.

Bonus: Let’s say you mana weave, and after that, you shuffle well. Well enough to sufficiently randomize your deck. However, your random deck happens to fall close to the mana-woven pattern of spell-spell-land. This would not end well for you. Judges cannot discern between a randomly stacked deck and an intentionally stacked deck, and will presume the worst because you started out by mana weaving. That’s another strike against it, in my opinion as both a judge and a player.

From Yule Be Smarter for Reading This:


Now in foil, for extra EVIL~!
Q: I've seen my opponents playing with things like Insect tokens, Bear tokens, etc, all of which are made like regular Magic cards. How can I get these?

A: The quick way: fake a look of surprise, point at something behind your opponent, and yell, “Oh my God, it’s Elvis!” Your opponent will obviously turn around, as the potential return of the King of Rock and Roll is a momentous event indeed. While he is distracted, steal all of his tokens.

The somewhat more time-consuming (but far more legal) way: sign up for Player Rewards. “How do I sign up for Player Rewards,” you ask? It’s simple. Go to the Player Rewards homepage and enter some information at the bottom. That will bring up the full PR application, which you’ll fill out and submit. Once it’s processed, you’re a part of the program. For every five sanctioned events you play, you earn a current textless promo card and an older card (either an older textless spell or a creature token). For every 20 events you play, you earn a premium foil card (currently Hypnotic Specter, with the saucy original art). Player Rewards cards are mailed thrice annually: summer, late fall, and early spring. So sign up, and start playing (or keep playing) in sanctioned events.

From My Lips are Sealed:

Q: I'm fuzzy on the timing of the main phase and combat phase with effects like Icy Manipulator. I've seen people re-equip equipment after their opponent has tapped one of their potential attackers. What's going on?

A: To pinch a line from Cool Hand Luke, what we've got here is failure to communicate. The ideal time to use a tap effect on an opponent’s attacker is during the beginning of combat step. This is doubly true of equipped attackers, since equipment cannot normally be equipped during the combat phase.

However, if the exchange goes something like this . . .

A: Declare my attack.
B: Icy that guy with the Jitte.

When is the Icy ability being activated? Unless the player can specify when he’s doing it, then the game has to proceed from the last point at which both players agree. In this case, that would be A’s main phase. He wants to end his main phase and go to combat, which is clear from his statement. B, however, is very ambiguous in his statement. When he’s using his Icy is never specified. Because of that, a judge would have to presume it’s still A’s main phase. The creature would become tapped, and then A would receive priority. And since it’s still his main phase, he could do things like move his equipment around.

Bonus: As a judge, I would be lenient on this at low-REL events like FNM and store tournaments. However, at GP Trials, PTQs, and above, it should be enforced to the letter. Just remember the beginning of combat step, and all will be right with the world.

So, that's one year in the books. Be sure to keep reading CI to see what rules insights and general shenanigans we'll get into over the next 12 months!

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