Cranial Insertion: Enchantments Can't Scream

Cranial Insertion
Enchantments Can’t Scream
or, All About the Orzhov Syndicate

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler

Cool card, lousy interview
Last week, all of us were treated to a rare and gracious appearance by Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind. This week, there will be no guest stars. Alas, I’m on Orzhov duty, and their big players just aren’t that interesting. The Ghost Council just rattles chains and says, “Booooooo” a lot, and Teysa can’t get a word in because her bodyguard advises her not to answer everything. The Orzhov mechanic, however, is rather challenging from a rules perspective, and we’re going to spend some time on that, as well as other things related to everyone’s favorite Black and White guild.

As always, send your rules questions to us at [email][email protected][/email]. You’ll get a reply from one of us (maybe even two of us if you’re especially lucky), and you might even see your question in a future edition of this very column. The only way to get your name in lights faster is to look like an idiot on “American Idol!”

(By the way, it’s extremely funny when Simon says “ghastly” and “appalling” in that British accent of his. He wouldn’t be nearly so funny if he sounded like some random American.)

The Ghost Council is rattling chains again, so let’s get on with the questions.

Q: I’m not too sure how Haunt works. At all, really. Can you explain?

A: I sure can. First, let’s go to the Guildpact FAQ and look at what will be the CompRules entry for Haunt. Caution: this is a pretty long one. Defender, this ain’t.

502.51. Haunt

502.51a Haunt is a triggered ability that enables other triggered abilities to work from the removed-from-the-game zone. "Haunt" on a permanent means "When this permanent is put into a graveyard from play, remove it from the game. As long as this card remains removed from the game this way, it haunts target creature." "Haunt" on an instant or sorcery spell means "When this spell resolves, remove this card from the game. As long as this card remains removed from the game this way, it haunts target creature."

502.51b Cards that are in the removed-from-the-game zone as the result of a haunt ability "haunt" the creature targeted by that ability. When the creature that's being haunted is put into a graveyard, an ability of each card in the removed-from-the-game zone that's haunting it will trigger.

502.51c If a creature that's being haunted leaves the in-play zone, it stops being haunted.

* If an instant or sorcery spell with haunt is countered, its haunt ability doesn't trigger.

* Instants and sorceries with haunt have the same effect when they're played as when the haunted creature is put into a graveyard. Creatures with haunt have the same effect when they come into play as when the haunted creature is put into a graveyard.

* You may haunt any creature in play, regardless of who controls it.

* The same creature may be haunted by multiple cards.

* The cards that are haunting a creature don't return from the removed-from-the-game zone when that creature leaves play.

* If there are no legal targets for the haunt ability, the card with haunt stays in the graveyard rather than being removed from the game.

* If a card with haunt is removed from the graveyard in response to its haunt ability triggering, the haunt ability will resolve. But since the card can't be removed from the game, it won't haunt the target creature.

* The same applies for a token creature with haunt or a copy of an instant or sorcery spell with haunt. The haunt ability will trigger and target a creature in play, but the token or spell copy will have vanished from the graveyard by the time the ability resolves. It can't be removed from the game and won't haunt the targeted creature.

* If a card that's haunting a creature leaves the removed-from-the-game zone due to a Wish (from the _Judgment_(TM) set), that card stops haunting that creature.

* The source of an ability that triggers when a haunted creature is put into a graveyard is the card with haunt in the removed-from-the-game zone. The ability is controlled by the owner of that card.

* If a creature with haunt controlled by Player A but owned by Player B is put into a graveyard, Player A controls the haunt triggered ability. That player chooses the target for the haunt ability and must remove the card from the game. However, when the haunted creature is put into a graveyard, Player B will control the triggered ability of the card in the removed-from-the-game zone and will make any choices it requires.

That’s a lot to digest. Because there’s a lot to haunt, and it generated a lot of questions, both online and at my local Prerelease, I’m going to do a mini-FAQ for it.

Q: Is haunt mandatory?

If there is a creature in play to be haunted, you must haunt it. Removing the card with haunt from the game and haunting the creature is not optional, even if it’s your creature, and even if the haunt effect is not beneficial.

Silly bat... Paladins can't be haunted!
Q: Can my Blind Hunter haunt my opponent’s Paladin en-Vec?

A: It cannot. The haunt triggered ability is coming from a Black source, and the Paladin’s protection from Black means it cannot be declared as a target for that ability.

Q: Could it target my opponent’s Beloved Chaplain?

A: No. Even though the card is removed from the game, the ability still originates from a creature card. Beloved Chaplain is adored even by dead bats.

Q: What happens if a creature that’s being haunted phases out?

A: The creature will no longer be haunted.

There are two ways to arrive at this answer. First, we have the haunt rules, which say:

502.51c If a creature that's being haunted leaves the in-play zone, it stops being haunted.

Since a phased-out creature is in the phased-out zone, which is obviously not the in-play zone, it will no longer be haunted. However, phasing has been a monkey wrench in the gears of the rules since it came out. Let’s look at the rules for phasing for another reason why a phased-out creature will no longer be haunted:

502.15g Effects with limited duration and delayed triggered abilities that specifically reference a permanent will be unable to further affect that permanent if it phases out.

Haunt has a limited duration (“as long as . . .). The rules for phasing specifically state that effects with limited duration can no longer affect a permanent if it phases out. Either answer gets you there, but remember that phasing mucks with a lot of things that might otherwise be normal, so the limited duration answer is “better.”

Q: How do we keep track of what’s being haunted by what?

A: Technically, the card with haunt is in the removed from game zone, haunting a creature that’s in play. If it makes it easier for you, you can write which creature is being haunted on a small piece of paper and put that on the haunt card in the RFG zone. Also, you could put the haunt card underneath the card it’s haunting. Just remember to return it to the RFG zone when the haunt effect ends.

Q: What happens if I have several things haunting the same creature and that creature dies?

A: Then you have some number of haunt triggers to deal with. Let’s say there are three, and we’ll call them T1, T2, and T3: Rise of the Machines. You’re the controller of all of them, so you can put them on the stack in any order you wish. If you stack them in the order T2, T1, T3, then they’ll resolve in the reverse order: T3, T1, T2.

Q: Since Haunt is a triggered ability, I can respond to the Haunt trigger when the card goes to the graveyard, right? I can remove it from the game with Cremate and nothing will happen?

A: The result is basically that nothing will happen, yes. The Haunt trigger will still resolve, but it will be unable to move the card from the graveyard to the RFG zone. The fact that the card is already there doesn’t matter, since the haunt ability will be unable to find it in the graveyard and move it.

Q: What happens if I’ve gained control of an opponent’s creature with haunt and it dies?

A: Then you control the haunt trigger when it hits the graveyard. You will decide which creature will be haunted and remove the creature with haunt from the game. However, when the haunted creature goes to the graveyard, your opponent will then control the haunt trigger. You can’t control cards he owns when they’re in the RFG zone.

I think that’s enough for haunt. The Ghost of Christmas Past is looking even more tired than usual, so it’s time to move on to the other wonders of the Orzhov.

Q: If I play Benediction of Moons in a Two-Headed Giant game, how much life do I gain?

A: You gain 4 life. There might only be two teams, but there are four players in every 2HG game.

Q: How much life would I gain from Agent of Masks in a Two-Headed Giant game? What about in three-on-three Emperor?

A: In Two-Headed Giant, you have two individual opponents. They count as one team, but there are still two opposing players on that team. Each of those players would be drained for 1, and you would gain 2 life. Emperor is governed by Range of Influence. The Emperor has ROI 2, so his Agent would drain the two opposing generals. Each general, however, has ROI 1, so his Agent would only drain his counterpart.

Shoe size != copiable value
Q: My opponent has a quite a few token creatures in play, which he got from the Followed Footsteps on his Deranged Hermit (he paid the echo on the Hermit tokens). I played Culling Sun, but he said the Hermit tokens were unaffected. I thought tokens had a converted mana cost of zero?

A: They do . . . most of them, that is. The exception to that is that a token that is a copy of another creature has the original creature’s mana cost, since that is a characteristic of the original permanent.

Here’s the relevant rule:
503.2. When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s characteristics (name, mana cost, color, type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, and toughness) and, for an object on the stack, choices made when playing it (mode, targets, the value of X, whether a kicker cost was paid, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on). The “copiable values” are the values that are printed on the object, as modified by other copy effects, plus any values set for face-down spells or permanents and any values set by “comes into play as” abilities. Other effects (including type-changing effects) and counters are not copied.

In this case, the Deranged Hermit tokens have a mana cost of 3GG, a converted mana cost of 5, and are not culled by the sun. Their futures are so bright, they gotta wear shades.

Q: I had activated my Genju of the Fields and my opponent played a Graven Dominator later in the turn. If I activate the Genju later, still in the same turn, is the Plains still a 1/1, or does it go back to being a 2/5?

A: It will be a 2/5 again. Both effects are applied in layer 6b of continuous effects. Because neither depends on the other, they will apply in timestamp order. The Genju’ed Plains is a 2/5 when you first activate the enchantment, then becomes a 1/1 when the Dominator’s triggered ability resolves, then reverts to being a 2/5 when you activate it again.

Bonus: If any creatures you control had counters on them when the Graven Dominator was played, their power and toughness will be 1/1 plus whatever the counters give them. This is because counters are factored in during layer 6c of continuous effects. See rule 418.5a if you seek further enlightenment. Caution: this is not a rule you’ll be likely to read once and understand. Grab some cookies and a Coke and get comfortable. And you may want some hard liquor when you’re finished with it.

Q: I played Conjurer's Ban and named Gifts Ungiven. My opponent responded by playing Gifts and said I named a card too early. Is he right?

A: Indeed he is. You don’t name the card for Conjurer's Ban until It resolves. After you announce it, put it onto the stack, and pay its costs, both players (you first) may respond to it. If both players pass and Conjurer’s Ban resolves, then you name the card.

Bonus: Generally, anything you don’t declare when you’re playing the spell (mode, alternate/additional costs, value of X, targets, distribution of counters/damage) is a choice you make upon resolution. You name the card when Cranial Extraction resolves, the color when Persecute resolves, the card when Cabal Therapy resolves, etc.

NOT a counterspell.
Q: Somehow, I manage to play Conjurer's Ban as an instant. If my opponent plays a spell, can I play the instant-ified Conjurer’s Ban in response and prevent him from playing the spell?

A: Well, he’s already played the spell, so you can’t prevent him from doing something after he’s already done it. Conjurer's Ban, much like Meddling Mage, is NOT a counterspell. If you manage to play it in response to a spell, then name that spell, the spell was still played, so Conjurer's Ban would be completely ineffective at trying to stop it.

Q: I have an Exhumer Thrull haunting another creature I control. If that creature is destroyed, can I return it to my hand with the haunt trigger?

A: As long as you own the creature that’s being haunted, this will generally work. The haunt trigger does not actually trigger until the haunted creature is put into the graveyard, so it is a legal target for the Exhumer’s haunt ability at that point.

Q: I have a Shrieking Grotesque in play, for which I paid B. If I later play Ghostway, will my opponent have to discard again when the Grotesque comes back into play?

A: No. Each time Shrieking Grotesque comes into play, the game will ask a question: “Was B spent to play this creature?” If the answer is yes, then the ability triggers and your opponent will have to discard. If the answer is no – as is the case with Ghostway, or anything that would put the Grotesque into play without you paying for it – then your opponent will not have to discard.

Bonus: The Grotesque can target any player, not just your opponent. So if you have a card if your hand that you really want to get into the graveyard, you can target yourself with the triggered ability. I imagine little shrieking will be involved.

Q: I play Mortify, targeting my opponent’s Serra Angel. In response, he activates his Soul Sculptor, making the Angel into an enchantment. Is it still destroyed?

A: Enchantments can’t scream, but I imagine the Angel still finds the whole experience rather . . . well, mortifying. She is indeed destroyed. Just because the creature you targeted on announcement is an enchantment when Mortify resolves does not cause it to be countered. If Mortify were a modal spell ("Choose one – ") and you chose a creature mode, then it would be countered. In this case, though, the object you targeted is still a legal target when the spell resolves, so the Angel is a goner.

That’s all for this look at the mechanic and rules of the Orzhov Syndicate. Next week, we get to smash things and wreak havoc with the Gruul Clans. They’re filthy savages, especially after you’ve dealt with a very cosmopolitan group in the Orzhov, but don’t miss our look into the clans of Borborygmos.

-Tom Fowler
DCI Certified Level 2 Judge

Good and Enlightening Discussion on Phasing and Haunt: Lee Sharpe)


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