Cranial Insertion: Super Party Fun Pack

Cranial Insertion
Super Party Fun Pack
or, Happy New Year, Y'all

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler
Edited by Goblinboy Sock-Puppet (Wielded today by uh... Goblinboy)

Hey, look, it's a bright shiny new year! It's also a bright shiny new Cranial Insertion article, because we rule so much. The MTGS articles this last week have been rather short, so we're going to spice things up. After we cover some rules questions from you lovely readers, we're going to start breaking some rules.

Please pick up your Comprehensive Rules printout (what, you mean you didn't print it out? Shame on you. Go print out the Comp Rules before continuing. Yes, all 120 pages. Okay, fine, don't. You can pretend to set this paper on fire in your head, but WE will have real flames!) and let it soak in lighter fluid, gasoline, or your combustible fluid of choice while we answer these Extended format questions.

And, to complement Dr Tom's happy Christmas wishes last week, happy last-day-of-Chanukah, everyone!

When Planeswalkers drink too much.
Q: I play Upheaval and pass priority. Opponent adds 2 mana to his mana pool then passes. Now does Upheaval resolve, or do I have priority and can add mana to my mana pool?

A: Indeed you can! Upheaval won't resolve until both players pass in succession - that is, without doing anything in between. Mana abilities don't use the stack or require passing priority, but they are an action that interrupts the whole "pass in succession" thing.

Note that if he doesn't add mana to his pool, you can't go back and add some to yours. Be careful using this anti-counter trick.

Q: I got deck-checked in round two, and it turned out that my list only had 59 cards. Since my friend wrote it for me, does he get the penalty instead of me?

A: No, he does not - you submitted the list without checking it, so it's your problem.

That'd be a good reason not to let other people write up a list for you.

Q: If I target a Goblin Legionnaire with my Sparksmith, and he sacrifices it in response, will I still get burnt for the goblins in play?

A: Not at all. The entire ability is countered upon resolution since its only target is now illegal, and the damage to you is part of the ability, not part of the cost to play it.

Q: My opponent plays Oboro, Palace in the Clouds - can I bounce mine before they both die?

A: Sorry, your palaces are coming down. You can't respond to playing a land, since it doesn't use the stack, and you can't respond to the state-based effect that kills duplicate legendary objects.

Q: At the beginning of my opponent's upkeep, he has two Ichorids in his graveyard and no other creatures there. Can I remove one from the game so the other can't come into play?

A: Sure you can. Ichorid's ability just goes on the stack, and nothing gets removed until it resolves. Only as it resolves does your opponent choose to remove a Black creature card or not, and if there are no other cards to remove, his Ichorid is stuck in the hole for another turn or so.

Q: Can I use Gifts Ungiven to just fetch up a Wonder so my opponent has to put it in my graveyard?

A: That's a plan. Gifts Ungiven searches for cards with a specific characteristic - "different names" - so you can fail to find some. If you find less than three, the cards you dig up will have to be put into your graveyard.

Constipated ghosts.
Q: Is Drift of Phantasms an activated ability?

A: Let's see, does it have a colon? Given that it's an undead spirit, without flesh, it most likely does NOT have a colon. So Drift of Phantasms is not an activated ability.

But its Transmute ability does have a colon, so it IS an activated ability.

Quote from "CompRules" »
502.48a Transmute is an activated ability that functions only while the card with transmute is in a player's hand. "Transmute [cost]" means "[Cost], Discard this card: Search your library for a card with the same converted mana cost as the discarded card, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery."

Okay, now that you're all done groaning over the horrible, horrible pun, please remove your Comprehensive Rulebook from the flammable liquid.

Now light a match.

(Please note that I am not responsible if you actually DO this.)

This time period seems to be a winter break for those of you in the northern hemisphere who haven't yet entered the woeful world of work. And we all know what that means - lots of casual Magic games!

Since your group can rewrite the rules for your casual games, try these changes. For loads of fun, roll a 20-sided die at the beginning of each game - or each turn - to decide how to change the rules. Well, each turn might be a little TOO chaotic. But right before the turn of whoever played first, roll a die to choose the new rules for that series of turns.

#1 - Keep the rules the same.

Practice for real tournaments is always useful, so it never hurts to play strictly by the rules when playing casually.

#2 - Art Matters

204.1. The illustration is printed on the upper half of a card and has no game significance. For example, a creature doesn't have the flying ability unless stated in its rules text, even if it's depicted as flying.

So if you can reasonably argue that the art shows a creature with an ability, it has it. Is the creature squishing things? It has trample! Is it walking on air, flying, or winged? Well, it has flying, duh.

#3 - Everything Comes into Play!

Rules 212.5d and 212.7d say that instants and sorceries can't come into play. Delete those. Instead, you can pay an additional 1 as you play it and turn that spell into a 1/1 Rabbit creature as it resolves.

#4 - Jumbo Tokens

The only rule hard-and-fast about what may be used for a token is that it must not disrupt play. Let's go counter to that - any tokens smaller than a Magic card can't be used. (If this rule suddenly comes into play, remove all small tokens from the game) Now rabbits, dinner plates, and bulldozers will make EXCELLENT tokens.

#5 - Goodbye Graveyard

There is no graveyard. If a card or token would be put into the graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.

For the truly hardcore, try an Iron Man variant: Not only are the cards removed from the game, they're torn to shreds!

#6 - Summoning Sickness Schmickness.

Everything has haste. Nyah. It's a small change, but you'll be amazed by how it messes up your combat math.

#7 - Gifts Everywhere.

603.2. Each creature has the ability "{T}: Target teammate gains control of this creature. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery."

Take the normal "deploy creature" option and change "teammate" to "player" and "this creature" to "this permanent" - anything can be tapped to give itself away!

This will NOT trigger "comes into play" abilities. Phage is not an instant win.

#8 - It's a Small World...

420.5i If two or more permanents have the supertype world, all except the one that has been a permanent with the world supertype in play for the shortest amount of time are put into their owners' graveyards. In the event of a tie for the shortest amount of time, all are put into their owners' graveyards. This is called the "world rule."

Everything is world. World creatures. World artifacts. Well, not world lands. That would make the game very, very hard to play. But world nonbasic lands, sure!

If you play a legendary world land, and the same legendary world land exists in play, both will go to the graveyard. Hee!

#9 - Taste of Eternal Life

420.5b A creature with toughness 0 or less is put into its owner's graveyard. Regeneration can't replace this event.

Naaah. Let's ignore ALL lethal damage.

#10 - Batches of Fun

Remember back before Sixth Edition rules? There was no stack. There were... BATCHES. I think I've recreated them incorrectly, but this is close enough a variant for you to love the stack after using it a little.

If both players pass priority, instead of just the top object of the stack resolving, everything on the stack resolves. It resolves last-in-first-out like usual, but no one receives priority in between each spell resolving and state-based effects are not checked.

So if you Shock a Psychatog in response to the pumping abilities in this variant, it will die. Sad, I know.

#11 - Topsy Turvy

#12 - Party Mixers: Library

Normally, cards you own can never be in another player's deck, hand, or graveyard. But what if you shuffle everyone's deck together and make it one group deck? Milling sure becomes less fun.

The middle-of-game alternative for this rule is that instead of drawing a card, draw from a random library.

#13 - Party Mixers: Hand

Keep your libraries separate, but all players share one hand. Normal priority and timing rules apply, so if you play a Giant Growth, someone can't respond by playing it.

#14 - Ninjas, Ninjas, Everywhere!

All creature cards have "Ninjutsu - pay 1 plus this creature's mana cost."

#15 - Morph Delight

Players can't play face-up creature spells. All creatures and creature spells have "Morph - Pay this creature's mana cost."

#16 - This Is the Turn That Never Ends

Between the second main phase and end phase, the active player flips a coin. On heads, that player skips his or her end phase.

So "until end of turn" and "this turn" stuff won't end, and "at end of turn" triggers won't go off until the next player's turn - unless that player also flips heads!

#17 - Escher's Puppets

The last other player to have a turn controls the active player's turn. No player will ever control his or her own turn. In a 3-player game with A, B, and C, A will control all of B's turns, B will control all of C's turns, and C will control all of A's turns.

You'll be surprised how tricky it is to keep yourself AND your puppet alive while trying to take down anyone else in a multiplayer game, and how silly things can get in a 2-player game. In a large group, this can start to feel a lot like a long game of Risk.

#18 - In a One-Horse Open Sleigh

All creatures with power and toughness each greater than 1 have "Tap: Target creature with power less than 3 gains Horsemanship until end of turn."

Think about it.

#19 - Big Is Small, Small Is Big

Each creature's power is X minus its original power, where X is the highest power among creatures in play. Each creature's toughness is Y minus its original toughness, where Y is the highest toughness among creatures in play. If a creature's toughness would be reduced to 0 this way, it is 1 instead.

#20 - By Your Powers Combined, I Am... AN ABOMINATION!

Mix two or more of these variants together. If you're rolling a die to choose which of these 20 options to use, roll a six-sided die to choose how many variants to use, and then use the 20-sided die to select which variants to use. Try not to roll 20 again!

Have fun with all of the rules-changes - I'll be back in a few weeks as Guildpact comes out to look at some more official rules changes!

Until next time, remember that eggnog is not one of the food groups.

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ


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