Cranial Insertion: Mirage Gone Virtual



Cranial Insertion
Mirage Gone Virtual

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler
Edited by Goblinboy (right?) (right)


With Mirage having been released for the online version of the game earlier this month, this is a great time to discuss some more questions covering cards from back in the day on Cranial Insertion. Our own zombie mailmonkey Moko already made a great start on this topic when he discussed phasing, banding, and Old Fogey. Today we'll continue where he left off.




Despite their efforts, Jamuraan
Guildmages never succeeded in
growing new mana symbols.
Q: Why can Granger Guildmage use his Red ability to ping a Hazerider Drake, which has protection from red?

A: Abilities don't have their own color property in Magic. The cards and rules want to associate a color with an ability, they always talk about the color of the source of the ability. While Granger Guildmage may have a Red mana symbol in the activation cost of one of its abilities, it's still a Green source.



Q: My opponent taps out to Kaervek's Torch me. I'm holding Power Sink; how much should I pay for it in order to counter the Torch?

A: You need XU for the mana cost and an additional 2 to satisfy the Torch's ability. You must pay at least 1 for X. If you let X=0, your opponent gets the option of paying 0, and only if he decides not to will his spell be countered and all that. He might not think that's a good idea and pay the full sum of 0. So the total cost of your Power Sink ends up as at least 3U.



Q: What does "substance" mean?

A: Substance is a new keyword that appears in the Oracle text of the cycle of instantments: W U B R G. As to what it means:
From the CompRules:
502.49a Substance is a static ability with no effect.
This will probably make you wonder why they bothered introducing a meaningless keyword. The answer has to do with how the end phase works (rules 312-314). This phase has two steps: end of turn and cleanup. Triggered abilities ("at end of turn") happen in the first step, and anything else that has to do with the end of the turn happens in the second step. This includes damage wearing off.

Under the old wording of the instantments, if you responded to your opponent's burn spell by playing Armor of Thorns on your creature as an instant, the Armor would self-destruct "at end of turn" (in the end of turn step), while the damage would only wear off in the cleanup step. That defied the purpose of being able to play the Armor as an instant in the first place.

The "substance" ability stays on the enchantment "until end of turn": it disappears at the same time that damage is removed from the creature. Now that the keyword is gone, the "when it loses substance, sacrifice it"-ability makes the enchantment vanish in a puff of smoke.


The horrifying child of
Jungle Ma-Troll and Jungle Pa-Troll.
Q: During combat, my opponent tried to kill my Jungle Troll (2/1) with Grave Servitude (+3/-1). I responded with Aleatory and won the flip, giving my Troll +1/+1. But when the turn ended, the Troll died. Does this have anything to do with the new substance keyword?

A: Yes. In this case, the substance change works the wrong way around. In the cleanup step, the +1/+1 from Aleatory disappears along with Grave Servitude's substance. But the Servitude sticks around until the triggered ability resolves. In the meantime, your Troll tries to survive as a 5/0, but state-based effects won't let it.



Q: What happens if Hall of Gemstone and Bazaar of Wonders (both World Enchantments) come into play simulateously through Show and Tell?

A: The World can only handle one enchantment at a time. Normally, the one that appeared last is the one that gets to stay. If two appear at the same time, the World gets agitated and shakes until both enchantments fall off. That's what happens in this case: when Show and Tell is done resolving, state-based effects come in and clean away both enchantments. The Bazaar's ability will already have triggered by then, though, and its ability will wipe all graveyards clean.

*Extra*: If the enchantments are put into play by Eureka, then they didn't hit play simultaneously, and the one which was put into play last gets to stay.




The poor creature....
Q: Benevolent Unicorn is enchanted by Binding Agony, then it gets stung by Unyaro Bee Sting. How much damage ends up where?

A: As you're about to put 2 damage from the Sting on the Unicorn, the Unicorn's replacement effect kicks in and causes only 1 point of damage to be dealt. This triggers the Agony's ability, which in turn deals 1 damage to the Unicorn's controller. This damage is unaffected by the damage reduction from the Unicorn, because it's dealt by the enchantment rather than by a spell.

This is only because the Unicorn's effect only applies to damage from spells; the effect from Furnace of Rath would have applied again to the damage from the Agony just fine.



Q: Azimaet Drake's ability says, "Play this ability only once each turn." Is it counted separately for each player, or can it only be activated once per turn even if it changes control due to Ray of Command or something?

A: It can only be activated once per turn, even if different players control it during that turn:
From the CompRules:
403.3. If an activated ability has a restriction on its use (for example, “Play this ability only once each turn”), the restriction continues to apply to that object even if its controller changes.




If love is like a rhino, then
don't try to dazzle it with beauty!
Q: If my opponent attacks me with Crash of Rhinos and I play Dazzling Beauty so that it becomes blocked, do I take trample damage?

A: A creature with trample gets to assign its combat damage to the defending player if all creatures blocking it have been assigned lethal damage. If there are no actual creatures blocking the trample, then automatically all zero of them have been assigned lethal damage, and your opponent assigns all damage from the attacker to you.

Q: If I block Crash of Rhinos with Dream Fighter, do I take any damage?

A: No, Dream Fighter's ability triggers when blockers are declared. It will go on the stack and resolve while you're still in the declare blockers step, before any combat damage is assigned. By the time trample would matter, the Rhinos are phased out.



Q: If I play Choking Sands on my opponent's Watery Grave, is it true that he takes 2 damage even though the land isn't destroyed?

A: Sorry, but you can't even play Choking Sands on Watery Grave. The Sands require a "target non-Swamp land". Watery Grave is, among other things, a Swamp, so it fails the non-Swamp requirement. You're correct that Watery Grave is a nonbasic land, but that never matters because the Grave can't end up as the target of Choking Sands. If you replace Watery Grave by Temple Garden, the result would be a destroyed land and 2 damage to its controller.



Q: When does Soulshriek determine the value of X?

A: When the spell resolves. X is normally determined when the spell is played, but that's only because the spell's cost normally depends on X, so you need to know what X is while you're announcing the spell. That isn't the case here. No special rules apply to the use of X, so the counting is done on resolution like anything else.



If you still have any questions about Mirage, Ravnica, Two-Headed Giant, rule 500.4, or Moko's favorite color, send them to [email][email protected][/email]. Moko has a tremendous appetite for brains and reads all mail you send him!

-Thijs van Ommen, The Netherlands

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