Cranial Insertion: Test Your Metal



Cranial Insertion
Test Your Metal
or, Silly Subtitle No One Reads

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Jeff Vondruska
Edited by Goblinboy


Cranial Insertion, the column where we cram fluffy bunnies into your head. By now, you have a lot of Oryctolagus cuniculus up there, so let’s see how you do answering these questions!

In our continued efforts to play with new formats, this week’s article will have multiple choices, and you can try to guess the right one before you click the spoiler button for the correct answer and explanation. Moko will be watching you to make sure that you do not cheat, and cheating will be repaid with a banana in your ear, which the bunnies may or may not eat.

Also, because I feel like it, we’re going to focus on Artifacts! Or things that interact with Artifacts! Or things that involve metal but are in no way, shape, or form associated with Artifacts! Yay!





Gleemax goes on a picnic.
Q: I heard about this ability in Ravnica called Transmute and I was wondering...

The answer is...

A: OMG YOU HAVE THE SPOILER *violate*
B: I dunno, let me check mtgsalvation.com
C: What’s your question?
D: Don’t ask me.

D! Don’t ask me!!

Ravnica is not released yet. (*waves to people in the future reading this article after September*) As such, we do not have the rules releases. No matter how accurate the rumours we get, no matter how we hear one thing, the rules could be changed by the time Ravnica hits the streets.

Remember Evermind? “Evermind is blue”? Based on only the rumoured wording, the characteristic-setting ability would be copied, but the official ruling was that it would NOT be copied (yes, that ruling was later reversed, but that’s beside the point).

Save the rules questions on Ravnica cards until the prerelease.

And if you clicked the dictionary.com link on Transmute, you saw the definition including gold and alchemy. See? Metal! Eh? Eh?




Q: My opponent tried to draw a card during his draw step when Grafted Skullcap was in play. I told him that he had to give me a chance to Stifle it. Who’s right?

The answer is...

A: You’re right – he can’t just breeze through the trigger.
B: You’re wrong – Grafted Skullcap’s trigger does not use the stack.
C: He’s right – the draw for the turn happens first.
D: Who cares – what a waste of Stifle.

C, draw first!

Not that D is entirely incorrect, but that’s not the issue here. The draw for the turn happens first thing in the draw step, before anything else. Then, after you’ve drawn that card, triggered abilities go on the stack. So your opponent’s not going to get the Grafted Skullcap card before you can waste your Stifle (read: you can stifle the draw), but he will get his turn’s card.




Q: For Jack-in-the-Mox, can I use a die with six sides labeled 2 through 7?

The answer is...

A: No, the die has to be a standard die.
B: No, you have to label it with mana symbols.
C: Sure, it’s Un-world!
D: Sure, let’s all cheat!

A, no cheating, not even in Un-world!

Come on, people. Un-world is supposed to be fun. Don’t cheat. Frown

In normal-world, though, it’s even worse to try this kind of cheat. Not only does it say that you cheat at a card game, you get DQed, and thus laughed at by a large portion of the judge community.




Q: Will Lithatog get +2/+2 if I sacrifice a Great Furnace to it?

The answer is...

A: No, you have to choose one ability or the other.
B: You can’t do that, Lithatog does not say you can sacrifice both at once.
C: Yes, you sacrificed an artifact AND you sacrificed a land.
D: Lithatog is sexy. Look at those eyes...


The answer is clearly D.
Hubba hubba.
A, do one or the other!

Activated abilities, ladies and gents. There are two of them. Each of them has a cost – sacrifice something. If you had one dollar and two machines that both want one dollar for assorted barely-legal refreshments, you could not activate both machines with one dollar (assuming that you’re not cheating these machines). Just like that, you can’t activate Lithatog’s two abilities with only one sacrifice.




Q: Can Ironclaw Orcs block a Battle-Mad Ronin?

The answer is...

A: Yes, Ronin’s power is 1.
B: No, Ronin’s power is 3 as soon as it’s blocked.
C: I have a lovely bunch of coconuts.
D: Yes, but it’ll stop blocking as soon as the bushido resolves.

A, Ronin is a wussy!

It doesn’t matter that Ronin stops being wussy after it’s blocked; the legality of blockers is only checked during the declaration of blockers. If the block becomes illegal later, it doesn’t matter – it's still blocking!

Remember – Bushido has “when” in its rules text, so it’s a triggered keyword ability. It won’t go on the stack until after the Ronin is successfully blocked. It doesn’t just happen.




Q: When Uktabi Orangutan comes into play, will it destroy my own Artifact if my opponent has none?

The answer is...

A: No, the comes-into-play ability is optional.
B: Yes, unless you put a towel under the monkeys.
C: Yes, the ability requires a target.
D: No, the ability’s intent is to destroy an opponent’s Artifact.

B! No wait I mean C!

Not even a towel can save your Chrome Mox from the hot monkey love. When their triggered ability goes on the stack, a target must be chosen. Any Artifact, any at all – including yours. Since “may” does not appear in the ability, it is not optional, and said target is going to be smushed by monkey [A whole monkey paragraph and no mention of Moko? I... I don't even know you anymore Frown -Ed].




Q: If I Twiddle an untapped Howling Mine in response to the draw trigger, will the active player still draw a card?

The answer is...

A: Yes, the ability is on the stack and is independent of the source.
B: Yes, drawing a card does not use the stack.
C: No, Howling Mine has to be untapped when the ability resolves.
D: No, Twiddle counters the ability.

C, the great intervening if clause!

An intervening “if” clause, as we’ve discussed before, is part of some triggered abilities worded “At/When/Whenever X, if Y, Z.” If Y is not true when the trigger wants to go on the stack, it won’t go on the stack. If Y isn’t true when the ability resolves, it simply does nothing – it’s not countered.




Q: With Goblin Ringleader, what order do the cards go on the bottom of my library?

The answer is...

A: The same order that they were on the top.
B: Reverse order as they were on the top.
C: Any order you want.
D: Alphabetical order.

C, you choose the order!

Whenever you’re putting many cards in one place at one time, you choose the order. Top of library, bottom of library, graveyard, hand... your call. Some cards have been templated to include this factoid, such as Proteus Staff, but many have not.





Click here for a RAID commercial.
Q: If my opponent uses Break Open to flip over my Nantuko Vigilante, can I destroy an artifact?

The answer is...

A: Yes, it was turned face up.
B: No, its morph cost was not played.
C: No, your opponent loses immediately for playing Break Open.
D: No, its morph ability was not played.

A, blow that thing up!

The Vigilante doesn’t care how he was turned face-up. He went from face-down to face-up, so he kills! Do note that just like the Orangutan, he’ll kill your artifact or enchantment if your opponent has none. It’s also best not to refer to morphing as “flipping” anymore, since that’s what the Kamigawa flippers do. And Ninjas. Ninjas flip out and kill things.




Q: Can I counter a spell with Null Brooch if I don’t have a hand?

The answer is...

A: No, duh, you have to discard your hand.
B: Yes, you can’t not have a hand.
C: Yes, but you can’t draw cards this turn.
D: How do you play Magic without hands?

B, shiny happy people holding hands!

You always have a hand – even if your hand contains no cards – so you can always discard your hand. You won’t actually be discarding any cards, but you’re discarding your hand. An interesting situation to say the least!




Q: Will Pyroclasm and Flaring Pain together kill my Silver Knight?

The answer is...

A: No, protection from red will still work.
B: No, Silver Knight can’t be targeted by Pyroclasm anyway.
C: Yes, the damage will not be prevented.
D: Habanero peppers give me a flaring pain in my belly.

D, habanero peppers are freaking hot!

C is also correct.

Part of the protection ability is a damage-prevention effect. This prevention effect will do nothing once Flaring Pain is in effect.

Remember, Pyroclasm doesn’t target! The word “target” is not on the friendly card.




Q: I have Vedalken Shackles and Seedborn Muse – will I have to untap my Shackles on my opponent’s untap?

The answer is...

A: Yes, Shackles only stays tapped for your untap step.
B: No, the wording is shorthand, but you can always choose not to untap it.
C: No, untapping is always optional.
D: Yay, the article’s done, time to go to sleep!

ELI, GET BACK HERE!

Oops. Hi everybody! The answer is A – the Shackles’ ability only allows you to choose not to untap it during your untap step, and Seedborn Must simply says "Untap everything." You can’t choose not to untap stuff unless it has an ability like the Shackles or unless something else stops you.

Well, that was a fun one! Next week, Thijs will present another of his famous stick-to-one-topic articles involving... whatever you choose! ((Link to thread, to be posted Sunday during the day. Sorry moddypeeps!)) Click here to vote! The choices were submitted by rulings forum members over the last few days, and the poll will close on Tuesday so Thijs can begin writing.

For my next article in two weeks, we’ll look at some of Ravnica. Oooooh. Aaaaah.

Until next time, watch out for two-headed giants!

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ

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