Cranial Insertion: Rock Your SoKs





Cranial Insertion
Rock Your SoKs
or, Chimps Have Big Hands

By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Jeff Vondruska


Welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Where we left off, Thijs has discussed priority, Moko was zooming around the Atlantic in an Atlantean hovercraft, I was reining a Leviathan to the Gulf of California, and Jeff... um... oops. We’ll have to look into that.

Anyway! The Leviathan got me back to the oh-so-sunny desert in time for the Phoenix Saviors of Kamigawa prerelease, which I had the fortune of judging. It went very well – nothing horrendously confusing, only one guy playing with the prerelease card, and lots and lots of side drafts.

Thijs mentioned that Moko likes SoK, and this is indeed true! As we all know, chimps have larger hands than humans, so he finds himself at a natural advantage. And he also piles all of these questions on me.

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Q: With 5 cards in hand, I cast Spiraling Embers and splice Glacial Ray. How much damage does the Embers do – 3 or 4?

A: Neither three nor four but six! You forgot the extra two dealt by the Embers from the spliced Ray text. For what the original Embers cares about, your hand size is four, though. When you play a spell and splice, the spliced card is still in your hand, even though many players lay it down so the opponent can see just what it’s going to do.

Well, those halcyon days of throwing cards willy-nilly are over! You’ll need to make sure to always count the correct number of cards in your hand nowadays.

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Q: What happens if I get out three Gnat Misers and two Locust Misers? Can my opponent never have cards in his hand?

A: Not exactly. His maximum hand size is now zero – which really bites. But he only has to discard during the cleanup step at the end of his turn, so he gets to draw a card, then do other stuff which may or may not draw him cards, and then he can play them all happily. If he draws a Pyroclasm, his hand suddenly gets big again.

But woe unto the player if he can’t play every single card he draws by the end of his turn and can not kill your Misers. Then he has to discard down to zero.

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I like big butts and I can not lie,
All you other Spirits can't deny...
Q: I have a Soratami Seer and Kagemaro, First to Suffer out. Can I use the Soratami’s ability without killing my Maro?

A: You sure can. State-based effects are only checked each time a player would receive priority (check out Thijs’ article last week for more on priority). No player would receive priority in the middle of the resolution of the Seer’s ability, so the Kagemaro exists as a 0/0 creature for a very brief time but survives.

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Q: Can I discard a card to power down my opponent’s Adamaro, First to Desire?

A: If you have a Wild Mongrel in play? Sure! If you have a Seismic Assault? Maybe. Just because you feel like it? No, you can not.

It’s not that the CompRules say “You may not discard because the emu in your head tells you to discard.” It’s that you can only perform game actions when the rules or a card allow you, and the emu in your head is sadly not a card. (Come on, MaRo, read this and get an idea.) Since the rules don’t allow you at any point to discard a card, pay life, or sacrifice a permanent because you suddenly realize that your plentitude is a bad thing, you’re stuck with more cards in your hand against Adamaro, with more life against Pulse of the Forge, and that pesky Blessing of Leeches that you got Mindslavered into playing.

Weight Watchers' new One with Nothing diet can do miracles with Adamaro, though. The Kami of the Posterior up there could take a lesson from his red friend.

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But wait, there’s more than hand size in this set! As much as Moko would like to think otherwise.

Q: What do I do if a Rally the Horde removes my entire deck from the game and doesn’t find any lands?

A: This question came up a lot with Goblin Charbelcher during Proteus-Belcher’s heyday. If an effect tells you to do X until Y happens, and you can no longer do X but Y has not happened, you’re done. In the case of Charbelcher, it hits for the number of cards revealed before you ran out of library. For the Horde, you get a Warrior for every nonland card you’ve removed from your library.

And you probably lose on your next turn.

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Q: Opponent has a Vedalken Shackles controlling my Skull Collector. It's his turn. He decides to untap the Shackles. Does Skull Collector's bounce trigger?

A: Repeat the mantra with me: “Untap, Upkeep, Draw.” During the untap step, the Shackles are put back in their normal upright position, and the Ogre immediately abandons ship and goes to party with your creatures again.

After your opponent is done untapping everything, he moves on to his upkeep. This is where the Skull Collector would trigger, but he’s busy dancing with a lampshade on his head on your side, and it’s not your upkeep, so he doesn’t trigger.

Q: What if my opponent waited for the Collector to trigger and then used a Twiddle on his own Shackles? Would I have to bounce a black creature?

A: Nope, you sure don’t. Since your opponent controlled the Collector when its ability went on the stack, he controls the ability. Switching control of the Collector won’t change the control of the ability already on the stack, so your opponent has to return a black creature – if he has any – to his hand.

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Q: If I catch my opponent playing with his prerelease card during the prerelease tournament, how much trouble can I get him in?

A: We get one or two of these every prerelease. Some sites don’t give out the prerelease card until after the games have started to avoid this problem, but a lot pass out the card with the sealed product to save on time and to make sure that everyone gets one.

That said, your opponent is a BAD BAD MAN! Or woman. Or monkey. Or other. The prerelease card is not part of your card pool (our Unhinged tournament is another story), so he can not have the card in his deck. Raise your hand and call for a judge, your opponent is facing a game loss for an illegal deck. He’ll have to replace the card with a basic land, and go on playing.

This policy may vary from location to location. We announce at the beginning of the day that the shiny, shiny card is not for play, but some head judges go one step further: They announce that playing with the prerelease card is cheating. If they do, they can disqualify the player for playing with it. This is rather severe, but within their rights.

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I flip out for no good reason!
Q: I have Sakashima the Impostor copying Homura, Human Ascendant who dies to a pair of Shocks. What happens?

A: Sakashima returns to play, flipped. If any flip creatures are in play, Sakashima can copy them and be a flipped creature (if Homura is still in play, you can get an Essence, but not if Homura has flipped, since it is no longer a creature.) If a Bushi Tenderfoot is out, you can actually get Kenzo out! Amazing!

But what if there are no more flipping creatures? Sakashima still returns to play flipped.

Just... it doesn’t mean anything. He just flips. I suggest flipping him into the air as he returns to play. And then place him upside down (not face down). Not that it does anything special other than get odd looks. He’s the flippiest non-flipper out there.

Note that if you do copy Homura when Sakashima returns, you’ll end up with a Legendary Enchantment named “Sakashima the Imposter” that can bounce for 2UU. Now there’s a pretty good impostering.

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Q: With a Dense Canopy out, can my Traproot Kami block a nonflying creature?

A: Yup, it can block whatever it wants. The key part is that it *may* block as though it had flying – it doesn’t have to, and it doesn’t actually have flying.

If your Traproot Kami is enchanted with Entangler, though, he runs into a problem. Say that your opponent is attacking with a Lantern Kami and a Devoted Retainer. If you declare that the Traproot is blocking both, it’s blocking as though it had flying – but since it’s treated as though it had flying for the purposes of blocking, it can not block the Retainer. The blocking assignment is illegal, and you have to redecide your blockers.

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Q: If I Twincast my opponent’s Lava Spike, can I splice a Glacial Ray onto it from my hand?

A: Hmmm no. Twincast makes a copy of the spell, so if your opponent spliced a Ray onto the Spike, you’ll get a copy of the Lava Spike that says “Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player. Lava Spike deals 2 damage to target creature or player.”

But Twincast only makes a copy. Since it does not *play* the copy, you can not add more splice to it.

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Q: With an Oboro Envoy, does the creature get -X/-0 until the end of the game? It doesn’t say “until end of turn.”

A: Whoa, whoa, whoa! To the Oraclemobile!

Quote from Oracle »
2, Return a land you control to its owner's hand: Target creature gets -X/-0 until end of turn, where X is the number of cards in your hand.


Just as we suspected! Mr. Envoy received errata before the prerelease – they realized their little lapse in templating. As printed (hint: R&D’s Secret Lair, that card that defies autocarding) it would cause the creature’s power to drop for the remainder of the game, but it’s been fixed with errata.

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Q: I tap my Kitsune Bonesetter to save one of my creatures, and my opponent casts Thirst for Knowledge in response, then discards an artifact so he has the same number of cards as me now. Does my Bonesetter still save my creature?

A: Your creature will receive its magical cast. The Bonesetter’s restriction only affects when you may play the ability. Once the ability is put on the stack, you’re good to go.

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Q: I have out a Kami of the Tended Garden but only one Forest. My opponent wants to turn that Forest into an Island with his Moonbow Illusionist during my untap step so I can’t keep my Kami. Help!

A: Bad opponent! You can’t do that! Like Thijs said last week, no player receives priority during the untap step!

But even if he could, it wouldn’t matter. If he could change the Forest in your untap step, you could tap the Forest in response to his ability to add G to your mana pool, and then use it to pay for the Kami’s trigger.

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Please send me extra brains.
PM me for an address.
Q: When I use Overwhelming Intellect to counter a Maga, Traitor to Mortals with 5 for X, how many cards do I draw?

A: A lot. A whooole lot. More precisely, 8. Remember, while on the stack, X is equal to what it was declared as, which is 5 in this case. So the converted mana cost of Maga is 8, and man, your hand is full. Moko is pleased with you.

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Q: After I’ve played Eternal Dominion, can I still Channel a Ghost-Lit Warder?

A: Indeed you may. The Channel ability is just that – an ability. Epic only stops you from playing spells, so you can still use Channel and Cycling to sneak around it. Abilities of permanents can be played, too.

Bonus note: You can still play lands, too, since lands aren’t spells! Hello Urami!

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Q: With Uyo, Silent Prophet out, I play Sunder from Within and copy it a whole bunch. My original Sunder targeted a land – do all of my copies have to target lands, too?

A: Nah, let your Sunders run wild! You’re thinking about the rule of modal spell copies – when a modal spell is copied, the mode choice made for it is copied, too. But a modal card is only a card that says “Choose 1/2/pi - X, or Y.”

Sunder from Within isn’t modal. It just has a targeting restriction: Either artifact or land. Each of your copies can target either an artifact or a land, and your opponent can Shunt a Sunder from Within targeting his artifact to target your land instead.

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That’ll do it for this week. Have fun on Friday when Saviors hits the stores, but remember - the set is not legal for tournament play until 20 June! Start planning your big-handed evil, but don’t put the plans into motion yet.

Join us next week when Thijs handles some more SoK questions, and we continue our search for Jeff!

Until next time, give Kagemaro a hand, ladies and gents!

-Eli Shiffrin, L1 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ

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