Cranial Insertion: Don't Eat the Cake



Cranial Insertion
Don't Eat the Cake
By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Jeff Vondruska

Greetings, and welcome to yet another installment of Cranial Insertion! Allow myself to introduce… myself. I'm Jeff Vondruska, a DCI level 2 judge from northeastern Ohio. As you know if you've paid attention to the previous columns, I'm mainly the behind-the-scenes guy, helping Eli and Thijs out with their articles and proofreading and such.

Speaking of Eli, you may be wondering where he is at the moment. After all, it is his turn in the rotation. Eli has unfortunately come down with a nasty case of some mutating virus, most likely contained in the cake Thijs sent (and probably assisted by the bird doo that it picked up mid-flight). This might explain his eyes. Needless to say, he's out of commission for the week.

An unfortunate side effect of this little turn of events is that there will be no Moko this week. Moko was already in the air on his Crypt Angel headed for Arizona when we got the news about Eli's health, and the flight couldn't be cancelled. So I'm running this one solo, with a little help from my friends over on the #mtgjudge channel on the EFnet IRC network.

Let's start off with a few questions I ran into while judging at Grand Prix: Detroit a couple of weeks ago!

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Q: My opponent just played Otherworldly Journey on my Mountain which had been animated by Genju of the Spires. He says that it stays removed from the game because it's not a creature anymore. I say it comes back. Who's right?

A: You are quite correct. Of course, the Genju itself will go to the graveyard and stay there, since the Mountain didn't go to the graveyard. At the end of the turn, the Mountain will come back into play. The reason for this is contained in rule 202.2a:
202.2a. If an ability of an object uses a phrase such as "this [something]" to identify an object, where [something] is a category or characteristic, it is referring to that particular object, even if it isn't the appropriate category or characteristic at the time.

The even cooler thing about this situation is that your Mountain will return to play with a +1/+1 counter on it. There's nothing in the rules that says +1/+1 counters can only go on creatures. Unless you manage to animate the Mountain again, the +1/+1 counter will have no visible effect. However, it sits there, ready and waiting to pump up your Mountain should your second Genju show up. (You do have a second Genju, right?)

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Q: I have a Ronin Warclub in play and cast a Shimmering Glasskite. When it comes into play, does the Warclub automatically equip to my Glasskite?

A: Do you honestly expect one of those Glasskites to be able to hold a club? I mean… how many hands does a Glasskite have, anyway? Unfortunately for the laws of physics and fortunately for you, the answer to your question is yes. (I'll file this away on my list of Magical situations which don't equate to the real world. Cranial Plating equipped to a Headless Horseman, for example. Or that no monkeys come out when a Monkey Cage is Shattered.) You see, there's a difference between playing an equip ability of a piece of equipment and simply attaching it to something. The equip ability goes on the stack, targeting the creature you want to put the equipment on. When it resolves the equipment attaches itself, an action which in itself targets absolutely nothing. Ronin Warclub skips the first step of that process and simply attaches itself to the creature which just came into play. Since it's not doing any targeting, the Glasskite has itself a Warclub.

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Sticking to the Glasskite theme…

Q: My opponent just played Consuming Vortex, splicing on Kodama's Might. He targeted my Jetting Glasskite with the Vortex, and his own Silverback Ape with the Kodama's Might. Does his ape get +2/+2?

A: The player in me wonders at what your opponent was thinking while making that play. The judge in me then chimes in with a firm no. Unlike an untargetable permanent or a permanent with the Protection ability, the Glasskite is not an illegal target for the spell (which would allow the spell to resolve and do as much as possible to the remaining legal targets).

What Jetting Glasskite does is counter the spell, which because of Splice consists of some weird conglomeration of the Vortex and the Might. (Whether it be Consuming Might or Kodama's Vortex is up to you.) Splice actually takes the text of the spliced spell (in this case Kodama's Might) and adds it onto the end of the spell that's being played (the Vortex). Thus, what you end up with is a spell on the stack that looks roughly like this:
Consuming Vortex
1U
Instant – Arcane
Return target creature to its owner's hand.
Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
You now have one spell with two targets, but it's still one spell, so the entire thing is countered, which means his Ape stays 5/5. (Besides, isn't he big enough already?)

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Q: If I'm in the final round of a PTQ and my opponent and I are deadlocked with neither person willing to concede. Is it ok to just flip a coin to decide the winner?

A: That depends on whether you and your opponent would like to be disqualified without prize from that particular PTQ. Here's an excerpt from section 25 of the DCI Universal Tournament Rules:
The following actions are prohibited:
[…]
• Attempting to determine the winner of a game or match by a random method, such as a coin flip or die roll

The philosophy behind this particular policy is that games and matches in sanctioned tournaments should be decided on gameplay. Also, the determination of a winner by a random method could conceivably be viewed as gambling, which is illegal in quite a few states and countries where the DCI runs tournaments. Because of this, the DCI takes a pretty stern stance, and that little die roll or coin flip will probably result in your stay in the tournament being cut rather short.

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Q: My opponent attacked me with his Goblin Cohort. I responded by shooting it with my Frostwielder, then shooting it with my Initiate of Blood. I flipped it, and my opponent called the judge over. What's the deal?

A: Sorry, no Goka the Unjust for you. What your opponent noticed that you missed is that Frostwielder will remove the Cohort from the game using what's called a replacement effect. Replacement effects are designated by the use of the word "instead". As you no doubt have noticed, Frostwielder uses that little buzzword, making it a replacement effect. Let's take a look at one of the relevant rules:
419.5. If an event is prevented or replaced, it never happens.
The rule goes on to talk about the modified event triggering abilities and such, but the bottom line is the top line. The Initiate only flips over if the creature it damaged goes to the graveyard, and as the event is replaced it never actually goes to the graveyard. Your opponent may have been a bit hyper on the judge call, but he was right.

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Q: I have a Honden of Cleansing Fire and a Honden of Seeing Winds in play. On my upkeep I gain 4 life from the white Honden, and then draw a card from the blue one. I went to activate my Sensei's Divining Top before drawing the second card for the Honden and my opponent stopped me. Aren't separate card draws different events or something?

A: Well, first off let me make sure you understand that the blue Honden's triggered ability only triggers once and goes on the stack once, it just draws you two cards in this case. It doesn't go on the stack once for each card draw. Since it's just one ability, what you're trying to do is activate the Top in the middle of the resolution of the Honden's ability. Keep in mind here that you can only activate an ability or play a spell when you have priority. Let's take a look at the rules for who gets priority when:
408.1c. The active player gets priority at the beginning of most phases and steps, after any game actions are dealt with and abilities that trigger at the beginning of that phase or step go on the stack. No player gets priority during the untap step and players usually don't get priority during the cleanup step (see rule 314.3). The player with priority may either play a spell or ability, take a special action, or pass. If he or she plays a spell or ability, or takes a special action, the player again receives priority; otherwise, his or her opponent receives priority.
Let me boil this down a bit for you. The nonactive player gets priority pretty much only when the active player gives it to them, so I'm going to focus on the active player. The active player gets priority at the beginning of each phase or step (except for the untap step and the cleanup step), after game actions (such as declaring attackers) are taken care of, and also immediately after they finish playing a spell or ability and after a spell or ability resolves. That's it. You'll notice the distinct lack of anything about gaining priority after each individual action during the resolution of a spell or anything, so you can't respond to the first card you draw. You can activate the Top before you draw any cards, you can activate the Top after you draw the two cards for the Honden, and you can activate the Top after you draw for your turn (or any combination of the above), but not in between cards #1 and #2.

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Q: My opponent just cast Reweave on the Heart of Light that I put on his creature. I sacrificed it and then revealed cards from my library until I found a Genju of the Falls. The problem is that I don't control any Islands at the moment. We can't just leave it in the library because the card says you have to put it into play, but we can't just put it into play enchanting nothing… my head hurts.

A: Was that a question?

Q: Ok, ok… what happens to the Genju?

A: Ah, much better. Fortunately for you the nice people on the Wizards of the Coast Rules Team put a rule in the book which covers this situation quite nicely, so your head can stop hurting as soon as you stop banging it on the table.
212.4e. If a local enchantment is coming into play by any other means than being played, and the effect putting it into play doesn't specify what it will enchant, the player putting it into play chooses a permanent or player for it to enchant as it comes into play. In this case, the enchantment doesn't target the permanent, but the player who is putting it into play still must choose a permanent or player that the enchantment can enchant. If no legal permanent or player is available, the enchantment remains in the zone from which it attempted to move instead of coming into play.
The rule goes on to talk about moving enchantments from one permanent to another, but that's another discussion. Essentially what that big long rules-y thing says is that your Genju stays exactly where it always was: in your library. No funky stuff like coming into play, not enchanting anything, and then going to the graveyard.

Before anyone starts complaining about the Golden Rule (referring of course to rule 103.1, go look it up if you're not familiar), it doesn't apply in this situation. The Golden Rule is there strictly to make cards work like they say they do. Unless a card directly contradicts a rule, the Golden Rule just sits there and does nothing. An example of a card that makes the Golden Rule kick into effect is Platinum Angel. Platy directly contradicts all the rules that tell you how winning and losing work by simply turning them off. Reweave falls under this rule:
416.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible.


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Well, I think that about covers the good stuff I saw at Grand Prix Detroit. A good time was had by all; congratulations to Jordan Berkowitz for winning, huzzah, huzzah, etc. To fill up the rest of the column this week, I'm going to go over a few more random questions.

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Q: I have a Chalice of the Void in play with one counter on it, and it's been there for a couple of turns. I just played a Xantid Swarm. Isn't casting a spell you know will be countered an illegal play? My opponent has to let me take that back, right?

A: *loud buzzer* I'm going to give you a warning for rules cheesing simply for asking the question. Please send your DCI number to me at your earliest convenience so I can file the warning. If you don't have one, one will be provided for you.

Despite the nature of the question, the fact that it's in this column means I actually have to give a coherent answer. The answer is no. You played the spell, you made the mistake, your spell will be countered. It's not an illegal play at all, just a very bad one, and last time I checked the rules don't stop you from being a bad Magic player. (Or else I would've finished a lot higher at last week's tournament.)

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There was a picture of Pernicious Deed
here, but our buds had to go home.
Q: My friend and I are both in an Extended PTQ. I made the top 8 but he didn't and he wants to leave. I borrowed a couple of Pernicious Deeds from him and needless to say he wants his cards back before he heads home. Pernicious Deed's a pretty expensive card and I can't just come up with two more on the spot, so that means I have an illegal deck. Can I force him to let me keep the Deeds or am I just screwed?

A: Well, they're his cards, so you can't really make him leave them behind if he doesn't want to (and neither can the judge). According to the letter of the rules, you're screwed. Unless you can find a few more Deeds before the top 8 starts, you do have an illegal deck and the judge is perfectly within his rights to penalize you for it. However, this is one of those situations where the letter of the rules can't really plan for.

One of the major factors judges have to take into account when determining a penalty is how much potential there is for abuse in that particular situation. If you're just leaving cards off of your decklist, you could be swapping cards in and out (which is obviously an advantage), or just running a deck that's less than 60 cards (which is good because you have a better shot of drawing your good cards). There's some serious abuse potential there. We know that most people do it completely innocently, but to discourage those who might be doing it intentionally we have to give that a game loss. This situation is perfectly legitimate, and I can't possibly see a way that you could gain any advantage off of your friend leaving with part of your deck, so were I the head judge I would proxy the two cards that are missing and allow you to finish the tournament normally.

(Disclaimer: How each judge handles this situation may be different from how I handle it. This is just my opinion, though it is shared by other judges I've discussed this with. I don't want to hear anyone at a tournament saying "But Jeff said so in Cranial Insertion!")

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Q: My opponent just tapped his Glimmervoid for mana. I Shattered his only artifact in response to make his Glimmervoid go away. Does he still get the mana?

A: Confused player, rule 406.4. Rule 406.4, confused player.
406.4. A mana ability can be activated or triggered. Mana abilities are played and resolved like other abilities, but they don't go on the stack, so they can't be countered or responded to.
The short answer is that he already has the mana by the time you can even think about Shattering his artifact. As the rule says, mana abilities can't be responded to. By anything. Or anyone. Not even you.

The other problem with what you're trying to do is that Glimmervoid doesn't check to see whether there are artifacts in play until the end of the turn, specifically at the beginning of the End of Turn step. This means it won't go away right away after you Shatter the artifact, so even if you could respond to the mana ability (which you can't), the Glimmervoid would still be in play.

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Q: I Terrored my opponent's Jushi Apprentice. In response, he used its ability to draw a card. That gave him nine cards, and he flipped the Jushi. He says that since the creature's now Tomaya the Revealer, it's not the same creature anymore and so the Terror doesn't work. He's not right, is he?

A: Lucky for you, he's not. Let's take a look at what happens when you flip a flip card:
508.2. In every zone other than the in-play zone, and also in the in-play zone before the permanent flips, a flip card has only the normal characteristics of the permanent. Once the flip permanent in the in-play zone has been flipped, the normal name, text box, type line, power, and toughness of the flip permanent don't apply and the alternative versions of those characteristics apply instead.
You'll notice nothing that says anything about becoming a new permanent. All it does is switch up a few characteristics. Terror doesn't look at the name or the text box or anything, it keeps an eye on that specific creature. It sees it get bigger, shinier, and legendary, but it's still the same creature, so Terror will bump it off quite neatly.

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Q: I just tapped my Forbidden Orchard for mana, giving my opponent a little 1/1 Spirit. I have a Kyoki, Sanity's Eclipse in play. Does he have to remove a card from the game or doesn't he?

A: He doesn't. There's a large difference between the terms "play" and "put into play". Playing something means announcing it, putting it on the stack, choosing modes and targets, paying costs, and so forth. Putting something into play is a simple change of position: That something is moving from another zone (such as your graveyard or your hand) into play. If you read these two cards carefully, you'll see that Forbidden Orchard puts a token into play, and Kyoki triggers when you play a Spirit or Arcane spell. Since play is not the same as put into play, the two don't meet up and Kyoki doesn't trigger. (Neat idea, though.)

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Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Keep the questions rolling! Next week Thijs will return with a look at multiplayer and casual, kicking off Casual Week here at MTGSalvation! Moko's already on his way back to the Netherlands on board a Leviathan. (Eli was too sick to book him another Lemure and the Leviathan was the best Thijs and I could do from where we were.) I've also been informed that Eli's on the mend, which means we may well have a collaborative trans-Atlantic article on our hands next week. Tune in and find out!

Until next time, watch out for that Dutch cake! (Send it all to Eli instead.)

--Jeff Vondruska
DCI Level 2 Judge
Elyria, OH USA

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