Cranial Insertion: The Oxidda Loxodon Mox Paradox

Cranial Insertion
The Oxidda Loxodon Mox Paradox
or, or, X Marks the Spot

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

Cranial Translations
Español Nederlands

X marks all of the spots.
This is a Dalmatian.
Welcome back, my wonderful readers! This week's article marks the end of our seventh year of publication, and my final article on MTGS before Cranial Insertion moves to its shiny new home. Fifty-two articles per year, seven years, that is 364 articles... so just about one per day for a whole year.

Isn't math awesome?

No, it isn't, so anyway. Before we get into this week's article, I realize that many of you are wondering why exactly we're moving. There are a lot of little reasons, and it'll take up a bunch of space, so I'll get into that at the end of the article, after all the rules questions.

I'll also repeat Carsten's call from last week for translators: if your language isn't regularly getting a translation, translations used to be a hard thing for teams to set up (much less actually write!), but now the setup is seamless and simple. If no translation exists in your language, contact us; if it does exist, check the translation and its editor will have instructions for you here.

If you want to help us, or if you want us to help you by answering all of your questions, send an email over to [email][/email]! Amusingly enough, this is also the last time we need to tell you the address, since there's a big "EMAIL US" button on the new site. So if you're reading from our new home, click the horrified picture of Moko to hurt his undead head further!

Q: I control two Heartless Summonings, so I cast Solemn Simulacrum for free. In which order do I do its two triggers?

A: In whatever order you'd like. Even though one trigger very clearly triggered before the other, all that matters is that no player got priority in between the two triggers triggering. That means that when a player does get priority, both have to go on the stack at the same time, and you as their controller get to choose their order.

Q: When I activate Mimic Vat to make a Phyrexian Metamorph and control Parallel Lives, do I have to copy the same thing with both tokens?

A: You do. Replacement effects follow a specific order: Self-replacement, control, copy, and then all the rest. You'll have to apply the Metamorph's copy effect before you apply Parallel Lives' make-two-tokens effect, and Lives will make another token that is also a copy of whatever you chose for the first one.

Q: Does Orb of Dreams itself enter the battlefield tapped?

A: Nope! Replacement effects on an object entering the battlefield only get to apply if they apply specifically to that object. They do not get to apply if they apply to a set of objects which includes the object entering the battlefield.

Q: Hey, my Huntmaster of the Fells should trigger in my first upkeep of the restarted game, shouldn't it?

A: Nope! There was no previous turn for its trigger to look at, so it gets a headache, shrugs, and gives up. Part of giving up is not triggering at all. If you're into programming, consider this a null variable error with a suppressed error message. (If your Huntmaster actually shouts an error message at you, please reconsider your recreational lifestyle choices.)

Q: I equipped one of my creatures with Livewire Lash. Then I launch Hunger of the Howlpack at that creature. If my creature kills another creature with the triggered ability of Livewire Lash, how many +1/+1 counters will I put over my creature?

A: Livewire Lash's trigger fires when you cast a spell; that means it triggers after you've gone through all of the steps of casting that spell. The very first step is to put the spell on the stack, so it's already been there for a while when you put the trigger on the stack, so the trigger goes on top and resolves first.

Hunger of the Howlpack's effect only checks for morbidity as it goes to resolve. Since something has died this turn before it resolves, it'll toss three counters onto your creature.

Q: I'm at -8 thanks to Phyrexian Unlife, and I get attacked for 10 damage, so I cast Angel's Grace. Can I chose to go to 1 and not take any poison?

A: There isn't any choice involved here. You're dealt 10 damage, and neither Unlife nor Grace interact with that. The result of this 10 damage is ten poison counters, so Angel's Grace doesn't care.

If Unlife weren't involved, you'd have a separate issue that the damage isn't causing your life total to drop below 1; it's already there! So you'd go to -18.

Q: With Unbreathing Horde and Diregraf Captain in my graveyard, what will Zombie Apocalypse do?

A: Be made into a blockbuster motion picture narrated by Morgan Freeman, if there's any justice. But until then, it'll bring back your two Zombies. Unbreathing Horde has a replacement effect that modifies how it enters the battlefield, so immediately before moving it, look at how many counters it should get. There are two Zombies in your graveyard, so two counters! Yes, it counts itself. Zombies are weeeird!

Q: If I play a Hallowed Fountain and my opponent has a Blood Moon, can I at least pay 2 life so I can get R right away?

A: You sure can! Remember those Zombies from the last question? Immediately before moving is when you look at replacement effects, like those of the Ravnica block duals, and immediately before being on the battlefield, Hallowed Fountain is a Fountain, not a Mountain.

Q: I need life! Can I attack with a creature, let it deal combat damage, and then Condemn it?

A: That works just as you planned. A creature remains attacking/blocking until the combat phase is over, which gives you time to do things to your attackers in the combat damage step or in the end of combat step.

Q: Will I lose control of a Mutavault I take with Vedalken Shackles when it stops being a creature?

A: Nope. Vedalken Shackles's effect's duration is "for as long as Vedalken Shackles remains tapped." Nothing in that duration cares about whether the thing you took keeps its power low enough, or even remains a creature! The creature's power (and the fact that it's a creature) are only checked as targeting requirements when you first activate and resolve the ability.

Q: Does my Burrenton Forge-Tender get -1/-1 counters when it blocks a red creature with wither?

A: Nope. Wither gives -1/-1 counters to creatures as a result of damage, but protection from red prevents that damage entirely, so its results never get around to happening.

A decent analogy: Punching someone usually causes a bruise. But if you've got Wolverine claws (ie, wither), it'll cause gratuitous bleeding rather than a bruise! Protection from red blocks the punch entirely.

Q: Will Echoing Truth bounce all the tokens made by Spectral Procession and Lingering Souls?

A: Bouncy bouncy Spirits! Creature tokens have a name equal to the creature types they were given upon creation, and both of those spells made Spirit tokens. So their names are all Spirit, and Echoing Truth will make them all see the validity of the One-Steve-Limit and run away.

Silly goblin loves
the letter X too much.
Q: Can I respond to Pyromancer Ascension's copy trigger by countering the spell that triggered it to stop my opponent from getting any?

A: You can respond to the trigger, but countering the spell won't help you. Since that spell's gone, the trigger will use its last known information from just before it was countered and use that to print out a new copy onto the stack.

Q: Will Yixlid Jailer stop a creature from undying or persisting?

A: Nope! Undying and persist use the timey-wimey rule 603.6d to look back to just before stuff left the battlefield. Humility would stop them, since that would mean they wouldn't have those abilities on the battlefield, but Yixlid Jailer just stands there and watches as the creatures run out of the yard.

Q: My opponent blocked one creature with two Black Cats. Can I assign all of my creature's combat damage to one kitty so I won't have to discard two cards?

A: You can do that. Damage doesn't automatically spill over from one creature to the next; you can choose to overkill for any reason, such as "there's a damage prevention shield" or "I don't want to murder TOO many kittens."

Q: Will Engineered Explosives with no counters on it get rid of Splinter Twin tokens?

A: When you copy something, you copy just about everything printed on it - including the mana cost, which determines the converted mana cost. So all of the tokens will have a CMC of 3, and will survive your explosion.

Q: My opponent clearly thinks that Engineered Explosives for zero will blow up his Deceiver Exarch tokens, though. Can I let him keep on thinking that?

A: Sure! You don't need to correct your opponent's misconceptions. As long as you don't say anything that is a lie (eg, confirming that Explosives for 0 kills the tokens), you can let him go on making bad plays based on not knowing. Just remember that if you actively lie, you're dipping into the Fraud pool, and disqualifying piranhas live there.

Q: I went to attack with my Vorapede, and my opponent said he wants to tap it. But I already attacked with it, so it's too late for him to tap it, right?

A: Half right - once you declare your attacking creatures, tapping them won't stop them from attacking. However, you can't rush to attack without giving your opponent a chance to do something before you do. So he's not tapping your attacking Vorapede, you're rewinding the game to the appropriate point where you failed to give your opponent priority to do stuff and letting him tap your non-attacking Vorapede.

Of course, if you did give him a chance ("Attackers?") and he didn't take that chance, then he's just out of luck.

Q: I cast Inquisition of Kozilek on my opponent, forgetting that he had a Leyline of Sanctity. He says I have to target myself now! Is that right?

A: That's not right. When you illegally cast a spell like this, you rewind the entire thing, not just to the point in the illegal casting that was illegal. This is because the rules themselves spell out what to do when you illegally cast a spell - it's slightly different from what judges have you do when you perform other sorts of illegal actions, where you might back up to a part that shoehorns you into unpleasant things.

Q: How long do I have to sideboard between games?

A: You have three minutes allotted to the initial pregame procedure - sideboarding, shuffling, presenting - and then have to do all the mulliganny stuff in a timely manner. However, deliberately chewing up those three minutes to take advantage of the time limit is still stalling and gets you fed to the DQ piranhas. So just try to finish as quickly as possible, and be aware that taking more than three minutes may or may not get you a penalty.

Q: I'm looking for the entries about sideboards in the Comprehensive Rules, but I can't find them. Help?

A: You won't find them in the CR because sideboards aren't a game mechanic. They're a tournament mechanic, and as such are hiding away in the Magic Tournament Rules.

Where are those rules? And the CR? We have a spiffy resource page to consolidate all of the links to important documents!

So, why did we move?

This has been an idea I had been kicking around since before Paskoff and Carsten joined the team. Over the first four years or so of CI, we became something fairly meaningful and well-known. Maybe we should work on establishing our own identity, not tied to any other site. Maybe all of the crazy code we had to use for images and stuff could be streamlined.

It's a lot of work to do all that setup, though - from the time I put my foot down and decided to write the code and the time I declared the site completely in beta was around a thousand hours of work - and so we put it off. Translations started picking up, and while the first couple languages were easy, we got French and German teams who didn't have a host site but found a way, and then more offers that had to be turned down due to not being able to find a host. The question of "Why not make our own site and host everyone?" came up again, but still didn't stick.

So as our seventh anniversary approached, one funny, tiny thing set off the chain reaction: the European judge community asked me to get them a list of the judges who were translating Cranial Insertion. And my answer was "Um... huh." The active translators were changing every now and then, and we never had tabs on who exactly was doing each article. How could we easily gather that data in the future? With our own database.

And then all of the other reasons popped back up, tied to "we can do this for our seventh anniversary!" We can condense a ton of formatting code we had to repeat every week. We can save unfinished articles on the site privately. We can host all of our translations. We can more accurately track and praise our staggeringly large staff. (I know that Paskoff wants to say something naughty here, but I shan't let him.) All in all, we're accepting that we're meaningful, if not outright important, enough that we deserve to captain our own fate as fully as we can.

And I can never express how grateful I am to you, readers; to you, who sent questions every week; to you, who learned from us and told us how much we had helped; to all of my co-writers, editors, and translators over the years; all of you who in ways small or large led to this: you've helped create a valuable resource for this game that we all enjoy.

So here's to seven years, and to another seven.

Until next time, thank you.

- Eli Shiffrin


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