Cranial Insertion:!

Cranial Insertion!
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

Cranial Translations
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Eli and I at GP Baltimore, with
the site in the background. Well,
before the GP. The GP wasn't actually
held in that kitchen.
Welcome back to Cranial Insertion! I've got some great news for everyone this time - for our seventh anniversary, we'll be moving to our new home: Go on and take a look - everything's there, including the entire history of Cranial Insertion articles, with a fresh new layout designed by yours truly and coded by Eli Shiffrin with help from the entire CI team. You can even create an account and comment on articles there just like you would here, check out the spiffy new card search, and of course look forward to the same pun-filled weekly rules articles you're used to over at the new site.

You can still send us questions on Twitter @CranialTweet, since that won't change, but we've got a new official email for questions: [email][/email].

Q: I just cast Deadly Allure targeting my 2/2 Wolf Token. I then go ahead and declare attackers which include my new alluring deathtouchy Wolf, along with my Pyreheart Wolf. Will my opponent be forced to use at least 2 of his 3 creatures to block my token wolf, thus letting my Pyreheart Wolf through?

A: Your opponent will need to block your Wolf token with at least two of his creatures. When you're declaring blocks, you need to fulfill as many requirements as possible while violating the least amount of restrictions. Your opponent is required to block the Wolf token, and they're restricted to blocking it with two or more creatures, and blocking your Wolf token with two creatures fulfills both the requirement (must be blocked) and doesn't violate any restrictions (because it's being blocked by two creatures).

Q: I play Deadly Allure on my 1/1 Human token and flashback it onto my 1/1 Spirit token. Then I attack with both tokens. My opponent has the same tokens on his side. Does he have to block both, or can he choose to block my Human with his Spirit, so that he doesn't have a flier left to block my Spirit?

A: He'll have to block with matching tokens. Both creatures must be blocked if able, and the only way he can fulfill those requirements is to block the Spirit with his Spirit and your Human with his Human.

Q: If I use Dralnu, Lich Lord's ability on an Increasing Vengeance in my graveyard, can I pay RR to flash it back and still get two copies?

A: You can! Increasing Vengeance doesn't need to be cast with its own flashback ability in order to double-copy your spell, it only needs to be cast from your graveyard. Dralnu will make this a lot easier for you.

Q: I remove the last counter from an Aven Riftwatcher. With the sacrifice trigger on the stack, I end the turn using Sundial of the Infinite. Do I have to sacrifice it again on my next upkeep? What about if it was a Fading creature?

A: There's a subtle difference between vanishing and fading: Vanishing makes the creature be sacrificed when you remove the last counter, and fading does that when you can't remove a counter. Once Aven Riftwatcher has no time counters on it, it's safe from being sacrificed forever, because there'll never be a time when you remove the last time counter from it again unless by some kind of Fate Transfer it gets time counters moved onto it from somewhere else. But if Aven Riftwatcher had fading instead of vanishing, it'd be sacrificed on your next upkeep, because you wouldn't be able to remove a counter from it. is out of beta,
unlike this Black Lotus here!
Q: In a multiplayer game, one of my opponents is on 3 life. Can I stack up a few Armistice activations targeting that player while retaining priority, then Lightning Bolt them to draw the cards without giving anyone life?

A: No matter how many activations you put on the stack, this can't ever happen. The outcome in this case will be that your opponent will leave the game, and then all those Armistice abilities will be countered due to the targeted opponent not being there anymore. Armistice's ability only has one target, and now that its target is illegal, the ability will be countered when it tries to resolve.

Q: My Flayer of the Hatebound dies with a counter on it, but I catch it with Nim Deathmantle. Will it shoot something for 6 upon its return?

A: It will! When Nim Deathmantle returns your Flayer to the battlefield, it's equipped to the Demon, giving it 6 power when Flayer of the Hatebound's ability resolves to check how much damage it should deal.

Q: I use Magnetic Theft to attach an opponent's Lashwrithe to my creature. Does it still pump my creature by the number of my opponent's swamps?

A: It will. "You" in a card's text always means the permanent or spell's controller, and although you're switching whose creature it's on, your opponent still controls Lashwrithe. That also means they can swap it onto their creature, if they have one, during their turn.

Q: I cast Patriarch's Bidding, and name Shapeshifter when it resolves, bringing back my Volrath's Shapeshifter. The top card of my graveyard is a Grave Titan, but will I get Zombie tokens or will Patriarch's Bidding cover it up so Volrath's Shapeshifter won't see it?

A: You'll get your Zombie tokens. Volrath's Shapeshifter will enter the battlefield, and its ability will see that the top card of your graveyard is a creature, so it'll enter the battlefield as a Grave Titan and its ability will trigger. All this happens while Patriarch's Bidding is still on the stack, because it's only sent to your graveyard as the last part of its resolution, which is after all the creatures with the chosen types are returned to the battlefield.

Q: My opponent has a Delver of Secrets and we proceed to his upkeep, where he reveals an instant. Is there a chance for me to Gut Shot his Delver after he reveals and before his Delver transforms?

A: Nope. No one gets priority while an ability is resolving, and that's right in the middle of it. If you want to kill your opponent's Delver, you'll need to do it in response to the trigger, before it starts to resolve. It'll still be on the stack though, and your opponent can still look at the top card of his library and reveal it to you in his upkeep if he wants, but it won't have much effect with the Delver gone.

Q: If my opponent and I both have a Mimic Vat out on the field, and I Doom Blade one of his creatures on his turn, who gets the creature for the Mimic Vat?

A: Whosever turn it isn't, which would be you, gets first dibs. Both Mimic Vats will trigger when a creature dies, and like all triggers, they go on the stack in AP-NAP (Active Player/Non-Active Player) order. His goes on the stack first, followed by yours, and yours will resolve first. When his trigger gets around to resolving, the creature won't be found in the graveyard anymore, because it's tucked away under your Mimic Vat.

Q: What if that creature had undying?

A: It would be the same outcome, except if it's not his turn, he can either put the creature under his Vat or return it to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter. He controls both the undying and his Mimic Vats's trigger, so he can put them on the stack in any order he wants. But if he's the active player, no matter how he orders them, the non-active player's triggers will go on the stack above his and therefore resolve first.

Q: I know Quirion Ranger's ability can only be used once per turn, but if I bounce it with Wirewood Symbiote and replay it, could I use its ability again?

A: Yup! When a card changes zones, it's treated as a new object. The Quirion Ranger that you play after bouncing it to your hand is a whole new Quirion Ranger, with no memory that the ability of that physical card had been used before.

Q: If I were to use Liquimetal Coating to turn one of my creatures into an artifact, sacrifice said creature card, and then destroy an opponent's creature by some other means, would Glissa the Traitor's ability be able to fetch me back my creature card because it is now an artifact?

A: I'm afraid not. When your newly-minted artifact creature is put into your graveyard from the battlefield, it's changing zones and becoming a new object, shedding its metallic skin and forgetting that it used to be an artifact.

Q: But if I kill my opponent's Gideon Jura while he's a creature, he still triggers Glissa's ability... shouldn't he not, if he forgets he used to be anything but a planeswalker?

A: That's because "leaves the battlefield" type abilities work differently than other triggered abilities. They need to "look back in time" to see if they should trigger based on the gamestate that just previously existed. And then, Gideon was a creature (as well as a planeswalker), so Glissa saw one of your opponent's creatures dying and you'll get to return an artifact card from your graveyard to your hand.

Q: At the DKA release event in my town, the local store said that they had been dealing with cheaters in their events. As a way to try and deter this, they said that everyone would open their packs, write down what they opened, and then give their sealed pool to someone else. Obviously, this caused a lot of uproar among the players, and I asked if this method was DCI regulation, since I had always known the rules to be you always keep what you open. Is that legal?

A: It's legal, but definitely not encouraged. At higher level events where lots of prizes are on the line, this is common-place to avoid cheating. But at prereleases, everyone wants to be able to keep what they open, because opening packs for the first time is half the fun of prereleases! It's a shame when people try to cheat at prereleases/releases, but it much more preferable to have players be able to keep whatever they open.

Moko here was drawn for the new site
by a Mystery Artist.
Thanks, Mystery Artist!
Q: Friends of mine were a bit confused what happens when a bunch of 2/2 Zombie tokens and one Diregraf Captain get hit with Rolling Temblor. I know they all die, but half of us thought the Captain dies first, so the remaining Zombie tokens, that are now 2/2, won't get to siphon life, and others thought they all died together. Who's right?

A: They'll miss the life siphoning. When Rolling Temblor resolves, the game checks state-based actions before anyone gets priority. It sees that there's a creature with lethal damage on it: the Diregraf Captain, and the Captain is destroyed. Now state-based actions need to be checked again, and they see you have all those 2/2 Zombie tokens with 2 damage on them. They're all destroyed, but their Captain isn't there anymore to tell them to fling their body parts at your opponent, so he or she will be safe from Zombie shrapnel.

Q: My opponent controls Dread. I have an Eight-and-a-half Tails, whom I give protection from white and turn Dread white. Obviously my foxy fox can't be blocked, but is it also saved from the destroy ability on Dread?

A: Sadly, no. Dread's ability doesn't do any of the things protection would save your Fox from: Damage, enchanting, equipping, fortifying (heaven forbid!), blocking, or targeting. The Fox can't be blocked, but it can be destroyed by Dread's ability.

Q: There's a Grafdigger's Cage out, but I really want to sacrifice a Narcomoeba to a Cabal Therapy in my yard so Bridge from Below can give me some Zombie tokens. Even though I can't cast Cabal Therapy from my graveyard, can I still pay the cost? Flashback says "You may play" so I'll just choose not to, right?

A: It's not that easy to get your Zombies. Flashback's "You may cast" isn't the same as an effect of a spell or ability resolving that says "you may cast this right now!" Flashback simply lets you play a spell from your graveyard, but it still follows all the rules for casting a spell. If you try to cast Cabal Therapy from your graveyard, that's illegal and you'll back up to the game state right before you tried to cast it, so you won't get a Zombie token. You'll also get a Warning for a Game Rule Violation in any major tournament.

Q: In a constructed event, can I put four Lost in the Woods in my sideboard and grab a bunch of Forests when I want to sideboard into it?

A: As long as "a bunch of Forests" is eleven, and you don't have any other cards besides these fifteen in your sideboard. It's only in limited events that you're allowed to grab as many basic lands as you want when sideboarding. In a constructed event, you can only use the cards in your main deck plus your zero or fifteen card sideboard to sideboard between games.

Q: So if I cast Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and it resolves, then I immediately say I'm casting a Spellskite. Can my opponent say that he wanted to kill the Mishra before I cast a spell but I spoke too quickly? Is there a time limit I have to wait before I can cast my sorcery speed cards? Or if my opponents don't say they kill Mishra fast enough are they just out of luck?

A: Magic isn't a game of reflexes; there's a system of priority in place that says who can play what and at what time. As soon as a spell resolves (for instance, Mishra), the active player gets priority to cast spells or activate abilities. You're the active player, so you get to cast a spell right away. If you make it clear you're passing priority by saying you want to move to the next step or phase, then your opponent gets priority and can kill Mishra.

Q: My last round ended in turn five of extra turns, and pairings were put up right away. I hurried to my table, shuffled up, presented, drew my opening hand... and realized I forgot to deboard. If I call a judge, will I get a Game Loss?

A: You shouldn't. Since you called a judge over at your first opportunity - as soon as you realized you still had sideboard cards in your deck - it's greatly encouraged that the head judge downgrade this to just a Warning instead of a Game Loss. The reason for that is that we want players to catch their mistakes and call a judge on themselves when they notice they did something wrong. If you got a Game Loss, there'd be no incentive for you to call a judge.

Q: Can I look at my sideboard during a game?

A: Sure! This change is a year or two old, but many players still don't know about it. As long as you clearly keep your sideboard separate from all the cards involved in the current game, you can look through it at any time.

That's all for me this week. If you couldn't wait to read my article before checking out, now's a good time to do it!


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