Cranial Insertion: Merry Quizmas!

Cranial Insertion
Merry Quizmas!
By Moko the Undead

I hope you like my gift.
I made it myself.
Ook! It's the season for giving gifts, and our readers often say how much they like quiz episodes, so as my gift to you, I proudly present this super-sized quiz! Normally, my quizzes max out at thirteen-or-so questions, but for this special occasion I'm going the whole nine yards, making the whole enchilada, and I'm giving you a whopping twenty questions. To prepare for this issue, I visited Eli, Brian, and Carsten over the holidays and picked their brains for a while. Don't worry, I was pretty careful not to pick their brains too much, so they should be back to normal next week, ready to answer the rules questions you email in to [email][/email] or tweet to @CranialTweet.

As before, this is a multiple-choice quiz. Some questions only have one correct answer, while others may have multiple correct answers or even no correct answers. When you think you know the answer, click the spoiler button below the question and the correct answer will be revealed. Off we go!

Q: Which of these will add to my storm count for Tendrils of Agony?

A: The answers are...
A: Casting Cabal Therapy using Flashback.
B: Copying a spell with Echo Mage.
C: Suspending Lotus Bloom.
D: Unearthing Fatestitcher.
E: Casting Silence off Isochron Scepter.
F: Casting Whispers of the Muse for a second time, having bought it back once this turn.
G: Casting Whispers of the Muse for a third time, having bought it back twice this turn.
H: Would you stop casting Whispers of the Muse, please? How much mana do you even HAVE?
I: Using Liliana of the Veil's first ability, finally discarding Whispers of the Muse.
J: Bribe Thor.

A, E, F, G

All you gotta do is cast a spell. It doesn't matter whether it's the same card used to cast an earlier spell. Each of those Whispers was its own spell. Cabal Therapy is also a spell when you cast it using flashback, but unearth is an activated ability. Suspending is a special action, not casting a spell. Copying a spell is copying, not casting, so that doesn't work. You copy the card with Isostick, though, and then you cast the copy of the card, so that does count. Lastly, planeswalker abilities are abilities, not spells, no matter how flavorfully you're thinking.

Q: Where can I put my graveyard?

A: The answer is...
A: To the left of your library.
B: Behind your library.
C: On the opposite side of the library.
D: Fanned out in the middle of the table.
E: In your lap.

Definitely A, B, and C. D is borderline, but probably okay. E is a long shot.

The rules describe the mechanics of the game in abstract terms without concerning themselves too much with specifics of how permanents and zones are arranged in the real world, so there are no strict requirements to how the zones are laid out. As long as your graveyard is in a single face-up pile somewhere on the playing surface and it's clear to your opponent where your graveyard is, the rules are happy.

Fanning out the cards in the middle of the table is a popular method among pilots of Dredge decks, and while it's pushing the envelope and not technically what most people would call a single pile, most players and judges are perfectly okay with this. The key property of a single pile of cards is that the cards are in a defined order, so as long as the cards are sufficiently separate from other zones and fanned out in a way that makes their order clear, it's all good. (Give yourself .75 if you skipped D)

Q: A player casts Oblivion Ring, which resolves, and he says he's going to target one of his opponent's biggest threats. That's a Good Play, except it turns out that this creature has hexproof! What happens now?

A: The answer is...
A: Oblivion Ring is returned to the player's hand because its target is illegal.
B: The player has to pick a new legal target for Oblivion Ring's ability.
C: The ability of Oblivion Ring fizzles because its target is illegal.
D: Oblivion Ring is countered because its target is illegal.
E: Since the creature "can't be the target of spells or abilities an opponent controls", and it is being targeted by such a thing, it gets destroyed due to a paradox!


If there is a legal target for Oblivion Ring's ability, they'll need to pick one, even if the only legal targets are creatures they control! While it's true that when a player attempts to cast a spell on the stack with an illegal target the spell is returned to its caster's hand (and the appropriate penalty is given out at sanctioned events), Oblivion Ring as a spell does not target. It's an enchantment with a triggered ability that triggers when it enters the battlefield, so casting Oblivion Ring is legal even if there will certainly be no legal targets for its ability. If an illegal target is chosen for the enters-the-battlefield ability, then (along with the appropriate penalty) a legal target will need to be chosen if one is available.

Q: In a multiplayer game, I've Oblivion Ringed one of your creatures, Bribery'd another one of your creatures, and stolen yet another creature of yours with Take Possession. For some reason you take offense to me borrowing all your creatures and kill me with Blightsteel Colossus. When I leave the game, what happens to all of your creatures?

A: The answer is...
A: Oblivion Ring triggers and returns your creature, and you get the creatures back from Bribery and Take Possession.
B: Oblivion Ring never returns your creature, but you get the other two back.
C: Oblivion Ring doesn't return your creature, and neither does Bribery, but you get the one stolen with Take Possession.
D: All your creatures mentioned here are exiled because I controlled them when I left the game.
E: O-Ring floats around on the battlefield somewhere, waiting for someone to blow it up.


When a player in a multiplayer game leaves the game, all objects owned by that player also leave the game, and any effects which give that player control of any objects end. Then if that player still controls any objects they don't own, those objects are exiled. Bribery isn't a control-changing effect, so that creature is exiled. Take Possession leaves the game in the first part, so its effect ends right there and you get your creature back. Oblivion Ring leaves the battlefield and triggers, but since its would-be controller isn't in the game anymore, its leaves-the-battlefield trigger can never go on the stack, and your creature will never return from exile.

Q: I tap Prodigal Sorcerer to deal 1 damage to my Sprouting Phytohydra and then, in response to its trigger, Cytoshape it into a copy of my Clone that’s currently a Frost Titan. What do I get when the Phytohydra trigger resolves?

A: The copy of the answer is...
A: A Sprouting Phytohydra.
B: A Frost Titan.
C: A Clone that can copy something else.
D: Nothing.
E: Smacked by your opponents.

B, Frosty the Titan!

E may also be correct depending on whether any of them knew the answer. Copy effects copy what's printed on the card, with three exceptions; and the only exception that ever actually matters is copying other copy effects. The Phytohydra trigger doesn't check what it looks like until it goes to resolve, and then it looks at the object from which it triggered and makes a copy. That object looks like a Frost Titan now, so a Frost Titan token you get.

Q: I'm playing a game of Two-Headed Giant and I cast Exsanguinate for 4. What happens?

A: The answer is...
A: Your opponent's team loses 4 life and your team gains 4 life.
B: Your opponent's team loses 8 life and your team gains 8 life.
C: Your opponent's team loses 8 life and your team gains 16 life.
D: Your opponent's team loses 4 life and your team gains 8 life.
E: This is a trick question. Two-Headed Giant is a fictitious format that was invented to make judges' brains explode. Nobody actually plays it.


In a game of Two-Headed Giant, there are four players. Each player has one teammate and two opponents. Each of your opponents loses 4 life, which comes out of their shared life total, so their team loses 8 life. You gain that much life, which is added to your team's shared life total, so your team gains 8 life.

Q: In what order do things happen when a spell resolves?

A: The order is...
A: Someone gets priority.
B: Put the spell into its owner's graveyard if it's an instant or sorcery.
C: Put anything that triggered on the stack.
D: Do what it says on the spell or put the card onto the battlefield.
E: Check state-based actions.


There isn't a lot to explain here. Check out 608 in the Comprehensive Rules.

First you perform the spell's abilities or just put it onto the battlefield if it's a permanent spell. Only after that does the card go to the yard if it's an instant or sorcery. Then it's priority time - but before a player gets priority, you check for state-based actions and then put triggers on the stack, in that order, before the player actually gets priority.

Q: I activated Figure of Destiny’s first ability, attacked, and then my opponent animated Treetop Village and cast Mirrorweave on it. What does my Figure look like?

A: The answers are...
A: Red and white.
B: Green.
C: Named "Treetop Village."
D: 2/2.
E: 3/3.
F: Is no longer in combat.
G: Is a Monkey. Stupid "Ape" creature type. MONKEY MONKEY MONKEY.

C and F - whoa this is weird!

First, remember that effects like Treetop Village's aren't copiable. Mirrorweave is going to make all creatures into unanimated lands that look just like a normal Treetop Village.

And then Figure of Destiny's effect still applies... but it can't do very much at all. It is now a land, not a creature. Lands that are not also creatures can't have creature subtypes, can't have power, can't have toughness, and can't be in combat.

Treetop Village is naturally colorless and named "Treetop Village," so those are copied; producing green mana doesn't make it green, and the name is a copiable value, despite a lot of confusion to the contrary.

Since Treetop Village's effect isn't copied, it's not a Monkey. Seriously, Ape? Monkeys are infi better.

Q: I'm playing Two-Headed Giant, and my team is at 20 life. I activate Tree of Redemption's ability. What happens?

A: The answer is...
A: The Tree's toughness is set to 20 and your team's life total is set to 26.
B: The Tree's toughness is set to 10 and your team's life total is set to 26.
C: The Tree's toughness is set to 10 and your team's life total is set to 23.
D: The Tree's toughness is set to 20 and your team's life total is set to 13.
E: The Tree's toughness is set to 10 and your team's life total is set to 13.
F: Tree of Redemption is banned in Two-Headed Giant because nobody could figure out how it's supposed to work.


In Two-Headed Giant, effects that look at or set a player's life total look at or set that player's team's life total instead. This means that the exchange sets the Tree's toughness to 20, and your team's life total is set to 13.

Q: I control Mindlock Orb and cast Distant Memories. Which of the following things happen?

A: The choices are...
A: Since you can't search your library, you're an illegal target for Distant Memories, so Distant Memories is countered on resolution and does nothing.
B: Distant Memories resolves and does nothing.
C: You fail to search your library and exile nothing.
D: You shuffle your library.
E: Your opponent chooses to have you put nothing into your hand or draw three cards.
F: Your opponent is forced to let you draw three cards.
C, then D, then F!

Distant Memories doesn't target anything, let alone you, and even if it did, Mindlock Orb doesn't make you an illegal target. This means that Distant Memories resolves and does as much as it can. You can't search your library, so you don't, and you don't exile a card. Shuffling your library is not contingent on having searched your library, so you still shuffle your library. Your opponent is then asked whether he wants you to put "that card" into your hand. This is an impossible action because "that card" doesn't exist, so your opponent is forced to let you draw three cards.

Q: I activate Druidic Satchel's ability and reveal Dryad Arbor. Which of the following things happen?

A: The choices are...
A: You get a Saproling token.
B: You put Dryad Arbor onto the battlefield.
C: You gain 2 life.
D: Nothing happens.
E: You wake up from your dream because nobody plays Druidic Satchel in a format in which Dryad Arbor is legal.

A and B!

When Druidic Satchel's ability resolves, you follow the instructions in order. Dryad Arbor is a creature card and it is a land card, so you get a Saproling token and you put Dryad Arbor onto the battlefield.

Q: I control a Furnace of Rath and I aim a Lightning Bolt at my opponent who also controls Jace, the Mind Sculptor. What are the possible outcomes?

A: The choices are...
A: Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to your opponent.
B: Lightning Bolt deals 6 damage to your opponent.
C: Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to Jace.
D: Lightning Bolt deals 6 damage to Jace.
E: Jace counters the Lightning Bolt because he is awesome.

B, C, or D!

When Lightning Bolt resolves, two competing replacement effects want to modify what it does. One wants to double the damage to 6, and the other wants to offer you to redirect the damage to Jace. Your opponent is the player that would be affected by Lightning Bolt, so he chooses which of those effects to apply.

If he chooses the Furnace's effect first, the damage is doubled to 6, and then you still get the choice to deal 6 damage to him or to Jace.

If he chooses the redirection effect first, you choose whether to redirect the damage to Jace or keep it aimed at him. If you redirect the damage to Jace, the Furnace's effect is no longer applicable and Jace is dealt 3 damage. If you don't redirect the damage, the Furnace's effect still applies and doubles the damage to 6, which gets dealt to your opponent.

Q: You attack with your commander, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, equipped with a Batterskull. Still in the declare attackers step, you tap Niv to draw a card, and your opponent casts Tainted Strike on him in response. How much commander damage, poison counters, and regular damage does your opponent have at the end of this combat phase? Assuming they had none before and you target that player with Niv's ability.

A: The answer is...
A: 9 poison counters, 9 commander damage, 1 regular damage.
B: 9 poison counters, 9 commander damage, 0 regular damage.
C: 9 poison counters, 0 commander damage, 1 regular damage.
D: 10 poison counters, 9 commander damage, 0 regular damage.
E: (Z–>)90o – (E–N2W)90ot = 1


Infect is damage, just dealt in the form of poison counters instead of loss of life. Since it's damage, it counts as commander damage too. Only combat damage counts towards the commander damage total, so Niv's ability is just plain ol' damage - dealt as poison counters as well.

Q: I'm judging a Grand Prix Trial and one of my players mulligan down to six, but drew seven. I want to make sure I did the right thing - what should I have done or told him to do to fix that?

A: The answer is...
A: Mulligan down to five.
B: Shuffle one card away.
C: Shuffle two cards away.
D: Game Loss.
E: DQ! DQ is always the answer!

C, shuffle two away!

For years, the answer was to force a mulligan. But now, also for years, the answer has been to shuffle away a random card for the card that shouldn't be there, and at a Competitive event like a GPT also shuffle away a random card as a penalty. This is Improper Drawing at Start of Game, not Drawing Extra Cards, so it's not a Game Loss.

The gift that keeps on giving.
Q: Which of these spells can I cast using flashback without paying mana after giving them the ability with Snapcaster Mage?

A: The choices are...
A: Gitaxian Probe.
B: Daze.
C: Chord of Calling.
D: Cabal Therapy.
E: Ornithopter.

A, C, and D!

Snapcaster Mage gives the card a flashback cost that's the same as its mana cost. This is an alternate cost already, and it can't be combined with another alternate cost, so Daze is out. Ornithopter is neither an instant nor a sorcery, so Snapcaster Mage refuses to give it flashback. Gitaxian Probe works because its mana cost includes a Phyrexian mana symbol. This means that its flashback cost includes a Phyrexian mana symbol which can be paid with life. Cabal Therapy works because it already has a mana-less flashback cost, so you can just ignore the flashback cost it gets from Snapcaster Mage. Chord of Calling works if you have enough dudes to convoke away the flashback cost, since the convoke reduction can be applied to the alternate cost just as well as to the actual mana cost.

Q: In response to my Mistbind Clique champion trigger, my opponent casts Word of Seizing on it. What happens now?

A: The answer is...
A: You can't champion anything, but your opponent can. If he doesn't, the Clique gets sacced.
B: You can't champion anything, nor can your opponent. The Clique gets sacced.
C: You can't champion anything, nor can your opponent. The Clique doesn't get sacced.
D: You can champion something. If you don't, nothing happens.
E: You can champion something. If you don't, the Clique gets sacced.

A: Holy bananas there is a second part! The other answer is... (assuming neither player is dumb or Mindslavered, and shame on you people who make us include this parenthetical aside)
A1 Steak Sauce: If something is championed, you tap all your lands.
B1: If something is championed, he taps all his lands.
C1: If something is championed, the player who didn't exile a creature gets his lands tapped.
D1: Nothing can be championed, but you tried, so his stuff gets tapped.
E1: Nothing can be championed, so nothing gets tapped.

D and A1, because steak is delicious!

You control the trigger, even though he took the Clique after it triggered, so you're the only one that can do any championing. The trigger tells you to sacrifice the Clique, but you can't since you don't control it, so nothing happens.

If you do champion something, well, now the when-champion trigger fires, but your opponent controls the Clique, so he controls that trigger. Again assuming that your opponent isn't an idiot, Mindslavered, or in some wacky corner case, he's going to make you tap your lands.

Q: I activate Liliana of the Veil's +1 ability to make myself and my opponent discard a card. In which order do we discard?

A: The answer is...
A: Your discard goes on the stack first, followed by your opponent's discard. The stack is last-in-first-out, so your opponent discards first and then you discard.
B: Actions are performed in active-player-nonactive-player order, so you discard first and then your opponent discards.
C: You secretly choose a card, then your opponent secretly chooses a card. Then, both cards are revealed and discarded simultaneously.
D: Flip a coin. The loser of the coin flip discards first.
E: Actions are performed simultaneously, so you both choose and discard a card at the exact same time. If necessary, get a judge to count down from 5 to help you synchronize your actions.


Separate parts of the same ability don't go on the stack separately, so answer A is right out. Answer B doesn't work because discarding involves a choice from a hidden zone, so neither player should know what the other chose when making their choice. Answer D doesn't work for the same reason and the fact that you never flip a coin except when the spell explicitly tells you to. Answer E is just silly, which only leaves answer C. The discards don't actually have to happen at the exact same moment in time, but the game considers them to be simultaneous for the purposes of any game mechanics that might care about this.

Q: I use Postmortem Lunge to bring back an Arcanis the Omnipotent. In response to the beginning of the end step trigger, I activate Sundial of the Infinite to end my turn. What's true?

A: The answer is...
A: Arcanis sticks around for one more turn, but doesn't have haste that turn. He's exiled at the beginning of the next end step.
B: Arcanis stays on the battlefield, still has haste forever, and is never exiled.
C: Arcanis sticks around, still has haste, and is exiled at the beginning of the next end step.
D: Arcanis is exiled because the turn is ending, even though it's ending earlier than expected.
E: Brains are delicious.

B. E, too, but that's not really the point of the question.

Postmortem Lunge doesn't say, "gains haste until end of turn," because the creature isn't expected to stay on the battlefield past that turn. If you activate the Sundial in response to the beginning of the end step trigger it'll never trigger again, and Postmortem Lunge won't try to exile him again.

Q: Which of these abilities can Voidmage Husher target?

A: The answer is...
A: The equip ability of Skullclamp.
B: The flashback ability of Ancient Grudge.
C: The unearth ability of Anathemancer.
D: The "exile me" ability of that same unearthed Anathemancer.
E: Your ability to answer this question.

A and C.

Equip is an activated ability, and so is unearth. You can tell an activated ability from other types because it's written as "Cost: Effect". Triggered abilities start with when, whenever, or at. Flashback is a static ability that lets you play the card from a different zone than your hand for an alternate cost, and the "exile me" part of unearth is a delayed triggered ability.

Q: Which of these can I include in my Phage the Untouchable Commander deck?

A: The answers are...
A: Unmake.
B: Bump in the Night.
C: Norn's Annex.
D: Surgical Extraction.
E: Vedalken Shackles.

D and E

Color identity is a wonderful thing. You see, while Bump in the Night is a black card, it has a color identity that is separate from that simply for the purpose of Commander legality! Isn't that awesome?

Color identity is determined by starting with the mana cost, adding in color indicators, then adding in any mana symbols that appear in the rules text. Hybrid symbols and their close relative Phyrexian mana symbols count as the color(s) that they are: W/U mana is white and blue, and Phyrexian White Mana is white. Vedalken Shackles, despite only making sense with cards that cannot be in your deck, can actually be played in the deck. For a certain value of played, anyway. Mentioning another color or basic land type doesn't affect color identity, so the Shackle's color identity is still colorless.

And we're done! How did you do? If you got less than 15, don't worry and keep reading Cranial Insertion. If you got 15 or better, you should contact me so I can arrange having you over for dinner!

Now it's time for me to sit back and relax with this delicious brain-banana daiquiri my butler just made for me. Next week's episode will ring in the new year, and it'll be written by... Hmmm, I'm not sure at the moment. I guess we'll have to wait and see which one of them regains consciousness first. Cheers!

- Moko


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