Cranial Insertion: The Enemy of My Enemy

The Enemy of My Enemy
or, Enemy Mine, Mine, Mine!

By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

[This article is available in Spanish here.]

Greetings, my loyal minions. Today is the day when we at Cranial Insertion rise up, stroke our long-haired white cats maliciously, and laugh evilly as our enemies are crushed before us! For behold, my master scheme is almost complete, and soon we shall topple Gleemax and replace his gelatinous cerebral goo with the glory of zombified monkeys! Of zombified monkeys in general, but of Moko in particular!

And how, you wonder, can we accomplish this dastardly plot? Why, every time you send in a question to [email][/email], you take a small amount of power away from Gleemax. Every time we answer your question, we give that power to Moko, our undead master! So, every question you asked us over the past five years has secretly fed right into my diabolical scheme! And they said I was mad! But I'll show them all!! HAHAHA!!!

As Gleemax' power wanes, our specially-trained army of fluffy bunnies will launch their assault upon Wizards of the Coast's main offices, as foretold in When Fluffy Bunnies Attack – and you all ignored Gleemax' desperate cry for help! Hah! As they gratuitously copulate on every flat surface and most inclined surfaces in the building, no one will be left to stop Moko from infecting Gleemax' jar. No one can stop us now! NO ONE!

Yes, you have unwittingly been feeding right into my plan to bring down the established order and replace it with the majesty of our new world order, Pan Troglodyte Animatus Rex! Quake with fear, and read on for the questions on the new Archenemy set and casual format that has set the final wheels into motion!!!

Q: So, if the archenemy is defeated, the entire other team wins?

A: Officially, yes. Little do they know that while they succumb to infighting in the peace the follows their mutual enemy's apparent demise, the villain they dispatched may actually have been nothing but a robotic duplicate, leaving their archenemy alive and free to plot his revenge!

But as far as your puny game is concerned, the entire team wins, even any players who have already lost.

Q: Does the opposing team's shared turn work just like 2HG?

A: Kind of, but not exactly. Like 2HG, you share steps, phases, and turns, but you do not share attackers or blockers. Attackers go at a player or planeswalker rather than the team, and anything attacking you can only be held off by your own minions. Your pitiful allies cannot send anyone to help you. Also unlike 2HG, your entire team does not lose when one of you falls victim to the archenemy's dastardly dealings.

Q: Can we pass around creatures or lands or anything?

A: The "deploy creature" option is not a default for this format, but it's an option you pathetic weaklings can toss in if you are foolish enough to presume that it'll help you against my unstoppable might. Just make sure that all the players in the game are okay with it before the game begins.

Note that there is no "deploy land" option, but if all the players agree to make one, knock yourself out. For reference, the "deploy creature" option is "t: Target teammate gains control of this creature," so the same should apply to lands, too, if you do it.

Q: Can we play Archenemy Planechase?

A: You can play Archenemy Planechase Vanguard EDH. Mix and match as suits your fancy. You can even establish new variants with tweaks to the base rules. Do keep in mind that some of these combinations may be extraordinarily unbalanced, granting the archenemy nigh invincible powers or making your ragtag band of heroes absurdly godlike against your foe. Also, you may need to creatively readjust some rules to make sense.

One variant we're trying: Take a planar die and white out one side, then draw a little brain on it. When you roll the brain on the planar die, you set a scheme in motion from a communal deck; otherwise, schemes aren't set in motion, and it's a normal free-for-all game.

Q: Will Stifle stop the archenemy's scheming?

A: Setting a scheme in motion is a turn-based action that doesn't use the stack, so nothing can save you. Nothing! However, most schemes do have an ability that triggers when you set a scheme in motion (denoted by the word "when") and you can Stifle that. But it will only be a temporary setback! Next turn, a new scheme will come up to destroy you all!!

You have fallen into my trap!!!!
Q: The archenemy used a scheme that has me choose self or other, but my teammates are already dead. Can I still choose "other" so nothing happens?

A: Far be it from me to say that you can't heap abuse on the slain corpses of your dear comrades. When you perform such heinous acts, the archenemy has a little victory anyway! The choice of "self" or "other" is the same in the game as choosing "cake" or "death" – you just choose one. The rest of the ability tells you all what to do based on what you chose, and even if that thing to do is impossible, the choice is made independently of the later instruction.

Q: Can I have more than one ongoing scheme at once?

A: Yes, my young upstart! You can have as many schemes as you want! One! Two!! Thirty!!! All the schemes in the world!!!!! Nothing says otherwise! Nothing!!

Q: Do you expect me to talk?

A: No, Mister Bond. I expect you to die.

Q: For Rotted Ones, Lay Siege and The Dead Shall Serve, what happens if the specific player leaves? The creature pretty much has defender?

A: Those cards mention "if able" – since the creature is unable to Face-Heel-Turn on its owner, it's free to attack anyone, or sit back and defend you in your fortress of evil.

Note that while The Dead Shall Serve, when their cowardly owner gives up the fight and loses the game, your resurrected minion must go with that player. I don't see how they could relinquish the power of serving the archenemy, but that's how the game works.

Q: My Crushing Masterstroke takes back a creature that I own that an opponent stole from me earlier. Does it attack me now? Do I get to keep it?

A: Similar to Rotted Ones, creatures you own can't attack you, so they're free to attack any opponent you wish. But when your masterstroke becomes less crushing as the cleanup step ends the effect, the other effect that granted your unworthy opponent control of your majestic creature will still apply and he'll get it back.

Q: We can respond to Choose Your Champion with instants before we have to choose said champion, right?

A: Setting a scheme in motion is too mighty for your puny minds, and it is a turn-based action that doesn't use the stack. However, most schemes do have a triggered ability that does stuff when it's set into motion, and these do use the stack and can be responded to.

Remember that ongoing schemes with static abilities will take effect as soon as they're set in motion, and you can't respond to that. Hah!

Q: Does Painter's Servant make schemes colorful?

A: Painter's Servant paints all cards, not just "traditional" small Magic cards, but also larger plane and scheme cards. This will usually not matter much, but it can when a scheme's trigger targets and your creatures (or you) have sought protection from that color.

Q: How does All in Good Time affect ongoing schemes I already have going?

A: Schemes can't be set in motion on that turn, but that doesn't say anything at all about ongoing schemes. They'll do their thing as normal.

Q: Can Nature Shields Its Own put a Plant blocking my pro-green creature?

A: Yes! This is how mighty your evil power is! A green creature can't be declared as a blocker for a pro-green creature, but an effect can cause this block to happen. Similarly, your mild plant can block fliers and creatures with shadow!! Captain Planet has nothing on your mastery of the unbridled powers of the earth!!!

Q: Can I Mindslaver the opposing team members into attacking each other?

A: No, for even the power of Mindslaver cannot cause a creature to attack a player who isn't an opponent of its controller. You're the absolutely only one that the team's creatures can attack (because you've slaughtered all of the other local villains, I presume, in your mad rise to power).

You do control all three players and not just one, though, so find solace in your supreme mastery of mental domination!

You cannot escape my
legion of the night!!!!!!!
Q: If Nature Demands an Offering, can we put back one artifact creature to satisfy both requirements?

A: Would I really be so merciful? "This process" is "choose a card and put it on top." After you perform the process for a creature, that creature's no longer there to have the process performed upon it for the "an artifact" repetition. And it doesn't even target! If the team's only creature has shroud, it has to go!! Bwahaha!!!

Q: Can I kidnap one of my opponents' girlfriend and hold her hostage to force a concession? What about suspending her over lava?

A: No. That would require leaving the table for long enough to find her, kidnap her, imprison her, and mock her, which would be slow play at any level. Now, if you get your minions to do it, perhaps, but it's so hard to find good minions these days.

Just remember that she may not be entirely helpless. (Link not safe for work / school.)

Q: How does Archenemy EDH work? Does the archenemy start with 80 life? Need 42 general damage?

A: There aren't hard rules for combining the various casual variants. Go ahead and try the 80-42 setup, and adjust as your group needs, or as you need to decimate their forces at least some of the time.

Q: I choose "self" for Feed the Machine but I only have one creature. Do I get away free?

A: No, you don't get away free!! HAHA!!! You'll still do as much as possible, and sacrifice your one measly creature, leaving yourself open for the vast armies of doom!!!

Q: Does Only Blood Ends Your Nightmares mean that I can choose to discard rather than sacrifice a creature?

A: It doesn't say you can choose, so you don't get to choose. If you have a creature, you must sacrifice it. If you don't, or if you can't sacrifice it because that cursed Tajuru Preserver is helping you, then you discard.

Q: Can My Wish Is Your Command let me suspend a card from an opponent's hand?

A: My wish is that you read the card and do only what it says: My Wish only lets you cast the spell, not suspend it, cycle it, or do anything else. You can only suspend cards that are in your hand, anyway.

Q: If the archenemy schemes My Wish Is Your Command, can the spell's owner concede in response so the spell doesn't resolve?

A: He certainly can flee in abject horror to spare the team, but that's not nice, and not very sporting. Since this is a casual format, I encourage you to tar, feather, and otherwise humiliate any perfidious player who does that!

Q: Do you really think you can get away with this?

A: Readers, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago.

This is but a fraction of my glorious Xanatos pile-up. I would love to take more time to explain every detail of the plan, but alas, there are worlds out there that need to feel the stinging blow of my merciless hand. But first, I leave you a parting gift.

You may have noticed the room growing warmer as you read this article. By the time you finish reading the closing, every oxygen molecule in your room will spontaneously detonate. Consider this a token of my gratitude for your years of faithful service.

Until next time, may all of my schemes come to fruition!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona


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