Cranial Insertion: Seasons of Wither

Cranial Insertion
Seasons of Wither

By Eli Shiffrin, Tom Fowler, and Diane Colley

There sure are a lot of -1/-1 counters flying around. With Shadowmoor drafts in full swing, and the new set already legal for Constructed play, it’s pretty hard not to end up bumping into someone who has wither these days. Thankfully, we keep the CI home office well stocked with Dragon Blood, so we can counteract those pesky -1/-1 counters and keep churning out the column. And of course we have the 3 mana available to activate it every time.

This week, we’re covering all kinds of questions, Shadowmoor and otherwise. If you have your own questions for us, send them to [email][/email]. There’s a good chance you’ll see them in the column, since we shake the mailbag every week to see what falls out.

Speaking of shaking the mailbag. . . .

Q: I see the saucy interaction between Runed Halo and Assembly-Worker. Can I name Faerie Rogue with Runed Halo and shut down those tokens, too?

A: There is no card named Faerie Rogue. Runed Halo instructs you to name a card, and a token is never a card, regardless what is used to represent it.

The Assembly-Worker trick works because there is a card named Assembly-Worker. Thus, you can name it for Runed Halo and be protected from both the card Assembly-Worker, and the tokens named Assembly-Worker that Urza's Factory churns out.

Blues-hearted lady, sleepy was she
Q: So if I name Assembly-Worker with Runed Halo, does that also protect me from an animated Mishra's Factory?

A: Mishra’s Factory is much craftier than Urza’s. If a factory can be crafty, that is. Maybe when you’re a master artificer, you can do things like make crafty factories. I’d settle for being able to make a crafty house. Anyway, when Mishra’s Factory is animated, its creature type becomes Assembly-Worker, but its name is still Mishra’s Factory. Runed Halo protects you from the chosen name only.

Q: Would Runed Halo protect me from the ability of my opponent’s Oona, Queen of the Fae?

A: Yep. You’re being targeted by the ability, which is a big no-no under protection.

We used to be able to abbreviate what protection does as the very easy to remember DEBT (Damaged, Enchanted, Blocked, Targeted). But then WOTC added things like equipment, fortifications, and cappuccino machines to the mix, and DEBT got turned on its ear. DABT isn’t a word, but it works if you knew DEBT (the A is for “Attached”). Alternatively, you can choose to BE DEFT. If something has protection from a quality, it can’t be Blocked, Enchanted, Damaged, Equipped, Fortified, or Targeted by a source of that quality.

Also, deft is a cool word that doesn’t get nearly enough love.

Q: Does Runed Halo stop my opponent from attacking me with the named creature?

A: No, but it makes attacking you with it a suboptimal choice. Since you have protection from the chosen name, damage that would be dealt to you by sources with that name is prevented. So your opponent can still attack you with the creature you named, but the damage will be prevented.

Love for the devil brought her to me
Q: If I use Mistmeadow Witch to remove an opponent's creature at his end of turn, will it stay out of play during my turn?

A: “At end of turn” triggers once and once only: at the beginning of the end of turn step. From the question, I presume it’s your opponent’s end phase and the “at end of turn” point has already passed. In that case, if you use the Witch to “blink” his creature, it won’t come back into play until the end of your turn, when the “at end of turn” triggers go on the stack again.

Q: If I have Twilight Shepherd in play and I Wrath, do I get the Wrath back in hand? When does a (spell) card go to the graveyard?

A: A spell goes to the graveyard (presuming that’s where it should go) when it resolves. However, Twilight Shepherd only returns cards put into your graveyard from play. Instants and sorceries can never be in play, so the Shepherd will never seem them as part of its wayward flock.

Q: How does Reknit interact with Planeswalkers?

A: Planeswalkers are far too mighty and imperious to hobnob with such a lowly instant.

Oh, you probably meant “interact” in the non-social sense. In that case, it depends on the situation. If your planeswalker is about to be destroyed by something like Vindicate, then Reknit can save it. If, however, your planeswalker is about to die due to a sudden lack of loyalty counters, regeneration won’t matter. A planeswalker with 0 loyalty is put into the graveyard as a state-based effect, just like a creature with 0 toughness. Since neither is considered to be a “destroy” effect, regeneration can’t interfere.

Q: If Skizzik has the kicker paid and a Grizzly Bears is made into Skizzik via Cytoshape or Mirrorweave, will Grizzly Bears (as Skizzik) be sacrificed at the end of turn?

A: It will. Rule 503.2 tells us what is and isn’t copied when you copy a spell or permanent. And optional/additional costs (like kicker) are copied when you copy a spell, but not a permanent. The Skizzik-Bears will see that its kicker cost wasn’t paid, and it will be sacrificed at end of turn.

Q: I have in play Wort, the Raidmother and a random other red or green creature. I play Firespout (using both red and green) and then tap my Wort and other creature to copy it. Does the copy actually do anything or will it have no effect since neither red nor green mana were paid to 'play' it. Or will it copy those values as well?

A: You have managed to produce the weakest Firespout ever. It barely counts as a trickle of smoke, let alone a spout of flame. Rule 503.2 rears its head here again.

503.2. When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s characteristics (name, mana cost, color, card type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, toughness, loyalty) and, for an object on the stack, choices made when playing it (mode, targets, the value of X, whether a kicker cost was paid, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on). The “copiable values” are the values that are printed on the object, as modified by other copy effects, by “as . . . comes into play” and “as . . . is turned face up” abilities that set characteristics, and by abilities that caused the object to be face down. Other effects (including type-changing and text-changing effects), status, and counters are not copied.

The part relevant to this question is bolded. The color of mana you used to pay for a spell isn’t a choice you make when playing it, so the benefits for spending red mana and/or green mana won’t be applied.

Heat of my candle, show me the way
Q: Would you please let me know how Fiery Temper and Smallpox interact? I want to burn one of my opponent’s creatures and make him sack the other.

A: Certainly. Madness is really two things: a replacement effect (RFG it instead of discarding it to your graveyard) and a triggered ability (when you RFG it, you may play it for its madness cost). Even though things like madness may trigger while a spell is resolving, those triggers aren’t put onto the stack until the spell (Smallpox, in this case) has finished resolving. That means a creature will have already been sacrificed. You don’t choose the target for Fiery Temper until the madness trigger resolves and you’re playing the spell, which is long after some creature has been sent packing.

Basically, you can’t burn some random dork to make him sacrifice a good pro-Red creature.

Q: I control Shambling Swarm and my opponent controls a 1/1 with three +1/+1 counters on it. When my Swarm dies, I choose to put the three -1/-1 counters on the 4/4 creature. I know that the counters will cancel each other out, but what happens at end of turn? Will no counters be removed because they don't exist?

A: That’s basically it. Since state-based effects wipe out the +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters in equal amounts, there are no -1/-1 counters to remove at end of turn. The Swarm’s ability will look for its counters, not find them, and simply do nothing.

Q: If I have Door of Destinies in play, does it increase the damage that Murderous Redcap deals with its comes-into-play ability?

A: Yes. Any power-boosting effect from a static ability (like Glorious Anthem) will cause the Redcap to become even more murderous. The ability checks the Redcap’s power when it resolves. If some continuous effect is giving him a power of 3, 4, or 5186416846846844, the game will see that and assign that much damage to your chosen target.

Bonus: Pro tip: I would go to the dome with that last number.

Q: I take control of my opponent's Mirror Entity using Persuasion. Later in that game, I am being attacked by a legion of vanilla tokens. I activate Mirror Entity for 0, then Disenchant my own Persuasion to give my opponent his Mirror Entity and let the ability resolve when it's on his side, making all his creatures 0/0. Does that work?

A: DIABOLICAL~! You get some style points for that one. Unfortunately, style points will be about all you get, since this doesn’t work. You control the “all creatures are 0/0” ability since you activated it. It doesn’t matter who controls Mirror Entity when the ability resolves; the “you” refers to the player who activated said ability, not the current controller of the Entity.

Q: Elemental Resonance is attached to a snow permanent. Can that mana be used in something requiring snow mana?

A: Snow mana is mana that is drawn from a permanent with the snow supertype. Elemental Resonance has a triggered ability that adds mana to your mana pool. Since Elemental Resonance is what’s adding the mana, the snowiness of the mana will be determined by the snowiness of Elemental Resonance. Since it’s not normally a snow permanent, it won’t normally give you snow mana.

Q: Fertile Ground is made a snow permanent and is attached to a non-snow land. Is the additional mana that is generated when the land is tapped considered snow mana?

A: Yes. In this case, Fertile Ground is a snow permanent, and Fertile Ground’s triggered ability is what produces the extra mana. The land itself will obviously produce non-snow mana, but Fertile Ground will give you snow mana, since it’s a snow permanent.

Q: I would like to know if, when I play a tribal instant or sorcery (let's say Nameless Inversion), does it come into play when it resolves and trigger Reaper King's ability to destroy a permanent?

A: You can’t reap what you sow here, since instants and sorceries can never come into play. To trigger Reaper King, you’ll need to play a permanent that has the creature type Scarecrow. This can be an actual scarecrow, or any permanent with changeling, since they count being scarecrows among the many other things they do.

Tears of a thousand, drawn to her sin
Q: I was playing with Cauldron of Souls recently, and I had an Epochrasite die. If I used the Cauldron to give the Epochrasite persist, what would happen?

A: What happens here is up to you. Persist and Epochrasite’s own ability will trigger when it leaves play. Since you control both of them, you can put them onto the stack in the order of your choice. If you resolve Epochrasite’s ability first, it will be removed from the game with three time counters. If you resolve the Cauldron’s ability, you’ll end up with a 3/3 Epochrasite (1/1 with three +1/+1 counters and one -1/-1 counters, or 3/3 after the -1/-1 counter and one +1/+1 counter are removed).

In either case, the other ability will be unable to find the Epochrasite and will do nothing.

Q: How come I was told I couldn’t use my Beta basic lands at my Prerelease?

A: In general, you should only be using the basic lands provided at the event. Most judges will allow a player to use their own basic lands, provided those lands are not foil, not marked, and are relatively new. Beta lands are much older, are likely to be worn (and maybe even warped), and may look different than new cards, especially without sleeves. If you want to bring your own basics, make sure they’re from a recent set, not foil, and suffer no play wear. You should also check with the head judge of the event to make sure it’s OK for you to use your own basics.

Q: Is it true that Everlasting Torment basically kills protection?

A: It kills a part of it, but not all of it. Damage can't be prevented while Everlasting Torment is in play, so a Paladin en-Vec blocking an Ashenmoor Liege would die, since its protection ability will fail to prevent the (wither) damage. The Paladin could still not be targeted by things like Tendrils of Corruption or Puncture Bolt, though, since the other components of protection still work like you'd expect.

Q: Can I play a Frogmite if my only two permanents are a pair of Lotus Petals?

A: Yes. Many players, when they play their spells, will tap their lands (or other mana sources), and then play the spell. This is the wrong [Editor’s Note: It’s not actually wrong, you’re just adding the mana to your pool before you announce the spell, rather than as part of the announcement.] order, though: announcing the spell is the first step of playing it. Since Frogmite has no modes or targets, we can skip ahead to determining the cost. Frogmite normally costs :4mana:, but you have two artifacts in play, so its affinity ability will reduce the cost by :2mana:, leaving it at :2mana:. Now you get the chance to play mana abilities. The only way you're going to get two mana is by sacrificing your two Lotus Petals. So you sacrifice them, get two mana, and play Frogmite.

An illustration of this was commonly seen in Affinity decks. Thoughtcast was announced with at least four artifacts in play, no :symu:-producing mana sources, but a Chromatic Sphere (later, Chromatic Star) on the board. The cost of Thoughtcast would be locked in at :symu:, and then the Sphere/Star would be sacrificed for the necessary :symu:.

Q: I have Juniper Order Ranger and a freshly-suspended Greater Gargadon in play. Can I play Murderous Redcap, sacrifice it many times, and have it deal a lot of damage to my opponent?

A: What's this . . . another Coldsnap card seeing play? We might be up to the double digits soon.

Anyway, yes, this works. Murderous Redcap comes into play as a 3/2 (thanks to the counter from Juniper Order Ranger) and deals 3 damage to your chosen target (your opponent, in this case). Then you sacrifice it to the Gargadon to remove a time counter from it. It will come back into play, thanks to persist, as a 2/1 (the -1/-1 counter from persist and the +1/+1 counter from the Ranger are removed) and deal 2 damage to your opponent. You can keep sacking it to the Gargadon and it will keep coming back, to the tune of 2 damage every time. At the end of all this, Juniper Order Ranger will look like a disciple of the Barry Bonds training regimen.

Bonus: You can even deal "infinite" damage with this combo. Eventually, you'll be sacrificing the Redcap to remove the last time counter from Greater Gargadon. The stack will look like this:

Murderous Redcap's persist ability
Greater Gargadon's "remove a time counter from me" ability

Redcap will return to play and deal 2 more damage. With the Gargadon still suspended, and the time counter removal still on the stack, activate the ability again. And again, when the Redcap comes back into play. Lather, rinse, repeat. The last time counter won't be removed from Big Gargs until you actually let that ability resolve. In the meantime, you can deal 2 damage with Murderous Redcap as many times as you like.

And on that note, that's all we have for this edition of CI.

Next week: Dusk Urchins butt heads with the real best creature in Standard -- Squire!

-Tom Fowler


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