Published on 01/20/2014

Old and Busted

Not the New Hotness

Cranial Translation
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Note: This article is over two years old. Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes. Proceed with caution.

Almost as exciting as...
Ah, spoiler season! That wonderful time of year when the entire Magic world is busily buzzing with discussion of new cards, new keywords, new abilities, and for the rules gurus, new rules questions about all of the above!

...Many of which we can't really answer, because we haven't been given a look at the rules yet. Sigh. So while we wait for the official release of the updated edition of the rules to cover Born of the Gods, we here at Cranial Insertion will have to make do with questions about all those boring old cards you're already familiar with plus whatever tidbits we've been given official word on, which as of the time of this article's writing consists pretty much entirely of stuff you can find in the Born of the Gods mechanics article on the mothership.

As always, if you have boring-old-cards questions of your own you can get answers by emailing us at or tweeting @CranialTweet. Exciting-new-cards questions will have to wait until we're given the Born of the Gods release notes or some other official statement about their interactions.

Q: Will creatures turned face-down by Ixidron be turned face-up when Ixidron leaves the battlefield?

A: Nope. You turn creatures face-down as Ixidron enters the battlefield because it tells you to do so, but it doesn't say anything about turning them back face-up if it leaves, so they'll stay right as they are: face-down.

Q: If my opponent controls two face-down creatures and I briefly gain control of one and look at it, is my opponent allowed to shuffle around the face-down creatures once he gets control back so that I lose track of which is which?

A: No, he is not. Magic is not a shell game—your opponent is required to ensure that all of his face-down creatures can be easily differentiated from one another. Mixing them up so you don't know which is which is not allowed.

Q: I've heard one of my friends talking about a 2 card combo for Legacy, Phyrexian Dreadnought + Vision Charm. Could I use Sapphire Charm on Gray Merchant of Asphodel before it's ability resolves and lose nothing or will it only be reduced by Gray Merchant's devotion?

A: The latter, sadly for you. The Merchant has already entered the battlefield and its ability has already triggered, so removing the Merchant won't stop that trigger from resolving and doing its thing—your opponent will merely have two less devotion than he would if he still had the Merchant.

The Vision Charm / Phyrexian Dreadnought combo doesn't work by stopping the Dreadnought's trigger from resolving—it still resolves. It works because what that trigger is trying to do is force its controller to sacrifice the Dreadnought, and since the Dreadnought has phased out and effectively doesn't exist at the moment, they can't do that, so the trigger doesn't accomplish anything.

Q: Let's say I control an Illusion token (from Meloku the Clouded Mirror), and the token is enchanted with Ocular Halo. My opponent resolves a Pithing Needle naming Illusion. Could I draw by tapping the token or not?

A: No, you can't activate the ability. Your opponent named "Illusion" with Pithing Needle, and that's the name of your token, so you can't activate its ability. The fact that your token isn't the split card from Apocalypse whose other half is Reality is irrelevant—your token has the same name, so it's shut down too.

The fine print reads:
"Draw a card: Lose the game."
Q: In a Competitive Vintage tournament, if you forget you have Yawgmoth's Bargain in play and accidentally draw during the draw step, can you just pay a life afterwards? Would a judge need to be involved? If it is a penalty, would it be drawing extra cards or some procedural error? Would the punishment be a game loss or the forced loss of one life with a warning, or something else?

A: Sadly for you, from the description the very first thing that went wrong here is that you put a card into your hand illegally. That makes this a case of Drawing Extra Cards, which is penalized with a game loss. The fact that you could have activated an ability to let you draw a card legally doesn't matter, because you didn't do that.

In general, if something goes wrong in your match you should always call for a judge. Not calling a judge when you notice something going wrong in your match can itself be a much more serious infraction than any game play error you could make.

Q: Will my destroyed enchantments from Cleansing Meditation count toward the threshold effect on the card?

A: No, they won't. You have to figure out whether you're performing Cleansing Meditation's normal effect or its threshold effect before performing any of it, which means at the time the card checks the size of your graveyard, nothing's been destroyed yet.

Q: Can you name a card not legal in the format with Pithing Needle?

A: No, you cannot, though you can generally name some card that doesn't have any activated abilities (most instants and sorceries will fit the bill) for much the same effect.

This rule exists mostly because players like using short form or nicknames, like "Shackles" for Vedalken Shackles or "Nicol Bolas" for Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. But "Shackles" and "Nicol Bolas" are technically the proper names of entirely different cards, so without this rule, if you tried to Needle Vedalken Shackles in Modern and called them "Shackles" out of habit, your opponent (the jerk) might try to argue that you actually named the card Shackles. We don't really like that.

On that note, never call Vedalken Shackles just plain "Shackles" in a Legacy event. "Shackles" is a legal card in Legacy.

Q: I name creature with World Queller. Can my opponent Act of Aggression my Queller and sacrifice it? Or did his priority already pass?

A: You only name a card type for World Queller as its ability is resolving, and players can't cast spells or activate abilities in the middle of some other spell or ability's resolution unless they're specifically instructed to do so.

Even if your opponent somehow managed to cast his Act after you named "Creature" and before anything else happened (which he can't—it's impossible), it definitely wouldn't be able to resolve before the rest of the ability happened and he needed to sacrifice something.

Q: I control Ancient Tomb, one of each basic land type, Mycosynth Golem, and seven other artifacts. I cast Emblazoned Golem. Can I make it enter the battlefield with +1/+1 counters?

A: Absolutely—any amount of them up to and including thirteen. Emblazoned Golem doesn't actually restrict the value of X, so you can choose any value for X you want—it's just usually very, very hard to actually pay for a value of X larger than five when you're forbidden from spending colorless mana or more than one mana of each color on it.

Thanks to Mycosynth Golem, though, that restriction isn't so restricting anymore. Reducing the amount of mana you need to pay isn't spending mana, so it gets around Emblazoned Golem's mana-spending restrictions.

Q: Can I sideboard before the very first game of a match?

A: In Limited (Draft or Sealed) tournaments that don't use decklists, yes. (This is generally called "continuous construction"—the tournament organizer can choose not to permit it, but if they want to do that they have to tell you before the start of deckbuilding.)

However, in any other event—any Limited tournament run with decklists, or any Constructed tournament—you're required to return your deck to its original configuration for the first game of each match. No pre-sideboarding is permitted in those tournaments.

Q: If I cast Clone choosing a Dread Cacodemon, will my Cloned Dread Cacodemon trigger the Plague Wind ability?

A: As long as you cast it from your hand, yes. Dread Cacodemon's ability only cares whether or not the card it's on was cast from your hand, not whether or not it was a Dread Cacodemon at the time you cast it.

Q: If I attack with Llanowar Elves and use Seeker of Skybreak to untap it, can I tap the Elves for mana and avoid losing it to a blocker?

A: No. Once you've declared your Elves as an attacker, they remain attacking regardless of whether they're tapped or not—untapping them with the Seeker or tapping them for mana won't remove them from combat.

Q: My opponent activates Mosswort Bridge's hideaway effect, and I respond by killing a creature, dropping his power total to below 10. Can he play his card?

A: No. Mosswort Bridge's ability checks the total power of your opponent's creatures when it resolves, and only lets him cast the card if that total is 10 or more. Thanks to you, it's not, so he can't cast it.

It can't be a creature if it's not alive.
Q: Does Mutavault stay a creature for the duration of the turn if it dies as a creature? Can its animation ability be activated from the graveyard?

A: No and no. The effect that turned Mutavault into a creature only applied while it was on the battlefield—as far as the game's concerned this new Mutavault that's in your graveyard is an entirely different card and there's nothing turning it into a creature, so it's not one.

Mutavault's animation ability can't be activated from the graveyard for the same reason you can't use Treasure Trove or Scalding Devil when they're in the graveyard—unless the card says so or only makes sense otherwise, abilities of permanent cards only function while they're on the battlefield.

Q: My oppenent attacks me with a monstrous Polis Crusher, and I block with a creature that had Gift of Immortality on it. If Polis Crusher kills the creature and tramples over to me, can it destroy Gift of Immortality, or will the Gift already be in the graveyard?

A: Gift of Immortality will already be in your graveyard at the time your opponent chooses targets for Polis Crusher's ability, so it won't be a legal target for the ability. Your opponent will have to crush something else.

Q: I have a Pack Rat attacking with 3 Mutavaults alongside, and my opponent cast Golgari Charm, giving all my creatures -1/-1. Does Pack Rat die at end of turn?

A: Pack Rat survives. The -1/-1 effect from Golgari Charm wears off at the exact same time that the animation effects from your Mutavaults end, which leaves you with a normal-sized 1/1 Rat.

In general, all effects that last "until end of turn" wear off at the exact same time during the Cleanup step, and any damage marked on creatures is also removed at that time. There'll never be a time when one such effect has ended, but others haven't.

Q: If I play Awaken The Ancient on a mountain I control, and then it becomes detained, could I still tap it for mana?

A: No. Being detained means your Mountain can't attack or block, and none of its activated abilities can be activated. This includes tapping it for mana, because that's an activated ability.

Q: With Orcish Captain in play, can I activate his ability multiple times targeting himself to flip as many coins as I can pay for, or will he die after the first lost flip and cause the rest of the activations to fizzle?

A: That second one. Each activation resolves one at a time; after you've lost one, your Captain will be dead and gone, so the remaining activations will have no legal target. As such, when those instances of the ability try to resolve they'll see they have no legal target left and get countered by the game rules. None of their effects occur, so you won't flip any more coins.

Q: Is battalion a trigger than needs to be announced?

A: Maybe, maybe not. "Battalion" isn't just one trigger that always does the same thing—it's an entire class of triggers that do all sorts of different things, united only by the fact that they all trigger when you attack with the creature they're on plus two or more other creatures. Not all of those triggers will necessarily need to be announced at the same time.

  • For battalion triggers that have you choose a target for some effect, like Firefist Striker, Bomber Corps, or Firemane Avenger, that's right away as the ability goes onto the stack, because you need to choose a target right away, and what that target is matters.

  • For battalion triggers that make some visible change to the game when they resolve, like Nav Squad Commandos, that's as they resolve, because that visible change matters.

  • For the rest, the battalion triggers that don't require targets and don't make any visible change to the game state, like Boros Elite, Boros Mastiff, Frontline Medic, Legion Loyalist, or Wojek Halberdiers, that's when whatever the ability did actually makes a difference in some way. Say because your Boros Elite needs to deal 3 damage in combat (rather than 1), or because your Mastiff needs to gain you life, or your Frontline Medic-protected creatures need to not die to combat damage, or your opponent tries to block your Legion Loyalist with a token, or your Halberdiers gets blocked by a 3/3 and needs to kill it before dying itself.

In general, if you don't want to miss your triggers you need to acknowledge them when the fact that they've triggered makes a difference to what happens in the game. When exactly that is depends on exactly what the trigger wants to do.

Q: If I Giant Growth a creature and it dies with Death's Presence on the field does the +3 count towards its power, or is it just the card itself?

A: Death's Presence cares about the power of the creature as it last existed on the battlefield, which will include the +3 from Giant Growth. Any time an effect is asking you what a creature's stats are in order to do something based on the answer, it's always asking you for those stats after all relevant modifications have been made.

The only thing that ever cares about the "base" characteristics of something under all those modifications are copy effects, which only copy the card itself and other copy effects. (Okay, okay, plus a few other corner-case things too long and involved to worry about here.)

Q: Mogg Flunkies says it can't block alone. Does that mean that you need to declare something else blocking the same creature it's blocking?

A: No, just that you need to declare something else as a blocker. That other blocker can be blocking the same attacker or a different one entirely, it doesn't matter. You just can't declare the Flunkies as the only creature that's doing any blocking at all.

Q: If two copies of Quiet Disrepair entered the battlefield at once, say by Genesis Wave, could they enchant each other?

A: No; an Aura that's entering the battlefield can't be attached to something that's entering at the same time as itself—you need to choose something that's already on the battlefield for it to enchant.

It is possible to have two copies of Quiet Disrepair sitting on the battlefield enchanting each other, but it's going to take a few shenanigans to get them that way.

That's all for this week; thanks for tearing yourself away from the spoiler lists and rumor sites for long enough to join us here at Cranial Insertion. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our RSS feed to be notified of the next time you need to drag yourself our way, but for now we return you to your regularly scheduled spoiler season, and we'll see you again next week for another edition of Cranial Insertion!

- Callum Milne

About the Author:
Callum Milne is a Level 2 judge from British Columbia, Canada. His home range is Vancouver Island, but he can be found in the wild throughout BC and also at GPs all along the west coast of North America.


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