Published on 01/27/2014

The Born Ultimatum

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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.

Only you can prevent... whatever this is.
It's almost here! Last week was the penultimate, and this is now the ultimate, week of spoilers, prereleases are just days away, and a brand new Magic expansion is about to be born. Born of the Gods, that is. Just in case you didn't catch it, we took part in some perplexing spoiler-y fun.

But during this final week of spoilers, we'll have to content ourselves with giving ultimate answers to some regular old rules questions; we'll have a Born of the Gods extravaganza issue next week, though, so be sure to check back once you've reached the ultimate end of this article.

And as always, if you've got questions, please send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: If I cast Replenish and I have a Boon Satyr in my graveyard, can I bestow it? Or does bestow only work from my hand?

A: You can't bestow it, but this has nothing to do with the zone the Satyr is coming from. Bestow is an alternative cost you can choose to pay when casting the card; if you do that, it temporarily stops being a creature and starts being an Aura. So could bestow from any zone you can legally cast the Satyr from, but Replenish doesn't cast any of the cards it returns. It simply moves them from one zone (graveyard) to another (battlefield).

Though note that you will get the Satyr back, as its usual 4/2 self — even though it's not an Aura in this case, it is always an enchantment, so Replenish will put it onto the battlefield for you.

Q: I'm playing a mill deck with Lazav, Dimir Mastermind. If I mill my opponent's Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, can Lazav become a copy of it? Or does the fact that it shuffles in prevent that? What about Progenitus?

A: Lazav can copy Emrakul all day long — all he cares about is that the card went to the graveyard, not whether it stayed there afterward. And Emrakul's shuffle ability can't even trigger unless it hits the graveyard. Progenitus, on the other hand, won't work out so well; Progenitus has you shuffle instead of putting it into the graveyard, which means it never actually is in the graveyard. So Lazav will just have to settle for being a flying spaghetti monster instead of a protected-from-everything super-hydra.

Q: So, I've read up on True-Name Nemesis and how protection from a player works. But what about giving protection to a player, like with Seht's Tiger or Runed Halo? Could a Runed Halo naming Tarmogoyf stop Tarmogoyfs from blocking my creatures?

A: While giving protection from a player was a new thing, giving protection to a player has long been well-defined. It works exactly the same way as other forms of protection, and it applies only to you, the player, not to any permanents you control.

So if you have a Runed Halo naming Tarmogoyf, you basically get one useful benefit (prevent all damage to you from Tarmogoyfs), one slightly-marginal benefit (you can't be the target of any abilities of Tarmogoyfs, just in case they somehow gain targeted abilities), and two very silly and rather useless benefits: you can't have Tarmogoyfs attached to you, and you personally can't be blocked by Tarmogoyfs.

But since that all only applies to you, it doesn't prevent damage Tarmogoyfs would deal to your creatures, doesn't stop Tarmogoyfs from blocking your creatures, and so on.

Q: Could I use Savage Summoning to bestow a Celestial Archon on my opponent's turn? If so, what happens to the counter?

A: You most certainly can! When you start to cast a card with bestow, it's a creature card — it doesn't switch from creature to Aura until the second step of casting. So Savage Summoning sees you trying to cast a creature card, and lets you proceed with the "as though it had flash" timing. It'll also be uncounterable.

Then when the Archon resolves and enters the battlefield as an Aura, it — the Archon — will have a +1/+1 counter on it (the "that creature enters.." wording on Savage Summoning really means, rules-wise, "that thing, which I expect will be a creature...").

The +1/+1 counter, since it's on the Archon, doesn't do anything for the creature the Archon is attached to. But if it becomes unattached, the now-creature Archon will still have the counter, meaning it'll be at least a 5/5.

Always smile while you work.
Q: I have Sire of Insanity out, and my opponent has an Underworld Connections. Is he allowed to activate Underworld Connections after Sire makes him discard, and then keep the caard?

A: Yup! Sire's ability triggers at the beginning of the end step. After everybody has discarded for it, all players get the opportunity to cast instants and activate abilities before the end step is done. And nothing in Sire's ability makes it re-trigger if someone manages to draw a card after the discarding has happened, so your opponent will get to hang on to that card (for now — of course, at the next end step Sire will trigger again).

Q: If I'm being attacked, and I control an Ink-Treader Nephilim, can I cast Mirror Strike on it, so it'll copy to all the attacking creatures and make my opponent take the damage from them?

A: Depending on how much damage is coming in from the attack, this may have you treading water instead of ink. In order to be "unblocked", a creature has to be attacking. And if it's your opponent's turn, your Ink-Treader Nephilim isn't going to do any attacking, meaning it's not a legal target for Mirror Strike and this trick won't work.

Q: If I control Angel of Jubilation and my opponent casts Killing Wave with X=0, do all the creatures die?

A: The only creatures that will die are those whose controllers feel jubilant about sacrificing them. Killing Wave doesn't involve sacrificing or paying life as a cost to cast it, and when it asks you to pay or sacrifice that's not an activated ability. So Angel of Jubilation doesn't see anything to interfere with; for each creature, it'll be possible to choose between paying 0 life or sacrificing it, and either choice is legal.

Q: What about using Thoughtseize while Angel of Jubilation is out?

A: That also works just fine. Losing life is part of Thoughtseize's effect, not a cost to cast it (when a spell has additional costs, it will just say "As an additional cost to cast..."). So again Angel of Jubilation won't stop this.

Q: I attack with Guiltfeeder and then, to make sure it doesn't die, I use Reconnaissance to remove it from combat before my opponent blocks. Will Guiltfeeder's ability trigger since that meant it wasn't blocked?

A: You're going to feel guilty for not waiting a bit longer here. "Attacks and isn't blocked" requires the game to get at least to the declare blockers step so that it can see whether any blockers got declared. Since you yanked the Guiltfeeder out of combat before then, it never got to that point and its ability won't trigger.

Q: If Enchanted Evening and Opalescence are both on the battlefield, what happens to lands? If they die, is there a chance to tap them for mana first?

A: All the lands will die a horrible death, since lands have a converted mana cost of 0, making them all into 0/0 creatures. And this is a state-based action that doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to, so you'd better have a non-land source of mana hanging around, because you'll never have a land hang around long enough to tap for mana. Plus, any lands you play will — because they're creatures — suffer from summoning sickness during their brief existence on the battlefield, so even if you kept them alive somehow you wouldn't be able to tap them for mana right away.

Q: I have a Mephidross Vampire, and attack with Phyrexian Crusader. Will the Crusader get a +1/+1 counter, or does the fact that infect doesn't deal damage get in the way?

A: The Phyrexian crusade will get a bit closer to compleation! Infect doesn't prevent or replace damage, it just changes what the result of the damage is (poison counters instead of life loss for players, -1/-1 counters instead of marked damage for creatures). So the Crusader most certainly does deal damage, which will trigger the ability the Vampire gave it and give the Crusader a +1/+1 counter.

Q: If a zero-cost spell like Memnite were to gain cascade (say, thanks to Maelstrom Nexus), what would happen? There's no way to have a card with a converted mana cost less than 0, so do I just endlessly go through my library and draw the game?

A: You'll go through your library, revealing and exiling cards, until you run out of cards. Then you'll stop, put all the revealed cards on the bottom of your (temporarily empty) library in a random order, and then you'll be done.

Q: If Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker gets double strike somehow (say, by having a Fireshrieker equipped), would his ability trigger twice?

A: Double strike means there are two combat damage steps in the combat phase, and the creature with double strike gets to deal damage in both of them. So if Mirko isn't blocked (or if he gets trample, and manages to have some damage left over after killing his blockers in the first combat damage step), he'll deal damage to your opponen twice. Each time, his ability will trigger and they'll have to mill some cards.

Q: I've read that you can't re-activate a monstrosity ability after you've used it once. Does this mean that if, say, I pay to make my Fleecemane Lion monstrous and my opponent responds with a Doom Blade, I won't be able to respond to that with another monstrosity activation?

A: This is perfectly legal — the Lion doesn't become monstrous until its monstrosity ability resolves (and the original activation hasn't resolved yet in this case), and it doesn't forbid activating again, it just says that it won't do anything if the creature is already monstrous. So the second activation will make the Lion monstrous, which causes the Doom Blade to be countered (illegal target, now that the Lion has hexproof). Then the original activation resolves and does nothing.

Don't get blown away
Q: I have a Kingpin's Pet in my graveyard and I cast Necrotic Ooze. Since extort has a cost and an effect, that means the Ooze will get extort, right?

A: Not quite. It's true that activated abilities are worded "Cost: Effect". But if you look at extort, you'll see it's worded "Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay...", which is not "Cost: Effect". So extort isn't an activated ability (it's a triggered ability) and Necrotic Ooze won't gain it.

Q: I unearth an Anathemancer, then sacrifice it to cast Rescue from the Underworld. Will the Anathemancer get returned at my next upkeep?

A: It will! Normally, when a card changes zones, all spells and abilities lose track of it. But there are some exceptions, and one of those is that if the zone change happens while you're casting a spell (say, because you sacrificed something to pay an additional cost of the spell), that spell can still find the card afterward, so long as it went to a public zone and stayed in that zone.

Which is what happens here: the Anathemancer goes straight into exile — which is a public zone — as a result of its own unearth ability. And nothing else moves it out of exile, so Rescue from the Underworld is able to find it and rescue it from a bit further away than usual.

Q: If I'm at -7 life and staying alive with Phyrexian Unlife, would my Death's Shadow be 20/20?

A: Yup! Negative numbers are sometimes allowed into calculations in Magic, and modifying a creature's power and toughness is one of the cases where they're allowed. So Death's Shadow is getting -(-7)/-(-7), which works out to +7/+7, making it 20/20.

Q: My opponent has a creature with Ordeal of Erebos and two +1/+1 counters. When he attacks with just that creature, is there any way I can cast Celestial Flare to avoid having to discard?

A: You can save yourself from having a bit of an ordeal, so long as you get the timing right. The Ordeal's ability triggers when the creature is declared as an attacker; you need to cast Celestial Flare in response to the trigger. That will make him sacrifice the creature before the trigger resolves, meaning it never gets to three counters (the Ordeal doesn't get sacrificed when the creature goes away; it's just put into the graveyard because it's now an unattached Aura).

Just remember that you have to do it in response to the "Whenever enchanted creature attacks" trigger, since you if wait until after that resolves, the entire ability (putting on the third counter, and sacrificing the Ordeal) will happen before you get another chance to act.

Q: If my opponent has Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, can I exile it with Banisher Priest?

A: Banisher Priest's triggered ability exiles the target until Banisher Priest leaves the battlefield. But normally, Banisher Priest will die as a state-based action (due to being 0/0 when staring down an Elesh Norn) before its triggered ability has a chance to resolve. And since Banisher Priest left the battlefield before the target got exiled, the rules say that it just doesn't exile the target at all.

Q: Why does the Gatherer page for Spine of Ish Sah say that I'm not allowed to sacrifice it? Nothing in the ability seems to forbid that.

A: Well, it doesn't actually say that. The reason for the comment is that sometimes, newer players see a card like Spine of Ish Sah, read the second ability, and think it means they can just sacrifice it whenever they want to, in order to get it back to their hand. The comment on the Gatherer page reminds you that the Spine's second ability doesn't enable you to sacrifice it (that's what it actually says — reading carefully is key); you'd need something else (like, say, an Atog) in order to do that.

I am temporarily — but luckily not ultimately — out of questions for now, so that's it for this week's issue. But be sure to check back in a week when Carsten plumbs the depths of the underworld to bring you all sorts of turn-your-brain-to-stone rules information, in Cranial Insertion's Born of the Gods special!

- James Bennett

About the Author:
James Bennett is a Level 3 judge based out of Lawrence, Kansas. He pops up at events around Kansas City and all over the midwest, and has a car he can talk to.

Hi there!

regarding the \"cascading Memnite\". Wouldn\'t it be possible to cast cards like Ancestral Vision or Restoration Balance?

kk, got it :D

Last edited on 2014-01-27 18:37:47 by empio
#1 • Date: 2014-01-27 • Time: 11:29:20 •
Cascade is based on converted mana cost (CMC), and cards with empty mana costs have a CMC of 0. That means it's equal to the CMC of Memnite, not less, and the Cascade will pass it by.
#2 • Date: 2014-01-27 • Time: 13:10:31 •

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