Published on 07/09/2007

No-Headed Giant

or, Fifty-Foot Chicken

Cranial Translation
[No translations yet]

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

He climbs a staircase of falling souls,
fighting the continuous pull of his
complete and utter lack of fashion sense.
Slivers won a Pro Tour. Slivers. SLIVERS! I am so very, very happy. My nine-year-long love affair with the Sliver Queen has been vindicated. But not Vindicated. Our love is forever. <3

We also less-than-three our readers, who deluged us with questions -- I watched the mailbox get fuller and fuller from my cell phone's browser when I wasn't busy judging, so we won't have to dedicate an entire column to Two-Headed Giant. I'm sure that makes some of you happy and some of you sad. If it makes you sad, send more 2HG questions to . If it makes you happy, send more non-2HG questions to to offset the rush of 2HG questions we're going to get! If you don't care either way, just send any old questions to .

But not spam. Spam makes Moko a sad monkey. And then I have to read him stories to cheer him up. Please don't make me read fairytales to my monkey.

Q: What does Magus of the Abyss do in 2HG?

A: Ballet. Look at that dress!

The key to "at the beginning of" triggers in 2HG is whether the trigger says "each upkeep" or "each player's upkeep." Each turn, there will be one upkeep which is two players' upkeep; the "each upkeep" wording (Verdant Force) results in one trigger, while Magus of the Abyss results in two triggers, each looking at a different player.

Q: My opponent played Evangelize, so I picked a target and then responded by picking that target up with Whitemane Lion. Isn't that possible?

A: That's fine. Remember that targets are always—always!—chosen in step 409.1c of playing a spell or ability. Always. No, even then. Yes, then too. Always. Rule 409.2 further specifies that even though the player playing Evangelize doesn't choose the target, the chosen opponent will do so at the same time that the Evangelize player normally would.

Q: How do the judges stop people from sneaking cards into their limited card pool at a limited Pro Tour?

A: Before the Pro Tour (and Nationals and Worlds, which also use this), some poor schmuck gets to sit there opening packs and packs of cards ... and stamping all the cards. Every single one of them. These stamps vary in color, image, and location from event to event to prevent smuggling in stamped product—the odds of matching those stamps are abysmal.

If you notice some cards in that commons bin at your store with weird stars, kittens, or elder star spawn stamped on them, this is why.

Q: What does Jackal Pup do with a Pariah's Shield on it?

A: As long as your puppy has that shield on its back, it'll take damage instead of you. As long as your puppy is in play, it will bite you when it takes damage, but it will actually take that damage first, and not redirect it to you. So if the Pup eats a Shock, it will be destroyed for having lethal damage, and then deal 2 damage to you, which won't be redirected since the Pup is dead and no longer holds the shield.

If you raise the Jackal Pup's toughness to, say, 5 before Shocking it, it will take 2 damage, then deal 2 damage to itself, then deal 2 damage to itself, and then die and deal 2 damage to you.

If you give the Jackal Pup a Shield of Kaldra in addition to its Pariah's Shield, not only does your mutt violate all sorts of D&D conventions (and not receive an armor class bonus from the Shield of Kaldra), it will take 2 damage, then deal 2 damage to itself, then deal 2 damage to itself, then deal 2 damage to itself, then deal 2 damage to itself, then deal 2 damage to itself, and so on. Why hello there, infinite loop! The game is a draw.

Q: How do you get to play in the National Championship tournaments coming up?

A: The Premier Event Invitation Policy (PEIP) has a whole pile of details on this in section 13. The easy parts:

* If you're in the top N players for your country as of 25 June, where N is determined by your country; check out the list in the PEIP to see what your N is (it's 100 for the US and Japan)

* If you won an invitation at Regionals or a City Champs tournament. I hope you realize that you're invited, though.

* In fact, there are a whole bunch of different ways that involve you being a pro player, and in all of those cases, I trust that you'll know that you're invited.

* What a lot of people don't know about is the grinders! On the eve of most Nationals events, a series of single-elimination Standard tournaments are held in which the winners are invited to wake up early the next day and play in the Nationals.

Two things to note: A few countries have open Nationals, so anyone can just show up and play - no invitation required. And you must have lived in a country since the start of the year or currently be a citizen of said country to play in its Nationals.

And one final note: Regionals, Nationals, and City Champs Finals (but not individual City Champs events) are a group of events. If you've played in any one of those in Country A, you cannot play in any of those for Country B until the next season. So those of you with multiple citizenships, you can't go hopping around the world playing in Nationals. Sorry.

Join us!
Q: How do I become a judge?

A: There's the quick way and the long way. The long way is preferred, since it's infinitely more valuable of an experience for you and will (hopefully/certainly) make you a better judge.

The long way: Go to and take the Rules Advisor exam. (Passing the RA exam isn't officially required, but a great many judge trainers will ask you to do it anyway.) Then use the People tab to find the closest L3, L4, L5, or L2 Area Trainer. You'll work with that person for a few events, and when s/he thinks you're ready, you take a test.

The quick way: At many, but not all, Nationals, Pro Tour, Grand Prix, and Worlds events, there will be something colloquially referred to as "mass certification." In this process, you'll judge two side events during the event weekend and take the written test there. You'll miss out on a lot of one-on-one and you-specific training, but if you have no local judges who can certify you, this is your way to go.

The quick way isn't an easy way, though, and if you're only trying to become a judge for the bragging rights or shiny, shiny foils, you'll be found out rather quickly and won't be certified.

Q: What if I play a hellbent Demonfire targeting an opponent's Mogg Fanatic and he sacrifices it in response? A spell that loses its target should be countered according to rules, but Demonfire's ability says it can't be. Does it remain on stack forever?

A: Demonfire can't be countered by spells or abilities, but the rules will happily counter it upon resolution since the rules of the game (413.2a, specifically) are neither spells nor abilities.

Q: A friend of mine was told that Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir stops Wild Pair from putting creatures into play. Is that right?

A: Not quite. "Put into play" and "play a spell" are very different things, and Wild Pair just puts stuff into play. There is no playing nor spells involved, just a triggered ability.

Q: Can I rearrange my graveyard to put my cards with flashback and stuff on top?

A: Nope. Your graveyard has an order, and that order can't be changed.

As R&D has moved farther and farther away from "graveyard order matters," this rule has been very laxly enforced, but rule 217.4b still says that it's not legal to move cards around, even though the order only normally matters when someone needs to try to figure out what's happened in the game so far.

And don't forget Vintage and Legacy. They have cards where the graveyard order matters a lot.

Q: What sleeves are illegal for use? I heard that the sleeves with "MAGIC" on the back are illegal, even though Wizards promotes them!

A: No specific sleeves or types of sleeves at all are banned by the DCI. Highly reflective sleeves are almost universally banned by head judges around the world, though, so avoid them.

Other than mirrored sleeves, policies will vary, and you should ask before an event starts if the sleeves you have are okay. Common policies prohibit sleeves that have complicated artwork, artwork that touches the edges, or patterned sleeves entirely. Your best bet for sleeves that the HJ will approve of are plain, opaque, one-color sleeves.

Q: Do Goblins stay red under Dralnu's Crusade?

A: Nope, Dralnu insists that they're black and black they are. You can see the "in addition" wording later on in the ability where it refers to creature types, but it doesn't also refer to colors.

Fun fact: No card in Magic adds colors without erasing existing colors. There's no rules reason behind this, it's just never been done.

Q: If I use Shining Shoal to redirect 2 of the 4 damage from my opponent's unblocked Phage the Untouchable back to him, who dies?

A: Since Phage will happily slap around any player, and not just an opponent, she'll trigger twice if her combat damage gets split between multiple players. Then the player who controls the triggers—your opponent here—will get to put them on the stack in any order he likes. He will presumably put your death trigger on the stack on top of his own demise, and once you kick the bucket, the game will end before Phage can kill him, too.

Q: When does an unused regeneration shield wear off?

A: Unused regeneration shields go away during the cleanup, along with all of the other "this turn" or "until end of turn" effects. It's notably tricky to do anything in the cleanup (something has to trigger, or a state-based effect has to be cleaned up, else no one will receive priority there), so there shouldn't be much room to abuse this.

Here we have "See no evil," "Speak no evil,"
"Taste no evil," "Smell no evil,"
and "Whoa, bikini!"
Q: I know that a storm trigger counts the spells played before the spell with storm and not any spells played between that spell and the storm trigger resolving. Does gravestorm work the same way?

A: Nah, gravestorm gets to be nice and simple. Storm doesn't count spells played after it because it's explicitly told not to, but gravestorm doesn't even count the number of permanents tossed in the graveyard until its trigger resolves.

Q: Can I play more mana abilities than I need to when I get to play mana abilities for Mana Leak?

A: Sure, knock yourself out. Rule 411.2 doesn't put any restrictions on how many mana abilities you can play, and just gives you permission to play mana abilities when you're asked to make a payment.

If you want to really, really nitpick and over-read, rule 411.2 says you may play one mana ability, which is quite obviously not correct. So remember that even the most literal passages of the CompRules may require a bit of common sense.

Q: Will Darksteel Garrison protect Dryad Arbor from Wrath of God?

A: Yup. Being indestructible is a great way to get around God's Wrath (so during the Apocalypse, fruitcakes and pickle-jar lids will clearly be spared). The fact that Wrath destroys creatures and the Garrison only makes a land indestructible doesn't mean that Wrath can kill half of a creature if it happens to also be a land with the Garrison on it.

Q: How does Rule of Law handle lots of cards coming out of suspend at the same time?

A: When the final counter of a suspended card is removed, you play that spell. So whichever spell you choose to remove the counter from first will be played. You'll be unable to play the rest, so they'll stay removed from the game for all eternity.

Q: What happens when my Epochrasite gets hit with a Take Possession and then dies? Who gets it back?

A: Cards floating in the blackness of RFG-Land do not have a controller, so all of the suspend triggers, including "play that there card," are controlled by the card's owner. (See CompRules glossary for "Controller.") Since the owner controls the trigger, the owner will play and control the spell, and then control the resulting permanent.

Q: What should I do if I forget to untap my creatures? If it matters, I noticed as I was about to declare attackers.

A: Untapping for the turn is not optional. You have to untap them. Whether you rewind or not and how far you rewind if you do varies by the situation, but your opponent can't say "You forgot to untap, so now you can't attack me."

Q: Do I draw or search first when I sacrifice Flagstones of Trokair to cycle Edge of Autumn?

A: Playing an activated ability follows the exact same steps ("All Crazy Teenagers Have Tried Magic Pills") as playing a spell. The first step of playing an activated ability is to put it on the stack. Later on, you sacrifice the Flagstones and its ability triggers, then is put on the stack shortly afterwards. So this search will resolve first, and you'll shuffle up your library before you draw a card from cycling.

Q: If I forget to pay for my Slaughter Pact once, I get a game loss. If I forget again, will it be upgraded to a match loss?

A: The penalty for forgetting a Pact upkeep payment is actually just a warning for the infraction Game Play Error—Missed Trigger. However, part of fixing this situation is to handle that missed trigger. Since there was a default action (lose the game), you resolve the default immediately.

This sure feels like a game loss, but it isn't; you just lose because the card says so, not a judge. If you forget another Pact later on, an upgrade would be a game loss, and you wouldn't resolve the Pact's trigger for a second game loss—the game is already over.

Q: Can we talk about our draft picks while drafting?

A: Absolutely not. Discussing what you're drafting and discussing how to build your decks during the deck-construction portion of a limited event both fall under Cheating—Outside Assistance, for which the penalty is a big unequivocal DQ. This policy and penalty is the same at all levels, from a Prerelease to Friday Night Magic to a Pro Tour.

Two-Headed Giant drafting, though, allows you to talk with your partner at all points along the way. Go go communication!

And that's all for this week. Join us next week when Tenth Edition goes LIVE (because it's currently dead or something) and Standard prepares for a good shaking.

Don't forget Worldwide Game Day this weekend. As goofy as the name sounds, it'll be a lot of fun with a lot of Tenth and a very shiny Angel.

Until next time, remember: Giant chickens make giant drumsticks. Bon appétit!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.


No comments yet.


Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!