Published on 11/16/2009

Crouching LOLCAT, Hidden Message

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

What's it called when you
hide a secret dinosaur?
Like Eli, I find myself wondering where the time has gone. My family just conducted our annual Secret Santa drawing, which is good because I get to make use of my masterful knowledge of deceit and misdirection in keeping my Santa identity a secret (I have a high Bluff skill,) and bad because I have to figure out what to get somebody (low Insight skill.)

Some of our more steganographically-inclined readers have fulfilled Eli's secret instructions, thus bringing his dreams of a feline army that does his bidding one step closer to completion. He'll be contacting each of you shortly to arrange the awarding of your prizes. If you missed it the first time around, you can re-read last week's article and discover Eli's hidden message, but alas, the opportunity to earn a prize is over.

Eli's Sanskrit Massage

And for those of you who are wondering what dinosaurs have to do with anything, I've got nothing. Nothing, that is, except the answers to many of your other questions! Remember, if you have a question, you can send it to , and we'll answer it at no charge. It's what we do!

Q: Can I tap Merrow Commerce with Drowner of Secrets? If so, does its ability untap itself?

A: Sure! When those cards say "Merfolk" without further qualification, they mean a permanent with the Merfolk subtype. Merrow Commerce fits the bill, so both of those abilities work with it just fine.

Q: My opponent controls some face-down morph creatures. Will my Cursed Totem stop him from unmorphing them?

A: Face-down creatures are pretty odd sometimes, and they have some weird things going on so they work right within the rules. One of those things is that turning a creature face-up is a special action, not an activated ability, so your Cursed Totem won't stop it.

Q: I control an Unstable Frontier and my opponent has a Quicksilver Fountain. At the beginning of my upkeep, I target my Unstable Frontier with the Fountain's trigger. Then I tap the Frontier to make itself into an Island until end of turn. Will the trigger be countered?

A: The Fountain's trigger targets a "non-Island land". That's a targeting restriction, so if the Frontier is an Island when the trigger goes to resolve, it's an illegal target, and the trigger will indeed be countered.

Q: If my opponent follows up a Painter's Servant with Iona, Shield of Emeria and names the same color, can I still play lands?

A: Yes! Iona + Painter's Servant blocks you from casting any spells, but playing a land isn't casting a spell. Hope you're playing something like Mouth of Ronom so you can break the lock!

I draw cards now.
Q: When can I sacrifice an active Quest for Pure Flame to pump up a Browbeat? Can I wait until an opponent chooses to take the damage?

A: If you want your demand for cards to be even more intimidating, your last chance to use the Quest is in response to your own Browbeat. After Browbeat starts to resolve, the choices and the damage (if any) happen one right after another, and you don't get priority to activate abilities in between.

Q: My opponent has a Platinum Angel that I haven't been able to get rid of yet, so I asked my buddy Sorin Markov to take control of his next turn for me, in hopes of finding some way to kill the Angel. Well, he drew into Ad Nauseam. Can I cast that and keep revealing cards until I find one I can use against the Angel, even after he hits a negative life total?

A: Yes. Just like the guy on the card, you're not required to have any life to continue. You can't pay life that you don't have, but there's no payment involved here, just a reveal and losing life. You can still lose life even when your life total is already negative.

Q: I tap out to cast Frantic Search and discard a Muck Drubb. Can I use the lands I untap to cast the Muck Drubb, or is it too late by the time they untap?

A: You can do exactly that, as long as you decide to invoke the Madness ability when you discard the Muck Drubb. You'll exile the card as you discard it, and that will trigger an ability that lets you play the card from exile. The trigger won't go on the stack until Frantic Search has finished resolving, by which time you'll have three untapped lands ready to use. You get an effectively free creature, with only a bit of juggling.

Q: My opponent plays a kicked Gatekeeper of Malakir, targeting me. Can I counter that spell with Hindering Light?

A: That doesn't work, I'm afraid, because the creature spell doesn't target you. After the spell resolves and the creature enters the battlefield, its ability triggers, and it's the ability that targets you, not the spell. Hindering Light won't help you at all.

Q: What's the rule with putting a flip card directly onto the battlefield? Could I use Dramatic Entrance to get Dokai, Weaver of Life?

A: By default, permanents enter the battlefield unflipped, much the same way that they start out untapped unless something instructs that they enter the battlefield tapped. So while you can put that green creature card onto the battlefield, it'll just be an ordinary Budoka Gardener.

Q: The battlefield is empty when I cast Pyrrhic Revival with an Ondu Cleric and a Hagra Diabolist in my graveyard. Does my opponent lose 4 life and I gain 4, or do I not gain the life because the Cleric dies right away?

A: You'll drain life and gain life, but it'll only be 2 in both cases. The Allies see each other entering the battlefield, so four triggers fire. Then the Cleric succumbs to resurrection shock and is put into the graveyard as a state-based action. Now when the triggers resolve, they count the number of Allies on the field, and the Diabolist is the only one left.

Q: My opponent controls a couple of nonbasic lands that are each enchanted with Convincing Mirage. Will my Anathemancer damage him at all?

A: It sure does! Changing a land into one of the basic land types doesn't make it into a Basic Land. That's because Basic is a supertype, which is independent of land type. Your opponent's lands don't have the Basic supertype and the Mirage doesn't grant it, so the lands remain nonbasic.

Q: It's multiplayer madness at my kitchen table! I cast a Burning Inquiry while I control Geth's Grimoire, so I'm going to draw a whole lot of cards, but I'm not sure of the exact timing. Does everybody discard a card, then I draw a bunch, and so on; or does one person discard three, then I draw a bunch, and then on to the next person; or does everybody discard three and then I draw a bunch at the very end?

A: You won't draw any cards until everybody's done discarding. All that discarding (which is done simultaneously) takes place while Burning Inquiry is resolving. Your Grimoire will trigger many, many times, but those triggers don't go on the stack until somebody would get priority, which is right after the Inquiry is finished.

Q: I thought I had a pretty good thing going with a Leyline of the Void and a few copies of Bridge from Below in my graveyard. But then one of my opponent's Saproling tokens died in combat, and the judge ruled that my Bridges would go away. Why is that?

A: The Leyline sends cards into exile instead of your opponent's graveyard, but because tokens aren't cards, that replacement effect doesn't apply to them. They'll still go to the graveyard when they die, as usual. Your Bridge will see that happen and send itself into exile... forever.

*bursts through brick wall*
Q: If my opponent activates his Treetop Village, can he then put a counter on it with Oran-Rief, the Vastwood?

A: Only if he played it this turn. It's now a green creature, to be sure, but metamorphing (morphing? metamorphosing?) into a creature isn't the same thing as entering the battlefield. That only happens when it, you know, enters the battlefield, preferably while shouting some catchy phrase that draws attention to its arrival.

Q: But wait, is that even sufficient? When it entered the battlefield it wasn't a green creature.

A: Well, the Vastwood is essentially asking three things to determine whether something gets a counter: Is it green? Is it a creature? Did it enter the battlefield this turn? If the answer to all three is "yes," then it gets a counter. An animated Treetop Village can meet all three criteria if it arrived this turn, regardless of what it looked like when it arrived.

Q: I attacked with a Dune-Brood Nephilim and my opponent sent 2 of the damage right back at me with Harm's Way. Do I now get twice the number of Sand creature tokens?

A: Your opponent probably didn't think this one through, because he just doubled your yield of Sand. The damage redirected from your Nephilim to you is still combat damage, and because there are two players receiving its combat damage, the Nephilim's ability will trigger twice. As my daughter likes to say, that's LOTS and LOTS of SAND!

Q: Now, I understand that having illegal targets means an ability gets countered. But what if only one of them is illegal? For instance, can I cast Boom targeting my Wasteland, then respond by wasting another of my opponent's lands, and still kill one with Boom?

A: Of course! A spell is countered on resolution if all of its targets are illegal. Boom still has one legal target, which just so happens to be the land your opponent controls, imagine that! With at least one legal target, the spell will resolve and do as much as it can. And hey, wouldn't you know it, it can destroy your opponent's land! How remarkable that your opponent should come out on the short end of that deal.

Q: My opponent and I are both playing really slow control decks, and we've both got a lot of cards that are just plain useless in the mirror matchup. Probably one or the other of us will win in the end, but can we just call this game a draw and go to sideboarding? We can intentionally draw a game, right?

A: Exactly right. If both players agree to draw a game, then the game is a draw, and you move on to the next. Make sure you don't forget to record the draw on your match result slip!

Q: So, I have a Crypt of Agadeem. During my upkeep, my opponent uses a Twiddle to tap it. Can I respond by tapping the Crypt for one mana, then letting the Twiddle resolve, untapping my Crypt?

A: Sure, you can respond to the Twiddle, but it's probably not going to get untapped. Twiddle and cards with similar "tap or untap" effects have errata to make the effect optional since it was ruled for years that it pretty much was anyway, and your opponent isn't likely to untap your land for you. The errata was added for exactly this reason: if the card didn't say "may", then technically your opponent would have no choice but to untap the target!

Q: All the time I play with a guy who casts Earthquake and he often has his planeswalkers take the damage instead of him. Can he do that?

A: Guys, listen up, because this question keeps confusing people: You can't choose to redirect damage to your own planeswalker. The only time the planeswalker redirection rule comes up is when it's a source of damage you control and a planeswalker that an opponent controls.

Ever think about what would happen if you told Ajani or Chandra, "I need you to go stand out in the middle of the battlefield and take the hit from my own spell while I stay here in this hidey-hole." Do you think they're going to do that? No, Ajani's going to tear your face off, while Chandra sets you on fire. And I don't even want to think about what Sorin would do to you. Planeswalkers might be willing fight alongside you, but they're not going to put up with abuse.

So that's all we have time for this week. If you've been looking for messages hidden in this week's questions and answers, you can stop looking now. I assure you that no message is hidden in this week's article. Join us again next time when Paskoff will hide himself in plain sight!


No comments yet.


Follow us @CranialTweet!

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

Follow our RSS feed!