Published on 05/23/2011

Phyrexian Unlife, Mirror Universe, and Everything

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

So long, and thanks for
all the merfolk!
Hey you hoopy froods! Not only is New Phyrexia in full swing, but this week marks the tenth anniversary of Towel Day. For those of you who haven't read the Guide (the Hitchhiker's Guide, not the Comprehensive Rules), Towel Day celebrates the life of Legendary Author - Douglas Adams, who among other things, wrote about the many uses for a towel in the universe. For example, I've found that you can use it as a playmat for your cards, as an impromptu deckbox, or even to mop up some of that strange glistening oil that's all over the place recently.

Magic is a complicated game - maybe not as complex as the Infocom Hitchhiker's Guide game, but if you've got any rules questions you need answered, send them to the usual place at or Tweet them to @CranialTweet. In the meantime, please share and enjoy these rules questions below!

Q: Do Exclusion Ritual and Phyrexian Ingester, as well as old-school Duplicant, "work" with commanders in an EDH game? Or can the general's owner make the imprint ability non-functional by replacing the exile with a putting-into-command-zone?

A: They sort-of work, in the sense that they get the commander off the battlefield, but they don't do much after that. The commander's owner can choose to put it into the command zone, negating any effect that the imprint card might have and making it mostly harmless. If the card's in the command zone, it's not in exile and doesn't count as being "imprinted" on the Ritual/Ingester/Duplicant.

Q: If my opponent has an Amulet of Vigor in play and I cast Urabrask, the Hidden, will my opponent's creatures still come into play untapped due to the Amulet or will Urabrask override that due to it being cast after the Amulet?

A: Timestamps don't matter here, but understanding Amulet of Vigor's effect does! The Amulet doesn't make things enter the battlefield untapped, it triggers when something enters the battlefield tapped. Your opponent's creatures enter the battlefield tapped, thanks to Urabrask's ability, and the Amulet untaps them afterwards.

Q: My opponent has four poison counters from my Phyrexian Swarmlord while I have five from his sneaky Fallen Ferromancer. In response to his Beginning Of Upkeep trigger, he casts Act of Aggression, targeting my Swarmlord, in hopes to get five infecting weenie blockers. Does he?

A: The beginning of upkeep is something that only happens once in a turn (barring effects that give players another upkeep). Anything that triggers at the beginning of a player's upkeep happens then, before anyone gets priority. If he steals your Swarmlord, it won't be until after its ability has already triggered under your control, so you will still get the swarm regardless of where it's lord has wandered off to.

Q: So let's say my board state contains a Mirari and a Sensei's Divining Top. If I cast Beacon of Destruction and copy it with Mirari, will the copy trigger the shuffling effect, allowing me to Top in between shuffles?

A: The copy has all the rules text as the original, including the shuffling part. It'll cease to exist due to state-based actions as soon as it enters your library, but it'll still cause you to shuffle, and you can activate your Top in between the two copies resolving.

Q: Assuming that I am playing in a format that allows this, if I were to have a Blasting Station, Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Cauldron of Souls and Blade Splicer out on the field, would I have an engine for infinite 3/3 Golems?

A: Almost, but not quite. Melira does stop persist from putting a -1/-1 counter on your creature, so the Blade Splicer will re-enter the battlefield, give you a Golem, and untap Blasting Station. But that's where it stops, as Blade Splicer is now a new object and doesn't have persist anymore. You'll need something that naturally has persist if you want to go infinite.

The Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Multiverse!
Q: So I Have a Jace, The Mind Sculptor at 3 loyalty sitting next to my Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and Liquimetal Coating. I give my Jace a Metal bath and then Tezzeret makes him a 5/5. My opponent takes his turn and draws a Bolt. Can this Bolt kill my Jace Robot by redirecting from my face to Jace's loyalty? Does Loyalty going to 0 kill any Tezzeret animated 5/5 Planeswalkers?

A: Not only can he do that, but since Jace is now a creature and a legal target for Lightning Bolt, he can Bolt him directly! Damage done to Jace, the Creature will mark damage on him as well as remove loyalty counters, and a planeswalker with zero loyalty counters will be put into its owner's graveyard as a state-based action even if it's also another permanent type.

Q: I have a Chimeric Mass in my graveyard. If I bring it back with Salvaging Station is there any way I can pay to put some charge counters on it? If not, can I activate it's ability to turn it into a 0/0 creature, then crack my trusty Aether Spellbomb to return it to my hand before it goes to the graveyard?

A: The only way to pay for is to actually cast the spell, which Salvaging Station doesn't do. You also can't do anything before state-based actions kick in and send your 0/0 creature back to the graveyard, but if you have anything that'll let you bounce an artifact to your hand, you can do that and recast your Chimeric Mass for 42 or whatever.

Q: I recently stole my opponent's commander with Gilded Drake, then put Skullclamp on it. Then the commander got destroyed. Can I, as the commander's controller, let Skullclamp trigger, or can the owner put it into the command zone "in time" so Skullclamp doesn't draw me two?

A: The command zone thing is a replacement effect, so the commander never hits the graveyard and goes straight into the command zone. If your commander is equipped with a Skullclamp, you can have it go into your graveyard so you can draw some cards, but then it'll be stuck there until you can bring it out of there. That's a mean thing to do to your opponent's commander... provided they let you. But remember, the commander's owner decides whether or not to implement that replacement effect, not its controller, so more than likely, all Skullclamp does here is give the commander +1/-1.

Q: Can I use the mana from Geosurge to pay the kicker cost of my creature spells?

A: You can! Kicker is an additional cost to cast a creature spell, so it's part of the cost and Geosurge can help you pay it.

Q: Does Torpor Orb prevent living weapons from spawning germ tokens?

A: Living weapons are just artifacts that have an ability that generates a Germ token. This is a triggered ability that triggers from an artifact entering the battlefield, not a creature, so Torpor Orb doesn't stop it.

Q: Will Bloodchief Ascension's first ability trigger if my opponent pays 2 life for a Phyrexian mana, or will I still have to make them lose 2 life?

A: Life paid is life lost! Any turn their life total goes down by at least 2, Bloodchief Ascension will trigger at the end of it and get another counter. It doesn't matter who's responsible for that life loss, whether it's them paying Phyrexian mana, cracking two fetches, or whatever the case may be.

Q: Assume we're in the swiss part of a tournament, with a 50 minute per round time limit. Once the time is over, it gets called and the active player finishes his/her turn and then there's 5 extra turns. There's also a rule of some sort that disallows you to start any new game at that point.
How does that work with Karn Liberated if:
- Time gets called when Karn Liberated's last ability is resolving
- Time gets called and then you activate Karn Liberated.

A: The restarted game is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the old one for game-rule purposes, so most things restart from scratch. But as far as the tournament goes, the game is still the same one. So if you restart the game on turn 2 or extra turns, you start on turn 3 in the "new" game, as this starts a new turn, i.e. the first one in the game. Sort of like Time Warp, only without all those nasty eddies in the space-time continuum.

These may change with the next Tournament Rules update, but that's where it stands for now.

Q: For Myr Superion, can I use a Lotus Cobra with a fetchland? Is it the Cobra adding the mana or is it just added due to the landfall trigger?

A: The mana is produced by the triggered ability of the Cobra, not the land. Since it's produced by a creature, you can use it to summon yourself up an Übermyr.

Q: My friend had his Hex Parasite on the board and I cast an Instill Infection on it. He had mana available and tried to remove the -1/-1 counter, with the Parasite's remove counter ability. I said I don't think that works, since he can't target it until it is on him, and by then state based actions should have binned him. Am I right?

A: You are right. Hex Parasite can clear up nasty Phyrexian infections, but not if the creature's already dead! State-based actions will cause the Hex Parasite to be put into its owner's graveyard before its controller would get priority to siphon the counter off.

Q: Can you fetch Erayo, Soratami Ascendant with Zur the Enchanter's ability since he's half creature and half enchantment?

A: Nope. While a flip card is in any zone other than the battlefield, its characteristics are its unflipped ones. You can fetch him with things that fetch out creatures, but not enchantments.

Q: Can one sacrifice the Elixir of Immortality to Throne of Geth in response to activating the Elixir's ability? The wording makes it seem like you can, but I just wanted to check.

A: You can! Shuffling Elixir into your library is part of its effect, not a cost, so you can sacrifice it to the Throne while Elixir's ability is on the stack.

Don't Panic, we'll be back!
Q: It's my upkeep, and I have an active Emeria, the Sky Ruin out and my opponent has a Sheoldred, the Whispering One. Can I choose to sacrifice my Sunblast Angel and then bring it back with Emeria?

A: Players do get priority in the upkeep step, but only after triggered abilities go onto the stack. It's your turn, so your trigger for Emeria goes on the stack first, and you pick a target for it. Sunblast Angel isn't in the graveyard yet, so you can't target it. Then your opponent's Sheoldred trigger goes on the stack above it.

Even if Sheoldred's trigger went on the stack first, Emeria can't bring back something that's not in the graveyard to target. All the triggered abilities that trigger at the same time go on the stack at the same time, and targets are chosen at that time.

Q: Does Spellskite only change the target of spells to itself that specifically have the word "target" written on them? I think Spellskite works for Auras since the rules of Auras say it targets (please correct me otherwise); however, can a Spellskite "redirect" the triggered ability from a Living Weapon (your own Living Weapon, of course)?

A: Aura spells do have a target because of the enchant keyword, so they can be spellskited (spellskit?) over to Spellskite. The word "target" may not be on the Aura card itself, but they still have a target when they're cast.

Living weapons however don't target anything, they just pop a germ into existence and slide on over to them.

Q: My opponent has a Squadron Hawk on the battlefield and pays to equip a Sword of War and Peace. Can I respond with Vines of Vastwood targeting the Hawk so the equipment doesn't get equipped?

A: Sure! The equip ability targets, and it's an ability your opponent controls. His Squadron Hawk now can't be the target or spells or abilities he (your opponent) controls, so the equip ability is countered when it tries to resolve, and the Sword stays where it is.

Q: If my opponent casts Batterskull can I Gut Shot the germ token before it's attached to the equipment?

A: If you had time to do anything before a living weapon got equipped to the germ it just created, then there would also be time for state-based actions to wipe out a creature with 0 toughness. Once the living weapon's triggered ability resolves, you can't do anything in the middle of its resolution.

Well folks, so long and thanks for all the rules questions! Don't panic, I'll be back soon, and Eli is here next week!

About the Author:
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.


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