Published on 01/10/2022

Your Academy is Waiting

Cranial Translation
Deutsch Español Français

Knowledge is our Strength.

Many of the people who frequent Cranial Insertion are official Magic Judges looking to keep their knowledge sharp. So I thought I would take a moment to remind those judges reading this, that this month of January is the last month you have to resign up for Judge Academy if you haven't already. If you don't resign up your Judge Level will likely reset to 0 as of February 1st, 2022.

2020 was the pilot year of Judge Academy and it had an annual fee, the cost determined by your Judge Level. For 2021 Judge Academy waived all fees as the pandemic put everything into disarray. For 2022 the fees are back, but are flat for all judge levels and at a lower cost than 2020.

If maintaining your judge certification is important to you, or you want to become an official magic judge please visit

If you'd like us to answer a question, please send it to us via email at or tweet it to us @CranialTweet. We do our best to answer every question we get, and your question may even show up in a future article!

Q: My opponent controls Stony Silence, can I still tap my Ancient Den for mana?

A: Unfortunately your Den has gone silent and can't be activated to make mana.

Q: I currently have no Experience Counters and control Mizzix of the Izmagnus. If I cast Ponder and then respond to Mizzix's trigger by casting Brainstorm, do I end up with one or two Experience Counters?

A: You end up with 2 Experience Counters! Mizzix's triggered ability only cares you had less Experience Counters then the mana value of the spell cast at the time you cast said spell.

Q: I'm attacking my opponent with a 8/8 beast token. My opponent casts Deflecting Palm choosing my beast token. I then try to counter the Deflecting Palm by casting Rebuff the Wicked. My opponent claims this doesn't work, is she right?

A: Your opponent is not Wicked, so you can't rebuff her Deflecting Palm. Deflecting Palm doesn't target a permanent you control, so you can't even cast Rebuff the Wicked in the current game state (return Rebuff to your hand and untap the land used to cast it).

Q: One of my commanders, Anara, Wolvid Familiar, has been turned face-down by Ixidron. Can I still cast my other commander, Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar, from the command zone even though I no longer have two commanders with the partner ability?

A: Falthis knows where his friend is, even when hiding in a crab shell. Partner is an ability that really only matters when deck building, one partner loosing the ability has no effect on the other.

The judge program has rebuilt from worse.

Q: I control Breath of Dreams and as soon as I can during my opponent's turn, I use Blind Seer to turn my opponent's Flying Men green. Does the opponent have to pay any mana to keep the Flying Men alive this turn?

A: They do not. Flying Men would need to start the turn green to have the trigger it gains for Breath of Dreams to trigger. Turning it green during the upkeep even at the absolute soonest you can, is simply to late.

Q: I control a face-down Ainok Tracker and a face-down Aquamorph Entity. Earlier this turn my opponent used Mirrorweave to make all creatures into copies of my face-down Ainok Tracker. I want to turn the Aquamorph Entity face up, will is cost me or ?

A: Mirror weaving Aqua trackers! So bad new, Rita Repulsa has played a mean trick on you here. You can't morph the Aquamorph Entity at all. Part of morphing a creature face-up using its morph ability, requires flipping the creature face-up to reveal its morph cost, but because Equamorph Entity is currently a copy of a face-down creature, even its front side currently looks like a 2/2 colorless creature with no abilities, so there is no morph cost to reveal.

Q: I attack with a Dreadhorde Arcanist and target the Ancestral Vision in my graveyard with its attack trigger. Do I cast Visions immediately, do I suspend it, or was it not a legal target?

A: You do get to cast the visions immediately. Archanist casts the Visions with out paying its mana cost (just like Suspend does after you remove the last time counter). You don't have the option of suspending it from the graveyard, suspending can only happen from your hand.

Q: On my last turn, I turned my Mirage Mirror into a copy of my opponent's Garth One-eye and then used it to cast a copy of Shivan Dragon. This turn can I use Mirage Mirror to do the exact same thing or do I have to copy a different card from Garth's list of cards?

A: You can making one Shivan Dragon each turn this way if you want. Each time Mirage Mirror stops being Garth, it forgets all previous choices made.

Q: I control Dragon's Rage Channeler and a Liliana of the Veil with three loyalty counters. The only types in my graveyard are land, artifact, and creature. My opponent deals three damage to my Liliana and one damage to my DRC with the enters the battlefield trigger of their Fury. Does my DRC survive this?

A: The state based action for creatures dying from damage and the state based action for planeswalkers being put into the graveyard for having zero loyalty are both checked simultaneously. Liliana will be put into the graveyard at the same time as DRC, so you won't have delirium in time to save DRC.

Q: I control Solemnity and active my Netherborn Altar to put my commander into my hand. Did I just find a way to never have to pay commander tax or lose life to the Altar for doing so?

A: You have just found what I call a non-bo. Which is the opposite of a combo. This doesn't work, because you can't activate Netherborn ALtar while there is a Solemnity on the battlefield. The cost to active the alter includes putting a counter on it, you can't pay the cost so you can't activate the ability. This is the same as trying to pay 5 life to pay a cost, while you have less the 5 life, you can't do it.

Q: I mutated Necropanther on top of my Tree of Perdition. Can I now activate it to take my opponent's life from 29 to 3 and make my panther/tree have toughness 29?

A: So what you did last turn works perfectly.

Q: Continuing on from the last question, if I mutated a Mindleecher on top of the panther//Tree stack can I activate the tree ability again, targeting a different opponent from the last turn (who is currently at 40 life), to make their life total 5 and the leecher/panther/tree have toughness of 40?

A: What you are trying to do this time won't work the way you want it to. When you mutate the mindleecher to the top of the panther//tree stack, you turned your 3/29 into a 5/29, not the 5/5 you thought you made. When the tree ability resolves this turn, your opponents life will go to 29 and your leecher/panther/tree will have toughness 40.

This all comes down to layers. All power and toughness changes due to mutate stacks happens before layer 1. The toughness change from the tree ability happens in layer 7b. The tree ability will always override any mutate changes to toughness, no matter the order they happen in.

Its only a matter of time,
before we are back to full strength.

Q: I currently have a Master of Waves and the four elemental token it created and my current devotion to blue is four. If I cast Momentary Blink targeting the Master, will I end the turn with 4 or 8 elemental tokens?

A: You will have 8 elemental tokens. I'm assuming your afraid the original 4 elemental tokens will die while the Master of Waves is in exile, but that is not the case. Momentary Blink exiles the creature and then returns it immediately, at no time during this process are state based actions checked to see if any creatures are at zero toughness. Now if you used a card like Liberate the original tokens would end up saying "hasta luego".

Q: My opponent uses his Patron of the Vein enter the battlefield trigger to kill my Serra Avatar. Does the Avatar end up in exile or shuffled into my library?

A: This entirely depend whose turn it currently is.

Two different abilities are triggering at the same time, your avatar shuffle trigger and the opponents exile trigger. When multiple triggers are put on the stack at the same time and they have different controllers, you first put all triggers controlled by the player whose turn it currently is (in the order of their choosing). Then you place on top of those all triggers controlled by the next player in turn order (in the order of their choosing). In a multiplayer game, this would continue until each player has places their trigger on the stack. Once all triggers have been added to the stack, resolve the top most trigger first, then the 2nd, and then the 3rd and so on and so forth.

This means if the patron killed the avatar on your opponent's turn, the avatar will get shuffled. If the patron killed the avatar on your turn (maybe because it was Aether Vialed out) then the avatar would get exiled instead.

Q: I control The Prismatic Bridge and Sphinx of the Second Sun. During my 2nd upkeep phase of the turn, I put a Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded onto the battlefield with my Prismatic Bridge trigger. Can I use one of Tibalt's loyalty abilities before my turn ends?

A: Nope. Normally a turn goes:
Beginning Phase
Precombat Main Phase
Combat Phase
Postcombat Main Phase
End Phase

But with Sphinx you get:
Beginning Phase
Precombat Main Phase
Combat Phase
Postcombat Main Phase
2nd Beginning Phase
End Phase

Loyalty abilities of your planeswalkers can normally only be activated during your Main phases, but there will be no main phases after Tibalt entered the battlefield this turn.

Q: My Fraying Sanity is enchanting my opponent. During my opponent's main phase they sacrificed 10,000 treasure tokens to help cast a Stream of Life to gain 10,000 life. Will my Fraying Sanity make them mill at least 10,000 cards at the end of their turn?

A: It will not. The important words here are "where X is the number of [color=6321e9]cards[/c] put into their graveyard", treasure tokens are not cards so Fraying Sanity completely ignores them.

Q: My opponent currently controls my Bear Cub because its enchanted by In Bolas's Clutches. If I cast Gruul Charm choosing the 2nd mode, do I get my cub back? If so, what happens to the Clutches?

A: You do get your Bear Cub back, and its still enchanted with your opponent's clutches, and the Bear Cub is still legendary. If multiple effect try to gain control of the same permanent, the one to resolve most recently wins.

Q: Can I Entomb a Gaea's Blessing to shuffle my library at instant speed?

A: Yes, this totally works. Entomb takes the card from the library and then puts it directly into the graveyard, this is exactly what Gaea's Blessing's trigger is looking for.

Well I've got my Academy membership in hand, ready to hit a new year
of judging better than the last!

Until next time,

- Justin Hovdenes AKA Hovey
Level 2 Magic Judge
Rapid City, SD


No comments yet.


Follow us @CranialTweet!

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

Follow our RSS feed!