Published on 01/24/2022

Chilling Out

Cranial Translation
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You're as cold as ice
Greetings and welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion. Winter is here, and it's so cold here in Ohio that I think I just saw a White Walker in my back yard. Most days, it's too cold for me to go outside to walk, let alone to jog, so my exercise these days consists of putting on my VR headset and playing Beat Saber. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of fun and good cardio, but I'm getting seriously behind on my list of audiobooks.

Another thing we can do while we're stuck indoors is to answer rules questions, and that's exactly what we'll do. As always, if you have questions for us, please email them to us at or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will get back to you with an answer, and your question might show up in a future article.

Q: If my opponent sacrifices their commander to It That Betrays and puts it into the command zone, can I put it onto the battlefield under my control with It That Betrays's second ability?

A: Nope. That used to work back when the rules included a replacement effect that moved the commander into the command zone instead of moving it into the graveyard. Under current rules, your opponent's commander actually goes to the graveyard, and then a state-based action lets them move it to the command zone. Because of this additional zone change, It That Betrays loses track of the card and its second ability doesn't do anything.

Q: I control Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider and play Waking the Trolls, which starts at chapter II because of Vorinclex. Do I get the effects of chapters I and II, or just II?

A: Good news, you'll get the triggers from both I and II. The trigger condition for the Nth chapter is "When one or more lore counters are put onto this Saga, if the number of lore counters on it was less than N and became at least N," which is a bit of a mouthful, but it's written this way precisely to cover the intermediate chapters when multiple lore counters are put on a Saga at once. The number of lore counters started at less than 1 and ended up being at least 1, so chapter I triggers. At the same time, the number of lore counters started at less than 2 and ended up being at least 2, so chapter II triggers as well.

However, note that both abilities trigger at the same time and are put on the stack at the same time, in an order of your choice, and you have to choose targets at that time. If you were hoping to steal the land with chapter II that you're destroying with chapter I, that won't work. Chapter II can only target a land card that's already in the graveyard when the ability goes on the stack.

Q: Speaking of Sagas, if I use Vampire Hexmage's ability on my opponent's Saga, does that destroy the Saga?

A: Nope. Removing the lore counters from a Saga simply leaves your opponent with a Saga that'll start over at chapter I on their next turn. While it's unusual for a Saga to exist on the battlefield without lore counters, they're not vital to its existence. Maybe you're thinking of planeswalkers. A planeswalker without loyalty counters on it goes away, which is why Vampire Hexmage can be used to get rid of a planeswalker, but this doesn't work on Sagas.

Q: I control a creature with lifelink and give it infect. Do I still gain life when it deals damage?

A: Certainly. It deals damage in the form of -1/-1 counters to creatures and poison counters to players, but it's still dealing damage, so the result of that damage includes you gaining that much life.

Q: My opponent took control of my Blood Artist and it dies. Who gets its death trigger?

A: Your opponent controls the trigger, so they choose the target for the trigger and they gain 1 life when it resolves. Death triggers are the most common kind of trigger that looks back in time to the game state right before the event that triggered it, and they trigger based on that game state. Right before it died, your opponent controlled Blood Artist, so they control the triggered ability.

Q: Does attacking with Ethersworn Canonist trigger Winota, Joiner of Forces's ability?

A: Nope. Winota's ability triggers whenever a non-Human creature you control attacks, and regardless of what the card art looks like and that Ethersworn Canonist is an artifact and a Cleric, non-Human does not mean "has a creature type other than Human." It means "does not have the creature type Human." Ethersworn Canonist has two creature types, one of which is Human, so it's not a non-Human creature.

Q: Can I include Carnival // Carnage in my deck if Obosh, the Preypiercer is my companion?

A: Sure. Obosh's companion ability looks at the mana values of the cards in your library, and the mana value of a split card in your library — indeed anywhere except on the stack — is the mana value of both sides combined. The mana value of Carnival//Carnage is 5, which is odd.

Ice ice baby
Too cold too cold
Q: Is there a difference between Regenerate's "regenerate target creature" and Regeneration's "regenerate enchanted creature?"

A: Only in terms of choosing what gets regenerated. The action of regenerating the chosen creature is the same for both, although calling it an action is a bit much, since regenerating a creature doesn't do anything visible in itself. Regenerating a creature simply sets up a replacement effect that says "the next time that creature would be destroyed this turn, tap it instead, remove all damage marked on it, and remove it from combat." If nothing subsequently tries to destroy the creature, this effect simply goes away at the end of the turn and congratulates itself on a job well done. If something does try to destroy the creature, the replacement effect kicks in and instead of being destroyed, the creature lives and becomes tapped.

Q: My opponent controls Windborn Muse. I cast Riders of Gavony and choose Spirit. Can my Humans attack without having to pay for Windborn Muse?

A: No, you still have to pay for Windborn Muse's effect. Protection cares about four specific things, commonly remembered by the mnemonic DEBT: Damage, Equip/Enchant, Blocking, and Targeting. Imposing a cost to attack is not among those things, so having protection from Spirits does not interfere with Windborn Muse's effect.

Q: My opponent has enchanted me with Trespasser's Curse. If I give myself protection from black with Seht's Tiger, does that get rid of the Curse?

A: Yup. This falls into the "E" slot of the DEBT mnemonic we just covered: When you have protection from black, black enchantments can't be attached to you. Trespasser's Curse is attached to you illegally now, so it falls off and goes to your opponent's graveyard.

Q: Does Engineered Explosives with no charge counters destroy an animated Inkmoth Nexus?

A: Nope. While Inkmoth Nexus has the matching mana value of 0, Engineered Explosives only destroys nonland permanents, and an animated Inkmoth Nexus is both a creature and a land. Since it is a land, it can't be a nonland even if it's also a creature.

Q: There's a Gravecrawler in my graveyard that I want to cast. While I don't control any Zombies, I do control a Mutavault. I activate Mutavault and then cast my Gravecrawler from my graveyard. My opponent says they should have gotten the chance to Path to Exile the animated Mutavault in order to stop me from casting Gravecrawler. Is that right?

A: Not exactly. While it's true that your opponent gets the chance to act on your turn, there is no scenario in which your opponent can use Path to Exile to stop you from casting Gravecrawler. After you activate Mutavault's ability, your opponent gets priority to respond to the ability, but at that point Mutavault is not a creature yet, because the ability hasn't resolved yet, so your opponent doesn't have a target for Path to Exile yet. After Mutavault's ability has resolved, you get priority first because it's your turn, and that's when you cast Gravecrawler. Your opponent can respond to Gravecrawler with Path to Exile on Mutavault, but that does nothing to stop the Gravecrawler you already cast.

Q: Can I make multiple creatures unblockable with Krydle of Baldur's Gate's ability?

A: No. Regardless of how many creatures you declare as attackers, you are declaring one attack, so Krydle's ability just triggers once, and you choose one target for it. When it resolves, you pay either or nothing, and if you pay , the one target you chose can't be blocked this turn.

Q: We're in a multiplayer game, and player 1 targets player 3 with Combustible Gearhulk's enter-the-battlefield ability. In response to the ability, player 2 takes out player 3. What happens to the ability?

A: When the ability goes to resolve, it checks if its target is still legal and finds that its target has left the game, so the target has become illegal. Since that was the ability's only target, the ability doesn't resolve, and nothing happens.

On cold wings, she's coming
You better keep moving
Q: Does Illusionist's Bracers double the effect of Phytohydra?

A: No. While it is tempting to say that dealing damage to Phytohydra "activates" its replacement effect, the rules assign a very specific meaning to the word "activate," and this meaning only applies to activated abilities, which are written in the form "[cost] : [effect]". Phytohydra doesn't have an activated ability. It has a static ability that creates a replacement effect. As such, it has no interaction with Illusionist's Bracers.

Q: I control Bruenor Battlehammer and use its ability to equip something for free. If I Flicker Bruenor, do I get to equip something else for free?

A: Fine, let's talk about Bruenor. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Bruenor's ability only applies to the first equip ability you activate each turn, and Bruenor gets to look at the entire history of the turn, including any equip abilities you activated before it was on the battlefield. The second equip ability you activate this turn can't be the first, so Bruenor won't let you activate it for free.

Q: If Eidolon of Countless Battles is attached to a creature, is it still a Spirit? Millicent, Restless Revenant wants to know.

A: Nope. When Eidolon of Countless Battles is cast for its bestow cost, it stops being a creature and becomes an Aura. Since it's no longer a creature, it can't have a creature type, so it loses the Spirit creature type.

Q: I control Omnath, Locus of Mana and activate Castle Garenbrig's ability to add six green mana. If I float that mana into my next turn, does the mana still have the spending restriction on it?

A: I'm afraid so. Omnath doesn't launder your mana at the end of the turn by removing the unspent mana from your mana pool and re-adding unrestricted mana. The unspent mana simply remains in your mana pool to be used later, and it keeps any restrictions it originally had.

And that's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for more Magic rules questions and answers. Until then, stay warm.

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.


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