Published on 03/14/2022

Snakes!? Snaaaaaaaaaakes!

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The patron saint of
liars and snakes
Saint Patrick's Day is this week. Like most holidays in the US, it's been turned into a shadow of its original meaning and focuses entirely on selling people stuff they don't need. In this particular instance, the useless stuff is green.

But none of that's important! You know what's important? Rules questions. Delicious, multicolored rules questions. And nobody pinches me if I get a rules question wrong, which is nice. The world needs less pinching anyway.

As a friendly reminder, if you'd like the CI team to answer your question, please send it to us via email at or tweet it to us @CranialTweet. We answer every question we get, and your question could show up in a future article.

Q: Are "Serpents" and "Snakes" technically the same creature type?

A: I'm no herpetologist, but nope. While English might sometimes use the terms interchangeably, Magic creature types are explicitly different. Serpents are Serpents, and Snakes are Snakes.

In general, think of Serpents as "sea monster types" and Snakes as "land-based slithery types." If you're ever unsure, especially with older cards, double-check the creature type on Gatherer.

Q: I control Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma. If I cast Stonecoil Serpent with =5, will Goreclaw reduce the cost?

A: No, it won't. Goreclaw cares about the power of the creature spell you cast. Even though Stonecoil Serpent will probably be a 5/5 when it resolves, it's a 0/0 while it's a spell. Goreclaw won't affect its cost.

Q: Can I still sacrifice Sakura-Tribe Elder if an opponent controls Rest in Peace?

A: You can and you'll still search for a basic land. Sakura-Tribe Elder doesn't care if it actually ends up in the graveyard or not. It just cares that you sacrificed it.

Q: Is Lotus Cobra's ability a mana ability?

A: No, it isn't. For a triggered ability to be a triggered mana ability, it has to meet a few requirements. It can't have a target, it could add mana to a player's mana pool, and it triggers from the activation or resolution of an activated mana ability.

Lotus Cobra's ability only checks the first two boxes there, so this is just a regular triggered ability. It uses the stack and can be responded to.

Q: I control Kaseto, Orochi Archmage and Moss Viper. I activate Kaseto's ability targeting my Moss Viper. If my opponent flashes in Dress Down after the ability resolves, can they block my Moss Viper this turn?

A: They can't. The effect that says the Viper can't be blocked isn't an ability granted to it. Instead, it modifies the rules of the game. The Viper will slither through unblocked just fine.

Does hex come in different
flavors like Gatorade?
Q: I've leveled my Hexdrinker to level 8. If it somehow loses all abilities, is it a 6/6 or what?

A: It'll just be a 2/1. Each "row" of a leveler card, including the power/toughness on it, is an ability. If the card has no abilities, it only has its default power and toughness from the topmost row.

Q: I control Birthing Pod and Wall of Roots with four -0/-1 counters on it. Can I make mana with the Wall and also sacrifice it to activate Pod?

A: You can! In the process of activating the ability, you have a chance to activate mana abilities before paying costs. You can activate Wall of Roots' mana ability to make , then sacrifice it as part of the cost of Pod's ability. Even though it's briefly on the battlefield as a 0/0, state-based actions aren't checked in the middle of activating an ability.

Q: I cast Moritte of the Frost and have it copy River Kelpie. If it dies, does persist trigger? If so, can it copy something new?

A: Yes and yes. Since Moritte was a River Kelpie at its last moment on the battlefield, persist still triggers. The card that you're told to put on the battlefield is Moritte, so as it enters you can choose for it to copy something. You could copy the River Kelpie again or something totally different.

Q: Can I cast adventurer cards with Invoke Calamity?

A: Yes, you can. Invoke Calamity doesn't target anything in your graveyard. It just gives you permission to cast two instant and/or sorcery cards. Since we're determining if we can cast something, we can use the card's alternate characteristics and cast it using those.

Q: I have Diregraf Colossus and three other Zombies in my graveyard. I cast Rise of the Dark Realms. Does Diregraff Colossus enter with any counters?

A: It will enter the battlefield with four +1/+1 counters on it. Its replacement effect has to apply just before the event of it entering the battlefield. At that moment, there are four Zombies in your graveyard, so they all count toward your Colossus' counters.

Q: I control Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice. If I cast Spectra Ward on it, can I search my library for an Ethereal Armor and attach it to Light-Paws?

A: You can. Since Spectra Ward "doesn't remove Auras," it's legal for Auras to enchant Light-Paws. You can throw whatever you want on it! Note that the "can't be targeted" part of protection still applies. You won't be able to cast any Aura spells targeting Light-Paws.

Q: Okay, great! Does the same thing apply if I first enchanted Light-Paws with Benevolent Blessing instead of Spectra Ward?

A: Not quite. Benevolent Blessing doesn't apply to any Auras forever; it only doesn't remove the ones that were there already. You won't be able to attach any new Auras to Light-Paws.

Q: Do token copies of creatures created by Delina, Wild Mage contribute to devotion?

A: Yep! A copy of something copies everything on it, including its mana cost. A copy of Grizzly Bears adds one to your devotion to green just like a real Grizzly Bears does.

Q: My Kashi-Tribe Reaver dealt combat damage to my opponent's Blightsteel Colossus, but of course, my Reaver died. Is the Colossus still tapped?

A: Yes, the Colossus will still not untap during its controller's next untap step. The ability doesn't care if your Reaver sticks around on the battlefield. The trigger resolved, so it'll do what it says. Your Reaver's sacrifice was not in vain.

Wish I may, wish I might
First card I see tonight
Q: If I cast Wish, can I cast Living End?

A: I wish I had a better outcome for you, but you can't cast or suspend Living End.

Wish doesn't give you an alternate casting cost to cast a card, so you're stuck with Living End's regular unpayable cost. You can't suspend it since you can only suspend cards from your hand.

Q: Can I respond and destroy my opponent's newly played Urza's Saga before they can tap it for mana?

A: You sure can. While it's true that Urza's Saga enters the battlefield with its first lore counter, it doesn't immediately have the ability to tap for mana. A triggered ability goes on the stack when the Saga gets a lore counter. Until that triggered ability resolves, the Saga doesn't have the ability granted by that chapter. You can respond to the triggered ability and destroy the Saga before your opponent gets any use out of it.

Q: How do effects like Detention Sphere work with transforming double-faced cards like Thing in the Ice//Awoken Horror?

A: While these are different faces of the same card, they have distinct names. If someone exiles my Thing in the Ice, only my Things in the Ice are exiled. My Awoken Horrors are left alone.

Q: I control Chishiro, the Shattered Blade and cast Smoke Spirits' Aid with =5. Do I make any Spirit tokens?

A: You do! Even though you're making Aura tokens attached to your opponents' creatures, they're still Auras entering the battlefield under your control. Chishiro will trigger for each one of them, so you'll make five 2/2 red Spirit creature tokens.

That's it for me this week, friends! If you celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, please do so responsibly. It can get wild out there sometimes.

- Andrew

About the Author:
Andrew is a Level 2 judge from Dallas, TX who spends too much time on his computer.


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