Published on 06/06/2022

Beholdering Baldur's Gate

Cranial Translation
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What a ghastly thing to behold.

Do you know what time it is? Its release notes time!

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate's release notes have become available, and I've scrounged through them and and found the twenty most interesting questions I could find inside and collected them for a nice article for you right here.

We are always looking for new material, so if you have a short question, you can send it to our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and you can send us longer questions to our e-mail at . If you do so, we may use your question in an upcoming article.

Q: How does "Choose a Background" and Enchantment Backgrounds work?

A: Choose a Background is very similar to Partner. If your deck's first commander has "choose a Background" you may have a second commander as one of the enchantment Background cards. The enchantment starts in the command zone; eats up the 99th slot in your main deck; counts toward the color identities your deck can have; if turned into a creature deals its own commander damage; can be returned to your command zone if it dies, gets exiled, or shuffled into library; and has its own commander tax count separate from your main commander. The enchantment Backgrounds can be in your main deck as well, but like other legendary creatures don't count as your commander if they were not chosen as your commander during deck building. No card currently allows you to have two partners and an enchantment Background all as your commanders of one deck.

Q: Whats with "venture into Undercity" and "initiative"?

New Dungeon!

A: You may be familiar with the three previous Dungeons from the Forgotten Realms set. This is a fourth dungeon, but has its own special rules. Whenever you would "venture into the dungeon" before now, you either started one of the three previous dungeons or you moved into a new room in the current dungeon. "Venturing into Undercity" is treated identically to "venture into the Dungeon" if you are currently in a dungeon.

With this new dungeon, Undercity, you can only start it if you currently aren't in a dungeon and you "venture into Undercity". If you aren't currently in a dungeon and you "venture into Undercity" you must start the Undercity dungeon, you can't choose any of the other dungeons.

The initiative is very similar to being the "Monarch". Once someone has taken the initiative in a game, one player will have the initiative until the game ends, though it will likely pass around multiple time before the game ends. To take the initiative you either have to play a spell or ability that instructs you to do so, or you need to deal combat damage to the player who currently has the initiative. This means multiple players will likely go into the Undercity separate from each other, having their own tracker and Undercity dungeon.

Each time you take the initiative or start your upkeep with the initiative, you will "venture into Undercity".

Q: During a commander game of Blake, Becky, Brad, and me, I attack with Battle Angels of Tyr while I control a Doubling Season, what happens?

A: Assuming you attack Blake, you will create two tokens attacking Becky (they must be attacking her and/or any of her planeswalkers) and you will create two more tokens attacking Brad (they must be attacking him and/or any of his planeswalkers). None of these Angel tokens can be put onto the battlefield attacking Blake or his planeswalkers.

Q: During a commander game, my opponent is currently at 21 life. I attack him with two 1/1 squirrel tokens with deathtouch, and he blocks with Bhaal, Lord of Murder. Will Bhaal be indestructible in time not to die of deathtouch?

A: Bhaal will become indestructible in time to survive. The combat damage is dealt, changing life totals, and then state based actions are checked. By the time the state based action for deathtouch is checked, your opponent's life will be half or less than his starting life total, giving Bhaal indestructible.

This will lead to a myriad of problems.

Q: I control Ghostly Prison and my opponent pays the to attack me with Carefree Swinemaster. If they pay the to create the Boar token, do they have to pay for the Ghostly Prison again? And if they can't pay, do they still get the Boar token and if so, is it tapped?

A: They don't have to pay for Ghostly Prison for the Boar token. Ghostly Prison prevents creatures from being declared as attackers. A creature that is put onto the battlefield attacking never needed to be declared an attacker, so it gets around Ghostly Prison.

Q: My commander is Irini Sengir and I currently have her and Criminal Past on the battlefield. My opponent has zero cards in their graveyard, and I have three creature cards in my graveyard. If my opponent Threatens Irini and attacks me with only her, how much damage will she deal if I don't block?

A: Irini will deal only 2 damage. She will still benefit from your Criminal Past since you still own her, but she will look at her controller's graveyard to determine how big of a +X/+0 she will get.

Q: My commander is Volo, Itinerant Scholar and I chose Noble Heritage as his background. So far this game I have cast both twice each. I currently have Font of Magic on the battlefield, how much does it reduce my sorcery and instants by?

A: They are reduced by . A background used as a commander is a commander for all intents and purposes.

Q: Gluntch, the Bestower is my commander and in the current game there are only two player, my opponent and me. What happens when Gluntch's trigger resolves?

A: The first player you choose places two +1/+1 counters on a creature they control if they have at least one creature. The remaining player draws a card. No player will create a treasure token, since there isn't a third player.

Q: I control a 4/1 skeleton token with menace that is wielding a Sword of Light and Shadow. If I target the Skeleton with Halsin, Emerald Archdruid's first ability, what will the Skeleton's power and toughness end up at?

A: 6/6. The skeleton was a 6/3 before you activated Halsin's ability. Halsin's ability only overwrites the base power and toughness the skeleton has (changing 4/1 to 4/4). Any bonuses or negatives from equipment, auras, spells, or abilities still apply after Halsin's ability is applied.

Q: If I use Jade Orb of Dragonkind to make one , then untap it with Manifold Key, then make an additional with the Jade Orb and then use both to cast Skanos Dragonheart, will the dragon have one +1/+1 counter or two?

A: Each mana from Jade Orb will make a separate delayed trigger, causing the Dragon to enter the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters.

Q: Does Jaheira, Friend of the Forest's first ability work on my treasure tokens?

A: Yes, yes it does. Jaheira's ability is not limited to token creatures, it works on any tokens you control.

Q: If I target my Irontread Crusher with Kenku Artificer's triggered ability and later that turn I crew the Crusher, will it be a 3/3, 6/6, or 9/9?

A: It will be a 3/3. Kenku's ability overrides the Crushers 6/6 into being a 0/0. Whether crewed or not, the Crusher will be a 0/0 with three +1/+1 counters.

Q: My only creature is a Bear Cub wielding a Pact Weapon and I'm at 1 life. If my opponent Threatens my Bear Cub and attacks me, what happens?

A: So mostly good news for you. Since you still control the Pact Weapon, you can't lose the game for having 0 or less life! Additionally, when the Bear Cub attacks, you draw a card and lose life equal to the mana value of the drawn card. Assuming the mana value of said card was 4, you would lose 4 life to the trigger, then take 6 combat damage if no other creatures attacked. This will leave you at -9 life, but all is good so long as the Bear Cub doesn't die.

We heard her laugh earlier,
now I think I know why.

Q: Shameless Charlatan is one of my commanders. If it becomes a creature, it will grant itself the ability to be able to copy another creature. Assuming I have it become a copy of Bear Cub, will it still have the ability to become a copy of a different creature?

A: Nope. This is a layers question. In Layer 1, Shameless Charlatan becomes a copy of Bear Cub, losing the whole 'Commander creatures you own have ": This creature becomes a copy of another target creature."' ability. So not only can the Shameless Charlatan no longer change into another creature anymore, neither can your other commander.

Q: My opponent controls five untapped creatures and I attack them with Vicious Battlerager enchanted with a Lure. Will they lose 5 life or 25?

A: They lose 25 life! The Battlerager's ability triggers once for each creature that blocks it, so its ability triggers five times.

Q: I control Ghostly Prison. My opponent Nathan is attacking my other opponent Nicolette with ten Bear Cubs. Nicolette casts Windshaper Planetar during the declare attackers step, and tries to reselect all ten Bear Cubs to attack me instead of her. Can she do this? Does someone have to pay for my Ghostly Prison?

A: She can do this, and no one has to pay for the Ghostly Prison in this case, because the Bear Cubs were not declared as attacking you.

Anything you can do, I can do better!

Q: I've controlled Aboleth Spawn for several turns. My opponent casts Titan of Industry choosing to have himself gain 5 life and create a Rhino token. When I get the copied trigger from my Aboleth Spawn, can I choose different modes or do I have to choose the same two?

A: You can not reselect the modes. You will get the same modes, but you do have the option of changing any targets, such as making yourself gain 5 life instead of the opponent.

Q: If I play a land, then activate Zevlor, Elturel Exile's ability, and then cast Searing Blaze targeting one opponent and their Bear Cub, will this allow me to deal 3 damage to each other opponent and one creature they control?

A: This will not work. The main reason you'd think it should work is that this card was printed with incorrect text. The actual trigger condition in the Oracle text is "When you next cast an instant or sorcery spell that targets only a single opponent or a single permanent an opponent controls this turn", but the word "only" was left out of the printed text. Searing Blaze won't get copied because it would need to have only one target that is a permanent or a player, it can't have both.

Oracle Text for those who might not know, is the updated or current text of a card that can be found at If the text found in Oracle is different than the printed version you have, you should assume it has the Oracle version instead.

So everyone kill everyone except me, ok?

Q: If I control Omniscience can I overload Spectacular Showdown without paying any mana?

A: You can not. You can only ever use one alternative cost at a time, and both Omniscience and overload are alternative costs. However, you may still pay the full overload cost of Spectacular Showdown if you would like to overload it, since Omniscience is a "may" ability.

Well, I think I've seen enough,

so until next time,

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

Bhaal needs half-life to be indestructible. So, maybe the opponent had only 11 life. Or, maybe those squirrels were 10/10 deathtouch squirrels. That's my preference!
#1 • Date: 2022-06-07 • Time: 11:39:27 •
Quote (micahcf):
Bhaal needs half-life to be indestructible. So, maybe the opponent had only 11 life. Or, maybe those squirrels were 10/10 deathtouch squirrels. That's my preference!

The question noted this was during a game of commander, so the life totals work as the question was written. Had it been nearly any other format, your correction would have been correct.
#2 • Date: 2022-06-24 • Time: 02:58:42 •

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