Published on 07/04/2022

Just Another Magic Monday

Cranial Translation
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Greetings and welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion! I have the nagging feeling that there's something special about today, but for some reason I can't quite seem to put my finger on it. Oh well, let's answer some rules questions from our mailbag, and maybe it'll come back to me.

Speaking of the mailbag, if you have questions for us, please email them to , or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will reply to you, and your question might appear in a future article to educate and entertain readers like yourself.

Q: On my opponent's turn, I crew my Unlicensed Hearse and it becomes a 4/4 creature. In the postcombat main phase, they enchant the Hearse with Witness Protection. They think it becomes a 0/0 and dies, but I think it'll be a 1/1. Who is right?

A: You are right. While Witness Protection removes the Hearse's ability that defines its power and toughness, it also sets the Hearse's base power and toughness to 1/1. In layer 7a, the Hearse's power and toughness are */*, which is interpreted as 0/0 because there's no ability defining what the stars mean. However, Witness Protection's effect to set it to 1/1 is applied afterwards, in layer 7b, so it wins. It's also worth noting that Witness Protection doesn't fall off at the end of the turn when the crew effect wears off, because Witness Protection itself also turns the Hearse into a creature.

Q: What does Myrkul, Lord of Bones do if, say, Gideon Jura died while he's a creature?

A: Gideon Jura's death triggers Myrkul's second ability, so if you choose to exile Gideon Jura from the graveyard, you'll get a shiny token that's a copy of Gideon Jura, except that it's only an enchantment, not a planeswalker. Since it's not a planeswalker, it doesn't have the Gideon subtype from the original. It doesn't have a loyalty number, either, so it doesn't enter the battlefield with any loyalty counters on it, but it has Gideon Jura's loyalty abilities, so you can activate one of those each turn during one of your main phases. The +2 ability will add loyalty counters to your Gideon Jura token, but the attack requirement won't do anything because an enchantment can't be attacked.

Q: Archetype of Endurance is giving all my creatures hexproof, and I activate Diaochan, Artful Beauty's ability. Can my opponent choose one of my creatures?

A: I'm afraid so. Even though your opponent is choosing the second target for Diaochan's ability, you control the ability, and hexproof only protects your creatures from being targeted by spells and abilities your opponent controls.

Q: I'm attacking with Gut, True Soul Zealot and Hoarding Ogre. Can I arrange the abilities so that I can sacrifice the Treasure from Hoarding Ogre to Gut's ability?

A: Absolutely. Both Gut's ability and the Ogre's ability want to go on the stack at the same time, and you control both abilities, so you choose the order in which they go on the stack. If you put the Ogre's ability on the stack last, it'll resolve first, and the Treasure (or Treasures) it makes will be on the battlefield by the time Gut's ability resolves.

Q: My commander is Parnesse, the Subtle Brush, I've cast her twice from the command zone this game, and I control her. If I cast Echo Storm, does Parnesse's second ability trigger twice?

A: Yes, it does! Parnesse's ability triggers on the event of "you copy a spell", and by its definition in the rules, to copy a spell means to put a copy of it on the stack. Echo Storm instructs you once to make some number of copies of itself. If this results in multiple copies of Echo Storm being put on the stack, you're performing that many instances of "copy a spell" at the same time, so Parnesse's ability triggers that many times.

Q: I control an opponent's background and it somehow becomes a creature. If I mutate my commander on it and it dies, what happens?

A: Sadly, the game won't even get that far in the first place. The mutate keyword has a built-in targeting restriction of "target non-Human creature with the same owner as this spell." While you control your opponent's background, they're still its owner, so it's not a legal target for your mutate spell.

Q: My commander is Jon Irenicus, Shattered One and I use its ability to give my opponent a Deepcavern Imp. Are they forced to pay the echo cost because they can't sacrifice the Imp?

A: No. The relevant part of the echo ability is "sacrifice (this creature) unless you pay (cost)", which actually means "You may pay (cost). If you don't, sacrifice this creature." In other words, they don't choose between sacrificing the creature or paying the cost. They choose whether or not to pay the cost, and if they're unwilling or unable to pay the cost, they are instructed to sacrifice the creature. It's perfectly legal to choose not to pay the cost, and then they simply ignore the impossible instruction of sacrificing the creature.

Q: Speaking of Jon Irenicus, Shattered One, what happens to the creature I give away if the player I gave it to loses the game?

A: Jon Irenicus's ability creates a control-changing effect that gives control of the creature to your opponent. When that opponent leaves the game, any control-changing effects that gave them control of any permanents end, which includes the control-changing effect from Jon Irenicus's ability. In the absence of any other control-changing effects, the creature will return to you. Amusingly enough, the creature is still goaded, and it still can't be sacrificed, since there's no reason for those parts of Jon Irenicus's effect to end.

Q: If I control Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, can I suspend Riftwing Cloudskate at the end of the turn?

A: You can! Suspend checks whether you could start the process of casting the card from your hand, and since Teferi gives Riftwing Cloudskate flash, you could indeed cast it at that time, which means that you can suspend it at that time.

Q: I cast Submerge on my opponent's commander, and they choose not to put it into the command zone, so it goes on top of their library. I then target them with Praetor's Grasp and take their commander. Can they put it into the command zone now?

A: No. Your opponent doesn't have the right to know that the card you're taking is their commander, so they don't have a right to know whether moving that card to the command zone is even an option. Also, face-down cards in exile don't have any characteristics, so technically the game doesn't even know that that card is your opponent's commander. If your opponent wants to prevent getting their commander stuck face-down in exile, they shouldn't have let it go into their library in the first place.

Q: Can I use Retrieve Prey to exile a creature card that has an adventure and then cast the adventure part from exile?

A: Sure, that works. The resolution of Retrieve Prey sets up an effect that allows you to cast the card from exile, and it doesn't specify a particular cost or that any particular choices have to be made while you cast it.

Q: My opponent controls Mirror Box and Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, and they make a Mechtitan token. Do they gain 10 or 11 life?

A: They'll gain 11 life. Trostani's ability looks at the toughness of the newly arrived creature when it resolves, and the Mechtitan token gets +1/+1 immediately upon entering the battlefield thanks to Mirror Box. By the time Trostani's ability looks at the token, it sees a toughness of 11, so your opponent gains 11 life.

Q: Let's say player 1 activates Griselbrand's ability and passes priority. Player 2 taps a land for mana, which doesn't use the stack, and passes priority. Does player 1 get priority again, or does Griselbrand's ability resolve immediately?

A: Player 1 gets priority again. The top object on the stack resolves when all players pass priority in succession without taking any actions in between. Any action at all, regardless of whether it uses the stack, breaks the sequence of passing priority in succession. Player 2 took an action before passing priority, so player 1 gets priority again.

Q: I control thirty copies of Sapphire Medallion thanks to Orvar, the All-Form. If I Pongify my opponent's Octavia, Living Thesis, do the Medallions take care of the ward cost I have to pay to target Octavia?

A: No, you have to pay that cost if you don't want Pongify to be countered. Ward isn't an additional cost to cast the spell; it's a triggered ability that goes on the stack on top of your spell, and it counters the spell if you don't pay the ward cost. Since it's not a cost to cast a blue spell, the Medallion does nothing to reduce it.

Q: If I control two Thoper Assemblies, do their triggered abilities still work?

A: No. In the condition "if you control no Thopters other than Thopter Assembly", the name "Thopter Assembly" just means "this permanent." Each Thopter Assembly sees that you control a Thopter other than itself, so the condition is not met and the ability doesn't trigger.

Q: I control Aboleth Spawn and my opponent plays Glorious Protector. What happens?

A: You get a copy of Glorious Protector's ability, if you want. Aboleth Spawn also offers you to choose new targets for the copy, but that's kind of irrelevant because the ability doesn't target. However, you control the copy of the ability, so when it resolves, you get to choose which non-Angel creatures you control, if any, you'd like to have exiled until your opponent's Glorious Protector leaves the battlefield.

Q: I control Bess, Soul Nourisher and Intangible Virtue. If I create a 1/1 token, does Bess's first ability still trigger?

A: It does! Bess's ability specifically looks at the base power and toughness of the token, so it ignores the +1/+1 effect from Intangible Virtue.

Q: If I put Norin the Wary into the command zone instead of exiling him, does he get returned to the battlefield from the command zone at the end of the turn?

A: No. Under current rules, your commander doesn't go into the command zone instead of getting exiled. What actually happens is that Norin actually goes into exile, and then a state-based action notices that your commander has gone into exile since the last state-based action check, and asks you if you'd like to move it to the command zone. If you do, Norin is no longer in the zone where its triggered ability put it, so the ability that would return it to the battlefield can no longer find it. If you want Norin to be returned to the battlefield by his ability, you'll have to leave him in the exile zone.

Q: What kind of damage does Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer's middle ability prevent?

A: The ability prevents any damage (to you or another permanent you control) that would be dealt by a spell as it's resolving, such as, for example, the damage from a resolving Lightning Bolt. It doesn't prevent damage that's dealt by creatures on the battlefield, even if they were originally cast as spells. In other words, combat damage, damage from activated abilities, and damage from triggered abilities won't be prevented.

And that's all the time we have for today. Also, I hear fireworks nearby. Maybe my neighbors know what's going on. See you again next week!

- 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.

I'm a little confused about the Praetor's Grasp/Commander scenario. 903.3 stays the the commander designation is not a characteristic, so it seems like SBA 704.6d should still be applicable. Am I missing something? My only interaction with commander is reading Cranial Insertion, so I'm not super familiar with it.
#1 • Date: 2022-07-09 • Time: 06:09:16 •
Quote (BobbyFortanely):
I'm a little confused about the Praetor's Grasp/Commander scenario. 903.3 stays the the commander designation is not a characteristic, so it seems like SBA 704.6d should still be applicable. Am I missing something? My only interaction with commander is reading Cranial Insertion, so I'm not super familiar with it.

It's difficult. Being a commander is indeed not a characteristic, but a designation of the (physical) card itself. However, the Comprehensive Rules themselves don't define when and where any specific player gets to know about this designation. The Commander Rules Committee doesn't have an official, single opinion either.
The answers range from "if you deliberately put your commander into your library instead of the command zone, and it gets shuffled away, you lose track of it", which leans towards "you can't save your commander from Praetor's Grasp", to "every player always knows the location of every commander, even if it gets shuffled into a library" (how this is done in an actual game is another question), which leans towards "you can save your commander from Praetor's Grasp".
As usual, rule 0 applies, so whatever any given Commander group decides on is the right answer for them. The answer given in this article is certainly the most practical one and matches the related rules for characteristics.
#2 • Date: 2022-07-13 • Time: 01:33:02 •

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