Published on 09/05/2022

Phyrexians on a Plane

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I have had it with these bleeping
Phyrexians on this bleeping plane!
Greetings and welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion! Dominaria United prereleases are underway and the release is imminent, so it's time to take our first look at the fun rules interactions that the Phyrexians are bringing to the plane of Dominaria.

As always, if you have questions for us, please email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will get back to you with an answer, and your question might appear in a future article!

Q: Why does the usage restriction on the mana from Powerstone tokens use a clunky double negative? Wouldn't it be cleaner to just say "This mana can only be spent to cast artifact spells"?

A: Sure, that would be cleaner, but it would also be functionally different. It's possible to use mana for other things besides casting spells. You can spend mana to activate abilities, for special actions like suspending a card, for things like Mana Leak or ward costs, and so on. Your proposed wording would prohibit those uses, but the Powerstone token is totally cool with all of them in addition to casting artifact spells.

Q: I control Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider and cast Yotia Declares War, choosing to skip ahead to chapter II. What happens?

A: Nothing very useful happens. Due to your choice of chapter II, Yotia Declares War wants to enter the battlefield with two lore counters on it, but then Vorinclex's replacement effect kicks in and doubles that to four lore counters. Because of the read ahead ability, only a chapter ability for chapter IV would trigger, which Yotia Declares War doesn't have, so no chapter ability triggers. Finally, state-based actions notice that you control a Saga that has progressed past its final chapter, so you have to sacrifice it right away.

Q: How do stun counters interact with untap costs like Halo Fountain?

A: A stun counter on a creaure doesn't make it impossible or illegal to attempt to untap the creature. The counter simply creates a replacement effect that changes what happens when you perform the action of untapping the creature: instead of untapping the creature, you remove a stun counter from it. Therefore, it's perfectly legal to choose a tapped creature with a stun counter on it to help pay for Halo Fountain's first ability. As you pay the cost, you'll remove a stun counter from it instead of untapping it, but this doesn't change the fact that you activated the ability and paid its cost.

Q: I control a Balduvian Berserker and a Flowstone Kavu. I attack with Balduvian Berserker and tap the Kavu for the Berserker's enlist ability. Can I pump the Kavu to 5/0 to give the Berserker +5/+0 even though the Kavu dies?

A: Yes, you can do that. Tapping the Kavu for the Berserker's enlist ability triggers an ability that uses the stack, and you can respond to that ability by activating the Kavu's +1/-1 ability as often as you'd like. If you pump the Kavu to 5/0, it'll die before the enlist trigger resolves, but the trigger will just look at the Kavu's last-known information to determine what its power was when it was on the battlefield, so the Berserker gets +5/+0.

Q: Do Wastes count towards domain abilities?

A: Nope. Domain abilities count how many basic land types there are among lands you control, and there are only five basic land types in the game, namely Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest. Wastes is a basic land, but it doesn't have any land types at all, let alone any basic land types, so its contribution to your domain abilities is zero.

Q: Does Thran Portal count towards domain abilities?

A: It does! As it enters the battlefield, you get to choose a basic land type, and the Portal gains that land type in addition to being a Gate, so now you control a land with that basic land type.

Q: My opponent controls an Evolved Sleeper that's a 3/3 Phyrexian Human Cleric due its middle ability. They activate its third ability, and I destroy it in response. Do they still draw a card?

A: Yup. When the ability resolves, it checks Evolved Sleeper's last-known information and determines that it was a Phyrexian when it was last seen on the battlefield, so the ability resolves and does as much as it can. The +1/+1 counter is going nowhere, but your opponent still draws a card and loses 1 life.

I specialize in overt operations.
Q: I control Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and cast Day's Undoing on my turn. Does the life gain and life loss from Sheoldred still happen before Day's Undoing ends the turn?

A: Nope. Sheoldred's life gain and life loss abilities trigger during Day's Undoing's resolution, but then you end the turn before those triggers can go on the stack. The first step of ending the turn is that any triggered abilities that triggered but haven't been put on the stack yet just cease to exist.

Q: If I control Zur, Eternal Schemer, can I turn it into an enchantment with One with the Stars and then use its own ability to make it into a 3/3 enchantment creature with deathtouch, lifelink, and hexproof?

A: Sure, that works. Once Zur's enchanted with One with the Stars, it's a non-Aura enchantment you control, so it's a legal target for its last ability, which it still has because One with the Stars doesn't remove its abilities. The activated ability creates an effect with a type-changing component that applies after the effect from One with the Stars because it has a later timestamp, so Zur becomes an enchantment creature and therefore affects itself with its second ability.

Q: If I control Defiler of Vigor, can I cast Mossbeard Ancient for 4 life and ?

A: Not if you only control one Defiler of Vigor, but you can do this if you control two of them. Each Defiler gives you the option of paying an extra cost of 2 life or not paying that extra cost, so a single Defiler won't allow you to pay more than 2 life. If you do control two Defilers and pay the extra cost for each of them, each of them will reduce the cost of Mossbeard Ancient by , reducing the total cost to .

Q: I control Defiler of Vigor and cast Ajani, Sleeper Agent for , choosing to pay 2 life for the Defiler. Does Ajani enter the battlefield with two or four loyalty counters?

A: It'll get four loyalty counters. The compleated ability checks whether you chose to pay life to pay for a Phyrexian mana symbol in Ajani's cost. The life payment in this case was for the Defiler's additional cost while you paid for the Phyrexian mana symbol, so there's no reason for Ajani to enter with two fewer loyalty counters.

Q: Can I cast Joint Exploration with kicker off of Founding the Third Path's chapter I ability?

A: Yes, but you'll actually have to pay the kicker cost. Joint Exploration is an instant with a mana value of 2 regardless of whether or not you choose to pay the kicker, so it meets the criteria for the chapter I ability. Casting it without paying its mana cost is an alternative to paying the mana cost of , but you can still choose to pay the optional additional cost of the kicker.

Q: Can I cast an adventure such as Stomp off of Founding the Third Path's chapter I ability?

A: Yup! The only condition that's checked to start the process of casting the spell is whether the card comes from your hand. The game only checks if it's an instant or sorcery spell with mana value 1 or 2 after you've put the card on the stack, and the process of putting the card on the stack includes the choice of which part of the adventurer card you're casting. Even though Bonecrusher Giant is a creature with mana value 3, if you choose to cast Stomp, it's an instant with mana value 2 on the stack.

Q: I target my opponent's Guardian of New Benalia with Extinguish the Light, and in response they discard a card to give it indestructible. Do I still gain 3 life?

A: You do. Giving Guardian of New Benalia indestructible doesn't make it an illegal target for Extinguish the Light, so the spell still resolves and does as much as it can. It fails to destroy the creature, but the life gain is not conditional on destroying the creature, so you'll still gain 3 life.

These aren't the druids you're looking for.
Q: I control a Leaf-Crowned Visionary and cast an Elf spell. Can I pay to draw two cards?

A: Not unless you control two or more Leaf-Crowned Visionaries. Leaf-Crowned Visionary has a triggered ability that triggers once for each Elf spell you cast, and when it resolves you choose whether to pay or not. Paying more than for a single trigger is not an option.

Q: I control Radha, Coalition Warlord and tap her to crew Golden Argosy. Can I target Golden Argosy with Radha's domain ability?

A: Nope. Radha's ability goes on the stack above the crew ability, so you have to choose the target for Radha's ability before the crew ability resolves. Golden Argosy is not a creature yet at that point, so it's not a legal target for Radha's ability.

Q: I control a Sunbathing Rootwalla, activate its ability, and then I play a land of a basic land type I didn't control yet. Does the Rootwalla get bigger?

A: No. The Rootwalla's ability only checks how many basic land types there are among lands you control at the time the ability resolves, and it locks in the size of the effect at that time. Changing that number after the ability has resolved does not change the size of the effect.

Q: When Anointed Peacekeeper enters the battlefield, do I have to choose a card that's in my opponent's hand?

A: No, you can name any card. The ability doesn't ask you to choose one of the cards you see, it says "choose any card name."

Q: If I play Danitha, Benalia's Hope and the only card I could choose is something like Curse of Exhaustion that can't be attached to Danitha, what happens?

A: Since the Curse can't legally enchant Danitha, it stays where it is and doesn't enter the battlefield.

Q: If I attack with Keldon Flamesage and exile a card with its ability, do I have to cast that card right away, or can I cast it at a later time?

A: The "you may cast the exiled card without paying its mana cost" bit is part of one big triggered ability, and it doesn't specify a duration, which means it's telling you to cast that card now or never. If you don't cast the card during the resolution of this triggered ability, it remains exiled indefinitely.

And that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for reading, and please come back 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.


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