Published on 10/17/2022

A Brief Respite

Cranial Translation
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One Djinn and Tonic, please.
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! Unlike the last two weeks, we don't have a product release to talk about today. Next month we'll already be talking about The Brothers' War, but today we get to take a bit of a breather and take a look at some questions from our mailbag.

Speaking of our mailbag, if you have questions for us, please feel free to 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 to educate and entertain readers like you!

Q: I wish to cast Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. I control an Honor-Worn Shaku and seven planeswalkers. I want to tap the planeswalkers to repeatedly activate the Shaku's untap ability to generate the eight mana for Ugin. Do I have to do this and float the mana before announcing the spell, or can I announce the spell and then take the actions to produce the mana?

A: You'll have to float the mana before you announce the spell. Honor-Worn Shaku's untap ability is just a regular activated ability, not a mana ability, so you need priority to activate it, and it doesn't resolve immediately, either. Since you don't get priority during the process of casting a spell, you'll need to perform your repeated Shaku activations before you start to cast Ugin.

Q: I control Kaya, Geist Hunter that has Luxior, Giada's Gift attached to it, and I control Ratadrabik of Urborg. When Kaya dies, Ratadrabik creates a copy of Kaya. Then I equip the Luxior, Giada's Gift to the copy of Kaya. What power and toughness does that copy have, and is that copy a Zombie?

A: Before you attach Luxior to the copy, it's neither a 2/2 creature nor a Zombie, since the effect from Luxior that affected the original Kaya is not copiable. The token is just a copy of Kaya as printed, and the exceptions from the copy effect that try to make it a 2/2 Zombie don't apply because the token is not a creature. After you attach Luxior to the token, the token becomes a creature, but it does so in layer 4, while the exceptions to the copy effect try to apply in layer 1 and fail, because the token isn't a creature yet in that layer. In the end, assuming that Kaya has three loyalty counters on it, it'll be a 3/3 creature that's not a Zombie.

Q: A friend told me that it's possible to use Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist to attach Luxior, Giada's Gift to a non-creature, non-planeswalker permanent and kill it due to it becoming a 0/0 creature. Is that really possible?

A: No, that's not possible. The fact that Luxior's text refers to "equipped permanent" doesn't mean that it can be attached to any permanent. Like any Equipment, Luxior can only become attached and stay attached to a creature. The trick that allows it to become attached to a planeswalker is its "Equip planeswalker" ability, which means "Attach this permanent to target planeswalker you control as though that planeswalker were a creature." In other words, while using that ability to attach Luxior to a planeswalker, you pretend that the planeswalker is already a creature. As soon as Luxior is attached, its own effect turns the planeswalker into a creature, which allows Luxior to stay attached.

The problem with using Ardenn's ability is that it doesn't have such an "as though it were a creature" clause. You can choose to target a noncreature permanent with Ardenn's ability, but you can't choose to attach an Equipment to that target, because that's an illegal action, and you can't make a choice that results in an illegal action. Note that this also means that you can't even use Ardenn's ability to attach Luxior to a planeswalker; only Luxior's "equip planeswalker" ability can do that.

Q: I'm running an Atraxa, Praetors' Voice infect deck, and my opponent played No Mercy to discourage me from attacking them. Would No Mercy destroy Atraxa if it proliferates a poison counter on my opponent? In a similar vein, do lifelink and deathtouch apply when Atraxa proliferates a poison counter or -1/-1 counter?

A: The answer to all those questions is no. While damage from a source with infect will result in a poison counter (if dealt to a player) or -1/-1 counter (if dealt to a creature), the act of placing such a counter is not damage in itself. Placing such counters directly by other means such as proliferating existing counters does not trigger No Mercy's ability, and neither deathtouch nor lifelink apply when such counters are placed directly.

Q: My opponent is at 1 life and I control The Meathook Massacre, so I really want one of my creatures to die. Can I cast Animate Object and refuse to pay the ticket cost for the power/toughness sticker so that the creature becomes 0/0 and dies?

A: Only if you can't afford the ticket cost for any of the power/toughness stickers you currently have access to. The instruction to put a power/toughness sticker on the object is mandatory, and the action of placing a power/toughness sticker includes the mandatory action of paying its ticket cost. Since Animate Object gives you seven , the likelihood of you not having the necessary resources to pay this cost is very small.

Q: If I've put a Brushwagg name sticker on my Runeclaw Bear for some reason, can I still Embiggen it?

A: Absolutely. Your Bear now has Brushwagg in its name, but the sticker does nothing to the Bear's creature type. The "non-Brushwagg" targeting restriction refers to the creature type, so the Bear is still a legal target.

6/6, the power and toughness of the Beast!
Q: I'm playing Two-Headed Giant and I cast Mutalith Vortex Beast. How many coins do I flip for its enter-the-battlefield ability?

A: You'll flip two coins. Even though your opponents have shared turns and a shared life total, they are still two separate players, so you have two opponents.

Q: I attack my opponent with a Zombie token with decayed. Is there a way I can sacrifice it to Deadly Dispute after it has dealt combat damage?

A: Certainly. The Zombie won't be sacrificed until the delayed trigger triggers and resolves during the end of combat step. You can cast Deadly Dispute in the combat damage step before that delayed trigger even triggers, or you can respond to the trigger in the end of combat step.

Q: My opponent controls one creature, and I cast Seismic Wave targeting that creature as the first target and my opponent as the second target. If I control Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, how much damage does Seismic Wave deal to my opponent's creature?

A: It deals 5 damage to the creature. Seismic Wave deals all its damage in one action, so it would simultaneously deal 2 damage and 1 damage to the creature. Torbran's replacement effect sees one event of a red source you control dealing 3 damage to a permanent your opponent controls, so it adds 2 damage to that for a total of 5 damage to the creature.

Q: What happens if God-Eternal Kefnet and God-Eternal Oketra die at the same time if I choose to put both of them into my library third from the top?

A: You control both triggers, so you choose the order in which they go on the stack, and then they resolve one by one in the reverse order of that. The God whose ability resolves first goes into your library third from the top, and then the second God goes into your library third from the top, which pushes the other God that's already there into the "fourth from the top" position.

Q: Does Zevlor, Elturel Exile's activated ability make copies of Hypothesizzle?

A: Nope. As a spell, Hypothesizzle doesn't have any targets at all. During its resolution, choosing to discard a nonland card triggers a reflexive ability that targets something, but that's an ability, not a spell, so Zevlor doesn't care.

Q: I control Warstorm Surge and I play a creature. Can I boost its power in response to Warstorm Surge's ability so that it'll deal more damage?

A: Absolutely. Warstorm Surge only checks the creature's power once, when its ability resolves. You can respond to the ability with instants and abilities to increase the power, and the ability will use that increased power when it resolves.

Q: Can I double up fetch land activations with Verrak, Warped Sengir?

A: Yup! The fetch land's ability is an activated ability that isn't a mana ability, and you pay life to activate it, so cracking the fetch land triggers Verrak's ability. When that ability resolves, you can pay 1 life again and copy the fetch land's ability, which allows you to search for a second land.

A blank place forms, an emptiness.
A void. Avoid.
Q: Let's say I control a Runeclaw Bear that's enchanted with Bear Umbra, and I cast Call to the Void. If both I and my opponent choose the Bear, does the Umbra still save it from getting destroyed?

A: It does! After the choices are revealed, Call to the Void simply checks each creature whether it was chosen or not, and each creature that was chosen gets destroyed. Even if a creature was chosen by more than one player, it only gets destroyed once, so the single Bear Umbra is enough to replace the Bear's destruction.

Q: Can I choose a player with hexproof with Windshaper Planetar's ability?

A: You can! Windshaper Planetar's ability doesn't target anything, since it doesn't use the word "target" in its rules text, and it's not a keyword ability that could have "target" hidden in its meaning. As such, it doesn't matter to Windshaper Planetar's ability if a player has hexproof.

Q: If I copy a basic Swamp with Thespian's Stage and then a Blood Moon is played, is the Stage still a Swamp or does Blood Moon turn it into a Mountain?

A: It's still a Swamp. Thespian's Stage's copy effect is applied in layer 1, so the Stage becomes a basic land in layer 1. When Blood Moon's effect is applied in layer 4, it sees a basic land and doesn't have any reason to turn it into a Mountain.

Q: Can I sacrifice a Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose to Spirit-Sister's Call in order to return The Wandering Emperor from my graveyard?

A: No, that doesn't work. The sacrificed permanent has to share a card type with the card you want to return. The Shrine's card types are enchantment and creature, and the planeswalker's card type is planeswalker, so they don't share a card type. They are both legendary cards, but legendary is a supertype, and having a supertype in common is not enough.

Q: It's my opponent's main phase, they just discarded Echo of Eons while activating Lion's Eye Diamond, and now they want to flashback Echo of Eons with the mana they got from the Diamond. Can I exile Echo of Eons with Surgical Extraction to stop them?

A: No, you won't get a chance to do that. Since it's your opponent's turn, they get priority first after Lion's Eye Diamond's ability has resolved. Assuming that no abilities have triggered and gone on the stack, the stack is empty, so your opponent is allowed to cast Echo of Eons right away. By the time you get priority, Echo of Eons has already been cast, so it has moved from the graveyard to the stack and it's too late for Surgical Extraction.

And that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for more Magic rules Q&A!

- 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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