Published on 11/07/2022

Making My Mark

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My favorite mark is the question mark.
Greetings and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion! Tomorrow is Election Day in the US, and I'm very excited about that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you that you should vote or who to vote for. No, I simply want to share my excitement because this is the very first US election I get to participate in! I'm originally from Germany, and after living in the US for over twenty years, I finally took the necessary steps to become a US citizen. While my new status has been rather abstract so far, participating in the election will be the first concrete manifestation of my citizenship, and that's why I'm excited about it.

Another thing I'm excited about is answering rules questions from our inbox! As always, if you have questions for us, you can send them by email to or tweet them to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will send you a response, and your question might appear in a future article, possibly alongside a pun or some song lyrics.

Q: I control Voltaic Servant and play Time Vault, which enters the battlefield tapped. Can I untap the Time Vault in the end step with Voltaic Servant, tap it to get an extra turn, and then do the same thing in the extra turn to get an unlimited number of extra turns?

A: Yup, that works, provided that your opponent doesn't disrupt your plan somehow. Time Vault can become untapped by feeding a turn into it, but that doesn't mean that's the only way to untap it. Any instruction to untap it, including Voltaic Servant's end-of-turn ability, can do it. After Voltaic Servant's ability has resolved, you get priority again, so you can activate Time Vault's ability to take an extra turn after the current turn, and you can keep doing this in the end step of the extra turns, too.

Q: A spell of mine got delayed by Ertai's Meddling. When I remove the last delay counter from it, does that trigger Archmage Emeritus's magecraft ability?

A: No. Magecraft triggers when you cast or copy a spell, and Ertai's Meddling does something that's similar, but it's neither casting nor copying a spell. Ertai's Meddling's ability tells you to put the card on the stack. Although you're putting it on the stack as a copy of the original spell, the verb that describes what you're doing is "put", not "copy", so magecraft doesn't trigger.

Q: Let's say I control a Mysterious Limousine that exiled card A and a Spell Queller that exiled card B. Exchange of Words entered the battlefield while the Limousine was a creature, exchanging the text boxes of the Limousine and Spell Queller. What happens when the Limousine leaves the battlefield, and what happens when Spell Queller leaves the battlefield?

A: Let's start with Spell Queller. It has the text of the Limousine, which doesn't have any kind of leave-the-battlefield ability, so nothing happens when Spell Queller leaves the battlefield, and card B remains exiled.

The Limousine is slightly more interesting. The effect that exiled card A already created a future one-shot effect that returns that card as soon as the Limousine leaves the battlefield. This effect exists independently of the ability that created it, so card A gets returned to the battlefield even though the Limousine doesn't have its usual ability at the time. The Limousine also has a leave-the-battlefield ability from Spell Queller's text that wants to give the owner of "the exiled card" permission to cast it, but that is a linked ability that refers to the card that was exiled by the enter-the-battlefield ability. The Limousine doesn't have such a card, so that effect is meaningless.

Q: Suppose a Bear Cub and a Serra Angel had their text boxes swapped by Exchange of Words. If I Momentary Blink the Angel, what happens?

A: The Angel gets exiled and immediately comes back as a new Serra Angel that is no longer affected by the effect of Exchange of Words, so it's a 4/4 Angel with flying and vigilance. Amusingly enough, the Bear Cub continues to be affected by Exchange of Words, so it's still a 2/2 Bear with flying and vigilance.

Q: I'm in a Conspiracy draft and I just drafted Lore Seeker. If I add a Double Masters pack to the draft, am I going to pick two cards from that pack as my next pick?

A: No. There's nothing inherent about a Double Masters pack that causes the first pick from it to consist of two cards. This happens in a Double Masters draft because of an exception to the Booster Draft Procedures section in the Magic Tournament Rules, and that exception only applies when the draft consists of Double Masters draft boosters. That's not the case in your draft, so you only pick a single card.

Q: I exiled two creature cards with Unlicensed Hearse, and one of them is Misthollow Griffin. If I cast the Griffin from exile, does the Hearse shrink?

A: I'm afraid so. Unlicensed Hearse's characteristic-defining ability doesn't count how many cards it moved into the exile zone with its first ability; it counts how many cards are currently in the exile zone due to its first ability. If a card leaves the exile zone, it is no longer "exiled with" the Hearse, so it no longer counts to the Hearse's power and toughness.

If you choose not to decide,
you still have made a choice.
Q: If Briarbridge Patrol deals damage because of Rabid Bite, does its ability trigger?

A: Absolutely. Normally, Briarbridge Patrol can only deal combat damage, but its ability doesn't trigger only on combat damage. It triggers any time Briarbridge Patrol deals damage, so it triggers even when something like Rabid Bite causes it to deal non-combat damage.

Q: My opponent's commander is Skullbriar, the Walking Grave. If I Unsummon it to my opponent's hand and they choose to put it into the command zone, does it lose its counters?

A: No. Unlike the zone changes to the graveyard and the exile zone, where a state-based action allows the commander's owner to move it to the command zone afterwards, zone changes to the hand and the library are handled by a replacement effect. If your opponent chooses to apply this replacement effect, Skullbriar moves directly from the battlefield to the command zone instead of going into their hand, so it keeps its counters.

Q: If I manifest Ghalta, Primal Hunger, does the cost reduction effect apply to turning it face up?

A: No. Ghalta has an effect that reduces the total cost to cast it, but that only applies when casting it and doesn't change its mana cost. Ghalta's mana cost is still , and that's what you'll have to pay to turn it face-up.

Q: I have exiled my opponent's Mechanized Production with Oblivion Ring. When Oblivion Ring leaves the battlefield, what does Mechanized Production get attached to?

A: That's up to your opponent. Oblivion Ring's ability is returning an Aura to the battlefield under your opponent's control, and it's not specifying an object to attach it to, so the player under whose control it's entering the battlefield, i.e. your opponent, chooses a legal object to attach it to. They can choose any artifact they currently control, including the artifact it used to enchant if that's still around. If they're somehow in the unfortunate position of not controlling any artifacts at that time, Mechanized Production doesn't move and stays in exile indefinitely.

Q: Does Goblin Anarchomancer's cost reduction effect apply to madness costs?

A: Absolutely. To calculate the total cost, you start with the base cost, which is either the mana cost or the alternative cost for which you're casting the spell. Then you add additional costs and cost increases, and finally you apply cost reductions. Goblin Anarchomancer's cost reduction applies regardless of whether the base cost came from the mana cost or from madness's alternative cost.

Q: I control Krark, the Thumbless and cast Grapeshot. If I lose the coin flip and Krark returns Grapeshot to my hand, do I still get the storm copies?

A: Yup. In fact, if you let the storm ability resolve first, the storm copies have already been created by the time Krark's ability resolves. However, even if you let Krark's ability resolve first, the storm ability can still make copies of Grapeshot using its last-known information from when it was on the stack.

Q: Good to know. Also, if I win the flip, do I get storm copies off of Krark's copy?

A: No. Storm only triggers when you cast a spell. Copying Grapeshot doesn't trigger its storm ability. If it did, the copies that storm itself makes would also trigger storm again and kick off an infinite loop.

Need to purge the poison from our system
Until human beings listen
Tell me who'd you think you are?
Q: My opponent cast Cyclonic Rift for its overload cost. Can I counter it with Spell Snare?

A: Yup! Spell Snare cares about the mana value of the spell, which is a number that's derived only from the mana cost in the card's top right corner. (Shut up, Tarmogoyf!) That number has very little to do with how much mana a player will pay, might pay, or has paid to cast the card, especially since it doesn't care whether a player paid an alternative cost for the spell. Cyclonic Rift's mana cost is , so its mana value is 2 even when it's overloaded, so it's a perfectly legal target for Spell Snare.

Q: If Wrenn and Seven has eight loyalty counters on it when I activate its -8 ability, does it return itself to my hand?

A: Yup. To activate the ability, you remove all eight counters from Wrenn and Seven, and then state-based actions see that you control a planeswalker without loyalty counters on it and move it to your graveyard. It will still be in your graveyard when the ability resolves, unless your opponent responds to the ability with something to move it out of the graveyard, so it'll be among the permanent cards in your graveyard that get returned to your hand.

Q: If I cast Firecat Blitz while I control Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second, do I still have to exile the tokens at the end of the turn?

A: Yes. Jinnie Fay's ability replaces the base characteristics with which the tokens get created, but it doesn't affect the delayed triggered ability that Firecat Blitz sets up, so you still have to exile the tokens at the beginning of the next end step.

Q: I control Taranika, Akroan Veteran and a Prodigal Pyromancer that I tapped earlier this turn to activate its ability. Can I attack with Taranika, untap the Pyromancer, and attack with it, too?

A: No, that won't work, because you have to declare all attackers at once. Taranika's ability only untaps the chosen creature when its ability resolves, which happens some time after you've declared all attackers. At the time you have to declare your attackers, Prodigal Pyromancer is still tapped, so it can't attack.

Q: How does Teferi's Ageless Insight interact with Sylvan Library?

A: It works pretty well. You start by drawing your card for the turn, and then the Library offers you to draw two additional cards. If you do, Teferi's Ageless Insight doubles each of those draws, so you draw four cards instead. There are now five cards in your hand that you've drawn this turn, and you choose two cards from among those. For each of those two cards, you either pay 4 life or put it back on top of your library. In short, you can keep three of the cards you drew without paying any life at all, and you can keep four or even all five of them if you're greedy and can afford the life payment.

And that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for our first look at The Brothers' War.

- 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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