Published on 11/14/2022

This Means War!

Cranial Translation
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Mishra, who just wants you to meet
his robot friends.

Hiya everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Today, we're taking a look forward at Magic's next set, but also looking back to one of the iconic stories from the beginnings of Magic - The Brothers' War! We've seen the broad strokes of what happened during Urza and Mishra's fight that devastated Dominaria, but now, we get to take a closer look at those events and what was happening with the brothers before and during the war they created. And while the story is cool, we all know why you're here today - for our first look at the new cards from The Brothers' War and the new interactions they've brought us. So sit back, pop into your time coffin (like Teferi did), and let's dive right in.

And in case you have other rules questions about The Brothers' War or any other Magic cards, feel free to send it in, and we'll send you back an answer. We may even use your question in a future article. If you have a short question, you can send it to our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and if you have a longer question, you can send it to our e-mail at .

Q: Can you explain how prototype works?

A: Prototype is similar to how we handle a card with adventure - most of the time, it has its normal characteristics, but if it's on the stack or on the battlefield and you cast it via prototype, then you use its prototype characteristics instead.

For example, you could cast the Fleshgorger like normal, and it will be a 7 mana value creature that's a 7/5 with menace, lifelink, and ward. But if you'd rather not wait until you have seven mana to cast it, you can use prototype to cast a mini-version of the Fleshgorger. To do that, you cast it by paying its prototype cost of . If you do, then the Fleshgorger uses the alternate characteristics listed in the prototype box on the card, but keeps the other abilities listed in the rest of the text box. So casting the Fleshgorger for its prototype cost means you'll be getting a black 3/3 instead of a colorless 7/5, but the 3/3 still has menace, lifelink, and the ward ability.

Q: If I Clone the prototype Phyrexian Fleshgorger, what does my Clone look like?

A: The effect from prototype overrides its normal copiable characteristics, so making a copy of the prototype means that it has the modified values from prototype. The Clone will also be a black 3/3, not a colorless 7/5, since we're using its prototype characteristics when we copy it.

Q: Since the Fleshgorger is colorless, can I play it in any Commander deck, like Omnath, Locus of Mana?

A: Sorry, but that won't work. The prototype text box is part of the card's rules text, so colored mana symbols in that text box will also affect the Fleshgorger's color identity. Since the prototype text box has a black mana symbol in it, its color identity is black, so you can only play it if your commander's color identity also includes black.

Q: I have a Fallaji Dragon Engine in play that I cast for its prototype cost on an earlier turn. Then I cast Cloudshift targeting the Engine. When it returns, what does it look like?

A: It returns with its default stats of 5/5, not with its prototype stats of 1/3. When it leaves the battlefield, it goes back to its normal gigantic self. When it returns from exile, it's not being cast via prototype, and since it's a new object, it's entering as its normal self. So you can cast your prototype card early in the game, then Cloudshift it when the time is right and effectively transform it into its normal sized self.

Q: I know we just had powerstones in Dominaria United, but can you go over how they work?

A: Sure, they're a lot more Powerstones in this set, and at common like on Argothian Opportunist, so you're likely going to run into them while playing The Brothers' War. The mana from the Powerstone token can be used for anything except casting a nonartifact spell.

For example, you could use the mana to cast an artifact spell like Goblin Firebomb. You could also use the mana to activate an ability, like unearth (even if the card with unearth isn't an artifact). You could use the mana to activate an ability, like the ability of Recruitment Officer (even though the Officer isn't an artifact). Or to take a special action, like foretelling a card from your hand or turning a face down creature face up. But it can't be used to cast a spell that's not an artifact, so you cannot use it to cast a spell like Yotian Medic.

Q: Speaking of unearth, can you go over how unearth works?

A: Sure, let's take a look at Ashnod's Harvester. The Harvester works like any other creature at first - you cast it, it hangs around on the battlefield for a while, but it eventually dies. Usually, dying is the end for a creature, but unearth gives the creature one last (but brief) chance at life. Unearth is an activated ability that you can activate while the card is in the graveyard, but only when you could normally cast a sorcery. When the ability resolves, you put the unearthed card onto the battlefield and it will have haste. However, at the end of turn, or if the unearthed card would leave the battlefield for any reason, it's exiled instead of going anywhere else. So it gets one last shot at glory before it heads to exile.

Q: What if I unearth Ashnod's Harvester, then target it with Soul Partition? Can I cast it from exile later on?

A: Yep, that's one way around unearth. Unearth says if the card would leave the battlefield, it's exiled instead of going anywhere else. But if some effect (like the Partition) exiles that card, unearth won't apply and will let that effect exile the card. Targeting the unearthed Harvester with the Partition will let you cast the Harvester from exile later on, even though it was unearthed when it was last on the battlefield.

Urza, who might blow up at his brother.

Q: I see meld is also making a return. Can you go over how meld works?

A: Of course. Meld is a way to merge two cards into one gigantic permanent. Step one is that we need two permanents that form a melded pair that you both own and control - you can't just meld any two cards you want. So let's say you have Urza, Lord Protector and The Mightstone and Weakstone in play. Then we activate the ability of Urza. When that ability resolves, we exile Urza and the Stones, then we return them to the battlefield melded together (in paper Magic, this means flipping them over and looking at the back side to see what you're making). In this case, they're exiled and returned as Urza, Planeswalker.

There are a few other quirks that may come up - the two cards have to actually be those cards, not copies, so you can't use a Clone as one of the two cards - if you do that, they'll be exiled and won't return since those cards don't make a melded pair. And you can't use a token copy either - you'll once again have them stuck in exile.

Q: Titania, Voice of Gaea is my commander. If it's merged with Argoth, Sanctum of Nature, making it Titania, Gaea Incarnate, does it still count as my commander?

A: Yep, it's still a commander. As long as the melded permanent contains a commander, the entire permanent counts as a commander. Since the Voice of Gaea is your commander, once it's melded into Gaea Incarnate, it will still count as your commander and its combat damage counts as "commander damage" and will count for things like Thunderfoot Baloth's lieutenant ability.

Q: Can I cast Dreams of Steel and Oil even if my opponent has no artifact or creature cards in their graveyard?

A: Sure. Dreams of Steel and Oil only targets an opponent. It doesn't target anything in their graveyard. You can cast the Dreams just fine even if they have an empty graveyard if you're hoping to exile a card from their hand.

Q: I control a Thran Vigil. If I activate the ability of Razorlash Transmogrant on my turn, can I put the counter from the Vigil onto the Transmogrant?

A: Yep, you can do that. When the Transmogrant's ability resolves, it leaves your graveyard and enters the battlefield. That causes the Vigil to trigger. When we're putting the Vigil's trigger on the stack, the Transmogrant is on the battlefield, so you can target the Transmogrant you just returned with the trigger.

Q: If I activate Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor's ability, how long do I have to play the exiled cards?

A: You're playing the cards while Gix's ability is resolving or not at all. Since there's no time frame given in Gix's ability, like "until end of turn", you only have permission to play the exiled cards while Gix's ability is resolving. While you do get to choose the order the spells are cast in, you can't cast one of the exiled cards now, then cast another exiled card later on in the turn.

Q: I activate Urza, Prince of Kroog's ability, targeting my Transmogrant's Crown. Can I still use the Crown's equip ability and attach it to a creature I control?

A: You cannot. A creature can't be attached to anything. While you can activate the equip ability of the Crown, when the equip ability resolves, it won't attach since the token Crown is a creature. You'll just have to be content with your 3/3 Crown and not worry about the equip ability.

Titania, just watching from the sidelines.

Q: I cast Raze to the Ground targeting my opponent's Goblin Firebomb. In response, they sacrifice the Firebomb to its ability. Will I still get to draw when my Raze resolves?

A: You will not draw. Even though the Raze cannot be countered, if the Raze's only target is illegal when it goes to resolve, the entire spell does nothing (including the parts that don't target). Since the Firebomb isn't on the battlefield when the Raze goes to resolve, the Raze will not do anything and you will not draw a card.

Q: I control Tawnos, the Toymaker. If I cast Dreamtail Heron for its mutate cost, what happens?

A: Even if you're casting a spell for its mutate cost, it's still a creature spell on the stack. Since the Heron is a Bird, Tawnos will trigger and you'll get an artifact copy of the Heron. The copy is also cast via mutate, and it's also targeting the same creature that the original Heron is targeting (since nothing on Tawnos says you can change the target of the copy). So you'll end up mutating two Herons onto the targeted creature, and will ultimately draw three cards (one card when the copy Heron merges with the creature, and two more when the original Heron merges with the creature since it now has two instances of the card draw trigger).

Q: I attack with Harbin, Vanguard Aviator, Hero of Bladehold, and two other Soldiers. Can I stack my triggers so my tokens from the Hero are created first, then Harbin's trigger so my creatures get +1/+1 and flying for the turn?

A: No, you cannot do that. In order for Harbin's ability to trigger at all, you have to declare an attack with five or more soldiers. Creatures that are put onto the battlefield attacking do not count, since they'll enter after the point when Harbin's ability would have triggered. If you want Harbin's trigger, then you need to declare an attack with at least five Soldiers - you can't rely on the Hero's trigger to give you enough Soldiers.

Q: On my opponent's previous turn, they cast Teferi's Protection to phase out all of their permanents. On my turn, I cast Disciple of Caelus Nin. What happens on my opponent's next turn?

A: Your opponent is not going to be very happy with you. When their next turn begins, the effect that gave them protection from everything and prevented their life total from changing ends. But when their permanents try to phase back in, the Disciple stops them from phasing in and they remain phased out. Your opponent is completely at your mercy now, stuck without any permanents in play and only the cards in their hand against your board.

Q: If my opponent has a Blood Moon in play and I cast Rootpath Purifier, what happens to my lands?

A: Not only is this a layers question, it's a dependency question! Both of these effects want to apply in the same layer, but applying the Purifier's effect will change what Blood Moon applies to, so we always apply the Purifier's effect first, even if Blood Moon entered the battlefield first. We apply the Purifier's effect first, your lands are now basic lands, and since your lands are basic lands, they won't be affected by Blood Moon and will not become Mountains.

Q: With Rootpath Purifier in play, if I activate Myriad Landscape's last ability, can I search for an Urza's Tower and an Urza's Power Plant?

A: Oddly enough, you can! The Purifier affects the land cards in your library as well, and the Landscape needs the lands to share a land type, not a basic land type. Both Urza's Tower and Urza's Power Plant share a land type - "Urza's" - and since they're now basic lands because of the Purifier's ability, you can search for them with the Landscape's ability.

Q: I see there's a lot of sweet artifacts in the old frame, like Ashnod's Altar in The Brothers' War packs. Does that mean Ashnod's Altar is now legal in Standard?

A: Nope, what formats the cards are legal in did not change. The Brothers' War boosters will include an old border artifact in each of the packs, similar to how Strixhaven had Mystic Archive cards. The variants are included in the booster pack and can be played in a draft or sealed deck, but being included in the booster didn't actually change what formats the cards are legal in. In the case of the Altar, it's still only legal in eternal formats like Vintage, Legacy, and Commander - you won't be running into it in your next Standard or Pioneer tournament.

That's it for this week. See you again next week!


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