Published on 12/12/2022

This Article Was Stolen

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You work for me now!

I've finally done it! After years of lurking, I've finally managed to hack into the systems of Cranial Insertion! Now I can use their site to spread the reach of JudgingFtW, and soon the whole Internet will hail Judge Dave as the top rules resource around! Muahahahaha! ...but, oh looks like they had a few questions ready. Well, I suppose answering one or two wouldn't hurt...

I suppose if I'm gonna steal this article I should do it correctly. If you have a rules question you'd like to send them, feel free to do so. They'll send you an answer back, and they may even use your question in a future article. If you have a short question, you can send it to their Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and if you have a longer question, you can send it to their e-mail at .

Q: Amy casts Hostile Takeover and chooses to have her Grizzly Bears become a 4/4 and Nick's Bear Cub become a 1/1. Nick responds by Redirecting the Hostile Takeover and wants to have it make his Bear a 4/4 and Amy's Bear a 1/1. Given that there are no other creatures on the battlefield, is this possible?

A: This works just as Nick hopes. If Nick had to choose new targets one at a time, it wouldn't be possible, since the text on Hostile Takeover specifies that the targets must be different. Fortunately for Nick, when you're asked to "choose new targets" for a spell or ability, the game does this by discarding the original targets and having you start from scratch, enabling Nick to swap them here.

Q: Amy unearths three Platoon Dispensers and controls no other creatures. At the end of her turn, what is the most cards she can draw?

A: At the end of Amy's turn, each of the Platoon Dispensers will trigger to have Amy draw a card and an ability from unearth that makes Amy exile it. Because Amy controls all six of these triggers, she can put them on the stack in any order she wants. If Amy stacks the sacrifice triggers so that they resolve after the draw triggers, she can draw three cards.

Q: Amy controls Athreos, God of Passage and her commander Dakkon Blackblade. If Dakkon dies, does Amy say whether she's putting Dakkon into the command zone before or after her opponent decides whether to pay 3 life?

A: After Dakkon dies, Athreos' ability will trigger. Before that trigger is put onto the stack, the game will perform state-based actions, one of which is Amy's choice of whether to return Dakkon to the command zone. Amy has to make this choice before the Athreos ability is put onto the stack. If she chooses to return Dakkon to the command zone, her opponent would have no reason to pay 3 life. If she chooses to leave it in the graveyard, then the opponent could pay 3 life to have Dakkon remain there.

Q: Amy controls Kormus Bell and Kaervek, the Spiteful. If she plays a Swamp, can she tap it for mana before it dies?

A: Both of Kaervek and Kormus Bell have continuous effects. Such effects apply continuously; there's no point in time where the Swamp is on the battlefield and not a 1/1 creature. Likewise, there's no point in time where it's a creature and not getting -1/-1. The thing that makes 0/0 creatures die is a state-based action, and state-based actions are performed before a player gets priority after playing a land. Thus, the Swamp dies before Amy can tap it for mana.

Q: Amy copies a currently crewed Smuggler's Copter with Machine God's Effigy. What will happen if she crews the Effigy?

A: Unlike lands that turn into creatures or most other things that can animate, Vehicles have their power and toughness printed right on the card. They don't grant a power and toughness as part of the process of animating. These characteristics are always there, they just aren't useful for anything unless the Vehicle is animated. This being the case, the power and toughness of the Vehicle are copied just fine, and when Amy crews the Effigy, it will have the same power and toughness the Vehicle it copied would normally have.

Q: Amy's Misery's Shadow trades in combat with Nick's Grizzly Bears. Into which zone is Grizzly Bears placed?

A: Misery's Shadow has a replacement effect, which are checked immediately before the event they affect. Since creatures that trade in combat die at the same time, this means that immediately before the Grizzly Bears dies, Misery's Shadow is still on the battlefield. Accordingly, Grizzly Bears will be exiled.

Q: Amy plays a Clone and has it copy Steel Exemplar that currently has two +1/+1 counters on it. Does Clone get two +1/+1 counters? Does it matter what kind of mana Clone was cast with? What about the mana used to cast the original Steel Exemplar?

A: Copy effects do not copy counters on the thing that's being copied. However, the Clone will copy the Steel Exemplar's ability that has it enter with +1/+1 counters, and this ability will function as it normally does. If the Clone was not cast using more than one color of mana, it will get the counters.

Time to Strike

Q: Amy casts Turn // Burn fused while she controls Goblin Electromancer. What is the total cost she needs to pay?

A: When you cast a split card fused, the game only considers it as one spell. As a consequence of this, Goblin Electromancer will only apply once to it. For a similar reason, if you have a prowess creature, a fused split card will only generate one prowess trigger, not two.

Q: Amy attacks with Sakura-Tribe Elder while she controls Brazen Cannonade, and her opponent doesn't block. Can Amy sacrifice the Sakura-Tribe Elder to fetch a land after it deals its combat damage and still get to deal two more damage with Brazen Cannonade?

A: Yes, this trick works. Once a creature is declared as an attacker, it's considered an "attacking creature" until the combat phase ends unless something specifically removes it from combat. Brazen Cannonade's ability doesn't care about how the attacking creature dies. Trading in combat might be the most common way, but any other way, such as being sacrificed, will work just fine.

Q: Amy attacks Nick with Dimir Infiltrator. Nick wants to play a Flash Foliage to put a Saproling token into play blocking Dimir Infiltrator. Is this possible?

A: Yes. An ability that reads, "This can't be blocked," means "It's not legal to declare a creature as blocking this creature during the Declare Blockers Step." It's possible for the creature to become blocked in other ways, for example like this or with spells and abilities that directly cause a creature to become blocked, like Curtain of Light.

Q: Amy attacks with Runed Servitor and Ratchet, Field Medic. Nick blocks and kills Runed Servitor. Can Amy get the Servitor back with Ratchet's ability?

A: The lifegain from lifelink happens at the same time the damage is dealt, and the Runed Servitor dying happens immediately afterwards during the game's check for state-based actions. After that, the game will put Ratchet's ability onto the stack. When that trigger resolves, if Amy chooses to convert Ratchet, this is the time when Amy has to declare a target. At this point, Runed Servitor is in Amy's graveyard and is a legal target for this ability.

Q: Amy attacks with Vampire Champion wearing a Brawler's Plate. Nick blocks with a Grizzly Bears wielding the Shield of Kaldra. Afterwards, Amy plays Seize the Day so she can attack with the Champion again, and Nick makes the same block. After that, Amy flashes back the same Seize the Day so she can attack a third time, and Nick blocks yet again with the same indestructible Bear. What is the most amount of damage Amy can deal to Nick in each combat phase?

A: The Champion has deathtouch, so any nonzero amount of damage it assigns is considered lethal damage for the purposes of determining how much trample damage Amy can assign. So Amy can assign 1 damage to Nick's creature and 4 to Nick the first time she attacks. The second time works exactly the same way. The third time, something interesting happens. When deciding how much damage is lethal damage, the game takes into account any damage that already exists on the creature. Because Nick's creature is 2/2, and it has already taken 2 damage during the first two combat phases, Amy does not have to assign any damage to it at all and can deal all 5 to Nick.

Q: If you activate the Psychic Stimulus ability of Magus Lucea Kane while you control a Harmonic Prodigy, do you get to copy the spell an extra time?

A: Harmonic Prodigy only gives you an extra trigger for triggered abilities that are on Shamans or Wizards you control. The spell copying from Magus Lucea Kane is indeed a triggered ability, but it's not a triggered ability on Lucea Kane. It's something that gets set up in the game after Lucea's mana ability resolves. This is close, but not close enough for Harmonic Prodigy to count it [CR 603.2e].

Q: Amy controls a Bloodshot Cyclops wearing a Basilisk Collar. She has the Cyclops sacrifice itself to deal 4 damage to Nick. Does Amy gain 4 life?

A: Once the ability of Bloodshot Cyclops is on the stack, the game doesn't care what happens to Bloodshot Cyclops; the ability will resolve either way. Even if the Cyclops isn't on the battlefield anymore, the game still can have it deal damage to Nick. When it's doing so, the game uses the Cyclops's last-known information, in other words, what Bloodshot Cyclops looked like the last time it was on the battlefield, to determine any characteristics about that damage. Since Bloodshot Cyclops had lifelink at the time, Amy will gain 4 life.

Time to go...

Q: Amy casts Eternal Witness while Nick controls Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Can Amy use the Eternal Witness' ability to return itself to Amy's hand?

A: Interestingly enough, this play works exactly the way Amy wants. Targets for triggered abilities are chosen as part of putting the ability on the stack. But triggered abilities are not put onto the stack until after state-based actions are performed, including the one that makes creatures with 0 or less toughness go to their owners' graveyards. By the time Amy is choosing targets, the Eternal Witness is a card in Amy's graveyard, so that's a valid choice.

Q: Amy plays Duplicant, choosing to exile Nick's Ghave, Guru of Spores, which is Nick's commander. If Nick elects to return Ghave to the command zone, does Duplicant die?

A: The short answer, yes. The thing that allows you to move your commander back to the command zone from exile is a state-based action, performed during the first state-based action check after the commander was moved to exile. There is a creature card exiled with Duplicant at this time, so Duplicant will have that creature's power and toughness of 0/0. Zero-toughness creatures being put into the graveyard is also a state-based action, so this will be performed at the same time as Ghave is moved to the command zone.

Q: Amy plays a Zombify on Imotekh the Stormlord. Does this cause her to get two tokens from Imotekh's ability?

A: No. Abilities that trigger when cards leave a graveyard trigger based on the game state immediately before their trigger event. Before Imotekh left Amy's graveyard, she didn't control a permanent with a triggered ability that creates tokens whenever a card leaves her graveyard, so the ability doesn't trigger.

Q: Amy controls Wishclaw Talisman, and Nick controls Kataki, War's Wage. Amy activates Wishclaw Talisman and gives it to Nick in response to its "sacrifice unless you pay " ability. What happens?

A: Amy controls the ability, since she controlled its source at the time it triggered. This means that when the ability resolves, Amy will be the one offered the choice of whether to pay mana to save Wishclaw Talisman. If she chooses to pay mana, nothing interesting will happen. If she chooses not to pay mana, she will be instructed to sacrifice Wishclaw Talisman. She cannot do this, though, because it's not possible to sacrifice a permanent you don't control. Therefore, this instruction is impossible to perform, and it just gets skipped with no other consequences.

Q: Amy controls Mystic Forge, and the top card of her library is Cradle Clearcutter. Can Amy cast Cradle Clearcutter as a prototype from the top of her library?

A: Mystic Forge doesn't put any sort of restrictions on how you can cast the spell, so that means it's legal to cast that spell any way it would normally be legal to cast it. The only thing that changes is that you're casting it from the top of your library rather than from your hand.

Q: Amy Unearths a Dregscape Zombie, then plays Slip out the Back on it. What happens at the end of the turn? What about the next turn?

A: When the time comes to sacrifice Dregscape Zombie at the end of the turn, the game will look around, but be unable to find it, since it's phased out. Unearth only has you exile it at the beginning of the next end step. It won't try to make you exile it during any subsequent end steps. You still will exile it if it would go anywhere other than exile, but that's a small price to pay for eternal life, no?

What's that noise? How did he get back here? Oh well, I've got this place locked up tight. They couldn't stop me if they tried... No, Moko! Don't unlock the door! Looks like I need to get out of here!

About the Author

Judge Dave Elden is a Level 2 judge from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has been a judge and rules content creator for over seven years, and a fan of Cranial Insertion since the days when it was a regular column on MTGSalvation. Judge Dave uploads new content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to his YouTube channel JudgingFtW.


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