Published on 02/12/2024

The Tell-Tale Candy Heart

Cranial Translation
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But why does his heart not stop beating?!
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! It's Valentine's Day this week, and I think Moko has left an early Valentine's Day present for me. When I got into the Cranial Insertion office today, I noticed that one of the floor boards was loose. As I investigated it, I saw that there was something hidden underneath. It was a disturbingly accurate replica of a human heart, made from what appeared to be a firm gelatin substance, much like a giant gummy bear in the shape of a human heart. I don't know how Moko pulled this off, but it almost felt like it was still beating. It's a very creepy gift for sure, but he is a zombie chimpanzee after all, and I appreciate the sentiment.

If you want to give us a non-creepy Valentine's Day gift, you can send in your rules questions! You can email your questions to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will respond to you, and your question might appear in a future article.

Q: I control Lazav, Wearer of Faces and I have exiled a Clone with it. If I make Lazav a copy of Clone, can I choose another creature on the battlefield to copy at that time?

A: No, choosing to copy the Clone will kill Lazav unless you have some other effect that boosts its toughness. Clone only gets to copy another creature as it's entering the battlefield. Lazav isn't entering the battlefield, so it just takes on the copiable values of Clone as it's printed, which means it becomes a 0/0 and dies.

Q: Who or what determines the value of X for the collect evidence X ability of Incinerator of the Guilty?

A: You do, provided that you are its controller. As Incinerator of the Guilty's combat damage trigger resolves, you choose any number for X, and the only limitation is that you need to have cards in your graveyard with enough total mana value to cover the value of X you choose.

Q: I control an Exit Specialist that's currently face-down due to being disguised. I cast an Auspicious Starrix to mutate the Specialist, leaving the face-down creature on top. Is the resulting creature face-down or face-up? If it's face-down, can I turn it face-up?

A: The resulting creature is face-down because the topmost component of the mutate stack is face-down. This creature still has the disguise ability, so you can turn it face-up by paying its disguise cost. To turn it face up, you turn each face-down component face up, which in this situation just means that you turn the topmost card face up. The resulting creature is a mutated Human, which is a bit unnatural, but it's not against the rules. Being non-Human is only a targeting requirement for casting the Starrix for its mutate cost. After the Starrix has resolved and merged with the creature, the creature type of that creature no longer matters.

Q: I think that Crime Novelist's ability can be a mana ability depending on how I trigger it. For example, if I sacrifice a Treasure for mana, Crime Novelist's ability is a mana ability and doesn't use the stack, but if I sacrifice a Clue, Crime Novelist's ability uses the stack. Is that right?

A: No, that's not correct. Crime Novelist's ability meets two of the three criteria for being a triggered mana ability by not requiring a target and being able to add mana to a player's mana pool. However, the third criterion is that it triggers from the activation or resolution of an activated mana ability or from mana being added to a player's mana pool. The use of the present tense in that criterion indicates that it's a statement about what type of event triggers the ability in general, based on how the trigger condition is written. It is not a statement about some specific chain of events that starts with activating a mana ability and ends with the ability being triggered. Crime Novelist's ability triggers from sacrificing an artifact, so it's not a mana ability.

Q: Thanks to my Delney, Streetwise Lookout, Skyclave Apparition exiled two cards when it entered the battlefield. What happens when it leaves the battlefield?

A: The leave-the-battlefield ability finds both cards that were exiled by the enter-the-battlefield ability when it looks for "the exiled card". This means that "the exiled card's owner" is interpreted as "the exiled cards' owners" and "the mana value of the exiled card" is interpreted as "the total mana value of the exiled cards." This means that each player who owned one of the exiled cards creates an X/X token, where X is the sum of both cards' mana values.

Q: If I control Grothama, All-Devouring and equip it with Swiftfoot Boots, can my opponent still get their attacking creatures to fight Grothama?

A: I'm afraid so. Even though the ability "you may have it fight Grothama, All-Devouring" is specifically directed at Grothama, it's not actually targeting Grothama. An ability only targets a permanent if it uses the word "target" to refer to that permanent in its rules text, and the fight ability doesn't use the word "target", so having hexproof doesn't help.

This bug is to make my fortune.
Q: If I turn a disguised Boltbender face up, can I choose new targets for my opponent's Infest?

A: No. Very similarly to the previous question, the targets of a spell are only the objects that are described by the word "target". Infest simply affects all creatures that are on the battlefield when it resolves, and there's nothing that Boltbender can do about that.

Q: My opponent controls Grave Betrayal and I control cloaked or disguised creatures. If those creatures die, does my opponent get them with Grave Betrayal in face-up form?

A: Yes, as long as their face-up form is a permanent card, which need not necessarily be the case with cloaked cards. If the card is an instant or sorcery, it stays in your graveyard. Otherwise, your opponent puts it face-up on the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it (even if it's not a creature), and it'll be black in addition to its other colors. If it's a creature, it'll also be a Zombie in addition to its other types.

Q: An opponent has reached chapter IV of In the Darkness Bind Them and took control of a creature that they then designated as their Ring-bearer. When they return the creature to its original controller at the end of the turn, is it still their Ring-bearer?

A: No. There are two ways a creature can stop being a player's Ring-bearer. One is if the player chooses another creature as their Ring-bearer. The other is if another player gains control of a player's Ring-bearer. Since another player gained control of your opponent's creature, it stopped being their Ring-bearer.

Q: If I cast Feign Death and Not Dead After All on the same creature and it dies, do I get it back with a +1/+1 counter, with a Wicked Role, or both?

A: You'll get to choose between the counter or the Role. When the creature dies, two delayed triggered abilities trigger and want to go on the stack at the same time. You control both abilities, so you choose their order on the stack. Whichever ability you put on top of the stack resolves first, and that's the ability that returns the creature to the battlefield with its particular bonus. The other ability then fails to find the card in the graveyard, so it does nothing.

Q: Let's say I use Wrenn and Realmbreaker's +1 ability to turn a land into a 3/3 creature with vigilance, hexproof, and haste. I attack with it, and then I tap it for mana to cast an instant. Will the land still deal damage?

A: Absolutely. The notion that untapping a tapped attacker or tapping an untapped attacker will somehow thwart its attack is (or at least was at some point) so common that there exists a special rule to address this misconception. It's rule 506.4b, and the part of it we need here says that tapping or untapping an attacker doesn't remove it from combat and doesn't prevent its combat damage.

Q: If an Attraction gets destroyed, does that trigger Disciple of the Vault?

A: No. Attractions can only exist on the battlefield, in exile, and in the command zone. If an Attraction would move to any other zone than those, a replacement effect kicks in and moves the card to the command zone instead. Since the card is going to the command zone instead of going to the graveyard, Disciple of the Vault's ability doesn't trigger.

Q: If I control Sophia, Dogged Detective and Academy Manufactor and deal combat damage to an opponent with a Dog, what happens?

A: You'll create two Clues, two Foods, and two Treasures. Sophia's ability instructs you to create a Food token and then it instructs you to investigate, which leads to you creating a Clue token. Each of those token creation events get replaced by Academy Manufactor, so you'll create a Clue, a Food, and a Treasure, and then you do that again.

Q: How does Humility interact with Adventure spells? If Humility is on the battlefield, can I still cast Petty Theft?

A: There is no interaction with Humility there, so yes, you can still cast Petty Theft. Humility only affects creatures on the battlefield. It does not affect the Brazen Borrower in your hand or on the stack, so it doesn't interfere in any way with the process of casting the Adventure spell.

Q: How does Esper Sentinel's ability work when I control Delney, Streetwise Lookout?

A: Delney causes Esper Sentinel's ability to trigger twice, so you will resolve two separate instances of Esper Sentinel's ability. The first instance that resolves asks your opponent whether they'd like to pay , where X is Esper Sentinel's power, so probably . If they don't, you draw a card. Then the second instance resolves and does the same thing, so your opponent once again gets to pay , and if they don't, you draw a card.

Q: When is the target opponent for Athreos, God of Passage chosen? When it enters the battlefield, or when its last ability triggers?

A: You don't choose a target for the ability when Athreos enters the battlefield. You choose a target when the ability triggers, or more precisely, when it's put on the stack. If you have multiple opponents, you can choose a different one for each time the ability triggers if that's what you want.

Q: A friend told me that you can cast Lobotomy on yourself to exile some, but not necessarily all, copies of Slime Against Humanity from your library. Is that true?

A: If there's a Slime Against Humanity in your hand at the time you Lobotomize yourself, sure. You reveal your hand and choose the Slime Against Humanity in your hand, and then you proceed to search your graveyard, hand, and library for all cards with that name and exile them. Since you are searching for cards with a stated quality, you don't have to find all such cards that are in hidden zones. You have to find and exile all Slimes from your graveyard because the graveyard is a public zone, but how many copies you remove from your hand and library is up to you.

Q: I'm playing Commander, and my commanders are Sakashima of a Thousand Faces and some other commander with partner. If Sakashima copies my other commander, how does that interact with the rule about 21 commander damage?

A: There's no interaction. Each of your commanders track their combat damage separately from each other, even if they look the same. In order to lose the game to the 21-damage rule, your opponent must be dealt a total of 21 combat damage by the same commander over the course of the game.

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. Meanwhile, the heart is sitting on my desk, and I couldn't bring myself to taste it yet. For one, I'm trying to cut back on sweets, and for another, it's still beating...

- 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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