Published on 03/04/2024

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Delivery

Cranial Translation
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I'm waking up to ash and dust
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! The Fallout Commander decks are coming to stores this week, and I'm sure there are a lot of Fallout fans out there who are very excited about this. I personally never got into Fallout — I'd be much more excited about Universes Beyond Skyrim or Half-Life — but that doesn't mean I'm not excited about this release. Regardless of whether I like Fallout, this product is full of new cards that promise exciting new rules questions, and we're just barely scratching the surface of those questions with today's issue.

Speaking of rules questions, if you have questions for us, you can email them to us at or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will reply to your question, and your question might even appear in a future article.

And now, sit back, relax with a cold Nuka-Cola, and enjoy today's selection of rules questions!

Q: So, are those Fallout cards going to be legal in Standard?

A: No. Just like all Commander products, Fallout is not a set release that enters into Standard or Modern. The new-to-Magic cards from Fallout are only legal in Eternal formats, i.e. Commander, Legacy, or Vintage, and the reprints of previously released cards are legal in whichever formats they were already legal.

Q: If I have both rad counters and energy counters on me and proliferate can I choose to proliferate only the energy counter on me?

A: No. If you choose to include yourself in the set of players to add counters to, you have to add one of each type of counter that's already on you. In this case, your choice is to add both a rad counter and an energy counter, or to add neither.

Q: I sacrifice a Junk token and exile a creature card from the top of my library. When can I play that card?

A: You can play that card during the current turn, but only at a time when you can normally cast a creature spell, which means it has to be during one of your main phases and when the stack is empty. The reason for this is that the effect from the Junk token's ability specifies a duration of "this turn", so it only creates a continuous effect that allows you to play the card from an unusual zone, namely the exile zone. Everything else about playing the card follows the normal rules, so you have to pay any applicable costs and you have to obey the applicable timing rules.

Q: In what color decks can I play the Bobbleheads?

A: The Bobbleheads can be played in a deck of any color identity. Even though they can create mana of any color, they don't have a color and they don't mention any colored mana symbols in their rules text. This means that their color identity is colorless, which is always a subset of your commander's color identity regardless of what that color identity is.

Q: Does The Wise Mothman's ability only trigger when I mill cards, or does it trigger for any player?

A: It triggers for any player. Note that the trigger condition says "Whenever one or more nonland cards are milled", not "Whenever you mill one or more nonland cards", so it doesn't matter who is doing the milling.

Q: So, wait, what if multiple players mill at the same time with Raul, Trouble Shooter and they each mill a nonland card? How many times does The Wise Mothman's ability trigger?

A: It triggers just once. Since the trigger condition doesn't say "whenever a player mills one or more nonland cards", the ability looks for any number of nonland cards being milled by any player or combination of players in a single event. Raul's ability causes each player to mill a card simultaneously rather than individually, so all cards are getting milled in a single event, which triggers the ability just once.

Q: If I make my opponent mill cards with Undead Alchemist and the cards are getting exiled, does that still trigger The Wise Mothman's ability?

A: It sure does. Undead Alchemist's ability that exiles the milled cards is a triggered ability, not a replacement effect, so the cards hit the graveyard first and trigger The Wise Mothman's ability before they get exiled. Also, even if a replacement effect were to change where the milled cards go, The Wise Mothman's ability would still trigger, since it just triggers off of cards getting milled and doesn't care in which zone the cards ended up.

I'm radioactive, radioactive
Q: My opponent is targeting several 2/2 creatures of mine with V.A.T.S.. One of those 2/2s is a face-down Coral Trickster. In response, I turn the Trickster face up. What happens to V.A.T.S.?

A: First off, I'll start by reassuring you that what you did is legal in the first place. Even though V.A.T.S. has split second, you can still activate mana abilities and take special actions such as turning a face-down creature face up. When V.A.T.S. goes to resolve, it rechecks the legality of its targets and it sees that one of its targets now has a different toughness than the others, which means that the set of targets is no longer a set of target creatures with equal toughness. Therefore, none of the targets are legal and V.A.T.S fails to resolve.

Q: My opponent claims that they can make a spell uncounterable by holding priority and responding to it with V.A.T.S. since that essentially shuts off the stack. Is that true?

A: That's not even a little bit true. While it's true that V.A.T.S. has split second, it doesn't shut off the stack. For one, things can still go on the stack above V.A.T.S., most notably triggered abilities, and a Chalice of the Void on four counters would have no problem countering V.A.T.S., for example. Split second merely restricts what you can do while V.A.T.S. is on the stack, possibly to the point of not being able to do anything at all, but that restriction only lasts while it's on the stack. After V.A.T.S. has left the stack, probably by resolving, there still has to be a round of priority passes before your opponent's supposedly uncounterable spell can resolve, and that gives you the opportunity to respond and counter that spell.

Q: I control an Autonomous Assembler that I cast for its prototype cost, and I exile it with Curie, Emergent Intelligence to make Curie into a copy of it. Does Curie become 2/2 or 4/5?

A: It'll only be 2/2. Curie takes on the copiable values of the creature as it existed on the battlefield, not as it exists in the exile zone. Since the prototype ability replaces the copiable characteristics of the permanent with its alternative values, Curie's copy effect sees the 2/2 prototype rather than the 4/5 creature.

Q: Can I have both Walking Ballista and Assaultron Invader in the same Commander deck?

A: No. Assaultron Invader is not only functionally identical to Walking Ballista, as far as the game rules and tournament rules are concerned it actually has the same card name for all purposes, including deck legality. Assaultron Invader is an alternative name for the Fallout printing, but if you look closely, the official name of Walking Ballista is printed underneath that alternative name.

Q: How does Mr. House, President and CEO's triggered ability work?

A: It's actually pretty straightforward. Any time you roll some number of dice, House's ability looks at each individual die's result and triggers accordingly if you rolled a 4 or higher. Let's say for example you activate its second ability and you spend two mana from Treasures to do so, so you roll three six-sided dice. If you roll a 4, a 5, and a 6, the first ability triggers three times, you'll make three Robot tokens and one Treasure token.

Q: So, what if I control Mr. House, President and CEO and I cast Danse Macabre and sacrifice a creature with toughness 4 to it?

A: You'll be guaranteed a trigger from House, and it's very likely you'll get both a Robot and a Treasure for your trouble. House's ability looks at the result of the die roll, which includes the toughness of the creature that Danse Macabre tells you to add to the die. Since you sacrificed a creature with toughness 4, the result that House's ability sees is guaranteed to be at least 5, and there's a 95% probability of the result being 6 or higher.

Q: I control Mr. House, President and CEO, activate its second ability using four mana from Treasures, and then use Rings of Brighthearth to copy House's ability. How many dice do I roll with the copy of the ability?

A: Just one. While the value of choices you made while activating the original ability get copied, House's ability isn't asking about a choice you made. It's asking how much mana from Treasures was spent to activate the ability. Since the copy wasn't activated at all, no mana at all was spent to activate the ability, let alone mana from Treasures.

Desolation, devastation
What a mess we made, when it all went wrong
Q: I control Three Dog, Galaxy News DJ and it is enchanted with a bestowed Ghostblade Eidolon. If I sacrifice the Eidolon to Three Dog's triggered ability, do the attacking creatures get Ghostblade Eidolon token Auras attached to them?

A: No. Unlike the prototype question above, bestow does not change the copiable values of the permanent that the spell becomes, so the token copies that Three Dog's ability makes are Ghostblade Eidolon creature tokens. Three Dog's ability tries to attach those tokens to your attacking creatures, but that's impossible, so the ability does as much as it can and the tokens enter the battlefield not attached to anything.

Q: I cast Securitron Squadron and pay its squad cost twice. What happens?

A: First, the original Securitron Squadron enters the battlefield, which triggers its squad ability that makes two token copies of it. Those two token copies enter the battlefield simultaneously, and they trigger a whole bunch of enter-the-battlefield abilties since they both see each other and themselves enter the battlefield, and the original Securitron Squadron sees them entering as well. Overall, each of the tokens is seen entering by three Securitron Squadrons, so they each get three +1/+1 counters. In the end, you'll have a 2/2 original and two 5/5 tokens.

Q: If I control Doubling Season and play Recon Craft Theta, what happens?

A: Recon Craft Theta's enter the battlefield ability wants to create a 0/0 Alien token, which Doubling Season doubles to two tokens, and the instruction to put a +1/+1 counter on it becomes an instruction to put a +1/+1 counter on each of those tokens. Those counters get doubled to two counters each, so you'll have two 2/2 Alien tokens.

Q: I control Doubling Season and Preston Garvey, Minuteman's first ability triggers. Can I attach Settlement tokens to two lands?

A: No, you'll attach two tokens to one land, which is not nearly as useful as attaching one token to each of two lands. Preston Garvey's ability has a target, and the resolution of the ability instructs you to attach the Settlement token to that target land. Doubling Season changes that to two tokens, but they both become attached to that target land. This means that the land has two instances of the ability that lets you tap it for one mana of any color, which is not any more useful than just having one instance of that ability.

Q: I control Yes Man, Personal Securitron and Rings of Brighthearth, and I have one opponent left. If I activate Yes Man's ability and copy the ability with Rings of Brighthearth, do I get to draw four cards?

A: Yes, that works. Nothing in Yes Man's ability requires that gaining control of it actually changes its controller. It only requires that a control-changing effect can be established, which requires Yes Man to be on the battlefield and that the opponent is a legal target. As long as those conditions are met, the control-changing effect gets established and the reflexive trigger triggers even if that opponent already controls Yes Man at that time due to the earlier resolution of the identical ability.

Q: If I deal combat damage to three opponents, does Sierra, Nuka's Biggest Fan's ability trigger three times?

A: It does! While the number of creatures that deal damage to a particular player doesn't matter, the trigger condition includes the player being dealt damage, so dealing combat damage to three players triggers three separate instances of Sierra's first ability.

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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