Published on 04/15/2024

Meet The Outlaws

Cranial Translation
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I'm the bad guy.
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! The Outlaws of Thunder Junction prereleases are done, and people are starting to brew decks with the new cards, so it's time to look at the mechanics in the set and how they interact with existing Magic cards. Saddle up and hold on to your cowboy hats, it's going to be a wild ride!

As always, if you have questions for us, you can email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will respond to you, and your question might show up in a future article.

Q: Are Changelings outlaws?

A: Absolutely! An outlaw is a permanent (most likely but not necessarily a creature) that has the creature type Assassin, Mercenary, Pirate, Rogue, or Warlock. Since Changelings have all those creature types and more, they are definitely outlaws in the eyes of anything that looks for outlaws.

Q: What's the timing for the copy I get to cast with Kaervek, the Punisher's ability?

A: With "you may cast" (or "you may play") effects, you have to pay attention to whether the effect provides a duration. If it provides a duration, it's a continuous effect that establishes a special set of circumstances for casting the spell, for example to cast it from a particular zone. Such effects are generally subject to the normal timing rules for casting that spell. If the "you may cast" effect does not provide a duration, it's a one-shot effect offering you to cast the spell right now, during the resolution of the effect. Kaervek's ability doesn't provide a duration, so it allows you to cast the copy right now. At that time, you normally wouldn't be able to cast anything, not even an instant, so the timing rules based on the card type are irrelevant. However, if the card has an ability that restricts when you can cast it (such as Jace Reawakened's first ability), it must be obeyed, so such an ability could stop you from casting the copy.

Q: So, the card I exile with Gila Courser's attacks-while-saddled ability is subject to its normal timing rules?

A: Exactly! The effect provides a duration, namely "until the end of your next turn", so it's a continuous effect that allows you to play the card from exile. This effect doesn't provide any special timing or special costs, so you have to follow the normal timing rules and pay the normal costs to play the card. If it's a land card, you can only play it during your main phase while the stack is empty, and only if you have a land drop left for the turn.

Q: Are plotted cards face-up or face-down?

A: They're face up. Cards get exiled face-up unless the effect that exiles the card specifies otherwise, and plot doesn't specify otherwise, so your plots won't be a secret to your opponent.

Q: Can I plot a card in my first main phase and cast it from exile in the second main phase of the same turn?

A: No, that doesn't work. The permission to cast the card from exile does not work during the turn in which the card became plotted, so the soonest you can cast the card will be in the precombat main phase of your next turn.

Q: If I have plotted a bunch of cards with Fblthp, Lost on the Range and it gets destroyed, can I still cast those cards later?

A: Absolutely. The cards remain plotted as long as they remain exiled, and the permission to cast them from exile comes from the rules for what it means to be plotted, so that permission sticks around even if Fblthp itself goes away.

Q: If a card with flash gets plotted, can I cast it as an instant later?

A: No, the permission to cast the plotted card only allows you to do so during your main phase when the stack is empty. It doesn't matter if the card has more generous timing rules that would allow you to cast the card at other times, since those only apply to casting the card from your hand. This gets particularly annoying if a Counterspell gets exiled by Aven Interrupter. The permission to cast the Counterspell from exile can never be used in response to a spell, so the Counterspell will just uselessly sit in exile for the remainder of the game.

It's the Final Showdown!
Q: Can I cast Final Showdown without any modes just to trigger something that triggers off of casting a spell?

A: No, that doesn't work. Spree requires you to choose one or more modes, so you have to pay at least one of the additional costs to legally cast a spree spell.

Q: Is there a point to choosing the first and second mode of Final Showdown together, or would the creature just lose indestructible right away?

A: Choosing the first and second mode together is perfectly fine and useful. The chosen modes resolve in the order in which they're printed on the card, so first all creatures lose all abilities until end of turn, and then you choose a creature which gains indestructible until end of turn. Because gaining indestructible happens second, it has the later timestamp, so it applies after the creature loses all abilities and it ends up having indestructible.

Q: Is casting Final Showdown in any combination of modes a crime?

A: Not at all. To commit a crime means to target an opponent and/or a permanent or spell they control and/or a card in an opponent's graveyard with a spell or ability. While the third mode in particular does some arguably unpleasant things to all creatures, including your opponent's creatures, it doesn't target the creatures that it destroys. The other modes don't target anything either, so no combination of Final Showdown's modes constitutes committing a crime.

Q: If a spree spell gets copied, do I have to pay the cost for the modes I want the copy to have?

A: No, the additional costs for the modes are costs that get paid while the spell is cast. When you copy a spell, it's not getting cast, so none of those costs have to be paid. However, the copy will have the same modes as the original. The only thing you get to change about the copy are its targets if the spell has any.

Q: Can I put Great Train Heist on an Isochron Scepter?

A: Sure, it's an instant card with mana value 1, which meets the "2 or less" condition for Isochron Scepter's imprint ability. However, when you activate the Scepter and cast the copy of Great Train Heist, you will have to pay the cost(s) for the mode(s) you choose, since the Scepter only waives the base mana cost of .

Q: I really want to trigger a "whenever you commit a crime" trigger, but I only have a Rooftop Assassin in my hand and none of my opponent's creatures have been dealt damage this turn. Can I cast Rooftop Assassin and target one of those creatures anyway even though it won't be destroyed?

A: You can cast the Rooftop Assassin, but you won't get to commit a crime. As you put the Assassin's enter-the-battlefield ability on the stack, you have to choose a target for it, but having been dealt damage is part of the targeting restriction. Since you can't choose a legal target, the ability gets removed from the stack and it never targeted anything, so you didn't commit a crime.

Q: I control Honest Rutstein and I cast another one, and I put the new one into the graveyard due to the legend rule. Can it return itself to my hand with its own enter-the-battlefield ability?

A: It sure can. Entering the battlefield triggered its enter-the-battlefield ability, but before that ability can go on the stack, you deal with state-based actions, which includes applying the legend rule. Then you put the ability on the stack and choose the target for the ability. At that time, Honest Rutstein is in the graveyard, so it's a legal target for its ability.

B-B-B-B-Bad to the bones
Q: In the previous turn I activated Mishra's Bauble, and in this turn Obeka, Splitter of Seconds gives me three extra upkeeps after combat. Do I draw cards for Mishra's Bauble in those extra upkeeps?

A: That would be great, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way. The resolution of Mishra's Bauble's ability creates a delayed triggered ability, and a delayed triggered ability only triggers once the next time the trigger event occurs unless it specifies a duration, which Mishra's Bauble doesn't do. The delayed triggered ability already triggered at the beginning of this turn's regular upkeep, so it won't trigger again during the extra upkeeps.

Q: If I sacrifice Forsaken Miner to Goblin Bombardment and target my opponent, can Forsaken Miner return itself to the battlefield?

A: Yup, that works. The "whenever you commit a crime" trigger only gets checked after you have completed the process of casting a spell or putting an ability on the stack, which includes paying the activation cost for activating an ability. By the time this is checked for your activation of Goblin Bombardment, Forsaken Miner is in the graveyard, so its ability sees you committing a crime and you can pay to return Forsaken Miner to the battlefield.

Q: If Phyrexian Revoker names Meteorite, what happens to the Meteorite tokens that Roxanne, Starfall Savant's ability makes?

A: Naming Meteorite won't stop Roxanne's ability from making the token, and it won't stop the token's enter-the-battlefield ability from going on the stack or resolving, but it will stop the token's controller from tapping it for mana. The token's name is "Meteorite", not "Meteorite token", so it is a source with the chosen name for Phyrexian Revoker, and the Revoker doesn't make an exception for mana abilities, which means that the Meteorite token's activated ability can't be activated.

Q: If I use Fleeting Reflection to give a creature hexproof, doesn't it lose hexproof right away when I make it a copy of another creature?

A: One might think so, but thanks to the layers, the creature actually becomes a copy and also has hexproof. The copy effect is applied in layer 1, and the effect that gives the creature hexproof is applied in layer 6. The fact that the hexproof effect started first is irrelevant. It lives in a separate layer that gets applied later, so it applies on top of the copy effect.

Q: I control four Persistent Petitioners and blink them three times with Another Round for X=2. Can I activate their mill ability in between blinks?

A: No, that won't work. You don't get priority to do anything until Another Round has finished resolving in its entirety, so you don't get the chance to activate any abilities in between blinks. Another Round works well for triggering leaves-the-battlefield and enter-the-battlefield abilities a bunch of times, but it doesn't help you with reusing activated abilities.

Q: I control Marchesa, Dealer of Death and cast Snap targeting one of my opponent's creatures. Can I use mana from the lands that Snap untaps to pay for Marchesa's crime ability?

A: No. The "whenever you commit a crime" ability goes on the stack above the spell or ability that triggered it. This means that Snap is at the bottom of the stack, and Marchesa's ability is above Snap and resolves first, so Snap's untap effect won't help you come up with the mana for Marchesa's 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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