Published on 07/23/2012

A Cycle of Rings

Cranial Translation
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Note: This article is over two years old. Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes. Proceed with caution.

Ever since M13's "Rings" were spoiled, I've been wandering around humming bits of Wagner and considering how I'd look in a horned helmet. Alas, the answer is "not as cool as I'd hope", so I'll have to just content myself with answering another grab bag of rules questions in this week's episode of Cranial Insertion.

But as always, if you've got questions, or if any dwarfs give you magic rings, please send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: I've got Ring of Thune equipped to one of my creatures... but it isn't white. If I also have Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, is there any way I can turn the creature white in my upkeep in time to get a +1/+1 counter?

A: Sure. The triggered abilities of M13's Ring cycle all check the creature's color when they resolve, so at the beginning of your upkeep you can let the trigger go on the stack, respond with Eight-and-a-Half-Tails' ability, and then Ring of Thune will see it as white when it checks whether to give a +1/+1 counter.

Q: So my opponent is attacking me with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and I've got a Stifle in my hand and I want to counter the annihilator ability. My opponent says I can't because of Emrakul's protection; is he right?

A: While Emmy herself has protection from colored spells, her abilities don't; on the stack, an ability is independent of its source, and doesn't automatically inherit things like protection. So you're still going to get your aeons ripped up to the tune of 15 damage, but Stifle can save you from having them absolutely torn up by the annihilator 6.

Q: I have Bruna, Light of Alabaster with, naturally a whole bunch of awesome Auras on her. My opponent casts Wrath of God, and the only way I have to save her is by phasing her out with a Reality Ripple. What happens to the Auras? Do they end up in the graveyard since she's no longer on the battlefield?

A: Phasing is a weird ability, but thankfully it's weird in a way that's useful here! Whenever a permanent phases out, anything attached to it phases too (this is called "indirect phasing"). So Bruna will take all her Auras with her to wherever phased-out permanents go (technically not anywhere — she's treated as if she's not on the battlefield, even though she technically still is), and bring them back when she phases back in at the beginning of your next untap step.

Q: If I discard a Basking Rootwalla and then cast it for its madness cost, will that trigger Burning Vengeance?

A: While this may be madness, it isn't quite burny madness: madness has you exile the discarded card, then cast it from exile for its madness cost. Which means you're not casting from your graveyard, and Burning Vengeance won't trigger.

With my spear...
Q: If my opponent has a Mogg Flunkies and another creature, and I target the Flunkies with Courtly Provocateur to make it attack, what happens? Does he have to attack with the other creature in order to attack with the Flunkies?

A: As strange as it seems, yes he does! In order to be legal, a declaration of attackers has to obey as many requirements as possible (things that say something must attack) without disobeying any restrictions (things that say something can't attack, or can't attack unless some condition is met). The one exception to this is effects which require paying a cost to attack, like Propaganda; you're never required to pay those costs in order to obey an attacking requirement. Since Mogg Flunkies isn't asking for a payment, it doesn't get an exception, and your opponent will have to attack with the Flunkies and his other creature in order to be obeying as many requirements as possible.

Q: If I Cloudshift my Void Stalker in response to its own ability, will it still get shuffled into my library? Or will it stay on the battlefield so I can use it again next turn?

A: It'll keep stalking around once it comes back from the void you Cloudshifted it into. Whenever a card changes zones, it becomes a new game object; it has no memory of its previous existence, and anything that had been tracking it (including one of its own abilities) will lose track of it. Of course, it'll have a fresh case of summoning sickness, but waiting a turn to use it again is better than waiting until you draw it again.

Q: Since Food Chain's ability doesn't cost any mana, I can name it with Pithing Needle, right?

A: Well, there are a couple problems here. First, the definition of a mana ability isn't one that costs mana; it's one that produces mana (and doesn't target anything, and isn't a loyalty ability of a planeswalker, like Koth of the Hammer). So Food Chain's activated ability most definitely is a mana ability, and won't be stopped by Pithing Needle.

Second, and more important if you're playing in competitive-level tournaments: the answer to "can I name this with Pithing Needle" is almost always going to be yes! All Pithing Needle technically requires is that you name a card that really exists and is legal in the format you're playing. Usually, though, what you really want to know is whether the card has any activated abilities and whether they're mana abilities, but a judge can only answer the question you ask (answering "can I name this" with "yes, but Pithing Needle won't stop its abilities" would cross the line into unsolicited play advice), so make sure you always ask whether the card you want to name has any activated abilities, and whether they're mana abilities, if you have any doubts about that.

Q: My opponent has an Ichorid in his graveyard, and a black creature card, and I want to wait until he exiles the creature card to cast Surgical Extraction and get rid of the Ichorid. How do I announce the timing for that?

A: Unfortunately, you don't. Both actions — exiling the black creature card, and returning Ichorid to the battlefield — are part of one triggered ability, and once that ability starts to resolve it has to completely resolve before you get a chance to do anything else. So there's no way to make him exile the creature card and hit the Ichorid with the Extraction, but that's a small price to pay for permanently getting rid of someone's Ichorids!

Q: I control Humility and my opponent just cast Angel of Despair to blow it up. Will Humility remove that ability in time to save itself, or does the trigger go onto the stack before Humility applies?

A: The Angel will be so humbled that she won't destroy anything. Humility has what's called a "continuous effect" — it doesn't wait to apply, it's just always on and doing its thing. And, most of the time, the game looks at things just after an event to see whether that event triggered anything; since the Angel is never on the battlefield with any abilities, the game doesn't see any triggers that need to happen, and the very humble Angel just sits there and wonders whether she might have forgot something.

Q: If I have Jace's Phantasm and my opponent has nine cards in his graveyard, what happens if he casts Bonfire of the Damned targeting me with X=1?

A: Your Phantasm will live. State-based actions are what destroy creatures that have lethal damage on them, and they aren't checked during the middle of a spell resolving. So first Bonfire completely resolves — including being put into the graveyard — and then when state-based actions are checked afterward, the Phantasm is a 5/5 with 1 damage marked on it, and survives.

Q: If I have a face-down creature that I cast using morph, and then target it with Restoration Angel's triggered ability, does it come back face-down?

A: Unless something says otherwise, permanents always enter the battlefield untapped, unflipped, phased in, face-up and day-side-up (for double-faced cards). When you originally cast your creature, the morph ability caused it to be face-down, but now there isn't anything saying to do that, so it will come back face-up instead (and if it has any enters-the-battlefield abilities, they'll trigger, but "when this is turned face-up" abilities won't).

Q: If I have both Zealous Conscripts and Conjurer's Closet, and I use the Closet to "blink" my Conscripts, when do I give back the thing I take control of? At the end of that turn, or the next?

A: Conjurer's Closet triggers at the beginning of the end step; Zealous Conscripts' control-change effect wears off at "end of turn", which means the cleanup step. That comes after the end step, so you'll basically get to take something, keep it for the rest of that end step, then give it back during that turn's cleanup step.

Q: If I sacrifice one of my lands to the annihilator ability of my opponent's Eldrazi, will my Sacred Ground trigger? Can I use this to just sacrifice the same land a bunch of times to satisfy annihilator?

A: Yes and no. Even though you choose which permanents to sacrifice, the annihilator ability is still controlled by your opponent, so any lands you sacrifice will trigger it. But the annihilator ability has to completely finish resolving — including you sacrificing enough permanents — before Sacred Ground's trigger can be put on the stack, so you'll have to sacrifice enough different permanents to satisfy annihilator before you get your land back from Sacred Ground

Q: If I have a Quirion Dryad and cast Huntmaster of the Fells, do I get a counter for a red spell? Or not since it's a green spell?

A: You get to grow your Dryad with a counter. All she wants to know is whether you can answer "yes" to "is that spell white, blue, black or red?" — she doesn't ask anything else, and doesn't care if the spell is also green.

Q: So I got a Gloom Surgeon in draft, but I'm running low on cards in my library. Will it still prevent damage if I don't have enough cards? Will I lose if I don't have enough?

A: Gloom Surgeon's damage prevention doesn't require that you have enough cards in your library to exile (in fact, it doesn't require you to have any), so it'll keep on preventing damage. And you don't lose immediately when your library is empty; you lose if you try to draw a card from an empty library, so you'll normally have until your next draw step to find a way to kill your opponent before that empty library catches up to you.

Q: My Dredge-playing opponent has a Bridge from Below in his graveyard... and has a Leyline of the Void. I have a Batterskull attached to a Germ token and bounce the Batterskull with its ability; will the token go to the graveyard, or get exiled? Or will it just poof out of existence since it's a token?

A: Tokens can indeed be put into a graveyard, though that isn't often relevant — they'll cease to exist pretty much immediately afterward. And Leyline of the Void only cares about cards that would be put into a graveyard; tokens aren't and can't ever be cards, so it won't interfere. Which means your Germ will go from the battlefield to (very briefly) your graveyard, triggering Bridge from Below's "exile me" ability.

Q: Will Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth let me fetch any land I want from my library with Liliana of the Dark Realms' ability?

A: You may be thinking back to an older interaction — Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Mystical Teachings — which did work, but this one doesn't. The trick with Teferi worked because he also explicitly affected cards that weren't on the battlefield. Urborg doesn't do that, so land cards in your library don't get any additional types, and Liliana won't be able to fetch them unless they naturally have the Swamp land subtype.

Q: I know that turning a morphed creature face-up can happen at times when I can't normally cast a spell or use an ability (like with split second). But how far does that go? Could I wait for my opponent to say he's sending the damage from his Lightning Bolt at my planeswalker, and then turn Willbender face-up to redirect the Bolt somewhere else?

A: Turning a face-down creature face-up for its morph cost is a special action; that means it doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to, and also that it's not an ability, which is what gets around split second. But you can only take that special action when you have priority, and during the resolution of Lightning Bolt (which is when the choice to redirect or not would be made), you don't have priority. But keep in mind that many players shortcut this sort of interaction by saying "Bolt your planeswalker" as they cast the spell; you can respond to the spell in that case (but if you do, and if the spell ends up targeting a player, he can make a different choice about whether to redirect the damage).

Q: If I have a few creatures out, including a Stuffy Doll, and I cast Infinite Reflection on the Stuffy Doll, will all my other creatures damage the same player? Do I get to make a new choice for each one of them?

A: The player chosen when Stuffy Doll entered the battlefield isn't copied, and nothing's giving you an opportunity to choose now for the Stuffy Doll copies that are already on the battlefield. So those won't deal damage to any player. Any new creatures will enter as Stuffy Dolls, though, and you'll get to choose whoever you like for for each of those as it enters the battlefield.

Q: I really want to play Duress in my Standard deck now that it's been printed again, but the only copies I have are from Magic 2011. Do I really have to go buy Magic 2013 versions to play with?

A: Nope, you can play any copies of Duress you happen to have lying around. Whether a card is legal for Standard isn't based on the expansion symbol of that particular piece of cardboard, but on whether a card with the same English-language name is in a Standard-legal set. So you could even play an original Urza's Saga Duress in Standard right now if you wanted to!

Some well-armed ladies on winged horses just went flying over, so I'm going to wrap this up and make sure the world isn't ending (Magic 2012 is legal another few months in Standard, so hopefully we've still got some time). If we're all still here next week, Eli will be back with another installment of Cranial Insertion!

- James Bennett

About the Author:
James Bennett is a Level 3 judge based out of Lawrence, Kansas. He pops up at events around Kansas City and all over the midwest, and has a car he can talk to.

Very nice questions! Varied and mixed. The Mogg Flunkies actually got me wrong! And other questions helped in clearing up even more my knowledge of the rules :) Nice article!
#1 • Date: 2012-07-23 • Time: 10:24:22 •
About this question:
Q: If I have both Zealous Conscripts and Conjurer\'s Closet, and I use the Closet to \"blink\" my Conscripts, when do I give back the thing I take control of? At the end of that turn, or the next?

I think the asker wanted to know what would happen if he \"blinked\" the permanent that he took control of with his Zealous Conscripts. Which would actually let him keep the \"Conscripted\" permanent permanently since it\'s a brand new object after it\'s trip to the exile zone.

Or maybe I am just giving unsolicited play advice by interpreting the question differently.
#2 • Date: 2012-07-23 • Time: 13:27:57 •
Citazione (misosoup7):
I think the asker wanted to know what would happen if he "blinked" the permanent that he took control of

He says "blink my Conscripts", so I'd say that the question is actually: is "End of turn" on the Conscripts a triggered ability (like Hellspark Elemental) or a duration? Of course it's the latter. :)

Donato Del Giudice
Italian Translation Manager
#3 • Date: 2012-07-25 • Time: 16:55:57 •

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