Published on 01/11/2016

Snow is Overrated

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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.

I'm just trying to walk to my car...
Man, I'm sick of the cold and snow.

You'd think by now, after 30+ years, I'd be used to it. Especially when I've lived in places like Minnesota and the mountains of Colorado, places known for having both cold and snow for a large portion of the year. But every year, I dread that first big snow. Trying to remove the snow from the sidewalks, drive in it, or just trying to move in it in general is just unfun. The only benefit to the snow is that it's nice to look at (unless you just had a foot dropped on you). So I apologize if I'm in a slightly grumpy mood. But this might last for a while, since the snow will probably be around for a few months (and we'll probably get that surprise April snowstorm as well).

But enough about snow, we're here to handle your rules questions. If you have a rules question that you'd like us to answer, there's a couple ways of doing that. If you have a short question, you can tweet at us - our Twitter account is @CranialTweet. But if you have slightly longer question, you can contact us at .

Q: There are no creatures on the battlefield. I cast Wasteland Strangler and target itself with its enter the battlefield trigger. Can I choose to put an opponent's exiled card into their graveyard, but not give my Strangler -3/-3?

A: Nope, that's not possible. The 'may' is referring to choosing to use the ability or not. If you choose to use the ability (and put an opponent's exiled card into their graveyard), then the targeted creature will get -3/-3. You can't opt out of the last part of the ability. So you can either put the card into their graveyard, but kill the Strangler; or keep the Strangler around, but you can't put the card into their graveyard.

Q: At the end of my turn, my opponent casts Harbinger of the Tides. Can I counter it with Dispel?

A: Nope, that doesn't work. Dispel can only target an instant spell. While flash lets them cast the spell any time they could cast an instant, that doesn't make it an instant spell, so your opponent's Harbinger is not a legal target for Dispel.

Q: Do goblin tokens contribute to devotion?

A: That depends. Are the tokens a copy of a Goblin creature or not? A token that's a copy of something (like the token made by Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker) will copy the mana cost of the card it's copying, so the token would contribute to devotion. But if it's just a goblin token that's not a copy of something (for instance, the tokens made by Dragon Fodder), they don't have a mana cost, and will not contribute to devotion.

Q: I have a Saffi Eriksdotter, Viscera Seer, and a Balduvian Bears in play. Can I activate Saffi's ability, targeting the Bears, then sac the Bears as much as I want to activate the Seer's ability?

A: That doesn't really work, unless you only want to activate the Seer's ability two times. When a card changes zones, it becomes a new card with no link to its previous life. When the Bears returns to the battlefield, it's considered a different permanent than the Bears that were on the battlefield before (and different from the Bears that were affected by Saffi's ability). So you can sac the Bears once, and the Bears will return to the battlefield. But if you sac them again, they're no longer affected by Saffi's ability, and the Bears will die and stay dead.

Q: I have a Waste Not in play and a Nightshade Assassin in my hand. I cast Burning Inquiry. I discard the Assassin and two other cards, my opponent discards a land and two other cards. Will I get the mana from Waste Not in time to cast the Assassin using its madness ability?

A: That's up to you. Waste Not's mana generating triggered ability is not a mana ability (since it's not triggering off of another mana ability), so it uses the stack. Since you control the Waste Not triggers and the Assassin's madness triggers, you get to choose the order those triggers are put on the stack. If you put the Assassin's trigger on the stack first, then Waste Not's triggers, the triggers from Waste Not will resolve first, and you'll get the mana before you have to deal with the Assassin's madness trigger.

Q: My opponent controls an Insectile Aberration. How many charge counters does my Engineered Explosives need to have on it to destroy the Aberration?

A: Zero. The backside of a double faced card has no mana cost, and the converted mana cost of a card with no mana cost is zero. If you want to destroy the Aberration, the Explosives needs to have 0 charge counters on it.

Q: I have a Liliana of the Veil on the battlefield, and my opponent has a Tasigur, the Golden Fang as their only creature. I activate Liliana's -2 ability targeting my opponent. In response, they activate their fetchland and put a Dryad Arbor onto the battlefield. Do I get priority again before Liliana's ability resolves to Ghost Quarter their Arbor?

A: Yes you do! The stack resolves one spell or ability at a time, not all at once. After each spell or ability has resolved, all players get priority again. After the fetchland's ability has resolved, before we move on to resolving Liliana's ability, everyone gets priority again. You'll be able to use Ghost Quarter on the Arbor they just fetched to get rid of it, forcing them to sacrifice Tasigur.

Q: I have a Spinerock Knoll on the battlefield, with a card exiled. My opponent plays Blood Moon. Later on, I get rid of Blood Moon. Will I be able to play the exiled card if I activate the Knoll's ability?

A: Yes you will. While Blood Moon was on the battlefield, the Knoll lost its abilities. But that card is still sitting in exile, exiled by the Knoll. When Blood Moon left the battlefield, the Knoll regained its abilities and still knows what card was exiled to it before the Moon entered the battlefield. Assuming you can fulfill the condition to activate it, you'll be able to play that exiled card.

Q: My graveyard consists of two Golgari Grave-Trolls. I cast Reveillark, then bounce it back to my hand, triggering its ability targeting the two Grave-Trolls. How many counters do the Grave-Trolls end up with?

A: Each Grave-Troll will enter with two +1/+1 counters. Both Grave-Trolls try to enter the battlefield from the graveyard. Just before they enter the battlefield, we need to see how many creature cards are in the graveyard to know how many counters the Grave-Trolls should enter with. Before they enter the battlefield, they're still in the graveyard, so they'll count themselves and the other Grave-Troll, for a total of two creatures and two +1/+1 counters.

Three more inches have fallen since I started writing

Q: I control three Forests and a Temple of the False God. I play Jungle Basin. Can I tap my Temple for mana before I have to bounce a Forest?

A: Yep, you sure can. When you play the Basin, a trigger goes on the stack. When that trigger resolves, you choose an untapped Forest to return or sacrifice the Basin. But, for a short period, you control five lands, so you can activate the Temple's ability and get two colorless mana before you have to bounce a Forest (and go back down to four lands).

Q: I have a City of Traitors on the battlefield, and I cast Into the North, putting an Arctic Flats onto the battlefield. Do I lose my City of Traitors?

A: Your City will remain on the battlefield. City of Traitor's ability will only trigger when you play another land. It will not trigger if you put another land onto the battlefield. The land you search for with Into the North is put onto the battlefield, not played, so the City will not trigger and it will not be sacrificed.

Q: My opponent controls Chill and a Blind Seer. I tap out to cast Darien, King of Kjeldor. My opponent responds by using Blind Seer's ability to make Darien red. What happens to Darien?

A: Nothing happens. When Darien was cast, it was a white spell. Since it wasn't a red spell, Chill didn't apply to it. Later on, Darien became a red spell, but we're passed the point where Chill would apply (since we're passed the point where we determine the cost of the spell). The red Darien will resolve like normal, you won't have to pay any extra to cast it.

Q: I have a Kjeldoran Gargoyle enchanted with Shielded by Faith. My opponent casts End Hostilities. Will my Gargoyle be destroyed?

A: Nope! End Hostilities destroyed all creatures and all permanents attached to creatures at the same time. At the point when everything is being destroyed, Shielded by Faith is still attached to the Gargoyle, so the Gargoyle will survive while Shielded by Faith will be destroyed.

Q: My opponent has some artifacts and enchantments on the battlefield, including a Sulfuric Vortex. I cast Fracturing Gust. Will I gain any life?

A: You will! When we resolve Fracturing Gust, we follow the instructions in the order they're printed on the card. The first thing we do is we destroy all enchantments and artifacts, including Sulfuric Vortex. Then, you gain 2 life for each artifact and enchantment destroyed this way. The Vortex is no longer on the battlefield, so it's no longer preventing you from gaining life, and you'll gain life from the resolving Gust.

Q: My opponent casts Mind's Desire. I cast Aethersnatch and gain control of the Desire. Will I also gain control of the storm copies?

A: Nope. Aethersnatch only gives you control of the targeted spell. You don't gain control of the storm trigger or any of the copies made by the storm trigger. While you'll gain control of the original Desire, your opponent will still get all of the copies made by the storm trigger.

It'll look like this until March at this rate

Q: I'm in a game with Harry and Sally. I control a Raving Dead, and with its trigger, Harry has been chosen. Harry doesn't really like this idea, so he activates Dulcet Sirens, targeting my Dead and Sally. Who does my Dead have to attack?

A: It's your choice! We have two requirements that apply here: the Dead have to attack Harry if able, and the Dead have to attack Sally if able. It's not possible to fulfill both requirements, so you (the controller of the Dead) gets to choose which requirement to fulfill and which of your opponents the Dead will attack.

Q: My Hyalopterous Lemure is about to die from my opponent's Incinerate. I'd rather keep it around, so I use Adarkar Valkyrie's ability targeting it. But then my opponent uses their Adarkar Valkyrie targeting the Lemure as well! Who gets the Lemure?

A: This is a story about active player/non-active player. When the Lemure dies, two triggers want to go on the stack: your Valkyrie trigger, and your opponent's Valkyrie trigger. And when multiple triggers controlled by different players need to go on the stack, the active player puts all of their triggers on the stack first, followed by the opponent's triggers, and the opponent's triggers will resolve first. If the Lemure is dying on your turn, your opponent's trigger will go on the stack last and will resolve first, and they'll get the Lemure. If it's your opponent's turn, then your trigger will resolve first, and you'll get the Lemure, not your opponent.

Q: My opponent attacks me with their creature equipped with Godsend. I block with my commander, and when they exile it, I put my commander in the command zone instead of the exile zone. Can I recast my commander?

A: Yes you can. Godsend looks at what cards that it has currently exiled in the exile zone to determine what cards their opponents can't cast. But only looks for cards that are currently in the exile zone, not any other zone. Since the commander is in the command zone, not the exile zone, you'll be able to recast your commander.

Q: I control a Lord of Tresserhorn equipped with some Swiftfoot Boots. My opponent casts Confiscate targeting the Boots. Can they now target my Lord?

A: No, they cannot. While they now control the Boots, the Boots are giving the equipped creature hexproof, and hexproof means that it can only be targeted by its controller. Gaining control of the Boots doesn't make them the controller of the Lord of Tresserhorn, so until they can move the Boots to another creature, your Lord will still have hexproof and your opponent still can't target it.

Q: I'm at my local FNM, and my opponent attacks me with a Benthic Infiltrator. It deals damage to me, but my opponent doesn't say anything about the ingest trigger. Do I have to remind my opponent about their ingest trigger?

A: In a tournament, no you do not. You are never responsible for remembering your opponent's triggers, even at a Regular REL event like FNM. While it may feel sporting to remind your opponent about their trigger, you don't have to if you don't want to. If they do remember later on, at regular REL, the responding judge will decide whether or not to put the trigger on the stack (depending on whether it would be too disruptive to put on the stack or not). At competitive or professional REL, you (the opponent) will get to decide if the trigger is put on the stack or not.

Well, I need to go clear the snow off of my car again, so I'm off for this week. We'll see you all again next week!


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