Published on 01/25/2016

Gated Community

Cranial Translation
简体中文 Deutsch Español Français Italiano Pусский

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Was taking oaths before it was cool.
Oaths have been sworn, the gate is being watched (Jace has to use illusionary copies of himself to watch the Guildgates, though), and by the time you read this Oath of the Gatewatch cards will be seeing play in tournaments around the world. We don't yet know the exact details of the oath Moko decided to take, but we're pretty sure none of the members of the Gatewatch will want to clean up after it. So we, the writers of Cranial Insertion, will have to stick to our own oath to keep him from getting too out of hand, and also try to answer any rules questions that escape from the Blind Eternities when we're not busy mopping up puree of banana.

And if you've got a rules question burning a hole in your brain and would like to help us achieve our sworn task, feel free to ask us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: Can I play Kozilek's Return in a Commander deck, if my commander isn't red?

A: Nope. Although a card with devoid has no color, mana symbols in its mana cost and rules text are still considered for its color identity, which is what the Commander deck-construction rules care about. So you'll only be able to play Kozilek's Return if your commander's color identity includes red.

Q: OK, so suppose my commander is green/blue. Can I announce I'm going to tap a Birds of Paradise for red mana in order to have it be transmuted to colorless so I can pay to regenerate my Birthing Hulk?

A: Also no, but this one's a very recent change. With the release of Oath of the Gatewatch, the Commander rules team decided to get rid of the rule that turned off-color mana colorless. So you can't rely on the rules turning your colored mana colorless in order to cast or use abilities of those sweet new Eldrazi — you'll need something which actually does generate colorless mana (which, fortunately, isn't too hard to do).

Q: Does this mean that Sen Triplets got a lot better?

A: If by "better" you mean "now it's possible to have mana in your pool outside your commander's colors, so you could cast an off-color card from your opponent's hand", then sure!

Q: I hit my opponent with Daxos of Meletis and the card I got from the trigger was an Etched Oracle. Since I can spend mana "as though it were mana of any color" to cast it can I spend, say, and spend it as if it were to sunburst for 4?

A: Being able to spend mana as though it were any color doesn't actually change the color of the mana; it just changes what kinds of symbols that mana can pay for. Sunburst (and other effects which care about how many or which colors were spent) will still see that you spent all blue to cast the Oracle, and it'll enter with only a single counter.

Q: My Five-Alarm Fire got turned into a Forest by Song of the Dryads, then Obsidian Fireheart put a blaze counter on it. If I get rid of the Song, will my (now nonland) Fire still deal damage to me every turn?

A: We didn't start the fire, and making your burning land into a nonland won't put it out either — even though it's undergone a type change, your former Forest is going to keep right on burning, and dealing 1 damage to you at the beginning of your upkeep.

Q: What if I get four more blaze counters on there, then remove them all to activate Five-Alarm Fire's ability?

A: Then the Ravnican fire brigade (which must be run by the Azorius, if it takes that much time and effort to put out a fire) will have finally doused the blaze, and you'll no longer be dealt damage every upkeep.

Watching this Gate may not be a good idea
Q: If I control a Lantern Scout and trigger its rally ability, then Deceiver of Form reveals something without lifelink, will my creatures lose lifelink?

A: Nope. You'll have two effects applying to your (non-Deceiver) creatures: Deceiver's "make everything a copy of what I revealed", and Scout's "give everything lifelink". Deceiver's effect applies first, so your creatures will be copies of what it revealed, and will have lifelink.

Q: I know that when I've seen a card that's been exiled face down I can look at it (like with hideaway lands). If I had a Courser of Kruphix in play before I cast Inverter of Truth, would I still be able to look at the card that used to be on top of my library?

A: Not quite. Once you've been given permission to look at a face-down exiled card, it's true you can look at it again later even if the effect giving you permission goes away. But nothing ever gave you permission to look at any card exiled face-down by Inverter of Truth, so even if you knew what specific cards in your library were, you won't be able to look at them once they're in exile.

Q: What if my opponent has an Inverter of Truth and I decide to activate Oracle of Dust? When do I see the exiled card so I can choose whether to continue activating Oracle?

A: You see it only after you've fully paid the cost to activate Oracle's ability, at which point it's too late — the card will be in your opponent's graveyard and you won't be able to decide not to continue with the activation.

Q: I have an untapped Goblin Freerunner, but I just cast it this turn. Can I still tap it to activate Akoum Flameseeker's cohort ability?

A: You can. "Summoning sickness" only applies to abilities on the creature itself, which include a tap or untap symbol. It doesn't prevent tapping to activate abilities without a tap or untap symbol, or to activate abilities of other permanents.

Q: I managed to get a Hedron Alignment in my hand, one in exile, one in my graveyard and one on the battlefield. When I revealed my hand, though, my opponent said he would respond by casting Vendilion Clique to take the Alignment in my hand. Is that legal?

A: No. Your opponent has to decide whether to respond to Hedron Alignment's trigger before you reveal your hand, which means they don't get to know whether you have one in your hand until it's potentially too late. Just keep in mind that you can't "jump the gun" on the trigger and immediately reveal to try to take away thatir opportunity — just as with other triggered abilities, you have to let your opponent have a chance to respond before resolving it (and revealing your hand is part of the resolution).

Q: In a multiplayer game, can I cast Remorseless Punishment and choose one opponent as the target for the first time the effect happens, then a different opponent for the second time?

A: The "repeat this process" refers to the things which happen as Remorseless Punishment resolves, but choosing targets is something that happens as you cast it. So it will only ever affect one opponent, but that opponent is in for a world of hurt; that's what makes it remorseless rather than, say, ruthless or reckless.

Q: In a Two-Headed Giant game, can each player on the opposing team choose to sacrifice or discard for one of the "halves" of Remorseless Punishment?

A: No; although they play as a team, they're separate players for the purpose of targeting; you'll choose one of them as the target, and then that player will have to carry out both iterations of Remorseless Punishment's effect, using their own hand and/or permanents.

Q: If I control a Mycosynth Lattice, will all of my creatures trigger Flayer Drone's ability when they enter?

A: While it's not nice to subject Mirrodin to Eldrazi after what they've already been through with the Phyrexians, this works: all your creatures are colorless thanks to the Lattice, so Flayer Drone sees all of them as its buddies and will happily trigger for each and every one.

Find watch, keep watch.
Finders keepers!
Q: I control Kozilek, the Great Distortion and Library of Leng. Can I discard to the top of my library to counter things with Kozilek?

A: Kozilek is good at distorting reality, but not that good. Any time you discard a card to a hidden zone without something instructing you to reveal it as it goes (and neither Kozilek nor Library instruct you to reveal), the rules say that all of its characteristics — including converted mana cost — are undefined. So even though you know what the CMC of the discarded card was, the rules (and your opponent) don't, and you won't be able to choose a spell with the same CMC to target.

Q: I heard someone say that there's no way to save an activated Wandering Fumarole from a Lightning Bolt. Is that true?

A: So, suppose your Fumarole is animated and is a 1/4, you activate its power/toughness switching ability, and your opponent responds to that with Lightning Bolt. It doesn't matter how many times you activate the switching ability in response, because the Fumarole is now going to die. To see why, suppose you activate the power/toughness switch an odd number of times in response: after all of them resolve, the Fumarole will be a 4/1, then the Bolt will resolve and deal 3 damage and the Fumarole will die. If you activate it an even number of times instead, then after all of them resolve the Fumarole is a 1/4, then the Bolt resolves, and then the original activation resolves and makes it a 4/1 with 3 damage marked on it, and it dies. Similarly, activating the animation ability again won't help since switching effects always apply after effects which set power/toughness to specific values, so you'd always end up with a time when the Fumarole is a 4/1 and has been dealt 3 damage.

Q: Is the same thing true with Wandering Fumarole versus Spatial Contortion?

A: Actually, exactly the opposite: now it's impossible to kill the Fumarole, no matter the timing. This is just thanks to layers: the +/- effect of Reality Contortion always applies before power/toughness switching effects, no matter what order they resolved in, so all it really does is switch what the switch does: when its power/toughness are switched the Fumarole will be 1/4 and when they're not switched it'll be 4/1 (1/4, then apply +3/-3 to make it 4/1 when unswitched, then switching makes it a 1/4).

Q: I want to kill my opponent's Horror of the Dim with a targeted spell, and I have a Bonds of Mortality. If my opponent has the ability to generate infinite blue mana (to give it hexproof) and I can generate infinite green (to take away hexproof), who wins?

A: The player whose turn it isn't. Whenever you have a loop of optional actions like this which keeps repeating over and over, the player whose turn it is will be required by the rules to be the first to make a different choice and end the loop. If it's your turn, that means eventually you have to choose to stop activating Bonds of Mortality, and if it's your opponent's turn they have to eventually choose to stop activating Horror of the Dim (if you're in a multiplayer game and it's not your turn or that opponent's turn, the player who's next up in turn order will have to be the first to choose to stop).

Q: Can I cast Endless One with X=7 (or more) to trigger a Kozilek's Return in my graveyard?

A: You can! Everywhere except on the stack, the in a card's mana cost has a value of 0. But on the stack it has the value chosen during casting, so your Endless One does indeed have a converted mana cost of 7 or greater and will awaken might Kozilek (one of his distorting tricks was making you think awakening was a Zendikari ability!).

Q: Are Wastes and the other new cards in Oath of the Gatewatch the only way I can produce ?

A: No, thank Ula! Since is just a shorthand for "colorless mana", all cards which formerly produced colorless mana have received errata to say they produce some amount of instead (for example, Sol Ring got errata to make it produce instead of ). If you're in doubt, you can always look up the current official text of a card in the Gatherer card database at

I'm all sworn out for now, but be sure to check in again next week when we'll be back with another issue 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.

Q: I control Kozilek, the Great Distortion and Library of Leng. Can I discard to the top of my library to counter things with Kozilek?

10/4/2004 You can't use the Library of Leng ability to place a discarded card on top of your library when you discard a card as a cost, because costs aren't effects.
#1 • Date: 2016-01-24 • Time: 23:28:55 •

Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!