Published on 02/01/2016

And Boy, Are My Arms Tired!

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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 asked Ondu Champion for a favor.
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! As this article goes live, I will be...well, probably in bed in a hotel room, but a few hours after that I'll be winging my way back home after Grand Prix Vancouver, which at this point looks like it'll end up being by far the largest Canadian Grand Prix in history. Which is all kinds of insane—Vancouver being ahead of Eastern Canada on almost any metric that involves "number of people" just feels weird.

When I return I'll probably have a whole raft of rules questions direct from the GP floor, but for now I'll have to make do with what we have. If you'd like to give us a few more to add to that pile, feel free to send us your rules questions via email at , and for the shorter ones you can Tweet us @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer and possibly a spot in one of our future articles.

But for now let's get on with answering the questions we already have.

Q: My opponent controls three creatures, while I control Linvala, the Preserver and a 3/3 Angel token. If I cast another Linvala, the Preserver, what happens?

A: You may gain some life, depending on how your life total compares to your opponent's, but you definitely won't be getting another angel token. Linvala's triggered abilities use what's known as an "intervening if" clause, which means they have a second condition that they check both when the ability wants to trigger and when it starts to resolve. If it's not true when the ability wants to trigger, it doesn't trigger at all; if it's not true when the ability starts to resolve, the ability does nothing.

While state-based actions will kill off one of your two Linvalas shortly after the new one enters the battlefield, you do still control both for a brief period, meaning that the new Linvala's Angel-making ability will see that you control the same number of creatures as your opponent, and not trigger.

Q: I control Omniscience and Mizzix of the Izmagnus, and I have three experience counters. Can I cast Capsize without paying it's casting cost thanks to Omniscience and then buy it back for free thanks to Mizzix?

A: Absolutely. Cost-reducing effects such as Mizzix's are applied to the entire cost of the spell, including any and all optional additional costs you may want to pay. Omniscience gets around the normal mana cost of the spell (), but it doesn't get around the additional buyback cost, so normally you'd have to pay that. But thanks to Mizzix, the cost of your spell ends up being + - = .

Q: I cast Endbringer and then Expedite to give it haste. After I pass the turn, Endbringer untaps during my opponent's untap, so can I still use one of its abilities?

A: Afraid not. Endbringer hasn't been under your control since the beginning of your most recent turn, and it doesn't currently have haste, so it's summoning sick. The fact that it used to have haste on your turn and has already used a tap ability doesn't matter.

Q: If my opponent has Leyline of Sanctity, can I play Stuffy Doll and still choose them, then proceed to target Stuffy Doll with all my burn to get around the Leyline?

A: Absolutely. Hexproof may mean your opponent can't be chosen as a target, but the only things that target are Aura spells and things that actually use the word "target". (For keyword abilities, check the ability's reminder text.)

As you can see, Stuffy Doll doesn't use the word "target", so it doesn't target, even though it involves choosing something.

Why is this card's collector number 7?
Because 7, 8, 9.
Q: So let's say my opponent casts a Reflector Mage and bounces my creature. On my turn, if I kill Reflector Mage, can I then re-cast that creature that turn? Or do I still have to wait?

A: You still have to wait. The specified duration on Reflector Mage's ability is that it lasts until your opponent's next turn, and that hasn't come yet. The ability doesn't say anything about the restriction ending if the Mage leaves the battlefield, so getting rid of Reflector Mage won't help you recast your creature at all.

Q: With colorless mana having its own symbol now, if my Elemental Resonance is enchanting Wall of Frost, what mana will it produce?

A: The addition of the new colorless mana symbol hasn't changed Elemental Resonance in any way; in this situation, your Resonance will produce , exactly the same as it would have before the change. It's just written differently now.

Q: Does Eye of Ugin reduce the cost on a devoid eldrazi like Barrage Tyrant if there's a Painter's Servant in play? Basically, does devoid override the Servant or the Servant beat devoid?

A: Devoid always loses. As a characteristic-defining ability, devoid is always applied first, before any other color-changing effect. This means that no matter what, Painter's Servant will always override devoid, and color everything.

Q: If I control Blood Funnel and Young Pyromancer, then played an instant or sorcery, would I get the token upon casting it, then be able to sacrifice that same token to satisfy the creature sacrifice part of Blood Funnel, or would I have to sacrifice my Pyromancer before it'd be able to produce its token?

A: Absolutely. You control both the Funnel and the Pyromancer and they both use triggered abilities that trigger at the same time, so you get to choose the order in which those abilities are put onto the stack. If you put the Funnel's ability on the stack first, and the Pyromancer's ability on top of it, you'll get the token first, and can then sacrifice it to the Funnel a few seconds later once the Funnel's ability resolves. Go!

Q: I control a Grim Haruspex and a Viscera Seer and I sacrifice another creature to the seer. Can I stack both triggered abilities to scry first, then draw?

A: Aaaand stop. Sadly, you can't do the same here as in the previous question, because here you're not dealing with multiple triggered abilities. Instead you're dealing with one triggered ability (the Haruspex) and an activated ability (the Seer), and you don't have a choice about how this situation plays out.

Paying the cost of activating the Seer's ability will trigger Grim Haruspex, but by that time the Seer's ability is already on the stack (it was put there as part of activating it in the first place). So the Haruspex's ability will always go onto the stack on top of the Seer's, and will therefore always resolve first. So you draw, then scry, every time.

Q: If I have Platinum Emperion in play and play Repay in Kind, would my life total also change or not?

A: Thanks to Platinum Emperion, your life total can't change. So it doesn't. Setting your life total to a specific value that it isn't already involves gaining or losing the amount of life necessary to bring your life total to the new value, and you can't do either of those things.

Q: If I turn up a manifested Aphetto Runecaster, do I get to draw a card?

A: Yes, you do. The normal process for determining whether an event triggers any abilities is to check the game state immediately after that event to see if there are any triggered abilities around that want to trigger off of it. In this case, the event is that your creature turned face-up, and the game sees that hey, immediately after that happens there's an Aphetto Runecaster on the battlefield that wants to trigger off of creatures turning face-up! So it does.

Q: If I cascade into Tyrant of Valakut off Maelstrom Wanderer can I choose to cast it for its surge cost without paying for its mana cost, or if not can I choose to play it for its surge cost and pay the 5 mana?

A: No and no. Surge is an alternative cost, meaning that when casting the Tyrant (or the other surge spell of your choice), you can choose to pay the surge cost instead of the mana cost if you meet the necessary requirements.

But when you cascade into the Tyrant, you're not paying the mana cost. Cascade gives you the choice of either casting the spell without paying its mana cost, or not casting it at all—you can't opt out of the free lunch cascade is buying you unless you decide not to have lunch at all. You can't choose to pay the surge cost instead of the mana cost because you're never asked to pay the mana cost in the first place.

Q: If I play Shoulder to Shoulder, choosing only Zada, Hedron Grinder as the target, can I choose multiple targets for the copies I get?

A: No, you can't. The spells that Zada creates are copies of the original spell, and so have the same number of targets. Each comes ready-made with a predetermined target, and you don't get to make new choices for those spells just because you'd like to.

And he never forgives.
Q: If I Path to Exile my opponent's Reality Smasher, I need to discard something to avoid it being countered. If my discard is Loxodon Smiter, will its ability put it onto the battlefield?

A: Yes it will. The ability that's causing you to discard your Smiter comes from Reality Smasher which is controlled by your opponent. Since your opponent controls that ability, the Smiter's effect kicks in and puts it onto the battlefield instead of into the graveyard.

It's true that you could have avoided discarding the Smiter by doing something else, in this case letting your Path get countered, but the Smiter doesn't care whether or not you had a choice—all that it cares about is that it's being discarded, and it's your opponent's ability, so it must be their fault, so it must smash their face. You can't beat loxodon logic.

Q: My opponent cast Kolaghan's Command targeting me for 2 points of damage and a discard. Since I'm the only target, can I Swerve that?

A: Afraid not. While you may be the only thing that's a target of the Command, it still has two targets. They're just...both you. Since the Command has two targets, it therefore isn't a "spell with a single target" and isn't a legal target for Swerve.

Q: If I had Omnath, Locus of Mana on the field could I use Cavern of Souls to boost it? And if so could I use this stocked mana the next turn to cast a uncounterable Elemental?

A: Yes to both questions, assuming you named "Elemental" for your Cavern. The green mana produced by your Cavern is just as green as any other green mana you get from anything else, so it boosts Omnath just the same. And since the mana isn't emptied from your mana pool it will remain there indefinitely, and the restrictions and benefits associated with it will hang around until either you spend it or Omnath goes away and the mana disappears.

Q: What happens if my opponent uses Act of Treason to steal my creature that has Captain's Claws equipped, and attacks with it? I still control the Claws, so do I put the token onto the battlefield attacking my opponent during her combat phase?

A: As awesome as that would be, no. You do put a token onto the battlefield, and that token is tapped, but it won't be attacking.

If a creature would be put onto the battlefield attacking, but it's entering the battlefield under the control of somebody who's not the attacking player it just enters the battlefield as a plain old non-attacking creature just like any other.

Q: How does Crawlspace work in Two-Headed Giant? Only two creatures can attack me, but can our opponents just attack my teammate instead to get around it?

A: No, they cannot. In Two-Headed Giant your opponents don't attack one specific player—instead they attack your team as a whole. That means that Crawlspace's restriction applies, and prevents them from attacking your team with only two creatures total.

Fair warning however, your team's planeswalkers are fair game. Crawlspace doesn't say anything about protecting your planeswalkers, and creatures attacking your planeswalkers aren't attacking your team, so they're unaffected by Crawlspace's restriction.

Q: I have Rest in Peace on the battlefield and an Isolation Zone exiling something. If I cast Murk Strider and process the card in Isolation, as I understand it the exiled card goes back to exile because of Rest in Peace. If my opponent destroys Isolation Zone now do they get their permanent back, or is it "lost" because it changed zones briefly?

A: It didn't change zones at all, but it's still lost forever. If something tries to exile something that's already in the exile zone it doesn't change zones, but it does become a new object in exactly the same way that things changing zones do.

Your opponent's card goes from being "the object exiled by Isolation Zone" to "this brand-new never-before-seen thing that just got exiled". And while it may look suspiciously similar to the thing that used to be exiled by Isolation Zone it's still not the same object, so it won't be put onto the battlefield if the Zone disappears.

Q: I have Strionic Resonator on the battlefield and cast Kozilek, the Great Distortion, using the Resonator to copy Kozilek's draw ability. Do I draw twice as many cards, or does Kozilek's ability check to see my hand size after the copy resolves and sees I already have seven cards, so I don't get to draw any additional cards from the ability resolving a second time?

A: If you have some way of using the cards you're getting from the copy before the original ability resolves you can end up drawing a bunch more cards off of two abilities than off of one, but without a way to use the cards right away, there's no point in copying Kozilek's ability.

Kozilek's ability rechecks your hand size as it starts to resolve, which means that if the Resonator's copy already filled your hand and you haven't lost any cards in the time since, the original ability won't have anything left to do, and won't give you any cards.

Q: Since Eye of Ugin is reprinted as an Expedition land in Oath of the Gatewatch could you use the Modern Masters version of that card in Standard?

A: No. You can't use any version of Eye of Ugin in Standard, because even though they might appear sometimes in Battle for Zendikar or Oath of the Gatewatch booster packs, the Expeditions aren't part of those sets and therefore aren't legal in Standard unless some other printing of them is in a Standard-legal set.

So an expedition Prairie Stream is legal in Standard, because Prairie Stream was printed in Battle for Zendikar proper, a Standard-legal set. But Eye of Ugin isn't, because it wasn't.

Basically, being printed as an Expedition has no effect whatsoever on the constructed format legality of any card.

Q: If I were to use something like Cranial Extraction in a tournament setting to write down my opponent's entire starting library, would this be considered stalling?

A: If your goal in doing so is to use up time in the match so as to gain an advantage from the clock, then yes. If not, then no. But even if it's not stalling, trying to record out your opponent's entire library is a textbook example of Slow Play. By which I mean it's literally listed as one of the examples the Infraction Procedure Guide used in Competitive tournaments gives when it explains what Slow Play is.

Writing down your opponent's entire library would take a ton of time, and whatever strategic value you could possibly gain from it is ridiculously marginal. Your time is far better spent doing something useful, like, say...almost anything else.

That's it for me this week; I'll see you all again next month, but until then may you always exceed expectations.

- Callum Milne

About the Author:
Callum Milne is a Level 2 judge from British Columbia, Canada. His home range is Vancouver Island, but he can be found in the wild throughout BC and also at GPs all along the west coast of North America.


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