Published on 09/02/2013

Passing Time

Waiting for Theros

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

What do you mean a week? A whole week?!
Hello and welcome to Cranial Insertion! Theros previews are here at last, and speaking as I am from a week in the past, I couldn't be more jealous of all of you lucky future people for getting to see them while I still have to wait. You probably have those hoverboards from Back to the Future now too, don't you? Lucky sods.

To help fill the time until I can get a hoverboard of my own, let's answer some rules questions!

As usual, if you'd like to pick our brains for sweet, sweet knowledge, send your rules questions to or tweet @CranialTweet.

Q: If my creature's blocked by multiple creatures, can I assign any amount of damage I want to the first blocker? Or do I have to assign some to the second too?

A: While you are required to assign at least lethal damage to the first blocker in the damage assignment order before assigning any to the next, you can assign more if you want to. If for some reason you don't want to deal any damage to one of the blockers, you can just put it last in the order and assign all of the damage to the other blocker(s).

Q: Maelstrom Wanderer has "Cascade, cascade". Is that one ability, or two? When I cast the Wanderer, how do I resolve "cascade, cascade"?

A: The "Cascade, cascade" line on Maelstrom Wanderer is two instances of the Cascade triggered ability. Each one triggers independently, and will resolve separately.

When the first cascade trigger resolves, you'll reveal cards until you find something to cast, then can cast it. If you do, the spell goes onto the stack above the remaining cascade trigger, so it resolves first. Then, after it's done resolving, the remaining cascade trigger resolves and you do it again.

Q: With the new rules for delve, can I use delve when casting a spell off Omniscience, say to make a Logic Knot with nonzero X?

A: It sounds like you're operating under a fairly common misapprehension here. The value of X in an X spell like Logic Knot isn't based on what you pay—it's the other way around. You choose the value you want X to be first, and then that determines the price you need to pay. If you're casting such a spell without paying its mana cost, the only legal choice for X is 0. Whether or not the spell has delve doesn't change that 0 is the only legal choice you could have made for X.

Also, delve now works by giving you an alternative action you can perform rather than paying mana. If the spell you're casting doesn't ask you to pay mana, there's no cost for you to pay by exiling cards. (Though if there's some other cost you're paying to cast the spell that does require mana, you can exile cards to pay that.)

Q: I control an Ajani's Chosen and a 2/2 Cat token. I cast an Aura targeting my 2/2, and my opponent Shocks it in response. Could I get a new cat token from the Chosen and attach the aura to it?

A: Sadly for you you won't get a new Aura, nor a cat to play with it. Ajani's Chosen triggers on an Aura entering the battlefield, but the Aura you just cast is going to be countered when it tries to resolve because its target is now illegal. It'll never enter the battlefield, so you don't get a Cat token at all, and you certainly can't attach the Aura you didn't get to a token that never existed.

It ignores such insignificant forces
as time, entropy, and judicial authority.
Q: If my Platinum Emperion gets detained, is its ability nullified?

A: Your Emperion will look down at the handcuffs it's sporting, shrug, and continue keeping your life total on lockdown. Being detained only stops attacking, blocking, and using activated abilities, and Platinum Emperion's ability is none of those three; it's a static ability that's simply always on.

Q: Is casting and playing a spell the same thing?

A: Pretty much; cards that tell you to play spells mean to cast them, and cards that look for spells being played are looking for spells being cast. The two terms mean the exact same thing as long as you're talking about spells.

Q: How are "each opponent" abilities handled in Two-Headed Giant games? Will Guttersnipe's ability cause the opposing team to lose 2 or 4 life per trigger?

A: Even though the opposing team's life total is shared, they're still two separate players, and will be affected independently by things like Guttersnipe. Guttersnipe says it deals 2 damage to each opponent, so each of your two opponents takes 2 damage. Since a total of 4 damage was dealt to the players on the opposing team, their life total will go down by 4.

Q: I've got a Strangleroot Geist and a Vastwood Hydra with four counters on the battlefield. My opponent casts Supreme Verdict. Will my undying Geist be able to get the counters from the dying Hydra?

A: Yes! Vastwood Hydra's ability doesn't target, so you don't need to worry about what to do with the counters until it resolves. Assuming you let the Geist's undying ability return it before that happens, it'll be around to receive some lovely parting gifts from the Hydra.

Q: I attack with two creatures and they go unblocked, so I ninjutsu in Mistblade Shinobi and Silent-Blade Oni instead. When they deal damage, what order do their abilities happen in? Can I return a creature and then cast it?

A: You control both triggers, and they trigger at the same time, so you get to choose the order they're put onto the stack relative to each other. If you'd like to bounce a creature and then cast it, go right ahead!

Q: If Archangel of Thune is on the battlefield and you Congregate, do you get +1 counters for each creature you gain life from?

A: No, you'll just get the one set of counters. Congregate can give you a lot of life, but it gives it to you all at once, no matter how many creatures it counted. Since it's just one instance of gaining (a lot of) life, Archangel of Thune only triggers once.

Q: If someone has a Mikaeus the Unhallowed out, and an opponent uses fused Turn // Burn on one of his creatures, it still has undying because the Mikaeus effect is applied after, right?

A: No, it doesn't; it'll stay dead. This is simple timestamp order—you apply Mikaeus's ability and Turn's effect in the order they were created, and since Turn's more recent it'll be able to wipe away the undying Mikaeus grants.

Q: Can I play Crop Rotation, sacrificing a fetchland of some sort, and then crack the fetch in response?

A: No, for the same reason you can't put a quarter in a vending machine and then put that quarter in the phone booth beside the vending machine before you get your candy bar. Your quarter's already gone.

If you sacrifice your fetchland in order to cast Crop Rotation, it's in your graveyard; you can't possibly sacrifice it to activate its own ability too because it's already gone.

"The library card is a passport
to wonders and miracles"
–Libba Bray
(She probably wasn't talking about Magic,
but it's true here too.)
Q: I have a Sylvan Library, and the top card of my library is a Miracle that targets. What order does revealing, targeting, casting, and seeing the next two cards happen?

A: First, you draw for the turn and reveal it for the miracle it is; it remains revealed. Then, since both Sylvan Library's ability and the Miracle ability have triggered, you put them on the stack in whichever order you like.

Let's say you put the Library trigger onto the stack first, with the Miracle trigger on top of it. The miracle trigger will resolve, and you will decide whether or not to cast it. If you decide to cast it, you'll choose targets, pay costs, and it'll go onto the stack, still above the Library's trigger. The miracle will resolve first, and only after it's done will the Library's trigger resolve and let you see your next two cards.

If instead you put the miracle trigger onto the stack first, with the Library's on top of it, then the Library's trigger will resolve first. You'll draw your next two cards, and decide on two cards to put back. Since the miracle's still in your hand at this point, you could put it back too, but that would result in you being unable to cast it when the miracle trigger resolves later. After you put the cards back, the miracle trigger resolves, and if the miracle's still in your hand, you can cast it, choosing targets and paying costs along the way.

Q: Can Phyrexian mana be paid outside of your commander's colors for permanents that you take from other players?

A: Certainly; blood is the multiversal currency. You may not be able to produce mana of other colors, but you can pay life just fine, so you can pay life to activate that Blinding Souleater you stole from your opponent no matter whether your Commander has white in its color identity or not.

Q: If I cast a spell, pass priority, and my opponent has no response, does the spell resolve immediately or do I get a chance to cast more spells?

A: The spell resolves immediately, because both players have passed priority without doing anything. If you know you want to cast something in response to your own spell, you'll need to do so before you know if your opponent wants to respond. If you pass priority you risk your opponent just passing back and not giving you the chance to cast anything further before resolution.

Q: Can you Trickbind a Caged Sun's choosing a color as it comes into play?

A: No; choosing a color for Caged Sun is neither an activated nor a triggered ability, and it certainly doesn't use the stack, so Trickbind cannot counter it. It's a static replacement ability that modifies what happens as the Sun enters the battlefield.

Q: I have Guild Feud out, and my opponent reveals Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, but he already has one Jarad out; what happens?

A: Well, if he chooses not to put Jarad onto the battlefield, a whole lot of nothing much, so I'm guessing he wants to put it out.

State-based actions like the legend rule aren't checked in the middle of resolving a spell or ability, so you continue with the resolution of Guild Feud's ability with both Jarads on the battlefield. If the new Jarad's dealt lethal damage in the ensuing fight, then it'll die as soon as the resolution is done, and your opponent won't have to worry about the legend rule unless he really, really wants to.

If new-Jarad didn't die, then your opponent chooses one Jarad to keep and the other one goes to the graveyard.

Q: If I attack with a Sliver while I control Hunter Sliver and Two-Headed Sliver, may I choose two blockers?

A: You can choose one, but not the other. Provoke forces your opponent to block with the one creature you targeted if able, and they'll have to block with a second as well in order to do that, but that other creature can be whichever one they like.

Q: Does Accumulated Knowledge count itself as "in a graveyard" when you cast the first one of the game, netting me two cards, or does the first one just get me one card?

A: Spells only go to the graveyard as the very last step of their resolution, after they've had all their effects. So when Accumulated Knowledge is resolving and counting the number of its fellows in the graveyard, it won't count itself. Your first Knowledge will only net you one card.

Q: I have Path of Bravery on board and I'm at 20 life. My opponent is trying to tell me that if I don't say anything about the +1/+1 buff, then I don't get it. Is that correct?

A: No, it's not. Your opponent is probably thinking about the rules regarding handling triggered abilities that get accidentally missed during a game, but Path of Bravery's buff isn't a triggered ability. It applies whether you mention it or not.

Basically, in a tournament, any time a triggered ability starts to matter, its controller needs to make some indication that it did in fact resolve and do whatever it's supposed to do—if they forget about the trigger, they missed it, and their opponent doesn't have to remind them. (If a trigger's forgotten that the players want to happen, call a judge.)

Path of Bravery's lifegain is a triggered ability—if you forget to change your life total when you attack, no life for you. But the buff ability isn't, and even if it was you wouldn't need to mention it until the power or toughness of your creature actually mattered for some reason. (Like, say, because it's dealing combat damage.)

Q: Can you miss "mandatory" triggers at regular REL level events like you can in competitive REL?

A: If you accidentally forget your triggers, at any level of tournament, your opponent isn't required to remind you of them. But at a regular level event, if you remember within a reasonable period of time, it's not disruptive, and it's not something that would seriously change how you or your opponent would have played the judge may put the ability on the stack. Call for the judge and see.

But you can't deliberately miss your own triggers at any tournament—that's cheating.

Q: On my turn I play a morph creature face down. On my opponents turn, he assembles a combo I can't beat and I go ahead and scoop my cards, without revealing my face down creature. What is the appropriate penalty?

A: Ouch. Call for a judge, but assuming the morph creature has been mixed in with the rest of your stuff you're probably getting a Game Loss. Failing to reveal a card that needed to be revealed to your opponent is a Game Rules Violation, and while most GRVs will only be penalized with a warning, failing to reveal is one of those few highly abusable GRVs that tend to get upgraded to a Game Loss.

If you do receive a Game Loss, since the current game is over it'll be applied to the next game you play.

As this article goes live I'll be finishing off a thrilling-yet-no-doubt-exhausting weekend at PAX Prime in Seattle, so I'll head out to buy my hoverboard first thing tomorrow morning. Stop on by next week for a new haul of rules questions, courtesy of James!

Until then, may you find everything to be worth the wait.

- 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.

Re: Trickbind / Caged Sun... What changes this from an ETB trigger into a replacement effect? Is it "As ~ enters the battlefield" vs "When ~ enters the battlefield" that makes the difference?
#1 • Date: 2013-09-03 • Time: 08:16:06 •
I know I'm being picky, but the first Accumulated Knowledge does not net you one card, any more than you can make a profit by putting a dollar in a change machine. Divination nets one card.
#2 • Date: 2013-09-03 • Time: 08:44:08 •
Quote (thepowda):
Re: Trickbind / Caged Sun... What changes this from an ETB trigger into a replacement effect? Is it "As ~ enters the battlefield" vs "When ~ enters the battlefield" that makes the difference?
Yes; that's it exactly. A triggered ability will always use one of the words "when", "whenever", or "at" to describe what triggers it. Anything that doesn't use one of those words is not a triggered ability.
#3 • Date: 2013-09-03 • Time: 12:09:52 •
I know I'm being picky, but the first Accumulated Knowledge does not net you one card, any more than you can make a profit by putting a dollar in a change machine. Divination nets one card.

To be picky right back, you don't actually know how many cards a resolving spell "nets" unless you also know from what zone it was cast, and that was not mentioned in the question.
#4 • Date: 2013-09-03 • Time: 12:38:51 •

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