Published on 10/14/2013

Keyword-Induced Headaches

The Best 'Ow!'

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Hey, at least I'm not a Licid!
Greetings! It's Monday, which means it's time for another issue of Cranial Insertion. Theros has been out for a few weeks now, and one thing became clear very quickly: Bestow is weird. Of all the rules headaches that Theros has created, bestow is responsible for the vast majority of them. This became so obvious that one day I suggested to the other Cranial Insertion writers that one of us could do an entire article about bestow. The other writers agreed that one of us should do an entire article about bestow, and since it was my idea, it should be me. (The fact that I came up with the horrific pun in the subtitle of this issue may also have contributed to that decision.)

As always, if you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet to us at @CranialTweet. One of our writers will send you an answer, and your question might appear in a future issue.

Now, go ahead and grab a bottle of your favorite painkiller and join me as I heroically devote an entire issue to this monstrous keyword!

Q: My opponent tries to bestow Boon Satyr on his Yoked Ox, and I respond by destroying his Ox. He says that Boon Satyr will enter the battlefield as a creature, but I say it's countered on resolution and goes to the graveyard. Who's right?

A: I'm afraid that he is right. When a bestowed Aura resolves and finds that its target has become illegal, the bestow effect ends and the spell resolves as a creature spell rather than being countered on resolution.

Q: Can I Doom Blade a Leafcrown Dryad that's bestowed onto my opponent's creature?

A: No, you can't do that. While Leafcrown Dryad is bestowed, it's only an Aura. It's not a creature, so it's not a legal target for Doom Blade.

Q: The only creature my opponent controls is a Yoked Ox with a Boon Satyr bestowed onto it. If I fuse Far // Away at his Ox and him, does he have to sacrifice Boon Satyr?

A: Yup! When a fused spell resolves, you follow the instructions in order from left to right, and Boon Satyr stops being an Aura and goes back to being a creature immediately upon not being attached to the Ox anymore. This means that by the time your opponent gets to the "sacrifice a creature" instruction, Boon Satyr is a creature so your opponent has to sacrifice it.

Q: Does casting a spell with bestow trigger heroic abilities?

A: Absolutely! When you cast a spell with bestow, it becomes an Aura spell, and Aura spells are targeted spells. When you're done casting the spell, the Hero checks what you just cast, notices that you cast a spell targeting it, and feels heroic!

Q: If my opponent destroys my bestowed Aura, does the Aura become a creature?

A: No. The bestow effect ends when the creature that the bestowed Aura is attached to dies, or if the Aura otherwise becomes unattached. If the Aura gets destroyed, it simply wanders off to the graveyard like any other permanent that gets destroyed.

Q: The creature that my Hopeful Eidolon was attached to died, so now the Eidolon is wandering around the battlefield as a creature. Can I pay its bestow cost now to attach it to another creature?

A: No, that's not possible. Bestow is not an activated ability like equip. It represents an alternative cost for casting the card. Since you're way past casting the card, you can't pay its bestow cost now.

Q: Suppose my opponent has a Crackling Triton enchanted with a bestowed Nimbus Naiad. I take the Triton with Portent of Betrayal, attack, and then sacrifice the Triton to its ability. Who gets the Naiad?

A: Your opponent does. Effects that change control of a creature don't change the controller of any Auras or Equipment attached to the creature, so the Naiad always was under your opponent's control, and will continue to be under his control now that it's no longer an Aura.

Remember Soul Seizer?
Yeah, me neither.
Q: On my last turn, I bestowed a Celestial Archon on my Yoked Ox. Now it's my turn again, I declare that I want to go to combat, and my opponent Doom Blades the Ox. Can I attack with Celestial Archon now?

A: Absolutely! Celestial Archon is a creature, and you have controlled it since your turn began, so it doesn't have summoning sickness. The fact that the Archon wasn't a creature when your turn began doesn't matter.

Q: If I control Chorus of the Conclave and want to cast Hopeful Eidolon with bestow, can I also pay extra mana for the Chorus? If I do, does the Eidolon get counters, and keep them?

A: You can, it does, and you will! The game rules don't actually specify the order in which you have to decide whether to use alternative costs (like bestow) or optional additional costs (like the one from the Chorus). This means that you can announce you'll pay the additional cost for Chorus, and then announce you'll apply the bestow alternative cost, and you'll end up with an Aura that has +1/+1 counters on it. The counters don't do anything while it's an Aura, but when the bestowed card turns back into a creature on the battlefield, it'll still have those counters on it and then the counters will make it bigger.

Q: If I attack with Sovereigns of Lost Alara, and nothing else, can I fetch a card with bestow out of my library?

A: Nope! A card with bestow can be an Aura when it's on the stack (if it was cast using bestow) or on the battlefield (if it resolved after being cast using bestow). But at any other time and in any other zone, including in your library, it's a non-Aura enchantment creature, and so Sovereigns can't ever go get it.

Q: My opponent controls a Fleecemane Lion that has a bestowed Boon Satyr attached to it. If I attack with Bruna, Light of Alabaster, can I take the Boon Satyr and attach it to Bruna?

A: Yup, that works. The Satyr is an Aura on the battlefield, so Bruna can attach it to herself. The bestow effect that makes the Satyr an Aura still applies because the Satyr has not become unattached. It is becoming unattached from Fleecemane Lion, but that's not what the bestow effect's duration is looking for. The bestow effect is looking for the Satyr to not be attached to anything at all, and since the Satyr went straight from being attached to the Lion to being attached to Bruna, that hasn't happened yet.

Q: My opponent started to cast Celestial Archon for its bestow cost, but in the middle of casting it he realizes that he miscounted his lands and doesn't have enough mana for the bestow cost. If he has enough mana to cast it normally, is he forced to do that?

A: Nope. When a player realizes during the process of casting a spell that he can't perform all of the steps that are required for that process, for example the step of paying its cost, the spell was cast illegally and the game returns to the point before the player started to cast the spell.

Let's see what you've learned!

Yes, dear reader, we have decided to bestow a quiz article onto this article! Bestow does weird things, so an article about bestow should do weird things as well, and I can't think of anything weirder than mixing a quiz into a normal article, which as far as I can recall we have never done before. Good luck!

Q: Which of the following spells can counter a Hopeful Eidolon that was cast normally?

A: The choices are...

A: Cancel
B: Negate
C: Essence Scatter
D: Annul
E: Ambiguity

The answer is
A, C, and D. Well, maybe E, too. We're still looking into that one.

A normally-cast Hopeful Eidolon on the stack is an enchantment creature spell, so Cancel can counter it because it's a spell, Annul can counter it because it's an enchantment spell, and Essence Scatter can counter it because it's a creature spell. Contrary to a common misconception, "noncreature" does not mean "has a type other than creature." It means "doesn't have the type creature." Since it is a creature spell, it's not a noncreature spell, so Negate can't target it.

Q: Which of the following spells can counter a Hopeful Eidolon that was cast for its bestow cost?

A: The choices are...

A: Cancel
B: Negate
C: Essence Scatter
D: Annul
E: Ambiguity

The answer is
A, B, and D. We're still not sure about E.

A bestowed Hopeful Eidolon on the stack is an enchantment spell with subtype Aura. Cancel can counter is because it's a spell, Annul can counter it because it's an enchantment spell, and Negate can counter it because it's a noncreature spell. Essence Scatter can't counter it even if the Eidolon's target has become illegal. If the target has become illegal, the Eidolon becomes a creature spell just as it's starting to resolve, and at that time nobody has priority to counter it anymore.

Q: You control a Yoked Ox that's enchanted with a bestowed Celestial Archon and a Bronze Sable that's enchanted with a bestowed Leafcrown Dryad. Your opponent casts Austere Command with both "destroy all creatures" modes. Which permanents end up getting destroyed?

A: The choices are...

A: Yoked Ox.
B: Celestial Archon.
C: Bronze Sable.
D: Leafcrown Dryad.
E: Ambiguity.

The answer is
A, B, and C. This time we're positive that Ambiguity is not correct.

When Austere Command resolves, your opponent follows its instructions in the order written. First, all creatures with converted mana cost 3 or less are destroyed. The only creatures on the battlefield are the Ox and the Sable, and they both have a small enough converted mana cost, so they both get destroyed. This causes the Dryad and the Archon to become creatures immediately. When Austere Command's second part resolves, it looks for creatures with converted mana cost 4 or greater, sees the Archon, and destroys it.

The Dryad became a creature with converted mana cost 3 or less immediately upon the Sable being destroyed, but by then Austere Command was already done with that wave of destruction, so the Dryad is safe.

Q: You attack with Zur the Enchanter and use its ability to search your library for Boon Satyr. Which of the following things can happen?

A: The choices are...

A: You may choose to pay . If you don't, you put Boon Satyr on the battlefield as a creature.
B: You may choose to pay . If you do, you put Boon Satyr on the battlefield as an Aura attached to a creature.
C: You put Boon Satyr on the battlefield as a creature.
D: You put Boon Satyr on the battlefield as an Aura attached to a creature.
E: Your opponent calls the judge because what you did is illegal.

The answer is

E is false because Boon Satyr is in fact an enchantment card with converted mana cost 3 or less, so searching for it with Zur's ability is perfectly legal. However, you're simply putting Boon Satyr onto the battlefield from the library, so you're not casting it. Since you're not casting it, you can't pay the bestow cost even if you wanted to, and Boon Satyr simply enters the battlefield as a standalone enchantment creature.

Q: How many charge counters would there have to be on Chalice of the Void to counter a bestowed Celestial Archon?

A: The choices are...

A: None.
B: Five.
C: Seven.
D: Twelve.
E: Fourty-two.

The answer is

Fourty-two is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, but unfortunately it's not the correct answer to this question.

Chalice of the Void looks at the converted mana cost of the spell that was cast, and the converted mana cost is derived only from the spell's mana cost, which is the string of mana symbols that's printed in the top right corner of the card. For Celestial Archon, that's always even if it was cast for its bestow cost, so its converted mana cost is always 5.

Q: If I use Jace, Architect of Thought's ability to grab a Celestial Archon from my opponent's library, what can I do with that?

A: The choices are...

A: Cast it for free as a creature.
B: Cast it for free as an Aura.
C: Cast it for as an Aura.
D: Cast it for as an Aura.
E: Cast it out the window.

The answer is

I hope it goes without saying that throwing your opponent's cards out the window would be extremely unsporting, not to mention possibly illegal, so please don't do that.

Jace's ability allows you to cast the card without paying its mana cost, which is an alternative cost. Since bestow is also an alternative cost, and you can't apply more than one alternative cost to a spell, you can't bestow the Archon when you cast it this way, so you can only cast it for free as a creature. The effect that allows you to cast the card at all is tied to the alternative cost of casting it for free, so you can't bestow it even if you pay the bestow cost or the difference between the mana cost and the bestow cost.

And that's all the time we have for today. I hope today's issue helped alleviate some of your bestow-related rules headaches. Please come back next week when Eli presents a more varied and normal (or at least less abnormal) issue of Cranial Insertion!

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.

Love the pop-quiz!
#1 • Date: 2013-10-15 • Time: 07:28:17 •
For the question about destroying Yoked Ox with Celestial Archon bestowed: If your opponent is smart, they'll wait until you've already declared attackers to destroy it. That way there's no chance for you to attack with the Archon.
#2 • Date: 2013-10-18 • Time: 00:02:53 •

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