Published on 10/21/2013

The Gods Must Be Crazy

or, Devotion to Soda Bottles

Cranial Translation
Deutsch Español Français Italiano Português Pусский

Karma karma karma karma
Karma Chimera
Welcome back to Theros, where devotion to the Gods went into high octane as devotion-fueled decks tromped the Pro Tour last weekend and Thassa made waves. As a result, the Gods of Theros have gotten quite the ego and are strutting around making barnyard animal noises and eating paint. The moral of this story is not to bother trying to understand celestial beings. And paint may, despite your parents' warnings, be delicious.

We at Cranial Insertion assume no responsibility should you choose to test this theory.

Should you have any questions after reading this article, go ahead and send over an email to or send a short question to @CranialTweet. To stave off the biggest question: blue paint's the best.

Q: How does Opalescence work with Heliod, God of the Sun?

A: Heliod is already sparkly and shiny like an opal, so you might think it wouldn't do much. But you would be wrong! Hopping into the layer system, we see two effects in layer 4 and one in 7b. There's no dependency between the two in layer 4, so they apply in timestamp order: if Heliod was there first, Opalescence will make it into a creature again if your devotion is too low; with Opalescence first, its effect does nothing notable and then Heliod's effect makes it a noncreature. So if Heliod entered the battlefield first or if you have sufficient devotion, Heliod leaves layer 4 as a creature, only to find itself small and puny in layer 7b when its majestic 5/6 body is downsized to a mere 4/4.

Q: What happens if I send my commander to rescue a creature, but put it into the command zone?

A: The effect from Rescue looks for where the creature card was placed as a result of being sacrificed, and it can find it wherever that is as long as it's still in a public zone. So in a dazzling defiance of flavor, you send Orpheus to save Eurydice from the Underworld, Orpheus rolls his eyes, says "oh nevermind, she's not worth that much trouble" and goes home to play Grand Theft Auto V. At the beginning of your next upkeep the loving couple both come back to the battlefield for no story-sensible reason. Perhaps the command zone is a penthouse suite in the non-graveyard part of the Underworld.

Q: I cast Thoughtseize but my opponent's just holding three lands. Do I still lose 2 life?

A: You do. Losing life isn't contingent on actually making your opponent discard something. You'll get hurt just for sticking your fingers into his or her juicy brain.

Q: Can I even make Polukranos, World Eater monstrous if my opponent has no creatures to target?

A: You can - perhaps Heady the Hydra there is enraged that he doesn't have anyone to eat. Its last ability triggers when it becomes monstrous, so it has to have already become monstrous to trigger. Without any targets, it's just taken right off the stack, but we don't rewind time and undo becoming monstrous.

The best bestow target.
Just ask Carsten.
Q: Does Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir let me flash in bestow Auras other than Boon Satyr onto Yoked Ox?

A: It sure does, and not just onto our poor, overburdened Ox! The first step of casting a spell is the only time that you check casting restrictions and permissions, and the creature card on the stack has flash, so it's legal to cast. Then in step two it stops being a creature and loses flash, but oh well, the game doesn't check again.

Q: Do Pack Rat tokens raise my devotion to black?

A: They do! To copy a permanent, just take the card that it represents, put it through a copy machine, evade the Legal department having issues with you doing that, and plop that copy onto the battlefield. The mana cost is among the things you copied, even if you didn't use a full-color copy machine, so it'll make Gray Merchants happy.

Q: Can I counter a spell to stop Agent of the Fates's trigger?

A: Heroic triggers when a spell is cast, not when a spell resolves. Countering a spell won't rewind time and make it never have been cast in the first place - if that happened, then why would you cast a counterspell, but then what countered that spell, and boom, we have a paradox that destroys all of space and time. Let's avoid that, shall we?

Q: I control Thassa, God of the Sea and Prime Speaker Zegana, and I cast a second Zegana. Does it see Thassa as a 5/5 and get five counters, or only one from my small and weak Zegana?

A: Just one counter. Thassa won't be a creature until the moment Zegana enters the battlefield, and Zegana needs to count up how many counters to get before that.

Q: Will Erebos, God of the Dead enter the battlefield tapped when my opponent has Imposing Sovereign and Erebos gives me my fifth black mana symbol?

A: It'll be untapped. Immediately before entering the battlefield, the game determines how Erebos will enter. This takes into account continuous effects on Erebos that affect only itself, and the game sees four devotion and figures it won't be a creature. Imposing Sovereign's effect isn't applied, and Erebos enters untapped, and is immediately a creature since now you have enough devotion.

Yes, this is sort of strange. There's no point where Erebos isn't a creature or creature spell in this process, but the very slimmed-down nature of looking at future events in the game results in the game not realizing this.

Q: Purphoros, God of the Forge is the only red permanent I control, and I cast a second Purphoros. Does it enter as a creature before it stops being a creature so the old one can deal 2 damage?

A: Nope. If your devotion's not met, there's no point in time that a God will be a creature on the battlefield, and Purphoros won't trigger.

Q: If I fuse Turn // Burn, can I kill Master of Waves because it gets Turned then Burned?

A: Turn // Burn is still both blue and red while fused, and since it's red, a creature with protection from red can't be chosen as a target - even just for Turn's ability.

Q: Does casting an enchantment creature trigger both of Primeval Bounty's first two abilities?

A: Nope! A "non-creature spell" is a spell that does not have the type "creature," not a spell that has a type other than "creature." The same applies to any "non-thing" in Magic - something can't be both thing and non-thing, no matter what thing is.

Q: I put Ordeal of Purphoros on a creature and attacked. Next turn, I put a second Ordeal of Purphoros on it. When it attacks now, do I sac both and deal 6?

A: Nope, only one. It's easily to think "toss on two counters, sacrifice both," but that's not how the stack works. How it works is that both abilities trigger, and then resolve one at a time. The first one resolves and you add a counter, but that's only two counters so the Ordeal isn't sacrificed. Then the second trigger resolves and adds a counter, so you sacrifice the Ordeal and its last ability triggers. The first Ordeal's trigger has already resolved, so it's way too late for that trigger to see sufficient counters to complete the Ordeal - you'll have to wait for next turn, when you also get a fourth counter out of the deal!

The original question was
about Heliod, but Nylea is the
only God not in this article yet.
Q: Does Nylea, God of the Hunt still have indestructible when it's not a creature?

A: Sure - any permanent can have indestructible, not just creatures. Nothing on the Gods say that they lose any abilities when they stop being creatures.

Q: Boon Satyr is sitting on a 1/1 Soldier token and it blocks Boros Reckoner. Can the Reckoner's trigger kill Boon Satyr?

A: It can! When a player's about to receive priority, first you perform state-based actions: the token dies and the Satyr is a creature. Then you put triggers on the stack, and only at this point are targets chosen. The Satyr is a creature now, so the Reckoner trigger can target it.

Q: Can my Elite Arcanist learn Martial Glory to trigger two Phalanx Leaders every turn?

A: That'll work. When dealing with copies on the stack, it's very important to distinguish between two similar but very different effects: Copy a spell (which does not trigger heroic, since the copy is not cast), and copy a card and cast it (which does trigger heroic, since you're casting it). Elite Arcanist, cipher, and Isochron Scepter all use the latter mechanic, and make for some happy heroes!

Q: Can I bestow a Celestial Archon onto Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts?

A: You can do that. As soon as you choose to bestow it in the second step of casting, it becomes an Enchantment—Aura spell, no longer a creature. Then you move on to the next step and choose a target, and Teysa has no objection to having another creature-shaped thing sit on her head as long as that thing isn't actually a creature.

Q: Xenagos, the Reveler's ultimate gets me Crocanura and Renegade Krasis - do I get to choose one to evolve, or does neither?

A: Both get to evolve, and you have no choice! They enter at the same time, and that means that their enters-the-battlefield triggers can see each other. You can order the two evolve triggers as you like so that Crocanura has a counter by the time Renegade Krasis's evolve trigger causes its second trigger, too.

Q: Can Strionic Resonator make Prophet of Kruphix do double duty?

A: Nope, Kruphix's prophet is lazy like that. Its effect just modifies the untap step by expanding the set of objects that will untap to include your stuff, and the distinct lack of when/whenever/at in the ability means that it is absolutely not a triggered ability.

Q: Can my creature survive the Anger of the Gods if the Gods are Willing?

A: Part of protection red is "prevent all damage that would be dealt to this by a red source." It doesn't matter that Anger of the Gods doesn't target it - the damage will still be prevented. So while the Gods may be angry at everyone, they're slightly less angry at that creature.

Q: Can Domri Rade make a Stormbreath Dragon fight a Soldier of the Pantheon or a Voice of Resurgence?

A: Domri is a red and green source, so his fight ability can't target Soldier of the Pantheon at all. It can target Voice of Resurgence and Stormbreath Dragon, though. When those two get into a fight, the Dragon comes out decidedly ahead since the damage that Voice would deal to it is prevented, while it still takes a big hearty bite out of Voice.

Q: My monstrous Fleecemane Lion has Unflinching Courage and is blocked by Blood Baron of Vizkopa. What happens?

A: When assigning damage from a creature with trample, you look at exactly four things: The blocking creature's current toughness, damage currently marked on the blocking creature, the attacking creature's current power, and whether the attacking creature has deathtouch. Protection is not on that list, so it's ignored - you'll get to assign 4 damage to the Blood Baron and 2 to your opponent. The 4 damage is prevented, and your opponent loses 2 life.

That's all for this week! Stay tuned for our upcoming Commander 2013 article to tide you over until Born of the Gods, as well as more random questions from awesome people.

Until next time, may your devotion be unleaded!

- Eli Shiffrin

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.

In the last question, the Blood Baron would still gain him 4 life, no? There's nothing preventing the Blood Baron's damage from being dealt
#1 • Date: 2013-10-20 • Time: 21:46:53 •
@Deliani Protection from white means that the four damage on the Blood Baron are prevented, which means that no effect of this damage is applied: no damage marked, no lifegain (and no -1/-1 counters from wither or infect, eihter).
#2 • Date: 2013-10-21 • Time: 04:48:51 •
@Deliani Yes, Blood Baron would deal 4 to the indestructible cat, and gain 4, for a net life change of +2. The Cat trampled for 2 (assuming that's what the cat owner wanted to do) also for a net of +2 life, due to the unflinchingly courageous lifelink. Life for everyone!
#3 • Date: 2013-10-21 • Time: 07:08:41 •

#Q5: "and the creature card on the stack has flash" should be "and the creature card in your hand", no?

#Q8: The answer for this is interesting. 614.12 doesn't tell us what to do with static abilities that doesn't affect the future object when "looking forward in time".
Can we say that we look at the characteristics of other permanents as they currently exist and do not account for how the existence of the would-be entering object would affect them?

#Q9: According to 614.12 we should also "check the characteristics of the permanent as it would exist on the battlefield". So we should see that fifth black mana symbol in future-Erebos. So shouldn't we see future-Erebos as a creature and therefore applicable for Imposing Sovereign's effect?
#4 • Date: 2013-10-21 • Time: 17:16:08 •
Further to Opalescence vs Heliod... Opalescence would also instantly render Heliod's cleric tokens 0/0's immediately after they hit the field, yes?
#5 • Date: 2013-10-22 • Time: 07:47:02 •
Rocket_Knight: If you need information about the game state, you check the game state prior the event. You only use rule 614.12 when the game specifically asks for information about the future permanent (because that kind of information can't be checked by looking at the past).

When Imposing Sovereign asks "Is this permanent a creature?", you can't answer the question by looking at the previous game state, so you need to look at the future as rule 614.12 tells.

However, when the God's static ability asks "What's your loyalty to Black?", that question isn't specifically about the entering-the-battlefield permanent, and you can get an answer to it the easy way, just by looking at the previous game state. So that's what you do. To put it simple, when checking for replacement effects, we only look at the future when looking at the past doesn't work.
#6 • Date: 2013-10-23 • Time: 01:46:54 •

Follow us @CranialTweet!

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

Follow our RSS feed!