Published on 10/28/2013

Sugar Rush

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Everybody scream!
Everybody scream!
In our column on Halloween...
It's time for another Cranial Insertion and Halloween is almost upon us, but sadly for all you potential trick-or-treaters the Cranial Insertion team has yet to discover a method of distributing candy through the column, no matter how awesome your costumes are, so we'll have to assuage your sugar cravings with some sweet, sweet rules questions instead. And I'm definitely not saying that because I'm keeping all the candy for myself.

If you'd like to treat us to some tricky rules questions of your own, send an email to or a tweet to @CranialTweet and you may see your question in a future column.

Q: My opponent attacks with a Benthic Giant bestowed with a Heliod's Emissary, and targets one of my creatures to tap it. Can I cast Gods Willing for blue to stop my creature from tapping?

A: You can stop your creature from becoming tapped using Gods Willing, but you'll need to choose white to do it, not blue. The ability that's trying to tap your creature comes from the Emissary, which is white, not the blue Giant, so you need to give your creature protection from white in order to counter the ability.

Q: I cast Last Breath on my own Battlewise Hoplite so I can scry. The Hoplite gets a +1/+1 counter, so it doesn't get exiled, right? But do I still gain the life?

A: The Hoplite won't get exiled, but you won't gain any life, either. When Last Breath tries to resolve, it will be countered for having no legal targets, so none of its effects will happen. No life for you, I'm afraid.

Q: I use Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver to cast one of my opponent's creatures. If I cast Rescue from the Underworld sacrificing that creature, what happens?

A: At the beginning of your next upkeep, both the creature you sacrificed and the creature you targeted will return to the battlefield from their respective graveyards. You will control both of them. The Rescue doesn't care who owns the creature you sacrificed or whose graveyard it went to—it will return it to the battlefield under your control regardless.

Q: I control Prophet of Kruphix and pass the turn while my lands are already untapped. Can I respond to the Prophet's ability by tapping my lands and floating the mana, then tap them for more after it resolves?

A: No. Prophet of Kruphix's untap ability isn't a triggered ability and can't be responded to. Instead, it's a static ability that changes the rules of the game so that your stuff untaps during your opponents' untap steps the same way it does during your own. You can't tap your lands during your opponent's untap step before untapping them for the same reason you can't do it during your own—you're not given the opportunity to do anything before untapping for the turn.

Nymphs apparently don't taste
anywhere near as good as candy.
Q: Can you use a Bestow card to return Evershrike to the battlefield?

A: No. An enchantment creature with bestow isn't an Aura while it's just sitting in your hand—it'll only become an aura once you actually cast it using bestow. You're not using bestow here, just trying to put something onto the battlefield directly, so your bestow creature won't be an Aura and can't be put onto the battlefield for Evershrike's ability.

Q: I Dismember a Nylea, God of the Hunt, which then loses devotion, but regains it later the same turn. Can I proceed to cast Shrivel to kill it, or did Dismember's effect end when Nylea stopped being a creature?

A: You can definitely do that. Dismember's effect may not have meant anything while Nylea wasn't a creature and didn't have a power or toughness to reduce, but it still hangs around despite its complete uselessness, since its duration hasn't expired yet. Once Nylea becomes a creature again, Dismember once again has a power and toughness to apply to, and will continue to reduce them until its duration expires in the cleanup step.

Q: I control an Ajani's Chosen and a creature enchanted by Gift of Immortality, which gets Doom Bladed, dies, and gets Doom Bladed again once the Gift returns it.

At the end step will Gift of Immortality attempt to return to the battlefield looking for my creature? If so can it trigger Ajani's Chosen and instead be placed on one of the cat tokens?

A: Afraid not. At the beginning of the end step, Gift of Immortality's delayed trigger will trigger and attempt to return the Gift, but it's trying to return it attached to a specific creature, and that creature's no longer there, so the ability shrugs and just leaves the Gift where it is in the graveyard. Ajani's Chosen won't trigger at all.

Q: My opponent is casting Gray Merchant of Asphodel. With Gray Merchant's devotion to black trigger on the stack, I cast Quicken, then Trait Doctoring. Can I use Trait Doctoring to change the devotion to black to a harmless devotion to green and lose no life?

A: You could Trait Doctoring the Merchant to change black to green, but that won't make you lose any less life. The Merchant's ability has already triggered and is sitting on the stack, completely independent from the Merchant that originally produced it. If someone's throwing apples at you, taking away their apples and giving them bananas in exchange won't turn the apples they've already thrown into bananas. The same principle applies here.

Q: Does Maddening Imp's ability affect every creature the active player will control during the turn, or simply those that were on the battlefield when I activated it?

A: It will apply to all creatures the active player will control, not just the ones that are around now. Effects from spells or activated or triggered abilities that modify the characteristics of things or changes control of things will only affect things that were around when they started to apply, but Maddening Imp's ability doesn't do either of those, so it applies to all creatures, even ones that weren't around when it started.

Q: I make my Fleecemane Lion monstrous in response to a Supreme Verdict. With the activation on the stack my opponent casts Turn on the Lion. My Lion becomes monstrous after the Turn resolves—does that make it indestructible and save it?

A: Nope. The ability that would give the Lion indestructible and hexproof gets removed by Turn before it can apply, so the Lion is still subject to the Verdict and will be destroyed.

For those of you familiar enough with the layer system to be wondering about timestamp order, the Lion's ability is dependent on Turn's effect, (because they want to apply in the same layer and Turn removes the Lion's ability) so Turn applies first, even though the Lion's ability has an earlier timestamp. Not that that really makes a difference, because even if the Lion's ability applied first, Turn would come along immediately after and remove both of the abilities the Lion was just granted, so the result would be the same either way. Yay for technical details!

Q: My opponent has a Master of Waves, an Arbor Elf, and a few 1/0 Elemental tokens. If I cast Far // Away and target the Master for Far, can he choose to sacrifice an Elemental for Away, or do they die first?

A: He can indeed sacrifice an Elemental. The Elementals become 1/0s again as soon as the Master leaves the battlefield, before your opponent chooses a creature to sacrifice, but they won't die quite yet, since you're still in the middle of resolving Far // Away and state-based actions aren't checked in the middle of resolving a spell. So since the doomed tokens are still around, your opponent can choose to sacrifice one of them.

Q: When I use Garruk, Caller of Beasts's first ability, I have to reveal the top 5 cards of my library. Am I allowed to rearrange them before I reveal, or is their position in my library known by both players at all points?

A: The cards are still technically in your library, and you can't arbitrarily rearrange your library just for the fun of it, so since Garruk's ability doesn't explicitly give you permission to rearrange them, you technically have to maintain their order, so your opponent will know which card was on top, which was second, and so on.

This really won't matter in most cases, though, so unless there's some reason your opponent might care, you probably don't have to worry too much about it.

Q: I control a creature with double strike in a Two-Headed Giant game. I attack with it, and the defending team doesn't block. Can I assign the first strike damage to one player and the regular combat damage to the other player?

A: Absolutely. At the time your creature assigns first strike combat damage, you choose which of the defending players its damage will be dealt to. When the regular combat damage step comes around, you'll choose again, and there's nothing that says you have to make the same choice as before.

Kicking him's one trick he definitely
doesn't appreciate.
Q: If I cast a kicked Rite of Replication on a Master Biomancer that I don't control, what do I get?

A: You get five unmutated 2/4 Biomancers. Master Biomancer's ability changes the way in which creatures enter the battlefield, but in order for it to do that, it needs to already be on the battlefield. The five Biomancer's you're about to get from the Rite aren't yet on the battlefield, so their abilities can't affect themselves.

Q: If an opponent has a Lazav, Dimir Mastermind and mills a Thassa, God of the Sea to copy it, would the copy give 1 devotion like Thassa, or 2 for Lazav's original cost?

A: Your Lazav-Thassa only increases your devotion to blue by 1. When something becomes a copy, it copies absolutely everything about what it's copying unless specifically stated otherwise. Lazav makes a couple of exceptions to the copying process so he can keep his old name, legendary status, and abilities, but he doesn't exempt his mana cost, so that's copied from Thassa just like everything else.

Q: If I respond to Chandra, Pyromaster's 0 ability with Hero's Downfall, does that mean the card is exiled forever?

A: No. Chandra's ability both exiles the card and gives your opponent permission to play it, and this permission isn't dependent on Chandra remaining on the battlefield. Your opponent can play the exiled card just fine without her.

Q: Let's say my opponent hits my Misthollow Griffin with a Banisher Priest. I gain control of the priest somehow, and then cast the Misthollow Griffin from exile. In the process of casting it, I sacrifice the Banisher Priest to an Ashnod's Altar as a mana ability. What happens? Am I now casting it from the battlefield?

A: Not much happens—you just continue casting Misthollow Griffin. You put the Griffin on the stack from exile as the first step in casting it, and as far as the game's concerned that makes it a new object, so the Banisher Priest lost track of it. When the Priest leaves the battlefield, the Griffin is no longer in exile to be returned, so the game shrugs and moves on.

Of course, you could have saved yourself a bunch of trouble by just sacrificing the Priest to the Altar in the first place and not bothering with the casting.

Q: What happens when there is a delayed trigger (such as from Ghostway) not yet on the stack, and someone casts Time Stop?

A: If a delayed trigger is looking for "the next [something]" and you manage to skip over that something, it just keeps hanging around waiting until whatever it's looking for actually happens. In the case of Ghostway in particular, it'll just wait until the next player's end step to return everything.

Q: I cast a spell that targets my heroic creature, and my opponent uses a Spellskite to change the target of the spell. Does the heroic ability still trigger?

A: It triggered as soon as you cast the spell, before your opponent even had a chance to use Spellskite, and it's not going to un-trigger just because your opponent was mean enough to steal your spell before it could resolve. You still get your heroic trigger.

In general, causing an ability's trigger condition to no longer be true after it has already triggered won't stop the ability unless it has an "intervening if" clause in between the trigger condition and the effect. (An "intervening if" clause looks like "When [something happens], *if [whatever]*, [do stuff].") An "intervening if" clause double-checks itself when the ability starts to resolve to make sure the clause itself is still true before allowing the ability to do anything. But most triggers don't have such clauses and don't care.

Q: Can Vraska the Unseen's +1 ability kill creatures with protection from black?

A: Yes. Protection stops only four things: Damage, Enchanting/Equipping, Blocking, and Targeting (generally abbreviated DEBT). If something has protection, all damage that would be dealt to it by something it's protected from is prevented, and it can't be Enchanted/Equipped, Blocked, or Targeted by anything it's protected from.

Vraska's ability doesn't use the word "target", doesn't deal damage, and definitely isn't blocking, enchanting, or equipping the creatures, so it works just fine against a creature with protection from black.

Q: Is there any difference between Mogg War Marshal ("When Mogg War Marshal enters the battlefield...") and Bogardan Hellkite ("When Bogardan Hellkite comes into play...") if you copy them with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker?

A: Apart from the fact that one makes a token and the other burns things in the face for five damage, none whatsoever! (Although if you think about it, that's a pretty big difference.)

Before the Magic 2010 Core Set was released in 2009 (insert car model year joke here), "the battlefield" was known as "the in-play zone" or just "play". (Which caused a bunch of confusion about the difference between "playing" cards and "being in play", which is why they changed it.) "Comes into play" is just the pre-M10 way of saying "enters the battlefield", and old cards that used it have had their Oracle text updated to use the newer wording.

In fact, if you take a look at the tooltip image for Bogardan Hellkite in this very article, you'll see that the most recent Duel Decks: Knights vs. Dragons version of it has that updated "enters the battlefield" wording printed on it.

Q: If I resurrect Erebos, God of the Dead with Chainer, Dementia Master, and Chainer leaves the battlefield, will Erebos be exiled by Chainer's trigger?

A: Only if you have enough devotion to black to make Erebos a creature. If you don't, then Erebos doesn't get exiled, because he's not a creature, and things that aren't creatures can't have creature types, so he's not a Nightmare either.

That's all for now, so it's time to blow out the jack-o-lantern and turn in for the night. And maybe see a doctor in the morning, because I have a nasty stomachache.

So worth it.

- 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.

With the Eberos/Chainer situation, what makes that situation different than the many situations in Lorwyn block where non-creatures have creature types?
#1 • Date: 2013-10-30 • Time: 00:24:15 •
Those from Lorwyn have the Tribal card type. The card types Tribal and Creature share the same list of subtypes.

Cards that are neither creatures nor tribals can not have creature subtypes.
#2 • Date: 2013-10-30 • Time: 04:46:50 •

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