Published on 11/18/2013

Bitter Seas

or, More Is More

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Old cards are silly.
Up here in jolly old New England, it's freezing and zombie monkeys are not great sources of warmth. So come join me around a blazing pile of Homelands commons and let's look at some rules questions! They taste great on a cracker with some chocolate.

If you've got a taste for more questions after this, send them over to or, if they're short and tiny enough, on Twitter to @CranialTweet. Remember, the more explanation you need, the less appropriate it is for Twitter. I've already explained banding in 140 characters once, and do not want to try to remember how I did that.

Q: I have a question about Face the Hydra...

A: We've had more than a few questions about Facing the Hydra, and the answer to all of them is pretty simple: The written rules for it are extremely lax. There are no Comprehensive Rules additions for it. It's not a competitive event. Have fun! Let flavorful answers flow!

Q: Phyrexian Metamorph is shaped like Kitchen Finks when I throw it into my Birthing Pod. Does it come back?

A: Leaves-the-battlefield triggers look back in time after the event to determine if the event caused a trigger. Your Metafinks had persist immediately before it left the battlefield, so boom, trigger. Phyrexian Metamorph will return to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter on it, and you can choose something to copy again.

Q: Will the Metamorph I threw into my Pod come back before or after the Pod ability resolves? Or do I get to choose?

A: There's no choice - it'll always return before the Pod activation resolves. The first step of activating an ability is to put that ability onto the stack, and then later down the line you sacrifice a creature to pay the cost. The resulting trigger goes on top of the ability that's already there and so must resolve first.

Q: I cast Sylvan Primordial when one of my four opponents controls Sterling Grove and Privileged Position. What happens with the Primordial's trigger? I still get to blow up stuff for the other three players?

A: The trigger is put onto the stack, and then you're prompted to choose exactly four targets. However, you can't do this - there is no legal target to choose among the enchantment player's stuff. Since you can't choose sufficient legal targets for the trigger, it's removed from the stack instead. Nothing is destroyed, and you get no Forests.

Q: I'm confused on exactly how evolve works. Help?

A: Evolve has an intervening "if" clause - you can tell by the trigger frame of "When X, if Y, do Z." This means that when the trigger condition is met, the if condition must also be met or the ability doesn't trigger. So for evolve, the creature entering the battlefield must have a higher power and/or toughness than the creature with evolve for the ability to trigger.

As the trigger goes to resolve, the if condition is checked again. The creature that entered needs to still have a higher power and/or toughness, though not necessarily the same as when it entered, or the trigger does nothing and just leaves the stack. If the condition is still true, you get the Z: a big juicy counter for your creature.

Dearly Devoted Daxos
Q: I control a 4/5 Cloudfin Raptor, Frostburn Weird, and Thassa, God of the Sea. I cast a second Thassa - will my Raptor evolve?

A: That depends on which Thassa you consign to your graveyard.


Yup! Let's look at this closely:

Thassa 2 enters the battlefield. Remember, for entering the battlefield we apply replacement effects, then apply all continuous effects, then check for triggers. T2 is now a creature, so Raptor's evolve trigger triggers. Next, you're prompted to choose one of your legendary Thassas to put into your graveyard. After doing so, the evolve trigger is put onto the stack.

When the trigger resolves, we need to re-check the power/toughness comparison. If you threw away the new Thassa, there's no object to compare the Raptor to currently, so you use its last known information. At the time it left, it was a 5/5 creature, so the evolve trigger is satisfied.

If you tossed out the old Thassa, the new Thassa is still there to be checked, and last known information is not used. However, current information says "um, I'm not a creature, I can't have a power or toughness!" The comparison fails, and evolve wanders off the stack without doing anything.

Q: Do I get a double trigger from Give // Take fused targeting Phalanx Leader?

A: You'll only get one trigger. Heroic triggers care about a spell being cast, not how many times that spell targets the creature. A fused split spell is still just one spell, so it'll just be one trigger.

Q: Does bloodrush trigger heroic?

A: It won't. Bloodrush is an activated ability, not a spell. You can tell because of the colon ( : ) in between a cost and effect on the card's ability.

Q: Does overload trigger heroic?

A: The glory of overload is getting right around targeting stuff by replacing the word "target" with "each." This is awesome when it lets Mizzium Mortars take out a hexproof creature. This is less awesome when you want to target all of your guys at once. With no targets at all, it can't trigger heroic abilities.

Q: My opponent brings an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to Show and Tell and I bring an Ashen Rider. Can my Rider destroy Emrakul?

A: Both creatures enter simultaneously, and then your Rider's trigger is put onto the stack. The Rider isn't a spell, and its trigger isn't a spell, so Emrakul makes a little spaghetti-shaped frowny face and explodes into exile.

Q: Do tokens have a name?

A: Yes, but their parents aren't very creative. If a token is a copy of something, it copies its name. If an effect says the token has a specific name, it has that name. Otherwise, the token's name is just the creature types it was created with. Bitterblossom makes tokens named Faerie Rogue, and both Akroan Horse and Akroan Crusader make tokens named Soldier.

Q: How does True-Name Nemesis work with Concerted Effort?

A: You'll be able to give your creatures protection from the chosen player. The important thing to note is that True-Name Nemesis doesn't have two abilities ("choose a player" and "protection from the chosen player") - it has three abilities. One causes you to choose a player, one causes it to gain protection from a certain player, and the third is the actual protection ability granted by the second. The first and second abilities are linked abilities, meaning that the second needs to refer to the choice made by the first, but then the third ability just exists as granted. It might make it easier on your brain if you look at Voice of All, which works the same way but uses a more standard form of protection.

Q: When I Tooth and Nail out Blightsteel Colossus and Darksteel Colossus, can I equip Lightning Greaves to one and then to the other to clear summoning sickness so I can attack with both?

A: Summoning sickness isn't an actual thing that's gained or lost. It's a casual way to refer to a rule: "A permanent that is currently a creature and has not been under its controller's control continuously since that player's most recent turn began can't attack or pay or ." Haste means to ignore that rule. As you go to the declare attackers step and are prompted to pick your attackers, only one of those creatures will have haste, and the other will be affected by that rule.

Q: What profane game state do I get when I Rite of Replication Purphoros, God of the Forge?

A: I am constantly amused that everyone forgets that Rite of Replication can be cast unkicked. It's just too much fun to kick! So let's assume that's what you did, and that it's your opponent's Purphoros.

First you put five red Gods onto the battlefield. Next, check continuous effects - your devotion to red is at least five, so their not-a-creature effect doesn't apply. Third, check for triggers. Oh hey, each Purphoros sees four other creatures that just entered! Each of the five see that, so it's twenty triggers. Then state-based actions wipe out four of the Gods and then all twenty triggers go on the stack anyway. Each opponent will take 40 damage slowly in chunks of 2 unless they do something.

Opal is pretty, but not
a very good building material.
Q: When I cast Ghave, Guru of Spores for the first time with mana from Opal Palace, how many counters does it get? Opal Palace doesn't say "additional" like other cards do, I'm not sure if that matters.

A: The word "additional" is just to help poor human brains figure stuff out - you replace "enter" with "enter and with five counters" and then "enter and place five counters and place one counter" so Ghave gets six counters.

Q: I attack with Medomai the Ageless and get an extra turn. During the same turn, I flicker Medomai with Deadeye Navigator's ability. Since Medomai is a new object, it can attack during the extra turn, right?

A: Nope. Look above "Medomai the Ageless can't attack" - the gap between these two lines is bigger than the gaps between the two lines before that. That, along with the hard line break, are how you can tell that these are two separate abilities. Medomai can't attack during any extra turns at all, not only "that extra turn."

Q: If I pair Master of Waves and Deadeye Navigator, can I make buckets of tokens, or do the old ones die when the Master leaves?

A: They'll all survive to party with their new friends. Master of Waves is exiled and returned all during the resolution of the ability it gained from the Deadeye. There's a tiny moment there where the Elementals are scared and lonely 1/0 creatures, but state-based actions aren't performed until after the ability is entirely done resolving. By that point, the Master is back to give them some toughness.

Q: Will Phthisis targeting a Blightsteel Colossus kill my opponent even though it doesn't die?

A: If your opponent has 22 or less life, sure! If a spell requires that one of its instructions be fulfilled in order to perform the next, it'll say so explicitly.

Q: In response to Magma Jet, my opponent Griptides my Kragma Warcaller. Magma Jet resolves, 2 damage, then I scry. I choose to put one card on the bottom and one on top - does my opponent get to know whether it's the Warcaller I put on the bottom?

A: He doesn't get to know. All he gets to know is how many cards moved where, not in which order. In general, though not in every case, the philosophy is that if a player gets to pick up cards and look at them they may be rearranged since players will do that anyway. The less the game fights players' nature the better.

Q: I've heard about a play/draw rule based on Swiss standings. Does that apply to the top eight of everything?

A: Nope, it's only mandatory at PTQs and higher events, and is optional if announced before the event for others. For those who might not know the rule in question: With it in effect, the player with the higher Swiss finish chooses whether to play or draw for the first game of each top eight match rather than the players choosing randomly.

Q: The other night at FNM, my opponent cast Fate Foretold on his Battlewise Hoplite, drew a card, and thought for a bit. Then he attacked and said "oh yeah, it gets a counter, too." Does it? I thought if you forget a trigger, it's the opponent's choice whether or not you get it.

A: What you're thinking of is part of the Competitive policy for Missed Triggers - it only applies to Competitive REL events, like a GPT or PTQ. At Regular, the policy is that it is entirely up to the judge's discretion whether or not putting the trigger on the stack now would be "too disruptive," and your opponent may or may not still get his trigger.

Note that you don't have to remind your opponent of his own trigger at any level of play, but if you choose not to do so at Regular, you risk that trigger happening later after you've made decisions.

Q: Do I have to say anything if my opponent forgets his lifelink trigger?

A: You sure do! Lifelink is not a trigger; it is simply something that happens as part of damage being dealt. You're not allowed to let your opponent miss it.

And that concludes our weekly dip in the ocean of knowings. Enjoy your toasty fires and snowfall as winter sets in - I'm going to curl up inside a tauntaun for a few months.

Until next time, may your wildfowl be delicious!

- 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.


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