Published on 12/23/2013

Christmas Eve Eve


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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Marking time until the Earth
rotates around its axis once again
Hello, everybody, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion. If you're reading this article the day it goes live (and why wouldn't you be?) the day that is today is the day that is the day before the day before the day that is the best day in the world! It may not be a holiday per se, but by now there's probably at least a candy cane or two within arm's reach of a very large chunk of the global population, so when I say the actual holiday is so close you can taste it, I mean it.

But all of that tasting might just make bearing the wait harder, so to help pass the time and distract you from obsessive clockwatching we here at Cranial Insertion have brought you a fresh heaping of rules questions straight out of the inbox and the Twitter feed. As always, if you're interested in having us answer your rules questions, send them to one of those places; our email address is and our Twitter is @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer and your questions may be featured in an upcoming edition.

Q: Two weeks ago, we learned that destroying an Erebos's Emissary in response to its ability won't stop the enchanted creature from getting +2/+2. What happens if, instead of the Emissary being killed, the enchanted creature is killed?

A: In that case, as the ability resolves it will see that Erebos's Emissary is currently a standalone creature, not an Aura, so it will give the Emissary +2/+2.

Q: If I have one land with multiple Underworld Connections can I only activate one or do they stack?

A: You'd think having a lot of Underworld Connections would get you more information than someone with only one, but turns out that's not the case. The ability granted by each Connections is independent of the others, and you can only activate one of those abilities at a time. So just one card for you.

Q: Can I Bestow something onto my Grid Monitor?

A: Afraid not. In order to bestow a creature onto something you have to start casting it, but you can't start casting it because it's a creature and Grid Monitor says no.

Q: I Azorius Charm one of my opponent's creatures to the top of his library, then he casts Magma Jet and scries one of the top two cards to the bottom. Do I get to know whether or not he kept the creature I put there?

A: No, you don't. You get to know how many cards were put on the bottom (if any), but unless your opponent feels generous enough to share more information with you out of the goodness of their heart that's all you're going to get.

Though no one else
would seem to give a damn.
Q: In a multiplayer game if I temporarily gain control of an opponent's face-down morph creature, could I show what it is to the other players?

A: Certainly. Since you currently control the creature you can look at it, and you're always allowed to share any information you legally have access to with other players if you want.

Q: I activate Vizkopa Guildmage during my turn, do some stuff, then pass. My opponent taps out to do a bunch of things during my end step. Once he does that, if I Swords to Plowshares my own Serra Avatar will my Guildmage's ability still trigger, or has its duration expired?

A: Vizkopa Guildmage's ability sets up a delayed trigger that sticks around until the current turn is completely and entirely over. It won't expire until your opponent's turn begins, so feel free to Swords your own creature and make your opponent cry all you'd like.

Q: I Turn to Frog a Soldier of the Pantheon. Can that Frog now take the rest of his Soldier buddies to a Detention Sphere?

A: Yes. Detention Sphere only targets one permanent, but it exiles everything else with the same name as that permanent too, and it doesn't target those others. So if the Sphere exiles a frog named Soldier of the Pantheon, it's also going to exile the other still-human Soldiers of the Pantheon, even if they themselves wouldn't be legal targets for the ability.

Q: If I kill a Rageblood Shaman with a Divine Verdict after it declares an attack but before blockers does this stop everything from having trample?

A: Yes. Rageblood Shaman's ability only applies while it's on the battlefield; as soon as it dies, it stops giving your opponent's Minotaurs trample. And the game only cares whether or not something has trample as the combat damage step is beginning and combat damage is being assigned. Something that used to have trample but doesn't now won't get to trample, because it doesn't have trample now.

You don't even have to do it before blockers—removing the Shaman any time before the combat damage step will do the trick.

Q: My opponent controls Serra Avatar (at 11 life), Stalking Vengeance, and Bloodfire Colossus. They pop the Colossus. Does Stalking Vengeance trigger for Serra Avatar dying?

A: Yes it does. Players lose life as part of damage being dealt, so immediately after damage has been dealt your opponent will be at 5 life and have a Stalking Vengeance and a 5/5 Avatar, both with 6 damage marked on them. Both creatures die simultaneously and the Vengeance sees the Avatar dying at the same time as itself, so it triggers.

Q: Let's say I'm attacked by a 5/5 Pack Rat and Nightveil Specter. I have a Mutavault that's a creature, a Spear of Heliod, and two Plains, all untapped. Can I chump block the Rat with Mutavault and after damage, before the Vault dies tap it for mana to use the Spear on the Nightveil Specter?

A: Nope. If you chump block the Rat, you're not going to be able to destroy the Specter, because once combat damage has been dealt at the beginning of the combat damage step your Mutavault will die of lethal damage before you get a chance to do anything.

You could tap Mutavault for mana during declare blockers, but that doesn't help you here because there aren't any legal targets for the Spear's ability until damage has been dealt and by then the mana would have emptied from your pool as the declare blockers step ended.

Q: I control Story Circle set to "green". My opponent controls a Treetop Village, and casts Stone Rain targeting my only untapped Plains. Can I tap the Plains for mana in response and activate Story Circle to prevent damage from the Village, even though my opponent hasn't animated it yet?

A: No. You can activate the Circle's ability if you want, but it can't prevent damage from an unanimated Village. You need to choose a green source at the time Story Circle's ability is resolving, and while the Village will probably become green at some later point in the turn, it still isn't green now, so it's not a legal choice.

Q: Is it possible to counter Cryoclasm with Dawn Charm since it deals damage to you? Or must it say "target player" to be considered a "spell that targets you"?

A: Spells and abilities only target what they specifically say they target. (Check reminder text for cards with keyword abilities.) Cryoclasm says "target Plains or Island", but that's it—it's not targeting the player, just the land. No Dawn Charming it for you, I'm afraid.

Q: Does Lorwyn's Hideaway cycle (eg. Windbrisk Heights) allow you to play the exiled card with no timing restrictions if the condition has been met?

A: The normal rules for when you can play spells don't apply, because if they did the Hideaway lands wouldn't work at all—you can't normally play anything during the resolution of an ability. So go right ahead and cast sorceries on your opponent's turn and enchantments during your combat phase all you like.

However, if there's any actual restrictions on when you can cast the spell, those still apply. If the card's Even the Odds, you can only cast it if your opponents each control more creatures than you do. If it's Talara's Battalion, you can only cast it if you've cast another green spell this turn. And so on.

Also, if the card's a land, you can only play it if it's your turn and you haven't made your land drop this turn.

If we don't sing its praises,
nobody ever will.
Q: If I have Possibility Storm and a Nivmagus Elemental, can I cast a Shock, respond to the trigger by activating the Elemental, and still get the card off of Possibility Storm?

A: Absolutely. Possibility Storm's trigger tries to exile whatever spell you cast, but it doesn't actually care if it succeeds or not—you get to dig through your library for the next card of the same type regardless, and get to cast whatever you find.

Q: If I Mindslaver someone in Commander and they have their commander in hand, on their turn can they choose to put it back in the command zone if I make them discard it somehow?

A: Only if you let them. While you control another player, you make all in-game decisions for that player (other than whether or not to concede). This includes the decision of whether or not to put their commander into the command zone instead of the graveyard or exile. So if you'd like them to put their commander in the command zone, go right ahead and make them do that. Or you could force them to put their commander into the graveyard. Whatever you like.

Q: If I use Chainer, Dementia Master to reanimate an Erebos, God of the Dead and my devotion to black drops below 5 before going above 5 again, is Erebos still a Nightmare?

A: Yes, Erebos will still be a Nightmare once it becomes a creature again. The effect from Chainer's ability doesn't end when Erebos stops being a creature—it'll continue to hang around even if it isn't currently accomplishing anything. When Erebos becomes a creature again, it'll be ready and waiting.

Q: If I were to copy Creeping Renaissance would I be allowed to choose a new permanent type with the copy?

A: You pretty much have to, because Creeping Renaissance doesn't have you choose a card type at all until it's in the process of resolving—nothing's been chosen for the original yet because it hasn't resolved. Your copy resolves first and gets you to choose a type to return, and only later will the original resolve and have its controller choose a type to return.

Q: I have a Skill Borrower with a Soulbright Flamekin on top of my library. I use the ability three times to get a bunch of mana, then cast Noxious Revival to put another Soulbright Flamekin from my graveyard on top. Can I use the 'new' ability three times and get more mana?

A: Yes. Any time the top card of your library changes or becomes hidden for any reason, no matter how briefly, it's considered a new object by the game. The top card of your library has changed, so it's a new object (even if it does look very similar to the old one), which means your Borrower is now borrowing a new ability (even if it does look very similar to the old one) and that ability hasn't been activated yet this turn.

Q: ...What if I used Sensei's Divining Top instead of Noxious Revival?

A: Not this time, I'm afraid. While the top card of your library is considered a new object if it becomes hidden and then gets re-revealed, Sensei's Divining Top doesn't actually hide it. Technically the Flamekin is still on top of your library and still revealed as you're looking at the top three.

Your Borrower will only get a new ability if you manage to Top up a second Soulbright Flamekin and put that one on top in place of the old one. (In practical terms this may require that you keep the original Flamekin separate from the other two cards so you can prove that you do actually have a second one and aren't cheating.)

Q: Why doesn't Soul Conduit allow me to exchange two opponents' life totals if I have Erebos, God of the Dead in play?

A: Because setting a life total to a particular value works by having the player gain or lose the appropriate amount of life, which means that Erebos's ability effectively reads "It is impossible for your opponents' life totals to go up."

Since it's impossible for your opponent's life total to go up, the part of the exchange where one of your opponents' life totals would go up is impossible, and if part of an exchange is impossible, all of it's impossible, so nothing happens.

Q: Barren Moor has been reprinted a bunch of times with the modern card frame—that means it's legal in the Modern format, right?

A: Sadly, no. The Modern format consists of all cards printed in the core sets and expansion sets from Eighth Edition onward (all the ones that use the modern card frame), but supplemental sets and special products (like the Commander decks, From the Vault, or Duel Decks) don't count, no matter when they were printed or what frame the cards in them have.

Q: I've been told that I can cast Fireball with a bunch of targets but X = 0 to safely trigger Heroic on a bunch of my creatures at once—is that right? But I thought that if you're dividing damage among targets, everything has to receive at least one. Why is that different?

A: You've been told correctly, on both counts. You can use Fireball to trigger your Heroic creatures without dealing them any damage, and if you're dividing damage among targets everything you're targeting has to receive at least one.

The trick here is that you're not the one dividing damage this time—Fireball does its own dividing automatically (automagically?), and it doesn't care at all whether or not it'll actually deal damage to any of its targets.

Q: In a previous article, you said that it's not possible to choose an indestructible creature as the victim of a Drop of Honey if (and only if) there's another creature with equal power on the battlefield. Why is that and how is it different from targeting an indestructible creature with Murder?

A: The difference between Drop of Honey and a spell like Murder is what you are choosing. With Drop of Honey, you're choosing "something to destroy", but with Murder you're choosing "something to target".

To illustrate the difference, let's look at an example, using Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, a 3/3 Elephant token, and an opponent's Primal Huntbeast.

When you cast Murder, the game lets you choose a target for it. At that point, the game doesn't know or care about whatever it is that Murder might later want to do with the thing you're targeting—all that it knows is that Murder requires you to choose a target creature. So it gets you to choose one. You're given a choice of "Choose to target Konda", "Choose to target the Elephant", or "Choose to target Primal Huntbeast".

Targeting Konda is a possible action, and targeting the Elephant is a possible action, so you can choose either of those, but targeting Primal Huntbeast is not a possible action thanks to hexproof, so you can't choose that. If you chose Konda, then later on when Murder tries to resolve the game will attempt to follow its instructions, realize that they're impossible, and shrug and move on because there's nothing more that they can do.

When Drop of Honey's ability resolves, there's no targeting involved. The choice you're given is instead "Choose to destroy Konda", "Choose to destroy the Elephant", or "Choose to destroy Primal Huntbeast". Destroying the Elephant is a possible action, and destroying Primal Huntbeast is a possible action, so you can choose to do either, but destroying Konda is not a possible action because it's indestructible, so you can't choose that.

Sorry folks, but Daxos didn't
make the final cut of the article this time.

The reason Drop of Honey tries to destroy indestructible things if there's nothing else with equal or lesser power on the table is simple: Drop of Honey only gives you a choice if there's more than one creature on the battlefield tied for the lowest power. If there's only one, the Drop doesn't give a choice—it just tries to destroy that creature, and if it's indestructible, well too bad, nothing happens.

And that's all for today, folks, so please join us next week, when James will be back with our final article of the year, just in time for New Year's Eve Eve!

Until then, happy holidays, and an even happier not-quite-the-holidays-but-oh-so-very-close!

- 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.

(In practical terms this may require that you keep the original Flamekin separate from the other two cards so you can prove that you do actually have a second one and aren't cheating.)

What would happen tournament-wise if a player didn't keep the original Flamekin seperate from the other two cards? What would a judge usually do in this situation?
#1 • Date: 2013-12-23 • Time: 05:34:02 •
He'd probably look at the top three cards to verify that there's a second Flamekin. If there is he would advise the player to be more careful and explain his combo better and make it easier for his opponent to follow along. Not sure what (if any) penalties would be on the different RELs. Repeat offence would certainly be penalised, though.
#2 • Date: 2013-12-23 • Time: 11:22:04 •

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