Published on 02/10/2014

Born to Be Godly

or, Delicious Pancaketheon

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Sudden rules changes!
The gods are done being born, so now we can relax and enjoy several months of smooth sailing and no questions. Right? Of course. See you in Jamaica!

Oh wait, that is totally not what's happening. We've got boatloads of rules questions! So many questions filling so many boats that it is completely impossible to get to Jamaica by boat, because all of those boats are busy delivering rules questions to us. And really, when you're going to a tropical island, you don't go by plane, you go by boat. Or sometimes by Polluted Delta.

So read on for many fun and useful answers to the big questions this week, and add your own question to our exotic cargo by emailing to or with short little questions by Twitter to @CranialTweet. You may or may not be doing your part to support the seafaring economy, but you'll definitely be helping us help your fellow Magic players.

Q: Why does Sudden Storm affect illegal targets differently than Frost Breath?

A: It doesn't - the rules just changed. Previously, the continuous effect keeping the illegal target tapped would still affect it, but with the new rule, continuous effects created by a resolving spell or ability don't cover illegal targets.

Q: If my opponent controls Archetype of Imagination and I get a flying Bird token, will it fly if the Archetype dies?

A: It will fly like a bird! In fact, exactly like a bird since it is in fact a Bird but not the silly sort of bird, but anyway... The token is created with the ability "flying," rather than being created and gaining flying. It immediately loses flying when the layers of continuous effects kick in, but when the "lose flying" effect ceases to be there, its base values will shine through again.

Q: I scry with a Flamespeaker Adept, but my opponent has an Archetype of Courage. Does the Flamespeaker still get +2/+0? I read that the effect isn't created.

A: The "gains first strike" portion of the effect won't be created, but the power modification will. You'll still have a 4/3 Adept, and it won't have first strike if the Archetype dies an archetypical death later in the turn, but at least it's not stuck as a boring 2/3 forever.

Q: How does Tromokratis work in Two-Headed Giant?

A: Effects that call out the "defending player" refer to one specific player if they're characteristic-defining abilities, if they perform a comparison, or if they're one-shot effects from resolving spells and abilities. The Cotton Candy Hug Monster's effect isn't any of those, so it refers to both defending players, meaning that every single creature on that side of the table must join together to block it or else none of them can.

Q: I cast Ephara, God of the Polis and some random creature, then the random creature dies on the same turn. Do I draw a card on my opponent's turn?

A: You'll draw a card. Ephara checks whether at any point in the previous turn you had a permanent that was a creature enter the battlefield under your control. It doesn't care whether that permanent is still there, is still a creature, is still yours, and so on. It's exactly the same as Zendikar's Traps.

Shirts are expensive on Theros.
Q: Does Hero of Iroas make bestow cheaper?

A: The second step of casting a spell is choosing things like alternative costs, which includes bestow. As soon as you choose that, boom, you've got an Aura spell! Later down the line, you determine what the total cost is, and Hero of Iroas gives you a big thumbs-up since you've got an Aura spell, and it costs less.

Q: Does anything bad happen if my three attacking heroic creatures Glimpse the Sun God?

A: On Theros, the worst that happens to you when you stare into the sun is "whoops, I'm tapped now" - the sun is much less violent than ours, apparently. Since your attacking creatures are already tapped, they can't be tapped again and they just go about their business being attacking creatures and having heroic triggers firing. Even if one's untapped because it has vigilance, that creature's still attacking. It's just no longer untapped.

Q: Does Floodtide Serpent get a counter if it bounces the Ordeal of Thassa attached to it to attack?

A: It won't. "When this attacks" triggers are checked immediately after the set of attacking creatures is accepted. In order to accept this set, an enchantment must be returned to hand. That means that as the set is accepted, the Ordeal you picked up isn't around anymore to trigger, and your Serpent will remain counterless.

Q: Can Kraken of the Straits be blocked by three 2/2 creatures if I control three Islands since their total power is greater than the number of Islands I control?

A: The comparison of power-to-Islands is made on a per-creature basis. Each 2/2 has less power than the number of Islands floating around in the sea, so none of them can block, no matter how great their power combined.

Q: How does Mogis, God of Slaughter interact with Sigarda, Host of Herons?

A: Sigarda's controller can't sacrifice a creature when an opponent's trigger gives him the option to do so, even if he wants to. "Do X unless you do Y" is the exact same thing as "You may do Y. If you don't, do X." Doing Y (sacrifice a creature) is impossible here, so the player must do X - take 2 damage.

Q: I control an untapped Scourge of Skola Vale equipped with Sword of the Paruns and an untapped 3/3 Centaur that's 3/5 now. Is there any way to get five counters instead of three on my Scourge?

A: Yup! Costs can be paid in any order, not just the order written on the card. You can sacrifice the 3/5, then tap the Scourge and have the Sword change its bonus. Since the delicious sacrificed creature was a 3/5 the last time it was on the battlefield, the Scourge will have five shiny new +1/+1 counters.

Q: If Searing Blood deals 2 damage to a 4/4, then I finish it off with Pinnacle of Rage also hitting my opponent, do I get one or two 3-damage Satyr Firedancer triggers?

A: You'll get two triggers. Searing Blood's delayed triggered ability makes damage happen, but the source of the damage is spelled out right on the card: the source is Searing Blood. But lo, Searing Blood is no longer there! That Searing Blood card in your graveyard has no relation at all to the spell that created this delayed trigger. With the source of damage missing, the game looks to its last known information. It was an instant spell, and you controlled it, so the Satyr dances him some fire.

Q: My opponent has Spirit of the Labyrinth and I've got a lot of happy creatures with dredge in my graveyard. Can I activate Bazaar of Baghdad and dredge twice?

A: If you dredge instead of draw, you haven't drawn a card and so the Spirit doesn't care - keep on dredging away! It'll only care once you actually draw a card. After that, you can't dredge. If an action is impossible, you can't replace that action with doing something else instead.

Q: Can my opponent kill my Hero of Leina Tower after I pay 5 mana but before it gets counters?

A: Nope. You pay for X and put X counters on both during the resolution of the heroic trigger. No player can jump into the middle of a resolving trigger to try to do naughty things like killing Heroes.

Hello small human.
Q: Will I get Ephara's Enlightenment back to my hand if it's in my graveyard when a creature enters?

A: It'll stay in your graveyard. Abilities of a card only trigger if that card is a permanent currently sitting on the battlefield unless otherwise specified (like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Nether Traitor, and one of Oloro, Ageless Ascetic's three abilities). As a general rule of thumb, any ability only works on the battlefield unless it could only make sense to work elsewhere.

Q: Can Champion of Stray Souls throw four Grave Titans into the graveyard and then pull them right back out?

A: Hey, those souls aren't stray! They've got collars and everything. They're chilling on the battlefield under your control being all domesticated and stuff. The ability's targets must be chosen before any costs are paid, and then the non-stray souls on the battlefield are sacrificed after that and sent to go find the strays and send them back.

Q: Brimaz, King of Oreskos gains flying and blocks a Bird. Is his nonflying token also blocking that Bird?

A: Blocking restrictions only matter when blockers are being declared. Brimaz's little kitty friend isn't being declared as a blocker; it just appears alongside Brimaz, even if Brimaz is high up in the sky and this scares little kitties.

Q: Do inspired triggers all resolve during my untap step before my upkeep triggers?

A: The triggers can't even go on the stack during your untap step, since no player receives priority there. They'll go on the stack during your upkeep when you're about to get priority. This is the same time that your upkeep triggers go on the stack, so you'll get to arrange them however you like. You can even arrange an inspired untap trigger in between two upkeep triggers!

Q: If Nessian Wilds Ravager is the only creature on the battlefield after I cast it, can't my opponent only choose to pay tribute, not to have it fight another creature?

A: The choice of whether or not to pay tribute happens immediately before the creature enters the battlefield. At that point, the triggered ability isn't even a consideration. It's in the distant future, beyond the range of what the game sees or cares about. After the choice is made not to pay tribute, the Hydra enters and its ability triggers, but without a legal target, it's immediately removed from the stack and the Hydra remains on the battlefield bored and sad.

Q: I remember reading something about protection stopping a fight. Will giving my Nessian Wilds Ravager protection from red stop it from fighting a Dragon, or keep it alive while it kills the Dragon?

A: An illegal target for a spell or ability saying "you two fight!" won't be part of the fight. That's not what's happening here, since the trigger's from the Hydra and it's not targeting the Hydra at all, anyway. Each will try to damage the other, and your Hydra will be unharmed since the Dragon's damage is all prevented.

Q: I remember Bob had some special fix with revealing a random card if you miss his trigger. Does Pain Seer have the same thing?

A: Bob had special rulings many, many years ago for handling its trigger being missed, but those were also removed many, many years ago. It's treated just like any other missed trigger now: your opponent can choose to put the trigger onto the stack or not, and if he does, you reveal the top card now and lose that much life, rather than trying to approximate what might have happened.

Q: When we're drafting, do we open Born of the Gods first, or one of the Theros packs first?

A: The standard used for higher-level events is to always open the most recent pack first. If you're not in an event with a specific fact sheet, like a Grand Prix Trial or Pro Tour Qualifier, the organizer can do whatever the players want as long as everyone opens the same black-bordered product in the same order - three BNG packs, open THS before BNG, toss in an Alpha pack...

(You could also draft white-bordered product, but that is somewhat less likely than Magic being an Olympic event, so perhaps it should be considered a sign of the apocalypse rather than a tournament option.)

Join us next week when James continues battling the flood of new questions and, just maybe, we will have some questions not involving Born of the Gods cards. Xenagos is such a greedy deity.

Until next time, enjoy the new Standard!

- 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.

Why is Tromokratis' ability in 2HG not considered a positive comparison? In rule 810.7b, an example of a positive comparison is asking "whether the defending player controls an Island." An analogous positive comparison here would be "whether the defending player creatures are all blocking," and then the logical OR of the two players would be used.
#1 • Date: 2014-02-10 • Time: 16:04:07 •
Tromokratis' ability isn't making a comparison of qualities/gamestates/etc., but rather establishing a restriction on what's considered a legal block. It's basically Madcap Skills turned up to 11.
#2 • Date: 2014-02-17 • Time: 08:07:41 •

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