Published on 02/17/2014

The Gods Must (Still) Be Crazy

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

It's spreading...
Born of the Gods has been with us for two weeks now, and those two weeks have been filled with strange and severe weather in all sorts of places it doesn't normally happen. Parts of England are under water, parts of the US that normally don't get snow at all got a foot or more... only one explanation: the Gods have gone off the rails.

So in an attempt to stave off further catastrophic weather events, let's see if we can't appease them, or at least deflect them, by answering some rules questions!

And as always, if you've got questions, please send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: In your last article, you said it's possible to use Bazaar of Baghdad and dredge both draws when there's a Spirit of the Labyrinth out. But the Gatherer page says "If a replacement effect would try to replace a card that you can't draw, that effect can't apply." So who's right?

A: Both are!

The key here is in paying attention to what you're allowed to do at any given moment. If, for example, you've replaced every card draw so far in the turn with a dredge, then you haven't yet drawn a card, and the Spirit sees nothing to stop yet. You can keep replacing draws with dredges to your heart's content.

You'll only have a problem if you ever actually draw a card instead of replacing the draw. Then, you will have drawn a card that turn, and Spirit will do its Grumpy Cat impression and say "NO" to any further attempts to either draw or replace a draw (if the event that will be replaced can't happen, then the replacement for it can't happen either).

Q: I cast a Boon Satyr for its bestow cost when there's a Possibility Storm out. Will Possibility Storm's trigger be looking for a creature, an enchantment, or both?

A: The possibilities with this aren't so endless. In fact, they're pretty mundane. The spell you exiled was an enchantment spell (but not a creature spell, since it had been cast via bestow), so Possibility Storm will just look for an enchantment, not a creature. If you had cast the Satyr for its regular mana cost, Possibility Storm would look for something that is at least an enchantment or at least a creature (since in that case it the Satyr has both types).

Q: I was looking at the FAQ for Rain of Gore and it says that that Rain of Gore doesn't shut down lifelink from combat damage. But isn't lifelink an ability?

A: Rain of Gore is a bit odd in that it specifically cares about whether the cause of the life gain is a spell or ability. But lifelink is also a bit odd, because although it's an ability, it doesn't cause life gain; rather, the rules of the game say that the results of a damage event vary based on the presence of an ability like lifelink (or wither, or infect). So the cause of the life gain when you attack or block with a creature that has lifelink... is the combat damage. Which is not a spell or ability (it's done as part of a turn-based action in the combat damage step of the turn), so Rain of Gore doesn't interfere with it.

The same is true for Doubling Season and combat damage from creatures with infect or wither, incidentally — the poison and -1/-1 counters aren't placed by an effect (again, they're a result of the damage), so Doubling Season doesn't double them.

Q: If multiple permanents get put into my graveyard at the same time, say due to Supreme Verdict, how do we figure out what order they end up in there? Do they even end up in some order?

A: The cards do end up in a particular order, and it's whatever order you (as the player whose graveyard they're going to) chooses. Though normally it doesn't matter — only a few very old cards actually care about the specific order of things in the graveyard, and such cards don't get printed anymore. Because of this, in tournament play the order of your graveyard only has to be carefully preserved if you're playing Legacy or Vintage (the only two formats where cards that care about graveyard order are still legal).

Q: OK, so what if the cards are being put on top of my library instead, say by casting Frantic Salvage? Do I still choose the order? And does my opponent get to know what the order is?

A: You do still choose the order, and your opponent does not get to know it. The rules here are similar, in the sense that the player whose library the cards go to gets to choose the order. But unlike your graveyard, which is publicly viewable, you don't reveal the order of your library to anyone else, and so no other player gets to see the order in which you put the cards on top.

The grass suffers, and everything else.
Q: I have a Courser of Kruphix, and I cast Sphinx's Revelation for 5. Does my opponent get to see every card I draw from it?

A: Yup! Although many cards instruct you to draw some number of cards at once, the card draws all happen individually. So instead of picking up five cards all in one go and then revealing the one that was below them, you draw the (currently-revealed) top card, then reveal the new top card, then draw it and reveal the new top card, and so on until you've done it the correct number of times (in this case, 5).

The result of which is that your opponnet does in fact see each card just before you draw it, because each of the cards gets revealed briefly while it's the one on top.

Q: Does Sigarda, Host of Herons stop Mogis, God of Slaughter's triggered ability?

A: Probably not in the way you're hoping. Mogis offers you a choice between taking 2 damage and sacrificing a creature; if you can't sacrifice a creature, that doesn't get you out of the damage. In fact, it means the only thing you can do is take the damage. So all Sigarda does is, effectively, make your choice for you every upkeep by forcing you into the 2-damage option.

Q: I cast a Mistbind Clique. When it enters the battlefield and its champion ability triggers, I respond to that by paying to animate my Mutavault. What happens if my opponent then kills the Mutavault?

A: Well, you'll have some choices to make. If you have any other Faeries, you can exile one of them and keep your Clique. If you have another Mutavault, you'll even have a chance to activate it in time to champion it instead. If you don't have any other Faeries, or don't want to exile any of them, you'll end up sacrificing Mistbind Clique (and in that case the Clique's last ability won't trigger and won't tap any lands).

Q: OK, so what if instead he kills the Clique after I've animated Mutavault. Does that get rid of my Mutavault forever, like it does when you remove an Oblivion Ring before its first trigger has happened?

A: Well, this can exile something forever, but it doesn't have to, and as the controller of the Clique and the Mutavault, you'll be the one choosing whether that happens. When the Clique dies, its ability triggers to return the championed Faerie, but in this case the Clique dies before its first triggered ability has actually championed anything. So if you were to actually champion the Mutavault when the Clique's first triggered ability resolves, your Mutavault would be gone for good (since the only ability that could return it would already have happened, and returned nothing).

But luckily you're not forced to exile a Faerie when that ability resolves. You can simply choose not to exile anything, and suffer no consequences (ordinarily you'd have to sacrifice the Clique, but since it's not around to sacrifice there's no downside).

Q: Does Yixlid Jailer stop a Kitchen Finks from persisting?

A: The Finks are a bit more persistent than that! Persist (and undying) will trigger based on the existence of the ability, and the presence or absence of the appropriate type of counter, as of the last moment the creature was on the battlefield. So removing the ability in the graveyard doesn't prevent it from triggering.

Q: What about the shuffle abilities of Emrakul the Aeons Torn or Progenitus?

A: Emrakul's ability will be turned off — any "whenever this is put into a graveyard from anywhere" ability triggers from the graveyard, meaning the ability has to exist in the graveyard in order to happen. Progenitus, on the other hand, never hits the graveyard at all; it has a replacement effect which causes it to be shuffled in instead of being put into the graveyard, so the Jailer never even gets its hands on Progenitus.

Q: OK, so what if I give something flashback with Snapcaster Mage? Would the Jailer just immediately remove it?

A: It depends. Specifically, it depends on the timestamps of the effects, since in a fight to grant and remove abilities from the same thing, the most recent effect will usually "win". If the Snapcaster came along last, the card will have flashback since Snapcaster has the most recent timestamp. If, on the other hand, Yixlid Jailer entered after Snapcaster's trigger had gone off, the card will lose flashback since Jailer's removal is most recent.

Q: I have a Dark Depths out, and I'm working my way toward a Marit Lage token. Except my opponent just cast a Blood Moon. Assuming I eventually get rid of the Blood Moon, what will happen to my Dark Depths? Does it lose all its counters, or does it reset?

A: Would you believe... neither! Although Blood Moon's type-changing effect removes abilities from the lands it affects (since now the only ability they have is being able to tap for ), it doesn't do anything else. Notably, it doesn't remove any counters, so when the nasty Blood Moon goes away, your precious Dark Depths will still have the same number of counters as before (it doesn't reset, because it didn't re-enter the battlefield — it just changed characteristics).

Q: If I have an Arbor Colossus that's been made monstrous, but I use Bioshift to move all the counters off, does that mean I can make it monstrous again (and get more counters and destroy another creature)?

A: Not quite. Although getting counters and becoming monstrous happen together, losing the counters does not make the creature not monstrous. "Monstrous" is something that exists independently of the counters, and in fact independently of most things that could happen to the creature. Generally, the only way to reset monstrosity will be to take the creature off the battlefield and then return it (causing it to forget its prior monstrosity, along with everything else about its previous existence).

Only until rotation...
Q: If I have one Xenagos, God of Revels on the battlefield, and another in my hand, along with a way (like Savage Summoning) to cast it in combat, could I cast the second one in my beginning of combat step, keep it with the new legend rule, and end up quadrupling something's power?

A: While it's true that if you somehow got multiple Xenagos triggers to happen on the same creature, the result would effectively quadruple the creature's power (each one checks the power on resolution, then basically doubles it, so two would quadruple, three would octuple, and so on)... this isn't going to get you multiple triggers.

The problem here is that in order to get two triggers, you'd need both Xenagoi to be on the battlefield as your beginning of combat step begins. But there's no way to actually pull that off — the game will never move into beginning of combat (or most steps) if there's a state-based action waiting to apply. And in this case there is one (the legend rule). So you'd still end up getting just one trigger.

Q: I know that if I Skullcrack my opponent, then he can't gain life for the rest of the turn. But if I Skullcrack him and redirect the damage to, say, his Jace, Architect of Thought, would that mean Jace's +1 can't be activated that turn?

A: Remember that cards only do what they say they do. Skullcrack says it stops players from gaining life; it doesn't say anything about whether planeswalkers can gain loyalty (and planeswalkers aren't players, don't "count as" players, and don't have life totals anyway), so Skullcrack doesn't interfere with a planeswalker gaining loyalty.

Q: Can Rage Nimbus target itself with its own ability? If it can, what happens?

A: It can, and nothing very interesting happens. Nothing in Rage Nimbus' ability forbids targeting itself, so it's a perfectly legal target. The ability will create a requirement for Rage Nimbus to attack that turn if able, and when that turn's declare attacker step rolls around, you'll find that Rage Nimbus — on account of having defender — most certainly isn't able. So it just doesn't attack.

Q: If I have Rakdos, Lord of Riots and Mycosynth Lattice, does making my opponents lose enough life in a turn essentially make all my creature spells free?

A: Even though Lattice lets you spend any color of mana for the colored-mana portions of mana costs, it doesn't actually change those symbols to colorless ones. And Rakdos can't reduce colored costs for you, only colorless. So you'll need to actually spend a bit in order to give him a riot to lord over.

Q: If my opponent chooses not to pay tribute on Oracle of Bones, can I fuse a split card with the Oracle's ability?

A: Sure, so long as the split card has the fuse ability. Fuse's only relevant restriction is that it only works from your hand and not from other zones (so, for example, you can't fuse when casting via flashback). And casting the card without paying its mana cost doesn't interfere (in fact, it helps, since Fuse makes you pay more normally) either, since fuse isn't an alternative cost. So you can quite happily fuse up all sorts of trouble for your opponent, without much toil.

Q: I have Nimbus Naiad bestowed on a Favored Hoplite, and I have Ephara, God of the Polis. If my opponent kills the Hoplite, will I draw a card from Ephara next upkeep for the Naiad becoming a creature?

A: Nope. The Naiad didn't enter the battlefield — it stayed on the battlefield the entire time, and just changed some of its characteristics. So Ephara doesn't trigger from that, and you won't draw a card.

Hopefully our devotion to rules questions is now high enough to help rein in some of the weirdness of the past couple weeks. But just in case it isn't, remember to tune in this time next week for another issue of Cranial Insertion!

- James Bennett

About the Author:
James Bennett is a Level 3 judge based out of Lawrence, Kansas. He pops up at events around Kansas City and all over the midwest, and has a car he can talk to.

For Double Xenagos, you can pull that off with Mirror Gallery!
#1 • Date: 2014-02-17 • Time: 10:31:35 •
Also Strionic Resonator
#2 • Date: 2014-02-17 • Time: 15:03:21 •

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