Published on 02/24/2014

A Thousand Different Voices Screaming to Be Heard

And nothing will be done! Nothing!

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

All hail the mighty Helix!
Welcome one and all to another edition of Cra—nonono! Left! Left! Left! Stay away from the PC! Left! Er, Cranial Insertion. Sorry for the mess, but as you can see—Why are we saving again?—from the random outbursts, I haven't had time to clean up the office since my life has been overrun by the madness that is TwitchPlaysPokemon. A! A! A! A! Don't worry about all the empty cans of energy drinks everywhere—I'll get Moko to clean them up. Probably.

But since it looks like Anarchy will have us stuck in Celadon for a good while, I guess I can take the time to sneak in some rules questions while the others fight over what to buy in the department store.

We may not have a Twitch stream, but you can still send us rules questions through email or Twitter; our email address is and our Twitter handle is @CranialTweet.

Q: If I resolve a Kindle the Carnage and my opponent has Firedrinker Satyr in play, does the Satyr stay in play while I repeat the process of damaging it and generating triggers, or does it die after the first round?

A: Unfortunately for your opponent, their Satyr will stick around to witness all of the Carnage you've Kindled before dying. State-based actions, which are responsible for destroying creatures with lethal damage marked on them, won't be checked until after Kindle the Carnage has completely finished resolving, by which time the Satyr will have likely triggered multiple times.

Q: Does Defend the Hearth protect planeswalkers from combat damage?

A: No, it doesn't. Planeswalkers aren't players, so Defend the Hearth won't prevent damage from being dealt to them.

Effects that prevent noncombat damage to players, on the other hand, work a little differently, thanks to the planeswalker redirection rule. Cards like Lightning Strike or Sizzle can't damage a planeswalker directly, but the planeswalker redirection rule says that if your opponent's being dealt noncombat damage by something you control, you can redirect that damage to their planeswalker. Because this damage is initially "aimed" in the direction of your opponent, they can use cards like Hold at Bay on themselves to prevent that damage before you get the chance to redirect it.

Defend the Hearth unfortunately doesn't have the same opportunity, because creatures attacking a planeswalker deal their combat damage directly to that planeswalker itself. The damage is never "aimed" at a player, so Defend the Hearth doesn't get a chance to prevent it.

Q: My opponent targets my Forgestoker Dragon with his Kiora, the Crashing Wave's +1 ability. On my turn I activate Forgestoker's ability targeting my opponent's creature. Even though the ability's damage portion does nothing, will the rest of the ability still go through and make that creature unable to block?

A: Absolutely. The damage may have been prevented, but the Dragon's ability doesn't say that the blocking-prevention is dependent on the damage actually being dealt, so it's not. The creature can't block this turn, no matter whether the damage was dealt or not.

Q: If I control a City of Solitude, and my opponent controls a Prophet of Kruphix, can they cast creature spells on my turn?

A: No, they can't. One of the "Golden Rules of Magic" is that when one effect or rule is telling you that something can happen, but some other effect is telling you that it can't, the "can't" effect wins. In this case, the effect from the Prophet is saying that your opponent can cast their creatures on your turn, but the effect from your City says they can't. "Can't" trumps "can", so the City wins.

So if it gets too powerful, it won't obey any more?
Hmmm... seems...
Q: I enchant a creature with Fractured Loyalty and target it with something to gain control of it. Later, Fractured Loyalty gets Naturalized. Does the creature's owner get it back?

A: No; you'll keep it indefinitely. Cards like Mind Control that use static abilities to steal things only function as long as they stick around, and if they get destroyed the creature will return to its previous controller, but Fractured Loyalty doesn't use a static ability—it uses a triggered ability that changes the creature's controller permanently. The effect will never expire, no matter what happens to the Loyalty in the meantime.

Q: Suppose I have 2 Capricious Efreets under my control. At the beginning of my upkeep, I target my Sol Ring with both of them. When I roll the die for the first one, my Sol Ring is destroyed. Will the second one's ability be countered for losing Sol Ring as one of its targets?

A: No, it won't; a spell or ability is only countered on resolution if all of its targets have become illegal. The ability still resolves, so you'll choose one of the two remaining targets at random to destroy.

Yes, this means that if you control two Capricious Efreets and something that you can give shroud in response to their abilities, you can destroy two of your opponent's permanents on each of your turns. You're welcome.

Q: I've heard that if a Progenitor Mimic copies an AEtherling and makes a token of itself, then blinks out and when it re-enters copies the token it will now have two instances of the token creation ability and make two AEtherlings on upkeep. Is that true?

A: Yes, it is. Progenitor Mimic grants itself its token-making ability as part of its copy effect, which makes that ability part of its copiable values—that means that each of the tokens it creates also has that ability, as will anything that copies those tokens. (That's why the ability has the "if it isn't a token" line—it's there to stop the tokens from making copies of their own.) So when Progenitor Mimic comes back and copies its own token, it grants itself its token-making ability again, even though it just got an instance of the ability from the token already. Now it has two instances of the ability, and both of them trigger on each of your upkeeps.

And yes, those new tokens will also have two instances of the ability, which means if you blink out the Mimic and copy one of them, the Mimic will now have three instances of the ability. Do it again to get four, then five, then six, then seven...

Q: If I control Path of Bravery and I declare Brimaz, King of Oreskos as an attacker I should gain 2 life, correct?

A: If you'd like, sure. (You could also stack the triggers from Path and Brimaz so that the Path's resolves first in order to gain less life. I don't recommend it, but you can do it if you really want to.)

While it never "attacked" (it was not declared as an attacker as the Declare Attackers step began), the token created by Brimaz is still an "attacking creature" (it is involved in combat and will be dealing damage to your opponent if it isn't blocked), so the Path's ability will include it when it figures out how much life to give you.

Q: If I control Primeval Bounty and I cast an Experiment One, can I stack the evolve trigger with the "make a 3/3 beast" trigger so that the Experiment One will evolve?

A: I'm afraid not. Primeval Bounty triggers when you cast Experiment One, so that trigger goes onto the stack on top of the Experiment and will resolve first. Since the Beast's already on the battlefield when the Experiment finally arrives on the battlefield, there will be no evolving for you.

Q: How does Animate Dead interact with Flickerform?

A: Unless you think that paying to give your creature a measly +1/+0 bonus once and once only is a good deal, not all that well. Though it also gets you out of the "If Animate Dead goes, so does the creature" bit, so there's that at least.

When Flickerform exiles everything, Animate Dead goes with it; the delayed trigger Animate Dead set up attempts to force the sacrifice of the creature, but that fails since the creature isn't on the battlefield anymore. When Flickerform's delayed trigger returns everything, Animate Dead won't come back, because it can no longer enchant it. (It's not a creature card in a graveyard.) It'll just hang out in exile until the end of the game.

Q: In a Commander game, my commander is in my graveyard. I want to use it to activate the 4 damage ability of my Molten-Tail Masticore, but put it into the command zone instead of exile. Does that still count as the cost being paid?

A: Yes. The important part here is that you made the choice to pay that cost, and attempted to (legally) do so. The fact that some replacement effects kicked in and changed what actually happened as a result of you doing so doesn't matter.

Sadly, Bird Jesus is not technically
a God in Magic.
Q: Merieke Ri Berit steals a God, then untaps. Will Merieke's controller keep the God until Merieke leaves the battlefield? What if she takes control of another creature?

A: Merieke's controller will keep the God until the duration on the effect expires, which means until he or she no longer controls Merieke. Whether or not Merieke gains control of another creature in the meantime is completely irrelevant—it doesn't change the duration at all.

Q: I cast a fused Turn // Burn, Turning my opponent's Thassa, God of the Sea and Burning one of her other creatures, which brings her devotion to blue below 5. Is Thassa still a creature?

A: Nope; she's now a red enchantment with no abilities. Thassa's type-changing effect applies in layer 4 and stops her from being a creature well before the ability-removing effect from Turn is applied in layer 6; removing the ability after it has already applied doesn't do a whole lot. All hail the Layer System!

Q: My Academy Rector dies, so I search for Omniscience, put it onto the battlefield, and cast Progenitus for free. My opponent casts Boomerang on Omniscience and says that now I can't cast my Progenitus for free. Is that true?

A: Not at all. By the time your opponent knows you're casting Progenitus and has a chance to respond, you've already finished casting it; changing what you would have to pay now to cast the spell doesn't undo the fact that you've already finished paying for it. Now, if your opponent didn't want to wait and see what you cast, but just wanted to get rid of Omniscience as soon as possible (Because lets face it: you're dropping Omniscience; Bad Things are about to happen), then whether or not he can do that depends on what else is going on and exactly when the Rector died.

Omnisicence doesn't change when you can cast spells, just what you need to pay for them when you do. So if, at the moment after the Rector's ability put Omniscience onto the battlefield, it's legal for you to cast Progenitus (that is, if it's your main phase and the stack is empty), you can do so, and there's nothing your opponent can do to stop you. If however, it's not legal for you to cast Progenitus right away—say, because it's the middle of combat, or there's some other spell or ability on the stack waiting to resolve, then your opponent will have a chance to use his Boomerang before you can even attempt to cast it, and if he does so then you're out of luck.

Q: If I sacrifice Worldspine Wurm to Greater Good, would it get shuffled back into my library before I draw any cards?

A: Yes. The Wurm's triggered ability triggers during the process of activating the Good's ability, so it will go onto the stack on top of that ability and will resolve first, meaning your library will have a nice little 15/15 surprise waiting in it for you to potentially draw again.

Q: I attack with two 3/3s, and my opponent blocks each with a 3/3 of her own, one of which is haunted by Orzhov Pontiff. My opponent says she can order her creatures hit the graveyard, so she can have the haunted creature die first and use the Pontiff to pump her other creature to save it. I don't think it works like that. Who's right?

A: You are. All combat damage is assigned and dealt at the same time, and once that happens state-based actions are checked and destroy all the creatures with lethal damage assigned to them simultaneously.

Your opponent gets to decide the order her creatures are arranged in the graveyard when she puts them there, but that's not the same thing as putting them into the graveyard one-by-one.

Q: Path to Exile targets Sundering Titan. If no player controls any basic lands, does my opponent get the basic land, then have to destroy it with Sundering Titan? Or would the Sundering Titan ability resolve before my opponent gets the basic land?

A: The former; putting the basic land onto the battlefield is part of resolving Path to Exile, and the spell must completely finish resolving before the Titan's triggered ability can be put onto the stack. The basic land your opponent found will always be around to get destroyed by the Titan.

Q: An opponent used Night Soil to exile two artifact creatures from my graveyard; when I attempted to bring one of my creatures back to my hand in response (using Trading Post) I was told that I could not respond to it fast enough to fizzle the effect. I'm confused; can you explain how this works?

A: Sure. When someone decides to activate an ability (or cast a spell), nobody can interrupt them. Everyone else has to wait until they're completely finished activating the ability before they get a chance to respond and do things. (Note: all of this applies equally to casting spells, but I'm not going to keep repeating "or casting a spell" every time I mention activating an ability; just mentally add it in yourself.)

Part of activating an ability is paying the costs of doing so—costs always need to be paid up front right away in order to activate the ability in the first place. And exiling cards from graveyards is part of the cost of activating Night Soil's ability (you can tell because it appears before the colon in the text of the ability). So your opponent announces that they're activating Night Soil's ability, and you can't interrupt them until they're done. As part of the process of activating it, they exile the two cards from your graveyard. Once they're done, you now have the chance to do things...but the two cards are already gone from your graveyard—you never had a chance to return them.

Q: My opponent plays a Oreskos Sun Guide. It untaps, and I respond to the inspired trigger by gaining control of it somehow. Do I gain the 2 life instead of my opponent?

A: Nope. Once an activated or triggered ability has been put onto the stack, it's completely independent of whatever generated it, and doing things to that source won't affect the ability in any way, much the same way that doing something to the person who just threw a grenade at you won't affect the grenade that's headed towards your face. (DUCK AND COVER!)

Q: Is there a way to respond to Seismic Assault in such a way that I would not take damage?

A: Well, you can kill your opponent—that's always a good way of not taking damage. Or you can use a card like Luminesce that prevents the damage. But other than that...not so much. Doing things to the Assault won't help for the same reason as described in the previous question

If you happen to have a Krosan Grip in your hand, you can respond to the first activation by destroying the Assault—it won't stop that one activation, but it will stop your opponent from activating it any more. But if your opponent anticipates that and activates it multiple times in response to itself you're out of luck.

Q: My opponent cracks Arid Mesa, and I respond by using AEther Vial to drop Leonin Arbiter, and pass priority. My opponent pays the . Does him passing after the payment mean that the Mesa's ability resolves, or do I get priority so I can cast my Restoration Angel and blink the Arbiter? Basically, is priority passed again after activating a special ability that doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to?

A: Yes it is; you'll get a chance to cast your Angel and blink the Arbiter. A round of priority passes will only end once all players pass priority without doing anything—taking the special action of paying for the Arbiter is something, so when your opponent passes priority after doing so, you get it back and get your chance.

And with that we'll bring this edition of Cranial Insertion to a close. We'll see you all next week, when Carsten will be back with another issue of Cranial Insertion!

Oh dear, it looks like we're trying Pokemon Tower...again... (I really hope this article isn't completely dated by the time it gets published.)

- 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.

One minor note on Forgestoker Dragon's ability - it makes it so that the creature can't block "this combat", not "this turn". While this isn't likely to be relevant too often, if you have a Relentless Assault or similar card, a previous activation wouldn't apply during additional combats.
#1 • Date: 2014-02-24 • Time: 09:01:05 •
Praise be to the Helix, who delivered to us AAABAAAJSS.
#2 • Date: 2014-02-24 • Time: 10:38:17 •

If I sacrifice Worldspine Wurm to Greater Good, would it get shuffled back into my library before I draw any cards?

Helix Fossil says:


Helix Fossil says:
"Outlook not so good"


Helix Fossil says:
"As I see it, yes"

There we go! All praise lord helix the risen. (Yes they did!)
#3 • Date: 2014-02-24 • Time: 20:17:43 •
To clarify re: Worldspine Wurm / Greater Good and Path To Exile / Sunder Titan...

WW/GG works while PtE/ST doesn't because the Greater Good effect hasn't actually started yet, while Path has.

#4 • Date: 2014-02-25 • Time: 08:28:36 •
Quote (thepowda):
To clarify re: Worldspine Wurm / Greater Good and Path To Exile / Sunder Titan...

WW/GG works while PtE/ST doesn't because the Greater Good effect hasn't actually started yet, while Path has.

Correct; when the Wurm triggers, Greater Good's ability has been put onto the stack, but hasn't started resolving yet—none of its effects have occurred. Titan, on the other hand, triggers midway through resolving Path's effects.
#5 • Date: 2014-02-25 • Time: 12:05:22 •

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