Published on 03/31/2014

Souvenirs from Cincinnati

Cranial Translation
Deutsch Español Français Italiano Pусский

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Fortunately, the only rats in the venue
were of the cardboard variety.
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! Recently the Grand Prix circuit made a stop in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I was there as a judge, which was a lot of fun. Across the side events and the main event, I collected a bunch of rules questions that are presented below mixed in with the usual selection of questions from our inbox.

Speaking of our inbox, if you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. We'll always answer directly, and your question might appear in a future issue.

Q: Can I tap Mutavault for and then use that mana to make Mutavault into a creature?

A: Sure, that's legal. The animation ability costs and doesn't specify that this mana has to come from somewhere special. Your Mutavault will be a tapped creature, of course, but if you just needed an extra Rat to make your Pack Rat bigger, that's perfectly fine.

Q: Does Nightveil Specter evolve a Cloudfin Raptor that already has two counters on it due to the Specter's toughness being greater than the Raptor's power?

A: Nope. While it's true that Nightveil Specter's toughness is greater than the Raptor's power, the evolve ability couldn't care less about that. It only compares power to power and toughness to toughness, and within those metrics the Raptor is the same size as the Specter and feels no need to evolve.

Q: I control a Boros Reckoner that's given lifelink with Unflinching Courage, and the Reckoner is dealt damage. Do I gain life from the Reckoner's triggered ability?

A: Yup! The triggered ability instructs Boros Reckoner itself to deal damage, so it's the source of the damage. This source has lifelink and you control it, so you gain life equal to the amount of damage it deals.

Q: It's the beginning of combat step of my turn, and I target my Courser of Kruphix with Xenagos, God of Revels' triggered ability. In response, my opponent casts Bile Blight on my Courser. What happens?

A: You won't like this answer. Bile Blight resolves first and makes your Courser into a -1/1 weakling. Xenagos's ability resolves next and sees a power of -1. While negative numbers are often treated like 0, effects that change a creature's power or toughness do real math with negative numbers, so the Courser gets -1/-1, which kills it.

Q: If I cast Vampire Nocturnus, can my opponent respond to the ability that reveals the top card of the library and kill it with Searing Spear?

A: No, he can't do that. Vampire Nocturnus has a static ability that's on as soon as it's on the battlefield. Immediately after Vampire Nocturnus has resolved, the top card of your library gets revealed, and if it's black, your Vampire gets bigger before your opponent gets the chance to do anything.

Q: I attack with Floodtide Serpent and a Wavecrash Triton that's enchanted with Observant Alseid. If I return the Alseid to my hand to pay the Serpent's attack cost, does the Triton tap because it no longer has vigilance?

A: No, it still has vigilance at the moment it would become tapped, so it stays untapped. As you declare attackers, you first tap the chosen attackers and then you pay any necessary costs. If that were the other way around, you could attack with a Llanowar Elves and also tap it to help pay for its Propaganda cost, which would be very weird.

Q: So, I've heard that destroying the source of an ability won't stop the ability, but I've also heard that killing Stormbreath Dragon in response to its monstrosity ability stops its damage. What's up with that?

A: Both things are true, and the apparent contradiction between those two things is because Stormbreath Dragon's damage doesn't actually come from the monstrosity ability. Stormbreath Dragon has a separate triggered ability that triggers when the Dragon becomes monstrous, and that ability is what causes the damage to be dealt. If the Dragon is destroyed in response to the monstrosity ability, the monstrosity ability still resolves, but it does nothing because the Dragon is not there to be made monstrous or to get counters. This means that the second ability doesn't trigger, and no damage is dealt.

Q: I control Phenax, God of Deception and I'm two devotion shy of it being a creature. Could I cast a second Phenax and have the first Phenax live long enough to activate its mill ability?

A: No, that's not possible. After the second Phenax has resolved, state-based actions are checked before any player gets priority, and the legend rule is one of those state-based actions. Since you need priority to activate Phenax's ability, the legend rule makes you throw away one of the Phenaxes before you get to use the ability.

Q: I control Underworld Connections, Lifebane Zombie, and Erebos, God of the Dead. My opponent casts a fused Far // Away on my Zombie and me. Do I have to sacrifice Erebos?

A: No, Erebos is safe, and your opponent probably misplayed that Far//Away. Erebos's static ability applies continuously, so Erebos stops being a creature immediately upon the "Far" part of Far//Away resolving. When the "Away" part resolves, you don't control a creature anymore, so you don't have to sacrifice anything.

Q: I control two Tormented Heroes and my opponent targets one of them with Bile Blight. Can I save the other one by sacrificing my own Tormented Hero with Devour Flesh?

A: Yes, that works. When Bile Blight resolves, it finds its target suddenly devoured and gone, so Bile Blight is countered on resolution and none of its effects happen.

Q: If I Scapeshift into ten different Gates and Maze's End, do I win the game?

A: Not right away. Maze's End doesn't have a separate ability that makes you win the game as soon as you control ten different Gates. The "win the game" instruction is part of Maze's End's activated ability, and you didn't activate that ability. You'd win the game if you manage to activate the ability right away, and you wouldn't even have to find a Gate card in your library, but that'll be tricky because Maze's End enters the battlefield tapped and part of the cost for its ability is to tap it.

Q: My opponent casts Reiver Demon to wipe the board and I respond with Gather Specimens. Does the Demon's enter-the-battlefield ability still go off?

A: Nope. The Demon enters the battlefield under your control, so it checks whether it was cast from your hand. Since it was cast from your opponent's hand, that condition isn't met, so the ability doesn't trigger.

Q: My opponent is piloting a Living End deck and he just cast Violent Outburst. In response to the cascade trigger, I use Chord of Calling to get an Ethersworn Canonist out. Does that stop my opponent's cascade?

A: Assuming that his cascade ends on a nonartifact card, yes. He already cast a nonartifact spell, so the newly arrived Canonist says that he can't cast any more nonartifact spells this turn. The cascade effect wants to let your opponent cast that card, but the Canonist says that he can't, and the "can't" effect wins every time.

Q: I control Vigilant Martyr and cast an enchantment spell. My opponent Annuls my spell. Can I sacrifice the Martyr to counter my opponent's Annul?

A: No, that doesn't work. The Martyr's second ability can only target a spell that targets an enchantment, which is to say an enchantment permanent on the battlefield. The ability can't target spells that target enchantment cards in other zones such as on the stack.

Q: There's a Viridian Joiner in my graveyard and I control Necrotic Ooze. For how much green mana can I tap my Ooze?

A: You'll get four green mana. When Necrotic Ooze gets the ability from Viridian Joiner, the name "Viridian Joiner" really means "this object right here." This means that the Ooze looks at its own power, sees that its power is 4, and gives you that much green mana.

Q: Does bloodrush trigger Ruric Thar, the Unbowed's ability?

A: Nope. Bloodrushing a creature is an activated ability that works from your hand. It's not a spell, let alone a noncreature spell, so Ruric Thar is totally fine with it.

Q: If I control Ruric Thar, the Unbowed and my opponent casts a noncreature spell, can I redirect the damage to my opponent's planeswalker?

A: Absolutely! It's noncombat damage that a source you control would deal to your opponent, so you can choose to have that damage dealt to a planeswalker your opponent controls instead.

Q: My opponent equips Zur the Enchanter with Lightning Greaves, attacks, fetches an Aura and attaches it to Zur. Can he really do that even though Zur has shroud now?

A: I'm afraid he can. Shroud only means that Zur can't be the target of spells and abilities, but there is no targeting involved here. Your opponent fetches the Aura and puts it onto the battlefield from the library. As part of putting the Aura onto the battlefield, he has to choose something to attach it to, but this something is neither a target of the Aura nor of Zur's ability.

Q: I control Zedruu the Greathearted, both my opponent and I are at more than 20 life, and I cast Transcendence. After Transcendence enters the battlefield, can I respond to the "I lose" trigger by giving Transcendence to my opponent and get a "you lose" trigger for him on top of the stack?

A: You can give Transcendence to your opponent, but that won't cause its ability to trigger again. Until the instance of the ability that triggered for you is dealt with, the ability won't trigger again, so you'd have to Stifle it or something similar in order to get it to trigger for your opponent.

Q: I'm playing in a Grand Prix and I accidentally flipped over the second card down while revealing the top card for Courser of Kruphix. Now what?

A: Raise your hand and call a judge. A judge will come over and get the game back on track. What you've described is called Game Play Error—Looking at Extra Cards, and the penalty is a Warning. If the card wasn't known due to a prior scry or similar effect, the card should be shuffled into the unknown portion of the library. The top card is known, so it'll be set aside for the shuffle, and any cards on the bottom that were put there by scry effects would also be set aside for the shuffle and put back into their rightful positions in the library afterward.

And that's all the time we have for now. Please come back next week to see what Eli has in store for you!

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.


No comments yet.


Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!