Published on 05/05/2014

Nyx picks from the sticks

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Strive not to journey into Nix.
Heroes have been mentored, the sun has been championed, Nyx has been journeyed into, and Godsend has resulted in a God's end. With the release of Journey into Nyx, the Theros block is complete and the epic of Gods and mortals has come to its conclusion. Which leaves us heading into summer with the satisfaction of a story well told, a bunch of new cards to play with and, of course, plenty of rules questions still left to answer. So let's dive in, with another fun-filled (though not as pun-filled as last week) issue of Cranial Insertion!

Though of course we can't do that without your help, so 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: If I activate Deserter's Quarters, let it tap the creature, then untap Deserter's Quarters with Kiora's Follower and activate it again targeting another creature, do both creatures stay tapped?

A: Only one deserter at a time can be locked in these quarters. Since Deserter's Quarters untapped, the first targeted creature will get to untap as normal in its controller's next untap step, and only the second targeted creature will stay tapped.

Q: Suppose I cast Bloodbraid Elf and cascade into Setessan Tactics. Am I stuck with just one target, or can I use strive?

A: You can strive if you want, but it'll cost you. Cascade just gets you out of paying the mana cost of the spell, which is the symbols in the upper right corner. Any additional costs or cost-increasing effects are still up to you to pay for, so for two targets you'll pay , for three targets you'll pay , and so on.

Q: I control Agent of Erebos, and I really want to cast an enchantment. But my opponent's graveyard is empty, and I don't want to get rid of the cards in my graveyard. Is there any way I skip the constellation ability?

A: Agent of Erebos doesn't let you choose whether to use its ability: any time an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control, the ability is going to happen. But it's perfectly legal to target a player whose graveyard is empty, so you can just target your opponent, and then exile all zero cards in their graveyard.

Q: My opponent has an Eidolon of Blossoms enchanted with Nyx Infusion. I cast Feast of Dreams, but in response he used Unravel the Aether to remove the Nyx Infusion. Now he says that Feast of Dreams will be countered because it locked in its "enchanted creature" mode already. Is that true?

A: It's true that once a mode has been chosen for a modal spell, you can't change the mode (at least, not without a card that says to change the mode). But Feast of Dreams isn't modal (modal spells and abilities always use the wording "Choose (the number of modes) —" to identify that they're modal), and it doesn't care whether its target goes from enchanted to enchantment or vice-versa. It just cares that the target is an enchanted creature or is an enchantment creature. Since Eidolon of Blossoms is an enchantment creature, it's still a legal target and Feast of Dreams will still destroy it.

Q: Spirespine says that it (or the enchanted creature, when it's bestowed) "blocks each turn if able". Does that mean I always have to not attack with it so it'll be able to block when my opponent attacks?

A: Spirespine (and whatever it enchants when bestowed) can attack just fine, since the ability doesn't say anything that forbids attacking; the "blocks if able" just means that, if you're declaring blockers and if it's able to block, it has to be one of the blockers you declare. If you attack with it, it'll become tapped, and then when your opponent attacks you it won't be able to and won't have to block.

Goblins hate journeying into its clicks.
Q: I just cast a spell targeting my Tethmos High Priest. I have a Marshmist Titan in my graveyard, and my devotion to black is 5. Can I return the Titan with the High Priest's heroic trigger?

A: That would be a titanic play... if it worked. But cost-reducing effects just change what you pay to cast a spell, not its converted mana cost. The CMC is always just the sum of the symbols in the upper right of the card, regardless of what you'd actually pay to cast it, so Marshmist Titan's converted mana cost is always 7 and Tethmos High Priest won't be able to get it back with any amount of devoted heroism.

Q: Can Rollick of Abandon kill Master of Waves?

A: This is a rollick that won't allow the Master to horse around! Protection from red means the Master can't be targeted, blocked or dealt damage by anything red, and can't have anything red attached to him. But Rollick of Abandon doesn't do any of those things, so Master of Waves gets +2/-2 and (unless something else is pumping his toughness) he'll die, probably followed right after by all his little horsey-looking Elemental token friends.

Q: If I enchant my opponent's creature with Oppressive Rays, does that mean it costs to attack with it?

A: Those rays are oppressive, but not quite that oppressive. Attacking isn't an activated ability (neither is blocking), so only the first part of Oppressive Rays' ability applies, and attacking or blocking with the creature will only cost .

Q: How does Oppressive Rays work with Sphere of Safety? Do those costs add up, or does he only have to pay one of them?

A: Now that is oppressive! In order to attack with a creature, its controller needs to pay all applicable costs, and one payment only satisfies one cost. So he'll have to pay to satisfy Oppressive Rays, and then at least another (since you control at least 2 enchantments in this situation) for Sphere of Safety.

Q: I have a Nightmarish End in my hand. Then I attack with Prophetic Flamespeaker and it hits twice, triggering its ability twice. Since the cards from its ability count as if they're in my hand for casting, does that mean Nightmarish End would give an extra -2/-2?

A: This is not as nightmarish as you're hoping, because in Magic there is no "counts as" — a card is either in your hand or it isn't. And the cards exiled by Prophetic Flamespeaker are, well, in exile. So even though you can cast them (lots of cards let you cast things from unusual non-hand places, and the Flamespeaker is one of them), they're not in your hand and Nightmarish End won't count them to determine its -X/-X.

Q: Do I still get an Elemental token if my opponent kills my Voice of Resurgence with Magma Spray?

A: That depends on when your opponent casts it. If it's during your turn, Voice of Resurgence's ability will trigger and give you one token because your opponent cast a spell during your turn. But you won't get a token from it dying (and you won't get any tokens if it gets sprayed with hot magma during your opponent's turn), because it didn't die — "dies" requires being put in a graveyard, and Magma Spray will make Voice of Resurgence bypass the graveyard and go straight into exile.

Q: If I control a Battlefield Thaumaturge and there are 18 other creatures on the battlefield, can I pay to cast Aurelia's Fury with X=20, targeting all 19 creatures and my opponent, and have all 20 damage dealt to my opponent?

A: Don't get too furious, but this won't work. Any time a spell or ability tells you to divide something among targets, you have to give at least 1 of the thing to each target. So with 20 damage and 20 targets, you'd have to assign at least 1 damage to each target.

Q: What if I have the Thaumaturge and four other creatures, and use Polymorphous Rush first, making all four of my other creatures into copies of the Thaumaturge? Do the Thaumaturges add up to let me cast a huge enough Aurelia's Fury to kill my opponent?

A: Now your opponent will be the furious one! You'll probably want X=25 (so you can send 20 damage at your opponent, and still have 1 per Thaumaturge left over to let you target all of them). That gives a cost of 25 plus , but each Thaumaturge reduces that by (since you targeted 5 creatures). That reduces the cost you'll pay by a total of 25, so you'll end up paying just to wind up with a very crispy opponent.

Q: What if I want to destroy my opponent's Scourge of Fleets with Killing Glare while I have a Battlefield Thaumaturge? Would I have to choose X=7?

A: When you're casting a spell with X in its cost, first you choose a value for X, then you plug that value in wherever you see X in the mana cost, then you apply any effects that modify what you actually pay. So first you'd choose X=6, then plug that in to Killing Glare's mana cost (), then apply Battlefield Thaumaturge's cost reduction. You'd end up paying to rid yourself of the Scourge.

Q: Would Battlefield Thaumaturge make Hidden Strings only cost when targeting a creature, or does it not work because Hidden Strings says "target permanent" instead of "target creature"?

A: It'll cost just . Battlefield Thaumaturge isn't asking whether the spell says "target creature", it's asking, after you've chosen targets, whether any of them happen to be creatures. For the same reason, Revoke Existence would end up costing just when targeting an artifact creature or an enchantment creature.

Journey into Quicksand is quick.
But you can't journey out when it sticks.
Q: If Dictate of Kruphix and Spirit of the Labyrinth are both in play, which one wins?

A: Spirit of the Labyrinth will always "win" here — in Magic, whenever one effect says something can happen but another effect says it can't, the "can't" effect takes precedence. Since Spirit of the Labyrinth says players can't draw more then one card per turn, poor Kruphix will need to find some other players to take dictation from him.

Q: I have Athreos, God of Passage and my devotion to white and black is 5. If I cast another Athreos, will the fact that one of them died to the legend rule trigger the one that stays on the battlefield?

A: Yup! When the second Athreos enters the battlefield, your devotion jumps up to 7 and both of them wake up, then the legend rule sends one of them straight to the graveyard. But since the one that died was a creature when it died, the Athreos that's still on the battlefield will trigger, and ask to be paid for ferrying his doppelganger into the underworld.

Q: If there's a Rest in Peace in play when I activate Dakra Mystic, does everybody draw a card even if I choose to put the revealed cards into the graveyard?

A: No, the cards will just go straight to exile and nobody will get to draw. Whenever you see an "if you do..." or "if you don't..." wording, it only cares about what choice you made, not what event actually ended up happening once all replacement effects had applied. So the "if you don't" on Dakra Mystic sees that you chose to put the cards into their owners' graveyards, and won't make everybody draw.

Q: I attack with a Bladetusk Boar equipped with Chariot of Victory, and my opponent blocks with Akroan Line Breaker. If I flash in Dictate of the Twin Gods before damage is dealt, how much damage does my opponent take?

A: Up to 4. When assigning damage, you don't take into account effects that would change the amount of damage that'll actually be dealt. So you have 3 damage to assign, and have to assign at least 1 to the Akroan Line Breaker before trampling through with the rest. If you do that, you'll assign 2 damage to your opponent, and then when the damage is dealt the Dictate will double it to 4 (the 1 damage to the Line Breaker will also be doubled, to 2).

Q: I've heard there are some booster packs of Journey into Nyx that have all fifteen Gods instead of the normal pack contents. What happens if I open one of those in a Sealed Deck or Booster Draft tournament?

A: Whenever a player in a tournament opens a pack with an abnormal card distribution in it (like, say, fifteen mythic rares from three different sets), the player should call a judge; the Head Judge and the Tournament Organizer then have the option to either allow the pack as-is or issue a fresh pack to take its place in the draft or sealed pool. In the case of a player being blessed by the Gods in this fashion, it's recommended to let the player keep the cards but issue a fresh booster to use in the tournament.

I'm all journeyed out for now, but be sure to check back next Monday when Eli will take up the hero's path and serve up another epic helping of rules questions in the next 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.

Deserter\'s Quarters could keep both creatures tapped if Kiora\'s Follower untaps it in response to artifact\'s ability, so on resolution everything is horizontal as it should be. Though there are better things to do with 12 mana and Strionic Resonator can save some of it.

Last edited on 2014-05-04 23:49:07 by nps
#1 • Date: 2014-05-04 • Time: 23:40:44 •
nps: While copying the ability with the Resonator would work, untapping it before the ability resolves would not. Since the condition ended before it could begin (since the Quarters became untapped), the first creature will become tapped, but it will untap like normal. This is the rule that applies:


611.2b Some continuous effects generated by the resolution of a spell or ability have durations worded "for as long as . . . ." If the "for as long as" duration never starts, or it ends before the moment the effect would first be applied, the effect does nothing. It doesn't start and immediately stop again, and it doesn't last forever.
#2 • Date: 2014-05-05 • Time: 00:57:59 •
You can't copy the ability of Deserter's Quarters with Strionic Resonator, as the Quarters's ability is an activated ability and the Resonator only copies triggered abilities.

You could copy it with Rings of Brighthearth or Illusionist's Bracers, though (if the Quarters was somehow made into a creature for the Bracers to be equipped to).
#3 • Date: 2014-05-05 • Time: 07:18:12 •
I've heard 611.2b before in regards to Banisher Priest, and that makes sense. For example, upon resolution of Banisher priest, if it has already been doom bladed, the targeted creature is never exiled.

However, in this example, it seems that the Deserter's Quarters is still tapped upon resolution of both triggers, which I would think would keep them both tapped. This is a toughie!

Is this analogous to how Banisher Priest would work with Momentary Blink in response to its triggered ability? Does the quarters remember that it became untapped and tapped again while its ability is on the stack?
#4 • Date: 2014-05-05 • Time: 10:56:14 •
Natedogg: 611.2b doesn't point that Deserter's Quarters should be tapped by exactly first activation, but simply remain tapped. It doesn't mention specific "ends but starts again" situation.

Duration isn't ended because ability doesn't check for previous state in some kind like "was tapped since the beginning of your turn". Rule contradicts what card says, and
101.1. Whenever a card's text directly contradicts these rules, the card takes precedence. The card
overrides only the rule that applies to that specific situation. The only exception is that a player can
concede the game at any time (see rule 104.3a).

And there's no Gatherer ruling for that.

Is this analogous to how Banisher Priest would work with Momentary Blink in response to its triggered ability?

In case of blink Priest comes back as new object, so required object of 1st ability dissapears and only 2nd exile works.
#5 • Date: 2014-05-12 • Time: 08:59:54 •
The duration of the first activation — "as long as Deserter's Quarters remains tapped" — ended before the effect began, because Deserter's Quarters became untapped before the effect began. Therefore if you untap the Quarters before the ability resolves, it never taps the target and does not set up the "doesn't untap" effect for it. So if you untap it in response to activation, then activate again, only the creature targeted by the second activation gets tapped and only that creature stays tapped.
#6 • Date: 2014-05-19 • Time: 11:02:56 •

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