Published on 06/16/2014

Modern Season's Greetings

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

There are only two cards
with the word "Season" in their name.
This one won the coin flip.
Welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion! As I am writing this, a new Pro Tour Qualifier season just started, and I had the pleasure of judging one of the earliest PTQs for this season. I have returned from the PTQ with a notebook full of Modern questions from the tournament floor, which I'll present here together with the usual selection of questions from our inbox.

If you have questions for us about Conspiracy, Modern, or anything else, you can email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer from one of our writers, and your question might appear in a future issue.

Q: I attack my opponent with my 3/3 Wild Nacatl and give it +2/+2 and trample with Selesnya Charm, and my opponent blocks it with his Etched Champion that has protection from all colors. Can I trample 3 damage over to him?

A: Sure, that works. You only need to assign "lethal damage" to the Champion, and lethal damage simply means damage that's at least equal to its toughness. Even though this damage won't actually be able to kill the Champion, it's enough to satisfy the rules, and the remaining 3 damage can be assigned to your opponent.

Q: My opponent controls Engineered Explosives with two charge counters on it. If I want to blow it up with my own Engineered Explosives, how many charge counters do I need to put on mine?

A: None at all! The converted mana cost of Engineered Explosives is always X, and on the battlefield, or in fact any zone that's not the stack, X is considered to be 0.

Q: I control a Kor Spiritdancer that's enchanted with two Spider Umbras. My opponent doesn't like that and tries to blow it up with Supreme Verdict. What happens?

A: Your Spiritdancer gets just a bit smaller by losing one of its Auras. When Supreme Verdict tries to destroy it, each Umbra's replacement effect speaks up and says "I want to be destroyed instead!" As the controller of the creature whose destruction the Umbras want to replace, you choose which one gets that honor. Once you apply the chosen replacement effect, your Spiritdancer is no longer being destroyed, so the other replacement effect no longer applies and the other Umbra sticks around.

Q: Does Suppression Field make Chromatic Sphere more expensive to activate?

A: Nope. Suppression Field only affects activated abilities that aren't mana abilities. Even though Chromatic Sphere does more than just make mana, it's still a mana ability. It doesn't target, it's not a loyalty ability, and it could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves.

Q: Does Stony Silence stop Chromatic Sphere?

A: It sure does! Unlike Suppression Field, Stony Silence doesn't say that it excludes mana abilities, so it doesn't. It hates all activated abilities from artifacts equally.

Q: Does Stony Silence stop battle cry?

A: No. Battle cry is a triggered ability, and Stony Silence only stops activated abilities. Activated abilities are written in the form "[cost]: [effect]", and battle cry is not written in that form.

Q: I crack a fetchland and in response my opponent hits me with Shadow of Doubt. Do I still have to shuffle my library?

A: You sure do. When the fetchland ability resolves, you do as much of it as possible. You skip the instruction to search your library because that's impossible, and then you get to the instruction to shuffle your library. That instruction is unconditional, without any clause to only shuffle if you actually managed to search your library, so you have to shuffle in any case.

Some hate bears are, in fact, Cats.
Q: My opponent controls a Leonin Arbiter. I show it the Path to Exile. Does he get to search for a land without paying ?

A: Yup. You resolve Path to Exile one instruction at a time, starting with exiling the Arbiter. By the time Path to Exile gives your opponent the chance to search his library, the Arbiter is no longer on the battlefield, so its effect is no longer there.

Q: I flash back Ancient Grudge and my opponent Remands it. Does Ancient Grudge go back to my hand or does it get exiled?

A: I'm afraid it'll get exiled. When you cast Ancient Grudge with flashback, the game set up a replacement effect that exiles the card if it were to leave the stack for any zone other than the exile zone. When Remand resolves, it tries to move the card from the stack to your hand, at which point the flashback effect kicks in and exiles the card instead.

Q: Can I enchant my opponent's Dryad Arbor with Spreading Seas?

A: Well, Dryad Arbor is a land, and Spreading Seas is an Aura that enchants a land, so yes, this is legal. However, if you're actually asking whether this will stop your opponent from punching you in the face with his walking forest, you'll be sorely disappointed. Spreading Seas only replaces the Forest subtype with the Island subtype, and the Arbor changes from making green mana to making blue mana, but it won't stop being a creature, so your opponent will simply continue to punch you in the face with his walking green Island.

Q: My opponent controls Blood Moon and I play Hallowed Fountain. Does Hallowed Fountain still ask me to pay 2 life to play it untapped?

A: Unfortunately, yes. Hallowed Fountain will become a Mountain and lose its abilities only upon entering the battlefield, and its ability applies right before it enters the battlefield. At that time, it's not being influenced by Blood Moon yet, so it's ability still applies. You can either pay 2 life to get an untapped Mountain or don't pay life and get a tapped Mountain. Either way, I wouldn't want to be in your shoes.

Q: My opponent controls Rest in Peace. Can I still sacrifice creatures for Birthing Pod and search a creature with a converted mana cost of 1 more?

A: Yes, that still works. What matters for Birthing Pod is that you committed to paying the cost and that you're performing all the actions that come out of paying the cost as modified by any applicable replacement effects. The fact that the creature doesn't end up in the graveyard doesn't change the fact that you sacrificed it, so the ability still resolves normally.

Q: My opponent has Dack Fayden's emblem and targets one of my creatures with some spell to trigger the emblem ability. In response I give my creature hexproof. Does he still gain control of my creature?

A: Yup. Giving the creature hexproof in response to the spell doesn't change the fact that the spell targeted it, so the ability still resolves and gives your opponent control of the creature that the spell targeted.

Q: My opponent still has Dack Fayden's emblem and targets my Birds of Paradise to gain control of it. In response, I misdirect the spell at my Runeclaw Bear. Does my opponent gain control of my Bear or my Birds?

A: He'll gain control of the Birds. "Those creatures" doesn't refer to whatever creatures the spell is currently targeting when the ability resolves. It refers to the set of creatures in the trigger condition, so it refers to what the spell targeted when it was cast.

I'll take you
Right into the Anger Zone!
Q: My Runeclaw Bear is enchanted with Spider Umbra and my opponent tries to kill it with Anger of the Gods. What happens?

A: Anger of the Gods deals lethal damage to your Bear, so the game rules want to destroy it. Two replacement effects are applicable to this event: The totem armor ability wants to replace the destruction, and Anger of the Gods's replacement effect wants to replace the "put it in the graveyard" part of destroying the Bear with exiling it instead. As the Bear's controller, you choose which of those effects to apply first, but the choice doesn't actually matter. If you apply the totem armor effect first, the Bear is no longer being destroyed, so it's no longer dying, so the Anger of the Gods effect isn't applicable anymore. If you apply Anger of the Gods's effect first, the Bear is still being destroyed (except into the exile zone), so totem armor's effect still kicks in and saves the Bear.

Q: I control a Notion Thief and a Dakra Mystic and I activate Dakra Mystic's ability. If I have us both draw our revealed cards, what happens?

A: Dakra Mystic doesn't actually tell you to draw the revealed cards. It simply tells you and your opponent to draw a card each. In most cases, that'll result in the revealed cards being drawn, but replacement effects can change this. In this case, first you'll draw a card, which is the card you revealed, and then your opponent's card draw gets replaced with you drawing another card. The card that your opponent revealed stays on top of his library to be drawn later.

Q: The Conspiracy Release Notes claim that a Clone of a Dack's Duplicate of a Runeclaw Bear will also have haste and dethrone. Is that true? Why?

A: Yes, it's true. Abilities that are gained as part of a copy effect become part of the copiable characteristics. The reason for that is this rule:

706.9a Some copy effects cause the copy to gain an ability as part of the copying process. This ability becomes part of the copiable values for the copy, along with any other abilities that were copied.

Q: After I draft Lore Seeker, can I add a pack of Unhinged to the draft?

A: If the other players in the draft are fine with it, sure! The only requirement is that the booster pack be from a Magic: The Gathering set, and Unhinged is a Magic: The Gathering set. The game that follows the draft is a fun casual affair anyway, so as long as the players in your draft agree that adding Unhinged cards into the mix is fun, who am I to disagree?

Q: I'm playing in a PTQ, and I just drew a card from my library. The next card down is face up because I must have accidentally shuffled some cards in face up earlier in the game. What should I do?

A: Call the judge and let the judge figure it out. If I were the judge responding to the call, I'd give you a Warning for Looking at Extra Cards because you've seen a card that you weren't entitled to see. I'd also apply the standard remedy for Looking at Extra Cards by shuffling the card you saw into your library, after applying the common-sense remedy of turning all face-up cards in your library face-down to get the library into the "single face-down pile" configuration that the Comprehensive Rules demand. The latter is not explicitly spelled out in the Infraction Procedure Guide because it's too obvious and the IPG doesn't try to cover every possible corner case.

Q: Are cards from Conspiracy legal in Modern?

A: Unless they're reprints of cards that were already legal in Modern, no. Conspiracy is neither a core set nor an expansion set, so whether a card has been printed in Conspiracy has no bearing on its legality in formats that are based on set releases like Modern and Standard.

And that's all the time we have for now. Please come back next week for Callum's issue, and I'll see you in four weeks when it's already time to celebrate the release of Magic 2015. Time flies when you're having fun!

- 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.


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