Published on 06/23/2014

Waiting for Garruk

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

A self-portrait of the writer
the day before previews begin.
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! As this article goes live, Magic 2015 previews are just beginning in earnest, but back here in the past where I'm writing it I am of course stuck in the land of no previews. And it sucks. That's the bad thing about Wizards releasing so many awesome sets and products—we're always just a week or two away from something incredible and fantastic and utterly drool-worthy.

Mind you, as problems go it's a fairly nice one to have, but still, patience has never been a particularly strong suit of mine. However, if you're feeling patient, you can ask us rules questions by emailing (click the monkey on the left for a quick link) and we'll get back to you with an answer, and maybe feature your question in an upcoming article. If you're feeling less patient, you can tweet us a short question @CranialTweet for an equally short answer.

But for now, on to the questions!

Q: I control Marchesa, the Black Rose and all my creatures have +1/+1 counters on them. My opponent board wipes with Supreme Verdict. Do I get everything other than Marchesa back?

A: You get everything including Marchesa back. Marchesa will see herself dying, and will also see anything that's dying at the same time as her, and she'll trigger for everything that had a +1/+1 counter, which may include herself.

Q: Let's say I have a Death Spark on top of my graveyard. I want to get it back into my hand so I Lightning Bolt one of my random 1/1 creatures. Is there a specific order in which the Bolt and creature go on top of the Death Spark?

A: Yes, and sadly for you it's not the one you want. Lightning Bolt will finish resolving and go to your graveyard, and only then will the creature be put into your graveyard.

This is because Lightning Bolt itself doesn't cause the creature to die on its own—it just deals damage to it. It's only a half-second later, after the Bolt's in your graveyard, that the game will notice that your creature has lethal damage on it and destroy it.

Interestingly, your trick would have worked if you had used a straight-up destruction spell like Murder on your creature, because Murder destroys the creature right away as part of its resolution, putting it into the graveyard, and only after it finishes does it go to the graveyard itself.

Q: Some people I play with want to counter instants which will do damage to their planeswalker, but don't care if it's dealing damage to them. But can't I target them with the spell, then as it resolves, redirect it without them countering it?

A: Yes. When you cast a spell that would deal damage to your opponent, you don't need to tell them right away if you want to use it to damage their planeswalker. That decision's only made once the spell's actually resolving, which is too late for them to decide to counter it after all. If they ask if you're redirecting the damage, it's too late for them to play a counterspell.

Q: An attacking creature with both Deathtouch and Trample can assign only 1 damage to each blocker, then assign the remainder to the opponent. Does Toxin Sliver work the same way? And if not, why not?

A: No, it doesn't; Toxin Sliver, Battering Sliver, and their trampling, toxic friends need to assign damage equal to each blocker's toughness before they can assign any to the defending player.

The trample/deathtouch interaction works only because the rules for defining what "lethal damage" is have a specific clause especially for deathtouch, saying that any amount of damage from a deathtoucher is lethal. Toxin Sliver, by contrast, has no such clause written into the rules especially for it.

Yes, one damage from a Toxin Sliver is probably going to end up with a dead creature, but the rules don't care about that; 1 damage itself isn't enough to be "lethal" as the rules define it on anything other than a 1-toughness creature, so you can't trample over. The game doesn't look into the future and see that dealing the damage will cause an ability to trigger which will then destroy the creature at some later point in time—the damage itself wasn't lethal, so no trampling for you.

Not really so tempting any more.
Q: How does Tempt with Vengeance work with Gather Specimens? Can I Gather Specimens after everybody has agreed to getting tokens?

A: It doesn't work very well; you can't cast spells in the middle of resolving another spell, so if you want to Gather Specimens you need to do it in response to the Temptation, before anybody decides whether or not to get extra tokens. And chances are if you've resolved a Gather Specimens, not many people are going to volunteer to give you a bunch of extra creatures for free.

If they do, let me know. I may want to switch casual playgroups.

Q: Is it possible to use Arbor Elf to help you pay the upkeep cost of Summoner's Pact, or does it need to be paid before I get priority since Arbor Elf's ability technically isn't a mana ability?

A: You can absolutely do that. You can't wait until mid-resolution of the trigger like you could with Elvish Mystic, but Summoner's Pact's trigger is a normal triggered ability and can be responded to like any other triggered ability, so there's no reason you couldn't just use the ability before the trigger starts to resolve.

Q: How does Omen Machine work with Ward of Bones?

A: Quite well, except when it comes to lands. (And instants, sorceries, and planeswalkers, but you probably knew that already.) Omen Machine tries to get your opponents to cast the nonland cards they exile, but if Ward of Bones says they can't play those cards, they can't.

With lands, though, the Machine puts them directly onto the battlefield itself; the Ward doesn't apply because putting the land onto the battlefield isn't the same thing as playing it, and the Ward only applies to the latter.

Q: Would Norin the Wary trigger if I were to discard Nightshade Assassin and madness it?

A: Luckily for Norin the Wary, he's just as wary of madness as he is of bears. He'll run away from the Assassin.

Part of Madness involves casting the card as a spell; Norin will see you doing that, and his ability will trigger and exile him.

Q: I was told that exiling a planeswalker removes their counters from them, so if they're Detention Sphered, they die once the Sphere leaves the field. One of my opponents recently said that's not the case. Is that true?

A: Detention Sphere will exile the planeswalker, so it will lose its counters—it becomes a new object and that new object doesn't have any reason to have counters—but that doesn't mean it's going to die either, because when it re-enters the battlefield, it get a whole new batch of loyalty counters, just the way it did when it was first cast. Your planeswalker will be reset to its starting loyalty, but that's a heck of a lot better than being dead!

Remember, cards like Detention Sphere and Banishing Light are not Auras, no matter how similarly people tend to arrange them on the table. Being exiled and then returning is very different from remaining on the battlefield with an Aura attached to them.

Q: I activate Mutavault and swing with it. My opponent cast Deicide. He told me that since I activated Mutavault and it shares all creatures types it would be considered a God and Deicide would be able to exile them all. Could I please get a ruling on this?

A: No, your opponent can't do that, for two reasons. First and foremost, Deicide targets enchantments, and Mutavault isn't one. Your Mutavault may have all creature types, but "Enchantment" isn't a creature type, so Deicide can't target it at all.

Secondly, even if your Mutavault was somehow an enchantment and could be targeted, your opponent's Deicide would not exile the rest of your Mutavaults. Deicide specifically looks at the card as it exists in exile to determine whether or not it's a God, but once your Mutavault leaves the battlefield it's no longer animated, so it's no longer any creature types at all, much less a God.

Q: Let's say I have a tapped Daring Thief on the battlefield, and my opponent targets it with Abrupt Decay. If I Triton Tactics it in response, and exchange control of the Thief and one of his creatures, does the Thief still get destroyed by the Abrupt Decay?

A: Yes, it does. It's still the same permanent, just under new management, and Abrupt Decay doesn't care who controls its target. So you trade away your Thief just in time for it to die a horribly abrupt death. You monster.

Q: If an opponent controls a Blind Obedience, there's an animated Mutavault on the battlefield, and you cast a Clone making it a copy of the Vault, does it enter the battlefield tapped?

A: No!

While Clone is entering the battlefield, there are two replacement effects that want to apply to it—Clone's and Blind Obedience's.

Since one of them wants to make your Clone a copy of something else, you need to apply that one first; do so, and now your Clone's going to be entering the battlefield as a non-creature Mutavault. Then Obedience sees that your Clone's not going to be a creature and suddenly loses all interest, so there's no longer any reason for your new Mutavault to be tapped.

Q: Can you show the table of players a draft pick you took if a card doesn't specify to? For example, someone pulls a foil Dack Fayden and gets excited and wants everyone to know right away.

A: In tournament play, no. You're not normally allowed to show your draft picks to anyone else until the draft's completely over.

But in a casual non-tournament draft, which is what pretty much all Conspiracy drafts should be? Whatever your playgroup decides is okay is just fine. If they approve, feel free to jump up, cheer—whatever you like.

Q: If an effect returns a card from my opponent's graveyard, and the next turn I ask him, "Which card did you return to your hand with that effect?" does he have to tell me?

A: No, he doesn't. In fact, he can even lie to you.

Your opponent has to be truthful about the stuff he's doing right now—current game actions are defined in the tournament rules' Player Communication Policy as free information, and cannot be represented incorrectly. But past game actions are only classified as free information if they still affect the game state (like "Which creature did you Giant Growth earlier this turn?"), and which card your opponent put into his hand last turn definitely does not.

Since the identity of the card's not free information, it's by default considered private information, and your opponent can lie right through his teeth all day about private information if he really wants to.

(That being said, if your opponent tries to rush through things and return something without letting you see it, call a judge to sort things out. You are allowed to know what's being returned as it's happening. Just not later on.)

Q: Can you play Setessan Tactics on a card enchanted by Arrest?

A: Well, you can, but it's usually not a good idea, since the creature won't be able to use the fighting ability that the Tactics will grant it, since that's an activated ability. But if you have some other reason to give an Arrested creature a lesson in Tactics, feel free.

Q: Does Stony Silence also prevent the Mirrodin-block artifact lands from producing mana?

A: Indeed it does. The mana abilities on Seat of the Synod, Darksteel Citadel, and friends are indeed activated abilities, and Stony Silence will shut them off just fine.

Unlike cards like Pithing Needle, Stony Silence doesn't say it excludes mana abilities, so it doesn't.

Q: We actually had 4 Backup Plans floating in our draft pool last week. If someone chose to run 6 Backup Plans with a 40 card deck would they lose immediately for drawing with no cards, or is the game state not checked when hands are drawn?

A: They lose. As the game begins, they'll try to draw seven opening hands of seven cards each, which will result in them attempting to draw from an empty library in the process. Once the game starts, it will see what they did, and they'll lose the game pretty much immediately.

It just goes to show you, too much planning is dangerous!

Q: If Urza's Filter is on the battlefield, does a player casting a multicolored spell choose how much to reduce the spell's cost, or is the cost reduced as much as possible?

A: They get to choose; if they really want to they can reduce the spell's cost by instead, or even . So don't worry, you'll still be able to get full value out of your Firespout with the Filter out.

Q: If I cast Overmaster then Temporal Extortion, do I get an extra turn even if someone pays the life cost?

A: Yup! "Can't be countered by spells or abilities" includes by the spell's own abilities, so the Extortion's ability won't be able to counter it, even if for some bizarre reason your opponent decides to pay the life anyway.

Q: If I copied an Essence of the Wild with Progenitor Mimic, do my future creatures have the duplication clause?

A: Ew, that's nasty.

Possibly, depending on whose Essence you copied.

You see, if you control an Essence to begin with, both the Mimic and your Essence are going to try to apply their own copy effects to the Mimic. If you apply the Essence's first, there's no longer a Mimic effect to apply, and if you apply the Mimic's first, the Essence's effect still wants to apply and overwrite that hard-earned duplication clause. No copies for you. (Note that this answer applies if you control any Essences at all, no matter whose Essence you're trying to get the Mimic to copy.)

But if it's your opponent's Essence you're copying, then there's no conflict—your Mimic enters as a copy of your opponent's Essence, with duplication clause. And everything else you cast from then on will also be Essences with duplication clauses. Ouch!

Q: If my opponent passes the turn without attacking with his (non-summoning-sick) Monstrous Carabids at Competitive REL and I notice, what are my options?

A: You only have one legal option: call a judge. You may not be responsible for pointing out your opponent's missed triggered abilities, but this isn't a triggered ability being missed, which means you are required to point out the problem and call a judge. (Triggered abilities can be recognized by the fact that they always use one of the words "When", "Whenever", or "At" to indicate when they trigger, usually at the start of the ability.)

If you notice a rules violation in your match, it's your responsibility to call attention to it and call a judge. Deliberately not doing so because it's to your advantage is pretty much a textbook case of Cheating, and is likely to get you disqualified from any tournament of any REL. I definitely don't recommend it.

And that's all from me this week; be sure to come by again next week for another exciting edition of Cranial Insertion!

- 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.


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