Published on 07/14/2014

Down to the Core

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

This card is dripping with flavor.
Greetings and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion. The Magic 2015 prereleases are done and M15 will be released this Friday, so it's time to take a look at M15. This core set brings us more Slivers, brings back convoke, and it continues the new core set tradition of fun, resonant, and flavorful card designs.

As always, if you have questions, please email us at or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. We'll answer your question directly, and your question might appear in a future issue.

And now, without further ado, let's get down to the core.

Q: Can I make all my creatures unblockable with one pot of Hot Soup by equipping it to each one in sequence?

A: No, that doesn't work. Whether a creature was previously equipped with Hot Soup has no influence on whether it can be blocked. Only the creature that's currently equipped with Hot Soup can't be blocked, so one pot of soup can only make one attacker unblockable.

Q: The M15 release notes state that if Profane Memento and an opponent's creature are destroyed at the same time, Profane Memento's ability won't trigger. Why is that?

A: When an event happens, you have one game state before the event and one game state after the event. A triggered ability has to look at one of those game states to decide whether it triggered. Some triggered abilities — such as leave-the-battlefield abilities — look back in time to the game state before the event, but most triggered abilities trigger based on the game state after the event. Profane Memento's ability is not a leave-the-battlefield trigger, since it triggers on a card going to the graveyard from any zone, not just from the battlefield. Because of this, it has no reason to look back in time. It triggers based on the game state after the event, so in this situation it doesn't trigger at all since Profane Memento is not on the battlefield after the event.

Q: The release notes also claim that if I activate Jace, the Living Guildpact's ultimate ability and a player has no cards in his hand or graveyard, he doesn't shuffle his library. Is that true?

A: No. Magic Rules Manager Matt Tabak has confirmed that this ruling is incorrect. Jace's ability shuffles a set of objects into the player's library, not a number of specific objects. Rule 701.16e applies here, and the library is shuffled even if the set of objects is empty.

701.16e If an effect would cause a player to shuffle a set of objects into a library, that library is shuffled even if there are no objects in that set.

Q: What happens if I activate The Chain Veil's ability and then copy the ability with Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient?

A: The Chain Veil's ability will resolve twice, and each resolution creates a separate permission to activate your planeswalker abilities once more. This effect is cumulative, so you get to activate each of your planeswalkers three times. And yes, this also means that you can "go infinite" if you have a way of repeatedly activating The Chain Veil's ability, despite what you may have heard elsewhere.

Q: Can I activate The Chain Veil on my opponent's turn so that I can activate my planeswalkers on his turn?

A: Yes and no, in that order. You can activate The Chain Veil on your opponent's turn, but that won't help. The effect only lets you pretend that you haven't activated any of your planeswalkers' abilities yet, which is actually true. It won't let you pretend that it's your turn, so even with The Chain Veil's effect you don't have permission to activate your planeswalkers on your opponent's turn.

Here, kitty kitty!
Q: If I tap Elvish Mystic to convoke a spell, does that pay for 2 mana?

A: No. While you're casting the spell, there second-to-last step is where you get to activate mana abilities, and the last step is where you pay the total cost with the mana you just put into your mana pool and whatever other resources you're using to cast the spell. If you tap Elvish Mystic in the penultimate step to make mana, it'll be tapped in the last step so you can't tap it for convoke, too.

Q: When I convoke a spell, can I tap so many creatures that I don't have to pay any mana at all?

A: Sure, that's entirely possible, provided that you have enough creatures in the required colors. Each creature you tap can take the place of one mana, and there's no limit to how much mana in the total cost is paid for by tapping creatures, except that you can't tap more creatures than the amount of mana in the total cost.

Q: Can I tap a creature with summoning sickness to convoke a spell?

A: Absolutely. The summoning sickness rule doesn't prevent tapping the creature for any reason. It is very specific in what it doesn't allow: A summoning sick creature can't attack, and its activated abilities with the tap symbol () or untap symbol () can't be activated. Anything else is fair game, whether it involves tapping or not.

Q: Can I cast Restock with only one card in my graveyard?

A: No, that's not possible. Restock doesn't say "up to two", so it actually requires two target cards. If there's only one card in your graveyard, you don't have enough targets for Restock, so you can't cast Restock at all.

Q: I cast Restock on two cards in my graveyard and my opponent eats one in response with Scavenging Ooze. What happens?

A: When Restock resolves, it still has one legal target, so it resolves and does as much as it can, which means that the card that didn't end up as Ooze food still gets returned to your hand.

Q: If I use Chandra, Pyromaster's ultimate ability to copy Life's Legacy three times, do I have to sacrifice three creatures?

A: Well, you don't have to, because casting the copies is optional, but you have to sacrifice one creature for each copy you're choosing to cast. Chandra's ability doesn't copy a spell like Twincast does. It copies a card in the exile zone, and then it lets you cast that copy from the exile zone. The mana cost is waived for casting the copy, but any additional costs that apply to casting it, such as Life's Legacy's sacrifice, still have to be paid.

Q: If I use the mana from Generator Servant to cast two creature spells, spending from the Generator on each, do both creatures gain haste?

A: Certainly. Each spell is a creature spell that you spent "that mana" on, so both creature spells gain haste, and this effect continues to apply to the creatures that those spells become.

Q: If I pay 3 life to satisfy my opponent's Indulgent Tormentor, do I get a token from First Response on my upkeep?

A: Sure! First Response asks whether you lost life during the last turn, which was your opponent's turn. Even though you know exactly where you put it, a life payment constitutes a loss of life, which is good enough for First Response.

Q: My opponent's Resolute Archangel triggers and wants to set my opponent's life total back to 20. Can I respond with Skullcrack to stop it?

A: Yes, that works. To set a player's life total to a certain number, the game makes the player lose or gain however much life is needed to reach that number. Resolute Archangel tries to make your opponent gain life to get up to his starting life total, but Skullcrack's effect says that he can't gain life. According to one of the Golden Rules of Magic, if an effect directs something to happen and another effect says it can't happen, the "can't" effect wins, so he doesn't gain life and Resolute Archangel's effect does a whole lot of nothing.

Q: If I cast Resolute Archangel in Two-Headed Giant, how does that work?

A: It's a bit confusing, so let's break it down. In Two-Headed Giant, players don't have life totals. Teams do, and when an effect needs a player's life total, it gets the player's team's life total instead. The result of this is that the effect compares your team's life total to 30, and if it's less, you gain as much life as necessary to get back to 30. In the end, your team's life total ends up at 30, which is a perfectly intuitive result.

Q: Does that trigger my teammate's Wall of Limbs?

A: Nope. Even though players in Two-Headed Giant don't have life totals, players gain and lose life individually, and the result of that gain or loss is applied to the team's shared life total. Years ago I coined a droll analogy to illustrate this fact with a room with two doors that contains a pile of gold coins, and a gnome can use either door to bring coins into the room or take coins out of it. Wall of Limbs triggers if the gnome brings coins through your teammate's door (i.e. your teammate gains life), but in this situation, the gnome brought the coins through your door (i.e. you gained life).

I'll be your keeper for life
As your guardian
Q: Can I control both Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Avacyn, Guardian Angel at the same time?

A: Sure, that's no problem. Unlike the planeswalker uniqueness rule, which looks at the planeswalker type, the legend rule looks at the card's full name. The cards share only part of their name, and even though they represent the same storyline character, the game doesn't have a problem with this. Any awkwardness of meeting their alternate selves is up to the two Avacyns to work out amongst themselves.

Q: I control a Constricting Sliver, and a Belligerent Sliver enters the battlefield under my control, so I exile my opponent's very scary Runeclaw Bear. Later, my Constricting Sliver dies. Later still, my Belligerent Sliver dies. Does my opponent's Runeclaw Bear come back?

A: Yup. When the enter-the-battlefield ability resolved, it created a one-shot effect to exile the Bear, and it scheduled a second one-shot effect to return the Bear to the battlefield later. This effect is independent from the ability that created it, so it happens even if Belligerent Sliver no longer has this enter-the-battlefield ability at the time it leaves the battlefield.

Q: I control Diffusion Sliver and Belligerent Sliver, and my opponent targets my Belligerent Sliver with Flesh to Dust. He pays so that his spell doesn't get countered. If I Redirect his spell to my Diffusion Sliver, does my opponent have to pay more?

A: He does. Your Diffusion Sliver wasn't a target of Flesh to Dust, and now it is, so it has become the target of a spell an opponent controls, so Diffusion Sliver's ability triggers again and asks your opponent for another payment of .

Q: When my opponent resolves Master of Predicaments' ability, how do I know that the card my opponent reveals is actually the card he chose?

A: Your opponent is choosing a card in his hand, which is a hidden zone, and the rules have something to say about how a player should do that. Your opponent is allowed to keep the face of the card hidden after choosing it, but he has to indicate clearly which card he has chosen. The easiest way to do that is to separate the card from the other cards in his hand and place it face down on the table.

Q: I control Military Intelligence and attack just with Preeminent Captain. For Preeminent Captain's ability, I put a Kinsbaile Skirmisher onto the battlefield tapped and attacking. Do I get to draw a card?

A: Nope. Military Presence triggers based on how many creatures you declared as attackers, not based on how many creatures are attacking creatures at the end of the declare attackers step. You only declared one attacker, so you didn't attack with two or more creatures.

Q: I'm playing in a Pro Tour Qualifier, and my opponent is attacking me with a bunch of creatures. I flash in a Quickling as a surprise blocker, and in the heat of combat math, I forget to bounce one of my creatures. If my opponent calls the judge, what happens?

A: You're playing in a tournament with Competitive Rules Enforcement Level, so the Infraction Procedure Guide governs how the judge should handle this situation. Quickling's trigger has a visible effect when it resolves, which you didn't perform at the time it should have happened, so you missed the trigger. Since the trigger specifies a default action that's associated with a choice, the correct remedy is to perform the default action, so you have to sacrifice Quickling. Also, Quickling becomes clearly better if you remove the trigger, so the trigger is considered generally detrimental, which means that the judge will issue a Warning for Game Play Error—Missed Trigger.

Q: If I give my opponent the emblem from Garruk, Apex Predator, who is responsible for making sure that the triggered ability resolves?

A: A triggered ability is always the responsibility of its controller. Your opponent owns and controls the emblem, so he controls the ability. This means that it's his responsibility to remember the trigger, but you're free to remind your opponent of the trigger when you declare your attackers. The good news for your opponent is that you probably won't need a lot of attacks to win the game.

Q: Is M14 rotating out of Standard when M15 comes out?

A: Nope. Since Wizards of the Coast switched to yearly core set releases, the core set rotates along with the block that came before it. M14 was released after the Return to Ravnica block, so it will rotate out when RTR rotates out, which will be in late September when Khans of Tarkir is released. Until then, you get to enjoy a confusing period during which both M14 and M15 are legal in Standard.

And that's all the time we have for today. See you next week!

- 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!