Published on 08/18/2014


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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

He forgot only his opponents could activate
his Knight of the Holy Nimbus.
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! As I write this, I've just arrived home from Grand Prix Portland, where French judge Guillaume Beuzelin introduced me to the brain-melting, fantastically frustrating, and endlessly entertaining As Soon As format, which has quickly become my new favourite Magic judge pastime. I still don't know whether to bless or curse him for doing that.

If you haven't heard of As Soon As, I recommend you check out fellow addict Chris Lansdell's excellent article on the format. If you read this column regularly, especially if you have an account so you can hide hide the answers to try and answer the questions yourself (for those of you who didn't know, you can totally do that) there's a good chance you'll enjoy it.

If you have rules questions of your own, send them to us As Soon As possible, either via email at or, for shorter questions, over Twitter @CranialTweet. If you don't, you won't get an answer directly from one of our authors, your question won't appear in one of our future articles, and you'll lose the game.

So without further ado, let's get down to the rules questions; this week we'll start off with a bunch of questions from As Soon As:

Q: On my turn, I draw Curtain of Light from the shared library. When is my first opportunity to cast it?

A: Curtain of Light targets an "unblocked attacking creature", and the only time those exist is during combat, after blockers are declared. When blockers are declared at the start of the Declare Blockers step of combat, all attackers that had one or more blockers declared for them become "blocked", and those that didn't become "unblocked".

So you need to target an attacking creature that had no blockers declared for it, as soon as you can during the declare blockers step. Since As Soon As forces players to block attacking creatures if able, that will most likely happen if the creature's attacking a player who controls no creatures, or else if all the defending player's creatures block other attackers.

Q: I drew a Ricochet Trap. What kind of spells would be legal targets for it?

A: Ricochet Trap gives you a special discount if an opponent has cast a blue spell this turn, but it targets any "spell with a single target", not just ones that are blue spells.

As for what a "spell with a single target" is, look for a spell that uses the word "target" in its text once and only once. (And also Aura spells, because those have a single target too.) If the spell doesn't use the word "target", or uses the word "target" multiple times, then it's not a legal target for Ricochet Trap.

Q: In As Soon As, I played Dread Statuary and activated its second ability, then its first ability in response. My opponent says I lose. Why?

A: Because you had an opportunity to activate the first ability, and didn't. The Statuary's second ability requires a mana payment as part of its cost, so the game gives you an opportunity to activate mana abilities during the process of activating it. You needed to activate the first ability at that time in order to avoid losing.

Q: I cast Brain Gorgers. Who has to sacrifice a creature?

A: Every player who controls at least one creature will have to sacrifice.

Brain Gorgers gives each player in turn order an opportunity to sacrifice something. The Gorgers spell itself will be doomed as soon as the first player does so, but the ability will still give the other players a chance to sacrifice, which in As Soon As, means they have to do so if they don't want to lose.

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled normal-Magic rules questions:

Q: Say my Banisher Priest exiled Iona, Shield of Emeria, but now my Priest has been targeted with some removal, so I want to cast Altar's Reap to get some value out of it. My untapped lands are two Swamps and one Plains, and I have Tragic Slip and Path to Exile in hand. Can I cast Altar's Reap in such a way so that, whichever color the returning Iona names, I have the mana to deal with it immediately?

A: Actually, you can. When you pay the costs of a casting a spell or activating an ability, you can do it in any order you like. Tap your Swamps and Plains for , then when the time comes to pay costs, sacrifice the Priest first, before paying the mana portion of the Reap's cost. This causes the Iona to return to the battlefield, and your opponent will choose a color for it. Once she's done that, you can spend your mana however you like, leaving up the appropriate color of mana for whichever spell you're still allowed to cast.

I see a rabbit. No, a duck!
Q: My opponent casts Stoke the Flames by tapping Elvish Mystic and 3 other non-mana creatures. Can I Nix the spell?

A: That depends. Was the Mystic tapped for mana, or tapped for Convoke? There isn't a default assumption for that, so you're going to need to ask your opponent which it was, and depending on how you word it, you might tip your hand, and that might change how your opponent answers. Careful!

Q: My opponent evokes a Mulldrifter while I have Hushwing Gryff in hand. What happens if I cast the Gryff in response? Is there some way to stop my opponent from getting cards and have his Mulldrifter die?

A: Afraid not—you're going to have to choose between your opponent getting two cards or getting a 2/2 flyer. If you cast the Gryff in response to Mulldrifter, your opponent gets no cards, but a 2/2 flyer. If you don't, your opponent gets cards, but no flyer.

Both the evoke sacrifice ability and Mulldrifter's draw-cards ability trigger upon Mulldrifter entering the battlefield, so the Gryff will shut them both down, and they trigger at the exact same time—there's no way to have the Gryff around to stop one of them but not the other.

Q: I want to ask about the Dimir Cipher mechanic and the combination with Ensoul Artifact. Does the ciphered spell fall off the artifact if the soul leaves it?

A: No, it stays right where it is. (Not that it will probably matter in the near future.) There's no rule or effect that forbids a card from being encoded onto a noncreature card—it's just relatively hard to do it, and there's not much benefit to having it unless you can turn the card into a creature again.

If you can re-Ensoul your artifact, the encoded card will still be ready and waiting for it to deal combat damage to your opponent.

Q: Kiora, the Crashing Wave uses her plus one to put a creature in the bubble on my second main phase. On her turn, my opponent draws Lightning Strike and destroys Kiora with it. Can the creature in the bubble now attack and do damage?

A: Well, it can attack—Kiora's ability doesn't stop that—but it won't deal damage if it does.

Once Kiora's ability has been activated, it doesn't actually matter what happens to Kiora herself. Once activated, the ability is independent of her and will resolve and continue to affect the game for as long as it says it does (until your next turn), whether she sticks around or not.

Q: Playing in a multiplayer game, one opponent has Sulfuric Vortex out and is at 1 life. (The other opponent is still at 4.) If I cast Syphon Soul, killing the opponent with Sulfuric Vortex out, will I gain 4 life?

A: Afraid not. Your opponent goes down to -1 life during Syphon Soul's resolution, but she won't actually die and leave the game until state-based actions are checked after the Syphon finishes resolving, and that means the Vortex will stick around until then too. By that time, the Syphon will have already tried and failed to make you gain life.

Q: I know that in multiplayer, you can concede the game at any time. Does this mean you could break down the resolution of a spell or ability by conceding during it? Could I cast Careful Consideration on my buddy and concede before he discards?

A: You could do it, but it wouldn't help you or your buddy. You leaving the game after the draw and before the discard (which you can do) would indeed cause Careful Consideration to leave the stack as it's in the middle of resolving. But the Consideration will still finish resolving even though the card itself is gone.

This is what allows Time Stop, Green Sun's Zenith, and cards like them to work—the cards may remove themselves from the stack as part of their resolution, but the rest of the effect still happens.

Q: I was wondering if Chandra's Fury and Blaze Commando worked the way I hope? Would I get 2 Soldiers for my opponent and 2 for each of his creatures? How about Arc Lightning?

A: Afraid not, in both cases. The Fury (or the Lightning) may be dealing damage to multiple things, but it's doing it all at the same time—it's still dealing damage just once, so you'll only get two tokens.

You can tell this by looking at the card and counting the number of times it uses the word "deals"—each time it uses the word, that's a separate instance of dealing damage. For examples of cards that deal damage multiple times, check out Branching Bolt, Clan Defiance, or Mana Clash.

Q: If Hopeful Eidolon is bestowed upon a creature which is attacking and tapped, does Hopeful Eidolon stay tapped or become untapped when it becomes a creature again after the host creature is destroyed?

A: It doesn't "become" untapped, but that's only because it was never tapped in the first place. It was always untapped, and will remain so once it becomes a creature.

Many players turn the Auras and Equipment that are attacked to a creature sideways when they attack or otherwise tap that creature because it's easier to pick up the whole stack than just the one card, but that's technically incorrect. Tapping a creature doesn't have any effect on the Auras and Equipment attached to it—they're still untapped.

There can be only one.
Q: My friend played an instant with convoke during his attack phase and said that since he tapped creatures for his attack phase they counted towards the cost of his convoke. Is he right about how convoke worked with that instant?

A: No, he's very wrong. You can't tap a creature both to attack and to satisfy the requirements of convoke at the same time. Either he casts the spell before attacking, in which case his creatures will be tapped and unable to attack, or he attacks first, in which case his creatures will be tapped and unable to be tapped for convoke.

Trying to tap the creatures both for attacking and for convoke is like trying to spend the same dollar in two different vending machines—it just doesn't work.

Q: The way I read the text of Ajani Steadfast's emblem, if multiple sources attack, I can reduce damage from each source to 1 each. For instance if I have the emblem and am attacked by 4 (3/3) creatures each creature is "a source", so I take 4 damage. Is that correct?

A: That's correct. A "source" is a single, individual "thing" that's dealing damage—in this case, an attacking creature. Four attacking creatures are four separate sources, so you reduce the damage from each down to 1, for a grand total of 4 damage.

Q: If I cast The Mimeoplasm and exile from my graveyard Dark Impostor and for example Dralnu, Lich Lord choosing to copy the Impostor, will it have the activated ability of Dralnu? The Impostor talks about "creature cards exiled with it", not only by its activated ability.

A: No, it will not. Abilities printed on a card that refer to cards "exiled with {this card}" are linked to the other abilities printed on that card, and can only refer to cards exiled by the specific abilities they're linked to.

The Imposter's ability-gaining ability isn't linked to Mimeoplasm's exile-to-copy ability, so it doesn't care about your Dralnu and won't give you its abilities.

Q: If I activate Fa'adiyah Seer into a miracle card and it's the first card I drew that turn, can I cast it for its miracle cost or will I be forced to discard it instead?

A: You'll be forced to discard it. The miracle ability will trigger, but it won't have time to resolve—in fact, it won't even have time to be put on the stack—before you finish resolving Fa'adiyah Seer's ability. By the time the miracle ability resolves, the card will have long since gone to your graveyard and become a new object, so the Miracle ability won't be able to find it in order to let you cast it.

Q: Suppose a player has a Deadbridge Goliath in the graveyard and plans using the Scavenging ability to pump another creature in the battlefield. As soon as he activates the ability, can I cast a Tragic Slip targeting his dead Goliath to give it -13/-13 (suppose another critter died this turn), making it "-8/-8" so it would not give any +1/+1 counters to the target creature?

A: Nope. When a card says "creature", with no qualifiers, it means a creature on the battlefield. For example, Planar Cleansing doesn't attempt to destroy the permanent cards that are already in the graveyard, nor cards in players' hands or libraries. Your Tragic Slip can't target the Goliath in your opponent's graveyard in the first place.

If a card wants to affect cards somewhere other than the battlefield, it will say so by explicitly using the words "card", "spell", or "source" to lay out exactly what it wants to affect.

Not that being able to cast the Slip would really help you in the first place, even if you could. Exiling the creature card from the graveyard is part of the activation cost of scavenge—by the time you know your opponent is activating the ability and have a chance to respond, the card has already been exiled.

Q: If I play Perilous Vault's ability, and I have a card trapped by an opponent's Banishing Light, does my card come back when Banishing Light is exiled, or is my card exiled as well?

A: It comes back. Perilous Vault's ability exiles all nonland permanents at the same time, and your card won't come back until after Banishing Light is gone, which by necessity means that it's after everything else is gone, too, which means that the Vault has already finished doing all the exiling it was going to do, and won't be coming back for seconds.

Q: Does standard rotate on the Prerelease date? If I played in Monday night magic after the prerelease even though the release is scheduled for that Friday, is the format already different on that Monday, or would you have to wait till Friday?

A: You'd have to wait until Friday. Standard always adds new sets (and rotates, when applicable) on the day of that set's release. You may have some of the cards from the new set before they can be sold, but they still can't be used in Standard tournaments until the release date.

That's it for this week, but be sure to tune in next week when Eli will be back with another fresh batch of rules-question-y goodness!

- 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.

How positive is Callum on the Banisher Priest/Iona question? It was my understanding that while you're in the process of casting a spell, no triggers could resolve. They would go on the stack on top of the spell.
#1 • Date: 2014-08-17 • Time: 22:45:34 •
Iona's color selection ability is not a triggered ability. It is linked to the static ability that prevents spells of the chosen color being cast.
When the Banisher Priest is sacrificed as past of the cost of the Alter's Reap, Iona immediately returns to the battlefield (no trigger required, because the effect exiling Iona immediately ends when the Banisher Priest leaves the field) and before Iona can physically appear on the battlefield, Iona's owner needs to select a color (again, no trigger here.)

In short, the reason this works is because there are no triggered abilities in the question.
(Except for Banisher Priest's enters-the-battlefield ability if you want to be technical :-P)
#2 • Date: 2014-08-17 • Time: 23:33:17 •
Oh derp, that's right. I keep forgetting Banishing Light/Priest are different than Fiend Hunter/Oblivion Ring.
#3 • Date: 2014-08-17 • Time: 23:37:45 •
Awesome format! As a judge everything helps. I will be adding it to my cube collection, including Type 4, Momir Basic, and regular cubes. I think I will be calling it Stack Attack for short though :P (ASAP:ASA! - As Soon As Possible : A Stack Attack!)
#4 • Date: 2014-08-19 • Time: 23:46:48 •

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