Published on 09/08/2014

I khan't wait!

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Sarkhan is looking forward
to show you his home.
Greetings and welcome to another episode of Cranial Insertion. Khans of Tarkir previews are in full force, and we're getting excited about all the new rules questions that'll be introduced by the new set. Of course, until then, there are still plenty of questions about current cards to be answered, so let's kill some time looking at those.

If you have questions you want us to answer, please email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. You'll get a direct answer from one of our writers, and your question might make it into a future article alongside an awful pun or obscure pop-culture reference.

Q: I used Endless Obedience on my opponent's Illusory Angel and he plays a Constricting Sliver to exile the Angel. When Constricting Sliver leaves the battlefield, where does the Angel go?

A: "Exile until" effects that exile a permanent return it under its owner's control unless they specify otherwise. Constricting Sliver doesn't specify otherwise, so the Angel returns under your opponent's control because he is its owner.

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

A: Sure, that's no problem at all. The summoning sickness rule only forbids a creature from attacking and from activating its activated abilities with or in their cost. Tapping it for any other reason, be it for Springleaf Drum's ability or to convoke a spell, is entirely outside the scope of the summoning sickness rule.

Q: I control Courser of Kruphix and I play Temple of Plenty to scry. Do I get to see the second card down to help me decide where to put the top card?

A: Nice try, but no. While you're scrying for the Temple, you're only looking at the top card of the library, which is the card that's already revealed thanks to the Courser. Until that card moves elsewhere, you don't have a reason to reveal or look at any other card from your library.

Q: If my opponent uses Mindclaw Shaman to cast Slaughter from my hand, can I pay the buyback cost to return it to my hand?

A: No, that's not possible. Your opponent is casting the spell, so your opponent would have to pay its costs. If your opponent wanted to, she could choose to pay the buyback cost, but it's unlikely that she'll want to do that.

Q: When do I choose the number for Void? When I cast it or when it resolves?

A: The only choices that are made when a spell is cast are choices that determine what you're targeting or what you're paying for the spell, such as the number of targets, the actual targets, mode choices, choosing a value for X, and so on. The number for Void is none of those, so you choose it on resolution and your opponent can't respond to the choice.

Q: I control a Magister of Worth and play a second one. If condemnation wins the vote, does the first Magister of Worth survive since the ability doesn't say "destroy all other creatures?"

A: No, it'll get destroyed. When a card refers to itself by name, it only means itself and not any other objects that have the same name. "Destroy all creatures other than Magister of Worth" means exactly the same as "destroy all other creatures", except that it's slightly easier to understand. If the ability meant to spare all Magisters of Worth, it would have to use the phrase "destroy all creatures not named Magister of Worth."

Q: If my Cryptoplasm becomes a copy of Demonic Taskmaster, do I have to sacrifice a creature right away?

A: Nope. Demonic Taskmaster's ability triggers at the beginning of your upkeep, which is a point in time. Cryptoplasm's ability already triggered at this point in time and it has resolved, so you're now just past that point in time. The sacrifice ability wasn't around at the point in time at which it would have triggered, so it didn't trigger.

Give a little bit of heart and soul
Q: Let's say I control a Cloudfin Raptor with a +1/+1 counter and an Ornithopter. If I use Ensoul Artifact to make my Ornithopter a 5/5, does my Raptor get a second counter?

A: No. Evolve only triggers when a bigger creature enters the battlefield. The Ornithopter was already on the battlefield, so it doesn't trigger evolve again just by getting bigger.

Q: I control Ghave, Guru of Spores and I'm trying to make a Saproling at the end of my opponent's turn. My opponent Murders Ghave in response and claims I don't get a token now because Murder resolves first. Is that true?

A: No, that's not true. While it's true that Murder resolves first, the ability you activated is still on the stack below Murder, and due to rule 112.7a it'll still resolve after Murder does. The important part of that rule says this:

112.7a Once activated or triggered, an ability exists on the stack independently of its source. Destruction or removal of the source after that time won't affect the ability. (...)

Q: If I cast Reversal of Fortune and the revealed hand contains a split card with fuse, can I cast the fused spell or will I have to pick a single half of the card?

A: You'll have to be content with just half of it. Fuse only works when you cast the spell from your hand. In this case, the card is copied in your opponent's hand, so you're casting the copy from your opponent's hand, so you can't fuse it.

Q: I control an Angel's Trumpet and a Gustcloak Savior. I attack with the Savior and it gets blocked by a big scary Dragon, so I make use of its ability to remove it from combat. Does that mean the Trumpet will deal damage to me in my end step?

A: No, you're safe from the Trumpet. The Trumpet's ability asks each of your creatures whether it attacked this turn, which means whether it was declared as an attacker. Even though the Savior was removed from combat and didn't finish the combat phase as an attacking creature, it was declared as an attacker, and that is good enough for the Trumpet.

Q: How much devotion does Gray Merchant of Asphodel count if it's returned by Rise of the Dark Realms along with a bunch of other black creatures?

A: It counts itself plus all the permanents that were already on the battlefield plus all the other creatures that were put onto the battlefield by Rise of the Dark Realms. Rise of the Dark Realms puts all creatures onto the battlefield at the same time, and the game checks for enter-the-battlefield abilities afterward. When Gray Merchant's ability resolves, all that stuff that came with it is on the battlefield — unless something sudden and tragic happened to it at the hands of your opponent — so the ability sees that you are quite devoted to black.

Q: Can i respond to Keranos's "whenever you reveal" abilities?

A: Sure. While those triggered abilities are slightly unusual in that they are tied to a static ability, they still function like regular triggered non-mana abilities. An event triggers them, they go on the stack, and eventually they resolve. Since they use the stack, players can respond to them.

Q: My opponent made his creature unblockable with Thassa and I hit it with Turn. Can I block it now?

A: Sorry, no such luck. Thassa's ability created a continuous effect for the rest of the turn, and that continuous effect temporarily adds a blocking restriction to the rules of the game. The effect isn't giving an ability to your opponent's creature, so it's not something that can be removed by Turn.

Q: I control a face-down creature and my opponent tries to Shock it. In response, I turn my creature face-up. Does that cause Shock to fizzle?

A: That depends on what the face-up creature looks like. If it has an ability like hexproof, protection, or some other ability that would make your creature an illegal target for Shock, then yes. Otherwise, no. Turning a creature face-up isn't like blinking it where it comes back as a new object. The face-up creature is still the same object as the face-down creature, except that it quickly changed the way it looks, so Shock is still targeting it.

Puddle, puddle, on the ground...
Q: I control Tainted Wood, Reflecting Pool, and no other lands. Can I tap Reflecting Pool for ?

A: Sure. Reflecting Pool looks at what types of mana Tainted Wood could produce, which means what type of mana any ability of Tainted Wood would add if it were to resolve right now. It doesn't care about whether you can actually pay the cost to activate the ability or whether you meet the activation restrictions for the ability, so the fact that you don't control a Swamp doesn't matter to Reflecting Pool.

Q: When i attack with Zur the Enchanter, can i use his ability to bestow a Baleful Eidolon onto one of my creatures?

A: Not so much. You can search up a Baleful Eidolon of course, since it's an enchantment card with converted mana cost 3 or less, and you can put it onto the battlefield, but that won't allow you to bestow it onto a creature. Bestow is an alternative cost for casting the card, and you're not casting the card here. The Eidolon is not an Aura, so putting it onto the battlefield simply gives you a standalone 1/1 enchantment creature with deathtouch.

Q: Can I put Allosaurus Rider from my library onto the battlefield with Mayael the Anima's ability?

A: That depends on how many lands you control. Allosaurus Rider has a characteristic-defining ability that defines its power and toughness, and such an ability applies in all zones, including in your library. As long as you control at least 4 lands, which seems not unlikely since you just spent 6 mana to activate Mayael's ability, Allosaurus Rider's power is at least 5.

Q: If I cast three spells followed by two Grapeshots, how many Grapeshots am I getting?

A: You're getting the two original Grapeshots, three copies from the first Grapeshot, and four copies from the second Grapeshot, so nine total. The storm copies that the first Grapeshot makes are created directly on the stack, not cast, so they don't count for the second Grapeshot's storm count. The second Grapeshot sees that you cast four spells prior to it, so it makes four copies.

Q: Can Spellskite redirect a Counterspell?

A: Spellskite will do anything for love, but it won't do that. Its ability can target the Counterspell, but it can only change the target if Spellskite would be a legal target for the spell. A Spellskite on the battlefield is not a spell, so it's not a legal target for Counterspell, so the ability leaves Counterspell's target unchanged.

Q: If I use Dream Halls to cast my commander from the command zone, do I have to pay the additional for every time it was cast from the command zone before?

A: Yup. Dream Halls gives your commander an alternative cost for its mana cost, but the mana cost is only the string of mana symbols in the top-right corner of the card. You're still on the hook for any additional costs such as the commander tax, even if that cost consists of mana.

Q: M15 has Slivers that play nicely with M14 Slivers, so does that mean that M14 isn't rotating out of Standard when Khans of Tarkir comes in?

A: Sadly, the format rotation is not governed by wishful thinking. M14 still rotates out when Khans of Tarkir rotates in, so your Sliver deck is rapidly running out of time.

Speaking of running out of time, that's all the time we have for this week. Please come back next week when Callum presents the last pre-Khans edition of Cranial Insertion!

- 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.

Just one thing. If I control Angel's Trumpet and attack with Gustcloak Savior, I won't be able to remove the Gustcloak from combat because the resolving ability is offering me a choice and I can't choose an option that's illegal or impossible, like untapping my already untapped creature.

#1 • Date: 2014-09-08 • Time: 04:26:07 •
The rules don't say anywhere that you can't untap a creature that is already untapped.

Unless something specifies "untap target tapped creature" you can untap something that was already not tapped.
#2 • Date: 2014-09-08 • Time: 06:48:09 •
That's not right. An untapped permanent can be the target of a spell or ability that tries to untap them, like Spidery Grasp, but it still can't be untapped. This is what the rules say:

701.17. Tap and Untap

701.17a To tap a permanent, turn it sideways from an upright position. Only untapped permanents can be tapped.

701.17b To untap a permanent, rotate it back to the upright position from a sideways position. Only tapped permanents can be untapped.

#3 • Date: 2014-09-08 • Time: 09:30:57 •
I think i see the error. I believe it doesn't matter that the creature is already untapped, the effect will still try to do as much as it can. Because there is nothing being targeted (no use of the word target) nothing can fizzle.

I'm not judge, i could be wrong. But I believe this is how comp rules 608 2b specifies resolving this ability. There are no illegal targets (because there were no targets to begin with) so it does as much as it can.
#4 • Date: 2014-09-08 • Time: 11:00:28 •
Nylon, that is an excellent point. However, the choice isn't just to untap the creature, which is indeed an impossible action. The choice is to untap the creature and remove it from combat, which is partially impossible and partially possible. The rules are not 100% clear on whether "impossible+possible" equals possible or impossible, and the answer is, it depends on the context! For a cost, impossible+possible equals impossible. For an effect, impossible+possible equals possible. This roughly follows from these rules:

117.3. A player can't pay a cost unless he or she has the necessary resources to pay it fully. (...)

609.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible.

A future rules update may clarify this more explicitly, but those rules should make the intent clear enough for the time being.
#5 • Date: 2014-09-08 • Time: 15:35:21 •
Rule 608.2d says that players can't choose an option that's illegal or impossible while resolving a spell or ability, and this is an impossible option.

The same situation has been discussed before with Knollspine Dragon and a "can't draw cards" effect like Maralen of the Mornsong. The official ruling that was given was that you can't choose to discard your hand because you can't draw cards. It's on mtgrules-l, you may check it.
#6 • Date: 2014-09-08 • Time: 15:53:29 •
Quote (Nylon):
Rule 608.2d says that players can't choose an option that's illegal or impossible while resolving a spell or ability, and this is an impossible option.

So you say, but there's no explicit rule in support of this opinion. There's a ruling, sure, but rulings aren't set in stone.


The official ruling that was given was that you can't choose to discard your hand because you can't draw cards. It's on mtgrules-l, you may check it.

The fact that a past ruling disagrees with me doesn't mean that I'm wrong. The ruling you're referring to in particular has been reversed at least once. It may get reversed again.
#7 • Date: 2014-09-08 • Time: 16:13:43 •
The topic's been passed up the chain. Discussion isn't useful here for now.
#8 • Date: 2014-09-08 • Time: 16:21:57 •
@Eli: As I was the one originally asking about the Angel's Trumpet + Gustcloak Savior interaction, I would be grateful if you would inform me as soon as you have anything new. Thank you! = )
#9 • Date: 2014-09-09 • Time: 03:40:52 •
@Nylon: I reviewed 608.2d and it talks about choices. This is not a choice you make. Choices are in the form of "choose one" or "of target opponent's choice". So I believe 608.2d is not applicable.

Furthermore Gustcloack Savior's text already states "you MAY untap..." which makes the whole point moot.
#10 • Date: 2014-12-17 • Time: 07:26:50 •
Quote (krizlee):
@Nylon: I reviewed 608.2d and it talks about choices. This is not a choice you make. Choices are in the form of "choose one" or "of target opponent's choice". So I believe 608.2d is not applicable.

Furthermore Gustcloack Savior's text already states "you MAY untap..." which makes the whole point moot.

"May" represents a choice, too. You choose between doing something or not doing it.
#11 • Date: 2014-12-17 • Time: 08:05:27 •

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