Published on 11/03/2014

It's In Tents

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

One more counter to go...
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion!

This week's article was originally supposed to be our Commander 2014 special, but Carsten realized that having our Commander article come out a week before any of you could get your hands on those sweet, sweet monocolored decks and figure out some questions to ask us about them was probably a less than perfect plan. So he and I have switched; today will just be a regular article, and you'll be getting your Commander fix next Monday instead.

So in the meantime, if you'd like to take a break from camping out in front of your local game store in anticipation of Commander 2014's release (You are doing that, right? I know I am!) and you have any questions about the cards from it you've seen previewed, be sure to send them in to us by email at or tweet the shorter ones to us at @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer and maybe appear in one of our future articles to boot.

Q: I cast Unexpected Results and reveal a Cancel, which is useless. But if I don't cast the Cancel, do I return it to the top of my library, or put it into my hand?

A: Revealing a card doesn't actually move it anywhere, so when you reveal the top card of your library to find a Cancel, as far as the game's concerned that Cancel is still the top card of your library. And since you're not casting it and haven't been told to move it anywhere else, there it will stay.

Until the next time you draw a card, anyway.

Q: My opponent has a Diffusion Sliver on the battlefield and I Lightning Strike it, paying its cost of , plus the for the Sliver's ability. My opponent then casts Disdainful Stroke on my Lightning Strike. Can he do this?

A: Definitely not. The that Diffusion Sliver is not part of the costs of casting Lightning Strike; it's a separate, unrelated cost. Even if it was part of the cost of the Strike, the converted mana cost of a spell is only what you get when you add up all the symbols in the mana cost, which is found in the top right-hand corner of the card. Effects that change what you end up paying don't change what's printed on the card, so they don't change the actual mana cost or converted mana cost of the card.

Q: How does Hardened Scales interact with Doubling Season? Can I choose the order the triggered abilities are put on?

A: They're not triggered abilities, but yes, you can choose the order in which to apply the replacement effects from Doubling Season and Hardened Scales, since they're both affecting your creatures. If you apply the Season first, and then the Scales, the number of counters you get will be doubled, and then you'll add one more counter. If you do it the other way around and apply the Scales first, you'll add one more counter, and then double that.

Applying the Season last will get you one more counter, so you'll probably want to do it that way.

Q: What happens if there's only one creature card in the graveyard when The Mimeoplasm enters the battlefield?

A: If there's only one creature card between all graveyards, then when The Mimeoplasm enters the battlefield, its controller won't be able to choose to use its ability (it says "exile two", not "exile up to two"). This means The Mimeoplasm will enter the battlefield as its 0/0 self and probably die shortly thereafter.

Change ALL the targets!
Q: I've heard a rumor that if you target Spellskite with one half of Flesh // Blood then Spellskite wont be able to redirect the other (possibly valid) target. Is this correct?

A: It's wrong. Whoever told you that is probably thinking of Electrolyze (or something similar), where you can choose Spellskite as a target to stop the 'skite from protecting whatever else you targeted.

The key difference between those two cases is that the same target can't be chosen multiple times for any one instance of the word "target" on a spell or ability, which basically means that you can't say you're choosing two targets for your Rolling Thunder (because you think your opponent has a Misdirection, let's say), but both of them happen to be the same creature. Doesn't fly. The word "target" is only used once, so it's not legal to have the same thing as that target multiple times.

While this rule may make you less happy when facing Misdirection, it will make you more happy when facing Spellskite, because if you Rolling Thunder, targeting some other things and Spellskite, Spellskite can't change the other target(s), because it's not legal for that single use of the word "target" to refer to the same thing multiple times.

Flesh // Blood uses the word "target" a bunch of times rather than just once, so it's perfectly legal for every single one of those targets to refer to Spellskite. (Except the graveyard one...and the you-control one if it's not your own Spellskite, which it probably isn't if you're worried about it redirecting things.)

Q: How much does Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers count for as far as devotion to green/white?

A: Assuming for a moment that Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers is the only permanent you control, since there are three colored mana symbols in its mana cost and those symbols are green your devotion to green is 3. They're also white, so your devotion to white is also 3. And your devotion to green and white is, once again, 3.

If something's looking for your devotion to multiple colors, it doesn't just take your devotion to each color separately and add them together. Instead it does its own count, looking for symbols that are either of those colors. And since it's only counting once, any one mana symbol can only ever add 1 to the total.

Q: With Glaring Spotlight on the battlefield can I target my opponent's shroud creatures, like Kalonian Behemoth?

A: Afraid not. Glaring Spotlight allows you to target creatures with hexproof your opponents control, but while the two abilities are similar, hexproof isn't the same thing as shroud. The Spotlight doesn't say it allows you to target creatures with shroud, so it doesn't.

Q: If I cast Clone and copy a card like Nacatl Outlander, does the "protection from blue" on the Outlander take effect to prevent the Clone from being countered with Essence Scatter?

A: No, for two reasons. First, you don't choose what to copy with Clone until it's resolving and entering the battlefield, which is long after your opponent has had a chance to counter it. Saying you're going to copy the Outlander later on won't do a lot of good if your creature gets countered before it can actually copy anything.

Second, protection from blue only functions while the card is on the battlefield. Since it doesn't work while the spell's on the stack, it doesn't actually stop counterspells like Essence Scatter. Nacatl Outlander can be countered with a blue spell just fine.

Q: Does Maze's End interact with cards like Woodland Changeling? All I've found is mention of gatekeepers interacting with the gate 'land' type in the Dragon's Maze FAQs. Could a gate creature type also work?

A: No, Maze's End doesn't interact with Changelings. Creature types and land types are two very different things, and "Gate" isn't a creature type, so Changelings aren't Gates and won't help out Maze's End.

Each card type has its own list of subtypes; those subtypes are specific to that card type, and aren't shared with the others. (Except for instants and sorceries—they share theirs.) Changelings have all creature types, but they don't have any land types.

Q: I put Ugin's Nexus on the battlefield. When does my opponent skip her turn?

A: She doesn't—not unless she's using a spell or ability that gives her extra turns like Time Warp. Ugin's Nexus only causes players to skip extra turns created by spells and abilities like that, not the ones the game normally has them take.

Q: A friend of mine is playing Sower of Temptation while my commander is on the battlefield. Between the Sower entering the battlefield and the resolution of her ability, can I destroy her to avoid getting my commander stolen?

A: Sure. Sower of Temptation's ability specifies the duration that it lasts, and if that duration ends before the ability resolves, then the effect is never applied and your opponent won't gain control of your commander at all.

Q: If Quest for the Gemblades has multiple quest counters on it, can I use them all when Quest for the Gemblades is sacrificed to allow that many creatures to have +1/+1 counters placed onto them?

A: No, that's not possible. In order to activate an ability, you must pay its full cost once, and in return you get the effect of the ability once.

A single activation of the Quest's ability will only put counters on one creature, so in order to put counters on multiple creatures, you'd have to activate it multiple times...but you can't do that, because part of the cost of activating the ability is sacrificing the Quest itself. The first time you activate it, you sacrifice it to pay the cost, and you can't activate it again because it's now sitting in your graveyard.

Because regular storm
wasn't confusing enough.
Q: I have a question about Lightning Storm. If I understand it right, the target can only effectively be changed one time, right? Since the stack resolves in reverse order, only the first activation of Lightning Storm's ability can actually redirect it, and all the others do nothing except making it stronger?

A: Well that can happen, if the players want to do it that way, but since that's almost certainly not what the players are going to want, it's not what will usually happen.

It's important to remember that the stack resolves one spell or ability at a time, and players have an opportunity to cast spells and activate abilities in between each resolution. This means that players can wait for Lightning Storm's target to be changed, and only then activate its ability again to redirect it elsewhere.

Q: I block a creature with Dazzling Ramparts, then activate the Ramparts' ability. Since the Ramparts is tapped, is it still blocking?

A: Yes, absolutely. While a creature that's already tapped can't be declared as a blocker, once a creature has been declared as a blocker, tapping it won't remove it from combat.

This is for the same reason that while tapped creatures can't attack, creatures that attack don't immediately remove themselves from combat for tapping as part of the attack.

Q: So let's say I have Forlorn Pseudamma and three Swamps, all tapped. On my untap step, they all untap. Can I immediately tap my Swamps to activate Pseudamma's ability? Or do I have to "save" three lands at the end of every turn so I can use Pseudamma the following turn?

A: Yes, you can tap your freshly-untapped Swamps to produce the mana for the Pseudamma's ability. Triggered abilities with costs, like the Pseudamma's, don't require you to pay anything at the time they trigger—instead, they put themselves on the stack like any other triggered ability, and only ask you to pay their costs once they resolve. So the Pseudamma's ability will be put onto the stack in your upkeep step, and you will have a chance to tap your Swamps before the ability resolves.

And even if that wasn't the case, any time anything asks you to pay mana the game always gives you an opportunity to use mana abilities before you pay, even if it happens at a time when you couldn't normally use those abilities.

Q: I heard you can Remand a spell even though the spell itself can't be countered to draw a card, does this work? So if my opponent has Witchbane Orb out, can I use Electrolyze targeting her just to draw a card without dealing any damage?

A: You heard correctly; you can indeed Remand a spell that can't be countered in order to draw a card. However, your other idea won't work—you can't Electrolyze an opponent who controls Witchbane Orb, even just to draw a card.

The difference is that while Supreme Verdict (to use a recent example) can't be countered, it can be targeted. As you cast your Remand, it asks you to pick a spell to target, and Supreme Verdict is indeed a spell that's legal to target, so you can choose it. The game doesn't 'look ahead' to check what Remand's going to try to do to whatever it targets, it just needs you to pick something—anything.

Your Witchbaned opponent, on the other hand, is not a legal target (thanks to hexproof), so you can't choose her as a target. (You could choose a Dawn Elemental, though...)

Q: If I control a Chimeric Mass and enchant another creature with Infinite Reflection while Chimeric Mass is a creature, what will it look like? And at the end of the turn will Chimeric Mass remain a copy of the second creature, or will it revert back to an artifact?

A: Layering questions are fun! (For a given value of "fun".)

Until the end of the turn Chimeric Mass will be a copy of the Reflection-ed creature that's a Construct artifact creature in addition to its other types and which has power and toughness each equal to the number of Charge counters on it. This is because the copy effect from the Reflection is applied first, "underneath" the animation effect from the Mass's own ability.

At the end of the turn, the Mass's animation effect ends, but the Reflection's copy effect will not, which means the Mass will become a plain-jane copy of the Reflection-ed creature, and will remain so until it leaves the battlefield.

Q: If Mycosynth Lattice is on the battlefield and someone plays a land or a non-artifact creature, do they trigger "When an artifact enters the battlefield..." abilities when they resolve? Does the same rule apply to "Whenever a player casts an artifact..." ?

A: The enters-the-battlefield abilities will trigger, but the cast-an-artifact abilities will not.

Mycosynth Lattice turns all permanents on the battlefield into artifacts in addition to their other types, which means anything that enters the battlefield does so as an artifact, triggering abilities accordingly.

But that ability only affects permanents on the battlefield. Everything else (such as, for example, spells you're casting) is rendered colorless thanks to the second ability, but they aren't turned into artifacts. So when you're casting a spell, it's not going to be an artifact unless the card itself says it's an artifact already.

Q: Does Experiment Kraj only copy activated abilities printed on a card, or can it also copy non-printed abilites? For example, if I control a Necrotic Ooze with a +1/+1 counter on it, will Kraj gain the activated abilities of cards in my graveyard? Would the same apply to auras and equipment, such as Presence of Gond or Dragon Throne of Tarkir?

A: Kraj doesn't discriminate between abilities of different origins—Kraj steals all activated abilities, regardless of where they come from. (It's a very egalitarian monstrosity of science.) Printed on the card? Sure! Gained from something else? Why not?! Granted by an Aura or Equipment? Absolutely!

About the only activated abilities Kraj won't gain are abilities that the creature doesn't have anymore—say, because they've been turned into a frog.

Q: At an FNM, both players keep a 7 card hand. Player A plays a land and passes the turn. Player B plays a land and four 0-cost spells, then ends his turn. At end of turn player A asks B how many cards are in his hand. He has 5. Player A calls a judge, since on the draw player B should only have 8 cards in total (hand and field). What is the correct ruling for this at FNM level? Does that ruling change at higher competitive levels?

A: The correct ruling at an FNM is for the judge to fix the problem in whatever manner they deem appropriate (which may vary depending on the exact situation) and remind Player B to be more careful.

At Competitive or higher rules enforcement, this situation would fall under the Drawing Extra Cards infraction, for which the prescribed penalty is a Game Loss.

Of course, all of that assumes that the judge believes the problem happened by accident. If the judge believes Player B is intentionally breaking the rules, they're going to disqualify Player B, at any level of play.

That's all we have for today, but be sure to check back next week, when Carsten will be here with a Commander 2014 extravaganza.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I have a pup tent and a portable gas stove I need to set up. And if the mall doesn't like it they'll have to have the security guys throw me out. Again.

- 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.

Oh, man. That last question is an interesting one. If we rule out cheating, what are our options?

Leave the game state as is: No. Player B has far too much advantage from this.

Partial rewind: put all Player B's cards back in his hand, randomly shuffle three into his library, then ask him to play his first turn. This isn't a great solution because he may end up with a hand he would have liked to mulligan.

Rewind the game back to the start: do the fix noted above, but also put Player A's Land back in hand. Ask the players to make mulligan decisions, then begin the game. This would work fine, but I like going an extra step to enforce the "please play more carefully" that I'm going to be saying:

Declare this game a draw and ask the players to start a new game: This resembles the penalty for GPE— DEC, but without the feelbads that come with a game loss. While the IPG is not appropriate for use at FNM, using a fix that resembles it allows us to explain and demonstrate the severity of the issue, and reinforces to the players that accuracy of play, while not the main focus of FNM, is still important. I normally wouldn't take such a drastic measure, but this is a fairly drastic situation.
#1 • Date: 2014-11-09 • Time: 10:35:43 •

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