Published on 01/19/2015

Blast from the Past

or, Dragons, Dragons, Everywhere

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Ugin has the beard, and
yet he's the
good twin?
Now that I have your attention, welcome to Cranial Insertion! This is a weekly column for rules questions, much like... like... like it's 2005? We've fallen ten years in the past! Better than 1,000 years. I'm pretty sure they didn't have wifi back then, and a world without wifi isn't a world I'd like to live in.

Sarkhan Vol, however, has fallen back even further (1,280 years, because the fantasy trope of "exactly one thousand years" is silly), and he never even had internet access to begin with, which is one of the causes of going insane. Now, he has a chance to save the Spirit Dragon Ugin and restore connectivity to the plane of Tarkir so that its future denizens can enjoy YouTube, reddit, and - dare I even suggest it - TVTropes. Maybe not that one. That could be how Dragons became extinct after Bolas took out Ugin in the original time line.

Here are some of the questions that did will have came up as the world met Fate Reforged - there are two big things to note, however:

1) I've deliberately skipped out on the millions of questions about manifest. Partially because they are covered in-depth in the Fate Reforged release notes, and partially so that the next two weeks can get even more in-depth once the Comprehensive Rules update is released.

2) You really do need to read the Fate Reforged release notes, too! I hit a couple of the biggest questions on it, but it contains oodles more knowledge to put in your noggin.

If you have more questions, and I'm sure you do, wait till 2015 and send them our way to or find us on Twitter @CranialTweet. For now, let's say hi to Ugin and start our visit through Tarkir of the distant past!

Q: I got a Whisperer of the Wilds manifested. Can I reveal it to show its cost, then activate its mana ability since it's revealed to pay for it?

A: Nope. It's still face down, and you only reveal it to determine what the cost to turn it face up is. Since it's still face down and has no abilities, its activated ability can't be activated, and you'll need something else to get that green mana.

Q: Do I have to reveal manifested cards when they leave the battlefield or the game ends?

A: Yes and yes. "But why," I hear you ask from across the canyons of the aeons, "when any card can be manifested?" Because having one set of rules for handling face-down cards that leave the battlefield is infinitely easier. And not just for the game rules - it's easier for the players, too, to avoid accidentally not revealing the cards when they do need to. So you're spot on that it's not vital as an anti-cheating measure, but it's still implemented for consistency.

Q: When do I decide what to bolster with Map the Wastes?

A: You choose what to bolster at the moment you're instructed to bolster. It's not a target, so you can cast Map the Wastes without anything to bolster. It's not decided until resolution, so you can change your mind as you search for a land. Heck, if that land somehow enters the battlefield as a creature, you could even bolster it!

Q: Wardscale Dragon is attacking me, but can another player being attacked by a different creature still cast a Fog to save us both?

A: Yes, your nominal enemy can save you both from a dragony demise. When a static ability refers to a defending player, it only applies to the defending player relative to the attacking creature it references. Any defending player who isn't being attacked by Wardscale Dragon isn't affected.

Q: Can I use Daghatar the Adamant as an Abzan commander?

A: Commanding the Abzan is what Daghatars do best! Literally, I suppose, since he's the Khan of the Abzan and stuff... The important thing to remember is that all colored mana symbols in a card's text, mana cost and rules text both, apply to its color identity. Don't confuse that with its color - Daghatar's 100% white and only white, but its color identity encompasses green and black, too, since those mana symbols appear in its rules text. That means that not only is Daghatar only legal in an Abzan-colored Commander deck, but it also lets you play all three colors when it's your commander.

Q: Will Daghatar the Adamant turn one counter into two if I have Hardened Scales?

A: Indeed! To move a counter, remove it from its source and place it on its destination. You're placing it, so Hardened Scales kicks in and you place two counters instead.

Before you ask, no, Daghatar can't move counters from itself to itself to add counters. The ability requires two separate targets, preventing this sort of shenanigans. You'll have to move a counter between two creatures to add one.

Ice cream dragon!
Ice cream dragon!
Q: Can Ojutai, Soul of Winter and Mindscour Dragon team up to keep an artifact tapped for two turns?

A: Not from a single turn, they can't. If both attack and target an artifact, two continuous effects will tell the artifact not to untap, and both apply only during its controller's next untap step. This isn't a replacement effect, so you don't have a case of "one applies and the other waits" - it just really really won't untap during that untap step, and it'll untap the next one as normal. You'll have to attack again and target it again to keep it tapped down.

Q: I forgot that my opponent's Monastery Siege was naming Dragons when I tried to Wild Slash a creature. I'd rather use my mana to cast a morph than pay more for Wild Slash. Do I have to finish paying for it now?

A: You don't. If you cast a spell illegally, or realize halfway through casting it that it won't turn out the way you thought, you rewind. Pick the card back up, untap the lands used for it, etc. This isn't chess; touching a card doesn't commit you to cast it, and if you finished casting it and then were told it was cast illegally, you don't have to make it legal. Doing something else is most certainly an option.

Q: If I have Soulfire Grand Master and Swift Kick makes my 4/4 (soon to be 5/4) fight a 3/3, how much life do I gain?

A: Sadly, you won't gain any life. Swift Kick has lifelink, but the creature doing the kicking doesn't. The creature's the one dealing damage, so no one gets to gain any life here.

Q: What happens if I Act of Treason Jeskai Infiltrator and deal damage?

A: You exile your opponent's Jeskai Infiltrator and exile the top card of your library. You can shuffle them around if you'd really like, but everyone gets to know at all times who owns which card, so it's pretty irrelevant. Then you manifest them both, and everyone knows which is your opponent's Infiltrator. You still control it, and you're its default controller now, so you'll keep it indefinitely.

Q: Silumgar, the Drifting Death and Noxious Dragon attack Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Do my opponent's creatures get -2/-2?

A: They sure do. Ugin is the poor victim of your merciless onslaught with his own kin, but he can't be a defending player. Ugin is not even a player! The defending player in the case where a planeswalker is being attacked is that planeswalker's controller, and all of that player's creatures will be affected.

Q: I have a Palace Siege naming Dragons, and I cast a second. If I name Khans for this one, does the first one switch, too?

A: Each Siege's choice is independent and tied only to itself. The choice isn't a global variable. Yes, this means that you may simultaneously help the Dragons and the Khans besiege a citadel, monastery, palace, outpost, and bivouac, and neither side will notice your duplicity. Gameplay and story segregation is a thing.

Q: When I cast Rakshasa's Disdain with an empty graveyard, does it Force Spike the spell?

A: This specific Rakshasa is about as disdainful as cats that try to act all aloof when they really, desperately, soulfully want that french fry in your hand. Putting a spell into your graveyard is the very last step of resolving a spell - before that, when you're still in the step of performing its spell abilities, it's still on the stack. That's where the amount to be paid is determined, and your graveyard's still empty at that point, so the Rakshasa is saying "I hate you so much, so I will knock this thing off the table unless you pay . Are you going to pay, human?"

Q: If Soulflayer has an Abzan Kin-Guard exiled, does it have lifelink?

A: It won't have lifelink since Abzan Kin-Guard's ability only applies while it's on the battlefield. It may look like a characteristic-defining ability (and CDAs are indeed applied in all zones), but it's not - a CDA has to always define typeline, color, power, and/or toughness. It can't be conditional or grant abilities, both of which the Kin-Guard (wow, it's hard not to type king guard) has on its ability.

All tremble before
Kolaghan, the Lightning Chicken
Q: Can my commander, Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury, dash out of the command zone? Does it still cost next time, too?

A: Dash is an alternate cost, so you can pay it rather than Kolaghan's mana cost from the command zone. If you're casting Kolaghan from the command zone again later, it'll still be affected by the commander tax, so it'll cost and up. However, you've got a bit of luck on your side! Dash will return Kolaghan to your hand, even though it's never seen your hand before, and from your hand it won't be affected by the commander tax. You'll be able to dash it out for five mana again and again and again, as long as it keeps going to your hand.

Q: Mardu Scout dashes to its death in combat - do I get it back in my hand at the end of turn?

A: Dash is a mighty keyword, but not mighty enough to pry a creature from death's warm, fuzzy embrace. Once the creature leaves the battlefield, it's a brand new object with no relation to the object it was, and dash's delayed trigger won't be able to find it to return it.

Q: How many times can I use Alesha, Who Smiles at Death's ability to bring back creatures each time she attacks?

A: Only once. The trigger has a single target as it's put onto the stack, and on resolution prompts you to pay or not. You can't choose multiple targets, and you can't pay the cost multiple times even if you want to.

Q: I made a copy of one opponent's Brutal Hordechief, then attacked another opponent. The first opponent wants to decide blocks so we both lose all our creatures, and I want to decide blocks so I can minimize my losses. Who gets to decide?

A: Whoever can get an activation to resolve last. When multiple effects are competing to determine who gets to decide something like this, the latest timestamp wins. If you activate yours and your opponent activates it after it resolves, that one resolves later and you're out of luck. If you have enough mana, you can activate it yet again and you're all good again, but otherwise you'll need to risk letting your defending player make the choices. Assuming that you can only activate Brutal Hordechief once, there is no way to ensure that you get to choose blockers here.

Q: Wait, double strike and trample on the same creature? How does that work if it's blocked by a 4/4?

A: It works as gloriously smashingly as befits both the Temur and Atarka! First you deal with first-strike damage, and Atarka deals 4 to the blocker and 2 to the player. Shortly later, you deal with normal combat damage. Normally a creature with no blocker doesn't get to deal any damage here and just sits back and eats popcorn, but Atarka has trample, which makes it impervious to the allure of popcorn. It'll deal 0 to the nonexistent blocker and 6 to the player.

Q: When do I choose whether Frontier Siege makes creatures fight? Can my opponent do anything after I agreed to fight but before it happens?

A: You choose whether or not to fight as the trigger begins to resolve. It'll always go on the stack, and always have a target chosen - you don't choose whether or not to perform a "may" at this point. Once the trigger begins to resolve, players can't take voluntary actions like casting pump spells until they have priority again. So if your opponent pumps the target, you can choose not to fight; if the opponent doesn't, it's too late to do so after you've committed to fighting.

Q: Does Raiders' Spoils make Frontier Mastodon enter with a counter?

A: It won't. Before that Elephant enters, check whether you control anything with power 4 or greater. You don't, since Frontier Mastodon isn't on the battlefield yet, so its replacement effect doesn't apply. Then it enters the battlefield as a 4/3 creature, but it's too late to go back in time and apply its replacement effect.

Q: Temur War Shaman is manifested and turns face up. Does it get to fight?

A: But of course, Temur War Shamans love to fight. Remember the general rule of triggers: look immediately after the event has happened to tell if it should trigger or not. Immediately after Temur War Shaman is face up, there is an ability that triggers whenever a permanent you control is turned face up, and it is indeed a creature, so boom trigger.

It's time to head back to the future. Join us next week when we take a deeper look into manifest, where you finally have your instants face down.

Until next time, may you find and enjoy some Spirit Scout cookies!

- Eli Shiffrin

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.

About rakshasa's disdain: is it *possible* to disagree to pay zero and have the spell countered? (I know, it's weird to have someone want to have his spell countered... maybe he has the green trap that allow to play a creature for free in the case?)

Or is it impossible to not pay zero?
#1 • Date: 2015-01-19 • Time: 13:06:34 •
It's possible. Even though the difference between paying and not paying is imperceptible, it's still an action a player has to take. See the rulings note for Brine Seer as a related example.
#2 • Date: 2015-01-20 • Time: 09:39:09 •
My favorite example of "Nah, I don't wanna pay 0" is Shah of Naar Isle. I mean, sure, you CAN pay 0, since you currently have 0 or more mana in your mana pool. But maybe you don't want to. In the Rakshasa's Disdain example, maybe you control a Multani's Presence.
#3 • Date: 2015-01-25 • Time: 19:44:59 •

Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!