Published on 01/12/2015

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! Sorry for the mess, but the Fate Reforged prerelease is this weekend, and we here at the CI offices are desperately dashing around piling up sandbags to bolster our defenses and help contain the imminent flood of rules questions that will suddenly manifest this weekend once you all get your hands on the cards. If the levees hold through the weekend, we'll be able to divert some of the flow with our Fate Reforged special and avoid catastrophe, but if not we're going to have a real mess on our hands—the only thing that smells worse than a zombie chimp is a wet zombie chimp.

If you want to see us try to get the smell of wet zombie chimp out of the carpet (and enjoy seeing us suffer—but I repeat myself), you can raise the water level further by sending us questions via email at , or by tweeting us @CranialTweet for the shorter questions. If we don't all drown, you'll get your answer and possibly see your question in an upcoming issue.

For now, let's make sure that inbox is all cleared out and ready for the flood by diving into some non-Fate Reforged rules questions.

Q: If I cast a creature, and in response my opponent gives me a Steel Golem with the help of Bazaar Trader, does my creature spell go to the graveyard?

A: No, it resolves and enters the battlefield just like it normally would. Giving you something that would prevent you from being able to cast creatures doesn't accomplish anything against that creature, because you've already finished casting it.

Q: If I cast Villainous Wealth and reveal a creature card with morph, may I be very villainous and cast it as a morph?

A: I'm afraid you're only allowed to be the Diet Coke of villainy. (Just one calorie, not villainous enough.) If you want to cast that card, you have to do it face-up.

Morph says that in order to cast the creature face-down you need to pay the alternative cost it provides (). But Villainous Wealth is forcing you to pay a different alternative cost (nothing) if you want to cast the spell at all. If you don't go with the Wealth's alternative, you're not allowed to cast the spell at all, and you're only allowed to use one alternative cost at a time, so you don't really have much of a choice.

Q: I had a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir in play, and my opponent played Temporal Aperture and was ready to use it when I told him that Teferi would stop him from being able to cast whatever he revealed. But it keeps nagging me: Was I right? It occurred to me later that the player is able to play the card as long as it remains on top of the library, so on his own turn, he could use the aperture very well.

A: Your nagging doubts are well-justified—you were wrong. You were probably confusing the Aperture with spells and abilities like Memory Plunder or Isochron Scepter that try to get players to cast spells during their own resolution. Those of course don't work when Teferi's out, because the stack isn't empty during the resolution of a spell or ability.

But Temporal Aperture works differently, because it doesn't try to get them to cast the spell immediately—instead it gives them a window of time during which they're allowed to cast it, and it's possible for Teferi's restriction to be satisfied during that window. Your opponent would indeed have been able to cast cards from the Aperture, though he would have been restricted to doing so with normal sorcery timing (during his main phase when the stack was empty).

Q: If I control Ghostly Prison and my opponent is enchanted with Curse of the Nightly Hunt, I know that my opponent can ignore the Curse's effect by choosing not to pay to allow his creatures to attack me, but how does this work with planeswalkers? Can my opponent still do this by choosing to attack me and then not paying?

A: No. The Curse forces your opponent's creatures to attack if able, and they're perfectly able to attack your planeswalker, since there's no unpaid costs standing in the way of them doing that. So they have to attack.

She's gonna blow!
Q: If my opponent has a Deathless Angel, I cast Polymorphist's Jest targeting it, and then my opponent uses the ability to make it indestructible until end of turn, after the stack resolves would it have indestructible?

A: No, the Angel would not have indestructible. Indestructible is an ability, and Polymorphist's Jest will remove all abilities from your Angel when it resolves. If you can find some way to give the Angel indestructible after the Jest resolves, that'll work, but the Angel's own ability won't be able to do it.

It's probably still worth noting that this kind of interaction used to work differently. Players who've been playing for more than a year or two you may recall that indestructibility used to specifically not be an ability, just something that could be true about a permanent, so it would not have been removed by something like the Jest and you would have ended up with an indestructible Frog. But that hasn't been the case since the release of Magic 2014 several years ago, when the rules were changed to make indestructible an ability.

Q: ...What if he cast Titanic Growth in response also?

A: Then he still ends up with a Frog, but it'll be a really, really big one. When determining a creature's power and toughness, you apply things that set power and toughness to specific values first, before you apply things that just alter them from whatever that baseline is.

So your opponent's Frog is a (1/1) + (+4/+4) = (5/5). It's basically Frogzilla.

Q: With Into the Wilds, after my upkeep do I still draw a card for my normal draw step? So if the card I revealed wasn't a land card, I can still put it in my hand, right?

A: Yes, absolutely. Into the Wild doesn't stop or replace your normal draw for the turn in any way—it's just an extra bonus you get in addition to what you would normally get.

In general, cards do only as much as they say, so if something doesn't tell you that it replaces what normally happens, it doesn't.

Q: A friend and I are debating whether monstrous still has its effects once a creature loses its abilities, since the monstrous effect is an ability. We know that it remains monstrous but are wondering whether the counters and effect remain on the creature. Do they?

A: The counters stay on the creature, because there's no reason to remove them, but in general the creature's probably going to lose whatever other bonuses it gets from being monstrous, because whatever's granting those bonuses is usually an ability of the creature, which gets removed.

Hundred-Handed One, for example, would no longer be able to block ninety-nine extra creatures, because it would have lost the ability that allowed it to do so. And it definitely wouldn't have reach, because that's an ability.

Q: Would Sigarda, Host of Herons stop Kataki, War's Wage's ability?

A: Afraid not, because Sigarda only stops spells and abilities your opponents control from forcing you to sacrifice things, and Kataki isn't actually what's forcing you to sacrifice your artifacts.

Kataki works by granting abilities to your artifacts, and then it's those abilities, coming from your own artifacts, that force you to pay up if you want to keep your stuff. And unfortunately for you, Sigarda doesn't have any problems with your own artifacts forcing you to sacrifice things.

Q: I have an Enduring Renewal and a Martyr of Sands out. Can I still use the Martyr's ability even though my hand is already revealed?

A: Absolutely. Revealing a card just means showing all your opponents what it is, and you can still do that even if your opponents can already see it thanks to some other effect.

Q: So I have a 1/1 enchantment creature in play and my opponent has a 6/6 Hydra. He then casts Reclamation Sage to destroy my creature, and I cast Dictate of Erebos. Does he have to sacrifice the Hydra or can he sacrifice a creature that is technically not on the battlefield until his ability resolves?

A: He doesn't have to sacrifice the Hydra. He can sacrifice the Reclamation Sage if he wants to, because it is on the battlefield.

Reclamation Sage's ability is a triggered ability (you can tell because it starts with "when") and triggered abilities wait until their trigger event occurs, and then do something after it does so. The Reclamation Sage has to be on the battlefield already, because if it wasn't, its ability wouldn't have triggered yet.

Q: My opponent controls Pili-Pala and two untapped lands, neither of which can produce white mana. She attacks with Pili-Pala, and I cast Puncturing Light on it. She announces that she's casting Ephemeral Shields targeting Pili-Pala in response to the Light, spending her two mana to activate Pili-Pala's ability to produce , and re-tapping Pili-Pala for Convoke to pay the remainder. Is that a legal action?

A: Yes, it is, and a fairly clever one. Kudos to your opponent for outfoxing you. She's allowed to use mana abilities like Pili-Pala's before paying the costs of her Shields, and once she does so Pili-Pala's untapped and all ready to be re-tapped for convoke.

...Of course, she could have just used Pili-Pala before even starting to cast the Shields, but where's the fun in that?

Pictured: the Cranial Insertion offices,
circa 2015/01/18
Q: Am I allowed to cast an Aura with enchant creature if there are no creatures on the battlefield, and thus have it sent straight to the graveyard? If so, would ETB effects like Flight of Fancy still trigger?

A: No, you cannot. Aura spells require a target in order to be cast, and like all targeted spells, if there's no legal targets available, you can't cast them.

And to answer what might be your next question, if your Aura had a legal target when it was first cast but no longer does when it tries to resolve, it gets countered on resolution and goes directly to the graveyard—it never gets to the battlefield, so you still don't get your ETB trigger.

Q: I reveal Overlaid Terrain off a 10 mana Genesis Wave along with 3 Forests. I know the lands I already had out get sacrificed, but will the lands entering from Genesis Wave also get sacrificed?

A: No, they won't. Overlaid Terrain only forces you to sacrifice the lands you already have on the battlefield as it's entering. The three new Forests are entering the battlefield at the same time as the Terrain itself—you can't sacrifice them because they're not yet on the battlefield to be sacrificed.

Q: My opponent controls a Courser of Kruphix with 2 damage marked on it and casts Drown in Sorrow. She decides to bottom the card on the top of her deck. Would state based actions allow me a chance to see the new top of her deck before the Courser dies?

A: Yes. Your opponent's Courser doesn't die quite as soon as it has lethal damage on it—it only dies when state-based actions are checked after the Drown finishes resolving. Your opponent has to finish her scry before that can happen, meaning she'll still control the Courser just long enough for you both to see the new card on top of her deck.

Q: I control a Courser of Kruphix, and my opponent has a Banishing Light on the battlefield with another of my Coursers under it. My devotion to green is 6, so my Nylea, God of the Hunt is a creature. I attack with both her and the Courser, and my opponent casts Back to Nature.

My Courser and the Banishing Light both get destroyed, but I get my second Courser back right away, so does Nylea ever stop being a creature? I know that if that happens she gets removed from combat, but does it happen?

A: Yes, it does. Be it ever so brief, there's a fraction of a second in between one Courser being destroyed (reducing your devotion to 4) and the next one returning (increasing it back to 6), which means there's a fraction of a second where your Nylea has ceased to be a creature, and is therefore removed from combat.

Q: I have a Jeskai Ascendancy on the battlefield and a tapped creature. I cast a non-creature spell and announce that I am putting both Ascendancy triggers on the stack. I then place a dice on my creature to indicate the +1/+1 and draw and discard a card. I then untap my creature because I missed this action when resolving the first trigger.

What would happen here if my opponent called a judge, claiming that I missed the untap trigger?

A: Well, you definitely didn't miss the trigger, because you explicitly announced it, and indeed partially resolved it by visibly marking your creature to indicate the bonus. You did do things incorrectly—your creature should untap at the same time it gets that +1/+1—but it's very likely that the judge would rule this to be simple out-of-order sequencing, which is basically when you do things in what's technically the wrong order but it doesn't really matter because it'd all be legal if done correctly, you end up in the right place, and doing it wrong doesn't prematurely give you any information before you're supposed to have it.

At the absolute most, if it was a competitive event you might get a warning for violating the game rules, but that's not a big deal as long as you don't keep doing it, and out-of-order sequencing is really the more likely call anyway.

Q: I've been trying to find out whether altered-art cards are legal, but it all seems a bit vague to say the least. Are they?

A: Maybe, sometimes, in certain circumstances. Concrete enough for you?

But more seriously, it's not possible to answer this question with a blanket yes or no, because some alterations are allowed, and some are not. It's very much up to the Head Judge to decide if they want to allow any given alteration. The one hard line is that anything that obscures the name and mana cost of the card isn't permitted. The rest of the rules for altered cards depend on the Head Judge's discretion to decide whether any given card is permitted or not.

Alters that render the normal art unrecognizable or change the thickness or texture of the card in some way to make it distinguishable from the others in your deck are not going to be permitted. Alters with offensive or graphic content, or that provide substantial strategic advice, aren't allowed either. But what constitutes any of that is up to the Head Judge of the tournament. So be sure to check with the Head Judge first, and have some normal versions of your altered cards ready just in case.

Q: If I have a foreign language card, is it against the rules to write the name of the card in my spoken language(s) somewhere on the card or on the front of its card sleeve, or is this a judge call? If I cannot, could I bring to a sanctioned event notes saying "This foreign name = this English name" and be allowed to reference them if I need to? The idea is to make the card easier to remember what it is and to make looking it up easier if someone has a mind to, and is particularly relevant for languages such as Japanese that are written in characters that I cannot type in and look up with an English keyboard or the software resources I am able to use.

A: As this is an alteration issue, the same fuzzy lines as the previous answer apply—what is or is not allowed is up to the Head Judge of any given tournament, so be sure to ask the Head Judge first. That being said, I can't see any reason why a Head Judge would disallow writing the English name of the card on the card, so long as it doesn't obscure the printed name, mana cost, or art.

The notes, however, are a no-go. Players aren't permitted to look at outside notes during a game, so even if you brought notes telling you what each card was in English, they wouldn't be of any use to you because you wouldn't be allowed to look at them during your games.

Q: I'm playing a control deck at Competitive REL. I've just gone up 1-0 in the round, with perhaps half the time in the round remaining. I determine that my win conditions aren't particularly good defensively in the matchup, and that I can best withstand my opponent's attacks by boarding out my win conditions entirely. My strategy is to draw the second game out, and win 1-0-1 by the end of the round.

According to what I've found in the tournament rulebook, slow play is defined by taking an excessive amount of time to perform actions, but there seems to be no mention of intentionally drawing a game out while still playing at a reasonable pace. So, assuming I still play the game at a reasonable pace, am I within my rights to adopt the above strategy?

A: You're not required to play a win condition if you don't want to, so playing just to not lose is allowed provided you're playing at a normal pace.

However, you're walking on very thin ice, because if your plan is to play for the draw, you're going to be very tempted to start taking longer than you otherwise would to play and perform game actions, even if it's only subconsciously, and slowing your pace of play in order to take advantage of the time limit is the form of Cheating known as Stalling, which can get you disqualified.

Q: When do I have to announce my prowess trigger (along with triggers like Seeker of the Way getting lifelink)? I thought it was only during combat damage, but my opponent recently tried to make an argument that as I haven't said anything when I cast the spell (some precombat sorcery) I've missed my trigger so my Seeker stays 2/2. Who is right?

A: Your opponent is wrong. As with any triggered ability, in a tournament setting you only need to announce it when it actually matters—when somebody needs to make a decision, or it changes the visible game state, or in other words when it makes some sort of difference to the game. For both prowess and Seeker of the Way's lifelink, that's probably going to be when combat damage is being dealt.

That's all for today, so be sure to come back next week when Eli will be here with our Fate Reforged special.

Or not.

- 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.

For the attacking nylea situation, what do you mean exactly by \"a fraction of a second\" and does it appear somewhere in the rules? :P

Also, for the last question, shouldn\'t the announcement be when the opponnent tries to block the seeker?

- I\'ll block your 2/2 seeker with my 3/3
- It\'s a 3/3 lifelink

And not
- I\'ll block your 2/2 seeker with my 3/3
- ...
Combat damage
- Both die and I gain 3


Last edited on 2015-01-12 01:40:32 by ZoidbergForPresident
#1 • Date: 2015-01-12 • Time: 01:35:22 •
I have exactly the same question about Nylea. The answer matches my intuition, but I can't articulate why it's correct, or exactly what order things happen in and why that makes it correct.

I don't think you're right about blockers, though. It's not your job to correct your opponent's mistaken assumption about the p/t of your creature, only to accurately assign damage when it comes time to do so.
#2 • Date: 2015-01-12 • Time: 04:14:48 •
The rules say that if an attacker stops being a creature, it\'s removed from combat. It doesn\'t care if it starts becoming a creature again later. This check isn\'t an SBA, so it\'s not only checked between spells... it\'s just a flat \"if this ever becomes a non-creature\" condition.

Nylea\'s devotion ability is a static ability with a condition, which means it is also checking constantly... at any time, even halfway through resolving a spell or ability, the question \"is Nylea a creature?\" is answered by \"what is my devotion to green, right now?\" So if your devotion ever drops below 5, even only temporarily during the resolution of a spell, Nylea will stop being a creature and will be removed from combat. IIRC this was mentioned in the Theros FAQ for the Avacyn Restored \"flicker\" cards like Cloudshift - you can set up a situation where whenever SBAs are checked, Nylea is a creature, but while Cloudshift is resolving, it\'s temporarily not a creature, and removed from combat.

However, I disagree with the answer in the article... in that I don\'t believe that there is that brief instant in the case of Back to Nature... Banishing Light is also an effect with a duration, so it ends immediately when it\'s destroyed... there isn\'t an instant in time where the Banishing Light is destroyed and the Courser is still exiled... so you go from one moment, your first Courser is on the battlefield, as is Banishing Light, and your second Courser is exiled... to the next moment, your first Courser and Banishing Light are in your respective graveyards, and your second Courser is on the battlefield. At no time is your devotion less than 5.

As for the question of if your opponent incorrectly says your Seeker is a 2/2... it would depend on the exact wording and the REL... it\'s a fine line. The Seeker\'s power and toughness are derived info, so if your opponent asks you then you only need to tell them at Regular, you don\'t have to answer at Competitive. But if you do answer, you\'re not allowed to lie and say it\'s a 2/2 (or, rather, if you do, it would be taken as a definitive sign you missed your trigger). But if your opponent says it\'s a 2/2 (as a statement, not a question) then you\'re not required to correct them... but don\'t confirm it, either.
#3 • Date: 2015-01-12 • Time: 07:03:48 •
You can disagree with the answer if you'd like - you'd still be wrong. The answer in the article is correct. Banishing light does not have a duration, because it isn't a continuous effect. It's a one-shot effect that causes another one-shot effect to happen later, and the game state is updated in between effects like this.
#4 • Date: 2015-01-12 • Time: 07:44:38 •
@phlip: I can understand why you might it works this way. Familiarity with replacement effects may cause us to think \"exile..until\" returns the exiled card at the same time the enchantment leaves.

But as the rules tell us and as has been explained, \"exile ... until\" doesn\'t return the permanent immediately but immediately after (CR 506.4).

It is a bit similar to how additional effects of prevention effects happen immediately after preventing the damage (CR 615.5).

So we have the following three states in the Nylea situation to care about rather than two:

State 1 (before destroying):
Courser, Banishing Light and Nylea are on the Battlefield.

State 2 (after destroying):
Courser and Banishing Light leave. Nylea is still on the battlefield.

Since Banishing Light left, we\'re going to return the other courser in the following game state, and because Nylea at this point is not a creature it\'s removed from combat.

State 3 (\"immediately after\"):
the exiled Courser returns, both it and Nylea are on the battlefield. Nylea is a creature at this point but she\'s already been removed from combat.

Last edited on 2015-01-12 09:16:10 by Rocket_Knight
#5 • Date: 2015-01-12 • Time: 09:08:35 •
Thanks for the clarification!
#6 • Date: 2015-01-12 • Time: 16:22:36 •
Rocket_Knight, I think you are probably referring to CR 610.3, not CR 506.4?
#7 • Date: 2015-01-20 • Time: 02:23:46 •
Oh, you're right, thanks. I don't know how I got the wrong rule number...
#8 • Date: 2015-01-26 • Time: 06:22:28 •

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