Published on 02/02/2015

How 'bout them Patriots?

Or maybe the Seahawks?

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

I am a superb owl!
Greetings! It's Monday, which means it's time for another issue of your favorite Magic rules column! Apparently there was an important game of American Football on yesterday, and if you watched the game, I hope that the team you were rooting for won. I don't know which team won because these articles are written in advance, and time travel hasn't been invented yet as far as I know. At any rate, I hope you can find some time away from talking about the crazy commercials you saw to enjoy this week's exciting selection of Magic rules questions.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet short questions at @CranialTweet. You will always get a direct reply from one of our authors, and your question might appear in a future issue.

Q: If I control two Flamerush Riders, can I attack with both of them to make infinitely many attacking Flamerush Rider tokens?

A: No, that doesn't work. The "Whenever Flamerush Rider attacks" ability only triggers when Flamerush Rider is declared as an attacker, and the tokens are put onto the battlefield attacking without ever being declared as attackers, so they won't make copies of themselves.

Q: If I control Brutal Hordechief and I attack with Master of Cruelties, can I stack the triggers so that I win right away?

A: No, you don't get a choice on the ordering with those two triggers. Despite superficial similarities, Master of Cruelties' ability is not an attack trigger. It's a trigger that triggers in the declare blockers step if it's attacking and no blocker is declared for it. Brutal Hordechief's ability on the other hand is an attack trigger, so it triggers and resolves in the declare attackers step, which is always before Master of Cruelties' ability triggers and resolves.

Q: Does End Hostilities get rid of Banishing Light?

A: Nice try, but no. End Hostilities only destroys creatures and permanents that are attached to creatures, and Banishing Light is neither of those. If Banishing Light has exiled a creature, players often place the exiled card underneath Banishing Light to visualize this fact, but that doesn't mean that Banishing Light is attached to a creature.

Q: Let's say I control a 2/2 creature that's enchanted with Fruit of the First Tree and it gets Throttled to death. What happens?

A: Well, you lose the creature and the Aura, but beyond that, nothing unpleasant happens to you. The creature dies, and Fruit of the First Tree's ability looks at what the creature's toughness was. The toughness was -2, and while there are some situations in which a negative number can determine the result of an effect, gaining life and drawing cards aren't among those, so 0 is used instead. This means that you won't lose any life, and you won't have to discard any cards or whatever else you might think drawing a negative number of cards looks like.

Q: My opponent controls a Monastery Siege in Dragons mode, and I cast a Lightning Strike on one of his creatures, paying the extra that the Siege demands. Can my opponent counter Lightning Strike with Disdainful Stroke?

A: No, he can't do that. First off, paying the mana for Monastery Siege's ability doesn't actually change how much you've paid for Lightning Strike itself. Secondly, Disdainful Stroke doesn't care how much you've paid for Lightning Strike. Disdainful Stroke looks at the converted mana cost, which is simply the mana cost in the top right corner of the card, converted into a number, and that number is 2 regardless of how much you paid to cast Lightning Strike.

Q: If I control a Master of Waves and a bunch of Elemental tokens, and I use Supplant Form on my Master of Waves, will I lose my tokens?

A: Nope, they'll stick around. Sending creatures with toughness 0 or less to the graveyard is one of the state-based actions, and those are never checked in the middle of a resolving spell or ability. It's true that your tokens will momentarily have toughness 0 while Supplant Form is resolving, but by the time state-based actions are checked, the token copy of Master of Waves is there, boosting their toughness to 1.

Q: If my opponent controls Spirit of the Labyrinth, can I cast Read the Bones or is that illegal because I can't draw the cards?

A: Yes, you can cast Read the Bones. Whether something might be illegal during the resolution of a spell is never a factor in whether it's legal to cast the spell, since the game doesn't look that far ahead. When Read the Bones resolves, the impossible action of drawing cards is skipped, but you still scry 2 and lose 2 life.

On the one side...
Q: My opponent sacrifices a Goblin to cast Fodder Launch at one of my creatures. In response, I sacrifice my creature to scry with Viscera Seer. My opponent thinks that Fodder Launch still deals 5 damage to me because the damage is dealt in a separate sentence. Is that right?

A: No, that's not right. What matters is that the spell only has one target, and that target has become illegal when you sacrificed it. If a spell has no legal targets when it starts to resolve, it's countered on resolution and none of its effects happen.

Q: So, here's my evil plan: I cast Hooded Assassin and with its enter-the-battlefield ability I target a creature that hasn't been dealt damage yet. In response to the ability I sacrifice Hooded Assassin to cast Collateral Damage on that creature so that the damage makes it a legal target for the Assassin's ability. Does that work?

A: Your plan is evil and ingenious, but sadly it's also illegal. When you put the Assassin's ability on the stack, you have to choose a target that's legal. The game won't let you choose an illegal target even if you promise that you can make it legal before the ability resolves.

Q: Can Hooded Assassin destroy a creature that got -1/-1 counters from a creature with infect earlier in the turn?

A: Sure! Hooded Assassin doesn't care whether there is marked damage on the creature. It asks whether the creature was dealt damage this turn, and that is true if the creature was dealt damage regardless of the form in which the damage was dealt.

Q: Suppose I tap Humble Defector, untap it with Refocus, and then respond to the first activation by tapping Humble Defector again. Will both abilities resolve, or will one be countered on resolution?

A: Both abilities will resolve even though your opponent gains control of the Defector when the second activation, which resolves first, resolves. The legality of the target for the first activation is checked from the ability's point of view, not from the Defector's point of view. You control the ability because you activated it, so it's still targeting an opponent.

Q: If my opponent controls Trinisphere, do I have to pay or to unearth Fatestitcher?

A: Only . Unearth is an activated ability that returns the card from the graveyard to the battlefield. You're not casting a spell, so Trinisphere is not interested in making you pay more for this.

Q: I control Wort, the Raidmother and my storm count is five. If I cast Empty the Warrens and conspire it, how many Goblin tokens do I get.

A: Storm only triggers when you cast the spell, and the conspire copy is not cast, so it won't make any storm copies of its own. You get one original Empty the Warrens, five storm copies, and one conspire copy, which means you get "only" fourteen Goblins. I hope that's enough.

Q: If I control Wort, the Raidmother and six Goblin tokens, can I conspire a spell more than once?

A: Only if you control multiple Worts, which requires a bit of help since Wort is legendary, or if the spell naturally has conspire already. The conspire keyword is like kicker, not like multikicker. It represents an additional cost that you may pay once, so you can only conspire more than once if the spell has multiple instances of conspire.

And on the other side...
Q: If I control Vedalken Orrery, can I cast a planeswalker at the end of my opponent's turn?

A: Absolutely. A planeswalker is a nonland card, so the Orrery lets you cast it as though it had flash. Note that the Orrery won't help you activate its abilities on your opponent's turn, though, since activating a loyalty ability has its own timing rules that aren't affected by the permission that the Orrery gives you.

Q: If I play Show and Tell to bring out Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, can my opponent stop it by bringing out Containment Priest?

A: No, that won't stop Emrakul. Show and Tell puts both chosen cards onto the battlefield at the same time, and a replacement effect such as Containment Priest's effect has to exist before the event it wants to modify happens. Since Containment Priest is entering the battlefield at the same time as Emrakul, it's not on the battlefield in time to stop Emrakul.

Q: Jonathan, Andrew, and Warren are playing a multiplayer game, and Jonathan uses Roon of the Hidden Realm to exile Andrew's Felidar Sovereign. Jonathan then loses the game. Does Andrew's Felidar Sovereign still come back in the next end step?

A: If they're playing strictly by the rules, the Sovereign will remain exiled indefinitely. The reason is that the delayed triggered ability for bringing the Sovereign back wouldn't have a controller, so the rules say that the ability can't be put on the stack at all. However, multiplayer games are casual games, so the trio could decide to play with different house rules to come up with a different answer.

Q: I want to activate Diaochan, Artful Beauty's ability, but the creature I want to choose as the first target is the only legal target, for example because Diaochan has shroud and there are no other creatures on the battlefield. Can I activate the ability or does this not work because my opponent can't choose a target?

A: Oh, but your opponent can choose a target, namely the same one you chose. Since it's a different instance of the word "target", and there's no restriction such as "another" in the targeting criteria, the game has no problem with your opponent choosing the same target that you chose. Your opponent might have a problem with this, but that won't stop you from activating the ability.

Q: If I use Diaochan, Artful Beauty's ability in a free-for-all multiplayer game, who decides which opponent chooses the second target?

A: You do! When an ability ask that "an opponent" do something without specifying anything further, the controller of the ability chooses which opponent should do this thing. It doesn't have to be the controller of the creature you picked as the first target, and you're free to choose whichever opponent you think is most likely to work in your best interest.

Q: How does Worst Fears work in Two-Headed Giant? I've heard that I'd end up controlling the entire team, but I'm not sure how can that be true since I can only target one player.

A: Well, it's true that the opposing team consists of two individual players, and "target player" doesn't just become "target team" in Two-Headed Giant, so you can only target one of your opponents with Worst Fears. However, since the turn structure is shared between the players on a team, effects that alter the turn structure for one player will automatically affect both players on that player's team. This is true for adding or skipping turns, adding or skipping parts of turns, and for controlling a player during a turn, so you get to control two players for the price of one.

And that's all the time we have for this week. Before I go, I'd like to tell you about an exciting tournament that's coming up in just over a month. Regular readers may recall that I organize an annual charity tournament in Toledo, Ohio to help the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in their fight against Multiple Sclerosis. This year's installment of Cast a Spell on MS will happen on March 7th, so if you're in the area that weekend, feel free to stop by to meet me in person and to play Magic for a good cause.

Thanks for reading, and please come back next week to see what Callum has in store for us!

- 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.

In the first Empty the Warrens question — the stormed copies can't be conspired because they're not cast, correct?

Would flashing out Containment Priest in response to Show and Tell, rather than putting it into play as part of its resolution, successfully prevent Emrakul (and any other creatures) from ETBing?
#1 • Date: 2015-02-02 • Time: 09:44:49 •
1. Yes. You can only use conspire on spells that are cast. The storm copies are put on the stack, not cast, so you can't use conspire with the storm copies.

2. Yes, that would work. The Priest needs to be on the battlefield before the creature would enter for the Priest to apply. It won't apply to creatures entering the battlefield at the same time as itself. However, if you do flash it in, they could just choose a noncreature to put onto the battlefield when Show and Tell resolves (or choose to put nothing onto the battlefield).
#2 • Date: 2015-02-02 • Time: 10:47:15 •
Rad. Thanks!
#3 • Date: 2015-02-02 • Time: 12:34:37 •
The answer to question 5 reads: "paying the mana for Monastery Siege's ability doesn't actually change how much you've paid for Lightning Strike itself."

This sounds technically incorrect to me: is I have a Trinisphere out, it will notice I'm paying a total of and won't modify it any further.

(Of course, this is not directly related to Disdainful Stroke, but still.)
#4 • Date: 2015-02-03 • Time: 03:49:29 •
The Monastery Siege thing is an interesting departure from Frost Titan. I honestly thought the two cards were templated the same, but Frost Titan has the Lightning Strike cost 1R, and then counter it unless they pay 2 more (so Trinisphere would kick in and make it cost a total of 4R to resolve). Huh.
#5 • Date: 2015-02-03 • Time: 13:07:17 •
Turycell: Good catch. That answer came from an alternate universe in which Monastery Siege is written like Frost Titan ;)
#6 • Date: 2015-02-04 • Time: 20:18:41 •

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