Published on 03/09/2015

The Fall of the Curtain

The End of an Era, and other assorted clichés

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

"When I was your age..."
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion!

This past weekend—as I'm writing this, so possibly a long, long time ago if you're reading it in The Future (Have we gotten those hoverboards yet?)—I had a chance to make my own little piece of history by being Head Judge of the very last PTQ ever held, in Victoria, BC. That probably doesn't sound terribly significant, but in retrospect it means a surprising amount to me. The first event I ever officially judged was a PTQ; I certified as a judge there, and I cut a lot of my metaphorical judging teeth on PTQs and the big regional prereleases, which were phased out several years back. In a way, PTQs were a link to my past as a judge. And now they're gone.

Huh. When I started that paragraph I didn't think it'd end up being even close to that serious. It's funny what makes you sentimental sometimes.

But back to business! If you have rules questions of which you have fond memories and don't want to see the last, you probably don't want to send them to us at or tweet them to us @CranialTweet, because if you do we'll end your wondering by giving you an answer, and possibly posting a memorial in one of our future issues. But on the positive side, at least they might get a nice eulogy.

Q: I have Monastery Siege on the board set to Khans. During my draw step, what happens? Do I draw 2, then discard 1? Or do I draw 1, discard 1, then draw again?

A: The former. The very first thing that you do in your draw step is always drawing your card for the turn. Only after that are triggered abilities like the Siege's put on the stack, so the Siege's draw and discard will always happen after your normal draw for the turn.

Q: When Lifeblood Hydra dies, you draw cards and gain life equal to its power. Does this mean that you'll have to draw 20 cards (and gain 20 life) if it's a 20/20 at the moment it dies?

A: Yes; the ability isn't optional, so you must draw exactly the number of cards it tells you to draw and gain the amount of life it tells you to gain. Careful you don't make your Hydra too big, or you might end up decking yourself when it dies.

Q: I have a Hornet Nest and my opponent has a Magma Phoenix. What happens If I cast Slagstorm to deal damage to creatures?

A: Slagstorm deals 3 damage to all creatures, triggering Hornet Nest's ability, and both it and the Phoenix die, triggering the Phoenix's ability. Then those abilities are put onto the stack. Since they're controlled by different players, the one controlled by the active player (the one whose turn it is) goes onto the stack first, and then the other player's goes onto the stack above that.

Since you're casting Slagstorm, it's probably your turn, which means your Hornet Nest triggers will go onto the stack first, and the Phoenix trigger will go onto the stack on top of it. The stack resolves from the top down, so first the Phoenix will deal 3 damage to each creature and each player, and then you get some brand-new Hornets out of the deal.

If you had somehow managed to cast Slagstorm during your opponent's turn, things would have been the other way around, and your Hornets would have shown up only to die a fiery death by Phoenix moments later.

Q: I have the Mycosynth Lattice on the field and some Islands. If I tap an Island for mana, does it produce colorless mana or blue mana?

A: Blue. Mycosynth Lattice doesn't say that it affects what colors of mana your lands produce, so it doesn't. It makes your lands colorless, but unless you make a habit of playing with Dryad Arbor they were already colorless to begin with, and a land's color doesn't affect the colors or colors of mana it produces anyway.

"Fido's in a better place now..."
Q: If Arcbound Ravager sacrifices itself to its own ability, will it get an extra counter onto the other guy?

A: Afraid not, for a couple reasons. First, you can't put counters on something that's not there, so the sacrifice ability can't possibly put counters on the now-dead Ravager, and if the counters are never on the Ravager in the first place, they can't be put onto something else with Modular. Second, since Ravager is sacrificed as a cost of activating the ability, its modular trigger will go onto the stack on top of the sacrifice ability, and will therefore resolve before the sacrifice ability even attempts to put the counter on the now-dead Ravager in the first place.

Q: I cast Temporal Trespass after a Howl of the Horde with Raid. My opponent wants to respond with Twincast targeting Temporal Trespass. We know that the most recently created turns happen first, but can my opponent sneak his Twincast in under the Howl of the Horde trigger, giving him his turn after my first extra turn rather than after the third?

A: Well, he can't "sneak under" the Howl trigger, because triggered abilities are put onto the stack before any player has a chance to do anything. But your opponent can pull off effectively the same thing if he's patient.

The stack resolves one spell or ability at a time, with chances for both players to respond in between each resolution. So if your opponent waits until the Howl trigger and both copies have resolved, he can still use Twincast on the original Temporal Trespass. You'll take the first extra turn, then your opponent will take one, then you'll take two more, and then the normal turn order will resume where it left off.

Q: If you cast Dragon Mantle on Shivan Dragon, would the +1/+0 stack and cause it to gain +2/+0 or would I need to pay ?

A: Dragon Mantle gives Shivan Dragon a second copy of the ability it already has, and that won't really accomplish much. The Dragon will end up looking much like this:

Shivan Dragon -
Creature - Dragon
: Shivan Dragon gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

You can activate whichever of those two firebreathing abilities you like as many times as you like, but no matter which one of them you use, you're still only going to get +1/+0 out of each activation.

Q: Does Hall of the Bandit Lord still grant haste with Contamination in play?

A: Yes. Contamination changes the color and potentially amount of mana the lands you control produce when you tap them for mana, but it doesn't change anything else—any additional riders or benefits the ability specifies still apply.

Q: Okay, so I can choose any number of target creatures with Dwarven Song. Does that mean that I can choose the same targets an indefinite number of times?

A: No. One creature is still only one creature; if you want to select a hundred million targets for Dwarven Song, you're going to need a hundred million different creatures to target. More generally, the same thing can't be targeted multiple times by the same instance of the word "target". When Hex says "six target creatures", it means six different creatures—you can't say that all six are the same creature.

If a spell or ability wants you to be able to target the same thing multiple times, it will use the word "target" multiple times, like Seeds of Strength or Common Bond.

Q: If I bring out two Eater of Days on the same turn, or just one and Clone it, will I only lose my next 2 turns, or does it add up?

A: I'm afraid they add up—you'll skip your next four turns. When something tells you to skip your next turn, it creates a replacement effect that waits around for you to try to have a turn. When you're about to start taking a turn, the effect steps in and replaces that turn with nothing at all.

When there are multiple such effects trying to make you skip turns, only one of them can apply at a time, so the ones that never applied because the turn you were about to take never happened will wait around for their next shot.

Q: If my opponent Searing Blazes my creature, can I Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile my own creature to avoid taking damage?

A: Well, you can remove your own creature if you really want to, but it won't work out very well for you. Searing Blaze has two targets, and one of them's you. Getting rid of the other target won't stop the Blaze from resolving if it still has you as a legal target, so it will still burn your face no matter what's happened to your creature. Save your Path or Bolt for the Goblin Guide that's coming to beat your face in instead.

Q: If I have a Flamerush Rider out and it attacks and copies one of my creatures, will the token contribute towards devotion since it's a copy of the creature?

A: Yes. A token that's a copy of another card copies pretty much everything that's actually printed on the card, including that card's mana cost. Since the token is a permanent you control and has the a mana cost with colored mana symbols in it, it will count towards your devotion exactly the same as the original does.

Q: ...And if it does, since the token comes out during the declare attackers step, if it turns on my God, can I attack with that God?

A: Afraid not. Flamerush Rider triggers when it's declared as an attacker, and all attackers are declared at the same time. The token the Rider creates won't be put onto the battlefield until after your attackers have been declared, so your God won't become a creature in time to join in the fight.

I'm...being kind of morbid today, aren't I?
Q: How does Meishin, the Mind Cage interact with P/T switching effects like About Face? Will the creature die with zero toughness? Or when the power is switched is it no longer reduced?

A: It interacts rather evilly. Effects that switch power and toughness are always applied after all other effects that modify power and toughness. So Meishin will give all creatures on the battlefield a massive reduction in power, and then the switching effect will turn that very low power into a very low toughness, probably killing whatever you targeted, provided you have enough cards in hand.

Q: Howl of the Horde makes copies of a spell. Say that spell is a burn spell. If my opponent reacts with a Deflecting Palm what is the source of damage? Are there several sources?

A: Each copy of your burn spell is a separate source of damage, completely independent of the others. Deflecting Palm is only going to be able to stop one of them—it can be whichever one your opponent wants, but no matter which she chooses the others are going to get through and burn her face.

Q: If I cast Unmake the Graves convoked by Disciple of Deceit and it gets countered, does the Disciple remain tapped?

A: Yes. Tapping your creature was part of the costs of casting Unmake the Graves in the first place, and you don't get a refund just because things didn't turn out the way you planned after you finished the casting.

Similarly, if you buy a plane ticket to make a surprise visit to your mother who lives in New York, you don't get a refund of that ticket if you arrive in New York and find she's moved to Florida.

Q: Ogre Battledriver and Martial Coup—is this a combo? Do the Soldier tokens get the Ogre's buff, even though he's not on the battlefield anymore?

A: Yes, they do. You follow Martial Coup's instructions in the order they're written on the card, so you put the tokens onto the battlefield first (triggering the Battledriver's ability a bunch of times) and then destroying all other creatures. The Battledriver may be gone, but it was around just long enough to see the tokens enter, and its triggers will still go onto the stack and resolve, giving your tokens a very lovely parting gift.

Q: Could Willbender redirect Kiora, The Crashing Wave's +1 ability onto herself, thus granting her protection for a turn?

A: Kiora, the Crashing Wave's ability says "target permanent an opponent controls", so no. When you change a spell or ability's targets, the new target has to be legal, and Kiora's not going to be a legal target for her own ability unless some serious shenanigans are going on, because she's controlled by the same player who activated her ability.

Q: If I have a Silent Arbiter, my opponent can only attack with one creature. Can I decide which one with Rage Nimbus?

A: Certainly. It's legal for your opponent to attack with just the one creature you targeted with the Nimbus, and it satisfies more requirements than would be satisfied by holding back or attacking with anything else, so your opponent is forced to attack with the creature you wanted her to attack with.

Attacking requirements can't cause your opponent to violate the Arbiter's restriction, but they can certainly constrain her choices.

Q: I cast Abzan Advantage, and my opponent sacrifices Suspension Field. Do I have my creature back in time for it to be around for the bolster effect?

A: Yes, it is. Unlike Oblivion Ring and similar effects that use triggered abilities to return the cards they exiled, Suspension Field uses a zone-change with a duration. As soon as Suspension Field leaves the battlefield, the game moves the creature it exiled back where it came from before anything else happens. This means that the creature is returned before you proceed to the next step in resolving Abzan Advantage.

Q: Lets say my opponent attacks with a 3/3 creature with a Noble Hierarch on the table, and doesn't mention the exalted trigger. I have a 4/4 in play as well as a Lightning Bolt in hand. I think my opponent may forget his trigger, so I block with my 4/4. He says "Trade?" to acknowledge his trigger, but can I still Bolt saying "In response the the trigger" since I never said that it resolved or knew that my opponent remembered it?

A: No, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You don't get to back up combat and block that 1/1 your opponent made lethal with Become Immense, you don't get to back up and not block when your opponent surprises you with a Ride Down, and you don't get to back up when it turns out your opponent unexpectedly remembered his trigger, either.

If you want to be able to kill the creature in response to the exalted trigger, that's what you're going to have to do. You can't let the game move on, declare blockers, and then suddenly back things up because it turns out your opponent didn't do what you thought he would. If you move forward and declare blockers, that is you saying that you let the exalted trigger resolve.

Q: If I am at 2 life and I Thoughtseize may I record the contents of my opponent's hand, even though the game will be over?

A: Certainly, if you think that knowledge would be useful. You won't lose the game for having 0 life until after your Thoughtseize is completely done resolving, so if your opponent wants to get to that point and win the game they're going to have to reveal their hand just like Thoughtseize tells them to.

They could of course avoid revealing their hand by conceding before Thoughtseize resolves, but something tells me they aren't likely to do that. Call it a hunch.

And that's the last of our questions for this week. But it's nice to know there are some constants in life, because we'll be back next week, when James will have a fresh batch of questions for you.

Until then, may you cherish the past that made you who you are in the present.

- 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.

Regarding the Slagstorm question, I would have thought that the Hornet Nest trigger always goes on the stack below the Magma Phoenix trigger, regardless of whose turn it is: Slagstorm deals damage, Nest triggers, state is checked, Phoenix dies, Phoenix triggers. They don't appear to be simultaneous (since they trigger on different things) and thus subject to APNAP ordering. What am I missing?
#1 • Date: 2015-03-09 • Time: 04:01:24 •
I was thinking the same thing, but I guess nothing can go on the stack until the current spell/ability resolves and the state is checked? If so, the Phoenix will be sent to the yard before the Nest's trigger goes on the stack.
#2 • Date: 2015-03-09 • Time: 07:50:10 •
The key thing is that after an ability triggers, it's put onto the stack the next time a player would get priority. SBAs are checked right before each time a player would get priority, and a player is only given priority if there are no SBAs to process during a check. Otherwise the game checks again. Though the Nest and Phoenix did trigger at slightly different times, the triggers are trying to go onto the stack at the same time.
#3 • Date: 2015-03-09 • Time: 08:11:08 •
Ah! You\'re absolutely right, thank you.

Edit: ... both of you. :)
#4 • Date: 2015-03-09 • Time: 08:13:01 •

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