Published on 04/13/2015

Springtime for Tarkir

or, Sturm und Dragon

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

A big storm brings BIG vines
Spring has arrived in my corner of the world, the weather is warmer, and green things are sprouting everywhere. And while I don't know if they'll be eating any Brussels sprouts, but a lot of good matches have sprouted this weekend in Brussels at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir. And, best of all, a bunch of rules questions have sprouted up in need of answering for this week's issue of Cranial Insertion!

But of course this week's crop won't last long, so if you've got questions you'd like to see sprout up in a future issue, please send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: If I use Whip of Erebos to reanimate Arashin Sovereign that somehow ended up in my graveyard, do I get to put the Sovereign on top of my library at the end of the turn?

A: Arashin Sovereign's ability triggers when it dies, which means specifically when it's put into a graveyard from the battlefield. But Whip of Erebos causes it to by pass the graveyard entirely and go straight to exile, so the Sovereign's ability won't trigger, and it will just be exiled rather than going back into your library.

Q: I have an Ojutai Exemplars, and my opponent announces he's attacking with a Stormwing Dragon and a Stormcrag Elemental. Can I respond to the attack by using Enduring Victory to kill one attacker and then have Ojutai Exemplars' ability tap down the other?

A: Well, first of all you can't "respond" to a declaration of attackers, since it doesn't use the stack. Either you act before the declaration or afterward. Since Enduring Victory specifically targets only an attacking or blocking creature, you'll have to cast it after the declaration is completed, at which point it's too late to prevent a creature from attacking by tapping it.

Q: I just cast a Foe-Razer Regent and chose to have it fight my opponent's Gudul Lurker. In response, my opponent cast Glint targeting the Lurker. I know Foe-Razer Regent won't get to deal any damage, but will it still get two +1/+1 counters in the end step?

A: The enters-the-battlefield ability of Foe-Razer Regent has only one target, which becomes illegal when the Lurker gains hexproof. Since its only target is illegal, the ability is countered and none of its effects happen, and since the Regent never fought anything its other ability won't trigger and it won't get any counters.

Q: I attacked with a Hardened Berserker this turn. Can I now cast Death Wind with X=1 by paying only ?

A: Yup! When you're casting a spell with an X in its mana cost, first you choose the value for X, then plug it into the mana cost, then apply any effects which would increase or reduce the cost. So you choose X=1, plug it into the mana cost to get , then reduce it by and just pay .

Q: I have Thassa, God of the Sea in my graveyard, and my devotion to blue is currently 2. If I turn Monastery Loremaster face up, can I return Thassa to my hand?

A: The abilities of the Theros-block Gods which change their types based on devotion only function while the God is on the battlefield. In all other zones, Thassa — and the other members of the Theran pantheon — are always creatures, so Monastery Loremaster can never return one of them.

The circle of life!
Q: My opponent and I are each at 5 life. It's my opponent's draw step and they just drew and revealed a Thunderous Wrath that's going to kill me. Is there any way I can respond by casting Savage Summoning to flash in Ruric Thar, the Unbowed and win from the 6 damage Ruric Thar will deal?

A: You can respond to the miracle triggered ability by casting Savage Summoning and then Ruric Thar, since the Thunderous Wrath can't be cast for its miracle cost until the miracle trigger resolves. However, miracle gives the option to cast the spell, so your opponent could just choose not to cast it when the miracle trigger resolves. And if they have they could also respond to you casting Savage Summoning or Ruric Thar by casting Thunderous Wrath for its normal mana cost (since it's an instant, and in your opponent's hand at this point) to deal 5 damage to you.

Q: Assuming that the creatures I dash have enough toughness to survive the -1/-1, would Heartless Summoning let me dash for less?

A: Yup! Dash is an alternative cost to cast a creature, which means you are casting it and anything that changes the cost of casting will apply. For example, you could dash out a 3/4 Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury this way by paying just .

Q: I just cast Sidisi, Undead Vizier and I want to exploit my Humble Defector with her. Can I announce that I'm targeting the Defector with exploit, then activate its ability in response to get two extra cards and keep my opponent from getting to keep the Defector?

A: Not quite. Exploit doesn't target; you simply choose, when the exploit trigger resolves, to either sacrifice a creature you control, or not. If you activate Humble Defector in response to an exploit trigger, you'll draw cards but you won't control the Defector anymore and won't be able to sacrifice it (you can never sacrifice something you don't control); you'd have to choose some other creature you do control if you wanted to sacrifice and get the benefit of exploit.

Q: I control an Outpost Siege choosing "Khans", and at the beginning of my upkeep I exile a Crater's Claws that'll let me win the game. But still in my upkeep, my opponent uses Silumgar's Command to bounce Outpost Siege back to my hand; does that mean I can't cast the exiled Crater's Claws anymore?

A: You can still hug your opponent with your big scary claws of doom. Outpost Siege's triggered ability is what sets up the permission to cast the exiled card, and once triggered it's completely independent of Outpost Siege's continued existence on the battlefield.

Q: I control no green permanents, then cast Collected Company and get a Leatherback Baloth and a Reverent Hunter. How many +1/+1 counters will the Hunter get?

A: Four! First you completely resolve Collected Company, putting the creatures onto the battlefield and the rest of the cards on the bottom of your library. Then you put the Reverent Hunter's triggered ability on the stack; it will use whatever your devotion to green is when its ability resolves (which, assuming nothing changes before then, will be 4).

Q: What if I get a Salt Road Quartermasters and an Avatar of the Resolute from Collected Company? Will the Avatar get a counter because of the Quartermasters?

A: Avatar of the Resolute's ability is a replacement effect; it looks at how many creatures you control have +1/+1 counters just before the Avatar enters the battlefield. Since it's entering alongside the Quartermasters, it doesn't see their counters, and won't give itself a counter for the Quartermasters.

Q: If I don't control any creatures with counters on them, but I do have a Hardened Scales, will Avatar of the Resolute enter with a +1/+1 counter since Hardened Scales increases its counters by one?

A: Hardened Scales only tries to change things when the number of counters is already one or more; since the Avatar is going to enter with zero counters, Hardened Scales doesn't see anything to modify and the Avatar just enters as a counter-less 3/2. If you already had a +1/+1 counter on a creature, though, the Avatar would be about to enter with a counter and Hardened Scales would add another.

Q: I attack with a Living Lore exiling Temporal Trespass. My opponent blocks with Ukud Cobra. Will I get to cast Temporal Trespass?

A: Not unless you trespass into some sort of damage-prevention effect first to keep the deathtouching Cobra from knocking out your Living Lore. Living Lore only lets you cast the exiled card if you sacrifice Living Lore to its own triggered ability. But Living Lore died from the combat damage dealt to it by the Cobra before its trigger could even be put on the stack, meaning it's not around for you to sacrifice.

Q: If I have a Monastery Siege choosing "Dragons", would it cost my opponent to Contradict a creature I cast?

A: Monastery Siege only increases the cost to target you and permanents you control, but permanents only exist on the battlefield, so a spell on the stack isn't a permanent and Contradicting one will just cost as normal.

Q: My opponent turned an Atarka Monument into a creature and tried to attack me with it, but I used Will of the Naga to tap it. Will it stay tapped during my opponent's next turn, or will it untap since it's no longer a creature?

A: It will stay tapped. Will of the Naga only cares about its targets being creatures at the time it's cast and when it resolves. After that, it doesn't care what types they might turn into; the "those creatures" wording is basically shorthand for "those targeted things, which usually are going to be creatures".

Spring has sprung... and sprung...
Q: If I were to somehow cast two copies of Roar of Challenge, targeting two different creatures, what would happen if I attacked with both of those creatures?

A: In order to satisfy the requirements created by Roar of Challenge, every creature your opponent controls that can block one of the Roared attackers will have to do so, but your opponent can choose which blockers go with which Roared attacker. Though if your opponent has anything that can block multiple creatures — like a Guardian of the Gateless — it would have to block both Roared creatures.

Q: If I use Sarkhan Unbroken's -8 ability and get a Herdchaser Dragon and a Belltoll Dragon, can I put them face down to megamorph them for counters?

A: Permanents are always put onto the battlefield face up unless something explicitly says to put them on the battlefield face down, so your Dragons will all be face up on the battlefield and you won't get to megamorph them. But that's a good thing, since Sarkhan would have to go back in time again if you told him all the Dragons had turned into colorless, nameless, sub-type-less 2/2s, and who knows what kind of chaos that would cause.

Q: Last turn I cast a Taigam's Strike on one of my creatures. But now that creature is dead and I don't have any others. When the rebound triggers in my upkeep, can I activate an Ojutai Monument in response to give the Taigam's Strike a target?

A: You can! Casting a spell — even with rebound — requires you to be able to choose all legal targets at the time of casting, but you don't actually cast the spell until the rebound trigger resolves, which gives you a chance to activate the Monument in response to the rebound trigger and have a creature ready to be struck by Taigam's unblocking palm.

Q: Since lands have a converted mana cost of 0, wouldn't the -X of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon always exile all lands?

A: It's true that lands have a converted mana cost of 0, but every land in Magic — except one (Dryad Arbor, which is green because of a color indicator printed on it) — is normally colorless, so Ugin won't do anything to them. Of course, if some effect is causing a land to have a color (like Koth of the Hammer's +1 ability, which turns a Mountain into a red creature), Ugin will get rid of that land.

Q: I heard that in the last round of a big tournament, two players who were friends were paired against each other, and one of them intentionally conceded so his friend would make the top 8. How is that not illegal collusion?

A: In tournament Magic, a player is allowed to concede a game or match at any time, for almost any reason. The only illegal reason is "because I was offered something in exchange for it". So "because I wanted to see my friend make top 8" is perfectly OK, and probably means that player is a pretty good friend.

Though it's been fun (but thankfully not fungal) dealing with this week's sprout of questions, that's it for this issue. But be sure to have your web browser sprout a tab open again next week when we'll be back with another issue of Cranial Insertion!

- James Bennett

About the Author:
James Bennett is a Level 3 judge based out of Lawrence, Kansas. He pops up at events around Kansas City and all over the midwest, and has a car he can talk to.


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