Published on 05/11/2015

Call me, May bee?

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

May the 5-power or greater
creatures be with you.
It's May, spring has sprung, Tarkir has been Dragon'd and we're still a little bit away from Modern being Mastered (again) and Tempest (the block) being Remastered online. Which may be what looks like a slow time in the rules business, but if I may, I'd like to explore a theme. Maybe you've noticed that, whenever we may, we try to begin our answers with a "yes" or a "no", but there are a lot of questions to which the answer is actually "maybe". So this week in Cranial Insertion, every question has an answer of "maybe!"

But that's a theme that will maybe wear thin after a little while; luckily, you may have rules questions that we may be able to answer in an upcoming issue, and you may always send them to us via email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: Can I play with cards from Modern Masters 2015 in Standard?

A: Maybe! Only core sets and expansion sets — and Modern Masters 2015 isn't one of those — add new cards to Standard. So you won't, for example, be able to sleeve up a Tarmogoyf or a Karn Liberated for Standard play any time soon. But if there are any cards in the set that were already Standard-legal, you'll be able to play with the Modern Masters 2015 printings of them (just as, for example, you could play an Urza's Legacy copy of Erase, since Erase also appears in a Standard-legal set).

Q: If I copy Myojin of Seeing Winds with a Clone, will the copy have a divinity counter on it?

A: Maybe! When Clone is going to enter the battlefield, first you apply its own replacement effect, choosing something to copy, and then if that made any replacemenet effects become applicable, you apply those. So if you cast that Clone from your hand, it will see that, and the newly-gained replacement effect from being a copy of the Myojin will cause it to enter with a divinity counter. If you didn't cast the Clone from your hand, though, no counter for you!

Q: If I exploit a Sultai Emissary with a Vulturous Aven, do I manifest my top card before I draw two cards and lose two life?

A: Maybe! Whenever multiple triggered abilities trigger at the same time, and you control them all, you put them onto the stack in an order of your choice. So if you want to manifest first, put the Aven's trigger onto the stack followed by the Emissary's. Reverse the order if you'd prefer to manifest last.

Q: If I cast Collected Company putting Eternal Witness onto the battlefield, do I return Collected Company to my hand?

A: Maybe, if it's the card you choose to target with Eternal Witness' ability (and if no pesky opponent does something like set off a Tormod's Crypt in response to the Witness' ability). And you can do that, since you always finish resolving a spell or ability, and then if any abilities triggered during resolution, put them on the stack (choosing targets as needed) immediately afterward.

I said "maybe", not "May bees"!
Q: I'm playing against an infect deck that uses a bunch of pump and protection spells on Blighted Agent and Inkmoth Nexus to make them big enough and unblockable enough to give me 10 poison counters. If I put a Coalition Flag on one of my own creatures, does that mean he can't pump or protect his creatures?

A: Maybe! It depends on what spell your opponent tries to use. If the spell has only one target, and can legally target your Flagbearer, it must do so. So, for example, your opponent couldn't cast a Become Immense on his Blighted Agent; he'd have to target your Flagbearer with it instead. But if a spell can have multiple targets, like Setessan Tactics, your Flagbearer just has to be chosen as one of them. And if the spell says it can only target a creature he controls (like Apostle's Blessing), then it's not possible for it to target your Flagbearer and it won't have to try to target your Flagbearer.

Q: If I use Dragonlord Silumgar to take one of my opponent's creatures, can I attack with it?

A: Maybe — when a creature changes controllers, it gets a fresh case of summoning sickness. So most creatures won't be able to attack right away, but ones with haste will. And if you wait a turn for summoning sickness to wear off, you'll be able to attack either way.

Q: I attack with a 4/4 Deathmist Raptor and my opponent blocks with Hornet Nest and Heir of the Wilds. Does my opponent get any Insect tokens?

A: Maybe, if you want that to happen. When your opponent declares multiple blockers for a single attacking creature, you choose a damage assignment order — in other words, you say "my attacker will assign damage to this creature first, then that creature" (the damage still ends up being dealt simultaneously; this just clarifies how it'll get split up between the creatures). And then in the combat damage step you assign the 4 damage from your Raptor. You must assign all 4 damage, and you can split it up 2 damage to each blocker to kill both of them, but you don't have to kill all the blockers unless you want to; "overkill" is perfectly legal in Magic. So you can put the Heir of the Wilds first in the assignment order, assign all 4 damage to it, and tell your opponent that you're not going to poke their Hornet Nest.

Q: My opponent has a Trinisphere out; will I pay at least to cast Dig Through Time?

A: Maybe! Trinisphere doesn't actually do much to spells with delve, delve isn't a cost-reducing effect; it's just a way to pay for part of a cost with a resource other than mana. So Trinisphere always sees Dig Through Time costing no matter how deeply you delve to cast it, and the only thing that affects how much mana you have to pay is whether you have enough cards in your graveyard to delve and are willing to exile them.

Q: I have an Icefall Regent, and my opponent only has a single Swamp untapped; can he Murderous Cut my Regent?

A: Maybe... if he also has six cards in his graveyard he's willing to delve away. To cast a spell with delve, first you determine the total cost to cast it, which in this case is thanks to the Regent's built-in tax, and then decide how to pay for that, using any combination of mana or exiling for the generic mana in the cost. So paying and exiling 6 cards is perfectly legal.

Q: During my precombat main phase, I used one of Liliana Vess' abilities, then activated The Chain Veil's ability. Then during my combat phase my opponent cast Shatter to destroy my Chain Veil. Can I still use one of Liliana's tutor ability in my postcombat main phase?

A: Maybe... if Liliana has enough loyalty counters left on her. Once activated, The Chain Veil's ability is independent of The Chain Veil itself; it resolves and gives you permission to activate loyalty abilities one extra time that turn, even if The Chain Veil gets removed before the turn ends (or even before its own ability resolves). So the only barrier to activating Liliana twice is your ability to pay the cost (of adding or removing the correct number of loyalty counters) each time.

Q: I control a Purphoros, God of the Forge, with two more in my graveyard and 5 other creatures with converted mana cost 4 or less in my graveyard. If I cast Rally the Ancestors choosing X=4 to return all of them, will I win off the 15 Purphoros triggers?

A: Maybe! If the other creatures, or what you already have on the battlefield, cause your devotion to red to get high enough to animate the Purphoroi (it's been a while since I took Greek, but I think that's the right plural!), you'll actually get more than that since the entering Purphoroi will be creatures and will trigger each other and the original one. At any rate, you'll get at least 15 triggers out of this, since for a brief moment everything is on the battlefield, all the Purphoroi see that at least 5 creatures entered, and they all trigger the appropriate number of times. Of course, you immediately have to choose one Purphoros to keep and put the other two in your graveyard, but that doesn't undo the triggers or stop them from going on the stack right after that.

Q: My opponent controls a Dragonlord Kolaghan and I'm at 10 life. If I cast Risen Executioner from my graveyard, will I die?

A: Maybe. If you have another Risen Executioner in your graveyard, then Kolaghan will smack you around to the tune of 10 life. But if not, you're in the clear — the first step of casting is to move the card from the zone it's in to the stack. So when Kolaghan checks to see if that spell has the same name as something in your graveyard (which is after you finish the process of casting), the Executioner you cast is no longer in there for Kolaghan to see.

Q: Can I pay to make 3 Goblin tokens with Goblinslide?

A: Maybe; did you cast three noncreature spells? If so, Goblinslide triggered three times, and each time you got an opportunity to pay and make a Goblin. But you only get to pay and make one Goblin per noncreature spell you cast, so if you only cast one spell, you could only get one Goblin.

Q: I control a Spellskite, and I have blue mana available. If my opponent casts an Electrolyze, I can have Spellskite take the damage, right?

A: Maybe, but it'll depend on the choices your opponent made when casting Electrolyze. First of all, it's always legal to activate Spellskite's ability, targeting any spell or ability on the stack. It just might not do anything useful! If your opponent chose only one target, and that target wasn't Spellskite, then Spellskite can and will become the target. If your opponent chose two targets, then Spellskite can legally be only one of them. So if the targets were any two things that aren't Spellskite, it can become one of the targets. If the targets were Spellskite and something else, Spellskite can't become the other target.

Q: OK, so what if my opponent has the Spellskite and I fire off a Mindslaver? I can just kill him now, right?

A: Maybe, if your opponent is at an even life total. In that case, you just need to get some spell or ability onto the stack, then make your opponent repeatedly activate Spellskite, paying 2 life each time, until your opponent's at zero. If your opponent is at an odd life total, though, you can only get down to 1 life; since it's illegal for a player to pay life they don't have, they can't pay for another activation to go to -1 and lose the game, so you can't make them do that even with a Mindslaver.

Q: I'm at 15 life, my opponent has Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and one Mountain already on the battlefield, then she casts Scapeshift to get five more Mountains, will a Boomerang targeting a Mountain save me?

A: Maybe, if you choose the right target! Valakut has what's called an "intervening if" clause in its triggered ability: it requires the player to control five other Mountains up-front to trigger it, and requires them to still control five other Mountains when the ability starts to resolve. So if you Boomerang the original Mountain (the one that was already on the battlefield), then for each of the five new ones Valakut sees only four others, and does nothing.

Q: Can I stop Sidisi, Undead Vizier from searching for a card by killing her?

A: Maybe, but you'll need to know the right time to do it. Destroying a creature (or any permanent) in response to its ability won't, by itself, counter the ability. But Sidisi has two triggered abilities: one, exploit, triggers immediately when she enters the battlefield. The other triggers when a creature is sacrificed for her exploit ability. If you kill Sidisi in response to the first ability, she won't be on the battlefield if a creature ends up getting sacrificed for that ability, and so her second ability won't trigger.

Q: I have a Myr Welder which has exiled Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII. Can I use Myr Welder to make tokens?

A: Maybe, if Myr Welder has exiled some other card with a token-making activated ability. But since you didn't choose a color and type for Myr Welder, there's no choice for the activated ability it gains from Sarpadian Empires to refer back to, and so that activated ability doesn't make a token of any sort (though it's still legal to activate the ability — it just won't do anything.)

Q: I control Viscera Seer, Kitchen Finks and Melira, Sylvok Outcast. I know I can sacrifice the Finks to Seer to scry 1, have it persist, and repeat as many times as I want (since Melira ensures the Finks never get a -1/-1 counter). I also know there's a Murderous Redcap somewhere in my deck, that I could use to kill my opponent. Since I have effectively infinite scry, is it legal to just explain this to my opponent, then look through my deck and cut it to the Redcap?

A: Maybe, if you can do it reasonably quickly. The general thing to keep in mind with a loop of repetitive actions is that it's legal so long as you can A) state exactly how many times you'll do the loop and B) state exactly what the game will look like afterward. In other words, you need something deterministic, or you're automatically risking Slow Play penalties in a tournament. Luckily for you, finding a card in your library with unlimited scry 1 can be done purely deterministically, so that part is legal. The only thing left is that you do still have to do it in a reasonable amount of time, and typically just picking up your deck and looking through it, then cutting to the desired card, is a perfectly fine shortcut to get it done quickly (since doing it the long way would involve you learning the order of the library in any case).

I may be all out of "maybe" for this week, but be sure to check back in next week when we may — ok, we will — have 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.

I'm surprised by that last answer, since unlike most normal library searches, there's nothing in that loop forcing you to reveal the card. There doesn't seem to be anything stopping you from explaining the loop, claiming you have the redcap, cutting your library to a place of your choosing, and then proceeding to play the rest of the game without ever having proven you did, really, have the redcap. Am I missing something that makes this okay?
#1 • Date: 2015-05-11 • Time: 02:41:52 •
As long as your opponent accepts the shortcut (which is the main requirement of allowing a shortcut), then there\'s no physical reason why you can\'t cut to a different card. However, I think that if a judge got called in because your opponent got suspicious, they would probably relate it to the shortcut of saying \"Surgical Extraction your Force of Wills.\" If your opponent lets that happen, then you have to stick by your choice, even though you didn\'t have to choose until after the spell resolves, not when you initially cast it. So if your opponent is letting you resolve you infinite scry, then I think that, if anyone bothered to check, they\'d make you stick to your shortcut.
#2 • Date: 2015-05-11 • Time: 05:33:25 •
@Blees I disagree. As relsqui pointed out everything in this loop is hidden information. The shortcut in this case is just the action of finding a card and getting it to the top of your library in a short amount of time. The murderous redcap in this case is arbitrary. Saying it is the card you are putting on top and instead putting a different card there would be like demonic tutoring for a card and telling your opponent you got a different card. Potentially frowned upon but not illegal. all that should matter in this case is that the players library stays in the correct order.
#3 • Date: 2015-05-11 • Time: 06:56:47 •
For the Valakut question, I don't understand why it matters which mountain you target. Can someone explain?
#4 • Date: 2015-05-11 • Time: 11:03:18 •
@MAHK: If you bounce one of the Mountains brought in by Scapeshift then that Mountain's trigger will still count 5 other Mountains as it starts to resolve, and so will end up dealing damage.
#5 • Date: 2015-05-11 • Time: 14:16:03 •
Ah right so the trigger is already on the stack while you are bouncing the mountain.
#6 • Date: 2015-05-11 • Time: 17:41:59 •
In response to the comments to the last question, could the \"non-searching player\" require that his or her agreement to allow the shortcut between the players be predicated on the \"searching player\" actually revealing the Redcap — a player can always decide to reveal a scry if that player wants to, I would think. This would prevent that shenanigans that relsqui commented on.
#7 • Date: 2015-05-12 • Time: 06:20:50 •
As for the Scry question, what the card is is actually irrelevant, as infinite Scry lets the player put any card on top they want to (by cutting). So, looking through the deck, then cutting it whereever you want to seems like a fine shortcut in any case, without even mentioning what card you're looking for.
If you're actually saying you're looking for the Redcap, you run in the problem mentioned by relsqui - but I don't see a reason to doing that in the first place, as that wouldn't only be more problematic, but also require more explanation and tell your opponent what you're trying to do in advance.
#8 • Date: 2015-05-12 • Time: 15:52:20 •

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