Published on 06/29/2015

Just Awesome

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Mm, genius.
Hi, and welcome to Cranial Insertion. I'm Callum Milne, L2 Judge and Rules NetRep, and I demand things to be AWESOME!

Awesome decks. Awesome stores, awesome events. Awesome uniform, awesome pin. That's why I'm writing this Cranial Insertion article, with the awesomest rules questions and answers isn't that right awesome readers?

If you have awesome questions, you can send them to our awesome email ( ), or if they're awesomely short to our awesome twitter. You'll get an awesome answer, and your awesome question may show up in an future article, which is awesome.

Now c'mon, I got some cool questions to answer in this article—let's go, c'mon.

Q: My opponent controls two Delver of Secrets and reveals an instant card from the top of his library during his upkeep. Can I cast Electrolyze to kill the Delvers before they transform?

A: Not any more you can't. Well, not both of them, anyway. At the beginning of your opponent's upkeep, his Delver triggers went onto the stack. If you had responded at that time, before either trigger resolved, you could have killed both Delvers no problem.

But by waiting for your opponent to look at the top card of his library, you let one of those triggers resolve, and once the ability is resolving, it has to finish resolving completely before you get another chance to cast things. By then, that first Delver will have transformed into a 3/2 Insectile Aberration, so if you want to kill it with Elecrolyze at that point you're going to have to direct both points of damage at it. (And then the other Delver will transform, so you'd still have a 3/2 to deal with.)

A better idea might be that since only one Delver has transformed at this point, you could instead direct your Electrolyze at the untransformed Delver, which leaves you free to send that extra second point somewhere else.

Q: I know that when I have multiple abilities trigger at the same time, I can have them resolve in any order I like. However, what if they don't trigger at exactly the same time, for example with Mesmeric Orb and Endless Ranks of the Dead?

Mesmeric Orb triggers during the untap step, but it has to wait until the upkeep before it actually does anything, so that's where my confusion comes in. If I'm putting the Mesmeric Orb triggers on the stack in the upkeep (because they haven't had a chance in the untap step), can I choose the order they go on with Endless Ranks of the Dead, even though the Orb triggers came from the untap step?

A: Yes, you can. If you have multiple triggered abilities waiting to be put onto the stack, the exact timing of when each ability triggered in relation to the others doesn't matter at all. All that matters is that you control them all and they're being put onto the stack at the same time, so you get to choose the order in which to put them on the stack.

Q: If I'm enchanted with Wheel of Sun and Moon and I cast a Diabolic Tutor, will the tutor be shuffled in my library, or will it be put under my library after shuffling? What about fetch lands like Bloodstained Mire, since the sacrifice is part of the cost of the fetching ability?

A: Diabolic Tutor would be put onto the bottom of your library after shuffling, but Bloodstained Mire and other fetch lands would be shuffled in.

The difference is that Diabolic Tutor is a spell, and resolving spells only go to the graveyard bottom of the library once they're completely finished resolving—in this case meaning after you've already shuffled. Bloodstained Mire, on the other hand, is sacrificed (and therefore put onto the bottom of your library) as part of the cost of activating its ability in the first place, which happens long before you resolve the ability and actually perform the search and shuffle it calls for.

Q: If my opponent tries to Wasteland my Thespian's Stage, if I make it a copy of a Forest in response, does the Stage gain the basic type and thus become an invalid target for wasteland?

A: Absolutely. "Basic" is a supertype, and supertypes can be copied just like their cousins the card types and subtypes. Since your Stage is now Basic, it's no longer a legal target for Wasteland's ability, so it won't be getting destroyed any time soon.

Awesome pussycat.
Q: My opponent casts Spreading Seas on my Blinkmoth Nexus, and I activate it in response. After the dust settles, what does my land look like? I know Spreading Seas removes its normal abilities, but is it still a flying creature?

A: Yes, it does. Spreading Seas turns the Nexus into an Island and in the process removes all of the abilities printed on it, but it doesn't end the animation effect from the ability that's already resolved, and it doesn't remove the flying that that effect grants the Nexus. Your Nexus effectively looks like this for now:
Blinkmoth Nexus
Artifact Creature Land - Blinkmoth Island
(: Add to your mana pool.)

During your opponent's cleanup step, the animation effect will wear off, and your Nexus will stop being a creature.

Q: If I have an Enduring Scalelord and a Runeclaw Bear out and I cast Scale Blessing, how many +1/+1 counters does the Scalelord end up with?

A: Two. To see why, let's walk through what happens when Scale Blessing resolves.

First, you bolster 1, putting a +1/+1 counter on your Bear, which triggers Enduring Scalelord. That trigger wants to be put onto the stack, but Scale Blessing is still resolving, so it just waits for now.

So we continue: next, the Blessing puts a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control that already has one—which in this case is just your Bears. The Scalelord will be getting a counter from its trigger very soon, but it doesn't have it yet, so the Blessing doesn't give it one directly. But this will trigger the Scalelord's own ability a second time, and again the trigger waits for now.

Finally, Scale Blessing finishes resolving and goes to the graveyard. Both Scalelord triggers are put onto the stack, and they will end up adding a grand total of two counters to the Scalelord.

Q: When playing Boonweaver Giant, can I search for Celestial Archon because it says 'when you cast this card for its bestow cost, it's an Aura spell'?

A: No, you cannot. While Celestial Archon, or any other creature with bestow, is in your library it's a creature, not an Aura. It only becomes an Aura once you start casting it and choose to pay the bestow cost, and only stays that way until it or the creature it's enchanting leave the battlefield.

Q: What's the power and toughness of Lord of Extinction when it's not on the battlefield? Does its ability still work outside of the battlefield?

A: Lord of Extinction's ability is what's known as a characteristic-defining ability, or CDA, and CDAs work absolutely everywhere, even outside the game entirely. No matter where it is, the Lord's power and toughness are defined by the number of cards in all graveyards.

Q: I was playing Wall of Glare and was told that the Wall was only able to block any number of creatures until its toughness was beaten. Is that the correct way it should be played, or would it be able to block 100+ creatures regardless of its toughness?

A: Whoever told you that was misinformed. There is no limit to the number of creatures that Wall of Glare can block—as its ability says, it can block any number of creatures. And unless some of them have trample or a similar ability, they won't be able to deal any damage to you.

Your opponent may have been thinking about the rules for trample. If any of the creatures your Wall is blocking have trample, then once the Wall has been assigned damage equal to its toughness, any remaining damage from those specific creatures can be assigned to you. But that doesn't affect the creatures that don't have trample, and it doesn't mean the tramplers aren't blocked, which can matter.

Q: I have an Ifh-Bíff Efreet out in a multiplayer game, and my opponents activate it more than enough times to kill me. When I die, what happens to the remaining activations? Do they leave the game with me, or do my opponents somehow control those activations (despite the source being mine), and they remain on the stack to resolve after I die?

A: If for some reason there were activations remaining on the stack that you put there, those ones would leave the game with you, but the rest will remain on the stack, and once you're gone they will continue to resolve and deal damage to the remaining players in the game.

The fact that you controlled Ifh-Bíff Efreet doesn't actually matter, since the controller of an activated ability is the person who activated it. That's normally the source's controller,but as you've just found out, it doesn't have to be.

Q: Do I get to draw a card with Multani's Presence if a spell of mine gets countered by the rules (fizzles)? Can I play a spell without having a target and thereby "cycle" cards with Multani's Presence, or do I have to have a target that becomes illegal?

A: You do indeed get to draw a card if one of your spells is countered on resolution by the game rules, but you can't "cycle" cards the way you're asking, because you can't cast a targeted spell without choosing a legal target for it.

If you want to "cycle" cards you're going to have to find a way to repeatedly choose legal targets for your spells and then have those targets become illegal before the spells try to resolve. Which is tricky enough that it'd probably be much easier to just find some other way to draw a few cards.

Q: If I cast Endless Swarm or another Epic spell, and later on in the game, my opponent exiles that card from my graveyard, do I still get a copy of the spell on my upkeep? Likewise, what if I had to shuffle my graveyard into my library? Is the "copying" aspect of the card bound to the card itself, or its effect just permanent as long as you're still playing the game, regardless of where the original card goes?

A: Luckily for you, getting rid of the card from your graveyard—no matter how it's done—will do absolutely nothing to stop the Epic effect. The copy that Epic creates on each of your upkeeps is a copy of the original spell as it existed at the time it resolved—the game looks back in time to check what that spell looked like at that time, and then creates a new copy exactly like the original. The physical piece of cardboard that happened to represent that spell at the time is completely irrelevant to that process.

Q: I cast Swift Warkite, electing to put Humble Defector onto the battlefield, giving him haste. I activate Humble Defector, draw two cards and give control of the defector to my opponent. At the end of the turn, Humble Defector returns to my hand. Is that process correct?

A: Absolutely, yes. Giving control of the Defector to your opponent doesn't affect the Warkite's trigger at all, because it doesn't say it cares who controls the creature, and it isn't trying to do anything to the creature that would be stopped by a change in control. Unless your opponent does something to mess up your plan, your Defector will end up back in your hand, safe and sound.

When it comes to blowing up,
no other judge is equal!
Q: I control a face-down morph creature that does not have a triggered ability related to morphing it. I block an attacker with it, and decide to turn my morph face-up, then pass. My opponent gets priority again and passes. Do I get priority a second time, or does this count as "both players passing priority without doing anything" and the game proceeds to combat damage?

A: Normally the nonactive player (in this case you) gets the "last word" on moving to the next part of the turn, but actions like morph that don't use the stack can turn things around.

The last non-passing action that happened in the game was you turning your morph face-up, and since that happened both you and your opponent have passed priority. That means that both players have passed priority, so the game will proceed to the combat damage step—you will not get priority a second time.

Q: If I name Apex Hawks for Unexpected Potential, can I spend mana as though it were mana of any color not just for the spells "normal" mana cost but also for the multikicker cost?

A: Absolutely. Unexpected Potential doesn't give you any limitations on what parts of the spell's cost it applies to, so there are none. No matter whether the part of the cost you're paying came from the normal mana cost, the kicker, or even something extra like the cost added by Alabaster Leech, Unexpected Potential applies.

Q: If my opponent uses Steal Enchantment on my Aura, can he attach it to a creature he controls, or does it just go away?

A: Neither, actually. Steal Enchantment doesn't say anything about moving or removing Auras it enchants, so it does no such thing. If your opponent Steals your Aura, that Aura remains right where it is, just with your opponent controlling it instead of you. Whether or not that ends up making any difference depends on exactly what the stolen Aura does. For Auras like Goblin War Paint, it probably wouldn't matter at all, but for ones like Armadillo Cloak or Infinite Reflection, it might matter a great deal.

Also, while it doesn't happen in every case, it is possible that changing control of the Aura might cause it to fall off of your creature of its own accord because the control-change means it's no longer attached to a legal creature. Flamespeaker's Will, for example, can only be attached to a creature controlled by the player who controls it—if you had the Will enchanting one of your creatures and your opponent stole it, that attachment would no longer be legal, and the Will would fall off and go to the graveyard.

Q: What goes down when both Smokebraider and Mana Reflection are out? Can I get four mana in any combination of colors, or must I first choose a two-mana color combination before it is actually doubled, yielding the same color combination merely doubled?

A: When you tap Smokebraider for mana with Mana Reflection out, you first choose what color(s) of mana you want the two mana from Smokebraider to be, and then that mana gets deposited into your mana pool just as you hey wait someone accidentally doubled your order what is this madness?

In short, you get the color combination you chose doubled, so either you choose to get two mana of one color and end up with four of that color, or you choose to get one mana of each of two colors, and end up with two mana of each of those colors instead. (And it's probably worth mentioning that all thDe mana you get can only be spent on elemental-y things, not just the two you originally ordered.)

You can't end up with mana of more than two different colors, nor can you get three mana of one color and one of something else.

Q: If I attack my opponent while she controls Platinum Emperion and Contested War Zone, will I gain control of the War Zone after combat? The abilities that trigger at combat damage being dealt still trigger, even though the damage has no effect, right?

A: Correct. The damage may not have ended up having any effect on your opponent whatsoever, but it was still dealt, and Contested War Zone will see that and trigger accordingly.

As a minor note, however, you'll actually gain control of the War Zone during the combat damage step of combat, well before the end of combat. Just in case it matters. (It almost certainly won't.)

Q: If Detention Sphere targets an illegal target, does it still remain on the field?

A: You mean if whatever it targeted becomes an illegal target before the ability can resolve and exile it? Yes, absolutely, the Sphere will remain on the battlefield—it's not an Aura, so there's no reason for it to go to the graveyard. It won't be doing much except looking pretty, but it'll be hanging around.

If on the other hand you meant that whatever was chosen as a target was illegal right from the start, and was never legal to choose in the first place, that's a different kettle of fish, and if this happens in a tournament environment you'll need to call a judge to resolve it, since exactly what happens will depend on the exact situation. The Sphere will almost certainly be remaining on the battlefield, though.

Q: I cast Lightning Bolt on my opponent and he responds with Comeuppance. If I Wild Ricochet the Comeuppance, what happens? Who will take the 3 damage?

A: Nobody, because the game will actually end in a draw as soon as the Bolt resolves.

When Bolt tries to deal 3 damage to your opponent, your opponent's Comeuppance will see that something he doesn't control is trying to deal damage to him, so it will step in, preventing the damage and trying to deal that much damage to you instead. But then your copy of Comeuppance will see that something you don't control is trying to deal damage to you, so it will step in, preventing the damage and trying to deal that much damage to your opponent instead. But then your opponent's Comeuppance will see that something he doesn't control is trying to deal damage to him...and you see where this is going. The game gets into an infinite loop of Comeuppances preventing damage from each other and trying to deal it back. And since the entire thing is mandatory, with no chance for either player to take any actions, there's no way to escape the loop.

Q: I know I can lie to my opponent about hidden information like what's in my hand. But is hidden information that both players happen to have access to public information? Like if my opponent controls Keeper of the Lens and one or both of us has forgotten about it, am I in trouble if play a face down Stratus Dancer and announce it as "face down Deathmist Raptor"? Does that vary if I have "malicious intent"?

A: No, you're not in trouble, beyond maybe being in danger of receiving some dirty looks from your opponent when they realize you're lying to them. Your opponent having permission to access some of your private information for a time doesn't change the fact that that information is considered private by the rules. Your intent doesn't matter as far as the rules are concerned either, though it might affect the likelihood of you receiving those dirty looks.

Q: What happens if players draw their hand before rolling the dice to see who goes first? In a competitive event, if someone rolls after they have drawn their hand and they win the roll, are they automatically locked in to go first with no choice in the matter?

A: Yes, that's it exactly. Choosing to go first is considered the default, so if a player looks at their hand before deciding whether to play or draw, it's assumed they're choosing to play.

And that's all we have for Cranial Insertion today; be sure to join us again next week, when James will be back with another batch of rules questions for everyone to enjoy. And you know what the word for that is?

If you guessed awesome—bingo.

*everything explodes*

- 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.


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