Published on 07/06/2015

The Final Origin


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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

BOOM goes the core set
It's almost time to bid farewell to core sets in Magic. The final core set, Magic Origins, is due out in just a couple of weeks, and already the spoilers are flying (in some cases, literally — look at all the Thopters!). But, as is our policy, we can't yet answer questions about the new cards; next week we'll have our all-singing, all-dancing Origins special issue, but for now we have to stick to cards that are already released.

Fortunately we've still got a good crop of questions for this week's issue, and if you've got a rules question (about new or old cards) burning a hole in your brain, feel free to ask us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: I heard something about the mulligan rules changing. When does that go into effect? Will I be able to use the new mulligan at FNM or a Magic Origins prerelease?

A: The rules aren't changing just yet. The next Pro Tour event (in Vancouver in a few weeks) will experiment with a new mulligan procedure, but the different procedure will only be used at that Pro Tour, for now. So you cannot use the new mulligan at any other tournament yet. If it's successful at the Pro Tour, Wizards of the Coast will let us know whether and when the new rule will roll out to other types of tournaments.

Q: Can I cast Caller of the Claw and sacrifice a bunch of my creatures in response to it (say, to Bloodthrone Vampire) in order to make more tokens?

A: You can — the Caller of the Claw trigger determines the number of creatures that died when it resolves, so any creatures which died before then (including in response to it being cast) will be counted. Just remember that your opponent might let you sacrifice all those creatures and then decide to use a counterspell on Caller of the Claw!

Q: If the creature I reanimate with Puppeteer Clique's ability dies before my end step, does it still get exiled?

A: Nope. While there are plenty of cards which do bring a creature back from a graveyard and instruct you to exile it f it would leave the battlefield (for example, Whip of Erebos), Puppeteer Clique doesn't say to do that. So, if the creature would leave the battlefield somehow before your end step rolls around, that just happens normally and the creature doesn't get exiled.

Q: I'm at 4 life and I cast a Foul-Tongue Invocation, revealing Dragonlord Silumgar from my hand. In response my opponent cast Stoke the Flames targeting me. I don't lose, though, because I go back up to 4 life in the same phase of the turn, right?

A: Hopefully you won't have a foul taste on your tongue from this but... you'll lose the game here. Once upon a time, back in the ancient days of Magic, the rules allowed you to temporarily drop to 0 or less life so long as you got your life total into the positive numbers again before the end of that phase of the turn. But that was changed long ago, and now the rules check your life total after each spell and ability resolves. Since you're at 0 after Stoke the Flames resolves, you lose the game then and there, and your Foul-Tongue Invocation will never resolve.

Q: I just restarted the game with Karn Liberated and one of the permanents Karn brought into the restarted game was a Temple of Triumph. Do I get to sry, and if I do, when?

A: You do scry, because Temple of Triumph entered the battlefield. The "when" is a bit tricky: the trigger can't go on the stack before the first turn begins, and can't go on the stack during the untap step of that turn (nothing can be put on the stack during the untap step), so it gets put on the stack, and you'll scry, at the beginning of the upkeep step of the first turn of the restarted game.

Q: Does that mean the Temple will be untapped?

A: It will enter the battlefield tapped, just as its ability says. But then it will untap during the untap step of the first turn of the restarted game, so you'll have access to its mana during that turn.

Q: In a Modern tournament, I saw someone cast Snapcaster Mage and give flashback to a Kolaghan's Command. The opponent let the Snapcaster trigger resolve, then killed the Snapcaster Mage, but Kolaghan's Command brought it back. I thought that wouldn't work since you'd have to choose the targets for Kolaghan's Command immediately?

A: The answer here all depends on the timing. Although much of the time, players cast the card targeted by Snapcaster Mage immediately, nothing says you have to do that — Snapcaster Mage gives the card flashback until the end of the turn. So it's perfectly legal to just give something flashback and then wait for an opportune moment later in the turn to cast it. In the case of Kolaghan's Command, casting it after Snapcaster Mage has died in order to get the Snapcaster back seems pretty opportune!

Soon, core sets will be one of these
Q: I control Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and I cast an Umezawa's Jitte. If my opponent counters the Jitte, can I get it right back out of my graveyard with Mishra's ability?

A: If your opponent counters the Jitte in response to Mishra's trigger, yes (and if you're not sure when they're doing it, you have to ask — you don't just get to assume they did it at the time that was best for you). If they wait for Mishra's trigger to resolve, though, the Jitte will end up in your graveyard too late for Mishra to fetch it back.

Q: My opponent has a deck full of green cards that use megamorph or manifest. Can I play Grand Arbiter Augustin IV to make them more expensive?

A: Augustin will make it cost for your opponent to cast a face-down creature, but that's about it. Manifesting a card (as with Whisperwood Elemental's ability, for example) isn't a spell, and neither is turning a creature face up once it's on the battlefield, so Augustin won't do anything to those.

Q: My opponent exiled my Siege Rhino with a Banishing Light. Can I cast Dromoka's Command to make my opponent sacrifice Banishing Light, then have my returned Rhino fight something?

A: You need to choose all the targets for a spell at the time you cast it. And at that point your Siege Rhino hasn't yet returned to the battlefield, so it's not possible to choose it as one of the targets of Dromoka's Command.

Q: I have a Bayou and a Quirion Ranger, and my opponent has two Wastelands. My opponent activates a Wasteland targeting my Bayou, and in response I activate Quirion Ranger's ability, to return the Bayou. Can my opponent respond to that by activating the second Wasteland on my Bayou?

A: Nope! Returning a Forest to your hand is a cost of activating Quirion Ranger's ability, and no player can respond to, interrupt or prevent the process of paying costs. So by the time your opponent can respond to the Ranger's ability, the Bayou (which is a Forest) is already safely back in your hand.

Q: If I have a Cavern of Souls, can I tap it for colored mana, leave that mana floating, and bounce the Cavern (say, with Boomerang) to remove the restriction on how I use the mana?

A: The restriction on how you use that mana isn't an effect the depends on Cavern being on the battlefield; the restriction is attached to the mana itself (once it's produced), so removing the Cavern while the mana is still in your pool won't let you spend the mana on non-creatures, or on creatures of the wrong type.

Q: Would Stony Silence stop the ability of Paradise Mantle?

A: Paradise Mantle only has one activated ability: "Equip ", and with a Stony Silence out, that ability can't be activated. The mana-producing ability is granted to the equipped creature, so if Paradise Mantle is equipped to a nonartifact creature, that creature will still happily tap for mana.

Q: Would Melira, Sylvok Outcast protect my creatures from a Night of Souls' Betrayal?

A: Melira is pretty good, but not quite that good. She only stops -1/-1 counters from being placed on your creatures, and Night of Souls' Betrayal doesn't say that it places counters of any kind; it simply gives creatures -1/-1. So Melira (who will be 1/1 in this scenario) won't counteract that effect, and any creatures you controlled that had 1 toughness to begin with will still die.

Q: What about Melira and Devoted Druid? Does that let me make infinite mana by preventing the counter from being placed when I untap the Druid?

A: Nope. In fact, you won't even be able to activate the Druid's "untap me" ability; since -1/-1 counters can't be placed on it, you can't pay the cost to activate the ability.

Q: I control a Thespian's Stage and my opponent tries to destroy it with Tectonic Edge. If I respond by activating Stage to copy a basic Forest, will it still be destroyed?

A: It won't! When you copy something in Magic, you copy everything about it (as modified by any exceptions or additions described in the copy effect). So your Stage is now a basic Forest with the Thespian's Stage ability to copy things. Since it's now basic, it's an illegal target for Tectonic Edge's ability, and Tectonic Edge's ability is countered (though the Edge is still sacrificed, since that's a cost of its ability).

Q: My opponent just cast Ancient Grudge targeting my Æther Vial, which has two charge counters. I'd really like to put a 3-CMC creature into play, so could I respond to Ancient Grudge by casting Steady Progress to proliferate a third counter, then after that activate the Vial?

A: You can! Nothing requires you to let everything on the stack resolve before doing anything else; in fact, the rules work in the exact opposite way. Each time one spell or ability resolves, all players get priority afterward and can cast further spells or activate more abilities, so you can cast your Steady Progress and then, after it resolves, activate your now-even-more-charged-up Vial.

Q: If I splice a Desperate Ritual onto a Lava Spike, and the Lava Spike gets countered, does Desperate Ritual also get countered?

A: When you splice, you're not actually casting two spells; instead you're casting one spell and paying a cost to reveal a card from your hand, and add that card's text to the spell you're casting. So when Lava Spike gets countered it goes to the graveyard and none of its effects happen (not its own damage-dealing, or the spliced-on mana production), but Desperate Ritual stays in your hand and you'll be able to splice it onto something else, or even cast it on its own, later.

Q: If I cast an Orzhov Pontiff and then cast a Flickerwisp to exile the Pontiff, will my opponent's creatures get -2/-2?

A: They will, eventually. When you initially cast the Pontiff and it enters the battlefield its triggered ability will give your opponent's creatures -1/-1 until end of turn. When it enters the battlefield again at the beginning of the end step (courtesy of Flickerwisp), its triggered ability will happen again, giving another -1/-1 for a combined -2/-2 that won't wear off until the cleanup step of that turn (which comes after the end step). So any 2-toughness creatures your opponent controlled will die in the end step after the Pontiff's ability goes off for a second time.

Q: My opponent and I are each at 1 life; my opponent has only one card in hand, I have The Rack out, but my opponent has a suspended Rift Bolt. Do we kill each other in my opponent's upkeep, making the game a draw? Or does one of us win?

A: Unless your opponent has some other way to deal you that last point of damage, you will win here. In your opponent's upkeep, two triggered abilities — suspend from the Rift Bolt, and the Rack's ability — will trigger and be put on the stack. Since it's your opponent's turn the Rift Bolt's trigger goes on the stack first and your Rack trigger goes on the stack last (when it's your turn your triggered abilities always go on the stack first). But the last ability to be put on the stack is the first one to resolve, so your Rack will kill your opponent before that Rift Bolt can ever get un-suspended.

That's all for this week, but be sure to check in 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.

On the caller of the Claw question, why would you sacrifice the creatures in response to casting him? Wouldn't it make much more sense to cast it, let it resolve, and responding to the ETB-trigger by sacrificing a ton of creatures (possibly including caller of the claw himself)?
#1 • Date: 2015-07-06 • Time: 04:24:22 •
BladewingX: Luckily, it isn\'t the job of judges to tell players that their plays are smart, just that they are legal. For instance, if you ask \"Can I name Underworld Connections with Pithing Needle?\", the answer is yes, even though the land can still tap to draw a card if you do that.
#2 • Date: 2015-07-06 • Time: 08:18:56 •

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