Published on 07/27/2015

Fin de siècle

or, Thanks for Ten Years of Fish

Cranial Translation
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Time to surf off waterfalls!
Hello everyone, and welcome back! Let's start off this week with a bit of shake-up:

This is my final article for Cranial Insertion. :/

It's sad, but it's because my job's starting to get awesome in ways that make continuing here difficult. It's been an awesome run, and even though I'm stepping out, I'm proud that we've got a team here that'll keep on rolling and helping the players out there.

Moko, Carsten, James, Callum, and a new writer (who I think I know but we're not positive as I write this) will continue shoving fluffy bunnies into your head, so make sure to send them questions! Email to , or send quick and simple questions to @CranialTweet on Twitter, and you'll get an answer plus a chance for fame and glory in our future columns.

For now, I'm signing off with an ever-popular quiz article! See how many you can get right - this one's particularly tricky in a few places, so if anyone can get all of them, let us know.

Q: A renowned Consul's Lieutenant and not-renown Topan Freeblade attack. In response to the trigger, I Turn to Frog the Lieutenant. How much damage is dealt to me?

A: The infamous answer is...

A: 3
B: 4
C: 5
D: 6
E: 8.5

The consul says
C, 5 damage!

When Turn to Frog resolves, the Lieutenant becomes a 1/1 with a +1/+1 counter on it, so it's a 2/2 creature. Its trigger resolves, and gives the Freeblade +1/+1 - it doesn't matter that it's lost all abilities. Being renown is a fact, like being monstrous or paired, not an ability. 2+3=5, so 5 damage it is, unless Emrakul's got her wiggly tentacles into the basics of math lately.

Q: I have two cards left in my library, and my opponent has five. We've both delved away our graveyards so they're empty. So now who wins when I cast Day's Undoing?

A: Today's answer is...

A: You draw your cards first, so you lose.
B: Your opponent draws first so your opponent loses.
C: You ran out of cards first, so you lose.
D: You ran out of cards during the same spell, so the game's a draw.
E: The day's over, so everyone goes to sleep.

The... zzz
D, game's a draw!

You do draw all seven of your cards first, but state-based actions are not checked until you're in the cleanup step after resolving Day's Undoing. At that point, the game sees two players who tried to draw a card from an empty library since the last time state-based actions were checked, and boom, you both lose.

Q: I control an Ampryn Tactician equipped with Brawler's Plate and enchanted with Murder Investigation. I control another artifact, creature, and enchantment, so my opponent chooses those for Tragic Arrogance and I have to sacrifice the Tactician, Plate, and Investigation. How many Soldiers do I get?

A: The tragic answer is...

A: Zero
B: Three
C: Five
D: You choose zero, three, or five
E: Over nine thousand!

After careful investigation, the answer is
C, five Soldiers!

The whole shebang here is about last known information. Immediately before it left the battlefield, your Tactician was a 5/5. All three permanents are sacrificed simultaneously, and since Murder Investigation has a "dies" trigger, it looks back to immediately before the event to see whether or not it should trigger. Lo, it does! And it uses that last known information to determine how many Soldiers to send to investigate.

Heeeey Opalescence!
Q: How does Starfield of Nyx interact with Heliod, God of the Sun? Does it matter which entered first or how much devotion you have?

A: The enchanting answers are...

A1: If Heliod entered first and you have enough devotion, he's 4/4.
A2: If Heliod entered first and you have enough devotion, he's 5/6.

B1: If Heliod entered first and you don't have enough devotion, he's 4/4.
B2: If Heliod entered first and you don't have enough devotion, he's 5/6.
B3: If Heliod entered first and you don't have enough devotion, he's not a creature.

C1: If Starfield entered first and you have enough devotion, he's 4/4.
C2: If Starfield entered first and you have enough devotion, he's 5/6.

D1: If Starfield entered first and you don't have enough devotion, he's 4/4.
D2: If Starfield entered first and you don't have enough devotion, he's 5/6.
D3: If Starfield entered first and you don't have enough devotion, he's not a creature

The four magical answer are
A1, B1, C1, D3! 4/4 or bust!

The string of 1s is easy: Starfield of Nyx overwrites Heliod's power and toughness all of the time. It will always set it to 4/4 on top of its normal power and toughness.

When you look at devotion, you get into a question of timestamps and dependency. Neither ability depends on the other; both will do what they say (even if one does less) whether or not the other applies first. So then it's just down to timestamps. Whichever entered last wins. If you have sufficient devotion, Heliod's ability doesn't even apply. If you don't, you either apply it Heliod-Starfield and become a noncreature and then a creature again, or Starfield-Heliod and say "yup, I'm a creature" then "Nope, nevermind!"

Q: I control Gideon with one ability activated, Jace with none, and activate The Chain Veil. Then I cast Liliana. How many times may I activate their abilities now? [Note: For ease of following along, we've replaced the specific walker cards with generic walker names. Their exact abilities aren't relevant to the question.]

A: The veiled answer is (ordered as Gideon, Jace, and Liliana)...

A: 0, 1, and 1.
B: 1, 1, and 1.
C: 1, 2, and 1.
D: 1, 2, and 2.
E: Wait, is Gideon doing the dance of the seven veils?
F: I mean, Jace would also make a funny mental image.
G: But Gideon is so fuzzy.
H: Those sideburns.
I: It's my last article, I shun your letter conventions.
J: Actually, I shun letters in most of my quiz articles.
K: ANYWAY, answers.

Thank you. The answer is
D, two activations for everyone!

The Chain Veil's ability doesn't modify characteristics, so it applies to each planeswalker you control at any point in the turn, whether or not that planeswalker had an ability activated and whether or not you even controlled him or her at the time The Chain Veil's ability resolved. You can therefore activate Gideon one more time, and activate Jace and Liliana twice each. Do you just win yet?

Q: I cast Talent of the Telepath and turn up Negate and Titan's Strength, so my Ringwarden Owl could become bigger and swing for a lot if I cast both. Can I do that?

A: The owlish answer is...

A: Yes, but you'll have to Negate the Titan's Strength.
B: Yes, you can Negate Talent of the Telepath.
C: Yes, you can cast Negate without a target.
D: No, there is no way to cast Negate here.
E: This Owl is already bigger than a bear and you want to make it bigger? FOR SCIENCE!

The telepath says
B, Negate me all you want!

A is also a legal play, but you don't have to do it, which makes the answer wrong. C is right out; you need a target. Luckily, if you don't want to counter your pump spell, you can target Talent of the Telepath! A spell isn't put into its owner's graveyard until the very last step of resolution, after you're done doing everything written on the card. Among those instructions in this case is casting two of the revealed cards, which means that Talent of the Telepath is still there on the stack waiting for you to do its things so it can go already. Negate will be countered since its target is gone long before it resolves, but oh well - you got your prowless trigger.

Q: In a four-player game, Maelstrom Wanderer has dealt 7 commander damage to two other players, then I steal it. What happens if I keep attacking people with it?

A: The stormy answer is...

A: You need to deal 14 damage to the other players, and 21 to its owner.
B: You need to deal 21 damage to each other player.
C: You need to deal 14 damage to the other players, but its owner is safe.
D: You need to deal 21 damage to the other players, but its owner is safe.
E: Ignore all the players and burninate the countryside.

The burn-happy answer is
A, keep counting damage!

Commander damage counts to 21 combat damage without regard for who controlled that commander at the time the damage was dealt. And, delightfully, you can in fact borrow someone's commander and beat him or her to death with that player's own creature. It's beautiful when that happens.

No no, first you empty your
mind, not your hand.
Q: I cast Infernal Tutor, and I want to crack Lion's Eye Diamond, but I don't want to waste it if my opponent's going to just counter my Tutor. Can I do that?

A: The lion's eye answer is...

A: Yes, if you don't pass priority after casting Infernal Tutor, your opponent can't respond until after it's resolved because you activate a mana ability.
B: Yes, if you pass and your opponent passes, you can activate Lion's Eye Diamond after that before Infernal Tutor resolves.
C: No, you can't activate Lion's Eye Diamond in response to Infernal Tutor.
D: No, you can't activate Lion's Eye Diamond without your opponent being able to counter Infernal Tutor.
E: Wait, you're seriously doing this without Cabal Therapy backup?

Our hellbent tutor says
D, there's no way to do this!

After you cast Infernal Tutor, you get priority. You can activate LED there, and then your opponent can counter your spell. Or you can pass. If you do, your opponent can counter your spell or pass. If your opponent does pass, then Infernal Tutor immediately resolves - both players passed in succession. The only way to reliably combo off like this is to hit your opponent with Cabal Therapy so you can peek and know it's safe.

Q: Which of these does Painter's Servant paint?

A: I see a red answer and I want it painted...

A: Runeclaw Bear in your sideboard.
B: A token copy of Runeclaw Bear.
C: An exiled Mudhole.
D: A manifested Mudhole.
E: The Mudhole you're casting in that other game over there.

No Scarecrows anymore I want them to turn
B, C, and D are all colorful!

Painter's Servant won't affect objects that aren't in the game, such as cards in your sideboard and... well... cards in another game. Exiled cards are still in the game, and tokens are very much permanents, so those are both covered. A manifested card has no color naturally, but it can gain one just fine.

Coming Soon:
Hamster Huey and
the Gooey Kablooie
Q: What will survive Ratchet Bomb with no counters on it?

A: The explosive answers are...

A: Jace, Telepath Unbound.
B: Hangarback Walker cast with X=1.
C: A token copy of Runeclaw Bear.
D: Mudhole hey wait you get back in that last question.
E: Chandra, Roaring Flame's emblem.

C and E are still standing!

The back face of double-faced cards has no mana cost printed, so its converted mana cost is 0. Bit of a liability there, Jace. While on the battlefield, X in a mana cost is 0, no matter what was spent to cast it, and I'm pretty sure that 0+0 still equals 0. Emblems aren't permanents, so they're safe.

Tokens normally have no mana cost, which gives them a converted mana cost of 0, but by being a copy of something, that Bear token has that object's mana cost, and so its converted mana cost is based on that. The token's got a CMC of 2, so it'll live.

Q: What's the converted mana cost of Nourishing Shoal if I exile Runeclaw Bear to cast it and splice on Desperate Ritual?

A: The delicious answer is...

A: 2
B: 4
C: 6
D: 8
E: Who do we appreciate?

Rah! Rah! Rah!
B, it's just 4!

While on the stack, the value of X is evaluated to whatever was chosen for X. You might think that you didn't choose X, since you exiled a card that set it - but that's the joy of Magic's rules that it's so invisible! You have to choose a value of X, such as 2, and then exile a card with a matching converted mana cost, such as Runeclaw Bear there. That brings the converted mana cost up to 4.

You also splice on Desperate Ritual. That has no effect at all on the mana cost or converted mana cost. It does affect the total cost, which is yet another related but separate value. All in all, you'll pay and exile a Bear, and get a spell with a converted mana cost of 4.

Q: Which of these cards have characteristic-defining abilities?

A: The answers are...

A: Woodland Changeling
B: Pact of Negation
C: Possessed Aven
D: Heliod, God of the Sun
E: Mudhole

The definitive answers are
A and only A!

Changeling is a fun CDA that's a keyword. It applies unconditionally in every zone.

Pact of Negation used to have a CDA to make it blue, but the color indicator technology that came with Innistrad chopped off the ability and gave it a cool blue bubble instead.

Possessed Aven and Heliod both fail the CDA test in a big way: their abilities are conditional. A CDA may be conditionally plus or minus, or conditionally foo or bar, but it cannot be conditionally on or off.

Q: Which of these questions do I have to honestly answer?

A: The answers are...

A: (While resolving Infinite Obliteration) Are these three Runeclaw Bears the only ones in your deck?
B: (The turn after resolving Cabal Therapy) Did you have a Runeclaw Bear in hand when I looked?
C: Do you like Mudhole?
D: What was it you killed me with last game, Runeclaw Bear or Forest Bear?
E: (After you scry, put it on top, and then put the top two cards into your graveyard) Which one was on top?
F: How many cards did you sideboard in?
G: Have the judges given you Warnings for anything today?
H: What is your record today?
I: What is your name?
J: What is your quest?
K: What is your favorite color?
L: Where oh where has my little dog gone?
M: Where does the sun go at night?
N: Question Elemental?

The (honest) answers are

Everything is a lie. Especially the cake.

None of the questions pertain to free or derived information - the cards in a hidden zone, even one that's currently revealed, are still private. Past information that you saw is private. Tournament meta-information like record, sideboarding, and penalties are all private. Lying about your name to your opponent might be slightly awkward, but as long as you're not lying to the judges about it or trying to cause undue shenanigans, you're more or less okay. Your quest is your business alone - perhaps you just want to find your dog.

And with that, I put down my pen after a good ten-year run.

But I'm sure we'll see each other again soon enough.

Until next time, may all of your changes be awesome!

- Eli Shiffrin

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.

Aw man, so close. I missed Day's Undoing (bad L1, need to review decking rules) and Commander (I don't play it), and misremembered the base p/t of frogs but got all the tricky parts of that one right. Oh well. Thank you Eli! Best of luck in your other pursuits.
#1 • Date: 2015-07-27 • Time: 00:12:13 •
On the chain veil question I was confused by the "for each ..." clause, which I thought would apply the effect only for the ones you currently control.
On the CDA question I forgot about the main thing with CDA's: They apply in all zones at all times.
On the "Honest Answers" question, "how many cards have you sideboarded in" I'd've said you have to answer truthfully because the number of cards in your opponent's library is public knowledge and therefore cannot be lied about. Now obviously you don't have to tell your opponent how many cards you swapped in, but if you knew your opponent had 60 cards before sideboarding, you may indeed ask how many cards he has afterwards, which is identical to the question of how many cards he sideboarded in.
The only other thing that got me confused was the cards going to the graveyard from top of the library. Does the opponent really not see in which order they were if multiple cards are put into the yard at the same time?

Anyways, I appreciate harder questions alot (the FAQ-style simple ones simply get boring after a while). And hiding the answers behind spoiler-tags is always welcome :)
Thank you for 10 years of awesome CI-articles, Eli, you will be missed.
#2 • Date: 2015-07-27 • Time: 09:05:34 •
It might be worth mentioning in the Infernal Tutor answer that LED has to be used as an instant and that's why you can't do the thing.
#3 • Date: 2015-07-27 • Time: 10:01:55 •
So, the very first question is slightly ambiguous; we are expected to infer that the Lieutenant has a +1/+1 counter from the fact that it is renowned. However, for all we know the counter was removed after it became renowned. So you could argue that 4 is also a valid answer.
#4 • Date: 2015-07-27 • Time: 11:15:44 •
@BladewingX: "The number of any type of objects present in any game zone" is derived information, however the amount of sideboard cards isn't... so maybe it's derived derived information? :D I suppose you could ask for (Regular REL) or count (Competitive REL) the number of cards in the opponent's deck in every match, but you'd still have to do the math yourself, and might get in trouble for slow play?

@Blees: You are able to activate LED at instant speed (just like any other activated ability, given there are no specific restrictions), but priority is the real reason this doesn't work, as explained in the answer.

@MAHK: Where do you get the removal of a +1/+1 counter from? There's no mentioning of it in the question. If you go about it the 'Judge Center' way of reading them, everything necessary to answer the question will be stated, and nothing that isn't stated is interacting with the situation. The creature being renowned means it has a +1/+1 counter on it unless otherwise mentioned, to my understanding.
(You could argue that that's not true for other questions, such as the Starfield of Nyx/Heliod one, where it doesn't say anywhere that there are enough enchantments under the player's control to 'activate' the second ability of Starfield of Nyx...)
#5 • Date: 2015-07-28 • Time: 03:57:44 •
@BlueScope: You have to sideboard out the same number of cards you sideboard in, so the number of cards in your library won\'t change. And, in fact, you\'re allowed to count your opponent\'s sideboard at any time (but not look at them, unless you control the player).

I didn\'t really understand the LED question. What does the person asking the question want to do? I presume \"wait until I know Internal Tutor will resolve, but before it does, and then crack LED\". But why would you want that? It\'s either for Infernal Tutor itself, but you would have to do that before you finish casting the Tutor, let alone give your opponent priority; or for something else, which you could just as well do after the Tutor resolves. (The fact that it\'s instant speed was completely lost on me since the original wording, shown by the preview here, says \"play as a mana source\", which I assumed meant \"mana ability\", but apparently errata have translated \"mana source\" as \"instant\"! And either way the answer is still no.)

Also... Mudhole will survive a Ratchet Bomb since it\'s not a permanent, unless it\'s manifested. :)
#6 • Date: 2015-07-28 • Time: 10:18:02 •
@Thrawcheld: While I can't find a source on it, I was pretty sure the sideboarding rules were changed to a 15-card max, and the respective minimum limit of cards as defined by the format. So if you had a 65-card modern deck with 5 sideboard cards, you may take 5 cards out of your deck (ending up with a 10-card sideboard), or board in 5 cards (ending up with a 0-card sideboard).

I did, however, find 3.15. in the Floor Rules that says opponents may count the number of sideboard cards at any time... wasn't aware of that!
#7 • Date: 2015-07-28 • Time: 12:37:02 •

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