Published on 08/17/2015

Hurry Up and Relax!

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Run for it!
Hello, and welcome to a lovely summer edition of Cranial Insertion! We still time to kick back and enjoy the sun for a few month or so until...wait, what's that? Summer's almost over? We don't have a month? No, it can't be, the calendar says it's only oh no it's nearly gone! Quickly, run out and enjoy the sunshine while you still can! I'm right behind you!

...What? No! Moko, what are you doing? Why are you tying me to this desk? I have to finish the article? But I have so many summer things left I need to do—there's no time for rules questions or articles or any of that stuff! ARGH!

All right, I've tried worming out of these ropes and there's just no way, so I guess the only way I'm getting out is to finish the article and hope Moko lets me go. As always, if you have questions of your own you can email them to him at or tweet them to @CranialTweet—you'll get your answer and perhaps see your question in an upcoming article. But enough about that—precious summer time's awasting!

Q: How does Phyrexian Revoker work against morph creatures? Can I only use it to stop one type of morph creature from turning face-up, or is there a way to use it to stop all of them?

A: Basically, it doesn't work against them at all, for several reasons. First, face-down creatures don't have any name—even if you correctly guess what morph your opponent is using, it doesn't have that name while face-down, so the Revoker wouldn't affect it at all.

Second, turning a morph creature face-up isn't an activated ability, so even if you could name the face-down creature, turning it face-up still wouldn't be hindered by Phyrexian Revoker.

Q: I play Temple of Mystery and puts the scry card on the top of my library. My opponent then casts Dreadwaters targeting me, milling four cards. Since I can put those four cards in my graveyard in any order, can I shuffle those cards before revealing them, to conceal which card was the one I scried and deny my opponent information? Or is my opponent entitled to know which card is which? What if they used Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver's +2 ability instead?

A: Yes, you can do that—your opponent is not entitled to know the original order of cards that you exile or put into your graveyard from your library. As far as the game is concerned, they go directly from being in order in your library (where your opponent can't see them or their order) to being in a different order (or no order at all) in the zone they're moving to. At no point are they somewhere where your opponent can see the previous order.

Q: I cast Languish to kill my opponent's 3/3 Hangarback Walker and the three +1/+1 Thopters that come into play after the Walker dies. But my opponent says that Languish's effect stopped before the Thopters came into play. Languish's -4/-4 effect lasts "until end of turn", so why wouldn't they die also?

A: For the same reason why if you cast Day of Judgment, it will only destroy the creatures that are around when it resolves—it won't hang around and also destroy every creature either player casts for the rest of the game.

Just like Day of Judgment, when Languish resolves, it tells you to do something (in this case, give -4/-4 until end of turn) to all creatures. So that's what you do, giving -4/-4 to all existing creatures. Since you've completed its instructions, Languish then is done resolving and goes to the graveyard, its job done.

The fact that after that happens some new creatures arrive on the battlefield doesn't make any difference—they didn't exist when you were handing -4/-4 out to everything, so they're too late to get it.

Q: My renowned Consul's Lieutenant attacks, but my opponent kills it in response to its trigger. Will my other attacking creatures still get +1/+1?

A: Yes, they will. When the Lieutenant's ability resolves, the game goes looking for it to see whether or not it's renowned. But since the Lieutenant is no longer on the battlefield where it was supposed to be, the game just shrugs and looks at what it looked like the last time it was on the battlefield instead. And at that time, it was renowned, so your remaining attackers get a boost.

A hard Day's work wasted.

Q: How does Day's Undoing work with Sphinx's Tutelage?

A: Mostly, it doesn't. If you cast Day's Undoing during your own turn, Sphinx's Tutelage will trigger for you drawing cards, but triggers can't go onto the stack in the middle of resolving a spell, so you keep resolving Day's Undoing, and end the turn. Which wipes all of those pending triggers out of existence, meaning they never get a chance to resolve and so don't do anything.

And while you could do some shenanigans to cast Days Undoing on your opponent's turn so the turn doesn't end and you get to mill, it seems a bit counterproductive if you're planning on winning with Sphinx's Tutelage to cast a spell that shuffles your opponent's graveyard back into their library...

Q: How do cards like Goryo's Vengeance and Flickerwisp work with Day's Undoing?

A: Goryo's Vengeance, Flickerwisp, and cards like them want to trigger "at the beginning of the next end step", whenever that happens to be—which normally is just after the second main phase of your turn. But when you end the turn, the game skips directly to the cleanup step, missing everything between there and where you were entirely. That means that those abilities don't trigger, because there was never an end step to trigger them.

So because the event they're waiting for hasn't happened yet, those abilities will continue to hang around waiting for their chance to trigger—the next end step that actually occurs. And that's probably going to be the one that happens during the next player's turn.

Q: I have a Blessed Spirits and Aerie Worshippers; do the Birds created by the Worshippers count towards giving Blessed Spirits +1/+1, or is the fact that it is played as a token make it not count?

A: Your Bird tokens will not trigger the Spirits, because the Spirits only trigger when you cast an enchantment spell, because while the tokens that you get from the Worshippers are enchantments, they were never cast as spells—they were just put straight onto the battlefield, no casting required.

Q: Does a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy in the graveyard count as a planeswalker for Tarmogoyf?

A: No, it doesn't. The only time a double-faced cards back face is used is when it's both on the battlefield and transformed. At any other time, the back face effectively doesn't exist. So while Jace is in the graveyard, he's only ever a creature.

Q: When cards like Root Elemental or Elvish Piper allow me to put a creature directly onto the battlefield, can I choose to put it there face down, assuming the creature I choose has morph?

A: No, you can't. Permanents always enter the battlefield face-up (and untapped) by default—you can't just choose to have them enter face down because it happens to be convenient for you. In order for them to enter face-down, something has to specifically tell you that that's what happens. Neither Root Elemental nor Elvish Piper do that, and morph only applies when you're casting the spell as a morph, not when you put it on the battlefield in some other way.

Q: So, I cast Ensoul Artifact on Hangarback Walker. Ensoul makes Hangarback a 5/5 creature—am I still able to use its ability to pump it?

A: Ensoul Artifact doesn't say it removes any abilities from your Walker, so it doesn't—your Walker still has all of the abilities it had before, including the one that allows you to put +1/+1 counters on it.

Also note that you always apply things that boost or reduce power and toughness (like +1/+1 counters) "over top" of effects like Ensoul Artifact that set power and toughness to specific values, so your Hangarback Walker probably isn't just a 5/5 after you Ensoul it—all the +1/+1 counters it had before are still boosting it, meaning it's at least a 6/6 and possibly bigger.

Q: If I have Whirler Rogue out, can I tap an Equipment to use the Rogue's ability? If so, how does that work?

A: It works very well indeed. Unless something says otherwise (and nothing does), a tapped Equipment functions exactly the same as an untapped one—you can still Equip it, and it still provides exactly the same bonus to the creature it's equipped to as it normally does.

Note that while it's common practice for players to physically turn Equipment (and Auras) attached to a creature sideways when they tap that creature, that's not actually accurate—tapping the creature doesn't require or result in you tapping the Equipment (or Auras). Most people do it because it's easier to turn the entire pile sideways than just one of the cards and it generally doesn't matter.

Unless you have a Whirler Rogue out, anyway.

Q: If an opponent attacks me, does Provoke allow me to untap one of my opponent's attacking creatures and use it to block another of my opponent's attacking creatures?

A: Well, you can use it to untap one of your opponent's attacking creatures, but that's not really going to end well for you—all it will mean is that your opponent now has an untapped attacking creature instead of a tapped one. Your opponent may very well thank you for the assistance.

Provoke says that the creature it targets blocks this turn if able, but only creatures controlled by the defending player can block attacking creatures. Your opponent definitely isn't attacking himself, which means his creatures definitely can't block his own attackers.

Pretty dang awesome with Willbreaker.
Just saying.
Q: Whenever I play Willbreaker with triggered abilities that have optional costs, everybody else tells me that I only get to choose targets if I pay the costs. Is that right?

A: No, it's not. If a triggered ability has a target, you need to choose that target at the time the ability is put onto the stack. Everything else about the ability—like whether or not it will ask you to pay a cost in order to do something to that target—is completely irrelevant.

And if a triggered ability has a cost, like Frenzied Goblin or Equilibrium, then you only decide whether or not to pay that cost at the time the ability resolves.

So if, for example, you control both Equilibrium and Furious Assault and cast a creature spell, you need to choose targets for both abilities right away, long before either of them resolves, and long before Equilibrium asks you to pay .

Q: Does Archangel of Tithes effect stack? If I have two out that are untapped does it cost 2 mana for each attacking creature? On the flip side, if I attack with two then does my opponent have to pay 2 mana for each blocking creature?

A: Archangel of Tithes is indeed cumulative in multiples. Each one imposes its own separate cost, completely independently of the other(s), and your opponent needs to pay all required costs if they want to attack (or block) with their own creatures.

Q: If my Animar, Soul of Elements had 2 +1/+1 counters on it, does that mean my Hangarback Walker will be a 1/1 when it enters the battlefield, or a 2/2?

A: That depends on what you decided you wanted X to be. When casting Hangarback Walker—or any other X spell—you decide on a value for X first, and only after doing that do you work out how much it's going to cost with that value for X.

So if your Animar has two counters, you can cast Hangarback Walker with X = 1 for free if you like. ( + - = ) But if you decided you wanted X to be 2, then the cost would be + - = , if you wanted X to be 3, the cost would be + - = , and so on and so forth.

Q: If I somehow manage to use Memory Jar multiple times in a single turn, what happens in the end step? Do I return all the cards exiled by all the Jar activations, and am I past the discard step?

A: Each Memory Jar activation operates independently of the others, with its own delayed trigger. At the beginning of the end step, all of those abilities trigger at once, and are put on the stack in whatever order you like. When each trigger resolves, everyone discards all the cards that are currently in their hand, and returns the cards that that particular Jar activation exiled...which will likely then promptly be discarded by the next Jar activation to resolve, giving them the cards that that Jar exiled instead.

In short, you and your opponents will only end up with the cards that one specific Jar exiled, but because you can have the triggers resolve in any order you wish, you get to choose which specific Jar everyone gets the cards from.

Q: Piracy lets me use my opponent's mana. Kruphix, God of Horizons keeps mana in my mana pool. Will my opponent's mana stay in my pool if I use Piracy to steal it?

A: While with Piracy you are tapping your opponent's lands, the resulting mana goes into your own mana pool, just like mana you would get from your own lands does. It's never "your opponent's mana", so it works exactly the same with Kruphix as any other mana does.

Q: If I exile a suspend card like Rift Bolt off of the effect of Chandra, Pyromaster, Abbot of Keral Keep, or similar, can I suspend it?

A: Unfortunately not. You can only suspend cards from your hand, and while Chandra and company give you permission to play the card you exile (ie, cast it if it's a spell or play it as a land), they don't give you permission to do anything else with it. Since they don't specifically give you the ability to suspend it, and it's not in your hand where suspend normally functions from, you can't suspend it.

Q: When Underworld Cerberus dies and exiles himself, does the trigger from Mikaeus, the Unhallowed bring him back from exile?

A: Not if you have the triggers resolve in that order—undying can't return the creature from the graveyard to the battlefield if it's already left the graveyard. However, luckily for you they won't necessarily do that.

Both Underworld Cerberus's natural ability and undying are triggered abilities, and when the Cerberus dies, both of them trigger at the same time. Since you control both of them, you choose the order in which they're put onto the stack, and therefore the order in which they resolve.

If you have the Cerberus's exile trigger resolve first, then things happen as described above. But if you have the undying trigger resolve first, things are much better for you. Undying returns the Cerberus to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter, and then the exile trigger resolves, but just as above, it can't exile Cerberus because it's not in the graveyard where it was supposed to be any more. But okay, never mind that, the ability says, what else was it we were doing? Oh, returning all the other creatures in graveyards to their owner's hand? Well, we can sure do that. End result: all the creatures are back and your Cerberus is bigger and badder than ever. Awesome.

Q: I often see Nykthos players float extra mana when using Polukranos, World Eater, so that if the opponent responds to the Monstrosity ability with a removal spell they can just use the ability again. However, wouldn't it make more sense for the opponent to let the Monstrosity ability resolve and then respond to the Monstrous trigger? Am I missing something in the rules that makes this line of play invalid?

A: It means that the damage would still happen. Polukranos, World Eater's ability may look similar to fighting, where all creatures involved need to be on the battlefield in order for anything to happen, but it's not actually the same thing. Even if Polukranos leaves the battlefield before its becomes-monstrous trigger resolves, the ability still resolves and deals damage to all of the targets as normal. Those creatures then try to deal damage back to Polukranos and fail, but they're not going to have a lot of time to stew on their failure since they're probably going to die almost immediately.

Naturally, this isn't what the opposing player wants, so if they want to have any hope of stopping the damage, they need to stop that ability from triggering in the first place, which means killing off Polukranos before it can become monstrous.

Q: How does the "Flagbearer" ability (eg. Coalition Honor Guard) interact with Crib Swap and other Changeling tribal spells?

A: Sadly, it doesn't. Coalition Honor Guard and its friends specifically say that your opponent only has to target a Flagbearer on the battlefield if they can, and while your Crib Swap is indeed a Flagbearer (in addition to being a Weird Zombie Pig Spawn) it's not on the battlefield. So your opponent isn't forced to target it at all.

Q: If I cast Snapcaster Mage, can I respond to its enters-the-battlefield ability with Lightning Bolt, then flash back the Bolt?

A: No, you can't. You need to choose a target for Snapcaster Mage's ability at the time that ability's put onto the stack, before anybody has a chance to respond. At that time, Lightning Bolt is not in the graveyard, so it's not a legal target.

You can still do (mostly) what you want—you just need to do it differently, by casting your Lightning Bolt before you allow Snapcaster Mage to resolve and enter the battlefield. That way it will be around when the time comes to choose targets, so you'll be able to flash it back just fine.

All right, good, so that should be enough to call an article—what do you say, Moko? Great, excellent, and now I'm out of here, and you should be too! Savor summer while you can, and maybe stop by next week for our new author Nathan's first article.

Until next time, enjoy the sun! And when I find out who left all that rope lying around where Moko could get it there's going to be trouble.

- 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.

"morph only applies when you're casting the spell for its morph cost" - but you never do that. You pay either its mana cost to cast it face up, or to cast it face down. You only pay the morph cost to turn it face up, not to cast it.
#1 • Date: 2015-08-17 • Time: 08:47:13 •
Quote (Thrawcheld):
You only pay the morph cost to turn it face up, not to cast it.

Whoops, definitely a poor choice of words there. Thanks for letting us know—I've corrected the answer's wording.
#2 • Date: 2015-08-18 • Time: 12:51:59 •

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