Published on 09/21/2015

War Drums

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

The drum beat... the drums are coming closer... and closer.
Welcome back to another week here at Cranial Insertion. Do you hear that? The beating of the drums? Right now, we're on the cusp of war, as Zendikar rises to continue their fight against the Eldrazi. We thought about trying to hold peace talks, but I think we're a bit late for that. So we're embracing war, and preparing to set out to do battle! And by "set out to do battle", we mean "send out Moko and hide in the corner and hope things work out for the rest of us". If you have any questions about anything you've seen in Battle for Zendikar so far, please hold on for just one more week: Carsten will be here next week to cover all things Battle for Zendikar-related.

Remember, if you have any rules questions, feel free to contact us, either by tweeting short questions to @CranialTweet or asking longer questions via e-mail at . One of our writers will get back to you, and you may even find your question used in a future article.

But enough chatting, let's run and hide answer some questions!

Q: I have an Ojutai Exemplars on the battlefield, and I cast End Hostilities. If I choose the exile and return mode for the trigger, will my Exemplars survive?

A: Nope. When the Exemplar's trigger resolves, it's exiled...and immediately returned to the battlefield. Since it returns before the Hostilities resolves, it will still be destroyed by the Hostilities.

Q: With Woodland Bellower's triggered ability, I search for a Den Protector. Can I choose for the Protector to enter the battlefield face down?

A: No. Morph is only an option if you're casting the spell, not if it's being put onto the battlefield. If you're putting the creature onto the battlefield, it will enter face up by default. If you search for the Protector with the Bellower's trigger, it will enter the battlefield face up.

Q: I control an Orbs of Warding. My opponent is attacking me with an Embermaw Hellion and a Goblin Glory Chaser. Will the renown ability from the Glory Chaser trigger?

A: Only if you really want it to. When the Glory Chaser's combat damage would be dealt, we have two replacement effects that want to apply: the "prevent one damage" from the Orbs, and the Hellion's "other red sources deal an additional one damage" effect. Since you're the affected player, you get to choose which one to apply first. If you apply the effect from the Orbs first, the one damage from the Glory Chaser is prevented. Since it's no longer dealing any damage, the effect from the Hellion no longer applies, the Glory Chaser deals no damage, and renown will not trigger.

Q: I attack with my 4/4 Rhox Maulers. My opponent blocks with their 2/2, then casts Fiery Impulse on my Mauler. Since my Maulers have trample, will it gets the counters from renown before it dies from combat damage?

A: Nope. The ability that gives the Maulers counters is a triggered ability: it uses the stack and can be responded to. After combat damage is dealt, before the renown trigger can even go on the stack, we check state-based actions, and the game sees the Mauler has lethal damage marked on it (two from the 2/2, and two or three from the Impulse). The Maulers die, and its renown trigger goes on the stack, but does nothing when it resolves since the Maulers are in the graveyard now.

Q: I cast Villainous Wealth with X=7. Among the exiled cards is a Damnable Pact. Can I cast the Pact with X=5?

A: Nope. You're casting the spells without paying their mana costs, and if there's an X in the cost, X has to be 0. If you want to cast the Pact, the only value you can choose for X is 0.

Q: I have a Dragonlord Kolaghan on the battlefield, and my opponent's graveyard is empty. My opponent casts Siege Rhino. Can I counter his Rhino with Kolaghan's trigger on the stack so they lose 10 life when the trigger resolves?

A: Negative. Kolaghan's ability will only trigger if the opponent has a creature card that shares a name with the card in their graveyard right after they cast their creature. If the condition for Kolaghan's trigger is not true, it won't trigger at all.

Right after your opponent is done announcing their Rhino, we check to see if anything should trigger. This is the point when Kolaghan checks your opponent's graveyard to see if it should trigger. But since they don't have another Siege Rhino in their graveyard, Kolaghan's ability won't even trigger. Even if you counter their Rhino, we're passed the point when Kolaghan would trigger, so Kolaghan's ability won't even trigger and they won't lose any life.

Q: With See the Unwritten, I put a Mnemonic Wall onto the battlefield. Can I return the resolving See the Unwritten to my hand with the Wall's trigger?

A: Yes you can! The trigger from the Wall can't go on the stack until See the Unwritten is done resolving. At the point when you're finally putting the Wall's trigger on the stack, See the Unwritten is in the graveyard. Since it's in your graveyard, See the Unwritten is a legal target for your trigger, and can be put into your hand.

Q: My opponent has a Hushwing Gryff on the battlefield. I have a Genesis Hydra in my hand. Does the Gryff stop my Hydra?

A: Your Hydra is safe. Genesis Hydra's ability triggers when you cast the Hydra, not when it enters the battlefield. Since it's not an enters the battlefield trigger, the Gryff will not stop it from triggering, so you'll still get the Hydra's trigger and can still put something onto the battlefield. And the ability that causes the Hydra to enter with X +1/+1 counters is not a triggered ability either: they're added as the Hydra enters the battlefield, so the Gryff won't stop the Hydra from getting +1/+1 counters either.

Q: I attack with a Pyreheart Wolf. After the Wolf's trigger resolves, my opponent casts Turn to Frog on my Wolf. Can my Wolf still only be blocked by two or more creatures?

A: It can be blocked by just one creature. Now that menace is an evergreen ability, cards from the past that used to say that creature can only be blocked by two or more creature now give that creature menace. Since menace is an ability, it can be removed by Turn to Frog, so by letting the Wolf's trigger resolve, they can remove menace from the Wolf and can block it with one creature.

If we ever run low on drums, we can always ask this guy to hunt down a few more for us.

Q: I have a Goblin Warchief on the battlefield. I cast Goblin Cohort. Can I attack with the Cohort this turn?

A: Yes you can. The Cohort can't attack unless you've cast a creature spell this turn. In this situation, you have cast a creature spell this turn: the Cohort itself. The Cohort does not need to be on the battlefield when you cast the creature spell, it can look back over the turn to see if you've cast a creature spell or not. Since the Cohort has haste, and because you've cast a creature spell this turn, the Cohort will be able to attack.

Q: My opponent activates their Spikeshot Elder. I respond with a Doom Blade on the Elder. What happens when the Elder's ability resolves?

A: Since the Elder is no longer on the battlefield, we use the last-known power of the Elder. When it was last on the battlefield, its power was 1, so the ability will deal one damage to the target.

Q: What if I used a Flatten instead?

A: Well, that's a little different. When the ability resolves, we use the last-known power of the Elder. In this case, its power was -3. We can't deal negative damage, so we use 0 instead, and the ability will deal 0 damage to the target.

Q: I'm in a game of two-headed giant, and I play a Blanchwood Armor on my teammate's creature. Will it count my forests or my teammate's forests?

A: You still control the Armor, even though it's attached to your teammate's creature. The Armor will count the number of forests you control, not the number of forests your teammate controls.

Q: We're still in that two-headed giant game. Our opponents are attacking us with Artisan of Kozilek. Who decides which player will sacrifice the two permanents? Or do we both have to sacrifice two permanents?

A: When the trigger resolves, the controller of the Artisan chooses either you or your teammate. That player will sacrifice two permanents. Only one of you will sacrifice the permanents, you can't split up the sacrifice, and the option of who will sacrifice lies with your opponents.

Q: I imprint Bind onto my Isochron Scepter. Can I activate the Scepter, cast Bind targeting the Scepter's ability, and still draw a card when Bind resolves?

A: Nope. You can cast Bind, targeting the resolving Scepter's ability, since it' still on the stack while we're casting Bind. However, by the time we get around to resolving Bind, the Scepter's ability is no longer on the stack. Bind's only target is illegal, so the entire spell is countered and you won't draw a card.

Q: I have a Merieke Ri Berit and a Fatestitcher on the battlefield. My opponent has two creatures that I'd like to steal. Can I tap Merieke targeting one creature, untap her with Fatesticher, then activate er a second time targeting the other creature?

A: Yes you can. Unlike similar effects, you just need to control Merieke to retain control of the creature you've stolen with Merieke's ability. She has an ability that triggers when she becomes untapped or leaves play that destroys the creature you stole, but you haven't gained control of the creature yet, so the delayed trigger hasn't been created yet. As long as you untap and activate her ability a second time before the first ability resolves, you'll be able to steal two creatures.

Q: My opponent has a Jasmine Boreal with a bunch of equipment attached to it, including a Lightning Greaves. I have an Aether Gale in my hand. Can I choose to bounce the Greaves, then Jasmine to get them both off of the battlefield?

A: Nope. When you cast Aether Gale, you need to choose six different nonland targets. At the point when you're choosing targets, the Greaves are still attached to Jasmine, so Jasmine is not a legal target for the Gale. You will not be able to target or bounce Jasmine, since she still has shroud when we're choosing target for the spell.

Didn't bring enough war? Don't worry, we have war to spare!

Q: I have a Kaalia of the Vast in play, and a Rune-Scarred Demon in my graveyard. Can I cast Yawgmoth's WIll, then attack with Kaalia and put the Demon from my graveyard onto the battlefield?

A: Nope. The Will only lets you play cards from your graveyard. The cards are not considered a part of your hand, and Kaalia only lets you put a creature card from your hand onto the battlefield, not from any zone you're allowed to cast a creature card from. You cannot put the Demon from your graveyard onto the battlefield with Kaalia's trigger.

Q: I have a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx on the battlefield, and my devotion to green is 5. My opponent cast Contamination. If I activate Nykthos's second ability, naming green, how much mana do I get?

A: You get one black mana. Contamination replaces the type and amount with just generating a single black mana instead. It doesn't matter that Nykthos' ability would generate five mana with Contamination around, Contamination replace you getting five green mana with you getting a single black mana instead.

Q: Is there a way to have a permanent on the battlefield that's just tribal and no other types?

A: Strangely enough, there is a way. Tribal has only been used in conjunction with other types: Tribal Instant, Tribal Enchantment, etc. So we need to find a card that can remove a type from a permanent. There are many cards in Magic that can add types to a permanent, but very few that can remove a type. But Neurok Transmuter is one of the few that can remove a type. So here's how this works:

Have a Tribal Artifact (like Cloak and Dagger) on the battlefield, along with March of the Machines, to make it a tribal artifact creature. Activate the Transmuter's second ability, targeting Cloak and Dagger. Both March of the Machines and the Transmuter's ability apply in the same layer, but the March's effect is dependent on the Transmuter's effect, because applying the Transmuter's effect will change what the March affects. We apply the effect of the Transmuter first, and Cloak and Dagger stops being an artifact. Since Cloak and Dagger is no longer an artifact, March of the Machines will no longer apply to it. We now have a Cloak and Dagger with just the Tribal type. Ta da!

So what does this mean in game terms? Well, the Cloak is a Tribal - Rogue. It's no longer an equipment since it's not an artifact. It remains on the battlefield, but otherwise, nothing else really exciting matters for it.

I'd try to give everyone a proper goodbye, but I still hear Moko outside, so I think we're just going to stay in here for the next week. We'll see you all in a week, and start to unravel the mysteries of Battle for Zendikar!

—Nathan Long


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