Published on 10/12/2015

Food Colouring

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

It's not a turkey, but it's the biggest
one R&D had available.
Hello, and welcome to a mouthwatering Thanksgiving edition of Cranial Insertion! In honor of the holiday I've borrowed an industrial-size oven to roast up the biggest bird I could find, along with Brussels sprouts, carrots, and of course no Thanksgiving would be complete without mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing for days on end.

But don't despair, because in addition to all the food we've still got a piping-hot serving of rules questions for you to chow down on. If you'd like to contribute to the feast, you can send your questions in to us via email at , or via Twitter @CranialTweet if they're short enough.

But enough talk, let's dig in!

Q: What colour is an animated land?

A: Lands don't have mana costs, which means they're normally colourless, and turning a land into a creature doesn't inherently change that. Many animation effects will give the land a colour, (such as Lumbering Falls's self-animation ability, which turns it green and blue) but many others (such as Awaken) will not.

Check the effect that turned the land into a creature. If it doesn't say that it turns the land a particular colour, and nothing else is giving it one either, the land is still colourless.

Q: If I cast Cached Defences, is what I bolster based off base toughness or current toughness? Things like being dealt damage but not dying or enchantments or spells give it minus to toughness, so...

A: It's based off of current toughness, but hold on just a second, because current toughness isn't what you think it is. While enchantments and spells like Weight of the Underworld or Rising Miasma can indeed reduce a creature's toughness, dealing normal damage to a creature definitely does not.

Damage dealt to a creature is simply marked on the creature and remains there for the turn, and if the amount of damage marked on a creature reaches or exceeds that creature's toughness, the creature's destroyed. Online versions of Magic, such as Magic Duels, may display damage in a way that makes it look like it reduces the creature's toughness, but that's not actually the case.

But getting back to your question, there's not really any such thing as "base toughness", at least not as far as the rules are concerned. Whenever a card asks the game for information about what something looks like, it always gets back an answer that takes into account everything that might change that answer. So counters, enchantments, spells—Cached Defences takes all of that into account when determining what creature you bolster.

Q: My opponent casts The Great Aurora, and I put Sulphur Falls and a few Mountains and Islands onto the battlefield with it. Is Sulphur Falls tapped or untapped?

A: Tapped. Sulphur Falls's ability affects the way in which it enters the battlefield, which means you have to figure out how it applies before the Falls actually goes anywhere. And before the Falls (and everything else) enters the battlefield, you don't control any lands at all. The ability will see that you don't control any lands, and cause the Falls to enter tapped.

Q: Can I pay extra for a converge spell so I can pay more colours and make the effect bigger?

A: If something like Vryn Wingmare lets you, sure, but you can't pay extra for your spells simply because you want to. Brilliant Spectrum says it costs , so that's what it costs—no more, and no less.

The only converge spell that lets you pay as much as you happen to feel like for it is Skyrider Elf, because you can choose whatever value you prefer for X.

Q: Lifespring Druid says it makes mana of any colour. If I already have access to all five normal colours, can I choose purple and boost my converge spells even higher?

A: Afraid not. When you choose something in Magic, such as a colour, or a card name, or a creature type, you have to choose one that actually exists. As far as the game is concerned, there's no such thing as the colour purple; white, blue, black, red, and green are the only five colours there are.

No, no, no, I need this oven
to deal at least 7 damage!
Q: What happens if I Reverberate Radiant Flames?

A: You've thrown a perfectly good card and the mana to cast it into the garberator, is what happens. Radiant Flames and other converge spells base their effect upon the colours of mana that were spent to cast them, but the copy that Reverberate creates wasn't cast at all, so you definitely didn't spend any colours of mana doing so. And since you didn't spend any colours of mana to cast the copy, it doesn't deal any damage.

Q: I used Lignify on my opponent's Sire of Stagnation, but she says it still counts as colourless even though it loses devoid. What?

A: She's correct. Effects that change an object's colour are applied before effects which grant or remove abilities, and removing devoid after it's already been applied doesn't do a whole lot. And while the result might seem a bit weird in this case, you'd probably think it'd be even more weird if turning something green didn't let Roughshod Mentor give it trample.

The system that lays out the order in which effects that do different things apply is called the layer system, and if you want to know more about it, you're in luck, because we have an entire article dedicated to it. Enjoy, eh?

Q: My opponent activates Isochron Sceptre. What happens if I use Oracle of Dust in response to get rid of the imprinted card?

A: Your opponent cries. Not much—maybe a solitary tear rolls down his cheek in a dramatic fashion—but at least a little bit, because when Isochron Sceptre's ability resolves, it's going to check to see what the imprinted card it's supposed to be copying looks like, and it's not going to find anything to copy. So it's going to shrug its imaginary shoulders, throw up its imaginary hands, and go home without accomplishing anything at all, like the hoser it is. Your opponent won't be getting any more copies of anything out of that Sceptre.

Q: If my opponent casts Planar Outburst with awaken and I kill the target land in response, does the spell fizzle since it now no longer has any legal targets?

A: Yes, it does. Even though Planar Outburst normally doesn't have any targets, it does have one when you cast it with awaken. And just like any other targeted spell, if all the targets disappear before it tries to resolve, Planar Outburst will be countered on resolution, and none of its effects will occur, even the ones that don't have anything to do with the targeted part of the spell.

Q: I attacked with Culling Drone and Breaker of Armies, and my opponent blocked the Breaker with Catacomb Sifter and another creature. My Drone hits her and the blockers die, but how does the stack work with ingest and the scry trigger?

A: After combat damage has been dealt, there are multiple triggered abilities waiting to be put onto the stack, and they're controlled by different players. In such cases, each player in turn order places their own triggers onto the stack, starting with the active player. (The one whose turn it is.)

This means that your ingest trigger is put onto the stack, and then your opponent's scry trigger is put onto the stack on top of it. Since the stack resolves from the top down, your opponent will end up scrying before you ingest anything, so if there's something on top she doesn't want you to get rid of, she'll be able to put it safely on the bottom.

Q: What makes Ghostfire's ability different from devoid?

A: It's not called devoid. Aaaand that's about it. It does the exact same thing in the exact same way, causing the card it's on to be colourless. It just doesn't have the fancy keyword with associated backup in the comprehensive rules that devoid does.

Did you know Emrakul is secretly Canadian?
Q: Emrakul, the Aeons Torn says it has protection from coloured spells. So isn't it just protected from coloured non-lands? Everything that's not a land's a spell, right?

A: Not quite. A spell is a card (or a copy of one) that's sitting on the stack waiting to resolve. While all nonland cards can be cast as spells, once they leave the stack and go somewhere else they're no longer spells, so Emrakul is no longer protected from them.

The upshot of this is that Emrakul isn't protected in any way from permanents on the battlefield—a coloured creature, for example, can block Emrakul just fine, as long as it has flying.

Q: Can I fetch a Brood Butcher with Glittering Wish?

A: Sadly, no, you can't. Devoid is what's known as a characteristic-defining ability, which is an ability that defines one or more of a card's characteristics (in this case colour) that would normally be defined by something elsewhere on the card. And crucially, characteristic-defining abilities function absolutely everywhere.

Brood Butcher is not only colourless while it's in your library, hand, or graveyard, and not just while it's in exile or on the battlefield; it's also colourless outside the game entirely—in your sideboard, in your binder, or on the singles shelf at your LGS. If you stop at Tim's for a double-double and spill it all over your cards? Despite what the coffee stain may tell you, Brood Butcher's still colourless.

Q: I just found Flourishing Defences. Does it trigger off of persist?

A: Flourishing Defences triggers off of -1/-1 counters being placed on creatures, and that includes both counters being placed on creatures that are already on the battlefield and counters being placed on creatures as they enter the battlefield.

The persist ability falls into that second category—it causes the creature to enter the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter on it. Flourishing Defences will see that happening and trigger accordingly.

Q: If my opponent has a Void Winnower on the battlefield, can I cast, say, Scatter to the Winds with awaken?

A: Yes, you can. A card's mana cost is defined as the mana displayed in the top right-hand corner of the card*, and its converted mana cost is simply the total amount of mana in that cost, whatever its colour. You happened to pay for your Scatter to the Winds, but that doesn't change what's printed on the card—regardless of what you paid, Scatter to the Winds' mana cost is still , so its converted mana cost is still 3, an odd number.

*With appropriate exceptions for alternative-frame Future Sight futureshifted cards.

Q: My only creature is Tymaret, the Murder King. If my opponent tries to exile it, what happens if I sacrifice it to its second ability in response?

A: I'm sorry, but you can't do that. Because Tymaret's second ability says that as part of its effect it moves him from your graveyard to somewhere else, that ability only functions while he's in the graveyard to begin with. Since Tymaret isn't currently in your graveyard, his second ability isn't functional at the moment, so you can't use it.

Abilities of permanent cards that don't say otherwise (Like the Judgement Incarnations), usually only function while the card they're on is on the battlefield, but one of the exceptions is that abilities that specify that they move the card from one place to another only function when the card is in the place they're supposed to be moving the card from. This is why, for example, Bloodghast will return itself to the battlefield when you play a land if it's in your graveyard, but not if it's in exile.

Q: After blocking my Gurmag Angler, my opponent cast Centre Soul on his blocker naming black, and I responded with Dance of the Skywise on my Angler to make it blue instead. Now my opponent's saying because I responded he can choose blue instead. Is that true?

A: Yes, it is. Your opponent doesn't actually have to choose a colour to protect his creature from until Centre Soul resolves. If he jumps the gun and names his colour early, he's only held to that choice if you decide not to respond with anything

Since you did decide to respond, your opponent is no longer bound to the choice he made initially, and can choose something else once Centre Soul resolves if he so wishes.

In this case it would have been a better idea to not respond to Centre Soul directly. If you had waited until Centre Soul resolved, your opponent's creature would have gained protection from black, and then you could have safely made your Angler blue without worrying about him changing his choice.

Q: Player 1 has gone to 6 cards already. He looks at his 6, says nothing, and looks at the top card of his library. Then he decides to keep or mulligan. What happens next?

A: What happens next is that he's stuck keeping, and if he tries to mulligan again he's committing the infraction known as Improper Drawing at Start of Game for taking a mulligan after he's permitted to. Since you only scry 1 after you're done taking mulligans and are keeping your hand, unless a player explicitly says before looking that they're taking another mulligan, by looking at the top card of their library after a mulligan they're saying that they've decided to keep.

A lot of player have in the past indicated that they're taking a mulligan by looking at the top few cards of their library to see "what they would have drawn". With the new mulligan rule, they're going to have to break that habit, because it's likely to get them in trouble.

Q: What is the generally accepted practice regarding creature tokens for players attending a sealed Grand Prix? Are players expected to bring a stockpile of Scion tokens with them in case they end up playing one or more cards that produce them?

A: There's no generally accepted practice whatsoever beyond "have some way to indicate tokens". Many players do bring tokens themselves, whether they're the official ones, or third-party versions with pro players' faces on them, or custom ones hand-drawn by their favourite Magic artists—however, it's not required. Use dice, use Smarties, use scraps of paper with "Scion" written on them—use whatever you like, as long as it's clear to both you and your opponent what's going on.

Whew! I don't know about you, but I'm stuffed! Thanks for coming by for dinner, and be sure to come back next week when Nathan will be with another fresh batch of rules questions for you all.

Until then, I think I'm just going to lie back on the chesterfield and doze.

- 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.

Re: Sifter question.

Why is there a scry involved at all? Sifter says *another* creature you control.
#1 • Date: 2015-10-11 • Time: 22:09:51 •
That's a good catch. The question is still a good one, but it only works if you block the Breaker with, say, a Grizzly Bear while you control a Sifter.
#2 • Date: 2015-10-12 • Time: 05:10:09 •
Quote (jskura):
Why is there a scry involved at all? Sifter says *another* creature you control.
Because I tried to distill the question down to its simplest form, and failed. Thanks for the catch; the question has been corrected.
#3 • Date: 2015-10-12 • Time: 07:40:50 •
Thank you for a well-written article. It was nice to read words that were all spelled correctly. As a Canadian, this is a rare event for me!
#4 • Date: 2015-10-13 • Time: 16:47:13 •
If you're playing Unhinged, you can choose pink or any eye colour for Lifespring Druid :)
#5 • Date: 2015-10-14 • Time: 04:01:12 •
Well recently Mark Rosewater (Un-Rules manager) has stated that even in silver-border land, there are only 5 colors of mana, regardless of what colors permanents can be.
#6 • Date: 2015-10-22 • Time: 11:08:48 •

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