Published on 10/19/2015

The Big Three

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

The third of many articles to come, I'm sure.
Hiya everyone, and welcome back to another exciting week here at Cranial Insertion! I find it hard to believe, but I've hit the big three - that's right, I've written my third article for Cranial Insertion! I don't know where I got the inspiration or how I wrote the words. I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and nothing else that I write will ever match this achievement. So, let's sit back, take a slice from my three-tiered cake that I made, play some Threes on your favorite portable device, while we all watch Three's Company. Oh, and answer some Magic rules questions, of course!

Remember, if you have a rules question, feel free to contact us. If you have a short rules question, you can tweet it at @CranialTweet or, if you have a longer question, via e-mail at .

Q: I cast Coastal Discovery for its awaken cost. My opponent counters my spell with a Cancel. Does my land still get four +1/+1 counter and become creature?

A: It does not. The land gaining the counters and becoming a creature is part of the spell resolving. If the spell is countered, either by a counter spell or by the game rules, the spell does not resolve and none of its effects will happen. If they counter your awaken spell, your land will not gain the counters and will not become a creature

Q: My only creature is a Smothering Abomination. During my upkeep, I have to sacrifice the Abomination to its own trigger. Will I draw a card?

A: You will! Just before the Abomination leaves the battlefield, we check to see if any abilities should trigger. The Abomination sees that you're sacrificing a creature (the Abomination itself), and it will trigger. Even though you're sacrificing the Abomination to its own ability, its second triggered ability will still see you sacrificing a creature, and you'll still draw a card from the Abomination being sacrificed.

Q: I activate Narset Transcendent's -2 ability, then I cast Part the Waterveil. Do I get to rebound the Waterveil during my next upkeep?

A: No you don't. Rebound only works if the card would go to the graveyard while it's resolving. Part the Waterveil will not try to go to the graveyard while it's resolving - it exiles itself. Since the Waterveil won't try to go to the graveyard, rebound won't get a chance to apply and you won't get to cast the Waterveil during your next upkeep.

Q: Will all of these eldrazi and devoid creatures running around, I'm trying to find a way to protect my creatures. Can I cast Center Soul and pick "colorless", to give my creature protection from colorless?

A: Nope, that doesn't work. There are five colors in Magic: red, black, blue, green, and white. If something asks you to choose a color, you have to pick one of those five options. "Colorless" isn't a color, so you can't choose colorless if you're asked to pick a color.

Q: My opponent controls a Void Attendant. I cast Bring to Light, and search for a Siege Rhino. Before I can cast the Rhino, can my opponent use the ability of the Attendant and put it into my graveyard?

A: If you want to cast the Rhino, you'll be able to. When the Light resolves, you search your library for a card, then you can cast it while the Light is resolving. Your opponent does not get priority while the Light is resolving, so they cannot activate the Attendant's ability to put the card into your graveyard before you can cast it. If, for some reason, you don't choose to cast the card you searched for, the card you searched for remains in exile. Your opponent could do you the favor of using the Attendant's ability to put it into your graveyard, but they can't use the Attendant to prevent you from casting the card that you searched for.

Q: On my turn, my opponent animates their Lumbering Falls, turning it into a creature. I'm holding an Infinite Obliteration. Since their Falls is a creature now, can I name it when I cast Infinite Obliteration and get the rest of the Lumbering Falls out of their deck?

A: Nope. Infinite Obliteration asks you to name a creature card. But there's no creature card named "Lumbering Falls". There's a land card with that name, and there happens to be a creature on the battlefield with that name, but that doesn't mean "Lumbering Falls" a legal choice to name with the Obliteration. I guess you'll just be stuck naming "Siege Rhino" like everyone else.

Q: My opponent has an Undergrowth Champion with one +1/+1 counter on it on the battlefield. I have a four power creature on the battlefield and a Wild Slash in my hand. What happens if I cast Wild Slash on their Champion?

A: Your opponent ends up with one dead Undergrowth Champion. A ferocious-boosted Wild Slash will make it so that damage can't be prevented that turn. If the Champion has a +1/+1 counter on it, if it would be dealt damage, that damage is prevented and you remove a +1/+1 counter.

Even if the damage can't be prevented, the Champion's effect will still do as much as possible and the +1/+1 counter will still be removed. The Champion goes from being a 3/3 to a 2/2 with 2 damage marked on it, and it dies a painful death.

I wish for a horsey, and a piggy, and a-

Q: I cast Goblin Heelcutter for its dash cost, and attack with it. Then, I cast Fatal Frenzy on the Heelcutter. When we get to the end step, where does my Heelcutter end up: in the graveyard, or back in my hand?

A: That's up to you. When your end of turn step begins, we have two triggers waiting to go on the stack: the "return me to your hand" trigger from dash, and the "sacrifice the Heelcutter" trigger from the Frenzy. Since you control both triggers, you get to choose the order they're put on the stack. Resolve the dash trigger first, and the Heelcutter returns to your hand, and won't be sacrificed when the Frenzy's trigger resolves.

Q: I control a Herald of Kozilek and a Gate Smasher. Does the Herald reduce the equip cost of Gate Smasher?

A: Nope. The Herald's ability reduces the cost to cast colorless spells. It does nothing to reduce the cost of an activated ability from a colorless source. While the Gate Smasher will cost 2 to cast instead of 3, you still need to pay 3 to equip it to a creature.

Q: I use a Fated Infatuation and make a token copy of Greenwarden of Murasa. When it dies, can I exile it to its triggered ability and return a card from my graveyard to my hand?

A: Negative. While the Greenwarden's ability will trigger when it dies, before that trigger can even go on the stack, state-based action see the token Greenwarden is no longer on the battlefield, and it ceases to exist. When the trigger resolves, the Greenwarden isn't in the graveyard anymore, so you can't choose to exile it. Since you didn't exile it, you won't get the card you targeted back.

Q: I control Liliana, Defiant Necromancer. Does she still contribute two to devotion to black?

A: Nope. Devotion looks at the colored mana symbols in the cost of the card to figure out how much that card contributes to devotion. Liliana, Heretical Healer will contribute two to devotion to black, but her planeswalker side does not have a mana cost, so the Defiant Necromancer will contribute nothing to devotion.

Q: I cast Bring to Light, using two colors of mana. Can I search for Boom // Bust, then cast the Bust side?

A: Yes, this works. This is similar to the way cascade works with split cards. Boom//Bust has two converted mana costs: 2 and 6. In this case, Bring to Light has you search for a card with a converted mana cost of two or less. Boom//Bust fits the bill, since it has a converted mana cost of 2 (and 6). But once you cast it, there's nothing saying you have to cast the side with the lower converted mana cost. So you can search for Boom//Bust, then choose to cast the Bust side of the card and destroy all lands!

Q: I control no creatures, and my opponent is attacking me with all of his creatures. If I want to cast Terrifying Presence, do I have to target my opponent's creature?

A: Yep, I'm afraid you do. The Presence has a single target: a target creature. While you would normally want to cast this targeting your own creature (so it can deal damage), if you don't control any creatures, but you really want to cast it, you'll have to choose a creature controlled by another player. You don't have to target something in combat if you don't want to (so you could target one of their non-attacking creatures, or the creature they just cast), but you do have to target something.

If there's three involved, I have to mention Trinispehre

Q: I attack with Odric, Master Tactician and three other creatures. After Odric's trigger resolves, my opponent casts Polymorphist's Jest targeting me. Do I still get to choose blockers?

A: Yes you do. Once the ability has resolved, you get to choose what creatures will block and what those creatures block that combat. Even if Odric loses his abilities, that won't do anything to the ability that's already resolved. So you'll still get to choose which creatures will block that combat.

Q: I have an Oona, Queen of the Fae in play. I activate its ability with X=10. Can I wait to see what cards are exiled, then pick a color to maximize the number of tokens I get?

A: Negative. You follow the instructions in the order they're printed on the card. First, you choose a color. Then, you exile the cards. Then, based on the color you picked and the number of cards that were just exiled that share a color with your choice, that's how many tokens you get. You'll have to pick a color before knowing what cards are going to be exiled by the ability.

Q: I have a Flayer Husk attached to its Germ token, and my opponent cast Banewasp Affliction on the token. On my turn, I equip the Husk to my Eager Cadet. How much life do I lose when my Germ token dies?

A: You don't lose any life! After the Husk stops being attached to the Germ token, the game sees it's a 0/0 creature and it dies and goes to the graveyard. This causes the Affliction to trigger. When the Affliction's trigger resolve, we use the last known toughness of the creature to figure out how much life you lose. When the Germ token was last on the battlefield, it was a 0/0 creature, so you lose 0 life.

Q: I control an Astral Slide and a Containment Priest. I used the Slide to exile some of my opponent's creatures, but then they tried to kill my Priest, so I also exiled it with the Slide. In what order do the creatures return to the battlefield at the end of turn? Can I return my Priest first so it prevents my opponent's creatures from returning?

A: Yes you can! When the end step begins, all of the Slide's delayed triggers are waiting to go on the stack. You control all of the triggers, so you get to choose the order those triggers are put on the stack. You can stack the triggers so the Priest returns first, then the remaining Slide triggers try to return your opponent's creatures, but your Priest will prevent them from returning and those creatures will remain exiled.

Q: I have a Dream Halls in play, but nothing in my graveyard. I have a Griselbrand and a Rise from the Grave in my hand. Can I cast Rise from the Grave, discard Griselbrand, then target it with the Rise?

A: Sorry, that doesn't work. When we cast a spell, we choose targets before costs are paid. When you get to the point of choosing a target for Rise from the Grave, you haven't discarded a card yet, so Griselbrand is still in your hand, not in your graveyard. Since Griselbrand is not in your graveyard, you can't choose it as the target for Rise from the Grave, even though it would soon be in your graveyard.

Q: I recently heard that the way sealed deck registration has changed. How does it work now?

A: Yep, we've changed the way we do registration for a sealed deck tournament. It used to be that players would open a pool, register it, then we would give the pool to another random player. This created a high incentive for a player to drop from the tournament before passing their card, because if they opened a pool with a high value card in it (like a Zendikar expedition), many players would want to drop from the tournament rather than pass the pool to another player.

So we've changed things in hopes to prevent this. Here's what we're doing now, effective at all Competitive level sealed events:

  • Players are randomly seated.

  • Player A and Player B are seated across from each other. Each player receives six boosters, which are marked in some small way to verify they came from the tournament organizer (and not from, say, the player's pocket).

  • Player A opens all six of their packs. Both players observe all of the cards that Player A just opened, and then those cards are set down in a pile near Player B.

  • Player B does the same thing: they open all six of their packs, both players observe all of the cards Player B just opened, and then those cards are set down in a pile next to Player A.

  • Player A will register the cards that Player B just opened, and Player B will register the cards that Player A just opened.

  • Once all players have completed registering the decks, we return Player A's cards to Player A and Player B's cards to Player B. Now they build their decks like normal.

So the big change here is that the cards you open are going to be the cards that you play with. You're no longer opening a pool of cards, then passing them to someone else. Since you're playing what you're opening, if you happen to open some high-value card, there's no real reason to drop from the tournament - you're playing with that pool anyways, so now you get that card, plus you still get to play in the tournament. Also, try to keep comments on your opponent's cards to a minimum while registering - outside assistance can still apply at this point, so try not to give any deck building advice while looking over their pool. If you want to read the full announcement, you can read it by reading this article from Wizards.

Q: What if there's an odd number of players in the tournament?

A: Well, the judge has a couple of options: they could have one of the judges or staff fill in the extra seat to verify and register the pool, or they could do the swapping among three players instead of two players.

That's all I have time for this week. We'll see you all next week!

—Nathan Long

On the part the waterveil/rebound situation, how does that differ from the gather note on rebound cards? (I understand that part the waterveil is not a replacement effect, but why are the rulings different?

"If a replacement effect would cause a spell with rebound that you cast from your hand to be put somewhere else instead of your graveyard (such as Leyline of the Void might), you choose whether to apply the rebound effect or the other effect as the spell resolves."
#1 • Date: 2015-10-19 • Time: 07:27:03 •
I'm thinking it's because it's not a replacement effect sending Waterveil to exile, but rather it's part of the spell's own effects.
#2 • Date: 2015-10-19 • Time: 09:21:57 •
Yeah, it's because it's part of the spell's resolution. Rebound works by saying, "Right, the spell's done resolving. Let's grab it from the graveyard and stick it in exile so we can do it again!" With Part the Waterveil and other similar cards, it's not in the graveyard and Rebound gets all confused. This is different from Leyline; in that case, it's more like two guys fighting over a girl. Rebound wants to go on a second date, and Leyline never wants to see her again. Who wins is up to you.
#3 • Date: 2015-10-19 • Time: 10:05:42 •
@Blees: With the caveat that, actually, it doesn't "grab it from the graveyard" because it never went there. It goes straight from the stack to exile.
#4 • Date: 2015-10-22 • Time: 20:29:06 •

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