Published on 11/16/2015

Taking Command(er)

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

He even brought enough friends for a commander game!
Hi everyone, and we're back! Commander is probably my favorite constructed format right now, so I (along with many other players) was excited to see another set of preconstructed decks and a bunch of new cards for our favorite commander decks. And with ever new set, we get new cards, and new rules questions. So this week, we're just looking at questions about the new cards that were released in Commander 2015.

Did we not cover your Commander question? Or maybe you have questions about non-Commander cards? Well, feel free to contact us an ask! You can tweet short questions at @CranialTweet or, for longer questions, over e-mail at .

Q: What's an experience counter?

A: An experience counter is a new type of counter that players can have (similiar to poison counters). An experience counter does nothing on its own, but certain cards (like Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas) get bonuses or other effects depending on how many experience couners you have. The counters are not tied to the creature, they're given to the player, so even if Kalemne leaves the battlefield, you'll still keep any experience counters you already had.

Q: Will Thief of Blood get rid of my opponent's experience counters?

A: Nope. Thief of Blood only removes counters from permanents, and players are not permanets. The Thief will not remove experience counters from players.

Q: I want to cast a Verdant Confluence, choosing the first mode three times and putting all six counters on the same creature. Is that possible?

A: Yes, that's possible. If you pick the first mode three time, the Confluence effectively reads "Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature. Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature. Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature" while it's on the stack. Since it uses the word 'target' multiple times, you can target the same creature multiple times. If you'd rather one creature get all of the counters, rather than spread them around, you can do that.

Q: I have an Urza's Armor on the battlefield, and my opponent just cast Fiery Confluence, choosing the "deal 2 damage to each opponent" mode three times. How much damage am I going to take from the Confluence?

A: You'll take a total of three damage. The Confluence has three separate instances of dealing two damage to each opponent, not one instance of each opponent being dealt six damage, so the Armor applies to each instance of damage. Each instance is reduced by one, so you end up taking one damage three times from the Confluence.

Q: I attack one of my opponents with a Banshee of the Dread Choir. Another one of my opponents has been friendly to me this game, so I really don't want to make a copy attacking that opponent. Is that possible?

A: Yes it is! For each other opponent, you may choose to put a copy of the creature with myriad on the battlefield attacking that opponent. But it's a choice for each opponent. So you could put a copy of the Banshee on the battlefield attacking some opponent, but not others (if you feel like playing nice).

Q: I have a Herald of the Host with a Blade of Selves attached to it. Do I get twice the tokens when I attack with the Herald?

A: You do! Myriad is a triggered ability, and if a creature has multiple instances of myriad, they will all trigger when the creature attacks. The opponent the original Herald is attacking will just have to deal with the original Herald, but each other opponent might have to deal with up to two Heralds!

Q: I have my commander and a Bastion Protector on the battlefield. My opponent casts Deadly Tempest. What happens to my commander?

A: It remains on the battlefield. Everything is destroyed at the same time. At that point, the Protector is still on the battlefield, so your commander is still indestructible. Your commander survives, but all of the other creatures are destroyed.

Q: I control a Taurean Mauler and a Bastion Protector. Since my Mauler has all creature types, does that mean my Mauler gets +2/+2 and indestructible from the Protector?

A: Nope. "Commander" isn't a creature type. It's an attribute of the card that's designated as your commander. Since Commander isn't a creature type, the Mauler won't get the bonus from the Protector.

Knowing his history, I wouldn't trust him as my commander.

Q: I'm in a multiplayer game. One of my opponents is dead, but the other two are still alive and at a healthy life total. I play Anya, Merciless Angel. Does Anya count the dead opponent for its effects?

A: Nope. Anya will only count opponents that are currently in the game. Anya will not count a dead player for its effects, so if your remaining opponents still have enough life, Anya will not get +3/+3 and will not be indestructible.

Q: I have a Parallel Lives on the battlefield, and my opponent has five 2/2 creatures. I cast Ezuri's Predation. What happens when the Predation resolves?

A: The Predation resolves, and sees your opponent has five creatures, so the Predation tries to put five 4/4 tokens on the battlefield. The Lives replaces that with you getting 10 tokens instead. When we get to fighting, you choose five of the tokens to fight your opponent's 2/2 creatures, while the other five tokens get to sit on the sidelines and cheer the other Beasts on and don't get involved in the fighting at all.

Q: I cast a Skullwinder. Can I choose an opponent with no cards in their graveyard, or do I have to pick an opponent with cards in their graveyard?

A: I have some good news for you: you can choose any opponent, including an opponent with no cards in their graveyard. If they don't have a card in their graveyard, they won't be able to choose something to return, but you'll still get your targeted card back.

Q: Can my opponent sacrifice a creature to their Nantuko Husk after I've chosen them as the opponent so they can get their creature back?

A: Nope, they can't do that. You don't pick an opponent until the ability is resolving. The opponent can respond before the trigger resolves by sacrificing a creature or getting other cards in their graveyard, but once the ability starts to resolve, it's too late to try to get more cards into their graveyard.

Q: My opponent casts Etherium-Horn Sorcerer. In response, I cast Aethersnatch on the Sorcerer. Do I get the cascade trigger too?

A: Nope. Aethersnatch gives you control of the spell, but that's it. Your opponent controlled the Sorcerer when it was cast, so they'll control the cascade trigger, even if they lose control of the Sorcerer before the trigger resolves. So you'll get the Sorcerer, but your opponent is the one that gets to cascade.

Q: I control a Mizzix of the Izmagnus and I have five experience counters. I want to cast Magmaquake and deal 7 damage to everything. How much do I need to pay?

A: That'll cost you . When you cast a spell with X in the cost, you choose a value of X, then we apply cost increasers and decreasers. So you choose to cast Magmaquake with X=7, making the cost . When we determine what the cost will be, you have five experience counters and a Mizzix, so the cost to cast it is reduced by 5. You'll end up paying to deal 7 damage to everything.

As an added bonus, to determine the mana cost of Magmaquake, we look at the value you picked for it, not what you paid to cast it. The converted mana cost of Magmaquake is nine in this case, which is more than the number of experience counters you have, so Mizzix will trigger and you'll get another experience counter! Yep, Mizzix works pretty well with spells with X in the cost.

Q: It's my main phase, and I have a Scourge of Nel Toth in my graveyard. My opponent tries to kill one of my creatures with a Putrefy. Can I cast the Scourge in response to the Putrefy, sacrificing the creature my opponent targeted with Putrefy?

A: Nope, that doesn't work. The Scourge's ability just gives you an additional place where you can cast the Scourge from. It does not change when you can cast the Scourge. Unless you have some spell or ability that would let you cast the Scourge as though it had flash, you won't be able to cast it in response to your opponent's Putrefy.

He's just a rebel with a cause.

Q: I have an Ezuri, Claw of Progress on the battlefield, and I cast Prime Speaker Zegana. Will Ezuri's ability trigger and give me an experience counter?

A: No trigger for you. The Prime Speaker's ability check as it enters the battlefield to see how many counters it should enter with. You control Ezuri, so the Prime Speaker will enter with three +1/+1 counters on it, making it a 4/4. Right after it enters, we check to see if anything should trigger. Its power is 4, which is not two or less, so Ezuri will not trigger and you won't get an experience counter.

Q: My opponent has a Seal of the Guildpact in play, naming blue and red. They want to cast Arjun, the Shifting Flame. How much will it cost?

A: It will cost . Since Arjun is both red and blue, the Seal will reduce the cost to cast Arjun by two.

Q: I have an Awaken the Sky Tyrant on the battlefield. My opponent attacks and deals damage to me with three creatures. How many Dragon tokens will I get?

A: Just one token. The Sky Tyrant's ability will trigger three times. However, you only get the token if you sacrifice the Sky Tyrant when the trigger resolves. When the first trigger resolves, you sacrifice the Sky Tyrant and get the 5/5 Dragon token. When the other two triggers resolve, you won't be able to sacrifice the Sky Tyrant (since it's no longer on the battlefield), and you won't get a token.

Q: Is Haakon, Stromgald Scourge a playable commander now, now that I can use Command Beacon to get it out of the command zone?

A: Yes it is! Haakon can only be cast from your graveyard, so if he was your commander, he'd be stuck in the command zone all game. But now that Command Beacon exists, you can use the Beacon to move him from your command zone to your hand. Now all you need to do is discard him from your hand (which should be easy enough for a black deck), and you'll be able to cast him from your graveyard.

Q: I'm playing in a Legacy tournament, and I decided that I really want to play Command Beacon. Can I activate the second ability, even though there's no commanders in Legacy?

A: Sure! The second ability doesn't target anything, you just put your commander from the command zone into your hand when it resolves. You can activate the ability at any time, even if your commander isn't in the command zone (or you're not playing a game of commander) if you just want the Beacon to get into your graveyard (maybe you really want to get your Centaur Vinecrasher back).

That's all the commander nonsense we have for this week. We'll see you all next week!


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