Published on 11/30/2015


or, Thanksquizzing?

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Are you aware that
it's time for a Quiz?
Greetings, and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! Thanksgiving has come and gone here in the United States, and if you've celebrated Thanksgiving, chances are you had too much to eat and are in need of exercise. Of course, here at Cranial Insertion, we can only offer mental exercise, so I will give you the opportunity to flex your brain muscles by testing your rules knowledge with a quiz! Feedback from our readers suggests that quizzes are popular, so I hope this will be one more thing you can be thankful for this year.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please send an email to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will answer your question directly, and your question might appear in a future article to educate other readers like yourself.

Now, let's dive into the quiz!

Q: I control a Dragon-Style Twins and give it one +1/+1 counter and trample with Infuse with the Elements, so it's a 5/5 with double strike and trample. My opponent casts Gideon's Phalanx with spell mastery and blocks my Twins with her four indestructible 2/2 tokens. How much combat damage can I trample over to my opponent?

A: The choices are...

A: 0
B: 2
C: 6
D: 10
E: 2.5

The answer is...

In order to assign trample damage to your opponent, you first have to assign lethal damage to all the blockers that are in your creature's way. However, "lethal" has to be taken with a grain of salt, since the amount of damage you have to assign doesn't have to be capable of actually destroying the blocker. Lethal damage simply means an amount that's greater than or equal to the blocker's toughness, minus any damage that's already marked on it. This definition gets a bit messier if the attacker has deathtouch or if a blocker is blocking multiple attackers, but neither is the case here, so I'm not even sure why I'm bringing this up.

Also, you have to put the blockers into a damage assignment order, and you can only assign damage to a blocker further down in the order if you've assigned lethal damage to all blockers in front of it.

What this means is that in the first combat damage step, you'll assign 2 damage to the first blocker, 2 damage to the second blocker, 1 damage to the third blocker, and that's that. The damage gets dealt, and the first two blockers stubbornly refuse to die because they're indestructible.

In the second combat damage step, you don't have to assign any damage to blockers one and two, since they already have lethal damage marked on them, and assigning just 1 damage to the third blocker gets it to lethal damage. After assigning 2 damage to the forth blocker, you have fulfilled the requirement for assigning trample damage to your opponent with 2 damage left over, so you smack your opponent for 2.

Q: Which abilities work in a fight?

A: The choices are...

A: First strike
B: Trample
C: Deathtouch
D: Lifelink
E: Brass knuckles

The answer is...
C and D.

When two creatures fight, they deal damage to each other at the same time, but this is not combat. This means that abilities that alter the rules of combat, such as first strike, double strike, trample, flying, and so on won't change what happens in a fight. On the other hand, abilities that affect the outcome of damage, or abilities that pay attention to damage being dealt, such as deathtouch, lifelink, or infect, will work in a fight because damage is being dealt.

Q: A Soulflayer was cast by exiling Battle Mastery, Prodigal Pyromancer, Dragon Whisperer, and a Soulfire Grand Master. Which abilities does Soulflayer have?

A: The choices are...

A: Flying
B: Double strike
C: ": Soulflayer deals 1 damage to target creature or player."
D: Lifelink
E: Who plays all those cards in the same deck?!?

The answer is...

Soulflayer's ability only pays attention to the listed keyword abilities, and the creature card actually needs to have one of the listed keyword abilities printed on it for Soulflayer to get it. Soulfire Grand Master has lifelink printed on it, so that works. Battle Mastery is not a creature card and it doesn't have double strike, so that doesn't work. Prodigal Pyromancer's ability is not a keyword ability, so it's of no help. Finally, Dragon Whisperer has an ability that can give it flying, but it doesn't have the flying ability printed on it, so that's not enough, either.

It's legen— wait for it... dary!
Q: Which of these can be chosen for Cavern of Souls?

A: The choices are...

A: Zombie Ape
B: Artifact
C: Changeling
D: Child
E: Legendary!

The answer is...
None of those!

When the game asks you to choose a creature type, you have to choose a single subtype that's associated with the card type creature. The comprehensive rules actually contain an explicit list of valid choices, but for Cavern of Souls you generally want to choose something that's in your deck, so just look at the creatures in your deck and look at what they have in their type line after the dash.

Zombie Ape doesn't work because it's a combination of two creature types. You could name either Zombie or Ape, and either choice would allow you to cast an uncounterable Sidisi's Pet with the Cavern.

Artifact is out because it's a card type in its own right, not a subtype, so it can't be a creature type. Changeling is an ability that appears on creatures (and tribal cards) that gives it all creature types, but it's not a creature type, either. "Child" appears in some card names, but never in a type line, so it's out as well. Finally, legendary — whether you say it like Barney Stinson or not — is a supertype.

Q: Which of these can be Smothered?

A: The choices are...

A: An animated Shambling Vent
B: An awakened Mountain
C: A Zombie token
D: A Hooded Hydra with two +1/+1 counters on it
E: Jace, Telepath Unbound

The answer is...
A, B, C, and D.

E is out because Jace, Telepath Unbound is not a creature. It's the back face of a double-faced card that has a creature on the front, but that's not enough.

An animated land is a creature with converted mana cost 0, since it's a creature that doesn't have a mana cost, and an object that doesn't have a mana cost automatically has a converted mana cost of 0. It doesn't matter whether the land was animated temporarily or indefinitely, so both A and B work. A token that's not a copy of something has no mana cost, either, so its converted mana cost is 0 as well.

Finally, the Hydra has a converted mana cost of 2. The X in its mana cost only counts for what was chosen for it while the Hydra is on the stack. Once the Hydra is on the battlefield, the X counts as 0.

Q: Your opponent controls Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. You control Arcane Melee and you use Snapcaster Mage to flash back Harness by Force on three targets. What does your spell cost?

A: The choices are...

E: That's an illegal play because the strive cost can't be combined with the flashback cost.

The answer is...

First off, E is not true. While it's true that the game won't allow you to combine two alternative costs, the strive cost is an additional cost, and combining additional costs with an alternative cost is not a problem.

To calculate the total cost of a spell, we start with its base cost, which is either its mana cost or the alternative cost that you've chosen. The flashback cost is the same as the mana cost, so we start with . Then, we add any additional costs and cost increases. Two strive costs bring us up to , and Thalia brings us up to . Finally, we apply the cost reduction from Arcane Melee, and that brings us down to . Phew!

Q: What is the converted mana cost of Harness by Force as cast in the previous question?

A: The choices are...

A: 2
B: 3
C: 8
D: 9
E: 42

The answer is...

The converted mana cost of an object is derived only from its mana cost, which is usually printed in the top-right corner of the card. It has nothing to do with how much a player has spent, will spend, or might spend to cast it, and effects that change the cost of a spell don't affect its converted mana cost. Harness By Force's mana cost is , so its converted mana cost is 3.

My wish is your command.
Q: Arya, Bran, and Catelyn are playing a game of Commander. On Arya's turn, which Bran controls because of Mindslaver, Catelyn casts a spell that destroys Arya's commander. Who decides whether Arya's commander goes to the graveyard or to the command zone?

A: The choices are...

A: Arya.
B: Bran.
C: Catelyn.
D: Bran and Catelyn have to agree on a decision together.
E: Hodor.

The answer is...

When a player controls another player, the controlling player makes all in-game decisions on behalf of the controlled player. The choice where the commander goes is normally done by the commander's owner, which is Arya, but Arya is being controlled by Bran, so the decision is made by Bran. Since multiplayer games often have a political component, players are allowed to form alliances and confer with each other, so Bran is allowed to confer with Catelyn (or Arya, for that matter), but as far as the game is concerned, Bran makes the actual decision.

Q: Andrew controls two Narcomoebas and has a Bridge from Below in the graveyard. Bob controls five Angel tokens, so Andrew casts Damnation. How many Zombies does Andrew get, and what happens to Bridge from Below?

A: The choices are...

A: Andrew gets two Zombie tokens and Bridge from Below stays in the graveyard.
B: Andrew gets no tokens and Bridge from Below gets exiled.
C: Andrew gets between zero and two tokens depending on how Andrew arranges the triggers on the stack. Bridge from Below gets exiled.
D: Andrew gets between zero and two tokens depending on how Bob arranges the triggers on the stack. Bridge from Below gets exiled.
E: Andrew and Bob call a judge and the judge decides what happens.

The answer is...

There's a lot going on here. When Damnation resolves, the Bridge's first ability triggers twice because of Andrew's Narcomoebas, and the second ability triggers five times because of Bob's Angel tokens which do go to the graveyard before they cease to exist. Since multiple triggered abilities want to go on the stack at the same time, the APNAP rule kicks in: First, the active player (Andrew) puts his triggers on the stack in an order of his choice, and then the nonactive player (Bob) puts his triggers on the stack in an order of his choice. However, all those triggers are controlled by Andrew, so Andrew chooses their order. If he chooses any of the exiling triggers to resolve before a token-making trigger, the token-making trigger fails to make a token because the trigger rechecks its "if Bridge from Below is in your graveyard" intervening-if condition when it resolves.

Q: Which of these are allowable methods for determining who chooses to play or draw for the first game of a match?

A: The choices are...

A: A coin flip.
B: Both players roll a six-sided die, high roll wins.
C: Both players reveal a random card from their deck, higher converted mana cost wins.
D: Rock-Paper-Scissors.
E: Arm wrestling.

The answer is...
A and B.

The method for determining who goes first must be random and mutually agreeable, which means that both players should have the same probability of winning. Option C doesn't work because the deck with more mana-intensive cards in it has an advantage, and also many players are unwilling to give away any details about what's in their deck before the match begins. Finally, the method is not supposed to be a skill test, which means that options D and E are out.

And you've made it to the end of the quiz! How did you do? If you got all ten questions right, pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to an extra slice of leftover pumpkin pie. Regardless of how you did, please come back next week when we serve up another selection of Magic rules questions and answers!

-Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.

Isn't "Child" was used in Little Girl? Unless those pesky silver-bordered cards don't count..
#1 • Date: 2015-11-29 • Time: 23:30:34 •
Un- types don't count when selecting a creature type. So no, Child is not a creature type you can pick, just like how you can't pick "The-Biggest-Baddest-Nastiest-Scariest-Creature-You'll-Ever-See"
#2 • Date: 2015-11-30 • Time: 00:46:03 •
So the Lady of Proper Etiquette is no cheapskate. Good to know. :)

For the last question: You decide who goes first after shuffling. If you decide by revealing cards from your libraries, you'd have looked at cards you weren't allowed to look at.
#3 • Date: 2015-11-30 • Time: 06:00:05 •

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