Published on 12/21/2015

Debatably Yours

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Moko can't vote, but nothing says
a zombie chimp can't be ELECTED President...
It's early debating season here in the US, and over the past week both major parties held debates between the candidates for their presidential nominations. Unfortunately, Moko isn't allowed to vote (on account of being a zombie; apparently a secret amendment to the Constitution removed zombie suffrage), and after an unfortunate incident where he tried a bit too forcibly to teach Dan Quayle how to spell "banana" he's not even allowed to watch the debates anymore.

But on the plus side, it means that CI HQ isn't overrun with politics and we can stay focused on answering this week's crop of rules questions! And as always, if you've got a question burning a hole in your brain (or would like to have a banana drilling a hole in your brain — with Moko, you never know), feel free to ask us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: Once upon a time, you said it was legal to bestow a Celestial Archon when Gaddock Teeg is on the battlefield, but I asked a judge at my local tournament and she said that's not legal. Who's right?

A: Your local judge is right... as of today. The procedure for checking whether it's legal to cast a spell was changed with the Magic Origins update to the Comprehensive Rules. Previously, the check for legality happened at the start of the casting process (and at that time the Archon is a creature, unaffected by Gaddock Teeg's ability). Now, though, the check occurs partway through the casting process, after all at-time-of-casting decisions have been made, and taking into account the effects of those decisions. The result is that now it's not legal to bestow something big and expensive when Gaddock Teeg is on the battlefield, since the legality check now occurs after you've made the choice to bestow (and thus the Archon is a noncreature spell, which is forbidden by Teeg's ability).

Q: So does bestowing still trigger prowess?

A: Yup! Prowess, along with any other triggered ability that's triggered by casting a spell, triggers after the casting process is completed (prior to that point, there are several opportunities for the casting to be an illegal action that gets rewound by the rules, so triggered abilities always wait to make sure you got through the whole process legally). At that point the card with bestow is a noncreature spell, and prowess will trigger.

Q: In a weird game around our kitchen table, we ended up with a Painter's Servant naming white, a Gloom and an Enchanted Evening. Can we tap lands for mana?

A: Well, you can, so long as you're able to pay up-front for each land you want to tap. With this setup, all lands are white enchantments, so they're affected by Gloom, and Gloom doesn't make any exceptions for mana abilities. So tapping a land for mana will cost you , as will activating any mana abilities of other permanents on the battlefield.

Q: If I control both Rhox Faithmender and Karlov of the Ghost Council, will Karlov get four counters each time I gain life?

A: Just two. Karlov gets two counters each time you gain life, and Rhox Faithmender doesn't change how many times you gain life, just how much life you gain each time you do gain life. So Karlov still sees you only gaining life once, and will trigger only once.

Q: I have Eight-and-a-Half Tails. My opponent wants to exile Eight-and-a-Half Tails with Faceless Butcher; will turning the Butcher white in response and giving Eight-and-a-Half Tails protection from white prevent this, or does changing the color of the Butcher not change the color of the ability?

A: Changing the color of Faceless Butcher won't change the color of its ability, since abilities are always colorless. But this will still save Eight-and-a-Half Tails, because protection doesn't look at the color of an ability: it looks at the color of the source of the ability, which is the — now white — Faceless Butcher. Since it's an ability from a white source, protection from white will cause the Butcher's ability to be countered.

Q: I control Furnace of Rath and Stuffy Doll. If I use Stuffy Doll's ability to deal 1 damage to itself, will it deal 2 or 4 damage to my opponent?

A: It will deal 4! First, Furnace of Rath doubles the 1 damage being dealt to Stuffy Doll, so the Doll is dealt 2 damage. That triggers its ability to deal 2 damage to the chosen player, which Furnace of Rath will promptly double to 4.

We lobbied for the Magister to
be allowed to moderate the debates, but to
no avail.
Q: If I imprint a Touch of the Void on a Chrome Mox, what color of mana can the Mox tap for?

A: None. Devoid is what's called a characteristic-defining ability: it functions all the time, in all zones of the game. So Touch of the Void is colorless in all zones, which means it has no colors and Chrome Mox won't be able to produce any type of mana as a result.

Q: I control a Rusted Relic and two Memnites (which are my only other artifacts), and attack with all of them. My opponent blocks the Memnites with two Consul's Lieutenants and the Relic with an Aegis Angel. Does the Rusted Relic die?

A: Nope! In the first combat damage step, the two Memnites die, and Rusted Relic immediately stops being a creature. That causes it to be removed from combat before the second combat damage step, so it neither deals nor receives any damage.

Q: My opponent has a Keranos, God of Storms which is currently a creature. I control Willbreaker and target Keranos with the ability of my Izzet Staticaster. If my devotion to blue and red is less than 7, do I have to immediately give the Keranos back after Willbreaker takes it?

A: You don't give it back right away — Willbreaker's ability only cares that Keranos was a creature; Willbreaker doesn't care at all about whether Keranos will remain a creature later on. You'll just keep the Keranos for as long as you control Willbreaker.

Q: I control a Leonin Arbiter; my opponent pays for the Arbiter, then activates a Windswept Heath. Can I respond by flashing Restoration Angel and blinking the Arbiter, to make my opponent have to pay another (or not get to search for a land)?

A: You can. When the Arbiter leaves and re-enters the battlefield, it becomes, from the game's perspective, an entirely new object with no memory of or relation to the Arbiter that was on the battlefield before. So although your opponent paid for the ability of that Arbiter, your opponent hasn't paid for the ability of the Arbiter that's on the battlefield now, and will need to pay another or not be able to search.

Q: If I cast Launch the Fleet targeting four of my creatures, including a Signal Pest, then attack with everything, will the Soldier tokens get +1/+0 from Signal Pest's battle cry?

A: They will if you want them to. When you declare attacking creatures, the Signal Pest's battle cry ability will trigger, and at the same time the ability from Launch the Fleet will trigger. Since you control all the triggers, you get to choose the order in which they're put on the stack, and can have battle cry go on the stack first so it will resolve last and pump up the Soldier tokens.

Q: If I activate Planeswalker's Fury targeting my opponent, and the revealed card is Far // Away, how much damage will Planeswalker's Fury deal?

A: 5 damage. Whenever something needs to use the converted mana cost of a split card to figure out part of an effect (how much damage to deal, in this case), and the split card isn't currently on the stack, since we are not comparing the value to anything it uses the sum of the converted mana costs of the two halves of the split card. Which, for Far // Away, is 5.

Q: If I control both Heartless Summoning and Evolutionary Leap, and I get an Eldrazi Scion token, can I sacrifice the token to Evolutionary Leap before it dies?

A: No. Any time you control an Eldrazi Scion, unless something else is pumping it up it'll have zero toughness and die immediately, before you can even begin to activate any abilities or cast any spells.

Q: If I have a Mirran Crusader and a Privileged Position, does my Crusader get hexproof? Or does its protection from green stop Privileged Position from working?

A: Your Crusader will get hexproof along with all your other permanents. Protection only stops four things (damage, enchanting/equipping, blocking and targeting), and Privileged Position's effect isn't one of those things.

Every election seems grim for the zombie
Q: My opponent controls a Siege Rhino and an Anafenza, the Foremost, and casts Dromoka's Command to put a +1/+1 counter on the Rhino and have the Rhino fight my Thunderbreak Regent. Is there any way I can cast Crackling Doom after the Rhino becomes a 5/6 but before it fights and kills my Regent, so that my opponent will have to sacrifice the Rhino and not be able to fight?

A: Nope. Once a spell or ability has begun to resolve, it must fully resolve before players can cast any further spells. So you can cast the Doom before Dromoka's Command begins to resolve, but at that point the Rhino and Anafenza have equal power and your opponent could just sacrifice Anafenza. Or you could cast Crackling Doom after Dromoka's Command has resolved, which guarantees the Rhino will be sacrificed, but by that point it's too late for your Thunderbreak Regent, which has already died from getting into a head-butting contest with the Rhino.

Q: If I have 5 experience counters, can I use Ezuri, Claw of Progress to load up Sage of Hours with counters and just take endless extra turns, or do I have to actually target the Sage with five spells?

A: This is a form of progress Ezuri would approve of, and it works just fine. Sage of Hours doesn't care where its counters came from; it just cares how many counters you remove when activating its ability. So if you've got 5 experience counters, then at the beginning of combat on your turn you can put 5 +1/+1 counters onto Sage of Hours, then pop them off for an extra turn... and then at the beginning of combat on that turn you can repeat the process, making steady progress until you've compleated your opponent's defeat.

Q: I know that in a Commander game I can now send my commander to the command zone instead of having it go into my library if someone casts a spell like Oblation; is the same true in a Tiny Leaders game?

A: First, for those of our readers who may not be familiar with it: Tiny Leaders is a variant of Magic with some similarities to Commander, but where all cards must have a converted mana cost of 3 or less.

With that out of the way: Tiny Leaders is not the same as Commander, and isn't covered by the rules for Commander in the Comprehensive Rules. Its rules are maintained independently, and at the moment the format's creators have said that they want to keep the ability to "tuck" a commander (force it into the library), so they haven't adopted the change in Commander which would allow you to send it to the command zone instead.

Q: If I use Sedris, the Traitor King to unearth a Sire of Insanity, does the Sire get exiled before it makes everyone discard?

A: Both the "exile that creature" part of unearth, and Sire's "everybody discard your hand", trigger at the same moment: the beginning of the end step. You can choose the order in which they'll go on the stack, but it actually doesn't matter, since once the Sire's ability is on the stack it'll happen even if the Sire gets exiled. So no matter what, everybody will be discarding their hand.

Q: Can I discard a Reckless Wurm to the +1 ability of Chandra Ablaze to deal 4 damage with Chandra and get to cast the Wurm for its madness cost?

A: Yup! Although this may seem like madness (at least, everywhere other than Sparta), it works just fine: Chandra's ability just cares that you discarded a red card, and Reckless Wurm certainly is red. Whether that card ends up elsewhere is none of Chandra's concern, and I for one think she'd approve of recklessly flinging Wurms at your opponent's head.

Q: What's this I've heard about a new mana symbol coming out? Is there going to be a sixth color in the game, or something?

A: More the "or something". Magic isn't getting a sixth color (or if it is, we don't know about it yet). But during the Magic World Cup, the coverage team previewed a few cards from the upcoming expansion Oath of the Gatewatch, and several employees of Wizards of the Coast posted information about a new mana symbol appearing on those cards.

Basically, the new symbol (which looks sort of like a curved diamond shape) represents colorless mana; cards which previously added colorless mana to your pool will receive errata to use the new symbol, and apparently some new cards will use the symbol in costs to indicate that that part of the cost can only be paid with colorless mana (as opposed to generic symbols like , which always could and still can be paid with any type of mana you have handy). In plain text, the new symbol will be represented by {C}. So, for example, Sol Ring will now read "add {C}{C} to your mana pool".

That's all for this week, but be sure to check in again next week when we'll be back with another issue of Cranial Insertion!

- James Bennett

About the Author:
James Bennett is a Level 3 judge based out of Lawrence, Kansas. He pops up at events around Kansas City and all over the midwest, and has a car he can talk to.


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