Published on 11/24/2008

Everybody Wants to Rule the Rules

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Welcome to our grand showdown as these two prospective writers duel it out! The winner will become a regular writer for Cranial Insertion; the loser will be my dinner! These two writers have each answered ten questions from the inbox in their own unique style; so now we ask you, our delightful readers, which should join our illustrious ranks.

We're not going to tell you who wrote which group of answers, though. In fact, we're not even going to tell you their names at all. We'll call the first writer "Pamplemouse." Not because his (we'll also assume that the writers are male because I hate English pronouns, but this may or may not be the case) brainmeats are soft and luscious, which they are. Just because I like that word. He wrote the answers to the first ten questions below. The second ten answers were written by a poor sap we'll call "Rutabaga" because I can think of many different ways to cook him into a delicious meal, much like a rutabaga.

In case you can't tell, this is a win-win situation for me.

So read on, and learn new rulesy thingies while you think of which you like more. To register your vote, click the "Comments" button at the top of the article page, and vote in the poll - you do need to have an account to vote.


Q: If you gain control of a creature during combat, does it automatically leave combat, or is there a chance to do things to it?

A: I'm not sure what you'd want to "do to" it. I hope it's nothing illegal...anyway, regardless of what your plans for it might be, there is no time at which the creature is under its new controller's control but still in combat. It is so confused by suddenly having a new master that it stops fighting immediately.

Quote from Rule 306.4.:
A creature or planeswalker is removed from combat if it leaves play (such as by being destroyed or removed from the game); if its controller changes; if it stops being a creature or planeswalker, respectively; or if an effect removes it from combat. A creature is also removed from combat if it regenerates (see rule 419.6b). A creature that's removed from combat stops being an attacking, blocking, blocked, and/or unblocked creature. A planeswalker that's removed from combat stops being attacked.

Q: My opponent has three planeswalkers out with a total of four loyalty counters among them all. Can I hit my opponent with Flame Javelin and kill all three planeswalkers?

A: No. When Flame Javelin resolves, you get to choose one of your opponent's planeswalkers to skewer instead of your opponent. You can't divide the damage between all three of them.

Think about it this way: if you were a planeswalker and you saw a giant flaming spear hurtling toward your friend, would you stand right behind him so that the spear can go clean through him and hit you? I didn't think so.

Q: If I can't Flame Javelin the bunch of planeswalkers, can I kill them all with Jaws of Stone properly divided?

A: Still no. While you can divide the damage between any number of players and/or creatures, a planeswalker is unfortunately neither of those. To hit your opponent's planeswalker, you'll have to target your opponent and let the redirection effect do its thing, but the rules won't allow you to divide the damage between your opponent, your opponent, and your opponent. You can target your opponent only once and then you can redirect the damage to only one of his planeswalkers.

Q: My opponent still has three planeswalkers out. Can I send some creatures at him, some at Jace, some at Chandra, and some at Ajani? Or can I only attack him and one planeswalker?

A: Finally, that's the ticket! Each of your creatures may attack a different guy on the Plane. When you send out your attackers, you tell each one which opponent or planeswalker to run, fly, crawl, or slither towards. You don't have to choose the same planeswalker for each attacker. Divide and conquer away, my friend!

Quote from Rule 308.2a:
The active player chooses which creatures that he or she controls, if any, will attack. The chosen creatures must be untapped, and each one must either have haste or have been controlled by the active player continuously since the beginning of the turn. For each of the chosen creatures, the active player chooses an opponent or a planeswalker controlled by an opponent for that creature to attack. Then he or she determines whether this set of attackers is legal. (See rule 500, "Legal Attacks and Blocks.")

Your opponent has an indestructible
beast? No problem, Oblivion Ring
says "Fuhgeddaboudit!"
Q: If I Oblivion Ring my opponent's creature, and they bounce the creature in response, does Oblivion Ring fizzle?

A: Whoa there, slow down! You make it sound like Oblivion Ring is a targeted spell. Oblivion Ring the Enchantment Spell doesn't have a target. When the Enchantment comes into play, it triggers a comes-into-play ability, and that ability is what targets.

What happens depends on when your opponent bounced the creature. If they bounced it in response to Oblivion Ring, the come-into-play ability hasn't gone on the stack yet. When the Ring comes into play, you must choose a different target for its ability.

If they bounced the creature in response to the come-into-play ability, the ability fizzles because all of its (one) targets have become illegal.

By declaring the target for the come-into-play ability, you fast-forwarded the game to the point where Oblivion Ring's come-into-play ability goes on the stack. Since your opponent didn't object to this shortcut, we have to assume that they bounced the creature in response to the come-into-play ability, and the ability fizzles. The Oblivion Ring itself will just sit in play, looking pretty and being slightly less useful than a paperweight.

Q: If I control a Bitterblossom on the stack and two Scion of Oonas in play, can I play a Spellstutter Sprite and counter a Cryptic Command?

A: Nope. You do control four objects with the subtype faerie, but the Sprite only counts how many faerie permanents you control:

Quote from Rule 200.9:
If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes a card type or subtype, but doesn't include the word "card," "spell," or "source," it means a permanent of that card type or subtype in play.

Since Bitterblossom is not in play yet, you only control three faerie permanents, so you can only counter a spell with converted mana cost 3 or less. The converted mana cost of Cryptic Command is 4, so it's too cryptic for you to counter.

Q: I'm at 1 with no blockers, and my opponent has a bunch of creatures, including Tattermunge Maniac. I play Master Warcraft so all of his guys can't come at me. I know I have to choose the Maniac to attack, but can I have it attack a planeswalker I control?

A: Nice try, but no, you can't do that. Master Warcraft does not give you complete control over the Declare Attackers step. It only allows you to say which creatures attack. Your opponent still decides where the attackers go, because that decision is made by the active player and he is the active player. Assuming that your opponent is neither stupid nor cruel and wants to win as quickly as possible, he'll have the Maniac attack you and say Good Game.

Q: Can Lord of the Undead pull up a Nameless Inversion or only a Zombie creature card?

A: Lord of the Undead allows you to dig up a Zombie card, which means any card with the subtype Zombie. Since Nameless Inversion has all creature types in all zones, it is a Giant Insect Mutant Angel Zombie card in your graveyard and it is therefore a legal target for the Lord's activated ability. Go get that Inversion and make your opponent very sad!

Q: If I sacrifice my Kitchen Finks to my Nantuko Husk, can I Makeshift Mannequin the Finks before it persists?

A: Yes, you can, but you don't want to if you really want to supersize your Nantuko Husk. When the Finks go to the graveyard, the persist ability triggers and goes on the stack. While the persist ability is on the stack, you can target the card with Makeshift Mannequin to return it to play. The problem is that you've wasted a perfectly usable persist trigger. When the persist trigger resolves, it can't find the card it's supposed to return, so it'll just do nothing.

The better play would be to sacrifice your Finks, let them persist back into play, sacrifice the persisted Finks, then bring the Finks back with Makeshift Mannequin. The Finks come back without a -1/-1 counter, so you can sacrifice the Finks again, persist them again, and then sacrifice them one last time. The end result of the whole shebang is a seriously bloated 10/10 Nantuko Husk and you'll have gained 6 life in the process, which is much better than an 8/8 Nantuko Husk and having gained 4 life.

Q: Can I print up my own basic lands on appropriately thick cardstock, put them in sleeves, and use them?

A: That depends on the use you have in mind. You could probably use them as coasters. However, you can't play with them in a sanctioned tournament. Regardless of how authentic your homebrew cards look and feel, they're still proxies, and proxies aren't allowed in sanctioned tournaments. The only exception to this rule is for proxies that are issued by the Head Judge to replace a damaged card, but that's clearly not the case here.


Go forth, valiant Rutabaga!
Q: If I activate a Charmed Pendant and turn over a Hearthfire Hobgoblin, how much mana and of which colors would I add to my mana pool?

A: Hybrid cards must have a low Will defense, because you get great results when you charm them. For each mana symbol, you choose which half you want. You'll end up with three mana in any combination of red and white.

104.3g. If an effect would add mana represented by a hybrid mana symbol to a player's mana pool, that player chooses one half of that symbol. If a colored half is chosen, one mana of that color is added to that player's mana pool. If a colorless half is chosen, an amount of colorless mana represented by that half's number is added to that player's mana pool.

Q: Can I use Smokebraider to help me unearth Hell's Thunder?

A: Like your uncle, Smokebraider gives you something to spend and tells you how you ought to spend it.

"Here's two mana, any color you want. Spend this mana only to play elemental spells or activated abilities of elementals."
"OK, I'll just play this Hell's Thunder from my graveyard, here--"
"Are you putting that on the stack as a spell?"
"Well, no, but it comes into play--"
"That's not playing an elemental spell! Just because it comes into play doesn't mean you played it!"
"OK, but look, it's got an activated ability. Unearth is activated; rule 502.84a says so."
"An activated ability of a card in the graveyard! That's not an elemental unless it's in play! Haven't you read rule 200.9?"

200.9. If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes a card type or subtype, but doesn't include the word "card," "spell," or "source," it means a permanent of that card type or subtype in play.

I guess Uncle Smokebraider isn't going to help you out with Hell's Thunder. Maybe you can spend your two mana having some fun with Ashling instead; I hear she's pretty hot.

Q: What's the penalty if my opponent fails to shuffle my deck at a Competitive REL event?

A: While this is a violation of UTR 21, it doesn't fall under any of the infractions defined in the current Penalty Guide. Because it's an uncategorized minor infraction, a penalty issued for it would almost certainly be a talking-to.

It's important to note that your opponent is required to shuffle your deck only at the start of the game. In the middle of a game, only a cut is required.

You are in a maze of twisty little
passages, all alike
Q: I control Keeper of Progenitus, Rhystic Cave, and Prismatic Omen. What happens if I tap the Cave for mana using its own ability but an opponent pays to stop it?

A: The Cave's own ability gives you nothing, obviously. And though you got no mana, you still tapped that land to play its mana ability, so the Keeper's ability triggers. Unfortunately for you, the Keeper gives you one mana "of any type that land produced." Since the Cave didn't produce any mana, you don't get any from the Keeper.

Q: My opponent played Ethersworn Canonist after I suspended three Rift Bolts. Can I play one on my upkeep, kill it, and then play the others?

A: Sure. The Canonist is screaming "I AM THE LAW!" only while he's in play. Once he's dead, he can't stop you from playing nonartifact spells, and you don't get a chance to play Rift Bolts #2 or #3 until after #1 has resolved.

Q: If I play Burnout or any of the other old slowtrips that say "Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep," will I get two cards if Paradox Haze is enchanting me since there are two upkeeps?

A: Nice try, but no extra card. As part of its resolution, Burnout creates a delayed triggered ability which can't trigger more than once. You'll get your card at the beginning of the first upkeep, but by the time the second rolls around, the ability is no more. It's expired and gone to meet its maker.

404.4b. A delayed triggered ability will trigger only once-the next time its trigger event occurs-unless it has a stated duration, such as "this turn."

Q: Someone told me that if I play a Sower of Temptation when there's two Engineered Plagues in play with faeries chosen, I'll get to keep whatever creature I target. Does this work?

A: Not anymore. The relevant rule is 418.3d:

418.3d. Some effects from activated or triggered abilities have durations worded "as long as...." If the "as long as" duration ends before the moment the effect would first be applied, the effect does nothing. It doesn't start and immediately stop again, and it doesn't last forever.

By the time the control effect would apply, the Sower is no longer in play, so the effect never happens.

The rule used to have wording that required the duration to end after the ability went on the stack. That created a loophole where state-based effects could be made to work shenanigans like the one you describe.

MaGo and his team of Rules Wombats don't like loopholes; they closed this one with the Morningtide rules update.

Q: On my opponent's turn, I Lash Out at his creature, and we clash. I want to see what he does with his card before I choose where to put my card; who chooses first? Me because it's my spell, or him because it's his turn?

A: APNAP to the rescue! The Active Player -- in this case, your opponent, because it's his turn -- makes all required choices, then the Non-Active Players do the same, in turn order. You'll know where his card is going before you have to decide about yours.

Q: Where can I download the comprehensive rules so I can look up answers when I don't have a Cranial Insertion rules guru (tm) around?

A: It's true, you can't stuff Eli Shiffrin into your back pocket for easy reference. Believe me, I've tried. Fortunately, Wizards of the Coast has published theComprehensive Rules in .txt,.doc, .rtf, and .pdf, any of which you can use to program a Robotic Pocket Rules Guru (tm).

Q: What happens if a Little Girl with Pollenbright Wings on attacks and hits my opponent?

A: I actually saw that happen this Halloween, only it wasn't Magic cards.

Anyway, the girl deals a half-point of damage, so you get half a Saproling token. I recommend taking a Saproling token you've pulled from a booster pack and tearing it in half. This has the added benefit of killing a tree both literally and figuratively at the same time.

And there you have it! Now go to the comments and vote. If you don't have an account, tough - we need a verifiable way to make sure that votes are unique and that every vote is counted. Join us next week when Eli announces the winnar!

Until next time, send me your questions, love, and brains.

About the Author:
Moko was born in Tanzania, and died in a tragic accident involving a catapult while being transported from Eli Shiffrin to Thijs van Ommen between the first two Cranial Insertion articles. Subsequently zombified, he helps sort their mail and occasionally answers questions. His pastimes include bananas and brains. Mmm brains.


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