Published on 09/05/2016

Working for the Weekend

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Still better off than the
Ad Nauseam guy.
It's Labor Day here in the States, which is the traditional way of marking the end of summer; we celebrate by taking the day off from our hard labor, gathering with friends, cooking out together and enjoying one last burst of summertime activities before the weather turns cold and fall sets in.

But here at Cranial Insertion we never consider rules questions to be a form of labor, so even on our day off we're turning in this week's issue. And if you've got a rules question burning a hole in your brain, feel free to ask us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: My opponent has a Sanctum Prelate set to 3. Can I flash back a Rolling Temblor to kill it?

A: No; a card's converted mana cost is always calculated by taking the sum of the mana symbols in its upper right corner, and paying an alternative cost (such as flashback) or additional cost (such as kicker) doesn't change those symbols. So Rolling Temblor's CMC is always 3, no matter how you try to cast it, and a Sanctum Prelate on 3 will prevent you flashing it back.

Q: What if the Prelate is on 1 and I want to flash back Conflagrate discarding two cards to kill it?

A: That works: although the way you calculate the CMC doesn't change — Conflagrate's CMC is always X + X + 1 — the value of X does change depending on whether Conflagrate is on the stack or not. When X=2, Conflagrate's CMC is 2 + 2 + 1 = 5, and a Prelate on 1 won't stop that.

Q: But it says I can't cast spells with that CMC, and before it gets onto the stack, Conflagrate's CMC is 0 + 0 + 1 = 1, so why wouldn't Prelate stop that?

A: The rules around effects which forbid casting got cleaned up a few sets ago, largely to deal with situations like this one (where the characteristic being looked at — in this case, CMC — is something that might change as a result of decisions made during casting). Now, anything which would forbid casting, but needs information that gets determined during the casting process, will wait until after all the relevant choices have been made and the appropriate information is locked in. For those of you who enjoy memorizing the process, the check for these effects now happens just after the fourth step of the casting process.

Q: OK, so if Sanctum Prelate is on 3, can I bestow a Boon Satyr?

A: No, and for the same reason as above: Sanctum Prelate's effect waits until you've made all the relevant choices for casting. At which point it sees you trying to cast a noncreature (since using bestow makes the Satyr be a noncreature Aura spell) spell with CMC 3 and says "nope, can't do that".

Q: If I have an Aether Vial with 3 counters and a Sanctum Prelate in hand, can I use that in response to a spell to name that spell's CMC and counter it?

A: No; Sanctum Prelate has no effect on spells which have already been legally cast, and by the time you can respond to a spell with any sort of ability, it's already been legally cast. You'll have to either live without the Prelate's effect, or put it onto the battlefield and choose a number before you know for certain what your opponent might cast.

Every day is Labor Day for
a Workhorse.
Q: I know in a tournament if my opponent has a Chalice of the Void, I can try to sneak a spell through and hope they forget about the trigger; that works with Sanctum Prelate, too, right?

A: No. Chalice of the Void has a triggered ability which counters spells; Sanctum Prelate's ability isn't triggered, and just flat-out forbids casting spells of the chosen CMC. So there's no way to make someone "miss" it by casting a spell of that CMC, since casting the spell is forbidden/

Q: Can I use Recruiter of the Guard to fetch a Tarmogoyf out of my library?

A: You can... if the number of card types in graveyards is 0 or 1. The ability which sets Tarmogoyf's power and toughness is what's called a characteristic-defining ability; it functions in all zones of the game (and even outside the game), so Recruiter will know how big that 'Goyf really is and take it into account.

Q: What about fetching a Kird Ape when I control a Forest?

A: That works; Kird Ape's toughness in your library is always 1. When in doubt about this, look for a '*' in the power/toughness box; that indicates a characteristic-defining ability which will function in all zones.

Q: My opponent controls Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. If I sacrifice a creature to cast Elder Deep-Fiend for its emerge cost, will I be able to use its ability to tap the Zombie token Kalitas made?

A: You will! Kalitas' ability is a replacement effect, which means it doesn't wait around to do its thing; it replaces one event (a creature dying) with another (exiling the creature and making a Zombie). So, since you sacrifice your creature during the process of casting Elder Deep-Fiend, Kalitas will have already made the zombie by the time the "when you cast" trigger from the Deep-Fiend is put onto the stack and targets are chosen, and you'll be able to tap that Zombie.

Q: If I control my opponent with Mindslaver and make them cast a Burning Wish, what happens?

A: In tournament play, nothing; "outside the game" refers to cards in the sideboard, and even when you control a player you can't see their sideboard (the rules regarding this changed with the release of Eldritch Moon). So you won't look at any cards, won't choose a card, and that'll be that.

Q: So the same is true for controlling someone and making them cast Coax from the Blind Eternities?

A: Almost; notice that Coax says "from outside the game or in exile", and you most certainly can see any exiled cards that player can see. So as long as there's an Eldrazi in exile, you can choose it.

Q: If I control Burgeoning and Courser of Kruphix allowing me to play lands from my library as if they were in my hand, can I put lands into play from the top of my library with Burgeoning?

A: No — Courser of Kruphix doesn't let you play lands "as if they were in your hand", it just adds another zone to the list of places you can play lands from. Burgeoning, meanwhile, only lets you put land cards from your hand onto the battlefield; it doesn't allow any other zones, and also isn't playing the lands (so anything triggered by playing a land won't be triggered by the land you get from Burgeoning).

Q: If I control a Goblin Racketeer, and equip Spy Kit to another creature, will I get to goad something whenever the other creature attacks?

A: No. Although that other creature now has "Goblin Racketeer" among its names, Goblin Racketeer's ability won't trigger for it. Whenever a card refers to itself by name it just means "this game object". To do something for any card based on name, a spell ability will say "cards named..." (or "creatures named..." or other appropriate wordings based on types).

Q: I cast Show and Tell and I chose to put Thorn of the Black Rose onto the battlefield, but my opponent chose Skyline Despot. Who becomes the monarch?

A: If it's your turn, you become the monarch. Triggered abilities you control get put onto the stack first (and resolve last), while your opponent's triggers get put onto the stack last (and resolve first). So your Thorn of the Black Rose's triggered ability will be the last to resolve and will make you the monarch.

Still waiting for Timmy Worker
and Johnny Worker to finish the
Q: If my opponent controls Ballot Broker and I cast Illusion of Choice, does that mean I can make them vote twice for the option I want?

A: If your opponent choose to use the extra vote, you choose what option that vote will be for. But whether to use Ballot Broker for an extra vote is still up to them; all you get to decide is how they vote if they vote, not whether they will vote.

Q: If I use the -1 ability of Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast targeting my opponent's creature, and my opponent responds by giving their creature protection from red, what happens to my artifact?

A: Nothing at all; you don't sacrifice an artifact (and in fact you don't even choose whether you will sacrifice) until Daretti's ability is resolving. But if the target gains protection from red, Daretti's ability never resolves; it gets countered by the game rules due to its only target becoming illegal.

Q: What happens when I target a Precursor Golem with Daretti's -6 ability?

A: You put three token copies of Precursor Golem onto the battlefield, each of which produces two Golem tokens. So you get three Precursor Golems and 6 "plain" 3/3 Golems. Precursor Golem's other ability won't trigger because Daretti's ability is not an instant or sorcery spell — in fact, it's not a spell of any kind, it's an ability.

Q: In a four-player game I control Gratuitous Violence and my Grenzo's Ruffians attacks all by itself. If it goes unblocked, how much damage gets dealt?

A: Well, it'll be a 3/3 courtesy of melee, so Gratuitous Violence will cause its 3 combat damage to be doubled to 6. Then the Ruffians' ability will trigger, attempting to deal 6 damage to each other opponent, and Grattuitous Violence will double that to 12 damage per opponent.

Q: When I control Ghostly Prison, do my opponents have to pay to attack my planeswalkers?

A: No; Ghostly Prison specifies only that it affects creatures trying to attack you, not your planeswalkers, so they can still be attacked free of charge (compare to Norn's Annex, which does require a payment to attack your planeswalkers).

Q: If I'm watching someone play a tournament match and I think something has gone wrong, what should I do?

A: You should get a judge! If the tournament is running at Regular or Competitive enforcement (most tournaments in your local shop will be Regular, with a few at Competitive), you can also ask the players to pause while you get a judge. If you're watching a match at Professional enforcement, you just go get a judge (and you're not permitted to talk to the players at all, not even to ask them to pause). Explain the issue to the judge away from where the match is occurring (so the players don't overhear) and then let the judge handle it. And remember that there are cases — such as missed triggers — where policy is often not to interfere unless one of the players notices the problem, so the judge may simply thank you for your concern and leave the match alone. In such a case, you're not allowed to tell the players about the problem, since it would be considered outside assistance.

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.

So checking if the spell is Forbidden comes between choosing How damage gets divided, and calculating Total costs? Thus, All Crazy Teenagers Have Forgotten Their Magic Pills?
#1 • Date: 2016-09-06 • Time: 10:22:01 •
Quote (MAHK):
So checking if the spell is Forbidden comes between choosing How damage gets divided, and calculating Total costs? Thus, All Crazy Teenagers Have Forgotten Their Magic Pills?

Yes, you check to see if you can legally cast a spell after dividing and distributing, but before you determine the totla cost.
#2 • Date: 2016-09-07 • Time: 23:40:13 •

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