Published on 09/26/2016

Artificer's Intelligence

or, Welcome to Kaladesh

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Looks like a girl but she's a flame
So bright she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
Welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion, and welcome to Chandra's home plane of Kaladesh! This set is full of amazing innovations and inventions, and I imagine you had lots of fun at the prerelease. Let's put on our goggles, crew our vehicles, and take a look at the interesting card interactions that this set has fabricated.

As always, if you have questions for us, please email them to or tweet short questions at @CranialTweet. One of our writers will answer directly, and your question might appear in a future article, possibly accompanied by a pun, pop culture reference, or song lyric.

And now, without further ado, let's start our engines and charge into this week's selection of questions!

Q: Can Consulate Surveillance prevent the damage from Chandra, Torch of Defiance's emblem?

A: Assuming that the emblem's ability is targeting you, sure. The emblem is an object that's referred to by an ability on the stack, so it's a valid choice when the game asks you to choose a source of damage for Consulate Surveillance's effect.

Q: Can I get rid of Captured by the Consulate with Harmless Offering?

A: Technically yes, but this might not be an ideal move. You can give the enchanted creature to your opponent, which means that it no longer fulfills the enchant clause on Captured by the Consulate, so Captured by the Consulate falls off. However, the change-of-control effect from Harmless Offering lasts indefinitely, so your opponent just gets to keep your creature. In the end, this cure might be worse than the disease.

Q: If I fail to find a basic land with Attune with Aether, do I still get two energy counters?

A: Absolutely. The instruction that gives you two energy counters is completely independent from the first instruction that told you to search and shuffle your library. Regardless what happened in the search, you get two energy counters.

Q: Can I pay two energy counters to scry 2 with Aether Theorist?

A: No, that doesn't work. First off, the cost to activate Aether Theorist's ability is to tap it and to pay one energy counter. In order to activate this ability multiple times, you'd have to untap it so you can tap it again. Also, two "scry 1" instructions don't add up to a "scry 2" instruction. To scry 1, you only look at the top card and decide where it goes, and then you move on. Scry 2 lets you look at the top two cards at the same time, which is really not the same thing.

Q: Can I pay six energy counters to give Bristling Hydra two +1/+1 counters?

A: Sure, that works. Since it's an activated ability without a restriction that says otherwise, you can activate it as often as you can pay the cost. With six energy counters, you can activate the ability twice, so the ability will resolve twice and the Hydra gets two +1/+1 counters. It'll also get two instances of hexproof, but that's not appreciably different from just having one instance of hexproof.

Q: What does Deadlock Trap do against a planeswalker?

A: First off, it taps the planeswalker, which the game is unlikely to notice in any meaningful way, but the planeswalker gets tapped nevertheless. More relevant is the part that stops its activated abilities from getting activated. Activated abilities are written in the form "[cost] : [effect]," and the colon in a planeswalker's loyalty ability may not be easy to see, but it's there. Loyalty abilities are activated abilities, and as such Deadlock Trap shuts them down.

Q: Does Deadlock Trap shut off Night Market Lookout's ability?

A: Nope. Night Market Lookout's ability is a triggered ability, not an activated ability. There is no colon separating a cost from an effect, which tells you that the ability is not an activated ability, and the ability starts with "Whenever," which tells you that it's a triggered ability.

Say you'll see me again
Even if it's just
In your Wildest Dreams
Q: If I target two cards with Wildest Dreams and my opponent exiles one of them in response, does the other card still get returned to my hand?

A: Yup. As long as a spell still has at least one legal target when it resolves, it resolves and does as much as it can. A spell only gets countered by the rules if all its targets are illegal on resolution. Since Wildest Dreams still has one legal target, it happily returns that card to your hand.

Q: I activate Toymaker targeting Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, and then I crew Skysovereign. What happens?

A: For the rest of the turn, Skysovereign is a 5/5 creature. When you apply the continuous effects in layer order, you first get to layer 4 where Skysovereign becomes an artifact creature. At that point, its power and toughness is 6/5. However, then you continue down the layers and get to layer 7b where Toymaker's power/toughness setting effect is applied and Skysovereign gets its final power and toughness of 5/5.

Q: Can I declare a block with one of my creatures, tap it to crew a Vehicle, and then block with the Vehicle, too?

A: No, that doesn't work. You have to declare all blockers at once, and all creatures that you want to block with have to be untapped creatures under your control at the time the declare blockers step begins. In order to block with the Vehicle, you'll have to crew it before the declare blockers step, but then you can't block with the creature you used to crew the Vehicle.

Q: Can a Vehicle spell be countered with Negate?

A: Sure. Until it's on the battlefield and getting crewed (or otherwise animated), a Vehicle is just an artifact. As such, it's a noncreature spell, so it can be Negated.

Q: Does sacrificing a Clue trigger Marionette Master's ability?

A: Certainly. Sacrificing a permanent causes it to go to the graveyard unless some replacement effect makes it go somewhere else. Many players believe that a token that leaves the battlefield vanishes instead of going to whichever zone it's headed, but that's not correct. The token goes to the appropriate destination zone, which is the graveyard in the case of being sacrificed, triggering any corresponding triggered ability on the way. The token ceases to exist when state-based actions notice a token in a place where it's not supposed to be, but Marionette Master's ability has already triggered by then.

Q: Can I save my creature from Die Young with a buff spell like Engineered Might?

A: Maybe, but you can't wait to see how many energy counters your opponent pays. Once Die Young starts to resolve, your opponent gets two energy counters, pays any amount of energy counters, and your creature gets -1/-1 that many times. All this happens without any opportunity for you to do anything, so you'd have to respond to Die Young not knowing how many energy counters your opponent will pay. You can try to put your creature out of reach, but note that after Engineered Might resolves, your opponent gets the chance to cast spells or activate abilities in order to gain more energy and extend his or her reach for Die Young.

Q: Does killing Foundry Inspector in response to a spell make the spell cost more or counter it?

A: Neither of those, I'm afraid. By the time you respond, the spell has already been paid for and it's on the stack waiting to resolve. Doing anything to change how much the spell would have cost doesn't affect the spell that's already on the stack.

Q: Can I cast Kozilek, the Great Distortion with Gonti, Lord of Luxury's ability if all I have to make mana is a bunch of Swamps?

A: Sure, assuming that you have enough Swamps. Gonti's ability lets you spend mana as though it were any type, and colorless mana is a type of mana. This means that you get to pretend that your black mana is colorless if that suits your needs.

Carry on my Wayward Giant
There'll be peace when you are done
Q: Let's say I attack my opponent with Wayward Giant and she blocks it with two creatures. If I blow away one of the blockers with Flame Lash, does the Giant go through unblocked?

A: No, it's still blocked. Even though your opponent couldn't have blocked the Giant with just the one creature, that doesn't matter. Blocking restrictions are only checked at the time blockers are declared, and at that time, the block was legal.

Q: Does Revoke Privileges do anything against Aethertorch Renegade's damage abilities?

A: No. Revoke Privileges stops the creature from crewing Vehicles, from blocking, and from attacking. Damage abilities feel a lot like an attack, but they are something different entirely, so they're not affected by Revoke Privileges. Deadlock Trap does what you want, but only for a turn unless you keep paying its activation cost.

Q: I control one Midnight Oil and play another one. What happens?

A: Now you have two effects changing your hand size, so the later one wins, which means that your hand size is set by the Midnight Oil that has the greater number of counters on it. In the draw step, you'll remove counters from both Midnight Oils and draw two additional cards. Finally, whenever you discard a card, each Midnight Oil makes you lose 1 life, for a total of 2 life lost.

Q: I looked at Panharmonicon and my brain exploded. Help?

A: That sounds painful. I have dispatched Moko to pick up your brain and eat it, I mean, put it back into your skull. Meanwhile, I'll try to explain what Panharmonicon does. Essentially, it changes the rules for how certain triggered abilities work. Normally, when a triggered ability sees something in the game that matches its trigger condition, it triggers once and the ability gets put on the stack. Panharmonicon makes it such that abilities of permanents that you control that get triggered by an artifact or creature entering the battlefield trigger an additional time, so twice.

For example, look at Angel of Invention. It has a fabricate 2 ability, which is a triggered ability that triggers off of a creature (namely itself) entering the battlefield. Normally, this ability goes on the stack once. When Panharmonicon is out, this ability goes on the stack twice, and later it'll resolve twice. Each trigger is independent from the other, so for each one you choose whether to put counters on the Angel or to create two Servo tokens.

Q: In my first main phase I put a +1/+1 counter on one of my creatures. In my second main phase, I cast a Fairgrounds Trumpeter. Does the Trumpeter get a counter in the end step?

A: Yup! The ability asks the game whether a +1/+1 counter was placed on a permanent under your control this turn, and if the answer is yes, the Trumpeter gets a counter. It's not necessary for the Trumpeter to have been on the battlefield at that time to witness the event.

Q: How does Aetherflux Reservoir work in Two-Headed Giant?

A: Perhaps not as well as you want it to work. Aetherflux Reservoir counts spells that you cast, you being the Reservoir's controller. Players on a Two-Headed Giant team are still separate players that control their permanents separately, so your Aetherflux Reservoir doesn't count spells that your teammate casts.

Q: What's in Standard once Kaladesh gets released?

A: The rotation on September 30th finally concludes the transition to the three-block Standard pattern. Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins rotate out, while Kaladesh rotates in. After this rotation, Standard consists of Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, Shadows over Innistrad, Eldritch Moon, and Kaladesh.

Q: How should I keep track of my energy counters in a tournament?

A: Very carefully! Other than that, it doesn't matter much as long as you use a method that's clear, not offensive, and not prone to accidental changes. Placing beads, pennies, or other small objects into a designated energy area is fine as long as that designated area is sufficiently far away from your stash of beads, pennies, or other small objects. Please don't use kittens as energy counters because careful scientific studies have determined that kittens tend to run away. Using dice is not ideal because dice can accidentally get knocked over. In a pinch, you could just keep track of your energy counters with pen and paper.

And that's all the time we have for now. If you have a song stuck in your head after reading this article, you're welcome! Until next time, may you crew your vehicles responsibly.

- 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.

It doesn't change the actual question and answer they're going for, since you can just substitute in a different pump spell, but it's worth pointing out that Engineered Might is a sorcery...
#1 • Date: 2016-09-25 • Time: 21:51:27 •
Why doesn't Marionette Master use the "dies" templating? Because it's talking about non-creatures?
#2 • Date: 2016-09-26 • Time: 12:32:37 •
Quote (phlip):
It doesn't change the actual question and answer they're going for, since you can just substitute in a different pump spell, but it's worth pointing out that Engineered Might is a sorcery...

Huh, you're right. Clearly the article was written in a parallel universe in which Engineered Might is an instant :)

Quote (MAHK):
Why doesn't Marionette Master use the "dies" templating? Because it's talking about non-creatures?

Exactly. The "dies" template is used only for permanents that are assumed to be creatures because there's too much of a flavor disconnect when a card talks about a noncreature permanent dying.
#3 • Date: 2016-09-27 • Time: 07:06:38 •
On the Aetherflux Reservoir question, if your team is at 51 life, are you allowed to pay all 50 for the ability, or is some of that life total considered your teammate's when it comes to paying costs?
#4 • Date: 2016-09-27 • Time: 07:19:17 •
Quote (robinhoody430):
On the Aetherflux Reservoir question, if your team is at 51 life, are you allowed to pay all 50 for the ability, or is some of that life total considered your teammate's when it comes to paying costs?

You are allowed to pay life up to your team's life total. The life total works very much like a joint bank account where two people have access to the account. Either one can withdraw up to the entire balance at the time they're making the withdrawal.
#5 • Date: 2016-09-27 • Time: 07:43:02 •
With Toymaker and vehicles, a vehicle can crew itself. Not sure why you would, since it doesn't reset the P/T, but the flavor fail is worth it.
#6 • Date: 2016-09-27 • Time: 09:59:49 •

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