Published on 01/16/2017

Wake Up and Smell the Revolution

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion. Last weekend was the Aether Revolt prerelease, and I hope you had fun inventing and improvising ways to join the revolt against the evil Consulate. With the prerelease in the books, it's now time for our first look at the fun and interesting rules interactions in this new set.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email your questions to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. Assuming that the Consulate doesn't intercept your message, you'll get a reply from one of our writers, and your question might appear in a future article to educate readers like yourself.

Q: Can a creature enchanted with Caught in the Brights still crew Vehicles?

A: Sure! Caught in the Brights only does what it says it does, and it only says that the creature can't attack or block. It doesn't stop the creature from getting tapped for other reasons such as paying the cost to crew a Vehicle.

Q: If I copy a Vehicle with Cogwork Assembler and crew the copy, can it attack?

A: Yup. Cogwork Assembler gives the copy haste, which is an ability that can be given to any permanent even though it only means something to creatures. Crewing the Vehicle doesn't remove the haste ability, so it'll be a creature with haste, which means that it can attack.

Q: I tap three creatures to crew a Vehicle. How many times does Crackdown Construct's ability trigger?

A: Only once. Crewing a vehicle is an activated ability, but it's an ability of the Vehicle, not of the creature that's being tapped. As such, you've only activated one ability, so you've only met Crackdown Construct's trigger condition once.

Q: Can crewing a Vehicle be countered with Disallow?

A: Certainly! As we've just seen, crewing a Vehicle is an activated ability, and it's not a mana ability, so it's one of the things that Disallow can target. In general, activated abilities are written in the form [cost] : [effect]. In the case of keyword abilities like crew, the colon is not visible in the card text, but it's in the rules, and you can see the colon in the reminder text if the card has reminder text.

Q: Can Fatal Push kill a Walking Ballista?

A: Absolutely! When you determine the converted mana cost of a permanent, or in fact any object that's not on the stack, any X in its mana cost is considered to be 0. This means that Walking Ballista's converted mana cost is 0, which indeed meets the "2 or less" condition for the Push to be Fatal.

Q: I control one creature and I target it with Lifecrafter's Gift. How often does my Animation Module trigger?

A: It triggers twice. Lifecrafter's Gift puts one +1/+1 counter onto your creature, and then it puts another +1/+1 counter onto your creature. Those two counters are placed in two separate instructions, so they are placed in two separate events, and each of those events triggers Animation Module's ability.

Q: I control Mechanized Production that's enchanting a Servo token and I just got my eighth Servo, but my opponent controls an Exquisite Archangel. Do I win the game?

A: Yes, you do, assuming that you're in a duel. In a multiplayer game, an effect that causes a player to win the game actually makes that player's opponents lose the game instead, but duels are not as complicated. In a duel, an effect that causes a player to win the game simply ends the game with that player being the winner. Because of this, your opponent's Archangel has nothing to replace and you win the game.

Give a little bit of heart and soul
Give a little bit of love to grow
Q: Indomitable Creativity puts Gonti's Aether Heart and three other artifacts onto the battlefield under my control. How many energy counters do I get?

A: You'll get a whopping eight energy counters from that. Indomitable Creativity puts all the revealed and exiled cards onto the battlefield simultaneously, and permanents that enter the battlefield at the same time see each other entering. This means that Gonti's Aether Heart sees itself and the three other artifacts entering the battlefield, so its ability triggers four times. You'll feel so energized that you might take an extra turn!

Q: What does Perilous Predicament do in a Two-Headed Giant game?

A: It's twice as perilous as it would be in a duel. In Two-Headed Giant, you have one teammate and two opponents, and Perilous Predicament tells each of your opponents to sacrifice an artifact creature and a nonartifact creature. Each opponent still controls his or her creatures separately, so each of them has to sacrifice an artifact creature, if possible, and a nonartifact creature, if possible. In the best case — or worst case from your opponent's point of view — Perilous Predicament will force your opponents to sacrifice a total of four creatures.

Q: The release notes state that a Vehicle enchanted by Tezzeret's Touch becomes a 5/5 creature and crewing it won't change its power and toughness. Why is that? Wouldn't crewing the Vehicle overwrite the 5/5 from Tezzeret's Touch?

A: No, the release notes are correct. Unlike most other animation effects that also give the animated thing a power and toughness, the crew ability on Vehicles only changes the Vehicle's type without setting a power and toughness. It can do that because the Vehicle has printed values for its power and toughness, which are meaningless until the Vehicle becomes a creature. As you go through the layers to determine the Vehicle's characteristics, it becomes an artifact creature in layer 4 due to Tezzeret's Touch, and then the crew effect does the same thing. In layer 7, you start with the printed values for the Vehicle's power and toughness, and then Tezzeret's Touch applies in layer 7b and changes the power and toughness to 5/5.

Q: I control a Walking Ballista with four +1/+1 counters, and it has -3/-3 from Yahenni's Expertise. Can I remove all four counters to deal 4 damage?

A: No, that doesn't work. You could have done that in response to Yahenni's Expertise, but if you let it resolve, it's too late. The reason is that the cost for Walking Ballista's ability isn't "remove any number of +1/+1 counters," and the effect doesn't deal "that much" damage. The cost is to remove one counter, and the effect is to deal 1 damage. As soon as you activate this ability once, you remove one counter to pay the cost, and Walking Ballista is now a 0/0. State-based actions see this and toss Walking Ballista into your graveyard before you'd get priority to activate the ability again.

Q: Can a Forest enchanted with Unbridled Growth make two mana?

A: No. A Forest that's enchanted with Unbridled Growth has two activated abilities that each require you to tap it to activate the ability. You can only activate one ability at a time, and once you've paid the cost for that ability, you are no longer able to pay the cost for the other ability.

Q: Can Universal Solvent destroy a planeswalker?

A: It can! Universal Solvent's ability can destroy any permanent that you can target, and planeswalkers are permanents, as are creatures, artifacts, enchantments, and lands.

Q: What about emblems, can Universal Solvent destroy those?

A: No, I'm afraid Universal Solvent is not strong enough for that job. Permanents are anything that's on the battlefield, and while emblems might share some table space — or playmat space — with permanents in representing the game state, they actually exist in the game's command zone, so they are not permanents.

Let's talk about the
Elephant in the room.
Q: Let's say I don't have any energy counters and I play Greenbelt Rampager. Can I use it to crew Heart of Kiran before it returns itself to my hand?

A: Yes, you can do that. Greenbelt Rampager's enter-the-battlefield ability is a normal triggered ability that uses the stack, so you can respond to it with an instant or with an activated ability. The crew ability doesn't have any activation restrictions, so you can activate it in response to Greenbelt Rampager's ability.

Q: What happens if I control two Pia's Revolutions and an artifact goes to my graveyard from the battlefield?

A: First off, each Pia's Revolution's ability triggers and goes on the stack, and you choose a target for each. Let's assume you're in a duel, so you have only the one opponent to target. When the first ability resolves, it asks your opponent whether he or she would like to be dealt 3 damage. If yes, your opponent is dealt 3 damage, and if not, you return the artifact card to your hand. Then the second ability resolves and gives your opponent the same choice again. However, if your opponent chose not to take the damage the first time around, not taking the damage again does nothing because the card already left the graveyard.

In short, your opponent essentially gets to choose between being dealt 6 damage or you getting the card returned to your hand. The outcome of your opponent being dealt 3 damage and you getting the card returned to your hand is also possible, but that outcome requires an unlikely sequence of choices by your opponent.

Q: I control two untapped creatures and my opponent uses Peema Aether-Seer's ability one of them. Then he attacks with Sweatworks Brawler. Do I have to double-block it?

A: If you can, yes. You have to block in a way that satisfies as many requirements as possible without violating any restrictions. Menace represents a blocking restriction, while Peema Aether-Seer's ability creates a blocking requirement. Not blocking at all doesn't violate any restrictions, but it doesn't fulfill any requirements. Blocking with one creature violates menace, so you can't do that. Blocking with two creatures doesn't violate menace and it fulfills the blocking requirement, so that's what you'll have to do.

Q: Can Skyship Plunderer boost a planeswalker's loyalty counters?

A: It sure can! As we've mentioned earlier, planeswalkers are permanents, so a planeswalker is a legal target for Skyship Plunderer's ability. Also, loyalty counters are counters, so the Plunderer's ability will see at least that kind of counter on your planeswalker (since it has to have at least one loyalty counter on it to be on the battlefield) and it'll give your planeswalker a loyalty counter.

Q: Can I cast Walking Ballista for 0?

A: Sure, that's perfectly legal. When you cast Walking Ballista, you get to choose a value for X, and 0 is a valid choice because the card doesn't say otherwise. Of course, the resulting creature will be a feeble 0/0 creature that'll die right away, so it won't be any use to you in combat, but it's a very cheap way of enabling revolt effects.

Q: Let's say I cast Decommission in my first main phase when nothing had left the battlefield yet. In the combat phase, one of my creatures dies. Do I gain 3 life now?

A: No, that's not how revolt works. On spells like Decommission, revolt checks when the spell resolves whether a permanent you controlled left the battlefield at some point so far in the turn. If it did, you get an upgraded effect as spelled out on the card, and if not, you just get the normal effect. The spell does not set up a delayed trigger to give you an additional effect the next time a permanent you control leaves the battlefield.

Q: I'm playing in an Aether Revolt/Aether Revolt/Kaladesh draft and I draft a Smuggler's Copter. Can I use it in my deck even though it's banned?

A: Yes, you can use it. The banned and restricted lists only apply to constructed formats such as Standard and Modern. Draft is a limited format, so it is not affected by the banned and restricted lists.

And that's all the time we have for now. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for another installment of Magic rules questions.

- 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.

So what happens in a multiplayer game if that Mechanized Production creates a ninth Servo? Does the Exquisite Angel's controller still not lose?
#1 • Date: 2017-01-16 • Time: 06:45:09 •
Quote (Thrawcheld):
So what happens in a multiplayer game if that Mechanized Production creates a ninth Servo? Does the Exquisite Angel's controller still not lose?

Exquisite Archangel exiles itself when it replaces its controller's game loss. Unless the player gets another Exquisite Archangel onto the battlefield, he or she will lose the game the next time Mechanized Production's ability resolves.
#2 • Date: 2017-01-16 • Time: 07:04:39 •
Follow-up to the Tezzeret's Touch/Vehicles question: The same thing happens with Lifecraft Awakening, right? And for the same reason?

Follow-follow-up: is this the same thing for gods from Theros block, since they also have printed P/T, but are not always creatures. If they get "animated" from another source (say, with Opalescence) and get given a P/T, then get proper devotion, they stay with the P/T Opalescence gave them?
#3 • Date: 2017-01-17 • Time: 12:17:12 •
Quote (Blees):
Follow-up to the Tezzeret's Touch/Vehicles question: The same thing happens with Lifecraft Awakening, right? And for the same reason?

Assuming that you're using Lifecraft Awakening instead of Tezzeret's Touch (rather that using it instead of crewing), that's correct. Lifecraft Awakening creates a type-changing effect and a P/T-setting effect, while crewing only creates a type-changing effect.


Follow-follow-up: is this the same thing for gods from Theros block, since they also have printed P/T, but are not always creatures. If they get "animated" from another source (say, with Opalescence) and get given a P/T, then get proper devotion, they stay with the P/T Opalescence gave them?

Yes. In that scenario, the only P/T-setting effect comes from Opalescence. Turning off the God's own "is not a creature" effect doesn't create a P/T-setting effect.
#4 • Date: 2017-01-17 • Time: 12:38:12 •

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