Published on 01/30/2017

How Revolting!

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

I should have been suspicious when
I saw their logo was a flaming skull.
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! Sorry the mess is still here—it turns out it's surprisingly difficult to hire a cleaning service, at least for us. The company I mentioned in my last article that came in to give an estimate gave a good quote, but they showed up for the appointment last week packing flamethrowers and a priest, so we had to turn them away—our insurance company definitely wouldn't cover any incidental damages if things got out of hand.

Since then I've been searching almost nonstop for a new cleaning service, but the outlook's pretty bleak. At this point I'm burned out enough that I'm almost considering bringing the first crew back! Answering some Magic rules questions might be just what I need to clear my head, so let's dig into the old inbox and see what comes up!

As always, if you have any rules questions you've been desperately searching for answers to, send them to us at , or tweet them to us @CranialTweet; one of our authors will provide you with an answer, and your question may show up in a future article.

Q: If the Myojin of Cleansing Fire I cast from my hand gets Aethersnatched, does it still get a divinity counter?

A: No. The Myojin's ability checks whether its controller cast it from his or her hand as it's entering the battlefield, and while the Myojin was cast from a hand by someone, that hand wasn't your opponent's, and the player casting it wasn't them, so the check fails—no counter for your opponent.

Q: If I cast Take into Custody on a vehicle, will it still be tapped next turn?

A: Yes. Take into Custody only cares whether or not its target is a creature at two times: when it's first cast and when it resolves. A crewed vehicle may stop being a creature at the end of the turn, but Take into Custody doesn't care about that—that vehicle's been taken in for questioning, and they're not gonna let it go until they've gotten some answers, or at least not until the paperwork's all been filed.

Q: I Wrangle my opponent's Reckless Racer and attack, drawing Take into Custody. If I Take into Custody the Racer, will it not untap during my opponent's next untap step, or does the fact that I am controlling it right now mess that up?

A: No, that works just as you'd hoped. Take into Custody doesn't try to predetermine whose untap steps the Racer doesn't untap during—instead, it effectively tells the game rules to watch for an untap step being taken by someone who controls that Racer, and that the Racer doesn't get to untap during that step.

Q: If you play Humility with an Eidolon of Blossoms on the battlefield, do you draw?

A: You do not. Humility's ability applies at every moment it's on the battlefield, so immediately after Humility enters the battlefield—when the game checks to see if there's any abilities that want to trigger off of that happening—its ability is already in effect. Thanks to Humility, Eidolon of Blossoms doesn't have any abilities any more, so there's nothing to trigger.

I don't even want to think about what's
underneath the stairs here at the office.
Q: If I play Semblance Anvil and exile Eternal Scourge with it would I still be able to cast eternal scourge?

A: Absolutely—Semblance Anvil's imprint ability exiles the card you're imprinting, and Eternal Scourge can be cast from exile. Sadly for you, though, if you do indeed decide cast the Scourge from exile, there won't be anything imprinted on the Anvil any longer, so you don't get any more cost reductions.

You don't even get a reduction on the Scourge itself, since by the time you determine the cost of casting it, it's not in exile any more.

Q: If someone casts Scrap Mastery and Slag Fiend is in play, does the Fiend die or does it survive?

A: Assuming there's a few artifacts on the battlefield to be sacrificed, Slag Fiend will survive. While there is indeed a brief moment when no artifacts are in anyone's graveyard during Scrap Mastery's resolution, by the time the Mastery is done resolving and state-based actions are checked, there are some artifacts back in the graveyard and the Fiend has sufficient toughness to survive once again.

State-based actions (which are the part of the rules responsible for sending 0-toughness creatures to the graveyard, among other things) aren't checked during the resolution of spells and abilities, so they don't care if their conditions are briefly met mid-resolution. Only once a spell or ability is fully done resolving do you check for applicable state-based actions.

Q: Metallic Mimic says creatures of the chosen type enter with an "additional" +1/+1 counter. Does that mean it needs to already have a counter coming to it to get the bonus?

A: No, it gets a +1/+1 counter regardless of whether or not it was going to get one already. By "additional", the Mimic's ability is simply making it clear that this counter doesn't come instead of any counters that might already be coming to the creature, but in addition to.

Q: Does Kari Zev's Expertise allow you to cast both sides or one side of Breaking // Entering?

A: It does indeed. While in your hand, Breaking // Entering has two converted mana costs: 2 and 6, and one of those converted mana costs is 2 or less, so the card matches the description given by Kari Zev's Expertise, giving you permission to cast it. Now that you have permission to cast the card, you need to actually start casting it...but it's a split card, so the first part of doing so is deciding what part of it to cast.

Breaking // Entering is a split card with fuse and you're casting it from your hand, so you have three options: cast Breaking, cast Entering, or cast both halves fused. Kari Zev's Expertise doesn't say that it limits your options here, so it doesn't, and you can choose whichever of the three you like.

Q: If I have Reflecting Pool and River of Tears out, Can I produce from the Pool anytime? Or only if I have played a land?

A: Only if you've played a land this turn. (And if that's happened, you won't be able to produce from the Pool.)

In order to determine what a land "could produce" for effects like Reflecting Pool, you need to imagine what mana you could potentially get if any of that land's abilities resolved right this very second, taking into account all relevant replacement effects. (It doesn't matter whether or not you could legally activate those abilities in the first place, just imagine what you'd get if they resolved.)

If you haven't played a land this turn River of Tears can only produce , never , and if you have played a land then River of Tears can only produce , never . Unless you have a few more lands around to expand your options, Reflecting Pool will be the same way.

Q: I have Chronatog in play and activate the ability, but in response someone Lightning Bolts it. Can I activate Chronatog again in response to the Bolt to save it? The "only once per turn" part is part of the ability, so it has to resolve before that happens, right?

A: I'm afraid not. You're right that Chronatog's "once per turn" limitation isn't part of the cost of the ability, but it's not part of the ability's effect, either—it's what's known as an activation instruction. An ability's activation instructions are special rules defining how that specific ability works, and are listed at the very end of the ability, after all of the ability's effects. (Not all activated abilities have activation instructions—most just follow the normal rules.)

Activation instructions might give special instructions regarding who can activate the ability, when it can be activated, or might be used to define part of the activation cost. In Chronatog's case, it limits how often the ability can be used. And since activation instructions apply all the time, it doesn't matter whether or not an activation has resolved yet—the activation instructions apply regardless.

Q: Can I tap an attached Equipment to pay for improvise? What would that do to the equipment?

A: You can absolutely tap an Equipment that's attached to a creature to help improvise, and it won't do anything at all to the equipment. Equipment doesn't care—it works normally regardless of whether it's tapped or untapped.

While many players tap their creatures by turning the creatures and everything attached to them—equipment and Auras included—sideways, that isn't actually how things work. Tapping a creature doesn't cause things attached to it to tap, and tapping things that are attached to a creature won't tap the creature either.

Q: If my opponent has a Crawlspace and I attack with Brimaz, King of Oreskos and another creature, what happens? Can all three creatures attack because of Brimaz?

A: Yes, you'll end up with three attacking creatures. Crawlspace limits the number of creatures you can legally declare as attackers as the Declare Attackers step of combat begins, but it doesn't care about any creatures that enter the battlefield attacking afterwards. Your cat token enters the battlefield attacking as normal, leaving you with three attacking creatures.

Q: If I cast Ruinous Path for its Awaken cost, my Winding Constrictor gives the land an additional counter, right?

A: Not usually. When a spell resolves, you follow its instructions in order, and Awaken instructs you to put +1/+1 counters on your land first, and then to turn it into a creature. Since your land isn't a creature at the time you place the counters on it, Winding Constrictor's ability doesn't apply.

Only if the land you're targeting happens to be an artifact or creature already, such as Darksteel Citadel or something you've already awakened with some other card, will Winding Constrictor's ability add an additional counter.

The more I think about it, the more
attractive the idea of "cleansing" becomes...
Q: My opponent controls Sigarda, Host of Herons. If I cast Killing Wave, will they be forced to pay X life for each of their creatures, since they can't sacrifice them?

A: No, definitely not. When something says "{ A } unless { someone } { does B }", what it means is "{ Someone } may { do B }. If they don't, { do A }." This means that Killing Wave effectively reads: "For each creature, that creature's controller may pay X life. If he or she doesn't, that player sacrifices that creature."

And as this makes clear, it doesn't matter whether or not it's possible for your opponent to sacrifice their creatures—the only choice they make is whether or not to pay X life. Then, if they didn't pay, Killing Wave tries to force them to sacrifice their creatures...and can't because of Sigarda.

Q: During my opponent's main phase, she uses Eladamri's Call to search for a creature card. As soon as it's in her hand can I use Jace's Archivist to make her discard it and draw something else?

A: Not before she has a chance to cast it, no. It's your opponent's turn, so after any spell or ability resolves, she's the one who has the opportunity to do things first. If she chooses to cast the creature she just tutored up, then by the time you have the chance to use your Archivist the card will already be out of her hand and waiting to resolve.

Only if your opponent decides to do something else after the Call put the card into her hand, without casting it—say, activating an ability, or trying to go to combat—will you be able to use the Archivist to force her to discard that creature card and get a new card instead.

Q: I have a Thespian's Stage that's a copy of Dryad Arbor, and block my opponent's creature with it. After blocks, I activate the Stage to copy some other land. Does my Stage still die from combat?

A: No. If something stops being a creature, it's removed from combat immediately, so as soon as your Stage becomes a copy of a non-creature land, it's no longer blocking your opponent's attacking creature.

Since it's not blocking, it won't be involved in dealing or receiving combat damage, so there's no way it could die from combat.

Q: Shaman's Trance says I may play other people's cards in their graveyard as if they are in mine, does that mean that if I cast Yawgmoth's Will I can expand its influence to other graveyards?

A: It does indeed.

Shaman's Trance says that you get to pretend that the cards in your opponents' graveyards are in your graveyard for the purposes of determining whether or not you can cast them. Normally, that just means that you'd be able to cast your opponent's cards that have flashback or retrace, or some other ability that lets them be cast from a graveyard.

But if you've resolved a Yawgmoth's Will, you can legally cast any card that's in your graveyard, even those without such abilities. And since you're pretending the cards in your opponents' graveyards are in yours, you can cast them too!

Q: I have a Consulate Crackdown on the battlefield that exiled a bunch of my opponent's artifacts, but she has a bunch of new ones now. If I play Felidar Guardian and flicker the Crackdown with it, what happens?

A: Consulate Crackdown gets exiled briefly by the Guardian's ability, which causes all the artifacts it exiled to return to the battlefield immediately. Then, the Guardian's ability returns the Crackdown to the battlefield, triggering the Crackdown's exile ability.

After the Guardian's ability has finished resolving, any abilities that triggered during that process go onto the stack—first the ones controlled by you, which will definitely include the Crackdown's exiling ability but might also include others. Then your opponent's triggers (if any) are put onto the stack on top of yours in whatever order she chooses, and abilities start resolving one by one starting from the top of the stack and working down. Once the Crackdown's ability eventually resolves (assuming your opponent hasn't gotten rid of it somehow), it will again exile all artifacts your opponent controls.

Long story short, all your opponent's artifacts should be gone, both the old and the new, but you might need to deal with a bunch of triggers first.

Q: What happens if I use Verdurous Gearhulk with a Winding Constrictor—does each different target get an additional counter, or do I get five counters total to divide up?

A: Each creature that's receiving a counter gets one more, so if you have Verdurous Gearhulk try to put one counter on each of four different creatures, you'll end up adding two counters to each of those creatures, for a grand total of eight. If, however, you were stingy and tried to put all the counters on one creature, you'd only end up with five counters total. Share the love.

Q: In a multiplayer game, if player A casts Cruel Entertainment on Players B & C, will the two still control each other on their respective next turns if player A dies before then?

A: Absolutely. While player A may be gone, the effect created by their spell doesn't depend on their continued existence, and will live on and do what it says it does no matter what happened to the player who created it.

Q: I Thought Scour myself and flip the top card of my library, but it's Progenitus. Should I shuffle it in, then mill another card, or do I mill the second card before shuffling?

A: You should mill the second card first, before shuffling in Progenitus. While many players mill cards by moving them one by one into the graveyard, this isn't actually how milling works—when something tells you to put multiple cards from a library to a graveyard, all those cards are moved at the same time.

Since Thought Scour puts both cards into the graveyard at the same time, the cards you need to put into the graveyard are Progenitus and the card below it, before you shuffle Progenitus back in.

Q: If a card like Courser of Kruphix is making a player reveal the top card of their library, and that player casts Anticipate, is the known card in the stack of three "visible" during the picking process, or can that player shuffle the three cards so their opponents don't know if they picked the known card?

A: When your opponent resolves Anticipate, you're not entitled to know whether the card your opponent decided to pick was originally the top card, the second, or the third, and that's true regardless of whether or not there's a Courser around revealing things. You know they picked a card to go into their hand, and you know that two cards went to the bottom, but you don't get to know which of the three cards they picked.

If your opponent happens to pick up those three cards in such a manner that you can easily see which of the cards they chose, that's fine, but the rules don't entitle you to that information.

That's all for this week, but come back next Monday for another fresh batch of rules questions!

Now where did I leave those matches...?

- Callum Milne

About the Author:
Callum Milne is a Level 2 judge from British Columbia, Canada. His home range is Vancouver Island, but he can be found in the wild throughout BC and also at GPs all along the west coast of North America.


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