Published on 02/13/2017

A Valentine's Day Pop Quiz

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Happy Valentine's Day!
Greetings, and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and we have lovingly prepared a special Valentine's Day gift for you: A quiz! We know that our readers love the opportunity to test their knowledge, and we're happy to give you this opportunity.

If you have rules questions for us, please email them to us at , or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. As always, one of our writers will reply directly, and your question might appear in a future article to educate readers like yourself.

And now, without further ado, let's dive into the quiz!

Q: If you activate Breya, Etherium Shaper's ability, choosing the first mode, by sacrificing Breya and another artifact, what happens?

A: The choices are...

A: The ability resolves and does nothing.
B: The ability resolves normally and Breya deals 3 damage to the target player.
C: The ability is countered on resolution.
D: The ability was activated illegally, so it gets taken back.
E: The ability was activated illegally, so you lose the game.

The answer is...

Once an ability is activated, it exists on the stack independently from its source. If an ability depended on its sources continued existence to resolve, cards like Mogg Fanatic or Implement of Combustion wouldn't work at all. Likewise, Breya's ability is not dependent on her continued existence. The ability resolves, and Breya — or rather, the ghost image of how she existed on the battlefield — deals 3 damage.

Q: Which of these abilities are affected by Panharmonicon?

A: The choices are...

A: Ephara, God of the Polis's card draw ability.
B: Walking Ballista's +1/+1 counters.
C: Metallic Mimic's choice of creature type.
D: Metallic Mimic's counter-giving ability.
E: Wasn't this question on the last quiz?

The answer is...
None of the above!

Panharmonicon affects triggered abilities that get triggered by a creature or an artifact entering the battlefield, and none of those cards have such an ability. Triggered abilities use the words "when," "whenever," or "at."

Ephara has a triggered ability, but it triggers at the beginning of the upkeep if an additional condition is met. The trigger isn't caused by a creature entering the battlefield, so Panharmonicon doesn't care. Also, if you knew this, thanks for reading last week's issue!

The other cards all generate replacement effects that modify how a creature enters the battlefield, which often gets confused with enter-the-battlefield triggers, but it's something different entirely, and Panharmonicon doesn't concern itself with replacement effects.

Q: At least how many Faeries do you need to control to counter Boom with Spellstutter Sprite?

A: The choices are...

A: 2
B: 4
C: 6
D: 8
E: How do we extrapolate?

The answer is...

Yes, you only need two Faeries total to counter Boom, so only one in addition to the Spellstutter Sprite you just cast. In other circumstances the game might add the two halves together, but on the stack, a split card only has the characteristics of the half that was cast, while the other half is treated as though it doesn't exist. The Boom half has a converted mana cost of 2, so that's the X you need for Spellstutter Sprite's ability.

It's good to give
generously on Valentine's Day!
Q: In a Commander game, Amy uses Zedruu the Greathearted to give her Ornithopter to Rory. Later, Clara eliminates Rory from the game with a lethal attack. What happens?

A: The choices are...

A: The Ornithopter goes to the graveyard.
B: The Ornithopter gets exiled.
C: Amy gains control of the Ornithopter.
D: Clara gains control of the Ornithopter.
E: Rory gets to take the Ornithopter home.

The answer is...

When a player leaves the game, any effects that gave that player control of something end, so this ends Zedruu's control-changing effect. In the absence of this effect, the Ornithopter returns to Amy, since there are no other control-changing effects that affect it and Amy is its default controller.

The answer would be different if Rory had used something like Bribery to put the Ornithopter onto the battlefield, since in that case it's not a control-changing effect that gave the Ornithopter to Rory. In that case, the Ornithopter would end up getting exiled, but that's not what happened here.

Q: You control Fathom Mage and two Corpsejack Menaces. If the Mage evolves, how many cards do you get to draw with its ability?

A: The choices are...

A: Up to 1.
B: Up to 2.
C: Up to 4.
D: Up to 8.
E: As many as you wish.

The answer is...

The evolve ability wants to put one +1/+1 counter on the Mage, which one of the Corpsejack Menaces doubles to two, and then the second Corpsejack Menace double to four. The doubling stops there because each Corpsejack Menace's effect can only apply once to a given event. Fathom Mage gets four +1/+1 counters, and its ability triggers separately for each one, so you get four instances of "you may draw a card", so you get to draw up to four cards.

Q: Your life total is 20 and you control Boon Reflection. If you resolve Invincible Hymn with 35 cards in your library, what happens to your life total?

A: The choices are...

A: It goes to 35.
B: It goes to 50.
C: It goes to 65.
D: It goes to 70.
E: Math is hard.

The answer is...

When an effect sets your life total to a number that's higher than your current life total, you gain life equal to the difference. Invincible Hymn wants to make you gain 15 life to get your life total from 20 to 35, but Boon Reflection doubles the amount of life gain, so you gain 30 life instead, and you end up at 50 life.

Q: You cast Yahenni's Expertise which gets cascade thanks to Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder's ability having resolved earlier that turn. Let's say you choose to cast Cruel Finality as the free spell you cast with Yahenni's Expertise. In which order do the spells resolve?

A: The choices are...

A: Yahenni's Expertise resolves.
B: The spell you cascade into with Yahenni's Expertise resolves.
C: Cruel Finality resolves.
D: The spell you cascade into with Cruel Finality resolves.
E: Whichever order you choose.

The answer is...
B, then A, then D, then C.

Let's break this down. You cast Yahenni's Expertise, which goes on the stack. The cascade ability goes on the stack above that, so it resolves first. You cascade into a spell with converted mana cost less than 4 and cast it. This spell goes on the stack above Yahenni's Expertise, so it resolves first.

Next, Yahenni's Expertise resolves, during which you cast Cruel Finality, which goes on the stack. This triggers cascade for Cruel Finality, and that ability goes on the stack above Cruel Finality. The ability resolves first, so you cascade into a spell with converted mana cost less than 3, which goes on the stack above Cruel Finality and resolves before Cruel Finality. Finally, Cruel Finality resolves and earns its name. Phew!

My heart belongs to you.
Q: Which of these can Disallow counter?

A: The choices are...

A: Exquisite Archangel's ability
B: Walking Ballista's "enters the battlefield with X counters" ability
C: Chandra, Torch of Defiance's second ability
D: Heart of Kiran's crew ability.
E: Your ability to answer this question.

The answer is...
C and D.

Disallow can counter activated abilities and triggered abilities that aren't mana abilities. A and B might look like triggered abilities if you're not careful, but they're actually static abilities that create replacement effects. Triggered abilities use the words "when," "whenever," or "at," which neither of those two abilities use.

Chandra has an activated ability that looks an awful lot like a mana ability, since it is an activated ability without a target that could add mana to a player's mana pool. However, as a loyalty ability, it's explicitly not a mana ability. It uses the stack, and as such Disallow can counter it just fine.

Crew abilities are activated abilities even though they're not written in the distinctive "[cost] : [effect]" template of activated abilities because it's a keyword ability. The colon is present in the rules definition, and you can see it in the reminder text, too. Since it's an activated ability, Disallow can counter it.

Q: Which of these can you choose for Metallic Mimic?

A: The choices are...

A: Shapeshifter
B: Changeling
C: Artifact
D: Vehicle
E: Legen— wait for it... — dary!

The answer is...

Of those choices, only Shapeshifter is a creature type. Changeling is an ability that gives a card all creature types in the game, but it's not a creature type. Artifact is a card type, and Vehicle is an artifact type. Legendary, whether you say it with a dramatic pause or not, is a supertype.

Q: Arya has 10 cards left in her library, Bran has 20 cards left in his library, and Catelyn has 30 cards left in her library. Catelyn resolves a Windfall that makes all of them draw 50 cards. What happen?

A: The choices are...

A: Everybody draws as many cards as they can, and they proceed to play with empty libraries.
B: Arya loses the game, then Bran loses the game, so Catelyn wins the game.
C: Catelyn loses the game, then Arya loses the game, so Bran wins the game.
D: The game is a draw.
E: They play Magic in Westeros? Cool!

The answer is...

While Windfall resolves, each player in turn order tries to draw fifty cards, and eventually they'll draw from an empty library. This is one of the ways a player can lose the game, but this game loss doesn't happen right away. It's one of the state-based actions that get checked, among other times, after a spell has finished resolving. State-based actions are checked after Windfall has finished resolving and notice that all three players have tried to draw from an empty library since the last time state-based actions were checked, so all three players lose the game simultaneously, which means that the game is a draw.

And that's it. How did you do? If you got all ten questions right, Moko would love to invite you for a nice dinner and pick your brain a bit.

Thanks for reading and participating, and I hope you'll come back next week for more Magic rules questions. Until then, I hope you have a nice Valentine's Day.

-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.


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