Published on 02/20/2017

Artificer's Ball

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

That's quite a heater.
It's the greatest time of the year, or at least almost! Spring training camps for Major League Baseball are open, and pitchers and catchers reported in this week, which means soon my other favorite game will be back in season. Until then, though, we've got a juicy mailbag of Magic rules questions to answer this week, and if you've got a question that's throwing you a curveball, you can get an answer to it by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: What happens if there's both a Knowledge Pool on the battlefield, and an emblem from Jace, Unraveler of Secrets?

A: It depends! If the same player controls both the emblem and the Knowledge Pool, then that player chooses what happens for the first spell their opponent casts each turn. If they choose to have the Jace emblem's trigger resolve first, then the spell gets countered and Knowledge Pool does nothing. If they choose Knowledge Pool's ability to resolve first, then Knowledge Pool's effect happens, and Jace's emblem will fail to counter the original spell.

If the emblem and the Knowledge Pool are controlled by different players, it depends on whose turn it is. Specifically, the player whose turn it [i]isn't[/] (in a two-player game), or the player who is furthest away, in turn order, from getting their next turn (in a multiplayer game) will have their ability resolve first.

Q: I control a Smuggler's Copter, currently uncrewed, and have a Dawnfeather Eagle in my hand. Can I cast the Eagle, use it to crew the Copter, and have the Copter get +1/+1 and vigilance?

A: You can: Dawnfeather Eagle's trigger will apply to anything you control that happens to be a creature at the time the trigger resolves. So you can cast the Eagle, put its trigger on the stack, and respond by tapping the Eagle to crew the Copter; this will make the Copter a creature, so when Dawnfeather Eagle's trigger resolves it gets +1/+1 and gains vigilance.

Q: Does Winding Constrictor give me extra counters on my planeswalkers?

A: No; Winding Constrictor's ability specifically says that it only applies to counters which would be placed on your creatures, or on you, so it doesn't do anything for your planeswalkers.

Q: So I'd have to use Doubling Season, then, to double up my planeswalkers' counters?

A: Be careful here — Doubling Season will give you double counters when your planeswalkers enter the battlefield (for example, Nissa, Vital Force will enter with 10 counters instead of 5), but won't double up counters from using their abilities (for example, activating Nissa's +1 would give her only one counter, not two). This is because Doubling Season only applies to counters placed by effects: a planeswalker entering with counters is an effect (it's a replacement effect), but paying a cost (which is what happens when you add/remove counters to activate abilities) isn't an effect.

Some pitchers are that good.
Q: OK, so if I control a Winding Constrictor and cast a Walking Ballista with X=0, will the Ballista die before it gets the counter?

A: No; since no counters would be placed on the Ballista by its own ability, Winding Constrictor doesn't do anything here.

Q: What if I have multiple Winding Constrictors and cast something that provides at least one counter?

A: Then each one applies whenever you or one of your creatures would get counters, and you (or the creature) end up getting that many counters plus two (when you control two Constrictors for example).

Q: If my opponent has a planeswalker out, can I use the +1 of Saheeli Rai to deal damage to that planeswalker?

A: You can. Any time something you control would deal non-combat damage to your opponent, you can redirect all of that damage to one of their planeswalkers instead. And Saheeli's ability would deal non-combat damage to your opponent, so you can redirect that damage to their planeswalker.

Q: In a Commander game, if my commander is Nissa, Vastwood Seer and she's transformed into a planeswalker, would Thunderfoot Baloth still get +2/+2 and pump up my other creatures?

A: Yes. "Commander-ness" is a property of the card, not of its characteristics. So no matter what card type Nissa happens to be at the moment, she's still your commander and you control her, which is the only thing Thunderfoot Baloth cares about.

Q: I heard that Aetherworks Marvel will give you an energy counter from being destroyed. But I thought a card had to be in play for its abilities to work?

A: If an Aetherworks Marvel is destroyed, its first ability will trigger and produce an energy counter. Abilities that trigger from things leaving the battlefield (as well as a couple other types of zone changes) get an exception to the way things normally work, so that they "see" their own destruction and trigger appropriately. This is necessary to allow, for example, Aetherworks Marvel to trigger if all your artifacts are destroyed at once.

Q: My opponent has a crewed Aethersphere Harvester and I cast a Spire Patrol. If I choose to tap the Harvester, will it stay tapped even though it stops being a creature?

A: It will. Spire Patrol's ability only checks the target's type at two moments: when you put the trigger on the stack, and when the trigger resolves. Beyond that it doesn't pay attention to what type(s) the target eventually becomes, and the "that creature" wording doesn't specifically require it to remain a creature.

Q: If I control a Lobber Crew and a Paradox Engine, can I tap the Crew to deal damage, then cast a multicolored spell and deal 2 more damage?

A: You can! Casting the spell triggers both Lobber Crew's own untapping ability, and Paradox Engine's. You choose what order they happen in, but either way you can tap Lobber Crew for damage again in between the two triggered abilities resolving.

Q: I tapped a Veteran Motorist to crew Heart of Kiran, and my opponent used Disallow to counter the crew ability. If I then tap another creature to crew Heart of Kiran again, will it be a 4/4 or a 5/5?

A: It will be a 5/5; Veteran Motorist's ability is separate from whether it succeeds at crewing. It just happens whenever you tap the Motorist to pay the cost of a crew ability, and will give the Vehicle +1/+1 until end of turn no matter what happens afterward.

Q: I cast a Dawnfeather Eagle so all my creatures have vigilance this turn, but I'd like to attack with my Renegade Wheelsmith and still get its ability. Is there a chance to tap the Wheelsmith (say to meaninglessly crew some Vehicle; I know I won't be able to attack with that Vehicle) before my opponent declares blockers?

A: There is. During the combat phase, you can declare your attackers, including the Wheelsmith; then both players get a chance to cast instants and use abilities before blockers are declared, and at that point you can tap the Wheelsmith to trigger its ability.

Q: What if I use Renegade Wheelsmith to crew a Mobile Garrison; could I then attack with Mobile Garrison, untap the Wheelsmith, and re-tap it to crew the Garrison again just to make another creature unable to block?

A: Yes. The Wheelsmith will become untapped after you declare attackers, and you can tap it again before the game moves to the declare blockers step (and you can crew and re-crew a Vehicle as many times as you can pay for; it just doesn't usually do anything useful).

I'm not sure this is approved equipment.
Q: I used Karn Liberated to restart the game, and it had exiled my opponent's Vendilion Clique and a Mistbind Clique. Will I be able to champion the Vendilion Clique?

A: Yes; when you restart the game with Karn, all enters-the-battlefield triggered abilities of permanents he gave you will trigger and be put on the stack at the beginning of the first upkeep of the restarted game, and at that point you'll be able to exile the Vendilion Clique to the champion ability of the Mistbind Clique. Just remember that when the Mistbind Clique dies, the Vendilion Clique will be returned under its owner's control, and its owner is your opponent!

Q: If I activate the ability of Stitchwing Skaab, discarding two Prized Amalgams, will the Prized Amalgams get to come back?

A: They will! You discard as part of the cost of activating Stitchwing Skaab's ability, but the Skaab doesn't return to the battlefield until the ability resolves. At that point the Amalgams are both in your graveyard and see the Skaab enter, which triggers their abilities.

Q: If I did that in my opponent's end step, when would I get the Amalgams?

A: Since your opponent's end step already began, "the beginning of the next end step" will be your end step. If you want to get the Amalgams during your opponent's end step, you'll need to use Stitchwing Skaab's ability no later than your opponent's post combat main phase.

Q: If I have a Panharmonicon and a Winding Constrictor, and cast a Verdurous Gearhulk, how many counters do I get?

A: It depends. The Gearhulk's ability will trigger twice, and you can choose different targets each time. When the first trigger resolves, each creature you chose to get any counters will get that many plus one, then the second trigger will resolve and each creature you chose for that trigger will get the appropriate number of counters, plus one. So for example, if you choose the same set of four creatures each time, they end up getting 4 counters each (2 from the first trigger, and 2 from the second trigger).

Q: I have enough energy counters to pay for Greenbelt Rampager's ability, but I really want to get revolt. Can I respond to the Rampager's ability by doing something that spends my energy (like activating Aethersphere Harvester's lifelink-gaining ability over and over) to avoid being able to pay for Rampager?

A: You can. Greenbelt Rampager's ability is just a normal triggered ability, and you can respond to it; it only forces you to pay energy if you have enough energy left when the triggered ability resolves.

Q: If I'm playing in a team tournament, can I offer advice to my teammates for their matches? How do I keep our opponents from overhearing it?

A: You can have any kind of conversation you like with your teammates as long as you all continue to play at a reasonable pace. However, you do have to stay at the table, and you can't use any electronic devices to communicate, so it's probably best to speak quietly, and cover your mouth to make sure nobody reads your lips (baseball players do this by covering their faces with their gloves, when discussing strategy on the field).

That's all I've got for this week, but never fear! We'll be back next week with another installment 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.


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