Published on 02/27/2017

Time Marches On

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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 assume a procrastinator was involved.
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! I was telling a friend yesterday that I was just getting used to it being January, and was informed that in fact it's almost March now. I have no idea how this happened without me noticing, but I've given it a lot of thought, and I've concluded there's only one possible explanation: someone is stealing time!

I've set some traps, but I'm not sure how to stop whoever's responsible for this, but at this rate we can't have much time left, so please, email us your questions at or tweet them to us at @CranialTweet for us to answer before we run out entirely! We don't have much left to spare, so I'll dive right into this week's questions.

Q: Are you allowed to look at face down cards that you own like morphs and cards concealed under hideaway lands?

A: You can look at face-down morphs and the cards under your hideaway lands, because those effects specifically say you can look, but that's not the case for all things that result in cards being face-down.

If a card exiles something face-down, by default you're not allowed to look at it even if you're its owner. You're only allowed to look at those face-down cards if the effect that's exiling them says you're allowed to.

Q: If my opponent has a Linvala, Keeper of Silence in play, can I use Simian Spirit Guide's mana ability?

A: Yes, you can. Linvala, Keeper of Silence's ability only stops you from activating abilities of creatures on the battlefield—it doesn't affect creature cards that aren't on the battlefield, for the same reason that Day of Judgement doesn't attempt to destroy creature cards in your hand or graveyard—when an ability just says "creature" (or "land" or "artifact", and so on), without any further qualifiers, it means one on the battlefield—if it wants to affect cards elsewhere, it needs to say so.

Q: I have a Quicksmith Rebel. I tap the artifact it modified to deal damage, and the Rebel is returned to my hand in response. Does the artifact still do damage?

A: Indeed it does. In the same way that your opponent Shattering the artifact won't stop the ability once it's been activated, removing the ability from the artifact by other means—like bouncing the Rebel—also won't stop the instance you've activated from resolving.

Q: If I activate Witch Engine's ability, and respond by untapping it and using it again, will I end up with 8 mana or will my opponent and I each get 4?

A: You'll get the full 8 mana. Your opponent does gain control of Witch Engine as the first instance of the ability resolves, but that doesn't matter. You're the person who activated the ability that's still on the stack, so you're the one who controls it.

Where's Lobsang Ludd when you need him?
Q: Question about Scrap Trawler—does Ornithopter trigger it when it goes to the graveyard?

A: Scrap Trawler technically does trigger, but since Ornithopter already has a converted mana cost of 0, you're not going to be able to find anything with a lower converted mana cost to bring back, and since you can't choose any legal targets for the trigger, it will be removed from the stack without doing anything.

Q: I cast Enduring Ideal, then Fork it. Does anything special happen regarding the Epic effect?

A: Well, you get two copies of Enduring Ideal on each of your upkeeps for the rest of the game. That's pretty special, right?

The Epic ability from each Enduring Ideal functions independently of the other, so each of them triggers and creates a copy of the spell that created it at the beginning of your upkeep. Two Epic effects means two triggers means two enchantments.

Q: Does Nylea's Presence power up domain cards like Might of Alara all on its own, or do I need five different lands?

A: It does it all on its lonesome. Might of Alara, like other domain cards, doesn't count the number of lands you control at all—it counts the number of different basic land types among however many lands you do have, and thanks to Nylea's Presence, that's five.

Q: If I Spell Queller a spell cast from the graveyard with flashback, will the card be cast when Spell Queller leaves the battlefield, or was it exiled by flashback instead of the Queller?

A: Your opponent gets to cast it. Flashback works by watching for the flashed-back spell to try to go somewhere other than exile, and then kicks in to send it to exile instead. Since Spell Queller exiles the card, flashback sees the spell is going to the right place and leaves it be—it doesn't know or care that the Queller might try to do something with that card later on.

Q: Can Rings of Brighthearth copy Aether Chaser's Servo-making ability so you get two Servos for and two energy?

A: No, it can't. Don't be fooled by the fact that it asks for a payment. Aether Chaser's ability is not an activated ability, and therefore can't be copied by Rings of Brighthearth.

Activated abilities can be recognized because they always use a colon ( : ) to separate their costs and effects. Aether Chaser's ability is a triggered ability, not an activated one.

Q: Genju of the Fens says you can return it to your hand after the enchanted creature dies. So can you return it to your hand after a turn has passed or do you have only one chance to return it once it has been put into a graveyard?

A: You only get one chance to return it—right when the ability telling you you can do so resolves. If you don't want to return it to your hand right then, then in your graveyard the Genju stays for the rest of the game. Unless you have some other way of returning it to your hand, at least.

Q: Can mana from Burning-Tree Emissary and Hidden Herbalists be used for casting Myr Superion?

A: Absolutely. Most mana production on creatures comes from activated abilities as on cards like Llanowar Elves, but that's not the only way creatures can produce mana by a long shot. Burning-Tree Emissary and Hidden Herbalists may use triggered abilities to produce their mana, but the mana was still produced by an ability of a creature, so Myr Superion approves!

If I attack with multiple Vehicles while I control a Shared Animosity, do they get a boost from it?

A: They do not. "Vehicle" is an artifact type, not a creature type, and crewing a vehicle doesn't give it a creature type, so vehicles don't naturally have any creature types at all. And without having any creature types, they definitely can't share creature types with anything else, so Shared Animosity won't boost them.

Always remember Rule One.
Q: Leonin Arbiter is on the battlefield and I forget to pay for it before I Chord of Calling. Can I pay as Chord resolves, like I can for Mana Leak?

A: Unfortunately for you, you cannot. The game gives you an opportunity to use mana abilities any time a spell or ability asks you to pay mana, which is why you can tap lands mid-Mana Leak, but that's not what's happening in this situation, because Chord of Calling isn't asking you to pay mana.

Leonin Arbiter works by creating a rule (Players can't search libraries) and sets up what's known as a special action (Pay to the Arbiter's effect) that players can take to ignore the rule for a turn. Like casting instants or activating abilities, you can use that special action any time you have priority. But you don't get a chance to do it in the middle of resolving your Chord of Calling for the same reason you can't cast instants in the middle of resolving another spell, so if you haven't already paid by the time you let Chord of Calling start resolving, it's too late for you, and you won't get to search.

You'll get to shuffle your library, though. That's something, right?

Q: If I have Mechanized Production attached to a Clue token and an Erdwal Illuminator, how many tokens do I get on my upkeep?

A: Just the one. Investigating gives you a clue token, but getting a clue token doesn't necessarily mean you're investigating. Mechanized Production is just giving you the token, no investigation required, and since Erdwal Illuminator only triggers when you investigate, you won't be getting any more clues from it.

Q: If I fuse Breaking // Entering and I hit an Emrakul, The Aeons Torn, can I put it onto the battlefield?

A: Indeed you can. Emrakul, The Aeons Torn's graveyard-shuffling ability is a triggered ability, and triggered abilities don't do things right away—instead they need to go onto the stack and wait for responses before eventually resolving and doing their thing, and if they trigger in the middle of resolving a spell, they don't even get put onto the stack until you're done .

A fused Breaking // Entering will put Emrakul into the graveyard (triggering its ability), and then put it onto the battlefield all during its resolution, before the ability even has a chance to be put onto the stack, much less resolve. After Breaking // Entering is done resolving the ability will go onto the stack, and eventually shuffle in your graveyard, but by then you have a very big Eldrazi on the board, ready to annihilate your opponent.

Q: I have Thalia, Guardian of Thraben out. Does Thalia tax both halves of a fused Breaking // Entering separately, or just once for the whole thing?

A: Only the once. It may have two parts, but a fused split spell is still just one spell, so Thalia only adds to its cost.

Q: I control Demon of Wailing Agonies and my commander, Obzedat, Ghost Council. At the end step I exile Obzedat through its ability and pass the turn. Does Lieutenant still work, or is the Demon just a 4/4 flyer?

A: It's just a 4/4 flyer. Demon of Wailing Agonies' lieutenant ability checks to see if you control your commander—as in, is it on the battlefield under your control. You may know exactly where your commander is right now and when it will be back, but it's in exile right now, and an exiled card isn't controlled by anyone, so the Demon's lieutenant ability doesn't apply.

Q: In a multiplayer game, Caverns of Despair is out. If I attack two different opponents, which one declares blockers first? If they declare two blockers, the other player can't declare any, right?

A: Technically, the next player in turn order after you chooses first, but that won't matter. When checking to see if any given player's blocks are legal, the game doesn't take into account any creatures that are attacking other players, nor any blocking creatures that other players control. This means that each of the players you're attacking will be able to block with two creatures, regardless of the other player's blocking decisions.

Q: In a multiplayer game, if there's more than two players and I win the die roll to determine who starts, can I pick any player to start the game?

A: Yes, you can. Winning the die roll doesn't necessarily mean you have to go first—instead, it gives you the chance to decide who goes first. This usually means choosing to go first, but if you really, really want someone else to go first, you can do that.

Q: I present my deck to my opponent for shuffling. After she shuffles and gives it back to me, can I shuffle again and present it back to her?

A: No. Once your opponent has shuffled the deck you presented to them, that's it—you're not permitted to cut or shuffle it further before starting the game. If you believe there's a problem with your opponent's shuffling, you should call a judge and let them know about the problem—they'll handle things from there.

Q: Imagine I cast a Rampant Growth. Because I don't want to go through my whole library, I start revealing cards from the top, but the top card's the one I was going to search for. Can I put it in play and not bother shuffling my already-random library?

A: Not as far as the rules are concerned—Rampant Growth doesn't say you can skip the shuffle, so you can't. Your opponent's Cosi's Trickster is going to get bigger whether you like it or not.

From a practical perspective, however, if your library is fully randomized already and you don't know the positions of any of the cards remaining in it, shuffling it again doesn't make too much of a difference, so if you and your opponent agree, it's perfectly fine to save some time and effort by skipping the physical motions and just say you shuffled it again for in-game purposes.

Q: When I use an effect such as Lost Legacy that allows me to look through my opponent's deck, what are the limits to my ability to take notes on what I saw?

A: You can't spend an unreasonable amount of time writing notes, but what constitutes a "reasonable amount of time" may vary depending on the situation. Jotting down a card or two is always going to be okay, and writing out the full decklist definitely isn't, but there's a whole lot of room to play around in between those extremes.

And that's all we have for today, but be sure to come back next week—if there is a next week—when Nathan will be delivering another exciting edition of Cranial Insertion!

- 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.

For the shuffling and the Rampant Growth question, does the scenario of skipping shuffling would pass in a Competitive REL?
#1 • Date: 2017-03-01 • Time: 14:15:57 •

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