Published on 03/13/2017

Let's Do the Time Warp Again!

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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 remember doing the Time Warp
It's astounding. Time is fleeting. Spring is almost here already, and as a tangible reminder of this fact, the USA once again entered into Daylight Saving Time and stole an hour from us this past weekend. One could make an argument that the hour is borrowed, not stolen, since we'll get it back in November, but that doesn't help me feel any less jetlagged now.

At any rate, jetlagged or not, we're here to answer Magic rules questions, so that's what we'll do! If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will respond to you, and your question might appear in a future article, possibly alongside a dated pop culture reference, to educate readers like yourself.

And now, without further delay, let's dive into this week's selection of rules questions!

Q: I control Olivia, Mobilized for War and I cast Goblin Dark-Dwellers, which triggers Olivia's ability. Can Goblin Dark-Dwellers' enter-the-battlefield ability cast the card that I discard for Olivia's ability?

A: No, that's not possible. You don't discard the card for Olivia's ability until it resolves, but you have to choose the target for Goblin Dark-Dwellers' ability when that ability is put on the stack. Since that ability goes on the stack at the same time as Olivia's ability, you haven't discarded the card for her ability yet at that moment.

Q: Does Stony Silence stop Architects of Will from cycling?

A: Nope. Cycling is activated from the hand, and Stony Silence's effect only affects artifacts that are on the battlefield, since it just says "artifacts" without an additional qualifier. To stop cycling, you need something like Phyrexian Revoker which can stop activated abilities regardless of where the source is, but of course that can only stop the one card you've named.

Q: My opponent controls a Grizzly Bears and a Death's Shadow that is 1/1 due to her life total of 12. If I cast Crackling Doom, which creature does she have to sacrifice?

A: She'll have to sacrifice Death's Shadow. You follow Crackling Doom's instructions in the order they're printed, so Crackling Doom first deals 2 damage to your opponent. This immediately changes her life total to 10, so her Death's Shadow immediately becomes 3/3. At the moment the game checks which of her creatures have the greatest power, the only creature that qualifies for that honor is her Death's Shadow.

Q: I play Show and Tell, and I reveal Narset, Enlightened Master while my opponent reveals Oblivion Ring. Narset is the only nonland permanent that I control. Does my opponent have to target one of his own permanents, if possible, or can he target Narset and let the ability get countered by the rules?

A: He'll have to target one of his own permanents if he can. Narset has hexproof, so she's not a legal target for his Oblivion Ring, and he has to choose a legal target when he puts the ability on the stack. If a legal target is chosen and becomes illegal later, the ability is countered by the rules, but he can't just choose an illegal target. The only way he gets away without exiling anything is if he doesn't control any nonland permanents besides Oblivion Ring that he can target. In that case, Oblivion Ring's ability simply gets removed from the stack.

Q: If my opponent puts Leyline of Sanctity onto the battlefield from his starting hand, can I respond by exiling Simian Spirit Guide and throwing a Lightning Bolt at him?

A: Nice try, but that's not possible for a number of reasons. For one, he's not really putting the Leyline onto the battlefield. He merely gets to begin the game with it already on the battlefield. The act of putting the card onto the table to represent this is not an action that uses the stack, so you can't respond to this. Also, at the time that this happens, you don't have priority, so you can't activate the Spirit Guide's ability, let alone cast a Lightning Bolt.

Q: I control two Islands and use Vedalken Shackles to gain control of a creature with power 2. Do I keep control of it if its power goes up?

A: Assuming that the ability already resolved and you already gained control of the creature, then yes. The ability checks the creature's power only at two points in time, namely when you activate the ability and when the ability resolves. Provided that the creature's power is less than or equal to the number of Islands you control at that time, the ability resolves and creates a control-changing effect with a duration of "as long as Vedalken Shackles remains tapped." This duration does not care about the number of Islands you control or about the creature's power, or even whether the creature remains a creature. Only untapping Vedalken Shackles or Vedalken Shackles leaving the battlefield will end the control-changing effect.

Q: My opponent uses Aethersnatch to gain control of the Chronomantic Escape that just came out of suspend for me. Does he get to re-suspend Chronomantic Escape, or do I?

A: Well, your opponent will exile Chronomantic Escape with three time counters on it, since he's the controller of the spell so he has to follow its instructions. However, you will control the upkeep ability that ticks down the time counters and lets you cast it again when time is up. That's because cards in exile don't have a controller, so triggered abilities whose source is a card in exile are controlled by the card's owner. You're the card's owner, so you get to cast it again when the last time counter has been removed.

It's just a jump to the left
Q: In the Valentine's Day quiz, you had mentioned that under some circumstances the game adds up the converted mana costs of the two halves of a split card. Under what circumstances would that happen?

A: For a split card that's not on the stack, the game adds up the converted mana costs of the halves if a spell or ability uses the card's converted mana cost to determine part of an effect without performing a comparison. That's quite a mouthful, so let's look at an example: Dark Confidant looks at the converted mana cost of a card to determine how much life you have to lose. It's not performing a comparison, so if the card happens to be a split card, Dark Confidant adds the two halves together and you lose that much life.

Q: I control Krallenhorde Howler and I want to cast Boon Satyr for its bestow cost. Does it cost less?

A: No, Boon Satyr's cost won't be reduced. During the process of casting Boon Satyr, you put it on the stack and then you choose whether to cast it for its bestow cost. At that point in time it stops being a creature spell. By the time you determine the spell's total cost, the cost reduction effect doesn't apply to it because it's no longer a creature spell.

Q: Let's say I enchant my Tumble Magnet with Relic Putrescence, and then I tap it. In response to the poison counter trigger, I donate Tumble Magnet to my opponent with Zedruu the Greathearted. Does my opponent get the poison counter?

A: Yup! Relic Putrescence's ability checks who controls the enchanted artifact only when the ability resolves. At that time, your opponent controls it, so your opponent gets the poison counter.

Q: If Phyrexian Ingester eats a Runeclaw Bear that's enchanted with Rancor, does it get +2/+2 or +4/+2?

A: It'll get only +2/+2. Phyrexian Ingester exiles the Bear and then it looks at the Bear's power and toughness in the exile zone. The Bear's no longer enchanted with Rancor, so Phyrexian Ingester sees just a 2/2.

Q: Can you sacrifice a creature without having a reason to? For example, Protean Hulk, can you just sacrifice it to trigger its ability?

A: No, you can't do that. A permanent such as Protean Hulk remains on the battlefield until its moved to a different zone by a rule or an effect. "I really want it to die so that its ability triggers" is neither an effect nor a rule. You'll need the help of an effect, like activating Viscera Seer, or a rule like the one that destroys creatures with lethal damage, to get Protean Hulk to die.

Q: Let say I use Banishing Light on my opponent's commander, and she chooses to put it into the command zone instead. If Banishing Light is destroyed, does she get to return her commander from the command zone to the battlefield?

A: Yes, assuming that her commander didn't move zones since Banishing Light put it into the command zone. The rule that allows your opponent to move her commander to the command zone essentially rewrote Banishing Light's effect to "move your commander to the command zone until Banishing Light leaves the battlefield." The commander in the command zone is still the same object that Banishing Light put there, so when Banishing Light leaves the battlefield, the commander gets returned to the battlefield from the command zone.

And then a step to the right
Q: If I control Panharmonicon, can I choose multiple colors for a single Iona, Shield of Emeria?

A: No. Panharmonicon only works with certain triggered abilities, and you can identify triggered abilities by the words "when," "whenever," or "at." Iona's ability doesn't use any of those. Iona's ability is a static ability that modifies how she enters the battlefield, and as such, Panharmonicon doesn't care about it.

Q: If I use Sram's Expertise to cast Reckless Bushwhacker, can I cast it for its surge cost?

A: No, you can't do that. Both "without paying its mana cost" and surge represent alternative costs, and you can't apply multiple alternative costs to the same spell.

Q: Can I exile my hand for Moonring Mirror if I have no cards in my hand?

A: Sure, that's no problem. To exile your hand, you simply exile all cards from your hand, which is actually what the Oracle text for Moonring Mirror tells you to do. If there are no cards in your hand, you exile all zero of them and you're done. The second sentence checks whether you followed the instruction, which you did, so you get to put all other cards that you exiled with Moonring Mirror into your hand.

Q: When do I choose how much energy to spend on Harnessed Lightning? When I cast it or when it resolves?

A: You do that when it resolves. There's a fairly small list of things that are chosen when a spell is cast: modes, alternative and additional costs, a choice for X, targets, and division of damage. Everything else is chosen when the spell resolves. The choice of how much energy to pay is not on the list of things that are chosen during casting, so it's chosen during resolution.

Q: If Blood Moon is on the battlefield, can I target my opponent's Stomping Ground with Crumble to Dust?

A: Sure, you can do that. Blood Moon gives Stomping Ground the Mountain land type, but it doesn't give it the basic supertype. Stomping Ground is still a nonbasic land, so it's a legal target for Crumble to Dust. Also note that Blood Moon doesn't change Stomping Ground's name, so you'll still search for cards named Stomping Ground when Crumble to Dust resolves.

Q: Can the damage from Havoc Festival be redirected to a planeswalker?

A: No. Havoc Festival doesn't actually deal damage. It simply causes a player to lose life. Damage also causes loss of life, but not all loss of life is damage. Since Havoc Festival doesn't deal damage, its effect can't be redirected to a planeswalker.

Q: If I control only Swamps and discard a Stratadon to Volrath the Fallen, how big of a boost does Volrath get?

A: He'll get +10/+10. A card's converted mana cost is derived only by looking at the mana cost in the top right corner of the card. This number has very little to do with how much you will pay, have paid, or might pay to cast the card as a spell. Stratadon's mana cost is , so its converted mana cost is 10 regardless of how many basic land types are among the lands you control.

And that's all the time we have for now. Before I go, I'd like to remind you of a fantastic tournament that's coming up this weekend. Just like in the past, I'm organizing Cast a Spell on MS, a charity tournament to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It's happening basically all day long this Saturday, March 18th, in Toledo, Ohio. If you're in the area or planning to visit, come on by and play some Magic for a good cause. I hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll be back next week when James tells us all about Modern Masters 2017!

- 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.

Q: Let say I use Banishing Light on my opponent\'s commander, and she chooses to put it into the command zone instead. If Banishing Light is destroyed, does she get to return her commander from the command zone to the battlefield?

I\'ve thought this to be true for a while, but none of the judges at the place I play think it is. Is there a location I can find an official rule that says this happens? I don\'t think they\'re going to accept this website as proof.
#1 • Date: 2017-03-12 • Time: 23:44:56 •

You want 603.6, I think. It's a long rule, but the important part is "Many abilities with zone-change triggers attempt to do something to that object after it changes zones. During resolution, these abilities look for the object in the zone that it moved to." The second one-shot effect of Banishing Light looks for the original card in the public zone it moved to. Command Zone is a public zone, so Banishing Light can find it.
#2 • Date: 2017-03-13 • Time: 05:34:01 •

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