Published on 03/20/2017

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Old Alara retired to Florida a few years ago.
Modern Masters 2017 Edition is on the shelves, packs are being cracked, and the set is bringing the joy of nostalgia to players who remember these cards from their original printings, as well as the joy of new fun to players who didn't get the chance to play with them the first time around. And, of course, it's also inspiring a lot of rules questions, which is what we're here for!

And remember that if you've got a rules question you'd like answered, you can send it to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet, all of which will get you answers and possibly even get your question featured in a future article!

Q: I revealed an Entreat the Angels as I drew it (and it was my first card drawn this turn). My opponent said she wanted to respond with a Vendilion Clique to take it. Does that work?

A: It does. Miracle is a triggered ability: the ability triggers when you reveal the card as you're drawing it, and goes onto the stack. You don't actually cast the spell until that ability resolves, and until then the card with miracle is in your hand. So Vendilion Clique can take it out of your hand (and if it's no longer in your hand when the miracle trigger resolves, you won't get to cast it).

Q: It's the end of my opponent's turn and I cast a Brainstorm, and the first card is a Terminus. How do I handle that?

A: If you reveal the Terminus as you draw it, then miracle will trigger but you need to finish resolving Brainstorm before you put the miracle trigger onto the stack. You also need to keep the Terminus revealed the whole time as you're drawing the rest of the cards and putting two back on top of your library.

Q: If I control Eidolon of the Great Revel, will it be triggered by an Entreat the Angels?

A: Probably not. First of all, Entreat the Angels' converted mana cost isn't changed by casting it via miracle; the converted mana cost is always the sum of the mana symbols in the card's regular mana cost, no matter what cost is actually paid to cast it. So the converted mana cost is X + X + 3. And the only way to have that be 3 or less is for X to be zero; if your opponent chooses X=1, for example, then the CMC is 1 + 1 + 3 = 5.

Q: How long do I have to reveal a miracle before I don't get to cast it?

A: If you want to use the miracle ability, you have to reveal the card as you draw it. That means you need to reveal it before it touches any of the other cards in your hand; if it does touch any other cards in hand, it's too late to reveal and you don't get the miracle ability.

The old Prahv guildmage took up basket-weaving.
Q: If I draw Bonfire of the Damned and reveal it, do I have to cast it right away, or can I wait until after I play a land to make it deal more damage?

A: If you draw Bonfire of the Damned, or any card with miracle, and reveal it for the miracle ability, then the ability goes on the stack and you either cast it when the ability resolves, or you don't. If you don't, then you'll have to pay the regular mana cost to cast the card. The only things you can do prior to casting are cast instants and activate abilities in response to the miracle trigger, so you wouldn't be able to play a land (even if it were your main phase — you can't play lands during your draw step anyway). You could activate the ability of Arid Mesa or another fetchland, but that's about it.

Q: My opponent cast Gifts Ungiven and only searched for two cards, not four. Is that legal?

A: It is. First of all, Gifts Ungiven's text says to search for "up to" four cards, so that means it's legal to search for zero, one, two, three or four cards. Second, any time an effect instructs you to search in a hidden zone (such as hand or library) for cards with specific qualities (such as the "different names" requirement of Gifts Ungiven), it's legal to "fail to find" — you can simply declare that you didn't find any, or didn't find that many, cards matching the requirement, regardless of what cards are actually in that zone (and the rules are set up this way to avoid arguments about how to verify whether you could have found cards to match the requirement).

Q: Does Linvala, Keeper of Silence prevent the bloodrush ability of Ghor-Clan Rampager?

A: No; Linvala only shuts off abilities of creatures which are on the battlefield, not abilities of creature cards in other zones (and when something wants to affect creature cards in other zones it will say "creature cards" instead of "creatures", and usually specify the zones).

Q: My opponent has a Slippery Bogle. Can I use an overloaded Mizzium Mortars to kill it?

A: You can. When you cast a spell for its overload cost, all instances of the word "target" in its text get replaced with the word "each". So an overloaded spell doesn't target anything, and abilities like hexproof — which only care about targeting — won't interfere with it.

Q: If I use Snapcaster Mage to give flashback to a Mizzium Mortars, can I overload it?

A: No. Flashback and overload are both alternative costs, and you can only pay one alternative cost per spell that you cast. And since flashback is the only alternative cost that's also giving you permission to cast the card from your graveyard, that's the one you have to choose.

Q: What if I want to cast a Mindbreak Trap from my graveyard? Would I be able to use Snapcaster Mage and cast it for since the flashback cost is the mana cost, and I can pay instead of the mana cost?

A: That still doesn't work. Anything you do "instead of" or "rather than" paying a card's mana cost is an alternative cost, and has the same problem as trying to overload a spell with flashback. Also, you're not paying the mana cost of the spell you flash back with Snapcaster Mage — you're paying a cost equal to its mana cost.

Q: My opponent is using Snapcaster Mage to flash back a Lightning Bolt. If I Remand the Lightning Bolt, what happens?

A: The Lightning Bolt will be exiled. Flashback doesn't just send the card to exile if it would be put into the graveyard; it steps in if the card tries to go anywhere other than exile. So no matter what you try to do to a card cast with flashback, it's going to end up in exile.

Q: If I unearth a Grixis Slavedriver and then Ghostly Flicker it, will the Slavedriver stay in exile, or come back?

A: It will come back, and it will stick around. Unearth, like flashback, will interfere if you try to send the creature anywhere other than exile, but exile is exactly where Ghostly Flicker sends it. So unearth doesn't interfere with that part. And once it's changed zones, the Slavedriver is a new game object unrelated to the one that was on the battlefield a moment ago, so nothing stops it from returning to the battlefield, and the unearth effect loses track of it and will no longer be able to exile it at the beginning of the next end step.

Q: If I use Zealous Conscripts to take control of my opponent's creature, then use Restoration Angel to blink that creature, who gets the creature?

A: You do, and you get to keep it. As with the case above, when the stolen creature changes zones it becomes a new game object, and the until-end-of-turn control-change of Zealous Conscripts loses track of it. But Restoration Angel instructs you to return the creature it exiles to the battlefield under your control; this control doesn't wear off at the end of the turn, so you control the creature for as long as it sticks around (and no control-change effect takes it from you).

Old Benalia left the band to go solo.
Q: When I exile a creature from my graveyard with Séance to make a token copy of it, can that token attack?

A: Only if the creature you exiled had haste, or something else gives it haste. Séance itself does not give the token haste.

Q: I control a Phyrexian Unlife and I'm at -3 life. I also control a Death's Shadow. How big is it?

A: Normally, negative numbers get treated as zero, but there are a few exceptions and this is one of them; Death's Shadow sees your life at -3, and gets -(-3)/-(-3), which is +3/+3, so it's a 16/16.

Q: Does Damping Matrix stop a Darksteel Citadel, since its ability doesn't cost mana?

A: No. A mana ability is one which produces mana, not one which costs mana (a mana ability also can't have a target, and can't be an ability of a planeswalker). Stony Silence, which doesn't make any exceptions for mana abilities, does shut off Darksteel Citadel's mana production, though.

Q: If I use Phantasmal Image to copy a creature with hexproof, and my opponent tries to target it with a spell, does it still get sacrificed or does the spell get countered quickly enough to stop that?

A: Hexproof doesn't counter spells or abilities; it makes it illegal for them to be put onto the stack in the first place, if they're targeting the hexproof creature. So your opponent can't ever cast anything targeting your Phantasmal Image, if it's copying a creature with hexproof.

Q: Does Grafdigger's Cage prevent the effect of Living End?

A: No; Living End says to exile all creature cards from graveyards, then put them onto the battlefield. This means they're entering from exile rather than from the graveyard, so Grafdigger's Cage doesn't stop it.

Q: I'm being attacked by two Goblin Guides, and when I revealed my top card for the first one it wasn't a land. Can I activate a Verdant Catacombs to shuffle my library before the next trigger happens?

A: You can. Each Goblin Guide trigger resolves individually, and players are free to act in response to or after each one of them.

Q: My opponent has a Cavern of Souls and chose Human as the creature type. Then he tapped it, a Swamp and a Plains to cast Sin Collector. Can I counter the Sin Collector, since he didn't announce he was using the Cavern's ability to make it uncounterable?

A: No. As a matter of policy, it's assumed that a player is always using Cavern of Souls' second ability — making the spell uncounterable — unless it would be impossible to use that mana to cast the spell (for example, if a cost specifically required colorless mana, which can only be produced by the Cavern's first ability).

That's all I've got for this week, but never fear! Cranial Insertion will be back next week for another round of rules questions!

- 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.

As a followup to the Cavern of Souls question, what about a situation where the opponent has a Cavern naming Eldrazi, and she taps 5 lands (including the aforementioned Cavern and a Battlefield Forge that can produce colorless mana) to play a Reality Smasher. If she doesn\'t specify a color for the Cavern of Souls, can I counter the Reality Smasher?
#1 • Date: 2017-03-20 • Time: 12:29:42 •
I\'d assume that if they didn\'t declare the life lose, the colourless mana came from Battlefield Forge. As the answer has already said, the second ability of Cavern of Souls is always activated unless it is impossible to cast the spell being used or the activating player says so. If you are unsure, ask your opponent how each mana source was produced. Magic isn\'t a game of trying to trip your opponent up over rules and rulings.
#2 • Date: 2017-03-22 • Time: 06:29:37 •

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