Published on 03/27/2017

Spring has Sprung

Cranial Translation
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Spring has sprung,
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! The end of March has brought with it the beginning of spring here in the Northern hemisphere, as we have once again successfully snatched the warmer seasons back from those dastardly Southern hemisphere types. (No offense meant to said dastardly Southern hemisphere types. Obviously, if you're reading Cranial Insertion you're one of the good ones.) Give them a little bit, I'm sure they'll kick in any second now.


Aaany second now.


Okay, maybe a little percussive maintenance might be in order. But in the meantime, if you have any rules questions springing from your brain, remember you can always send them to us via email: , or if they're sufficiently short over Twitter @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer and may see your question in a future edition of CI.

Q: What happens if I have a Mogg Flunkies and a Goblin Assault with another creature that could attack?

A: Because of the way that attacking requirements and restrictions interact, you're probably going to have to attack with both your creatures.

There are two basic kinds of effects that can influence your available options when declaring attackers (or blockers—just assume this entire spiel applies to blocking, too): requirements and restrictions. Requirements are effects that compel players to attack in certain ways, while restrictions are effects which forbid players from attacking in certain ways. Basically, requirements tell players "you must do this", while restrictions tell players "you cannot do this". When declaring attackers, the game requires you to choose a set of attackers that satisfies the maximum number of requirements it's possible to meet without violating any restrictions.

Here, Goblin Assault creates a requirement ("Mogg Flunkies must attack"), while the Flunkies themselves create a restriction: "Mogg Flunkies cannot attack alone". With just the Flunkies and one other creature, let's run through the possible combinations of attackers and see how well they do.

Attacking with just the Flunkies and not your other creature meets the Assault's requirement, but it violates the Flunkies' restriction, so that's no good.

Attacking with just your other creature or with nothing at all don't violate any restrictions, so all good there, but they also don't meet the requirement—can we do better?

Turns out yes, we can. By attacking with both the Flunkies and your other creature, we meet the requirement without violating the restriction. That's better than attacking with nothing, so that's what the game forces you to do.

Q: How come the combo of Breaking // Entering and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn works even if the fuse card is a sorcery?

A: Because when you fuse a split card, you're not casting each side independently, one after the other—instead, you're casting both sides at the same time, as a single combined spell.

Triggered abilities that trigger during the resolution of another spell or ability aren't put onto the stack immediately—and they definitely don't resolve immediately. Instead, they wait until the current spell is entirely done resolving, and only then are they put onto the stack to wait for responses and eventually resolve.

So if a fused Breaking // Entering puts an Emrakul into your graveyard as part of it's first 'half', Emrakul's triggered ability triggers, but it doesn't do anything yet, because the spell is still resolving. We continue resolving the rest of the spell, and the Entering 'half' sees a nice, big Emrakul sitting in the graveyard ready to be returned—don't mind if I do!

Q: Do you need to choose two targets for Jilt even when it's not kicked? Can you cast it with only one creature on the battlefield?

A: If you don't want to kick Jilt, you don't need to choose a second target for it—if a spell has parts that only happen if the spell is kicked, those parts are ignored entirely if you don't choose to kick it, which means you don't have to select targets for them.

Q: I steal my opponent's Wurmcoil Engine and sacrifice it, but my opponent has Daretti, Scrap Savant's emblem. I know I get the tokens, but does she get the Engine back?

A: Indeed she does. Daretti's emblem works a bit differently than most triggers that look for things going to the graveyard from the battlefield. Instead of looking for something your opponent controls dying, it looks for something being put into a particular player's graveyard—your opponent's. And while you may have controlled the Engine at the time it died, your opponent is the one who owns it, so when it dies it goes to her graveyard. That matches the Emblem's trigger condition, so off it goes.

The grass has riz...
Q: Can Summary Dismissal stop the Dark Depths & Thespian's Stage combo?

A: Not for very long it can't.

Once your opponent has successfully used their Thespian's Stage to copy Dark Depths, they'll let the original Depths die to the legend rule, and the Stage-Depths' no-ice-counters ability will trigger. If you use Summary Dismissal at that point, that ability will be countered...but that won't do you any good, because the Stage-Depths is still sitting on the battlefield with no ice counters, so once that trigger's gone, it will immediately trigger again.

The best you can do is use the Dismissal to counter the initial activation of Thespian's Stage. If you do that, the Stage won't become a copy of the Depths and your opponent won't get a Marit Lage token, but all the pieces will still be intact, so even though the Stage is tapped for now, your opponent can just try again next turn.

Q: If my Iona, Shield of Emeria is enchanted with Darksteel Mutation, do I choose a new color if the Mutation is removed?

A: No, but then again there's no need to—the old choice still applies. Darksteel Mutation may have removed the ability that caused you to make the choice and the ability that cares about what choice you made, but that doesn't retroactively "undo" making the choice—you still made it, there merely isn't anything that cares about the choice at the moment.

As soon as Iona stops being enchanted by the Mutation, she once again has the ability that cares about the choice you made, and that ability starts applying again.

Q: In a multiplayer game, if Havoc Festival is in play and someone plays Debt to the Deathless killing the player with Havoc Festival, does he still gain life?

A: He does not. Havoc Festival will leave the battlefield as soon as its owner leaves the game, but that won't happen until after Debt to the Deathless is completely finished resolving, because state-based actions aren't checked in the middle of resolving spells or abilities.

So Debt to the Deathless will reduce the Havoc Festival player's life total to 0 or less, then fail to give its controller life since the Festival is still around, then finally go to the graveyard. Only at that point will the game look around, see that there's a player sitting there with a lethal life total, and cause that player to lose and leave the game, taking their stuff with them.

Q: One of my opponents has a bunch of Ghostly Prison-type effects out, but if I attack someone else with Caller of the Pack, do I have to pay for the copies attacking the Prison player?

A: No, you don't. Ghostly Prison imposes an additional cost to declaring a creature as an attacker, but you don't do that for the Myriad copy of your creature, since it's put onto the battlefield already attacking. Since the copy is never formally declared as an attacker, the cost never applies, and your copy can go on its merry way unimpeded.

Q: I have a Preeminent Captain, a Windbrisk Heights, and another creature in play. If I attack with both creatures and use the Captain to put another Soldier into play, can I activate Windbrisk Heights afterwards?

A: You cannot. Like Ghostly Prison, Windbrisk Heights cares about the formal declaration of attackers, not what happens after that point. While yes, you have at one point controlled three creatures that are all attacking, only two of those creatures were declared as attackers originally—the third was simply put onto the battlefield already attacking. As such, Windbrisk Heights' condition hasn't been met, and you won't be able to use the card it's hidden away.

Q: I attack with three lifelink creatures. When they deal combat damage, how many counters can I put on things with my Serene Steward?

A: Three. When something says it's looking for a player to gain life, what it means is that it's looking for something to cause that player to gain life. Each of your three lifelink creatures is a different 'thing' causing you to gain life, so each of them will trigger the Steward independently of the other creatures.

Q: If I have Mesmeric Orb out and use Seeker of Skybreak to untap itself over and over, leaving me with a bunch of Orb triggers on the stack, what happens if I give someone else the Seeker before those triggers resolve? Do I mill them out instead of myself?

A: You do indeed! Mesmeric Orb's ability doesn't check who controls the permanent that triggered it—and thus who should be getting milled—until the ability is in the process of resolving, so if you manage to give away your Seeker before the triggers resolve, the player you gave it to will be the one who gets their library emptied.

Q: Does Rootwater Shaman allow me to bestow with flash?

A: It does! Rootwater Shaman allows you to cast Aura spells as though they had flash; since using bestow turns the spell you're casting into an Aura, as long as you're going to bestow, the game allows you to start the casting process accordingly.

Q: Can I use Rattlechains to cast Metallic Mimic as a Spirit as though it had flash?

A: Not this time, though. While the game takes decisions you make as part of casting the spell into account when determining if you can cast your spell as though it had flash, the decision of what creature type to name for Metallic Mimic doesn't happen much later, when it's resolving and entering the battlefield. Metallic Mimic will always be a Shapeshifter at the time you cast it, and Rattlechains doesn't care about Shapeshifters at all.

Q: Brutal Expulsion is cast, bouncing its controller's Silverfur Partisan and burning an opposing 2/2. If Insidious Will is cast to switch those targets, burning the Partisan and bouncing the 2/2, does the Partisan trigger a second time?

A: It will not. In order for something to "become the target" of a spell or ability, it needs to go from not being a target of that spell or ability at all to being one of its targets. Silverfur Partisan was already one of Brutal Expulsion's targets, so switching things up so it's now a different one of those targets isn't enough to cause it to trigger again, since it goes from being a target directly to being a (different) target.

I wonder where...oh.
Q: I have Harness the Storm out and a single Galvanic Bombardment in my graveyard. If I cast another Galvanic Bombardment from my hand, and use the Storm to cast the one in my graveyard, how much damage will each of them do?

A: The one from your graveyard will resolve first and deal 2 damage, while the original will resolve second and deal 3.

Casting the second Galvanic Bombardment from your graveyard puts it on top of the stack, so it's no longer in your graveyard to increase the amount of damage that will be dealt. Since it's on top of the stack, it's above the original spell that triggered the Storm, and will resolve first, dealing 2 damage to its target.

After the graveyard-cast Bombardment's finished resolving, it will be put into your graveyard once more, just as with normal spells. Then the original, which resolves shortly thereafter, will see that you have one Bombardment in the graveyard, and deal a total of 3 damage.

Q: My opponent cast Azusa, Lost but Seeking and wants to play her two additional lands. Can I Shock Azusa before that happens to stop her from doing that?

A: Sadly for you, there's probably no way you can do that. Since it's your opponent's turn, she gets the first opportunity to take actions after spells and abilities finish resolving. That means that once Azusa enters the battlefield, if it's her main phase and the stack is empty, your opponent can play her additional land before anything else can happen. (And since playing a land is a special action that doesn't use the stack, once she plays one she gets the first shot at doing things again, so she can play the second.)

The only way for this not to happen is if your opponent is for some reason unable to play lands immediately after Azusa enters the battlefield—the most common way for this to happen is for an ability to trigger off of Azusa entering the battlefield. For example, if someone controlled a Soul Warden, Azusa entering the battlefield would trigger its ability. Your opponent would still have first chance to do things, but there'd be a Soul Warden trigger sitting on the stack waiting to resolve, and since the stack wasn't empty she couldn't use that chance to play a land. She'd be forced to pass, giving you the chance to use your Shock before the trigger resolved, and Azusa would die before she got a chance to play her additional lands.

For similar reasons, if there's no trigger on Azusa entering the battlefield but there would be one on a land entering the battlefield, your opponent would be able to play her first additional land, but she'd be unable to play the second before you could Shock Azusa, because the trigger would stop her from doing it immediately

Q: I have a bunch of creatures and Ashnod's Altar. When my opponent casts Tragic Arrogance, can I sacrifice all but one of my creatures to make sure the one I want survives?

A: Absolutely. Your opponent doesn't make the choice of what permanents are saved from annihilation until Tragic Arrogance is resolving. This means that if you can respond by eliminating all your other creatures, your opponent will be forced to choose that one creature you still control as the one that gets saved, since there's no other options.

Q: What will happen if I put Brain in a Jar's ability on the stack, then return it using Master Transmuter? Can I cast a 0-CMC spell?

A: If Brain in a Jar didn't have any charge counters on it already, sure. The ability will fail to put a counter on the Brain because it's no longer there to receive any, and then checks how many counters the Brain has. Since the Brain isn't around any more, the game answers with the number of counters it had at the time it left the battlefield: 0. Thus, you get to cast a 0-CMC spell.

But if the Brain already had some number of charge counters on it, then the answer the ability receives from the game will be different—you'll end up being asked to cast a spell with the same CMC as the number of counters the Brain had just before it left the battlefield, however many that may be.

Q: I control Reflecting Pool and no other lands, but my Pool has Overgrowth on it. Would the Overgrowth produce mana if I tapped the Pool?

A: Sadly for you, no, it wouldn't. In order for Overgrowth to trigger, the land it's on has to be "tapped for mana". That means two things: you have to activate a mana ability of that land that includes the symbol in its costs (so far so good), and that ability has to resolve and actually produce some amount of mana. (Uh oh.)

Since tapping Reflecting Pool at this point doesn't produce any mana, Overgrowth won't trigger and give you any mana either. Looks like you need to draw another land before you'll be able to do much of anything—better hope it's not another Reflecting Pool!

Q: A player who controls Hive Mind in multiplayer casts Prosperity for more cards they have in their library, hoping to bring down everyone with them. The first copy will kill them, but don't the remaining Hive Mind copies cease to exist when they deck out and lose?

A: No, they don't. Even though Hive Mind and the player who controlled it have left the game (also causing the original Prosperity to disappear), the copies created by Hive Mind will stick around, because they're owned by the players who control them, not the Hive Mind player. Those copies will then continue to resolve, potentially killing off additional players as they go.

Exactly how many cards are drawn (and who dies) will depend on which players lose the game and in what order, since whenever a player loses, if their own Prosperity copy hasn't resolved yet, that copy will disappear with them.

Q: Can I rearrange my graveyard in a Competitive Modern tournament?

A: Yes, you can. Modern doesn't contain any cards that care about graveyard order, so while the rules of the game say you can't change the order of cards in your graveyard, that isn't enforced, since it'd just be a waste of everyone's time.

Graveyard order only has to be maintained when playing formats that contain cards that care about graveyard order, and unless you're a big fan of weird Limited formats or really old Block Constructed formats, that's only ever likely to mean Legacy and Vintage.

Q: I'm confused about the term "starting hand". Does Sovereign's Realm mean that my maximum hand size is also 5? Or it is still 7?

A: "Starting hand size" refers only to the number of cards you receive when starting the game, not the maximum number you can keep in it during the game. Your maximum hand size will still be 7.

Okay, so spring still hasn't kicked in yet, but I'm sure it's coming! Surely it'll have swung into action by next week, but make sure to check back here to make sure. And even if it hasn't, at least you'll find the next 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.

On the mesmeric orb question, if you tap the seeker to activate it's ability, wouldn't the mesmeric orb trigger be on the stack above the untap ability, meaning you mill at most one card from opponenr?
#1 • Date: 2017-03-27 • Time: 05:56:23 •
I'm no judge but If I had to venture a guess the act of tapping the seeker for its ability causes both its activated ability and the mesmeric orb trigger to go on the stack simultaneously. Being that you control both abilities, you get to choose the order they go on the stack allowing you to string the orb triggers indefinitely.
#2 • Date: 2017-03-27 • Time: 09:00:10 •
Now I don't know if there's a CR reference for this (if there is, someone point me to it please), but using Krosan Tusker as an example, triggered abilities always go on the stack above the ability that triggers them
#3 • Date: 2017-03-27 • Time: 12:52:43 •
@robinhoody430 No. For the Orb triggers when the creature UNTAP. and it won't untap until its ability resolves.
#4 • Date: 2017-03-27 • Time: 21:34:15 •
Seawee has it right; the Orb triggers when the Seeker becomes untapped, not when it becomes tapped. The untap ability resolves, triggering the Orb, you respond to that trigger by using the Seeker again, and you simply repeat that process over and over.
#5 • Date: 2017-03-30 • Time: 01:01:11 •

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