Published on 04/17/2017

Sacred Cats

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Stealing the Almond Cat is the
purrfect crime.
We're only days away from the latest step forward for Magic, with the impending release of Almond Cat! I know you're as excited as I am to dig into all the implications of the glorious Cat-Pharaoh's gifts to us, but you'll have to wait another week for our Almond Cat special. In the meantime...

Wait, what's that? It's Amonkhet? Well, I guess that does make more sense as the name of an Egyptian-themed set, but I'd already picked out some cat puns. Sigh. I guess we'll just have to wait a bit longer for the Cat-themed set.

But it's not a complete catastrophe; we still have a full pile of rules questions to cover this week. And remember that if you've got a rules question you'd like to have categorically answered, you can send them 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: If I control a Mana Reflection and a Mirari's Wake, how much mana do I get when I tap a Forest? Can I choose what order to apply them in to make it be 4 mana?

A: You get . If both of these were replacement effects, you could choose the order to apply them in, but one (Mana Reflection) is a replacement effect and the other (Mirari's Wake) is a triggered ability, so there are no choices for you to make: Mana Reflection replaces the from your Forest with , and then Mirari's Wake triggers and produces another .

Q: If I control an Exquisite Archangel and something happens that would make me lose the game, can I respond to the Archangel's ability by casting Eerie Interlude so I'll still control it after my life goes back to 20?

A: No. Exquisite Archangel's ability doesn't use the stack (and can't — if it did, it would never be able to prevent you from losing), so you can't respond to it. It's a replacement effect that just happens instead of you losing, so there's no way to stop it from going off into exile.

Q: If I control both Rowen and Keranos, God of Storms, and the first card I draw during my turn is a basic land, what happens?

A: Both abilities — Rowen's, and Keranos' — will trigger, and each one will make you draw an additional card. The end result is you've drawn three cards (the original basic land, then one more for Rowen and one more for Keranos).

Q: If I sacrificed an Evolving Wilds earlier in my turn and then cast Hidden Stockpile, will I still get a token?

A: You will; Hidden Stockpile doesn't do anything until the end step, but then it looks back over the entire turn — regardless of whether Hidden Stockpile was around or not — to see if something you controlled shuffled off to the graveyard. Since that did happen, it will create a token.

Unfortunately, "Almond" is not
yet a color in Magic.
Q: My opponent controls a Furnace of Rath and a Pyromancer's Gauntlet, and she just cast a Lightning Bolt targeting me. I'm at 10 life. Do I die?

A: It depends! Both the Furnace and the Gauntlet are replacement effects, and how much damage gets dealt depends on the order in which they're applied. And lucky for you, you're the one who decides that order (more specifically, when multiple replacement effects try to modify something, the choice of order is made by the affected player, or controller of the affected game object). If you choose to apply Gauntlet first, it will bump up the damage to 5 and then Furnace will double it to 10. That's bad for you, so you probably want to apply Furnace first, doubling the damage to 6 and then Gauntlet will turn it into 8. Which still stings, but at least you're alive!

Q: I control a Whisperwood Elemental which has manifested a Siege Wurm. Can I tap creatures to pay the cost to turn the Wurm face-up?

A: No, convoke only applies when casting the Wurm; not when you need to pay its mana cost for other reasons.

Q: There are two card types (and no instants) in graveyards, and I use the second mode of Orzhov Charm to destroy my opponent's Tarmogoyf. How much life do I lose?

A: Only 3. Putting Orzhov Charm into the graveyard (which would bump up the Tarmogoyf's toughness) doesn't happen until all of Orzhov Charm's effects have happened. So at the time it calculates how much life you'll lose, Orzhov Charm is still on the stack, not yet in the graveyard.

Q: Then why wouldn't a Lightning Bolt kill the Tarmogoyf in that situation?

A: Because state-based actions — which would kill the Tarmogoyf if it had 3 toughness and 3 damage marked on it — aren't checked until after you've completed the resolution of Lightning Bolt by putting it into the graveyard. Since the Lightning Bolt is another card type, when that state-based action check occurs it sees the Tarmogoyf as 4 toughness with 3 damage, and the 'Goyf lives.

Q: If I Delay a spell with in its cost (like Sphinx's Revelation), what happens when the last time counter comes off it?

A: Its controller will cast it without paying its mana cost. Which for most spells of this type is unfortunate, since they'll be forced to choose X=0.

Q: Does this mean that if I Whir of Invention for a Walking Ballista it'll be a 0/0?

A: Yes, but for a different reason; the only way Walking Ballista can get a non-zero value for X is via casting it, but since you didn't cast it, X=0 and it will be a 0/0 and die immediately.

Q: I have an animated Inkmoth Nexus and my opponent just cast Violent Outburst cascading into Living End. Will my Inkmoth Nexus die?

A: It will. Living End can't bring back an Inkmoth Nexus (since in the graveyard it's just a land card), but it can kill an animated Inkmoth on the battlefield just fine (since at that point it's a creature).

Q: If I control Leyline of Anticipation and have an exiled Torrent Elemental, can I put the Elemental onto the battlefield whenever I want to?

A: No; "any time you could cast a sorcery" doesn't look at any effects that might give you permission to cast sorceries at unusual times. It just always means "during a main phase of your turn when the stack is empty".

Q: My opponent controls a Goblin Welder and a Painter's Servant choosing blue. I just cast a Swords to Plowshares on the Welder, and he cast Pyroblast on my Swords to Plowshares. Can I respond with a Lightning Bolt on the Painter's Servant to counter the Pyroblast?

A: The end result is slightly different, but the general idea works. Assuming your Lightning Bolt doesn't get countered somehow, the Painter's Servant dies and Swords to Plowshares stops being blue. But this doesn't counter Pyroblast — it just causes Pyroblast not to do anything (Pyroblast's wording is slightly different from Red Elemental Blast, and as a result Pyroblast can target any spell or permanent, but only does something if the target is blue at the time Pyroblast resolves).

It occurs during the meow-er of
Q: I have an Archmage Ascension with six quest counters on it, but my opponent controls a Spirit of the Labyrinth. Will that stop me using the Ascension's ability to replace card draws?

A: It depends on what you choose to do. The first time you would draw a card each turn, you can choose either to use Archmage Ascension's ability, or just actually draw a card. If you use the Ascension, you haven't drawn a card; then if you later would draw a card again during the same turn, the Spirit won't interfere. On the other hand, if you ever do decide to really draw a card, Spirit of the Labyrinth will shut you down for the rest of the turn; you won't be able to draw cards, and won't be able to use Archmage Ascension (since you never get to a point when you would draw a card, so there's never anything for Ascension to do).

Q: My opponent has an Aether Vial with three counters, and cast a Wasteland Strangler. Then she announced she'd target my Snapcaster Mage with Wasteland Strangler's ability even though I didn't have any exiled cards, and responded by using Aether Vial to put a Flickerwisp onto the battlefield and targeted one of my lands with its ability. Then she said she'd put the exiled land into my graveyard to kill the Snapcaster. Is that legal?

A: Yup! There are two important things to know about Wasteland Strangler here. One is that a target is always chosen for its ability when the ability is put on the stack. The other is that the choice of whether to exile a card doesn't target the card and so isn't made until the ability resolves. This means it's possible to target a creature with the ability, then respond by doing something to get a card into exile, and then let the Strangler's ability resolve and put the now-exiled card into the graveyard to get the -3/-3 to happen.

Q: Does that mean if I have only one exiled card when my opponent casts the Strangler, and if she doesn't have a way to exile anything else, I could respond to the Strangler with Pull from Eternity to prevent the -3/-3?

A: That works. Again, since the choice of an exiled card doesn't happen until the ability resolves, you can ensure the ability won't happen by seeing to it that you don't have any cards in exile at that point.

Q: Can Wasteland Strangler grab a card that was exiled with Shelldock Isle?

A: Yes. Wasteland Strangler doesn't care why the card is in exile, and doesn't care whether it's face-up or face-down; it just cares that it's a card, and is in exile.

Q: I control three creatures and have a Bridge from Below in my graveyard. My opponent has two creatures, and just cast Wrath of God. Will I get Zombie tokens?

A: You will. When the creatures die, both of Bridge from Below's abilities trigger, and whether you get Zombies depends on whether Bridge from Below is still in the graveyard when the Zombie-making triggers resolve. Fortunately, you — as the controller of all the triggers — choose the order in which they happen, and can ensure the Zombie-making triggers resolve before the Bridge's self-exile trigger does.

Q: In a multiplayer game, I cast Reanimate targeting a Sun Titan in one of my opponents' graveyards. A different opponent responds with Divert to change the target of Reanimate to an Elvish Mystic in a different graveyard. If I respond to that by using Deathrite Shaman to exile the Elvish Mystic, what happens? Do any of the spells get countered due to having an illegal target?

A: If you use Deathrite Shaman's ability before Divert resolves, then nothing gets countered. The choice of new target for Reanimate doesn't happen until Divert resolves, so Divert's controller jumped the gun a bit by announcing their intentions. They'll get to choose any legal option for Reanimate's target, based on the set of creatures in graveyards as Divert resolves. On the other hand, if you use the Deathrite Shaman after Divert resolves, then Reanimate will end up getting countered since its target (which changed to the Mystic when Divert resolves) has become illegal.

Q: I heard someone say the Amonkhet Invocations cards aren't tournament-legal. Is that true?

A: Under the pre-Amonkhet edition of the Tournament Rules, it's unclear whether they would be due to their unusual borders (the Tournament Rules define tournament legality, in part, based on border color). However, we've been assured that some type of update or clarification will be provided to ensure the Amonkhet Invocations are legal by the time you could actually be playing with one in a tournament.

That's all I've got for this week, but be sure to check back in next week when we'll have our special Amonkhet article!

- 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.

The Orzhov Charm / Tarmogoyf question ignores that the Goyf is also going to the graveyard (in fact, it gets there before the Charm does!) and doesn't say whether one of those two card types is Creature. Am I right in thinking this doesn't affect the answer, because the toughness that matters is the toughness as it was last on the battlefield?
#1 • Date: 2017-04-19 • Time: 08:47:27 •
Right, it doesn't matter. The part of Orzhov Charm's text that makes you lose life is still talking about the "target creature" object that used to be on the battlefield. It will use the last-known information from that object to determine the amount of life you lose.
#2 • Date: 2017-04-21 • Time: 08:39:58 •

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