Published on 04/24/2017

As the Wurm Turns

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

This seems like a very bad place to be standing.

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! We've finally arrived at Amonkhet, and there's sand everywhere! You'd think we'd find a better place to land, but that's what we get for literally following in the Gatewatch's footsteps. As long as we don't dig up any zombies (and avoid the giant sandwurms that appear to be everywhere), we should be fine. Just try to walk in a straight line to cover our numbers.

But remember: he who controls the flow of questions, controls the universe. And we want your questions to flow to us! If you have a short rules questions, you can tweet us at @CranialTweet. But if you have a longer rules questions, you can feel free to send it to us at . We might even use your question in a future article. But enough talk, let's dive right in to Amonkhet!

Q: I hear there's been a rules change with split cards. What changed?

A: Yep, there's been a pretty significant rules change with how we handle split cards. It used to be that when a split card was anywhere but the stack, it had two mana costs, and therefore it had two converted mana costs. For instance, a card like Boom // Bust had a converted mana cost of 2 and 6 anywhere but the stack.

But as of Amonkhet's release, that rule has changed. Now, a split card will only have one converted mana cost (which is the sum of the two sides of the split card), no matter what zone it's in. That means Boom // Bust now has a converted mana cost of 8 anywhere but the stack (while on the stack, the converted is still equal to the side you're casting). That means some of the shenanigans you might have been used to in the past (like imprinting a Fire // Ice onto an Isochron Scepter, casting Breaking // Entering fused for free via Kari Zev's Expertise, or revealing a Wear // Tear from your Counterbalance trigger to counter an opponent's spell) will work differently or not at all.

Q: I control a Glory-Bound Initiate and an Always Watching. Can I attack with my vigilant Initiate and choose to exert it?

A: Yep, that works! Exert just says that it won't untap during your next untap step. But there's nothing that says it has to be tapped for you to exert it. If the Initiate has vigilance, then it won't tap to attack, but you can still choose to use the exert ability to give it +1/+3 and lifelink every turn. As long as it continues to have vigilance and it doesn't become tapped in another way (like to an opponent's Fan's Bearer), you'll be able to do this every turn.

Q: I cast Crocodile of the Crossing with no other creatures in play. Do I have to put the -1/-1 on my Crocodile?

A: Yes you do. The Crocodile's trigger is not optional. If you have no other creatures under your control, then you'll have to target the Crocodile with its own ability and it will put a -1/-1 counter on itself.

Q: My opponent is attacking me with a creature. Can I activate the embalm ability of my Aven Initiate to make a surprise blocker?

A: No you cannot. The embalm ability can only be activated when you could cast a sorcery, meaning that you can only activate it during one of your main phases when the stack is empty. If you're in the middle of combat on the opponent's turn, that's not a time you can normally cast a sorcery, so you won't be able to embalm your Initiate to make a blocker for their attacker.

Q: There are some cards in Amonkhet, like Ruthless Sniper, that trigger "whenever you cycle or discard a card". Why is it worded like that? Does that mean it triggers twice when I cycle a card?

A: Nope, you just get one trigger when you cycle a card. Those cards are worded like that to clarify for everyone that cycling a card involves discarding a card. You'll still only get one trigger for the ability if you cycle a card, it won't trigger twice.

Q: I cast Compulsory Rest on my opponent's creature. Who can activate the ability to sacrifice the creature to gain 2 life, me or my opponent?

A: In this case, that'd be your opponent. The Rest gives the activated ability to the creature, it's not an activated ability of the aura. Since your opponent controls the creature, they're the ones that can activate the Rest's ability and sacrifice their creature to gain 2 life, not you.

Q: I cast Nissa, Steward of Elements with X=0. Do I get a chance to activate the +2 ability before she goes to the graveyard?

A: No you do not. After Nissa resolves, before you get priority, state-based actions are checked. The game sees a planeswalker with 0 loyalty counters on it (Nissa), and she goes to the graveyard, before you get the opportunity to activate the +2 ability.

Q: Can I cast Cartouche of Solidarity with no creatures in play?

A: No you cannot. The Cartouche is an aura, and auras require a target to be able to cast them. You don't get the token from the Cartouche until after the Cartouche enters the battlefield, and that token enters much too late to be enchanted by the Cartouche itself. You're going to have to wait until you can get a creature onto the battlefield before you can cast the Cartouche.

Q: I have a Curator of Mysteries in play, and I cycle a card. Will I scry first or draw first?

A: You will always scry first. The Curator has a triggered ability, and that triggered ability will go on the stack above cycling's activated ability and the trigger from the Curator will resolve first. You'll scry 1, then draw a card from cycling.

Who here hasn't wanted to make a suit made out of wurms?

Q: I have a Reduce // Rubble in my graveyard, and I want to cast Cryptic Serpent. Does the Serpent cost one less to cast or two less to cast?

A: Just one less to cast. While the new Aftermath split cards can have multiple types, they're still only one card, and the Serpent's ability is counting the number of instant and sorcery cards in your graveyard. Its ability does not care if the card is both an instant and a sorcery. If Reduce // Rubble is the only instant and/or sorcery card in your graveyard, the cost to cast the Serpent is just reduced by one.

Q: How does Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons work with Grim Strider? Will I get a token every time I draw a card?

A: No you don't. Grim Strider's ability doesn't involve putting any counters on itself - it just gives itself -1/-1 for each card in your hand. Since the Strider's ability doesn't involve putting any -1/-1 counters on itself, Hapatra's ability will not trigger every time a card enters your hand.

Q: I have a New Perspectives in play and seven cards in my hand. Since the Perspectives says that I may pay instead of the cycling cost, does that mean I no longer have to discard the card to cycle it, letting me draw every card in my deck?

A: While that would be powerful, that doesn't work. If a card refers to a keyword cost (like cycling cost), it's referring only to the variable cost of that keyword. What that means is that while you're paying 0 to activate the ability, that's only getting around the variable part of the cost. It won't do anything to the set part of the cost, and no matter what card with cycling you're using, you're always discarding the card from your hand. Even if you're using New Perspectives to cycle it for 0, you still need to discard the card from your hand.

Q: I control one tapped creature, and I cast Harvest Season. In response, my opponent casts Djeru's Resolve and untaps my creature. How many lands do I get to search for when the Season resolves?

A: You don't get to search for anything. Harvest Season counts the number of tapped creatures you control when it resolves to determine how many lands you get to search for. Since your opponent did you the "favor" of untapping your creature, you don't control any tapped creatures when the Season resolves. You'll get to search your library, not put any lands onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

Q: I cast Torrential Gearhulk, and target Spring // Mind with its trigger. Can I cast Spring when the trigger resolves?

A: You sure can! Spring // Mind is an instant and a sorcery card, so it's a legal target for the Gearhulk's trigger. When the trigger resolves, you're instructed to cast the card. There's nothing that says you have to cast the instant side of the aftermath card, so if you'd rather search for a land than draw two cards, you can choose to cast Spring with the Gearhulk's trigger, even if it's an opponent's turn. The Gearhulk's trigger is giving you permission to cast the spell when its trigger resolves, meaning you're getting around normal timing restrictions.

Q: I have two Soul-Scar Mages in play, and I cast Magma Spray targeting their 3/3. Does their creature get two -1/-1 counters or four -1/-1 counters?

A: It only gets two -1/-1 counters. Soul-Scar Mage has a replacement effect. When the Spray would deal damage to the creature, both Mages want to apply to the damage. Once you've applied the effect from one Mage, there's no longer any noncombat that's being dealt to the creature, so the other Mage won't apply and the creature ends up with two -1/-1 counters.

And this looks like one of the smaller wurms out there.

Q: If I cast Approach of the Second Sun and copy it with Reverberate, will I win the game this turn?

A: No you won't (unless you had cast another Approach earlier). Approach of the Second Sun cares that you cast that Approach from your hand, and that you cast another Approach earlier in the game. With Reverberate, the copy is put on the stack, not cast. When the copy Approach resolves, you didn't cast it from your hand (it was put onto the stack), so you won't win the game and you'll just gain 7 life. Then, when the original resolves, you did cast that one from your hand, but the copy was not cast, and won't count for the original Approach's effect, so you'll gain 7 more life and the original Approach will be put seventh from the top.

Q: What if I cast Approach of the Second Sun for the first time, but there are only five cards in my library?

A: Then you'll do as much as possible. Since there aren't six cards in your library, the Approach will end up as the bottom card of your library.

Q: I just cast As Foretold, and I want to cast Ancestral Vision from my hand using As Foretold. Can I do that?

A: Yes you can! The converted mana cost of a card with no mana cost (like Ancestral Vision) is 0. Since its converted mana cost is 0, that means it's castable via As Foretold, even if it has no time counters on it. And since you're casting the Vision via an alternate cost (by paying instead of its normal mana cost), the fact that the Vision itself doesn't have a mana cost doesn't really matter. You'll be able to skip waiting four turns to cast the Vision if you just cast As Foretold and cast the Vision from your hand by paying .

Q: I control a Gideon of the Trials and a Protection of the Hekma. My opponent targets me with their Shock, wanting to redirect the damage to my Gideon. Which applies first, the Protection of the Hekma or the planeswalker redirection rule?

A: You decide! When Shock resolves, there's multiple replacement effects that want to apply to the event. Since you're the affected player (since Shock would be dealing damage to you), you get to decide which replacement effect to apply first. If you apply the Protection first, then one damage is prevented, then your opponent has the option of dealing the one damage from Shock to your Gideon instead of you.

Q: I'm in a game of Commander, and Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun is my commander. Temmet dies, and I let him go to the graveyard, and I activate the embalm ability, putting a token copy of Temmet into play. Does the combat damage my token Temmet deal count as commander damage?

A: No it does not. "Commanderness" isn't a copyable characteristic of the card: while the token is a copy of your commander, since the token isn't actually your commander, its combat damage does not count towards the 21 or more points of combat damage from a commander to cause a player to lose the game.

That's all we have for this week. We'll see you all next week!

I have a question about the Torrential Gearhulk - Spring//Mind situation. It is my understanding that if you cast Goblin Dark-Dwellers and you targeted Spring//Mind in the graveyard, before the rules change you could decide to cast either Spring or Mind, whereas after the rules change you could only cast Spring, since it was the only side that cost 3 or less. Is that correct? And if so, in the Gearhulk situation why then can you cast Spring and ignore the Gearhulk's restriction that the "flashbacked" card only be an instant?
#1 • Date: 2017-04-24 • Time: 07:47:32 •
Not quite. After the rules change, you can't even target Spring /// Mind with Goblin Dark-Dwellers' trigger in the first place, because its CMC is 9 when it's in your graveyard.
#2 • Date: 2017-04-24 • Time: 12:21:54 •
The reason Torrential works with Spring // Mind is that the card itself has the characteristics of being both an instant and a sorcery while in the graveyard making it a legal target for the Gearhulk's ability. The decision on which side to cast is made when the ability resolves and the spell actually goes on the stack.
#3 • Date: 2017-04-24 • Time: 19:11:56 •

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