Published on 05/22/2017

Something Only a Mummy Could Love

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

We should get more of these!
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! It's been a few weeks since we properly mummified Moko (thanks for the help by the way), and I can confidently say that this whole mummy-Moko thing is working out even better than I expected. Not having to deal with little bits of rotted flesh all over the office is great, but for some reason after the initial adjustment period Moko's seemed much more pliable. Maybe it's just that the tight bandages make him unable to open his mouth and therefore silence all that screeching and hooting he normally does, but I like it! And luckily for us, Amonkhet-style mummification leaves the fingers nicely separate, so it's still easy for him to type.

Speaking of typing, if you have any rules questions you'd like us to answer you can always type them up and send them via email to , or for the shorter ones, tweet them @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer, and may see your question incorporated into a future article. For now, though, on to the questions!

Q: I've been hearing a lot about how Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet works weirdly with Anointed Procession lately. What's that all about?

A: The basic problem is that while both Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Anointed Procession seem normal enough to your average player, in reality they're ever-so-slightly weird, so when put into corner cases they tend to do things players don't expect and in unusual ways, and when you put the two cards together their respective weirdnesses happen to overlap in a way that makes everything even more weird—together, the two cards do something that most players don't intuitively expect, and a lot of people have been getting confused about it recently.

Q: So...what's the problem?

A: To understand what's going on here, we'll have to walk through the nuances of each card's individual weirdness.

Let's start with Anointed Procession. This one seems pretty easy—it doubles all your tokens, right? Well...not quite. If you read the card closely, you'll notice it says it only doubles tokens created by effects, and "effect" is one of those specific rules word with a very specific meaning. This means that if you find some way of generating tokens that doesn't use an effect to do it, the Procession won't apply to it.

So, what's an "effect"? Well, in game terms, "effects" are the things that spells or abilities do as part of...well, their effects—they're the actions that resolving spells and abilities perform ("Destroying that creature", or "Put this onto the battlefield") and the alterations that spells and abilities make to the game. ("This creature has +3/+3 for a while")

So what isn't an "effect"? It's everything that is *not* being done directly by or otherwise because of a spell or ability. The game rules, for example, aren't an effect—they're just the rules. Combat damage isn't an effect. The costs you pay in order to cast a spell or activate an ability aren't an effect. Drawing your card or playing your land for the turn is not an effect. There's a few others, but those are the ones you're most likely to see.

So if you find some weird way to do one of those non-effect things that results in making a token, the Procession won't get involved, and the token won't be doubled. But this doesn't happen much, because as it turns out, it's usually pretty hard to get something that is not an effect to create tokens.

Q: ...And where does Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet come into this?

A: As you've probably guessed, Kalitas makes it possible for something that is not an effect to create tokens. The creation of which therefore do not get doubled by Anointed Procession. But—and this is the weird part that really trips people up—it only does this sometimes.

See, Kalitas' exile-and-zombie ability works by replacing one action (nontokens going to the graveyard) with something else (exiling and zombie-producing). The important part about this process is that while this changes the actions being performed, it doesn't change the identity of the thing that's performing those actions.

Imagine, if you will, that you're about to go grocery shopping. You write up a list of everything you're going to buy, and get ready to leave. But before you leave, your partner sees your list and stops you. "Hey, wait—you forgot something!" They grab a pencil, and add apples to your list, which weren't on there before. They hand the edited list back to you, and you head out the door to do your shopping.

This is how cards like Kalitas work—they play the role of your partner. Any time anything in the game wants to do something, Kalitas looks at that thing's 'grocery list' of what it wants to do to see if there's a nontoken creature dying; if there is, it changes that list around as necessary. The game then proceeds, and that thing follows the thus-altered list. And while the act of altering the 'grocery list' is an effect—that's why such abilities are called 'replacement effects'—the thing that's performing the actions on the list is still whatever it was before, not Kalitas itself. (You wouldn't say that your partner bought the apples, would you?)

So what this all means is that when an effect tries to kill off a nontoken creature, Kalitas kicks in as it always does and causes that effect to instead exile it and make a token. Since it's an effect doing the work, Anointed Procession kicks in and everything's fine.

But when something that's not an effect tries to kill off a nontoken creature, Kalitas again kicks in and causes that non-effect thing to instead exile it and make a token...and Procession doesn't apply, because it's not an effect that's making the token.

Q: So how does this all come together?

A: What this all amounts to is that if you control both Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Anointed Procession, you only get double the zombies if your opponent's creatures are dying due to an effect. If whatever's making them die is not an effect, you only get the one zombie per creature.

So you do not get two zombies if your opponent's creature is dying:
  • Because it's been dealt lethal damage (either in combat or by a spell or ability)
  • Because its toughness is 0 or less
  • Because it's dying due to the legend rule
  • Because of some other state-based action you've managed to invoke that would kill it—I already listed the common ones
  • Because your opponent is sacrificing it as part of the cost of casting a spell or activating an ability (Fling, Bontu the Glorified)

However, you do get two zombies if your opponent's creature is dying because a resolving spell or ability is killing it. (Trial of Ambition, Fatal Push).

Hopefully that explanation helps clear everything up for you.

The God-Pharaoh has foretold...
An As Foretold question!
Q: If Master of Waves is on the battlefield along with some of its tokens, can I Cloudshift the Master to make more tokens? Or would that kill the existing ones?

A: Good news! You can indeed Cloudshift your Master of Waves to get more tokens without killing the existing tokens. While the original tokens do briefly become 1/0 when Cloudshift exiles the Master, that doesn't matter, because state-based actions (which are the part of the game that gets rid of such creatures) aren't checked in the middle of resolving spells and abilities—like a janitor, they do their cleaning up after you're done messing around with things.

So Cloudshift exiles Master of Waves, briefly leaving the tokens on the battlefield 1/0, but then immediately returns it, triggering the Master's enters-the-battlefield ability. Cloudshift is now finished resolving and goes to the graveyard. State-based actions are checked, but they don't see anything worth cleaning up since your tokens are once again back up to 2/1, so the game moves on. Your Master's trigger is put onto the stack, and once it resolves you'll get even more tokens to play with.

Q: If I cast Sram's Expertise, can I then cast Reckless Bushwhacker with surge off of it when it resolves, since I've cast the Expertise already?

A: You've cast the Expertise, which fulfills the "have cast another spell this turn" requirement of surge, but sadly, that won't help you much.

Surge is what's known as an alternative cost—it's a cost you can choose to pay when casting the spell instead of paying the normal mana cost. But Sram's Expertise is telling you to cast a spell from your hand "without paying its mana cost", which means you're already paying an alternative cost (nothing) instead of paying the normal mana cost. You can't apply both alternative costs to the same spell, so you're not able to choose to pay the surge cost when casting the Bushwhacker off an Expertise.

Q: With both Vizier of the Menagerie and Animar, Soul of Elements on the battlefield, would Animar allow you to cast creatures for free if he had enough +1/+1 counters on him?

A: No, it won't, at least not unless the spell only had a generic mana cost to begin with.

Vizier of the Menagerie lets you spend mana as though it were mana of any type in order to cast creature spells, but Animar, Soul of Elements' ability doesn't involve spending mana at all—it simply reduces the cost you're required to pay by some amount of generic mana. This reduction isn't an amount of mana to be "spent", so the Vizier doesn't apply to it, and you cannot apply that reduction to mana symbols that are picky about the kind of mana you need to spend to satisfy them.

Q: Does Chromatic Lantern take away Temple of the False God's ability to tap for ?

A: It does not. Chromatic Lantern adds an additional ability to all lands you control. While in many cases that new ability's going to be better than that land's "natural" mana-producing abilities, those original abilities are still there and can still be used just fine.

So with Chromatic Lantern out, Temple of the False God will effectively look like this:
Temple of the False God
: Add to your mana pool. Activate this ability only if you control five or more lands.
: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
Use whichever of those abilities you like.

Q: In a multiplayer game, if my opponent casts Reverse the Sands while I have a Perplexing Chimera on the battlefield, and I choose to exchange control with his spell, do I get to decide how the life totals are redistributed, or was that decision already made when he cast it?

A: Lucky for you, how to swap around players' life totals is a decision made as Reverse the Sands resolves, so you get to choose how to do it, since you're going to be the one controlling Reverse the Sands when that happens.

When casting a spell, there are a few choices its controller has to make as it's being cast, but that list is very short, and mostly consist of things the player has to choose in order to be able to finish casting the spell in the first place—you can't exactly finish paying for Fireball if you don't know how big X is or how many targets it has, for example. The list of decisions players make as they cast spells is as follows:
  • A few specific keyword mechanics. (Morph, Splice)
  • Modes (Choose between some number of options listed in bullet points—)
  • Alternative or optional additional additional costs, if available (Kicker, Replicate, Bestow, Surge)
  • How you're going to pay for variable mana symbols in the cost (, )
  • The value of X (If the spell doesn't define it already.)
  • Targets (Both how many there are, if that's variable, and what they are)
  • If the spell asks the player to divide or distribute an effect among targets, what that division is

All other decisions the spell's effect might call for—such as how to redistribute life totals among players—will be made as it resolves.

Q: If I activate Aetherworks Marvel and one of the cards is Commit // Memory, can I cast the Memory half?

A: No, you cannot. Memory's Aftermath ability means that you can't cast that half of the card from anywhere other than your graveyard. Marvel may be instructing you to cast the card from a place and at a time you normally couldn't cast it, but it won't get around that restriction.

Q: If I cast a card using its Madness ability this turn, would it return to my hand if I cast Shadow of the Grave?

A: It would not. You cast your madness spell, so moved to the stack and got a chance to resolve and do some fun things before it ever went to the graveyard. All that moving around changing zones means the game considers it a new object, unrelated to the card you discarded some time ago, so the game will see it as a card that got into your graveyard by resolving as a spell, not by being discarded, so the Shadow won't return it.

Q: On Eldrazi Displacer, can anyone act between the creature being exiled and returning tapped?

A: No, they cannot. When a spell or ability starts resolving, the game puts everything else on hold—no player can do anything else until things are completely finished resolving unless the spell tells them to. Exiling and returning the creature tapped is all part of resolving Eldrazi Displacer ability, so it's all done and dusted before the game starts letting players get a chance to do things again.

It is as the God-Pharaoh willed!
Q: Can I cast creatures or planeswalkers at instant speed using As Foretold?

A: Only if they have flash or if something else is allowing you to do so. Using As Foretold will change what you have to pay when casting your spell, but it never changes when you're allowed to cast it. If you want to cast things as though they had flash, you're going to have to find some other way to enable it—As Foretold won't do it for you.

Q: My opponent chooses green for Hall of Gemstone on her turn. Can I use Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to generate a different color based on my devotion to that color?

A: No, but you can use it to generate green based on your devotion to some other color.

Hall of Gemstone says that any time a land would produce some amount of colored mana that's not green, it produces that much green mana instead. So while you're free to choose some other color when using Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx's ability, and the ability will calculate how much mana to give you accordingly, once that calculation is done and the game's set to give you the mana, Hall of Gemstone will swoop in and make it produce green mana instead of whatever color you originally wanted.

Q: My Hangarback Walker has three +1/+1 counters on it and my opponent casts Black Sun's Zenith for 5. I know -1/-1 counters and +1/+1 counters remove each other, but does that happen before the Walker die, or do I still get tokens?

A: You get your tokens, though the reason's a little more complicated than you might think.

+1/+1 and -1/-1 counters annihilating each other and creatures dying for having 0 toughness are both state-based actions (SBAs), and when the game finds it has multiple SBAs to perform, it performs all of them simultaneously. This means that the game removes those counters at the same time it puts your Walker into the graveyard—it goes from being on the battlefield with counters to being in the graveyard and no counters. This triggers Hangarback Walker's ability, and when that ability checks to see how many counters the Walker had the last time it was on the sees three, because the last time it was on the battlefield was before those SBAs were performed.

Q: I have exactly two cards in my hand, one of which is Fling. If I cast it sacrificing Thresher Lizard, how much damage does it deal?

A: It deals 4 damage. The first step of casting a spell is moving it onto the stack so you can begin the process of figuring out all the things you need to know to cast it—like what it's going to cost and how you want to pay for it. Thresher Lizard's ability is a static ability, as long as it's on the battlefield the ability is continually recalculating whether or not it should be working, so when you take that first step and move Fling to the stack to start casting it, Thresher Lizard immediately becomes a 4/4, and remains one until you eventually sacrifice it as part of paying for Fling.

Q: I control Phyrexian Negator and cast Thran Lens. In response, my opponent activates her Circle of Protection: Black, choosing to prevent damage from the Negator. Then Thran Lens resolves. If I attacked with Negator now and my opponent doesn't block, would it still deal damage to her, since it's now colorless?

A: No, the damage would be prevented. Circle of Protection: Black has your opponent chooses which source to prevent damage from at the time the ability resolves; she chose your Negator, but once that choice was made, though, the Circle's effect no longer cares about the Negator's color—it's going to prevent all damage your Negator will deal to your opponent this turn, regardless of any later color changes.

Q: I have a Purraj of Urborg, and a single untapped Swamp. If I cast Dark Ritual, do I get a chance to put a +1/+1 counter on Purraj?

A: Not with the mana from your Dark Ritual, you're not. Purraj of Urborg's ability triggers as you're casting Dark Ritual, and will therefore be placed on the stack on top of that spell. Since it's on top, it will resolve first, asking you to pay mana before the Ritual has a chance to resolve, and therefore before you've received any mana from it.

Q: I'm at 12 life and have a Death's Shadow when my opponent attacks with Reality Smasher. If I block with the Shadow, what happens? Will they trade?

A: They definitely won't trade—all combat damage is dealt at the same time, so your Death's Shadow will only ever be a 1/1 at the time damage is assigned and can only ever deal 1 damage to the Smasher, so there's no way the Eldrazi's going to die. But whether your Shadow survives or not is up to your opponent, since when assigning a blocked trampler's combat damage, your opponent must assign at least "lethal damage" to your Shadow, but the rest can be divided as they see fit between the Shadow and yourself. ("Lethal damage" in this case is 1, since your Shadow is a 1/1 at the time damage is being assigned.)

If your opponent assigns the minimum amount of damage (1) to the Shadow and the rest to you, the Shadow will take 1 damage and you'll take 4, reducing you to 8. This will mean that your Shadow is now a 5/5 with 1 damage on it, so it will survive. If your opponent assigns 2 damage to the Shadow and 3 to you, the result is you having 9 life and a 4/4 Shadow with 2 damage on it—again the Shadow survives.

But if your opponent assigns 3 damage or more to the Shadow, it's going to die, because your life total won't be reduced by enough to keep the Shadow larger than the amount of damage marked on it. With 3 damage exactly, you'll take 2 and go to 10, and your now-3/3 Shadow will die because it has 3 damage on it, and so on and so forth as your opponent applies more damage to the Shadow instead of you.

Q: Why does Darksteel Mutation on a face down card prevent using morph to turn it face up? Does the same apply to manifest?

A: The way you turn a face-down morph face-up is to reveal what the card's morph cost would be if it were face-up, so you can then pay that cost. But Darksteel Mutation removes all abilities—including morph—from the creature it's enchanting, and it would still be enchanting your creature even if it were face-up. So what will the card's morph cost be if it were face-up? Well...Thanks to the Mutation, it wouldn't have morph at all, so it wouldn't have a morph cost. And without a morph cost, there's nothing you can pay to turn it face-up.

Manifest works a little differently, because it doesn't care about what the card would look like if it were face-up. What manifest cares about is that the physical card representing the creature's mana cost is. (And that it isn't an instant or sorcery card.) Darksteel Mutation doesn't affect any of that, so it doesn't hinder manifesting at all.

Q: If I play Personal Sanctuary in a Two-Headed Giant game and one of my opponents has Isolation Cell, can my partner play creature spells and not have to pay the ?

A: Personal Sanctuary only prevents damage that would be dealt to you, and you're not the same person as your teammate, so the Sanctuary doesn't protect them in any way at the best of times. But it gets even worse for you, because Personal Sanctuary isn't going to protect you here, either. The Sanctuary may prevent damage, but Isolation Cell isn't trying to deal damage in the first place—if you don't pay the , it will cause you to lose life directly, and the Sanctuary can't stop that.

Q: I have Atog and several artifacts out. I know my opponent has a Trickbind in hand, but my only way of winning is to sacrifice all my artifacts to Atog and Fling it. Can I sacrifice everything at the same time, without giving my opponent the chance to Trickbind, or am I dead?

A: Your opponent will be able to stop one of your Atog activations, because you're going to need to wait until the abilities resolve before you cast Fling so they can make Atog big enough to be lethal, but as long as you do things right they won't be able to stop all of them.

When a player finishes casting a spell (or in this case activating an ability), it's that player who gets the first chance to cast additional spells or activate further abilities. This means that you can activate Atog once, and then immediately activate it a second time before your opponent gets any chance to do things, then activate it a third time, then a fourth, and so on and so forth until you've run out of artifacts to sacrifice. Only then will your opponent get a chance to cast their Trickbind, which can counter one activation, but won't do anything about all the rest of the activations you've already performed. Those abilities will resolve one by one, and eventually your Atog will be big enough to Fling it for lethal.

In tournament play you'd need to be specific about how you're doing this ("I activate Atog this many times in response to itself so you can't stop me with Trickbind" or similar) because players don't usually want to respond to themselves in this manner (it's normally a Bad Idea) and if you don't specify otherwise the assumption would be that you're doing the normal thing and just using shorthand to say you're activating Atog once, letting that resolve, activating it again, letting that resolve, and so on until you're done, which is exactly what you need to avoid here.

That's all I have for you for this week, but be sure to come back next week for another exciting 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.

For the 8-Whack players out there: Sram's Expertise may not work on surge costs, but it does work on kicker costs. You could cast Goblin Bushwhacker off Expertise for free and choose to pay the kicker cost of R (you don't get that for free).
#1 • Date: 2017-05-21 • Time: 21:27:48 •
So, Replacement Effects aren't Effects? Confusing!
#2 • Date: 2017-05-22 • Time: 12:42:25 •
Quote (MAHK):
So, Replacement Effects aren't Effects? Confusing!
Not quite. Their effect is editing everyone else's "grocery lists".

Anointed Procession only checks who is going to be buying the groceries—it doesn't care whether or not someone's taken a red pen to the grocery list.
#3 • Date: 2017-05-23 • Time: 09:09:33 •
My point was simply that one might reasonably infer that something called a "replacement effect" counted as an "effect."
#4 • Date: 2017-05-24 • Time: 16:50:32 •
Re Shadow of the Grave, it seems to me that something looking in the graveyard for a card you discarded won't ever find a card with madness, even if it wasn't cast, because they'll have got there via exile. This wasn't true before the rule change that made the exile mandatory. Is that right?
#5 • Date: 2017-06-15 • Time: 10:34:51 •
(duplicate, sorry!)
#6 • Date: 2017-06-15 • Time: 16:42:14 •
There was another sub-rule added to the list of exceptions for the "new object" rule:

400.7i After resolving a madness triggered ability (see rule 702.34), if the exiled card wasn't cast and was moved to a public zone, effects referencing the discarded card can find that object.
#7 • Date: 2017-06-16 • Time: 10:02:41 •

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