Published on 05/29/2017

Hour of Departure

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

And boy are they tired.
The second sun is approaching the horns, and the Hours are getting nearer. I started writing for Cranial Insertion in May of 2012, taking the spot of former writer Brian Paskoff. And now, five years later, this article in May of 2017 is my last; for quite a while now I've had less and less time to devote to both CI and to working as a judge, so I'm retiring from both as of this month.

I'd like to pause here to thank Eli Shiffrin — who promoted me from L1 to L2 once upon a time, and helped turn me into a rules geek — and the other fine folks who got me involved in this. It's been a fun ride, even if it is time to hang up my keyboard and move on to other things.

Meanwhile, if you've got a rules question the rest of the CI team are still here and will answer them for you; you can send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet!

Q: I've heard there's an infinite combo you can do with Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies. How does that work?

A: You tap Devoted Druid for mana, then pay the cost to untap it. Then tap it for mana, then pay the cost to untap it. And repeat as many times as you like.

Q: But I thought you couldn't pay a cost if the thing in the cost can't happen! Like when you want to cast Invigorate and something else is saying your opponent can't gain life?

A: It's true that if a player can't gain life (say, due to the effects of Skullcrack), you can't have them gain life to pay the alternative cost of Invigorate. And if you controlled a Melira, Sylvok Outcast you wouldn't be able to untap Devoted Druid using its ability, since it'd be impossible to put a -1/-1 counter on the Druid to pay the cost.

But Vizier of Remedies doesn't forbid putting -1/-1 counters on things, and so it doesn't interfere with your ability to pay the cost of Devoted Druid's ability. Instead, it just modifies the number of counters that get put on Devoted Druid. As it happens, the number of counters put on the Druid ends up being zero, meaning there's no limit to how many times you can use the ability to untap it and thus no limit to how much mana you can produce.

Q: Can I kill the Druid in response? Or do I have to kill the Vizier?

A: You can respond to the untap ability of Devoted Druid (but not to its mana-producing ability; like all mana abilities, that doesn't use the stack). However, regardless of which half of the combo you try to kill, Devoted Druid's untap ability can just be activated again in response, and the new activation will resolve first, untap the Druid, and allow the combo to continue.

Q: I'm at 8 life and control two Death's Shadows. My opponent casts Swords to Plowshares on one of them. What happens?

A: The Death's Shadow targeted by Swords to Plowshares gets exiled and you gain 5 life (since it was a 5/5). This causes your other Death's Shadow to become 0/0 (since you're now at 13 life) and immediately die.

Not my style.
Q: My opponent has four card types in her graveyard and just cast Traverse the Ulvenwald. Can I respond with Scarab Feast to make her only be able to search for a basic land?

A: If that will get the number of card types in your opponent's graveyard to less than four, then yes. Traverse the Ulvenwald counts card types as it resolves, not as it's cast, and determines its effect at that time. If something you do in response alters the number of card types, Traverse the Ulvenwald's effect will be altered accordingly.

Q: My opponent just cast a Past in Flames and I want to counter it, then use Surgical Extraction to exile it. Is there a way I can do this without giving him an opportunity to flash it back first?

A: If there's nothing else involved, no; once your counterspell resolves and Past in Flames is put into your opponent's graveyard, they get first chance to act next and can flash back Past in Flames (which moves it from the graveyard to the stack). The only way out of this is if you can cause something else to get on the stack before you cast your counterspell; then the stack won't be empty after your counterspell resolves, and it won't be legal to flash back Past in Flames (since it's a sorcery).

Q: I activated Aetherworks Marvel and found Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. My opponent tapped three mana to Disallow Ulamog's trigger, then cast Torrential Gearhulk to Disallow Ulamog. Is that legal?

A: Yes. First, Disallow is cast targeting the trigger. Disallow resolves, counters the trigger and is put into the graveyard. Then players get priority again, and your opponent can (assuming they have enough mana) cast Torrential Gearhulk; it resolves, enters the battlefield and its ability triggers, giving them the opportunity to cast Disallow from their graveyard targeting Ulamog.

Q: If I activate Aetherworks Marvel and find another Aetherworks Marvel, can I cast it?

A: Yes. When it resolves, you'll choose one Marvel to keep and one to put in your graveyard (since Marvel is legendary, you can only control one at a time). The one that's put into your graveyard will trigger the one you keep to produce an energy counter.

Q: My opponent cast Gonti, Lord of Luxury and took a card from the top of my library. Then I killed Gonti. Can my opponent still cast the exiled card?

A: Yes, and they can spend mana as though it were any type in order to cast it. Unlike some abilities which only work while the card with the ability is on the battlefield, Gonti specifically says that it sets up an effect that lasts for as long as the card remains exiled, which means it continues to work even if Gonti isn't around anymore.

Q: My opponent cast Magma Spray targeting my Relentless Dead. If I sacrifice it to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in response, will Relentless Dead still get exiled?

A: No. First of all, at the time you sacrifice Relentless Dead, Magma Spray hasn't resolved yet and so none of its effects have happened yet. And since Relentless Dead isn't on the battlefield anymore, Magma Spray will get countered by the game rules when it tries to resolve (because its target is now illegal).

Q: Can I play a Gruul Turf on my first turn? What happens if I do?

A: Gruul Turf's ability says to return "a land you control" to its owner's hand, and you do control a land: Gruul Turf! So you return it to your hand, and then you're done.

Q: Can Turn Aside counter Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger?

A: No; Ulamog the spell doesn't have any targets (no permanent spells other than Auras have targets). The only thing that targets is its triggered ability, but since that's an ability and not a spell, Turn Aside can't do anything about the trigger, either.

Q: If I cast Collected Company and get a Chief of the Foundry and a Walking Ballista, does the Ballista live?

A: Yes. Both creatures enter the battlefield simultaneously during the resolution of Collected Company. Then after Collected Company has finished resolving, state-based actions are checked and see the Ballista is 1/1, so it survives.

Old rules geeks never die...
Q: If I have an aftermath card like Commit // Memory in my graveyard, how does it count for delirium?

A: In your graveyard it has two card types, so anything counting card types will see at least two.

Q: If I animate Hissing Quagmire, then use Rishkar, Peema Renegade to put a counter on it, does it keep the counter after it stops being a creature?

A: Yes; nothing in the rules causes counters to be removed from a permanent just because they are not having an effect. So once the turn ends, Hissing Quagmire will be a land with a +1/+1 counter on it. If you activate it again later, the counter will have the appropriate effect and make the Quagmire a 3/3.

Q: Can Aven Mindcensor affect the ability of Aetherworks Marvel?

A: No. Cards are extremely literal in their wording: Mindcensor only affects searches, and Aetherworks Marvel doesn't cause a search, because it doesn't use the word "search". It just causes the player to look at some cards in their library and choose one.

Q: If I use the second ability of Relentless Dead to return a Diregraf Colossus to the battlefield, does the Colossus get a counter for itself?

A: Yes. Diregraf Colossus has a replacement effect which changes how it enters the battlefield; in order to do this, it has to determine the number of counters before the Colossus is on the battlefield. Since the place it's in before that is your graveyard, and the Colossus is a Zombie, it will count itself.

Q: If I use the madness ability of a card like Fiery Temper, will that trigger Thing in the Ice?

A: Yes; although you're casting Fiery Temper from an unusual zone, you're still casting it and it's still an instant or sorcery spell, so Thing in the Ice's ability will trigger.

Q: If I activate Dread Wanderer's ability to return it to the battlefield when I have one card in hand, and in response activate Cryptbreaker to draw a card, does Dread Wanderer still return?

A: Yes. Dread Wanderer only restricts when you can activate its ability, which means paying the cost to put the ability on the stack. Once you've done that, it no longer cares how many cards you have in your hand.

Q: If my opponent asks how big my Tarmogoyf is, do I have to answer?

A: If you're playing at Regular enforcement (FNM and most other in-store events), yes, and you have to answer completely and truthfully. If you're playing at Competitive enforcement (PPTQs and other events with significant prizes), you can refuse to answer or you can give an incomplete answer (such as naming only some but not all of the card types in your graveyard), as long as everything you say is true. At Competitive enforcement, most things which require counting or calculation are put into a category of information that you're not obligated to assist your opponent in determining, and the only restriction on your response is that you can't directly lie.

That's all I've got for this issue, so thanks for reading, and be sure to check back for future articles from the rest of the CI team.

- 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 one that\'s put into your graveyard will trigger the one you keep to produce an energy counter.

The one being put into your graveyard will also trigger itself. Meaning you get a total of 2 energy.
#1 • Date: 2017-05-31 • Time: 16:20:16 •

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