Published on 06/19/2017

Archenemy at the Gates

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! The Hour of Devastation is upon us and previews have begun, but Nicol Bolas, the God-Pharaoh and true master of the plane of Amonkhet has already arrived in the form of Archenemy: Nicol Bolas! All shall tremble at his coming, for their doom, like all pitiful mortal fools, is nigh!

In his honor, this week we're taking time off of answering questions about normal games of Magic to bask in the might and power of the almighty Bolas, and to that end we're answering all your questions about how to best walk in his footsteps as the archenemy in your own playgroup. If you'd like further tips and tricks about how best to crush your enemies and see them driven before you, send them to , or perhaps tweet them @CranialTweet if they're short enough. We'll provide you with all the answers you need to take over the world, and you may see those questions published in a future article to help other aspiring villains master their own domains.

Q: Who goes first in an Archenemy game?

A: Why, the archenemy, of course! Did those pitiful fools opposing you really expect that such a genius as Nicol Bolas would offer them such mercy as to allow them to go first?

Q: What happens when the entire scheme deck has been used? Does it get reshuffled or is it unusable for the rest of the game?

A: That shouldn't happen in the first place, because schemes don't get "used up"—the plots and plans of a true archenemy have no end!

Once a scheme has been set in motion and its effects carried out (or, for ongoing schemes, it gets abandoned), it's put back onto the bottom of the scheme deck, not kept separate. So unless something really, really weird is going on, the scheme deck should never be empty.

Q: If I already have an ongoing scheme in motion, can I set more schemes in motion?

A: Certainly; having an ongoing scheme already in motion doesn't stop you from setting more schemes in motion on your turn. There's no reason for you to artificially limit yourself to just one scheme at a time—"fair play" is for fools and the weak, like those meddlesome "heroes" opposing you.

Q: ...Does that mean I can have multiple ongoing schemes at once?

A: Absolutely, have as many as you like! Plots within plots, and plans within plans—nothing wrong with a good old Gambit Pileup. It keeps you on your toes.

Struggle all you want; your every action
makes my victory more complete.

Q: I set Make Yourself Useful into motion, targeting my opponent's Fertilid. Can they respond by using it up so I don't gain any life? Setting a scheme in motion doesn't use the stack, right?

A: Setting the scheme in motion indeed doesn't use the stack, but your opponent can still respond here, because what will actually kill Fertilid isn't actually the action of setting the scheme in motion, but the triggered ability from Make Yourself Useful that triggers when you do so. This is a perfectly normal triggered ability, and so can be responded to by either yourself or your opponents.

Q: ...What about if I control it? I stole Fertilid from one of my opponents and only control five lands. If I set Pay Tribute to Me into motion, can I use Fertilid to get a sixth land so I get the boosted effect?

A: Assuming you have access to the necessary green mana somehow, sure! Pay Tribute to Me's ability only checks whether or not you control the necessary number of lands as the ability resolves, so as long as you control enough lands at that time, it doesn't matter how many you had when the scheme was initially set in motion.

Note that Behold My Grandeur works differently than the other schemes in this set that count lands. Instead of checking land counts during resolution like the others, it has a separate trigger with an intervening if clause to handle the check; this ability won't trigger at all if you don't have the necessary number of lands at the time you set Behold My Grandeur into motion.

*This answer has been edited; the originally published version incorrectly stated that Behold My Grandeur would grant you the boosted effect in this scenario. See the comments section for more information.

Q: Are schemes spells? Can my opponent's Torchling avoid Making Itself Useful by changing the target?

A: Schemes are not spells; what's actually targeting the Torchling is a triggered ability from Make Yourself Useful. Since Torchling's ability can only change the targets of spells, it's not going to do the poor sap opposing you any good.

Q: Can my opponents block creatures that are attacking their teammates?

A: Yes! Sadly, it turns out the worthless peons opposing you have learned to work together since the last time you met, as the release of Archenemy: Nicol Bolas brings with it a rules change to the format allowing any of your opponents to block any creature attacking either their teammates or planeswalkers their teammates control.

Q: What color are schemes? Can Lightwielder Paladin exile one of my ongoing schemes?

A: It cannot, for your foe's ill-conceived plan fails on multiple levels! Not only have they failed to realize that your schemes' lack of a mana cost renders them colorless, but since your schemes exist in the command zone rather than on the battlefield, they also aren't even permanents!

Q: When does my Because I Have Willed It get abandoned? Does a single opponent have to have cast all four spells, or is it four spells collectively?

A: Sadly, Because I Have Willed It doesn't care who cast the spells at all. As long as your opponents have collectively cast four or more spells on their turn, you'll be forced to abandon it at the beginning of their end step.

Q: My Forces Are Innumerable and Bow To My Command both require my opponents to tap or sacrifice creatures in order to force me to abandon them. Do all such creatures have to be controlled by one player, or can my opponents mix and match between them?

A: As with Because I Have Willed It, overcoming these schemes is a collective effort among your opponents, and as such there's no requirement that they be controlled by the same player. If a single opponent has the necessary resources and wishes to make a foolish 'noble sacrifice', so be it, but it's not a requirement—slightly more clever opponents may spread out the pain as they wish. It shall not avail them.

Q: On my first turn as archenemy I set When Will You Learn? in motion, exiling a creature and a Sixth Sense. What happens?

A: Unfortunately, without an existing creature already on the table you won't be able to make full use of this scheme. When Will You Learn? requires you to cast whichever of the exiled cards you wish to make use of while it's resolving, and you can't cast an Aura like Sixth Sense without a legal target. Even if you're casting the creature and it's going to enter the battlefield very soon, you don't have it yet, so you can't legally cast Sixth Sense.

Q: When do I decide whether or not to use My Laughter Echoes after setting another scheme in motion? If I set Power Without Equal into motion, can I see what I draw before deciding whether to do it again?

A: Yes, you can. You only decide whether or not you wish to use My Laughter Echoes' ability at the time it's resolving, and since My Laughter Echoes triggers at the same time as Power Without Equal, and you can put those abilities on the stack in whichever order you choose.

Assuming you put the ability from My Laughter Echoes onto the stack first with Power Without Equal on top of it, Power Without Equal's ability resolves first, and you'll draw your cards, and only after that happens will My Laughter Echoes' ability resolve. You'll be able to choose whether or not to set it in motion a second time knowing full well what you drew.

All that is, was, and shall be
has but one cause.
Q: Does Because I Have Willed It reduce the cost of Baleful Strix?

A: Sadly, it does not. Reducing a cost by a generic amount of mana can only reduce costs that include such generic mana, and Baleful Strix's mana cost doesn't.

Q: Does Nightscape Familiar reduce the cost of a spell that's both blue and red, like Slave of Bolas, by

A: No. Nightscape Familiar doesn't ask separately about blue spells and red spells—it asks each spell you cast the single yes-or-no question "Are you blue or red?", and then applies its reduction if they answer "Yes."

Compare the Familiar with something like Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, who does reduce the cost of multicolor spells by —Augustin has two separate abilities, one of which reduces the cost of white spells and the other of which reduces the cost of blue ones, and a spell that's both white and blue would naturally qualify for both reductions.

Q: Obsidian Fireheart says the land continues to burn after the Fireheart leaves the battlefield. What about if its controller loses the game?

A: Even the death of the Fireheart's controller won't stop the affected land from burning. Obsidian Fireheart says the affected land gains the burning ability for as long as it has a blaze counter on it, so that's exactly how long it lasts. It doesn't matter in the slightest what happens to the Fireheart or its controller in the meantime—as long as that land continues to exist on the battlefield and continues to have a counter on it, it will keep burning.

Q: When do I choose a color for Sudden Demise?

A: You only choose a color as the spell resolves; if your opponents wish to respond to Sudden Demise, they'll know the value of X (because you chose that as you cast it), but not what color you plan to choose—feel free to take this opportunity to sow chaos and confusion among their ranks.

Q: I gave my opponents, For Each of Them, a Gift, but then I killed one of those players. What happens with that player's "gift"?

A: No sense wasting a perfectly good present—feel free to regift it as you please! The token's required to attack the missing player "if able", but it obviously can't attack a player who no longer exists, so that requirement doesn't do anything any more, and the token is now free to attack whomever you wish it to.

Q: What happens to the tokens from For Each of You, a Gift attack if Gideon Jura's used his first ability? What do they attack?

A: The tokens must definitely attack if able, but you choose whether they attack either Gideon Jura or the respective players they were "gifted" to.

Gideon imposes a requirement on each creature you control: "This creature must attack Gideon Jura". But each of those tokens is already affected by a requirement: "This token must attack (this player)." Since there are two mutually-exclusive requirements at work here, you get to choose which one you wish to abide by.

Q: If my opponents attack with Inferno Titan and Sun Titan, which trigger happens first? Is the damage dealt before they return a permanent, or the other way around?

A: It happens whichever way they would like. (Though naturally, whichever order they choose, their pitiful attempts at overthrowing your reign of terror shall not avail them.) In games with shared team turns like Archenemy, if multiple triggered abilities controlled by players on the same team trigger at the same time, they're put onto the stack in whichever order that team wishes.

And with that, today's article comes to a close. Enjoy Hour of Devastation previews, everyone, and be sure to tune in again 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.

Why the ability of Behold my Grandeur triggers if the Archenemy doesn't control six lands? As an intervening if clause, shouldn't it not trigger at all, as per CR603.4?
#1 • Date: 2017-06-19 • Time: 06:00:25 •
Quote (videor):
Why the ability of Behold my Grandeur triggers if the Archenemy doesn\'t control six lands? As an intervening if clause, shouldn\'t it not trigger at all, as per CR603.4?
D\'OH! >_< You are correct; Behold My Grandeur\'s second ability shouldn\'t trigger. The original version of the question was written for Pay Tribute To Me; I changed the scheme and failed to notice that the two perform their land checks differently.

The article has been edited accordingly. Thanks for the catch!

Last edited on 2017-06-20 01:24:38 by GrifterMage
#2 • Date: 2017-06-20 • Time: 01:13:33 •

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