Published on 07/03/2017

A Break from the Sand

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

There's just too much sand!

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! We've been spending a lot of time on Amonkhet these last few months, and with Hour of Devastation almost here (don't worry, Callum will be here next week and he'll start answering all of your Hour of Devastation questions), I figure we should take a break from this desert world for one week. So while there aren't questions involving Amonkhet cards this week, we're still going to be answering Magic rules questions from ages past.

Remember: if you have a rules question, you can contact us, and we'll answer it! We might even use your question in a future article. If you have a short question, you can Tweet us at @CranialTweet, or, if you have a longer question, you can send us an e-mail at .

Q: My opponent is attacking me with a Caravan Hurda. I block with my Fog Bank. Will my opponent gain any life?

A: No they won't. In order for your opponent to gain life via lifelink, the creature has to deal damage. But since Fog Bank will prevent all of the damage that would be dealt to it by the attacking Hurda, the Hurda won't deal any damage, and lifelink won't cause your opponent to gain any life.

Q: I have a Servo token enchanted by Mechanized Production, along with five other servos, for a total of six servos under my control. During my main phase, I cast Servo Exhibition. Will I win the game right after the Exhibition finishes resolving?

A: Nope, you have to keep those servos around until your next upkeep if you want to win the game. The Production only counts the number of artifacts with the same name you control as part of the upkeep trigger resolving. At any other point, it doesn't matter how many artifacts you control. While you control eight servos right now, the Production won't count them until your next upkeep, so you'll have to keep at least seven of them alive (remember: you get one from the Production trigger) until your next upkeep in order to win.

Q: It's the beginning of my turn, and I have Hanweir Militia Captain, two random creatures, and a Mutavault in play. Can I animante my Mutavault into a creature in time for it to count for the Captain's trigger?

A: Nope, that doesn't work. The first chance you get to do anything during your turn is during the upkeep step, after all 'at beginning of upkeep' triggers have gone on the stack. The Captain does have an upkeep trigger, but it's an upkeep trigger with a condition: unless you have four or more creatures under your control when the upkeep begins, the ability won't even trigger. When your upkeep begins, you control three creatures and a noncreature Mutavault, so the Captain's ability won't even trigger. Even if you make Mutavault into a creature before the upkeep ends, it will become a creature too late for the Captain's trigger to count it.

Q: Can I cast Decimate if there are no enchantments in play?

A: No you cannot. Decimate has four targets: a target artifact, creature, enchantment, and land. In order to cast it, you have to be able to choose legal targets for the spell. That means if there are no enchantments on the battlefield, you can't choose enough legal targets to cast the spell, and therefore you can't cast it at all.

Q: What if I managed to cast Decimate legally, but then the target enchantment is removed in response. Will the other three permanents still be destroyed?

A: That's a different situation. Decimate will only be countered if all of its targets are illegal. If at least one target is still legal when it goes to resolve, it will resolve with those remaining legal targets. Removing the targeted enchantment from the battlefield won't prevent Decimate from destroying the targeted artifact, creature, or land.

Q: I cast Collected Company, and no permanents have left my control this turn. The cards I choose to into play are Renegade Rallier and Walking Ballista. Will the Rallier's ability trigger?

A: No, it won't trigger. After the Company puts the Rallier and the Ballista on the battlefield, we check to see if anything should trigger. At this point, the Ballista hasn't left the battlefield yet, it won't fulfill the Revolt condition for the Ralier. Since nothing has left the battlefield yet, the Rallier's ability won't trigger. After that, the Company finishes resolving, and then we check state-based actions, and the Ballista goes to the graveyard since it's a 0/0 creature. But it goes to the graveyard too late to count for the Rallier's ability.

Ah, a nice, relaxing dip in the hot tub.

Q: I have a Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker and The Chain Veil in play. I activate The Chain Veil's ability, then I activate Sarkhan's +1 ability to make him into a dragon. Can I then activate Sarkhan's -3 ability to deal 4 damage to a creature?

A: No you may not. The Chain Veil changes the rules of the game for the turn so you can activate a planeswalker's loyalty ability an additional time. However, that effect only applies to planeswalkers you control. After Sarkhan's +1 ability resolves, Sarkhan is no longer a planeswalker: he's just a creature. Since he's no longer a planeswalker, he's no longer affected by The Chain Veil's effect and you can't activate a second ability of Sarkhan this turn.

If you really wanted to activate both abilities, you'd have to activate the -3 ability first, then activate the +1 ability.

Q: My opponent has a Vengeful Pharaoh in their graveyard, and I hit them in combat with my Mistmeadow Skulk. Will my Skulk die?

A: It will survive! The Skulk can't be targeted by spell or abilities from sources with a converted mana cost of three or greater. Even in the graveyard, the Pharaoh has a converted mana cost of five, so if you deal combat damage to them with the Skulk, they won't be able to target the Skulk with the Pharaoh's trigger. Your Skulk will live to see another combat, and the Pharaoh will stay in the graveyard.

Q: How well does Herald of the Pantheon work with Gryff's Boon?

A: Probably not as good as you think. Things are mostly fine when you first cast it - sure, the cost reduction effect from the Herald won't really do anything, since it costs to cast, but you will gain 1 life from casting it. But if the Boon ends up in the graveyard and you want to activate the Boon's ability, well, the Herald won't help you at all. You're activating an ability of the Boon, not casting a spell, so the Herald won't reduce the cost to activate it. And you're not casting an enchantment spell, so the Herald's triggered ability won't trigger either and you won't gain any life.

Q: I have a Loyal Retainers in play, and a Budoka Gardener in my graveyard. Can I use the Retainer's ability to put the Gardener onto the battlefield?

A: No you cannot. In the case of a flip card, like the Gardener, unless it's on the battlefield and flipped, you ignore the flipped side of the card. Dokai, Weaver of Life is a legendary creature, but since it's not on the battlefield and flipped, we ignore that side of the card. Because the Gardener is not a legendary creature, it's not a legal target for the Retainer's ability.

Q: I have a Circle of Protection: Black in play, and my opponent controls a Pestilence. My opponent activates Pestilence three times. Assuming I don't want to take any damage from Pestilence, how many times do I have to activate the Circle's ability?

A: You'll have to activate it three times. Each time you activate the Circle of Protection, you'll prevent the next time Pestilence would deal damage to you this turn. But if it deals damage multiple times (like in this case with Pestilence), one activation isn't enough to prevent all of the damage. If you want to prevent all three damage that you would take from Pestilence, you'll have to activate the Circle's ability three times, once for each activation.

Q: I attack with an Engulfing Slagwurm, and my opponent blocks with a Darksteel Sentinel. What happens when the Slagwurm's trigger resolves?

A: When the trigger resolves, the blocking Sentinel is destroyed. However, since the Sentinel is indestructible, it won't be destroyed. After that, you gain three life, since the Sentinel's toughness is three. The Slagwurm's ability doesn't care if the creature isn't destroyed by the trigger, you'll still gain life equal to its toughness. And because the Sentinel wasn't destroyed by the trigger, it's still in combat and still blocking the Slagwurm, and will deal and receive combat damage from the Slagwurm.

Q: I control Thassa, God of the Sea, but it's currently not a creature. My opponent casts Reweave on my Thassa. Do I stop when I hit an enchantment or when I hit a creature?

A: An enchantment. Reweave looks at what types the card had when it was last on the battlefield, not what types it has in the graveyard. When Thassa was last on the battlefield, it was just an enchantment (and not a creature), so you'll reveal cards until you reveal an enchantment. You'll skip any creatures that isn't also an enchantment.

Only the third weirdest trip to the zoo I've had.

Q: Will Worldslayer's trigger destroy everyone's lands as well?

A: Yes it will. Worldslayer says to destroy all permanents besides Worldslayer. Unlike something like Planar Cleansing, Worldslayer doesn't make an exception for lands. Worldslayer will destroy all other permanents, and that includes all of the lands on the battlefield.

Q: I have a Platinum Angel, along with 20 life. I cast Transcendence. What exactly happens?

A: Do you like draw games? Because this game is probably going to end in a draw. When Transcendence enters the battlefield, it sees you're at 20 life, so its "you lose the game" ability triggers. As long as this trigger is on the stack, the ability won't trigger again (it's what we call a "state trigger"). When that trigger resolves, you would lose the game, but Platinum Angel prevents you from losing the game. After the trigger resolves, since there's not an instance of that trigger on the stack, the "you lose the game" ability triggers again.

The ability is going to keep trigger, and Platinum Angel is going to keep preventing you from losing, and unless someone can get rid of Platinum Angel, Transcendence, or somehow gets your life total to less than 20 (tricky, because the last trigger of Transcendence is going to mess with that plan), the game won't be able to advance and the game will be a draw.

Q: The only creature card in my graveyard is Wonder, which I would prefer stays in my graveyard. My opponent casts Exhume. Do I have to return Wonder to the battlefield?

A: Yes you do. Exhume is not optional - if there's a creature card in your graveyard, you have to choose to return it, no matter how badly you want Wonder to stay in your graveyard. If Wonder is the only creature card in your graveyard when Exhume resolves, you have to choose to return it to the battlefield.

Q: I control an Angel of Jubilation and a Norn's Annex. Can my opponent still attack me by paying two life?

A: Yes they can. The Angel prevents players from paying life to cast a spell or activate an ability. But the Annex is neither - it's imposing a cost to attack, and that's not casting a spell or activating an ability. Your opponent is still going to be able to pay two life to attack you, even with the Angel in play.

Q: My opponent just cast Wrath of God to destroy my Marchesa, the Black Rose and Novijen Sages, both with +1/+1 counters on them. Can I arrange thing so my Sages return first, then Marchesa, so I can use graft to move a +1/+1 counter to Marchesa?

A: Yep, that works. Marchesa triggers for herself and the Sages when they died, since they both had a +1/+1 counter on them. At the beginning of the next end step, the two triggers from Marchesa are waiting to go on the stack, and since you control both triggers, you get to choose the order they're put on the stack (and the order the creatures return in). If you put the Sages' trigger on the stack last, it will resolve first, and you'll return the Sages to the battlefield, then Marchesa (and can use graft to move a counter from the Sages to Marchesa).

Q: I control a Paradox Engine, a Sol Ring, and an Isochron Scepter with a Lightning Helix imprinted on it. What happens if I activate the Scepter?

A: There's a pretty strong possibility that you're going to win this game. When the Scepter's ability resolves, you make a copy of the Helix and you can cast it. Assuming you cast it, that will cause the Engine to trigger (the Engine doesn't care where you're casting the spell from, or that the spell is a copy: all it cares about is that you're casting a spell), and when that trigger resolves, you'll untap the Scepter and the Ring. You can tap the Ring for mana, then use that mana to activate the Scepter's ability again.

Unless someone can get rid of one of the combo pieces, you'll be able to keep activating the Scepter and keep casting copies of Lightning Helix and should be able to kill all of your opponents with those copies.

Q: My opponent controls a Myojin of Night's Reach. I cast Clone, choosing to copy the Myojin. Will my Clone Myojin enter the battlefield with a divinity counter on it?

A: Depends: did you cast Clone from your hand? If you did, when Clone becomes a copy of the Myojin, the now Clone Myojin will check to see if you cast it from your hand. While the card might be a copy of something else now, it can still tell if the original spell was cast from your hand or not, and if Clone was cast from your hand, the Clone Myojin will enter the battlefield with a divinity counter on it.

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

Doesn\'t the Chain Veil\'s activated ability change the rules for each individual planeswalker when it resolves? If so, why would it then care if any of them stops being a planeswalker? If not, would it apply to another planeswalker that enters the battlefield afterwards?

edit: Gatherer says the latter is the case.
#1 • Date: 2017-07-08 • Time: 04:18:23 •

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