Published on 08/07/2017

Hour of Return

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Got everything I need right...why
is my cellphone getting a wifi signal?

...Wait, you're still here? The offices are still here? Moko's still here? What kind of half-baked apocalypse was that, anyway?! Here I spend a month preparing to rebuild civilization on my home plane from scratch, and I come back to this? I spend a full week figuring out the proper way to start a fire with a couple sticks and some string for what? Cell phones and internet access and functional grocery stores, and...and...why was I complaining again?

Well, I suppose I should...get back to writing Cranial Insertion? Moko's making angry "get on with it" gestures, so I guess it's my turn. But I was gone a month, so my next article should have been last week—did everything get put on hold, or did Carsten and Nate cover for me?

Well, regardless, if you have rules questions of your own you'd like us to answer, you can always email them to us by clicking the monkey to the left and emailing us at . For the shorter questions, you can send them to our Twitter account @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer and potentially see your question in a future article.

On to the rules questions!

Q: I was sure that if token is a copy of something, then it copies the mana cost too. But I've read that tokens created by eternalize don't have a mana cost. Was I wrong all the time about the copy tokens or does eternalize work a little different from other copy effects?

A: It works a little differently than most copy effects (as does Embalm, for that matter). You're right that normally a token copy of something has the same mana cost as whatever it's a copy of. However, eternalize (like embalm) doesn't create full-on copies the way that something like Fated Infatuation or Stolen Identity does—instead, it creates a modified copy that differs in a few specific ways from the original, and one of the ways it modifies those copies is by saying that the token doesn't have a mana cost.

Q: What happens if you use The Scarab God to "reanimate" Enigma Drake or some other creature with abilities that determine its power? Do the abilities override the God?

A: No, it will still be a 4/4. In fact, the creature won't even have those power- or toughness-defining abilities. Like Eternalize, The Scarab God makes modifications to the creature cards it copies as part of the process, and one of those modifications is that it makes it a 4/4.

Since this modification means the creature's power and toughness is already defined, the effect will completely ignore the parts of the original card that were used to define those values, whether that's the normal power and toughness box or some separate characteristic-defining abilities in the text box—they aren't copied over to the token at all.

Note that this only applies to abilities that straight-up define the creature's power or toughness—abilities which only modify the creature's printed power or toughness are still copied.

Q: ...What about using it on a Clone? If I reanimate Clone with The Scarab God and copy something, what would the Clone look like?

A: It will be a normal copy of whatever you chose to copy as the token was created. As described above, when making tokens The Scarab God makes a bunch of exceptions to change what the copies look like. Clone's copying ability on the other hand, makes no exceptions—it faithfully copies everything, without making any changes.

The Scarab God starts out creating a modified copy of Clone—one that's a 4/4 black Zombie. But since it's a copy of Clone, that means it has Clone's copy ability, and you need to apply that ability before the token can enter the battlefield. Once you do so, the copy effect it creates overwrites all of the token's characteristics, including the modifications made by The Scarab God. End result? A perfect, unaltered copy of whatever you chose to copy with the Clone effect.

Q: I cast Rise from the Grave on my opponent's Golgari Grave-Troll. Does it get counters for the creatures in my graveyard, or my opponent's?

A: Yours. Since Golgari Grave-Troll is entering the battlefield, the game needs to figure out how to apply its replacement effect, and in order to do so it checks what the Troll would look like if it was on the battlefield.

Since you're the one putting Golgari Grave-Troll onto the battlefield, if it was on the battlefield it would be under your control. And since you'll be controlling it, you're the player whose graveyard the ability needs to check.

I was expecting something more like this.
Q: If a player's drawing their deck with Ad Nauseam (and Phyrexian Unlife on the table so they don't die), can their life total go negative, or does it stop at 0?

A: Their life total can indeed (and probably will) fall below 0. A player can have a negative life total just fine—they just normally die from it.

Q: My opponent goes off with Phyrexian Unlife and Ad Nauseam and casts Lightning Storm, boosting it to lethal with more lands left in hand. In response, I Abrupt Decay the Unlife. If my opponent responds by pitching another land to Lightning Storm to add another charge counter, does that move it to the top of the stack, or will my Decay still resolve first, destroying the Unlife and killing them?

A: Your Decay will still resolve first. When a player activates Lightning Storm's ability, that ability goes onto the top of the stack like anything else that uses the stack, and will therefore resolve before your Decay, but neither activating the ability nor adding counters and changing the Storm's target will affect the position of Lightning Storm itself on the stack. It's still stuck below your Abrupt Decay, so your opponent will die before it can resolve.

Q: I cast Bontu's Last Reckoning, and still have lands left untapped. If I use those lands to cast an instant on my opponents turn, will they untap on my next turn?

A: No, they won't. Bontu's Last Reckoning doesn't care which lands were tapped in order to cast it, or whether any were left untapped at the time it resolved. It simply sets up an effect that prevents your lands (all of them) from untapping during your next untap step, and it'll be applied to whatever lands you happen to control at the appropriate time—none of them will untap.

Q: My opponent's Terastodon destroys my Parallel Lives, among other things. Do I get double the number of Elephants for it?

A: No, you won't. Terastodon destroys the targeted permanents before it attempts to make tokens, so by the time it's trying to give you an Elephant token, Parallel Lives is already gone, so it can't double that token.

Q: Will cards like Magma Spray or Anger of the Gods still exile my opponent's creatures when I have a Soul-Scar Mage out?

A: Those two cards actually work differently in this regard—Magma Spray will still exile things, but Anger of the Gods won't.

Soul-Scar Mage replaces dealing damage to your opponent's creatures with putting counters on those creatures instead. Since all the damage is replaced, this means that no damage ever gets dealt to those creatures. Anger of the Gods can only exile creatures it manages to deal damage to, so no damage, no exile.

Magma Spray, on the other hand, attempts to deal damage to a specific creature, and then tells you to exile that particular creature if it's going to die later—it doesn't recheck to see whether or not damage was dealt.

Q: Is exerting a creature something that Pithing Needle can stop?

A: Exerting isn't an ability in itself—it's simply an action you can perform on a creature, like tapping it.

Some cards use exerting the creature as part of the cost of activating an ability, and Pithing Needle can stop those (if they're not mana abilities), but that has nothing to do with the exert and everything to do with the fact that it's an activated ability. Other cards may use exert in other ways that don't involve activated abilities, and Pithing Needle does nothing against cards like that.

Q: What happens if I steal Approach of the Second Sun with Gonti, Lord of Luxury and cast it from exile? Does it go into their graveyard?

A: No, because you'll have put it into its owner's library seventh from the top and gained 7 life.

You didn't cast the Approach from your hand, so the first part of the spell, the win-the-game check, will fail. That causes the "otherwise" portion of the spell to kick in, so you follow its instructions. After that, it would go to its owner's graveyard...if it hadn't already been moved away from the stack into your opponent's library.

Q: I attack with Champion of Rhonas and exert, getting out Samut, Voice of Dissent. Can Samut also attack since it has haste?

A: No, it cannot. You only get to declare attackers once during combat, as the declare attackers step begins. That's already happened, so you don't get another chance to declare additional attackers, even if new creatures enter the battlefield, and even if they have haste.

If you used a card like Combat Celebrant to gain an additional combat phase, Samut could attack during the second, since that time it'll be around for the declaration of attackers. But it missed the boat this time.

Q: I was reading the rules for the cleanup step, and they say that the player discards down to their max hand size "first", and "second", damage disappears and "until end of turn" effects wear off. So...if I used Mirage Mirror to copy my opponent's Reliquary Tower, could I keep a hand with more than 7 cards in it?

A: Indeed you could! For the one turn, anyway—if you want to keep it on your next turn you'll have the change the Mirror into the Tower again then, and again on your next, and so on, which might get a bit annoying.

This happens because the game only checks your hand size during that one check to have you discard down to the maximum, and at that time, you controlled a Reliquary Tower, so you were fine.

I guess I can live with this.
If I must.
Q: How does Grenzo, Dungeon Warden work with Rest in Peace?

A: Just fine, interestingly enough.

Grenzo instructs you to move the bottom card of your library, and then says "Hey, remember that card you just moved? Put it on the battlefield if it's a creature." So, you do. Nothing says you should care that the card ended up somewhere other than the graveyard, so you don't.

Q: I have Panharmonicon out, and cast Metallic Mimic. Do I choose 2 different creature types?

A: Afraid not. Metallic Mimic's choose-a-creature-type ability is not a triggered ability, so it won't get doubled by Panharmonicon. Instead, it's a static replacement that affects the manner in which you put the Mimic onto the battlefield.

Q: If I bring back Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign with Hour of Eternity, does the token trigger its ETB ability?

A: It does; this is because Unesh specifies it triggers when Unesh or another Sphinx enters the battlefield—in other words, it doesn't care whether or not Unesh is itself a Sphinx, just that it's entering.

Q: I exile a bunch of cards for Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge, including a Mind Grind. What happens?

A: Well, I hope you like not-casting Mind Grind, because you're likely to be doing a lot of it.

If you're casting a spell with X in its mana cost without paying its mana cost, the way Jeleva lets you, the only legal choice you can make for the value of X is 0. Unfortunately, Mind Grind itself specifies that you aren't allowed to choose an X of 0 for it either.

So you can't choose 0, and you can't choose anything that's not 0, so you can't choose anything at all. And if you can't choose a value for X, you can't cast Mind Grind. You'll have to content yourself with all the other spells you managed to exile.

Q: Can you cast cards with typecycling from your graveyard using Abandoned Sarcophagus, or only regular cycling cards?

A: Typecycling is a special subset of cycling—it's still cycling, so you can use Abandoned Sarcophagus to cast cards with it from your graveyard just fine. (And it'll also exile such cards if they're going to your graveyard without having been cycled.)

Q: Will Insectile Aberration count towards my devotion for Thassa, God of the Sea?

A: It will not. While Insectile Aberration does have a converted mana cost based on the mana cost of its front face (Delver of Secrets), it doesn't actually have that mana cost itself, and without a mana cost, it can't possibly have any mana symbols in that mana cost to count towards devotion.

Q: If I play Dash Hopes in multiplayer, how is the choice to pay life or not made? Who decides first?

A: Starting with the player whose turn it is and proceeding in turn order from there, each player decides whether or not to pay life. Once all players have made their decision, the payments (if any) are made, and the spell is (potentially) countered.

This means two things, one of them relevant, the other far less so. First, each player only gets to know whether or not the players before them will pay before making their own decision—they don't get to know whether the players after them are willing to pay, and can't change their decision once they've made it.

And second, players can still decide to pay life even if somebody else has already decided to do so. This won't usually come up, but for the three of you readers thinking this could be useful in a Death's Shadow-based deck, go nuts.

Q: I goad a creature with Jeering Homunculus, but die before my next turn. Since I never get a "next turn", does that mean the goaded creature has to attack each combat for the rest of the game?

A: Nope, just until the start of the turn that would have come directly after yours. If a player has left the game, anything that's scheduled to last until that player's next turn—or until some part of their next turn—will only last until that turn would have begun, had that player still been involved in the game.

Well, that's it from me for today! Be sure to come back next week when Carsten will be back with another exciting edition of...what's that, Moko? What's this about Charlotte? Are we doing some sort of crossover with her Tumblr? What are you...

...She's writing for Cranial Insertion now, too?

Why am I always the last to know these things?!

- 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.


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