Published on 09/11/2017

Mixed Mailbag Madness!

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Ugh... what happened?
Right, where was I? Teferi's Protection will allow you to...
What? It's been three weeks? Ugh. Stupid phasing... I guess I had better answer some new questions, then, before all this mail gets too deep to wade through...

If we didn't answer your question here, you can still contact us with your questions. If you have a short question, you can Tweet us at @CranialTweet. But if you have a longer question, feel free to e-mail us at

Q: I control Lifeline, a green creature and a white creature. My opponent controls Spreading Plague. If I cast another green creature, then wouldn't Lifeline/Spreading Plague cause an infinite loop?

A: Not quite, or at least not all at once.
When your new green creature enters the battlefield, Spreading Plague will trigger and destroy all other green creatures on the battlefield. Lifeline will also trigger, but its trigger won't return the creature to the battlefield until the beginning of the next end step. When that happens, Spreading Plague will trigger again and destroy the other green creature but that creature won't be returned to the battlefield by Lifeline until the beginning of the next end step. Since we're already in the end step, this means it won't come back until the next turn's end step.

Q: How does Mairsil, the Pretender handle abilities like Arcanis the Omnipotent's bounce effect which use the creature's name and not "this creature"?

A: Mairsil can use those abilities just fine. When a card refers to itself by name, it just means itself and not any other card with the same name. In the case of Mairsil or other effects that copy abilities to other cards, they work the same with Mairsil's name substituted for Arcanis's in the appropriate places. (Quicksilver Elemental actually has reminder text about this. Useful reminder text. Wow!)
Note that this isn't the case for cards that actually look for cards with specific names, such as Squadron Hawk or cards with Grandeur abilities.

Q: If my Gonti, Lord of Luxury exiles a card and I have Inspiring Statuary on the battlefield, can I use improvise to cast that card?

A: As long as the exiled card isn't an artifact card, then it will have improvise from Inspiring Statuary when you cast it. Just remember that improvise can only pay generic costs and not any colored cost.

Q: Hi there! Question on Inalla, Archmage Ritualist: If a creature (e.g. Clever Impersonator enters the battlefield as a copy of a wizard, do I have the option to pay the 1 mana to create a copy via Inalla? If so, would that copy enter as whatever the original Impersonator copied, or as a copy of the Impersonator and hence get to copy something else?

A: Clever Impersonator enters the battlefield as a copy of that wizard and will trigger Inalla's eminence ability. When you pay 1 to make a copy of it, you'll get a copy of the same wizard since Inalla looks at how the wizard looks once all copy effects have been applied.

Don't mind me...
Q: Why doesn't Alms Collector do anything when my opponent resolves Reach Through Mists with Evermind spliced onto it? Why is this different from how it works with Divination? Isn't my opponent drawing two cards in both cases?

A: When a card is spliced onto another spell, its text is copied to the end of that spell's text. This means that Reach Through Mists's text says "Draw a card. Draw a card." Since these are two separate draws, Alms Collector doesn't apply its replacement effect here. Alms Collector does apply to Divination because it's specifically instructing your opponent to draw multiple cards as a single action rather than two separate actions. Yes, your opponent is drawing two cards in both cases, but Alms Collector only cares about instructions to actually draw multiple cards in the same action.

Q: I control Dryad Arbor and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. My opponent enchants Dryad Arbor with Spreading Seas. Later on, they play Blood Moon. What has all happened to my Dryad Arbor and what is the end result?

A: Dryad Arbor starts off as a Land Creature - Forest Dryad.
Urborg adds the Swamp subtype, making it a Land Creature - Forest Swamp Dryad.
Spreading Seas overwrites its land subtypes, making it a Land Creature - Island Dryad.
Blood Moon also overwrites its land subtypes, leaving it finally as a Land Creature - Mountain Dryad.
In all of these cases, it's always green and always a creature.
The color(s) of mana it can produce are determined by its basic land types.

Q: If I return a Puppeteer Clique to the battlefield with Apprentice Necromancer, what happens at the end of turn?

A: At the beginning of your end step, you'll exile whatever creature you returned to the battlefield with Puppeteer Clique, but that's not the part you're asking about, right? You'll also sacrifice Puppeteer Clique itself, which will trigger its Persist ability. When the persist trigger resolves, you'll return Puppeteer Clique to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter on it. Its other trigger will trigger and return a creature from your opponent's graveyard to the battlefield under your control. You won't have to exile that creature until your next end step, which will be on your next turn.

Q: My opponent attacks me and I respond turning the attacking creature into an artifact with Memnarch. After that ability resolves, I steal the creature with Memnarch's other ability. Is this a legal move and does this stop the creature from attacking?

A: Yes, this is legal. There are no timing restrictions on when you can activate Memnarch's abilities, so you can activate them any time you have priority and sufficient mana.
Yes, this stops the creature from attacking. When a creature changes controllers in the middle of combat, it stops being an attacking or blocking creature. (This would also work if you stole a planeswalker that was being attacked. The planeswalker would be removed from combat even though the creatures that attacked it would be still be attacking.)

Q: If I cast Fractured Identity on someone's commander does everyone else still get the token even if the commander goes to the command zone instead of going to exile?

A: Yes. Fractured Identity will always create tokens so long as its target is legal when it starts to resolve. It doesn't matter whether or not the card goes to exile or another zone.

Q: What happens when I control two Pia's Revolutions and a non-token artifact goes to my graveyard?

A: When a non-token artifact goes to your graveyard, both copies of Pia's Revolution will trigger. Your opponent will get the option to take 3 damage or return the card to your hand for each of the triggers.

If your opponent chooses to have the artifact return to your hand when the first trigger resolves, the second trigger will still resolve normally but there would then be no reason for your opponent to then choose to take the damage.

So what this boils down to in all sensible iterations is that your opponent either gives you back your artifact or takes 6 damage to have it stay in the graveyard.

Q: If I have a Words of Wilding in play with a Sylvan Library and I pay to turn the card draws into bears, would I still have to pay the life for some reason?

A: It depends on how many of the draws you're replacing. If you activate Words of Wilding three times, you'll replace your draw for the turn and both draws from Sylvan Library. When Sylvan Library's trigger resolves, you won't be able to choose any cards in your hand that you've drawn this turn and so you won't have to deal with paying life or putting cards back on top of your library. If you replace only one or two draws, then you're still drawing some cards and will have to pay life for those cards when Sylvan Library's trigger resolves.

Q: If I cast a card like Electrolyze targeting my opponent with 1 life while having no cards in my library, does my opponent lose before I lose from trying to draw from an empty library?

A: When Electrolyze resolves, your opponent will go to 0 life and you'll be unable to draw a card from your library. Neither of you lose just yet though. After Electrolyze goes to your graveyard, state-based actions are checked and the game will see that both you and your opponent should lose the game. However, since all players would lose the game simultaneously, the game will be a draw.

Q: My friend has Athreos, God of Passage on the battlefield, as well as another creature. On my turn, I cast Patron of the Vein and targeting his non-Athreos creature with its trigger. What happens as far as Patron's exile trigger versus Athreos's trigger?

A: When Patron's trigger destroys the creature, both its ability and Athreos's ability will trigger. Patron of the Vein's trigger goes on the stack first, since it's your turn, and then Athreos's trigger goes on the stack above it. When Athreos's trigger resolves, you can either pay life to keep the creature in the graveyard or you can let it return to your opponent's hand. No matter which option you choose Patron of the Vein's trigger will still resolve and do as much as it can. Even if you let the creature card return to your opponent's hand, Patron of the Vein will give all of your vampires a +1/+1 counter.

Approach with caution.
Q: I attack with Taigam, Ojutai Master and then cast Approach of the Second Sun after combat (for the first time). Where does Approach go? Exile? Seventh from the top?

A: The second sun will follow its usual course and set itself as the seventh card down in your library. Rebound's exile replacement effect exiles cards instead of letting them go to the graveyard as normal at the end of their resolution, so spells that move themselves as part of their own resolution can never benefit from rebound.

Q: Are triggered abilities put onto the stack right away, or when the controller of the triggered ability gains priority? And can they stack something, like an instant, first? Or does the trigger go on the stack, then they can play instants?

A: When a triggered ability triggers, it waits to go on the stack until the next time a player would receive priority. Note that this is the next time any player gets priority, not just the trigger's controller. Before that player gets priority, state-based actions are first checked and then all pending triggered abilities are put on the stack. First, the active player will put their triggered abilities on the stack, followed by the next player in turn order, and so on. There is no way to cast a spell or activate an ability before triggers go on the stack this way.

Q: Is there any interaction between Blood Moon and Crumble to Dust? I'm pretty sure I can still target lands even with a Blood Moon on the field but I don't know how to explain that to someone that thinks I'm lying.

A: Blood Moon doesn't make non-basic lands into basic lands, no matter what the original printing from The Dark might say. The affected lands are still non-basic and still have their own names. Crumble to Dust will have the same effect it would normally have whether or not Blood Moon is on the battlefield.

Q: If I have Ojutai, Soul of Winter in play and I attack with a different dragon, can I tap a creature with protection from white? Does it matter if the attacking dragon is white?

A: No, Ojutai's attack trigger can never target a creature with protection from white. Ojutai is the source of the trigger, even if Ojutai isn't the attacking dragon, and so the ability can't target any nonland permanent with protection from any of Ojutai's characteristics.

Q: Earlier in a game I cast Ixidron, which turned 2 creatures face down. It dies. Later I use Soul Separator to exile Ixidron and create the spirit and zombie tokens. The ETB trigger on the spirit token turns 5 more creatures face down. What's the P/T of these tokens?

A: The spirit token copy of Ixidron doesn't have its P/T-defining ability and is just a 1/1. When an effect copies something "except" for some quality, then any characteristic-defining abilities for that quality aren't copied.

The zombie token will be 2/2 since that was Ixidron's P/T as it last existed in the graveyard, as there were two face-down creatures on the battlefield at that time. The zombie token doesn't get Ixidron's variable P/T either, since Soul Separator just looks at its value at the time the card was exiled rather than actually copying that characteristic.

Q: If something is allowing me to remain in the game while having negative life, does Angel's Grace bring me up to 1 life when I'm damaged?

A: No. If your life total is already below 1, the last part of Angel's Grace's text doesn't do anything. This sort of effect changes the results of damage with respect to changing your life total, but it can only cause you to not lose some life. It can't make you gain life.

Q: With Ink-Treader Nephilim, if I cast two instants targeting Ink-Treader, can I resolve the copies in any order or do they need to be cast in the order of the original spells?

A: When a spell is cast that targets on Ink-Treader Nephilim, its ability triggers. When the trigger resolves, copies of the spell are created for all other creatures the spell could target. Those copies go on the stack in the order of Ink-Treader Nephilim's controller's choice. The original spell which targets Ink-Treader Nephilim will always resolve last after all other copies of the spell.

If you want to cast another instant spell targeting Ink-Treader Nephilim at roughly the same time, you have a few options:

- You could cast it in response to the trigger, in which case the new spell and its trigger go on the stack above the first spell and its trigger. This results in all the copies of the new spell resolving first, then the new spell itself, then the copies of the first spell, followed by the first spell itself.
- You could allow Ink-Treader Nephilim's trigger and some of the copies from the trigger to resolve first. If you do this, then the copies of the new spell and the new spell itself will resolve before any more copies of the original spell resolve.
- There is no way to otherwise mix up the order in which the spells and their copies resolve. For example, there's no way to have a copy of the second spell resolve, then a copy of the first spell, then a copy of the second spell, etc.

Confused? Yeah, it's a bit confusing.

Let's look at an example: You control Ink-Treader Nephilim and three Gremlin tokens. Your opponent controls three Wolf tokens. You cast Annihilate targeting Ink-Treader Nephilim. When the trigger resolves, you put all of the copies that target your opponent's Wolves on the stack above the copies that target your Gremlins. You then allow the copies that target the Wolves to resolves one at a time, destroying the Wolves and drawing 3 cards. Once the last Wolf is destroyed, you cast Renegade's Getaway targeting Ink-Treader Nephilim. Its trigger will resolve and create copies of the spell targeting your Gremlins. After all of the Renegade's Getaways have resolved, you'll have an indestructible Nephilim, three indestructible Gremlins, and four new Servos. Finally, the remaining copies of Annihilate will resolve. They won't be able to destroy the Gremlins or Nephilim, but you'll still draw a card for each of them.

OK, good. I think I can see a bit of the floor finally, so I guess that means it's time for me to sign off. Carsten will be with you next week to answer more of your questions. For now, I need to get home and make sure I didn't leave the stove on... 3 weeks ago...

There is usually a dependency between Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Blood Moon because Blood Moon's effect makes Urborg's effect cease to exist. So Urborg's effect has to wait until Blood Moon's effect is applied and then Urborg's effect is gone and doesn't apply at all.

What does make this dependency disappear in your example ? Spreading Seas ? Why ? How ?

Thanks ;)
#1 • Date: 2017-09-11 • Time: 11:54:06 •
@Solaris84: It still exists, but since Blood Moon has the later timestamp here anyway, it wasn't worth mentioning.
#2 • Date: 2017-09-12 • Time: 00:03:11 •
1. How do I know what P/T Ixidron was, when it first died? I mean in real life your opponent might disagree and you most likely did not write it down. How is this solved?

2. Why isn't the land still a Swamp, when enchanted with Spreading Seas? Timestamp or Layers?
#3 • Date: 2017-09-13 • Time: 05:36:29 •
1. Ixidron's power and toughness is always equal to the number of face down creatures on the battlefield, even when it's in the graveyard. It's last known P/T is however many face-down creatures were on the battlefield when Soul Separator exiled it from the graveyard.
2. It's just timestamps. Spreading Seas is newer and overwrites previous type-setting effects.
#4 • Date: 2017-09-13 • Time: 06:59:40 •
Ah thnx, I misread that answer to the Ixidron question
#5 • Date: 2017-09-14 • Time: 01:16:45 •

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