Published on 11/20/2017

A Thankful Year

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

What a touching moment.
Hi everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! This week, for those of us in the US, we're celebrating Thanksgiving, and as Magic players, we have a lot to be thankful for this year. We got to see Chandra reunited with her mom; we got some hints of whatever Nicol Bolas is planning; and we also got DINOSAURS! Yep, we as Magic players have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Remember, if you have a rules question, you can send it in to us at Cranial Insertion. You might even use your question used in a future article. If you have a short question, you can send us a tweet at @CranialTweet. And if you have a longer question, you can e-mail us at . And now, onto the questions!

Q: Can I use March of the Drowned to return Wings of Velis Vel to my hand?

A: You sure can. The second mode of the March lets you return up to two Pirate cards from your graveyard to your hand. It doesn't say a "Pirate creature card", so the Wings - which is all creature types in all zones thanks to changeling - can be targeted and returned to your hand by the March.

Q: Will playing a land cause Deeproot Champion's ability to trigger?

A: No, it will not. Playing a land is not casting a spell (even if you're playing a land with multiple types, like Great Furnace or Dryad Arbor). Since you're not casting a spell, the Champion's ability will not trigger and it will not get a counter.

Q: I have a Sphinx of the Final Word in play, and I cycle Censor to draw a card. My opponent tries to counter the ability with Disallow. Can they do that?

A: Yep, they can do that and counter the ability. The Sphinx says your instant and sorcery spells can't be countered by spells or abilities, but cycling is an activated ability, not a spell. Even if the source of the trigger is an instant or sorcery card, the ability on the stack is not a spell, so the Sphinx won't protect it. Your opponent can Disallow the activated ability from Censor to stop you from drawing a card.

Q: My opponent has an annoying Kor Firewalker in play. Can I cast Skullcrack, then cast Lightning Bolt on the Firewalker to kill it?

A: Nope, that plan doesn't work. While Skullcrack will make it so damage can't be prevented this turn (turning off that part of protection), it won't negate the part of protection that prevents it from being targeted by spells or abilities of that type. While you can't cast the Bolt targeting the Firewalker, you could use some red spell that doesn't target (for example, Pyroclasm) to deal damage to the Firewalker, and since damage can't be prevented, the Firewalker would take damage from the spell and would die.

Q: My opponent cast Day of the Dragons, exiling their creatures and getting some dragon tokens in return. On my turn, I cast Zealous Conscripts, gaining control of my opponent's Day of the Dragons, then I destroy it with a Disenchant. What happens to the exiled creatures?

A: You get them! Since you controlled the Day when it left the battlefield, you control the Day's leave the battlefield trigger. And the Day doesn't say to return it under their owner's control - they're returned under your control, and "you" in that case is the player that controls the leave the battlefield trigger. While it won't do anything to your opponent's Dragon tokens (and if you have any Dragons of your own, you'll have to sacrifice them), you will get all of the creatures that your opponent exiled to Day of the Dragons.

Q: I have a hand full of cards, and I cast Malfegor. But I want to keep some of the cards in my hand. Do I really have to discard all of them?

A: Yep, I'm afraid you do. Malfegor's trigger instructs you to discard your hand, which means you need to discard all of the cards in your hand. This ability isn't optional, and you can't choose to not discard some cards, so even if you're sitting there with seven cards in your hand and your opponent has a single creature, you'll have to discard all seven of those cards to Malfegor's trigger.

Q: I have an Aether Vial in play with three counters on it. I tap and activate the Vial's ability, but in response, my opponent destroys the Vial with a Disenchant. Do I still get to put a creature card onto the battlefield?

A: Yes, you still get that chance. When the Vial's ability resolves, it checks to see how many counters are on it to determine the converted mana cost of the creature you get to put onto the battlefield. But if the Vial isn't on the battlefield, it will use the last-known information about the Vial to determine how many counters were on it. When the Vial was last on the battlefield, it had three counters on it, so you'll be able to put a creature card with a converted mana cost of three onto the battlefield.

He sure taught the Gatewatch a lesson.

Q: Can a single Staggershock kill a 4/4 creature by itself?

A: Nope, it cannot. While you can Staggershock at the end of your opponent's turn, during the cleanup step of that turn, all of the damage marked on it will be removed. There's no way to carry over that damage to another turn, and since rebound triggers at the beginning of your next upkeep, without help from another card (I would suggest Paradox Haze, and casting Staggershock during your first upkeep to rebound during your second upkeep), a single Staggershock isn't enough to kill a 4/4.

Q: I have a Burrenton Forge-Tender in play, and my opponent casts Swords to Plowshares targeting it. Can I sacrifice it in response, even if there's no red sources threatening to damage me?

A: Yes you can! The Forge-Tender's ability doesn't target, you just choose a red source when the ability resolves. Even if there are no red spells or creatures threatening to deal damage to you right now, you can still sacrifice it to activate the ability. You can even sacrifice it even if there are no red sources to choose (in which case, you'll simply choose nothing when the ability resolves).

Q: In the above case, could I choose the Lightning Helix that's in their hand as the source of damage?

A: Nope, you can't do that. If you're asked to choose a source, you have to choose (in general) a permanent on the battlefield or a spell or ability on the stack. You can't choose something that's in a hidden zone, like the hand. Even if you know for sure that the last card in their hand is a Lightning Helix and that they're planning on casting it, you can't choose it as a source of damage.

Q: It's the beginning of my end step, and I have an Angelic Accord in play, and I've gained a total of 8 life this turn. Will I get two Angel tokens?

A: No you will not. The Accord just checks to see if you've gained at least 4 life this turn. If you've gained at least 4 life, the Accord will trigger and you'll get an Angel token. But it only triggers at most once per turn - it doesn't care if you've gained 8 life, or 12 life. Since you gained at least 4 life this turn, you'll get one token, but you won't get more tokens if you've gain multiples of 4 life this turn.

Q: My opponent has some cards in their hand, and during their end step, I flash in Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. Do they immediately have to discard their hand?

A: Not quite immediately, but close to it. If you flash in Jin-Gitaxias during their end step, their maximum hand size will drop by seven, and during the next step (the cleanup step), they'll have to discard down to their maximum hand size - and barring any other effects, that means they'll have to discard their entire hand. They do get priority after Jin-Gitaxias resolves and enters the battlefield, so they can still cast instants, cards with flash, or activate abilities before they move on to the cleanup step. But unless they can get rid of Jin-Gitaxias, anything left in their hand will end up discarded..

Q: I have a Dragon Tempest in play, and I cast Acid-Spewer Dragon. If I target my opponent's Blazing Archon with the Tempest's trigger, will the Archon die?

A: Yes it will! That's because while the trigger is from the Tempest, the dragon that just entered the battlefield is dealing the damage, not the Tempest. Since Acid-Spewer Dragon has deathtouch, any amount of damage it deals will destroy the creature. Even if Acid-Spewing Dragon is your only dragon, that damage is going to be enough to destroy the Archon.

Q: I have a Necropotence in play, and I cycled Fade from Memory. Do I still get to draw a card?

A: Yes you do. While Necropotence will trigger when you cycle Fade from Memory (since you discarded a card) and will exile it, the ability on the stack doesn't care what happened to the Memory after you cycled it. The cycling ability will still resolve like normal and you'll still draw a card.

Admit it. You thought this was going to be a dinosaur.

Q: I cast Animate Dead targeting a creature, but my opponent countered the enters the battlefield trigger of Animate Dead with Stifle. What happens to my Animate Dead?

A: Not much. Animate Dead is still attached to a creature card in the graveyard, since the trigger never resolved. At that point, the Dead isn't really doing anything - it's attached to that card, but still on the battlefield. Since it's still attached, it won't go to the graveyard, but it's not really doing anything else right now (think of it like an Oblivion Ring that exiled a token. That token no longer exists, and won't return when the Ring leaves play, but in the meantime, the Ring stays on the battlefield, without another purpose).

Q: Is that creature card in the graveyard getting -1/-0? If so, my Alesha, Who Smiles at Death deck just got a lot trickier.

A: Nope, when I said the Dead wasn't doing anything, I really meant doing nothing. The Dead says that the enchanted creature gets -1/-0, but we don't have an enchanted creature in this scenario - we have an enchanted creature *card*. "Creatures" only exist on the battlefield - on the stack, they're creature spells, and everywhere else (including the graveyard) they're creature cards. Since the creature is in the graveyard, not the battlefield, it's not getting -1/-0 from the Dead.

Q: I attack with a Phantom Tiger that has two +1/+1 counters on it, and my opponent blocks with two 1/1 tokens. How many counters does my Tiger lose?

A: Just one counter is removed. This is similar to the enrage mechanic from Ixalan. Even though the damage is being deal from multiple sources, all of the damage is happening at the same time. The Tiger's ability doesn't care how many sources are dealing damage to it, just that it's being dealt damage, so the two damage from the two 1/1s will be prevented and the Tiger will lose one counter, not two.

Q: My opponent enchanted my commander with Song of the Dryads. Can I use the ability of Devout Harpist to destroy the Song?

A: No you cannot. The Oracle text of the Harpist makes this much clearer: "Destroy target Aura attached to a creature". The Song is attached to a permanent, but it makes that permanent into a land and no longer a creature. Since the Song is an aura attached to a land, not an aura attached to a creature, you won't be able to destroy the Song with the Harpist's ability.

Q: I enchant my opponent with Curse of Predation, then I attack them with a creature. Does it get the counter before damage is dealt or after damage is dealt?

A: Before damage is dealt. The Curse triggers when a creature attacks the enchanted player, so that trigger goes on the stack and resolves during the declare attackers step. That means your creature gets the counter before blockers are even declared, so your creature will deal extra damage in combat.

Q: My local judge said that I've accumulated a lot of warnings in the tournaments he's judged, and now I'm worried. Is there a way to check my warning history?

A: No, there's no way, but don't worry, this actually isn't a big deal. There's no public way to check how many warnings you've received over the course of your Magic career - and outside of people at Wizards and a group that discusses disqualifications, no one else can access that information either. Unless your local judge is keeping track of the warnings themselves, they actually don't have a way of knowing how many warnings you've received over your Magic career.

But don't panic! Warnings are not a huge deal in the long run. They're mostly used to track when things go wrong in the game, and while some penalties can be upgraded if you've received the same penalty multiple times in a tournament, you start fresh each tournament. It doesn't matter if you got a warning in your last 5 tournaments, they won't affect a penalty you'll receive in your next tournament.

Well, that's it for this week. We'll see you all next week!

The second mode for March of the Drowned returns exactly two pirate cards, so wouldn't you need a second legal target to get Wings of Velis Vel?
#1 • Date: 2017-11-20 • Time: 01:29:34 •
"Wings of Velis Vel" is misspelled; link is broken.
#2 • Date: 2017-11-20 • Time: 12:17:45 •
Re Animate Dead stuck on a creature in a graveyard, I think it still would give it -1/-0? Sure, it says "enchant creature" but that isn't a restriction, I thought... it still means whatever it happens to be enchanting.

Same way that, say, Durable Handicraft is still able to put +1/+1 counters on "that creature" even if it's not actually a creature when the ability resolves for some reason.

That's how I read 303.4k, anyway. Am I reading it wrong?
#3 • Date: 2017-11-21 • Time: 09:43:31 •
Even if you could choose Lightning Helix in a hand as a source of damage (e.g. if it's revealed), it wouldn't have any effect because when that card actually deals damage it's on the stack, where it's a new object and thus a different source.
#4 • Date: 2017-11-27 • Time: 06:20:25 •

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