Published on 11/27/2017

4, 3, 2, 1!

Cranial Translation
Português (Br) 简体中文 Deutsch Español Français Italiano

Will somebody please cue that bird?
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion, where our American writers are still busy recovering from their food comas, but the rest of us are eagerly anticipating the start of December, the arrival of the holiday season proper, and in just two short weeks the release of the long anticipated third Un-set, Unstable!

It's not time for us to get into Unstable questions quite yet (we rules gurus need some more time to rock quietly in the fetal position while sucking our thumbs and whimpering), but Moko at least is getting into the spirit of things—he's pretty happy that crossbreed labs will finally be providing him with some new friends who understand the difficulties of life...such as it a zombified primate.

If you'd like to contribute to our writers' mental trauma, feel free to send us your rules questions, Un-set or otherwise, at , or perhaps tweet the shorter ones at us @CranialTweet. Once we finish our whimpering you'll get an answer and potentially see your questions in a future article!

But for now, sit right back, kick up your feet, and turn the sound up high as we get into today's rules questions!

Q: I control both Xenagos, God of Revels and Yasova Dragonclaw. Can I have Xenagos boost Yasova's power so I can steal a bigger creature?

A: Unfortunately not. You can have Xenagos's ability resolve before Yasova's, but that's not going to help you, because you need to choose targets for Yasova's ability at the time it's put onto the stack, and that target needs to be legal at that time. Xenagos won't get around to boosting Yasova's power until later, by which point your target has already been chosen.

Once Xenagos's ability has boosted Yasova's power, you could use something like Willbender to change the target to something with more power than you could have targeted initially, but that's probably more effort than it's worth.

Q: Will playing Thief of Blood with Divine Intervention on the board count as removing the last counter, or does it have to be removed by the Intervention's own effect?

A: Thief of Blood removing the last counter from Divine Intervention will end the game in a draw. Unlike something like Thing in the Ice that uses one ability to both remove counters and check the number of counters remaining, Divine Intervention uses two separate abilities, one which removes counters and a second that triggers off of the last counter being removed, no matter how that happens.

Q: Can I aura swap the Arcanum Wings on my creature for an Overwhelming Splendor?

A: You cannot. In order for an exchange to occur, all parts of the exchange must be legal. Aura Swap tries to put the Aura from your hand onto the battlefield attached to the same thing that Arcanum Wings is attached to—in this case, your creature—but Overwhelming Splendor can't legally enchant a creature, so it can't legally be put onto the battlefield attached to one.

Since part of the exchange is illegal and can't happen, none of it can happen.

Q: If I have a Puresteel Paladin, metalcraft, and a Sigil of Distinction in play, is the Sigil's equip cost , or do I still have to remove a counter?

A: Puresteel Paladin doesn't work by changing your Equipments' existing equip costs—instead, it simply adds a second equip ability of its own making. Your Sigil now has two separate equip abilities: one that costs "Remove a charge counter", and one that costs . You can activate whichever of these abilities you like, but personally, I recommend the latter.

They've got more fur
than any turtle ever had!
Q: If I tap Primal Wellspring for mana, then untap it and do it again, then cast a spell using both of that mana, what happens?

A: More copies, that's what! Each activation of Primal Wellspring creates a new delayed trigger that watches for you spending its mana, and waits to trigger accordingly. When you cast your spell, both abilities see that you've spent "their" mana, and trigger accordingly. Each of them will create their own copy of that spell for a grand total of three instances of the spell: one original plus two copies.

Q: If Mairsil, the Pretender exiles Deadeye Navigator does he gain any ability?

A: No, he does not. Deadeye Navigator doesn't naturally have the 'flickering' ability that its soulbond effect grants to it—that ability is only granted to it so long as it's paired with another creature. If it's sitting in exile with a cage counter on it, it definitely can't be paired with anything, so it definitely doesn't have that ability, and therefore has nothing of value to contribute as far as Mairsil is concerned.

Q: If I banded a creature with flying and one without, they could block another flying creature, right?

A: Ah, banding, my old foe...unfortunately, it doesn't do anything like what you want it to do here. Banding does two completely separate things that operate independently of each other, and neither of them allow you to block your opponent's flyers with your non-flying creatures.

Firstly, and most usefully, it means that if a creature with banding is blocking or blocked by some other creature, you decide how that opposing creature assigns its combat damage, ignoring the normal damage assignment order rules and simply dividing damage as you choose among the things that damage can legally be assigned to.

Secondly, it means that if you're attacking (not blocking) with a banding creature, you can 'group' your banding creature(s) together with another creature so that if anything that blocks any of those creatures, all of your creatures in that 'band' become blocked. (Basically, the creatures work together so that if one gets blocked, the other stop to help it out instead of continuing on to try to hit your opponent by themselves.)

You'll notice that I only mentioned how this second part, the 'banding together in groups' thing, applies while attacking. That's because that's the only time it happens—there's no such thing as banding blocking creatures together. Good news for your opponent, and bad news for you—there's no way to use banding to allow your non-flyer to block your opponent's flying creature.

Q: If I cast Madcap Experiment and it finds Platinum Emperion, is there any time when my opponent could do something in response to the damage trigger and still cause me to lose life?

A: None whatsoever. All of the effects of Madcap Experiment, including the damage portion, all happen during the spell's resolution—there is no separate "damage trigger", just multiple separate things that all happen sequentially before the spell is finished resolving. By the time your opponent knows what you're going to get, the spell is already midway through resolving and there's no way for them to interrupt it. By the time they have the opportunity to do things, the Experiment has already dealt all that damage to you, and you've lost a grand total of no life whatsoever. Good for you!

Q: If someone has Exquisite Archangel on the battlefield and their opponent casts Approach of the Second Sun for the second time, would they still lose the game?

A: Their opponent wins the game, which ends it and amounts to much the same thing. While technically they never lost the game while it was still in progress, nothing cares about that distinction. All that matters is that their opponent won the game.

Q: How does Desertion work when it's countering a commander? Does it get put in the command zone, or does the person countering it get it?

A: The person using Desertion gets to put the commander on the battlefield under their control, and there's nothing its owner can do about it. The replacement effect that allows players to put their commander into the command zone instead of going somewhere else only applies if something's trying to put that commander into exile, a hand, a graveyard, or a library. Onto the battlefield is just fine!

Q: Can you redirect an attacking creature with Portal Mage into attacking no one?

A: You cannot—it's not legal for a creature to be attacking "no one", so that's not a legal option when you're reselecting. You have to choose a player or planeswalker that it's legal for that creature to be attacking—meaning a player who's an opponent of its controller, or a planeswalker such a player controls.

Portal Mage isn't particularly useful in two-player games.

Q: I have Shapers' Sanctuary, Spellskite, and another creature. My opponent Path to Exiles my other creature and I use Spellskite to redirect. How many cards do I draw?

A: Two! Your other creature became the target of your opponent's Path to Exile when they initially cast it, which triggered the Sanctuary once, and then your Spellskite became the target of that spell when you redirected it, which triggered the Sanctuary again.

Q: does that mean if I control two Spellskites and a Shapers' Sanctuary, I could just keep bouncing my opponent's spell between my Spellskites to keep drawing cards?

A: Indeed it does! Assuming your opponent's spell only has one target, once a Spellskite has redirected a spell to itself, the other is no longer a target of that spell, and changing the target back will cause it to once again become a target, which will trigger the Sanctuary again. Feel free to keep changing the target of that spell back and forth between your Spellskites for as long as you have the necessary resources to draw as many cards as you like.

Q: Can I cast Archive Trap for after my opponent uses Collected Company?

A: Sadly, no. Looking at some of the cards in your library isn't the same thing as searching it as far as the game's concerned. Archive Trap's discount does not apply unless the effect your opponent is using actually instructs them to "search" their library.

As soon as someone finds the script,
We might begin the show!
Q: I Cast Out my opponent's Bottled Cloister on my turn. If he later gets rid of Cast Out, will he get back the cards he exiled?

A: He will not. As far as the game's concerned, the Bottled Cloister that enters the battlefield once Cast Out goes away is a completely different permanent than the one that was exiled, and since it's a different object, it doesn't know anything about the cards that the previous Cloister exiled.

Q: Hazoret's Undying Fury reveals Sudden Shock and another spell. Can you cast the Sudden Shock first so its split second ability protects the other spell?

A: You can cast Sudden Shock first if you want, but it won't do what you want it to do. Split second makes it so that players can't cast spells (or activate abilities) as long as the spell with it is on the stack, and by casting it, you put it on the stack...which means players can't cast spells any more, including you, and you won't be able to cast the other spell.

If you want to be able to cast your other spell at all, you need to cast that one first, and then cast Sudden Shock. Your opponent will have a chance to respond to the other spell after Sudden Shock resolves, but at least you got to cast it in the first place.

Q: Does Training Grounds affect ninjutsu?

A: It does not. While Ninjutsu is an activated ability and the cards it's printed on are creature cards, those cards aren't on the battlefield when you use the ability, and Training Grounds only reduces the cost of activated abilities from creatures you control on the battlefield.

Q: If I block Rampaging Ferocidon with a lifelink creature and the Ferocidon dies, does lifelink work?

A: It does not. Lifelink works by causing you to gain life as part of the process of damage being dealt, and at the time your creature is dealing damage, the Ferocidon is still on the battlefield stopping you from gaining life. It's only later that the Ferocidon leaves the battlefield, and by that time it's too late—lifelink has already failed to do anything.

Q: If your deck has two commanders with partner, does controlling just one of them activate lieutenant like on Thunderfoot Baloth, or do you need to control them both?

A: You only need one. Both creatures with partner are considered your commander, so when Thunderfoot Baloth asks whether or not you control your commander, it gets a positive answer even if only one of them's on the battlefield.

Q: How do cards with Tempting Offer, like Tempt with Discovery, work in Two-Headed Giant?

A: Not as great as you might expect, since only you and your opponents get to benefit from the offer, not your teammate. First you perform the action, and then each of your two opponents gets to choose whether or not to take the offer. If either of them does, you repeat the action—twice if both of them did. Then you're done; you continue play and your teammate lets out a disappointed sigh at being left out of all the fun.

Q: What happens if I deal 21 commander damage to a player who controls Exquisite Archangel?

A: About the same thing that happens if they get a lethal number of poison counters. The Angel jumps in and gets exiled, resetting their life total to their starting life total...and then they immediately lose the game because the Angel's effect didn't fix the reason they were losing the game in the first place—they still have been dealt 21 damage by a single commander over the course of the game, so they still lose.

Q: If The Scarab God dies, can I put it in my graveyard sideways to remind me to return it to my hand, or is that breaking the rules?

A: You can absolutely do that—there's no rules saying you have to orient the cards in your graveyard in a particular way, so feel free to do whatever makes it easier for you to remember things like that.

However, you should be clear with your opponent just what you're doing and why—many players use turning cards in their graveyards sideways (or upside down, or something else) to indicate that those cards have been exiled. Even if you don't do that yourself, it's best to avoid confusion by communicating with your opponent and being up front about things like that.

That's all we have for this week, but be sure to come back next week for another exciting edition of Cranial Insertion.

But until then, whatever happens, nobody tell Moko that Zombified and Monkey- are both Augment cards so you can't actually make a Zombie Monkey. He gets messy when he's angry.

- 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.

The Commander replacement effect \"only applies if something\'s trying to put that commander into exile, a hand, a graveyard, or a library\". Sure, but before Desertion\'s ability applies, the Commander replacement effect is also available because at that time it\'s trying to replace the card going to the graveyard. And per 616.1, the affected object\'s controller chooses which of several equally applicable replacement effects applies, so I\'d have thought Desertion would lose in this scenario. 616.1a gives priority to effects that change which player controls a permanent as it enters the battlefield, but that part is dependent on it entering the battlefield in the first place.
#1 • Date: 2017-11-27 • Time: 07:28:59 •
Desertion has a self-replacement effect (as described in 614.15) - it's replacing what happens when the spell is countered by Desertion. And you don't apply all replacement effects in any order you want - you go through the steps listed in 616.1a-1d, applying each replacement effect if it applies in that section. 616.1a (which is about self-replacement effects, not effects that modify whose control they enter the battlefield under (that's 616.1b)) is the first one, so we always apply self-replacement effects before other replacement effects (like the commander replacement effect, which applies in 616.1d). By the time we would get around to applying the commander replacement effect, the commander is no longer going to the graveyard, so that replacement effect no longer applies, and they cannot try to move their commander to the command zone instead of the battlefield.
#2 • Date: 2017-11-27 • Time: 14:57:43 •

Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!