Published on 12/11/2017

Quiz Wars

Episode VIII: The Last Quiz

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

May the Force be with you.
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! There is a lot to celebrate: The holidays are drawing near, Unstable has been released into the wild, and a popular movie franchise is releasing its next installment in a few days. As an early holiday gift, we give you a special quiz episode so that you can test your knowledge while you read along. As to the title, of course this is not our last quiz ever, but with only a few weeks to go, it's safe to say that this is our last quiz of the year.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please feel free to email us at or tweet questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will reply with an answer, and your question might appear in a future article, possible alongside a thinly veiled pop culture reference.

And now, without further ado, let's dive into today's quiz. Good luck!

Q: Which of these things are impossible?

A: The choices are...

A: Tapping a tapped permanent
B: Untapping an untapped permanent
C: Paying the mana cost of a card that has no mana cost
D: Drawing from an empty library
E: Eating just one potato chip

The answer is
All except D.

Drawing from an empty library seems on the surface like it would be impossible, and it is physically impossible to do, but since forcing a player to draw from an empty library is a popular alternative win condition, the game defines it as a possible action so that a player can attempt to do it and lose the game.

Tapping a tapped permanent and untapping an untapped permanent are impossible actions due to how "tap" and "untap" are defined in the rules. Although many cards like Drowner of Secrets include the word "untapped" for clarity, this word is not necessary for how the card works. "Tap a Merfolk you control" is functionally identical to "Tap an untapped Merfolk you control", but it is a lot clearer to players who aren't familiar with the exact definition of "tap".

Finally, an empty mana cost is defined as an unpayable cost, which keeps you from doing ridiculous things like flat-out casting Ancestral Vision for nothing.

Q: Which mode of Oddly Uneven destroys a creature that's equipped with Spy Kit?

A: The choices are...

A: The odd mode
B: The even mode
C: Either mode
D: Neither mode
E: I can't even.

The answer is

Spy Kit gives the creature multiple names rather than combining all existing names of nonlegendary creatures into one super mega name. Some of those names have an odd number of words, like Ornithopter, and some have an even number of words, like Serra Angel. The chosen mode of Oddly Uneven checks each of those names individually, so regardless of which mode you choose, the creature is guaranteed to match.

Q: Where does a Contraption go when it is hit with Time Out?

A: The choices are...

A: Into the library
B: Into the graveyard
C: Into the contraption deck
D: Into the scrapyard
E: Into the absolutely-removed-from-the-freaking-game-forever zone

The answer is

In order to keep things from getting too wacky, whatever that means in the world of silver-bordered cards, Contraptions have a handy rule associated with them: If a Contraption would leave the battlefield for any zone other than the exile zone, it goes to the scrapyard instead.

Look at the size of that thing!
Q: Which of these abilities can Modular Monstrosity gain?

A: The choices are...

A: Enrage
B: Suspend
C: Deathtouch
D: Undeathtouch
E: Protection from Kittens and Puppies

The answer is
B and C.

Modular Monstrosity can only gain keyword abilities that have been printed on existing Magic creature cards. Enrage is an ability word, not a keyword ability, so it can't be chosen. Undeathtouch appears on Over My Dead Bodies and is given to creatures, but it has not been printed on a creature card. Protection is a perfectly valid keyword ability, but it has never been printed with that modifier, so that's out as well.

Also note that giving the Monstrosity suspend won't do much of anything, but that's still a valid choice. If you can't think of anything else, blurting out something that won't do anything is better than having the Monstrosity lose all keyword abilities.

Q: In which formats is Unstable legal?

A: The choices are...

A: Standard
B: Modern
C: Vintage
D: Commander
E: Kitchen table Magic

The answer is
E and, for now, D.

Kitchen table Magic, also known as Casual Magic, is all about fun, so as long as your playgroup agrees, silver-bordered cards are fine.

The Commander rules committee has decided and declared that silver-bordered cards are legal in Commander until the next banned list announcement that's scheduled for January 15th, 2018. Whether it'll be legal beyond that date is anybody's guess.

Silver-bordered cards aren't legal in any other constructed formats because they're just too wacky, sorry.

Q: If Cecil decides to draw from Dana's empty library with Spy Eye's ability, what happens?

A: The choices are...

A: Cecil loses the game.
B: Dana loses the game.
C: Both Cecil and Dana lose the game, so the game is a draw.
D: Nothing happens.
E: Everything happens.

The answer is

The rules for losing the game due to drawing from an empty library are written quite clearly, and the rules don't care from which library the player attempted to draw. The player who attempted to draw is the one who loses the game, not the player whose library is empty, so Cecil loses the game. Of course, the draw is optional, so choosing not to draw would have been the superior play.

Q: I control Panharmonicon and cast Prototype Portal, and I choose to exile two artifact cards from my hand. Which cost do I have to pay to activate Prototype Portal's ability, and which imprinted card or cards get copied?

A: The choices are...

A: You choose one cost, and you get a copy of the card with that cost.
B: You choose one cost, and you get a copy of a card of your choice.
C: You pay both costs added together, and you get a copy of a card of your choice.
D: You pay both costs added together, and you get a copy of each card.
E: This can't happen as described because imprinting a second card makes Prototype Portal forget the first imprinted card.

The answer is

Even though Prototype Portal only talks about "the exiled card" as if there's only one, it will actually look at both cards. The converted mana cost is the sum of both converted mana costs, and the action of making a copy is performed on each card. If you want to look up the gory details of what makes this interaction work, look up rule 607.3 of the comprehensive rules.

These aren't the Druids
you're looking for.
Q: Which of these get destroyed by Wrath of God?

A: The choices are...

A: Striped Riverwinder
B: Simic Sky Swallower
C: Spearbreaker Behemoth
D: Black Knight
E: God-Favored General

The answer is
Everything except C.

Wrath of God destroys all creatures without targeting them, so abilities that prevent targeting, like hexproof, shroud, and protection, are powerless to prevent this. The only thing that saves a creature from Wrath of God, apart from not being on the battlefield when it happens, is to have indestructible.

Q: After casting two spells, I cast Empty the Warrens, which I conspire thanks to Wort, the Raidmother. How many Goblin tokens do I get?

A: The choices are...

A: 4
B: 8
C: 12
D: 14
E: 42

The answer is

Casting Empty the Warrens and paying its conspire cost triggers two abilities: It triggers its own storm ability, and it triggers the copying ability from conspire. The storm ability makes two copies of Empty the Warrens, and the conspire ability makes an additional copy. Those copies all have storm, too, but because they're not being cast, their storm abilities don't trigger. This means that four instances of Empty the Warrens end up resolving, giving you two Goblins each, for a total of eight.

Q: Which of these trigger Bellowing Aegisaur's ability?

A: The choices are...

A: Getting -1/-1
B: Getting a -1/-1 counter
C: Being destroyed
D: Non-lethal damage
E: Lethal damage
F: Non-lethal combat damage
G: Lethal combat damage
H: Okay, I think that's enough choices now.

The answer is
D, E, F, and G.

Enrage abilities get triggered by any kind of damage, but only things that actually say "damage" are damage. Things like -1/-1 effects, -1/-1 counters, and getting outright destroyed may not feel particularly nice, but they're not damage. As such, they won't trigger Enrage abilities.

Note that it doesn't matter whether Bellowing Aegisaur survives the damage or not. Being dealt damage triggers the ability, and once an ability has triggered, it exists on the stack independently from its source, so it'll still resolve even if Bellowing Aegisaur dies from having lethal damage marked on it.

And that's all the questions on this quiz. How did you do? If you got all ten questions right, Moko would love to hear from you and pick your brain a bit.

Until next time, may the Force be with you!

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.

Is suspend ever printed with no modifier on a creature card? I think only cards in exile can gain suspend with no modifier, because of spells like Delay.
#1 • Date: 2017-12-17 • Time: 17:16:27 •
The first question would be more understable if you precise options A & B are cost.
#2 • Date: 2018-01-05 • Time: 07:37:06 •

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