Published on 12/18/2017

A Week Off for the Holidays

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Just laying down some more tubes for the internet.
Hiya everyone, and welcome back to our final article of the year here at Cranial Insertion. "But wait," you're probably thinking to yourself "there's still another Monday in 2017?" Yep, that is true, there is one more Monday left in 2017. But unfortunately, we won't be publishing an article next week. We need to do some work on the site that involves moving to a different hosting account, and while there's really no good time to do it, the end of the year is probably the best time for us. We don't have an exact date of when the site will be down yet, but expect our next article next year, on January 1st.

But even though the site will be down, we'll still be around to answer your questions. 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 .

Q: My opponent just cast a Carnage Tyrant. Can I cast Unsubstantiate to return it to their hand?

A: As long as you're targeting the Tyrant spell on the stack, sure. The Tyrant can't be countered, but Unsubstantiate doesn't counter the spell, it returns it to their hand. Since it's not countering the spell, the Tyrant's ability won't do anything and it will be returned to their hand.

Note that once it's on the battlefield, it has hexproof, so you won't be able to target the opponent's Tyrant on the battlefield with Unsubstantiate.

Q: Can I cast Settle the Wreckage after combat damage has been dealt, to exile any surviving attacking creatures?

A: Yep, that's a possibility. An attacking creature remains attacking until the end of the combat phase. Players will get priority during the combat damage step (after combat damage was dealt), as well as during the end of combat step, so if you'd rather let combat damage be dealt before casting Settle the Wreckage (or maybe you want to attack, deal damage, then cast the Settle to get some lands), you can do that.

Q: I have an Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign in play, and I want to cast Metallic Mimic, naming "Sphinx". How much do I have to pay to cast the Mimic?

A: You still need to pay . The Mimic is a Shapeshifter everywhere but the battlefield - it won't become a Sphinx until it would enter the battlefield. When you're casting the Mimic, it's still just a Shapeshifter, not a Sphinx. Unesh will not reduce the cost to cast the Mimic, since it won't become a Sphinx until it enters the battlefield.

Q: On their last turn, my opponent cast Hangarback Walker with X=3. If I wanted to gain control of it with Entrancing Melody, how much does X have to be: 0, 3, or 6?

A: X will have to be zero. Once Hangarback Walker resolves and enters the battlefield, its converted mana cost is 0, no matter what the value of X was when it was cast. Since its converted mana cost on the battlefield is 0, you will have to pay to gain control of your opponent's Walker with the Melody.

Q: I cast Searing Blaze, targeting my opponent and their Mogg Fanatic. In response, my opponent sacrifice Mogg Fanatic. Will my opponent still take damage from Searing Blaze?

A: Yes they will! Although one of the targets for the Blaze (Mogg Fanatic) is no longer legal, the other target (your opponent) is still legal, so Searing Blaze will still resolve as best as it can with the remaining legal target. While the Fanatic won't take any damage since it's in the graveyard, your opponent will still take damage like normal from Searing Blaze.

Q: I have a Solemn Simulacrum in play. Can I cast Trash for Treasure, sacrificing the Simulacrum and returning the same Simulacrum with the Treasure?

A: Nope, you can't do that. When you're casting a spell, you have to choose targets before you pay the costs for the spell. When you're choosing the target for the Treasure, the Simulacrum is on the battlefield, not in the graveyard, and it can't be chosen as a target. In short: you can't return the artifact you sacrificed with Trash for Treasure.

Q: I have the emblem from Liliana, Defiant Necromancer in play, and a token creature dies. What happens?

A: You get some triggers, but those triggers won't really do anything. When the token creature dies, the ability from the emblem will trigger. But before that trigger can even go on the stack, state-based actions are checked and the game sees a token creature that's not on the battlefield, so it ceases to exist. The trigger from the emblem will still go on the stack (as will the delayed trigger at the beginning of the next end step), but the delayed trigger won't do anything when it resolves since there's no longer a creature to return (since the token no longer exists).

Perhaps we shouldn't have hired Goblins to fix the site...

Q: I'm attacking with two creatures: a Grizzly Bears equipped with a Sword of Light and Shadow and a Bear Cub. My opponent blocks the Bear Cub with their 3/3, but lets the Grizzly Bear through. Can they choose to return Bear Cub with the Sword's triggered ability?

A: Yes you can! After combat damage is dealt, we check state-based actions, then we put triggered abilities that are waiting to go on the stack on the stack. After combat damage is dealt, Bear Cub dies, since it's a 2/2 with 3 damage marked on it, then we need to put the Sword of Light and Shadow's trigger on the stack. Bear Cub is in the graveyard at this point, so you can target Bear Cub that just died with the trigger and return it to your hand.

Q: What happens if I give Remand rebound? Is it possible for me to cast it off of rebound?

A: Nope, that doesn't work out well for you. When your next upkeep begins, before you get priority, you'll have to put the rebound trigger from Remand on the stack. When the trigger resolves, you can cast it, but if you can't cast it (for instance, because there are no legal targets), then it stays exiled. Casting a spell in respond to the rebound trigger won't work, since that spell will resolve before the rebound trigger resolves. And you don't get a chance to cast a spell during your upkeep before you put the upkeep trigger on the stack. Since you won't be able to cast Remand, it will stay exiled for the rest of the game.

Q: Can I use Cryptic Command to counter an Artisan of Kozilek and bounce the creature it returns?

A: Yep, you can do that. The Artisan's ability triggers when you cast it, not when it enters the battlefield. That trigger will resolve before the Artisan itself. After the Artisan's trigger resolves, there's a point where the Artisan is still on the stack and the creature is on the battlefield. At this point, you can cast Cryptic Command to counter the Artisan and bounce the creature they returned.

Q: Can I use something like Throne of Geth to add time counters to Calciderm, even though it has shroud?

A: Yes you can. Proliferate doesn't target the permanent, you just choose any number of permanents. Since proliferate doesn't target, you can choose a permanent with shroud (like Calciderm) to add a counter to, to keep it around for a while longer.

Q: I have a Phage the Untouchable in play, and I equip it with a Viridian Longbow and tap it to deal a damage to my opponent. Do they lose the game?

A: If they were at one life, they'd lose the game, but they won't be losing to Phage's triggered ability. Phage's ability triggers when Phage deals combat damage to a player, and combat damage is damage assigned and dealt by attacking and blocking creatures at the beginning of the combat damage step. Abilities, even if they're activated or triggered during the combat phase, never deal combat damage, so pinging your opponent with Phage will not cause Phage's ability to trigger and they won't lose the game.

Q: During my upkeep, I managed to put an Eon Hub onto the battlefield. Does that immediately end the upkeep?

A: No it won't. You can't skip a step or phase that's already begun. If Eon Hub enters the battlefield during the upkeep, the current upkeep will finish like normal, but any future upkeeps that would begin while Eon Hub is on the battlefield will be skipped.

Q: If I use the ability of Kiku, Night's Flower targeting my opponent's Phyrexian Obliterator, who has to sacrifice the permanents: me or my opponent?

A: Your opponent is going to be the one sacrificing, not you. While you're the one activating Kiku's ability, the creature is dealing the damage to itself. That means your opponent controls the source that's dealing the damage to the Obliterator, so your opponent is going to be sacrificing five permanents, not you (in addition, the Obliterator can't be one of those permanents, since it dies due to state-based actions before its trigger can go on the stack).

To distract you from the site being down,
please stare at this picture of a kitten.

Q: I'm at 5 life, and I have a Blood Artist and another creature in play, and my opponent controls a Painful Quandary. I cast Altar's Reap, sacrificing the other creature. Does my Artist trigger go on the stack before the Quandary trigger, since it triggered first?

A: It doesn't matter if one ability triggered before the other ability. The triggers still go on the stack in Active Player/NonActive Player (APNAP) order. Anything that triggers during the announcement of the Reap won't be able to go on the stack until you're completely done announcing the Reap. While technically the Artist's ability will trigger before the Quandary trigger, the game doesn't care which one triggered first. Even if the Artist's ability triggered first, if you're casting the Reap on your opponent's turn, the Artist trigger will go on the stack above the Quandary trigger and the Artist trigger will resolve first.

Q: How does Kill Switch work? Can I use it to keep my opponent's artifacts tapped, but still untap my own?

A: During your untap, you determine what will untap during your untap step, then untap everything at the same time. If you activated Kill Switch during your last turn, when we're looking at what we can untap, Kill Switch will untap (since it doesn't affect itself), but your other tapped artifacts won't untap (since Kill Switch is still tapped when we're determining what you will untap). During your untap step, Kill Switch itself will untap, but your other tapped artifacts will not untap.

Q: I have exactly seven cards in my hand, so I activate my Library of Alexandria. In response, my opponent tries to destroy one of my lands with Wasteland, so I Stifle the ability, leaving me with six cards in hand. Will I still draw a card when the Library's ability resolves?

A: Yep, you'll still draw a card. You just need to have seven cards in your hand when you activate the ability. It doesn't check the number of cards again when the ability resolves (there's no intervening if involved here). Once you've activate the ability of the Library, it doesn't matter what happens to the number of cards in your hand - you'll still draw a card when the ability resolves.

Q: My opponent controls a Rite of the Raging Storm. During my upkeep, I get the Lightning Rager token, then I destroy the Rite with a Disenchant. Can I attack them with the token now?

A: Yes you can. The ability that says your opponent can't be attacked by creatures named Lightning Rager only works as long as the Rite is on the battlefield. If you destroy the Rite, that ability goes away, and you're free to attack your opponent with the Lightning Rager. But do note that you'll still have to sacrifice the token at the end of turn - that ability was given to the token when it was created, and still exists even if the Rite goes away.

Q: How does Dire Fleet Ravager work in two-headed giant? How much life will each team lose?

A: Their team going to lose a whole bunch of life. The Captain affects each player, and each team will have two players on it. And if something asks for their life total, it's going to use the team's life total. For instance, if your team is at 18 life and the Captain enters the battlefield, each player on your team is going to lose 6 life (since one third of 18 is 6), meaning your team is going to lose a total of 12 life, leaving your team at 6 life once the triggered ability is done resolving.

Q: Are tournament shortcuts mandatory? And if I've been using a tournament shortcut, do I have to keep using it? For instance, I'm playing in a PPTQ, and when my opponent wants to Lightning Bolt my planeswalker, they say "Bolt your planeswalker". But now, late in the game, they said "Bolt you", and since they didn't say they wanted to redirect the damage to my planeswalker, I let it resolve, then they said they could still redirect the damage to my planeswalker. Is that right?

A: Yep, that's a legal play by them. We have a defined tournament shortcut that says if you cast a spell targeting a planeswalker that cannot normally be targeted by it is assumed to be casting the spell targeting the opponent, then choosing to redirect the damage on resolution. However, they don't have to use this shortcut if they don't want to, and there's nothing in the tournament rules that says that once they use the shortcut, they have to keep using the shortcut. If they want to, they don't have to use the shortcut, and can target you with the Lightning Bolt, and then redirect the damage on resolution to your planeswalker, instead of giving away information that they want to damage your planeswalker with the spell instead.

Well, that's it for this week. See you when we see you!

What is the rules behind the Dire Fleet Ravager behaviour? For the example of the team being at 18 life, why do the players lose 6 and 6, going to 6, rather than losing 6 going to 12 and then 4 going to 8?
#1 • Date: 2017-12-18 • Time: 16:04:35 •
"What is the rules behind the Dire Fleet Ravager behaviour?"
Dire Fleet Ravager's ability happens all at the same time. This mean that each player simultaneously loses a third of his or her life. The way you suggest it happens would require one player lose a third of his or her life, *then* another player lose a third of his or her life, which is not how the card is written.
#2 • Date: 2017-12-19 • Time: 08:10:46 •

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