Published on 01/01/2018

A Clean Slate

Cranial Translation
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Out with the mistakes of the old...
Hello, and welcome to the first edition of Cranial Insertion of 2018! The CI offices are smelling clean and fresh because we're back from our hosting move and back on track with a new...a new...well, okay, so we haven't actually changed anything other than backend stuff you don't care about, but darnit I got this new-car air freshener as a gift from my aunt over Christmas and I'm not letting it go to waste!

Okay, so the only actual new thing is this week's batch of rules questions, but that has to count for something. If you'd like to contribute to the 'New' pile in our inbox, send us an email with your question to ; you'll get an answer and potentially see your question in an upcoming article. For shorter questions, you can tweet us @CranialTweet for the same result.

Q: I activate Rootwalla's ability, and during that same turn Rootwalla loses the ability and then gets it back again. (My opponent got rid of my Cast Out exiling their Humility, but I used another to exile it again.) Can I activate Rootwalla again?

A: No, you cannot. When Humility leaves the battlefield, your Rootwalla isn't gaining a new instance of its activated ability—instead, the same old instance that it already had earlier in the turn is being revealed again. And since it's the same instance of the ability, it knows it's been activated already this turn and won't allow you to activate it again.

Q: I cast Azusa, Lost but Seeking. After it resolves, do I have priority to play my two extra lands before my opponent can kill it?

A: Probably, yes. Whenever a spell on the stack resolves, the active player (the one whose turn it is) gets priority first, and therefore has the chance to do things before giving their opponent a chance to respond. And since Azusa is a creature, it's very likely that when it resolves, it'll be your main phase and the stack will be empty, so you'll be allowed to play lands.

However, there are situations where that won't be the case. If Azusa entering the battlefield caused any abilities to trigger, for example, then those abilities will be put onto the stack before you get priority. In such a situation, you'll still get priority first, but you won't be able to play your lands right away because the stack isn't empty, so your opponent will get a chance to remove your Azusa before the stack empties and you can finally play them. For similar reasons, if Azusa itself doesn't trigger any abilities upon entering the battlefield but you playing the first extra land does, your opponent will have a chance to kill Azusa before you can play the second, because the trigger stops you from playing the second land right away.

Q: I use Mayael the Anima's ability and Majestic Myriarch is in my top five. I have three creatures out—can I put the Myriarch onto the battlefield?

A: Indeed you can. Majestic Myriarch's first ability is what's known as a characteristic-defining ability—it's an ability that's used to define one (or in this case, two) of its characteristics in place of the parts of the card that would normally be used to determine those characteristics. (Normally, a creature's power and toughness are equal to the numbers printed in its P/T box, but "Twice the number of creatures you control / Twice the number of creatures you control" wouldn't really fit.)

Characteristic-defining abilities function everywhere at all times, just like the parts of the card they're taking the place of normally would. So if you control three creatures, your Majestic Myriarch is a 6/6 no matter where it is, and is therefore big enough to be put onto the battlefield with Mayael.

Q: I have a Rest in Peace and Tidehollow Sculler, and use Wasteland Strangler to processes the card I took with the Sculler. If my opponent Shocks my Sculler, will they get their card back, since it's still exiled?

A: No, they won't. It may still be in the exile zone, but when you processed that card with Wasteland Strangler, it became a new object as far as the game's concerned, even though Rest in Peace meant it didn't actually end up changing zones. As such, it's not a card exiled by Tidehollow Sculler, and won't be put into your opponent's hand when the Sculler dies.

...So we can start anew...
Q: My creature has a Claustrophobia on it. Can I use Dauntless Aven to untap it?

A: Absolutely. Claustrophobia says the creature doesn't untap during your untap step, but that's all it says—if you can find some other way of untapping your creature, that's just fine with Claustrophobia.

Note that this doesn't actually remove Claustrophobia, so it's still not going to untap during your untap step and you're going to have to keep using your Aven (or something else) to untap it 'manually' every time, but it's probably significantly better than not being able to use it at all.

Q: I use Whip of Erebos to bring back Midnight Scavengers to meld with my Graf Rats. What happens to Chittering Host at end of turn?

A: Absolutely nothing—it stays right where it is. Whip of Erebos's delayed trigger is trying to exile Midnight Scavengers at the end of your turn, but that creature no longer exists—it disappeared when Graf Rats exiled the two creatures and melded them. The Chittering Host[c] that's on the battlefield now is not the same creature, so [c]Whip of Erebos has no reason to try to do anything with it.

Q: Can I play Runed Halo on Emrakul, the Aeons Torn if it isn't on the battlefield?

A: Definitely. Runed Halo doesn't put any restrictions on what you can name as it's entering the battlefield, so you can name any card that's legal in the format you're playing, whether there's one around or not, even if you haven't seen one at all this game, even if it's not in either player's deck.

My advice: name Numai Outcast to convince your opponent you already have the game in the bag no matter what they do. (Note: Neither I nor Cranial Insertion take any responsibility for any lost games resulting from anyone being foolish enough to take strategic advice from me.)

Q: My opponent has a Desecration Demon and a 1/1, while I have a Burn Away in hand and a Goblin Arsonist on the board. If I Burn Away the Demon in response to its ability, can I still sacrifice the Arsonist to get rid of the other creature?

A: You actually can. Like any activated or triggered ability, once it's on the stack, Desecration Demon's ability is independent from the creature that it came from, and will resolve no matter what happens to that creature. When that ability resolves, it still does as much as possible, so it does still give you the opportunity to sacrifice a creature if you want to, even though it won't be able to tap the Demon or put a counter on it should you choose to do so.

Normally, you would simply refuse to sacrifice a creature to satiate a Demon that's already dead, but hey, if you really want to get rid of your Arsonist, more power to you.

Q: If Living End brings back my Urabrask the Hidden along with everything else, do my opponent's creatures enter tapped?

A: They will not. Urabrask the Hidden's ability modifies the manner in which your opponent's creatures enter the battlefield, but in order to do that, it needs to be active before those creatures enter—you can't very well cause something to enter the battlefield tapped if it's already sitting on the battlefield. Since Living End returns all the creatures to the battlefield simultaneously, by the time Urabrask is on the battlefield and its ability is active, all of the relevant creatures are already on the battlefield.

Q: My opponent plays Vizier of Many Faces. If I destroy the creature it's copying before it enters the battlefield, does it still copy?

A: You can't really do that the way you want. Your opponent doesn't actually decide what to copy with Vizier of Many Faces until it's entering the battlefield, so if you wait to see what they copy, by the time you know what decision they've made it's too late for you to respond—their Vizier will enter the battlefield as a copy of whatever they've chosen before you get another chance to do things.

If you suspect what creature your opponent is going to choose (or they've jumped the gun a bit and let you know what their decision will be before they actually need to make it) you can always destroy that creature before the Vizier enters the battlefield...but if you do so, they'll be able to simply to choose something else instead when the time comes to make that choice.

Q: What happens if my opponent exiles the top creature card of my graveyard in response to Circling Vultures ability?

A: Then when the ability resolves, you exile the new top creature card of your graveyard, whatever that happens to be. (Well, or let the Vultures die; that's an option, too.) The game doesn't predetermine the identity of the card the Vultures will exile until it actually happens, so removing just one of the creature cards from your graveyard won't stop the Vultures—they'll just move on to whatever's next.

Only if your opponent removes all creature cards from your graveyard (say, by exiling the entire graveyard) will you be forced to sacrifice them.

Q: Someone told me you can't pay for Ghostly Prison with Deathrite Shaman. Is that true? Why?

A: It is! This is because even though it produces mana Deathrite Shaman's first ability is not a mana ability, because it has a target—it uses the stack and can be responded to by both players. When the game asks you to pay for Ghostly Prison as part of declaring attackers, it gives you the opportunity to activate mana abilities in order to generate the necessary mana, but not other abilities, even if those abilities would happen to end up producing mana in some other way. And you couldn't have used Deathrite beforehand, because declaring attackers is the very first thing that you do in the Declare Attackers step of combat—the last chance you would have had to use Deathrite before then would have been during the Beginning of Combat step, which doesn't help you because mana empties from your mana pool between steps of the turn.

Arbor Elf and similar cards have the same problem—even though untapping lands would then allow you to generate additional mana, you can't use the non-mana abilities they use to untap those lands during the process of declaring attackers.

Q: My opponent uses Sisters of Stone Death to make me block, and I use Amphin Pathmage to make his creature unblockable. What happens?

A: Well, your creature is required to block Sisters of Stone Death if they're able to do so, but thanks to your Pathmage they're not able to do that. As such, you're free to block (or not) any way you desire, as you normally would. You can't block the unblockable Sisters with something else, of course, but that's a small price to pay for keeping your creature, isn't it?

...And do better this time.
Q: In a multiplayer game, I cast Disrupt Decorum, and one of my opponents Twincasts it. Who gets attacked?

A: Assuming there's some other player taking a turn in between you and whoever Twincasted your spell, each creature that player controls who was around for the goading will have four separate requirements affecting them: 1) Attack if able; 2) Attack if able; 3) Attack a player other than you if able; and finally, 4) Attack a player other than the Twincast player if able. They're forced to abide by as many of these requirements as able, so if those creatures are able to attack, they must do so. And as for who...well, that depends on who's in the game. If this is a four- or more-player game and there's a player available to attack who is neither you nor the Twincast player, they're going to be forced to attack that player.

If this is a three-player game, however, (or attacking the players other than you and the Twincaster isn't possible for some reason) it's not going to be possible for a creature to abide by all four of those requirements at once. As such, they will abide by as many of them as possible, in any way their controller likes. So the creatures are going to be forced to attack if able (satisfying the two must-attack requirements), and but their controller will choose whether they abide by the "must attack someone other than you" requirement by attacking the Twincast player, or the "must attack someone other than the Twincast player" requirement by attacking you.

Once the Twincast player's turn begins, of course, the effect from their copied Disrupt Decorum will end, and only the effect from yours will remain, so until it gets back to your turn again things will be the same as if no Twincasting occurred at all.

Q: My opponent controls Kor Firewalker and I cast Atarka's Command, making it so my opponent can't gain life. Does she gain life from me casting the Command?

A: She does indeed. Putting a spell onto the stack is one of the very first parts of casting it, and abilities that trigger off of casting a spell only go onto the stack after the spell has finished being cast. This means they go onto the stack on top of the spell that triggered them, and will resolve before that spell.

As such, at the time Kor Firewalker's trigger resolves, Atarka's Command has not yet resolved and set up its "no-lifegain" effect, so there's nothing stopping your opponent from gaining life. Up they go!

Q: If I cast Woodland Guidance, can I tap my forests in response to the clash's result?

A: Sadly, no—if you want to tap your forests for mana before Woodland Guidance resolves, you can do that, but you can't wait to see what the results of the clash will be before deciding to tap them or not—Woodland Guidance doesn't ask you to pay mana or otherwise give you an opportunity to use mana abilities mid-resolution, so you're not able to do so. By the time you know what the result of the clash is and have a chance to do things, the spell has already had its effect, finished resolving, and is in your graveyard.

If you want to get full benefit out of the Guidance, you're going to have to spin the dice and tap your lands beforehand.

Q: Can I use Cavern of Souls to cast Crib Swap?

A: You cannot. Well, at least not if you're talking about using colored mana produced by the Cavern—if you're producing colorless, go right ahead.

Crib Swap may have the chosen creature type (or, well, all of them), but that's not the only restriction Cavern of Souls puts on the use of the colored mana it produces—it also requires that the spell you're casting be a creature spell, and having creature types doesn't mean the Swap is a creature spell—it's still an instant. As such, you're not permitted to use the Cavern's precious colored mana to cast it

Q: I attack with Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, but my opponent controls Authority of the Consuls—is my monkey still attacking?

A: It is! Authority of the Consuls causes your creatures to enter the battlefield tapped even if they normally wouldn't (Ragavan, cheeky monkey that it is, would enter the battlefield tapped anyway), but it doesn't modify their entrance in any other way—creatures that are entering the battlefield attacking will still be attacking.

Q: What happens when my opponent casts a spell if I control two Decree of Silence?

A: The result's going to be less than ideal for you, because both Decrees will trigger. The first trigger to resolve will counter the spell and put a depletion counter on the first Decree, all well and good, but the second trigger to resolve is still going to do as much as possible, so even though it can't counter the spell, because that's already gone, it will still put a depletion counter on the second Silence, and if that means it ends up with three, it'll still force you to sacrifice it.

Basically, having multiple Decrees of Silence with the same number of counters on the battlefield at once doesn't really help you any more than having just one, since they'll both tick up for the same spells.

Q: Does Decree of Silence work with Solemnity the way I want it to?

A: Oh yeah. As with the previous question, even though part of the Decree's trigger isn't possible, it still tries to do as much as possible, so it will counter the spell and fail to put a counter on the Decree, meaning the Decree will still be around for the next spell your opponent casts, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next...

Q: With a Prismatic Omen on the board, will Sundering Titan destroy five lands or six, since Wastes is a basic land type?

A: Five is the maximum, because Wastes isn't a basic land type—heck, it's not even a land type at all. The term "Basic Land Types" is defined in the game's rules to mean the five specific land types Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest—they're the special land types that inherently grant the lands they appear on the ability to tap for specific colors of mana. Other land types are not "Basic Land Types", even if they happen to appear on land cards that happen to also have the Basic supertype—the Basic supertype is a completely separate thing, the same way that "counter" (the verb) and "counter" (the noun) are two very different things.

And in addition to that, there is no such thing as a "Waste" land type in the first place. If you check its type line, you'll see that the card Wastes doesn't have any land types listed on its type line—it's just a land and nothing more.

And that's all we have for today; be sure to come back next week, when Charlotte will be back with more rules questions for you. Until then, may your new year be free of the mistakes of the old.

-Callim Mulne

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.

A follow-up question: If you do have Runed Halo out naming Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, I know it prevents damage from the creature, but does that prevent Emrakul from attacking and annihilating 6 of your permanents?
#1 • Date: 2018-01-02 • Time: 08:17:53 •
No, it won't stop attacking or interfere with the Annihilator ability. Protection just stops damage, attaching (enchant/equip/fortify), blocking, and targeting. Annihilator doesn't target, it just makes the defending player sacrifice stuff.
#2 • Date: 2018-01-02 • Time: 15:35:47 •

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