Published on 01/08/2018

New Year's Resolutions

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

This year, I'm going to go to the gym every day, I promise...
It's a new year, so it's time to make some resolutions that I have no intention of actually keeping to for a whole year. So let's stick to something I can follow through on: Answering your rules questions! :D

If you'd like to contribute to keep me and the others busy at what we do best, 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: My opponent controls Eidolon of Rhetoric and I start my turn with two suspended Ancestral Visions with one time counter on each. What happens here? Can I still cast both of them?

A: You'll only be able to cast one of them and the other will be stranded in exile.

When your upkeep begins, the suspend triggers of both of your Ancestral Visions will trigger. When the first one resolves, you'll remove the last time counter from that card, which triggers the "cast me now!" suspend trigger. When that trigger resolves, you'll cast the spell. After the spell resolves, you'll remove the last time counter from the other suspended spell, but you won't be able to cast it when its "cast me!" trigger resolves, so it will stay exiled. It's no longer suspended since it doesn't have any time counters on it, and so it's just stuck in exile for the rest of the game.

Q: I control Omen Machine and my opponent flashes in Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir during my upkeep. What happens in my draw step?

A: You won't be able to cast any cards that Omen Machine exiles since you're trying to cast them in the middle of resolving another ability and during your draw step, both of which are disallowed by Teferi's last ability. Any lands you exile with Omen Machine will still be put onto the battlefield by its ability, however.

Q: I animated a Pack Rat with The Scarab God's ability. Does the token survive since I don't control any Rats?
What happens if I make a copy of it with its ability?

A: Your Pack Rat token is just 4/4. It will always be 4/4 because the Scarab God's ability said that it was 4/4. Because its P/T was overwritten this way when it was created, it doesn't even have the characteristic-defining ability that would set its P/T.

The number of Rats you control doesn't matter here, which is good because your Pack Rat token is a Zombie and not a Rat, also because the Scarab God's ability said so.

These alterations to the token Pack Rat's P/T and its creature type are part of its copiable characteristics and so any tokens made by its activated ability will also be 4/4 Zombies.

Q: If both my opponent and I each control a Mindslaver and they activate theirs targeting me, can I then activate mine also targeting me to control my own turn?

A: Yes, this works as long as you wait until the activated ability of their Mindslaver resolves before you activate your own.

When multiple effects would give different players control of a certain player's next turn, the most recently created effect wins and all older effects are ignored.

I'm going to eat less junk food... starting tomorrow...
Q: I control a Phyrexian Obliterator, and use it to block my opponent's Darksteel Colossus. How many permanents does my opponent have to sacrifice?

A: It depends on how your opponent assigns the damage from Darksteel Colossus. They have to assign lethal damage (i.e. 5 damage) to Phyrexian Obliterator before they can trample over, but they're also allowed to assign more damage to it if they want to. Importantly, trample damage has to be specifically called out when damage is dealt or all damage will be assumed to have been dealt to the blocking creature(s).

So, your opponent is probably going to be sacrificing five permanents, but they could sacrifice up to eleven if they're not careful with their damage assignment.

Q: If my opponent has a 3/3 Death's Shadow and I cast a Searing Blaze (with landfall), does the Death's Shadow die?

A: Death's Shadow survives.

When Searing Blaze resolves, it deals 3 damage to Death's Shadow and 3 damage to Death's Shadow's controller. That player goes from 10 life to 7 life, which makes Death's Shadow immediately a 6/6 creature. When state-based actions are checked, Death's Shadow has 6 toughness and only 3 damage marked on it. This isn't lethal damage, so nothing happens.

Q: With the new changes to the split cards in regards to converted mana cost, is Wear // Tear considered a 3 CMC spell when cascading from a Violent Outburst? (I'm playing Living End in Modern and am wondering if I could run it as a sideboard option without messing up the cascade to Living End synergy.)

A: Wear//Tear has a converted mana cost of 3 in each zone other than the stack (and even then it has a CMC of 3 on the stack if it was fused). This means that Violent Outburst's cascade trigger will just keep pushing past it toward your Living End since 3 isn't less than 3.

Q: In a game of Commander, my opponent and I were both hit by a Cruel Entertainment. On the turn where my opponent is controlling me, my commander would die. Who gets to choose if it goes back to the command zone or not?

A: Your opponent is controlling you, so they make all choices you would make, such as whether or not to send your commander to the command zone when it changes zones.

Q: If I control a Keiga, the Tide Star, and I copy it with Stunt Double, one has to go to the graveyard due to the Legend Rule. If I choose to have the Stunt Double die, instead of the original Keiga, does the death clause of stealing a creature still trigger?

A: Yes, the ability triggers.

Abilities which trigger when a permanent changes zones normally trigger from the new zone, but abilities that trigger when a card leaves the battlefield are different and trigger from the battlefield. Because this is the case, Stunt Double is still a copy of Keiga when the ability would trigger and so the ability triggers and resolves normally.

Q: If my opponent somehow takes control of my Hostage Taker, do I retain the ability to cast the exiled card, or does my opponent get that too?

A: Only you can cast the exiled card.

The ability to cast the card exiled with Hostage Taker is granted as part of the resolution of Hostage Taker's triggered ability and it's only granted to whoever controls that trigger as it resolves.

Even if Hostage Taker is stolen by another player, only you retain the ability to cast the card exiled with it. By stealing Hostage Taker, your opponent just gets themselves a creature and nothing more.

Q: Hello Judge, if Colossus of Akros becomes monstrous and I use Mirage Mirror's ability to copy it, is the mirror monstrous too?

A: Being monstrous isn't a copiable characteristic, and so Mirage Mirror will have to activate an acquired monstrosity ability to be monstrous. However, once it is monstrous, it will remain monstrous for as long as it's on the battlefield no matter what form it takes.

Q: Can a creature with Vanishing (e.g. Calciderm) be kept by countering part of it with Trickbind?

A: Yes.

When the last time counter is removed from a permanent with vanishing, a trigger goes on the stack. When that trigger resolves, you have to sacrifice the permanent. If that trigger is countered, then you won't have to sacrifice it.

Also, since that trigger triggers when the last time counter is removed (and not if you can't remove a counter) it will never trigger again unless something else adds more time counters to the permanent with vanishing.

Q: How do the cards from Unstable with different variants work in Commander? Can I play one of each version of Very Cryptic Command? What about the four different Killbots?

A: In Commander, assuming your playgroup allows you to play with silver-bordered cards, you can only play one version of any card with the same English name. That means that you can only run your favourite version of Very Cryptic Command but you an play all four Killbots in your Mary O'Kill Un-mander deck.

I would study something new, but libraries are dangerous...
Q: An interesting interaction came up tonight in a multiplayer game: Fumiko the Lowblood and Ghostly Prison controlled by the same player. We couldn't agree about how exactly Fumiko's last ability worked with Ghostly Prison's cost to attack, so can you please explain it?

A: You can never be forced to pay a cost to attack, such as for Ghostly Prison. Paying such a cost to attack is part of declaring attackers. The active player chooses which player or planeswalker each creature is attacking, then pays any required costs. If there are costs that can't be paid or aren't paid, then the declaration of attackers is illegal and a legal set of attackers needs to be declared. The set of attackers is also illegal if less than the maximum possible number of requirements to attack are being fulfilled.

What this means for Fumiko is that each creature controlled by an opponent of Fumiko's controller that can attack must do so. If that creature's control doesn't want to (or can't) pay for it to attack the controller of Ghostly Prison, then that player must choose a different player or planeswalker for it to attack. It only gets to not attack if every possible attack requires a cost to attack.

Q: Why do the cards like Nightscape Familiar only reduce the cost of the appropriate multicolored cards by instead of ?

A: Because Nightscape Familiar's cost reduction ability is a single ability that reduces the cost of any spell that is red and/or blue. It doesn't care if the spell is both colors or just one of them.

To reduce the cost of a red and blue spell, Nightscape Familiar would need two separate abilities, similar to how Grand Arbiter Augustin IV is templated.

Q: If the first half of my Battle at the Bridge will kill Rampaging Ferocidon, do I still gain X life?

A: No life will be gained here.

When Battle at the Bridge (X=3) resolves, it gives Rampaging Ferocidon -3/-3, but Ferocidon doesn't die from having 0 toughness until after Battle at the Bridge finishes resolving because state-based actions aren't checked until then. This means that it's still on the battlefield when Battle at the Bridge instructs its controller to gain life and so that life gain isn't allowed.

Note that effects that directly destroy or exile Rampaging Ferocidon work differently. For example, Vraska's Contempt exiles Ferocidon, removing it from the battlefield immediately and allowing you to gain the life from its second instruction.

Q: If I control a Djinn Illuminatus, and I cast a spell with strive (e.g. Twinflame), do the copies created by replicate have the same number of targets as the original? If I pay to have two targets for Twinflame, and also pay to replicate once, will the copy have two targets? For a total of four targets?

A: Copies of spells made by paying their replicate cost will have the same number of targets as the original spell, so a copy of a strive spell with N targets will also have N targets.

In your example, your copy of Twinflame will also have two targets.

Q: If I were to use Bladewing the Risen's triggered ability to return a second Bladewing the Risen from my graveyard to the battlefield, would one of the Bladewings be in the graveyard by the time I select target for the second Bladewing's trigger?

A: While Bladewing the Risen's trigger triggers the moment it enters the battlefield, the trigger isn't put on the stack until after state-based actions are checked. One of the Bladewings goes to the graveyard at that time and can be targeted with the ETB triggers.

Just remember that if you're using this to make a loop of ETB and death triggers, you eventually have to choose a different card in your graveyard to return to the battlefield or to just not return the Bladewing to the battlefield. You can't use this to hang the game since a choice is involved.

Q: Does Toxin Sliver's effect work with trample like deathtouch does?

A: No. Toxin Sliver's ability is just a triggered ability that has no relevance to combat damage assignment. Only deathtouch gets special consideration in combat. Other abilities that look like deathtouch but that are actually triggered abilities don't affect damage assignment in any way.

Q: In a 4 player game of Commander, my opponent controls a Timesifter, and then casts Fractured Identity targeting Timesifter, thereby giving all three opponents a copy of the card. At the beginning of the next upkeep, what is the order of the extra turns created?

A: First of all, if this happens, you're going to need some paper and a pen to keep track of all the triggers and extra turns.

At the beginning of the next player's turn, there are three Timesifter triggers. As each one resolves, an extra turn is created. Extra turns that are created are taken in a last in, first out order. If we call the first extra turn created A1, with the second being B1, and the third being C1, then extra turn C1 will be taken immediately after the current turn. Turns A1 and B1 are still waiting to be taken, though, and would happen after turn C1 if it weren't for the Timesifters.

When turn C1 begins, the Timesifters trigger again, creating extra turns A2, B2, and C2. C2 is the most recently created extra turn, so it will happen after the current turn, with B2, A2, B1, and A1 still waiting in the queue to happen. This process will continue with extra turns accumulating until there are no Timesifters left on the battlefield. Once all the Timesifters are gone, the extra turns will be taken one by one and eventually, the game will return to the normal turn order.

TL;DR: It's a huge mess. I recommend conceding.

Well, that's all for this week. Best of luck with your own resolutions for 2018. I promise that Carsten will be with you next week to answer even more of your questions!

- Charlotte


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