Published on 01/29/2018

Photo Finish

Cranial Translation
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We begin...NOW!
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! It was a thrilling race, folks, with more twists and turns, excitement and drama than we ever dared hope, and it's all too close to call! In the most stunning turn of events since Emrakul was revealed to be behind the mysterious events of Shadows over Innistrad, four competitors managed to grab the flag at the top of Metzali at once, making the race a photo finish!

Of course, we only have one trophy, so it's all down to the cameras now, folks—Moko's in the back reviewing the footage now, but there's no telling how long it will be before we have the results, so we might as well cover a few rules questions while we wait.

Remember, as always, if you have rules questions of your own, be sure to send them to us at , or tweet them at us @CranialTweet for the shorter ones—you'll get an answer, and potentially see your question appear in an upcoming issue.

Now, it is time for us to make...the Magics!

Q: Does Training Grounds reduce the cost of Azor, the Lawbringer's ability?

A: No, it does not. Training Grounds reduces the cost of activating a creature's activated ability, but it doesn't reduce the cost of using Azor, the Lawbringer's ability, because it's not an activated ability—it's a triggered ability.

All activated abilities involve paying a cost of some sort to get some effect, but requiring a cost is not by itself the mark of an activated ability—abilities of all kinds can require players to pay costs in order to do something, from triggered abilities like Azor's to static abilities like Leonin Arbiter.

The way to recognize an activated ability is to look for the colon that separates its costs from its effects—all activated abilities will always use the same specific templating of "(Cost): (Effect)", with a colon separating the two. If you don't see that colon (look in the reminder text when dealing with keyword abilities, and at Gatherer for the card's Oracle text when dealing with particularly old cards), then whatever the ability may be, you can know it's definitely not an activated ability.

Q: Does using Duskmantle Guildmage's first ability multiple times do anything more than just once?

A: Indeed it does! When you use Duskmantle Guildmage's first ability, it sets up a delayed trigger that hangs around for the remainder of the turn, waiting for a card to be put into your opponent's graveyard. Any time that happens, it triggers and causes them to lose 1 life. And this delayed trigger is set up every time the Guildmage's ability resolves, no matter how many other instances of it already exist.

In the same way that having multiple copies of Soul Warden on the battlefield would cause you to gain additional life each time a creature enters the battlefield, having multiple instances of this delayed trigger hanging around will cause your opponents to lose additional life for each card that goes to their graveyard, because each instance of the trigger operates independently. (They lose this life 1 point at a time, if it matters, for the same reason.)

Q: Can I use Field of Ruin to destroy something I've Imprisoned in the Moon?

A: long as what you Imprisoned wasn't already a basic land. (Somehow, I doubt that's the case.)

Thanks to Imprisoned in the Moon, the enchanted permanent is definitely a land, and since it doesn't have the "Basic" supertype, it's nonbasic. That makes it a legal target for Field of Ruin's ability.

Q: If I cast the creature exiled by Hostage Taker, my opponent can't kill Hostage Taker to get their creature back any more, right?

A: Right. You took it out of exile and put it on the stack when you cast it, and since it's no longer exiled, Hostage Taker leaving the battlefield won't do anything to it.

Q: Dire Fleet Neckbreaker gives attacking pirates +2/+0. If my opponent kills it after it attacks, do the remaining pirates continue to get the extra power?

A: No, they do not. Dire Fleet Neckbreaker provides a boost to all attacking Pirates you control, and unlike some other cards like Honored Crop-Captain or Hamlet Captain, it doesn't have to attack itself in order to provide that bonus. But by the same token, that boost only applies while the Neckbreaker is itself on the battlefield—if your opponent finds a way to remove the Neckbreaker, your attacking Pirates immediately lose the boost.

Q: If an effect tells me to discard multiple cards, does that trigger cards like Archfiend of Ifnir once for each card discarded, or only once?

A: Archfiend of Ifnir will trigger once for each card you discard, because what it's looking for is a single card being discarded, and multiple cards being discarded at the same time therefore trigger it multiple times.

Cards that trigger only once off of simultaneous discards would be looking for "one or more" cards being discarded—there aren't any cards using such a wording that trigger off of discards, but there are cards like Jace, Cunning Castaway and Duelist's Heritage that look for "one or more" of something else in order to ensure only one trigger no matter how much of that thing is happening at once.

Q: If I play Jadelight Ranger and the first explore reveals a nonland card, can I use a spell or ability to draw that card and have the Ranger reveal a different card with the second explore?

A: No, you cannot. Jadelight Ranger's two explores are all part of the same ability, and while they do happen sequentially, there isn't an opportunity for you to do anything else in between the two—you need to finish resolving the Ranger's ability completely before the game will give you—or anyone, for that matter—another chance to do other things.

If you want to make sure the second explore reveals a different card, you're going to have to put the card into the graveyard with the first explore. But is a 4/3 for 3 really all that bad?

Q: I unearth a creature using Sedris, the Traitor King. Can I use Sundial of the Infinite to stop it from getting exiled?

A: You can definitely use the Sundial to get around the delayed trigger from Unearth that normally would have you exile your creature at the beginning of the end step—if a delayed trigger doesn't have a specified duration, it will only ever trigger once, and then disappears. This means you can wait until the ability triggers, then activate the Sundial before it resolves to end the turn. The delayed trigger never resolves, so you don't have to sacrifice your creature.

However, your creature isn't safe from exiling entirely. The rest of unearth's effect says that if your creature is leaving the battlefield and isn't already getting exiled, it gets exiled instead, and this part of the ability doesn't have any time limit—it applies for the rest of the game. So even though you got around the delayed trigger, this effect is still hanging around, making sure that when your creature leaves the battlefield, whenever that may be, it's going to be headed to exile.

Q: I use Mirage Mirror to copy Golden Guardian, and use it to fight something. If it dies, what happens to it, since it can't transform?

A: Nothing at all—after dying, it stays right where it is in the graveyard.

If something tries to put a card that can't transform onto the battlefield transformed, it simply stays where it is instead.

Q: If I have Kopala, Warden of Waves in play and cast a merfolk, if an opponent wants to Cancel that spell, does it cost an extra ?

A: No, it doesn't. When Kopala, Warden of Waves says 'Merfolk you control', it's talking about Merfolk permanents on the battlefield that you control.

When a spell or ability refers to something using a type or subtype with no further qualifiers, it's always assumed that it's talking about a permanent of that type or subtype on the battlefield—Murder doesn't have to specify "creature on the battlefield", because that's the implied default.

When something wants to affect things that aren't on the battlefield, it will say so specifically, saying "spell", "source", "card in a graveyard", or similar.

Q: If I Momentary Blink Azor, the Lawbringer to trigger his first ability multiple times in a turn, does that mean my opponent will have multiple turns where they can't cast instants and sorceries?

A: No, still just the one. While you can blink Azor multiple times in a single turn to create multiple instances of his effect, those effects are all going to be looking for your opponent's "next turn", meaning the first one they take after the effect was created. And no matter how many such effects you created, your opponent's next turn is still that same next turn, so all of them will apply to the same single turn.

Q: If I attack with both Savage Ventmaw and Hellkite Charger, can I use the mana generated by the Ventmaw to pay for the Charger?

A: You can indeed. Both Savage Ventmaw and Hellkite Charger's abilities are triggered abilities that trigger when they attack. If you attack with both of them, both abilities trigger, and you can put them on the stack in whatever order you like.

If you have the Ventmaw's trigger resolve first, it will provide you with six mana, which you will then be able to spend a few moments later to pay for Hellkite Charger's ability.

Q: Does Primal Surge put all the permanents onto the battlefield at the same time?

A: No. Primal Surge operates sequentially, exiling one single card at a time, allowing you to put that one card onto the battlefield, and then repeating the process if you do so, again and again until you either hit a non-permanent card or choose to stop. This means that the permanents are entering the battlefield one by one, which may be important for—among other things—figuring out whether or not any given card's triggered abilities go off.

However, it should be noted that any abilities that trigger during the resolution of Primal Surge will only be put onto the stack after the Surge has completely finished resolving, and things that entered later on in the surge will be on the battlefield at that point.

For example, if you used Primal Surge and got Garruk's Companion, Ivy Lane Denizen, and Ancient Crab (in that order), nothing will trigger, because the Denizen didn't see the Companion enter the battlefield.

However, if they Surged out in a different order, with the Denizen first, then the Companion later, and then the Crab, Ivy Lane Denizen will trigger (because it was around to see the Companion enter the battlefield), and you will be able to put a +1/+1 counter on any of your creatures, even the Crab, because while it wasn't around at the time the ability triggered, it is around when you're putting the ability on the stack, and therefore is a legal target.

Q: Would Locket of Yesterdays reduce the cost of the copy of a spell cast from the graveyard with Harness the Storm?

A: Only if there's a second copy of that card already in the graveyard that you're not casting. (Or maybe I should call it a third, since you had to cast one to trigger Harness the Storm in the first place.)

The first step of casting a spell is to take it from wherever it is and put it onto the stack. Once you do that, it's no longer in your graveyard, and therefore isn't around for Locket of Yesterdays to count for reducing its own cost.

Q: If I have a Forerunner of the Empire and cast a Polyraptor, how many tokens can I end up with?

A: Assuming no other cards are involved, the maximum number of Raptors you can get is eight (one original plus seven tokens), but if for some reason you don't want to have to deal with that many Raptors (maybe dino-kibble is expensive, maybe they're hard to housebreak, I don't know), you could choose to end up with fewer than that.

The Raptors enter the battlefield one at a time, causing Forerunner triggers when they do, and if you choose to use Forerunner while there's still additional Polyraptor triggers on the stack waiting to resolve, you won't end up with as many Raptors. Using this method (or the alternative method of simply not using Forerunner every time), you can end up with anywhere from one to four Raptors and a living Forerunner, or seven Raptors with a dead Forerunner.

Q: If I play Wasteland Strangler, can I use Eldrazi Displacer in response and put the displaced creature into the graveyard with the Strangler?

A: You cannot. Eldrazi Displacer's ability both exiles and returns the creature you targeted during its resolution, so it's not in exile later on when Wasteland Strangler's ability resolves, and thus can't be processed. You can only choose to process a card that's currently in exile, not one that simply used to be exiled before something else happened to it.

Q: If I name Tetzimoc, Primal Death for Sorcerous Spyglass, does that shut down its in-hand ability?

A: It does. Sorcerous Spyglass shuts down activated abilities from any source with the name you chose, even ones that aren't permanents on the battlefield. A Tetzimoc, Primal Death in your opponent's hand is still named Tetzimoc, Primal Death, and the ability doesn't produce mana and therefore definitely isn't a mana ability, so the Spyglass shuts it down.

Q: I have a Hellspark Elemental in my graveyard and a Reverberate in my hand. My Elemental says to unearth it as a sorcery—does that mean I can Reverberate it to get a copy?

A: You cannot. When Unearth says "only as a sorcery", what it means is that there's an additional timing restriction on using the ability: you can only use it during your main phase when you have priority and the stack is empty. (Which is the same timing restriction that normally applies to casting sorcery spells.) It doesn't mean that the ability is actually a spell, it's simply trying to describe the timing restriction in a way that most players will understand without having to explicitly talk about priority and the stack. And that's shorter, to boot.

Q: Can I give Polyraptor tokens a Fatal Push?

A: You cannot. (Or rather, you can use Fatal Push on them, since Push can target any creature, but it won't actually destroy them.)

While most tokens have no mana cost—giving them a converted mana cost of 0—and are thus prime targets for a quick nudge into the afterlife, tokens that are a copy of something have the same mana cost as whatever they're copying unless specified otherwise. So Polyraptor tokens have a mana cost of , just like the original, and therefore a converted mana cost of 8, quite a bit too high to get pushed around.

Q: If my opponent uses Wasteland Strangler to process an exiled card from Azor's Gateway's ability, would the Gateway flip when the condition is met later on even though the actual card's not exiled any more?

A: No, because if you don't have five cards with different converted mana costs sitting in exile right at that moment, all of which got there because of the Gateway, you haven't met the condition at all.

Azor's Gateway doesn't care about what you may have happened to exile in the past—what it cares about is what's in exile right now. As soon as your opponent took your card out of exile, the Gateway lost track of it and forgot all about it. If you want to pass through that gateway, you're going to have to exile another card to replace the one you lost.

Q: If I cast a creature, can my opponent use an instant right away after the creature enters the battlefield, or do they have to wait for me to do something?

A: They have to wait. After any spell or ability resolves, the active player (the one whose turn it is) is always the one who gets the first chance to do things. Only after they get that chance does the opponent get an opportunity to do things of their own.

Q: If I give someone Illusions of Grandeur with Donate in a multiplayer game, and then die, do they still lose the life?

A: They do indeed. When you leave the game, the Illusions of Grandeur you own leaves the game with you, which means it leaves the battlefield. This triggers its ability, and since your opponent controlled the Illusions just before it mysteriously disappeared, they control that trigger, and there's no reason it wouldn't be put onto the stack just like any other trigger.

And that's all we have for now, folks! Moko's surely almost done in the back, so it's time for us to sign off. Be sure to come back next week, when Charlotte will have a fresh batch of rules questions hot off the presses for us!

...Why do I smell burning circuitry and charred zombie?

- 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.


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