Published on 02/05/2018

Modern Mayhem

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Sadly, our writers haven't developed the power of precognition... yet.
By the time you're reading this article, Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan will have come and gone, and what a great event it was. Who can forget that amazing play by (PRO PLAYER NAME) in the top 8 or that crazy topdeck in round (#) that helped (OTHER PRO PLAYER NAME) win that game where he was hopelessly behind? Good times.

Seriously, though, I'm writing this article before the Pro Tour, so I have no idea what's going to happen, but with Modern making its return to the PT circuit, it's sure to be a good time! In honour of the first Modern Pro Tour in a while, here are some fun Modern questions!

As always, if you have rules questions of your own, send them to us at , or tweet shorter questions to us @CranialTweet — If you write in, you'll get an answer, and potentially see your question appear in an upcoming issue.

But for now, let's make with the Modern!

Q: Can you please explain the interaction of Blood Sun and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth?

A: Urborg will still make all lands on the battlefield into Swamps, and those lands will be able to be tapped for black mana.
Why is this the case? Because of layers. Urborg's ability applies in layer 4, the type layer, and adds the Swamp subtype (and associated mana ability) to each land. Blood Sun's ability applies in layer 6, the abilities layer, and removes all abilities other than mana abilities from lands. Yes, this removes Urborg's swampification ability, but it has already been applied in an earlier layer, so its effect remains.

Q: If I have an Archive Trap in my graveyard and give it flashback with Snapcaster Mage, can I pay 0 to cast it if an opponent has searched their library this turn?

A: No. Snapcaster Mage's ability gives Archive Trap a flashback cost equal to its mana cost, in this case, and that's the cost you have to pay to cast it from your graveyard. Both Archive Trap's own ability and flashback give it different alternate costs, but only flashback allows you to cast it from your graveyard. When you cast a spell, you can only ever pay one alternate cost for it, and so you have to pay the flashback cost here since that's what's allowing you to cast Archive Trap from the graveyard in the first place.

Q: What's the best way to track what a Meddling Mage or Pithing Needle has named? Just a sticky note on each one or something like that?

A: Writing down what you've named on a slip of paper or sticky note is ideal, yes. It's also best to make sure that the paper is stuck to the card in some way. When I'm playing with these sorts of cards, I usually just write on a strip of paper and slip it into the top of the card sleeve to keep it secure.

Q: I know that if I Remand a spell cast with flashback, that spell will wind up in exile, but what happens if I Remand a spell cast with Jace, Telepath Unbound or Torrential Gearhulk?

A: In these cases, the card will go back to its owner's hand. Unlike the replacement effect for flashback, which exiles the card if it would try to go anywhere other than to exile from the stack,
the abilities of Jace and Torrential Gearhulk only specify that the card should be exiled instead of going to the graveyard. Remand is sending the card back to its owner's hand, not to the graveyard, so Jace and Gearhulk's replacement effects don't apply.

Q: I'm playing Eldrazi and Taxes and I want to get a card from exile under a Tidehollow Sculler into my opponent's graveyard using Wasteland Strangler and their only creature is an Eternal Scourge. Can I target the Scourge with the Strangler's ability and eat the card from the Sculler?

A: No, this won't work.
When you put Wasteland Strangler's trigger on the stack targeting Eternal Scourge, the exile trigger of Eternal Scourge will trigger and go on the stack above Wasteland Strangler's trigger. After Eternal Scourge exiles itself, Wasteland Strangler's trigger will go to resolve only to find that its target is no longer legal. This causes the trigger to be countered before you have a chance to process the card under Tidehollow Sculler into the graveyard since doing so only happens as part of the resolution of Wasteland Strangler's trigger.

Q: I'm trying to wrap my head around the Dredge archetype, and was wondering if you have multiple cards in your graveyard with Dredge, could you stack them and mill a bunch of cards, or can you only do it once? For example, could I dredge both Stinkweed Imp and Golgari Thug at the same time or do I have to pick one?

A: You can only dredge once for each card you would draw.
Dredge is a replacement effect that can replace a draw. When you would draw a card, instead you can return a card with Dredge to your hand from your graveyard by putting a number of cards into your graveyard from your library equal to the number after the Dredge keyword on the card. Once you replace a draw with a dredge ability, there's no longer anything for the other dredge abilities to modify.

Casting a long shadow over PT RIX?

Q: Does Blood Sun do anything against the Urzatron lands?
(Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower)

A: No. Blood Sun only removes abilities from lands if they're not mana abilities and the Tron lands only have mana abilities. They can still be tapped for or each if you control a full set.

Q: If I control a Merfolk, can I use Mystical Teachings to grab Crashing Tide?

A: No.
While flash functions on the stack and in any zone that you could cast a spell from, an ability that grants Flash only functions on the stack. This means that Crashing Tide won't have flash while it's in your library and so it cannot legally be tutored up with Mystical Teachings.

Q: I've been told that Trinisphere "always wins" when casting a spell, but what does this mean exactly and why is it the case?

A: To determine a spell's cost, you start with its mana cost or alternate cost, add any additional costs, apply any cost reduction effects, and then finally apply Trinisphere's effect.
Trinisphere's effect is (currently) unique in Magic. It checks the amount of mana that needs to be spent to cast each spell and so this effect has to be applied after both cost-increasing effects and cost-reducing effects to see what the final cost would be at that point. This means that Trinisphere has to have its own little step in the process of determining a spell's cost.

Q: On the topic of Trinisphere, can you explain the interaction between Trinisphere, Delve, and Phyrexian mana?

A: When you cast a spell with Trinisphere on the battlefield, it will look at the spell's cost once any alternate costs, cost increases, and cost reductions have been applied and then increase the total cost to three mana if it's not already three mana or more.

Phyrexian mana falls afoul of Trinisphere because the choice for whether to pay mana or life for each Phyrexian mana symbol in a spell's cost is made before its final cost is determined. This means that if you choose to pay 2 life instead of G to cast your Mutagenic Growth, Trinisphere isn't going to like that and will make you pay in addition to the 2 life. If you had chosen to pay G, then it would increase the total cost to .

Delve, convoke, and improvise all get around Trinisphere's shenanigans because they're payment mechanics that aren't applied until after the total cost of the spell has been determined. So when you cast Gurmag Angler, Trinisphere sees that its total cost is seven and leaves it alone, even if you end up paying for it by only spending and by exiling six cards from your graveyard.

Q: I hate losing to Bogles at my local store! What would happen if I cast End Hostilities against a creature enchanted with Hyena Umbra or other totem armor auras?

A: Totem Armor will work as normal here.
Totem Armor is a replacement effect that replaces the enchanted creature being destroyed with the aura being destroyed instead (and all damage being removed from the creature).
When End Hostilities resolves, it wants to destroy all creatures and all permanents attached to them. This means it wants to destroy both the totem armor aura and the creature enchanted by it. Totem armor modifies that event to instead be that the creature has all damage removed from it and the aura is destroyed twice (or End Hostilities will try to destroy it twice, at least).
Yeah, that's kind of weird, but that's replacement effects for you.

Q: If a player casts Chord of Calling and gets an Eternal Witness from their deck, can they get back the Chord of Calling with Eternal Witness's trigger?

A: Yes, they can get back Chord of Calling with Eternal Witness's trigger.
Eternal Witness's trigger triggers when it enters the battlefield, but the trigger doesn't go on the stack until after Chord of Calling finishes resolving. At that point Chord of Calling is in your graveyard and will be a legal target for Eternal Witness's trigger.

Q: My opponent and I both forgot to put a permanent back into play when Flickerwisp's delayed trigger should have gone on the stack. We didn't notice the mistake until a couple of turns later. Is there a fix or does the game simply continue with the exiled permanent remaining in exile?

A: Delayed triggers that only cause a card to change zones cannot be missed. If such a trigger is found to have been missed, then the opponent of that trigger's controller chooses whether or not the trigger will go on the stack immediately or at the beginning of the next step or phase. This happens no matter how long ago the trigger was missed.

It takes devotion and sacrifice to make it to the Pro Tour.
Q: So let's say I'm playing at a PPTQ and I have Kataki, War's Wage out against Affinity. On my opponent's upkeep I try to remind them of the triggers, but they've drawn a card before I can get the words out. What happens?

A: Kataki grants the triggered ability to each artifact in play, so it's the controller of those artifacts who is responsible for remembering the triggers and resolving them properly. If your opponent misses these triggers, then it's too late for them to be able to pay for any of them. You, as that player's opponent, will have the option to have the default action of sacrifice carried out for each trigger missed this way. At competitive REL, your opponent will receive a warning for the missed triggers.

Q: If a creature with persist (e.g. Kitchen Finks) dies, and in response to the persist trigger the opposing player exiles that creature from the graveyard, does it still come back?

A: No. The card with persist is still in the graveyard while the trigger is on the stack. Exiling the graveyard at that time will exile it before the trigger can return to the battlefield. Since the Kitchen Finks is no longer in the graveyard, the trigger does nothing when it resolves.

Q: I'm trying to figure out how to beat Storm in modern. How would the stack operate with Past in Flames being cast for its flashback cost if I respond by exiling their graveyard? Will the Past in Flames be removed from the stack since it's being cast from the graveyard or will it still happen and add to the nasty storm count?

A: When a spell is cast for its flashback cost, it goes on the stack like any other spell. This means that the card is no longer in the graveyard and thus can't be exiled by whatever effect you're using to get rid of your opponent's graveyard.
In this scenario, Past in Flames will resolve as normal and then be exiled. It won't do anything other than increase storm count, though, since there's nothing left in the graveyard to give flashback.

Q: How can someone tap a freshly cast Heritage Druid and two Nettle Sentinels for Heritage Druid's ability? Wouldn't summoning sickness affect them?

A: "Summoning sickness" only prevents creatures from attacking or activating their own abilities that include the tap or untap symbols in their costs. It doesn't stop them from being tapped for other reasons, including to pay for activated abilities that don't include the tap symbol, such as Heritage Druid's ability.

Q: If I have Azusa, Lost but Seeking out, use up my three land drops, bounce her, then replay her do I get another two land drops for that turn?

A: No. Whenever you go to play a land on your turn, the number of lands you've played this turn is checked against the number of lands you're allowed to play. If it's less than that number, then you can play the land. Otherwise, you can't.
Both before and after Azusa is bounced and replayed, you've played 3 out of 3 lands you're allowed to play this turn, so you can't play any additional lands this turn.

Well, it's time to wrap up all this post-Pro Tour mayhem and put our Modern decks back on the shelf. As always, you can read more Q&A from me over at my blog at and Carsten will be back here with more fresh answers for you all next week!

- Charlotte


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