Published on 02/19/2018

Digging Through the Rare Box

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

That box was sorted before you
started digging through it...

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Don't mind me this week, I'm just digging though our communal rare box here at the CI headquarters, trying to find some new cards for my deck (and some rules questions to answer). There's a lot of hidden or overlooked gems in Magic that just need the right deck to fit in, and the same can be said for rules questions. Maybe there's an interaction out there that you may not have considered, but after reading about it below, it inspires you to build a deck around it! Or, you know, just some crazy new interaction that you need for your commander deck, who know.

But enough about my deck problems, you're here for rules questions! If you have a rules question of your own, you can send it to us, and we'll get back to you with an answer. We might even use your question in an upcoming article. If you have a short question that can be answered in 280 characters or less, you can send us a tweet at @CranialTweet. But if your question requires a few more character than that, you can e-mail us at .

Q: I cast Jadelight Ranger, but before its enter the battlefield trigger resolves, my opponent kills it with a Magma Spray. Do I still get to explore twice?

A: You do! Once the ability is on the stack, it will still resolve, even if the Ranger is no longer on the battlefield. If you happen to reveal lands when exploring, you'll still be able to put them into your hand. But if you reveal a nonland, the Ranger won't get a counter (since it's no longer on the battlefield), but you can still choose to keep it on top of your library or put it into your graveyard.

Q: I have a Drake Haven in play, and I just cycled a Censor. Can I see what I draw from cycling before I decide whether or not to make a token with the Haven?

A: Nope, you can't do that. The triggered ability from the Haven goes on the stack above the activated ability of Censor, and that trigger will resolve first. You're going to have to deal with the Haven trigger before you draw your card from cycling (and knowing what lands you want to keep untapped for the card you just drew).

Q: My opponent has a Solemnity in play and casts Thing in the Ice. They claim it enters with no counters, transforms immediately, and bounces my board. Are they right?

A: Well, they're partially right. They are correct that, because of Solemnity, Thing in the Ice will enter the battlefield with zero ice counters on it. However, Thing in the Ice only checks the number of counters on it as part of its triggered ability resolving. It doesn't care how many counters it has at any other time. While their Thing in the Ice will enter the battlefield with zero ice counters on it, they'll still have to cast an instant or sorcery after it enters to cause the Thing's ability to trigger (and to have the Thing check how many ice counters it has on it).

Q: My opponent activates the ability of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker targeting their Pestermite. In response, I flash in Crafty Cutpurse and steal their token. Do I still have to sacrifice the token at the end of turn?

A: Nope, you don't have to sacrifice it. While the Cutpurse makes the token enter the battlefield under your control, your opponent still controls Kiki-Jiki's activated ability, meaning they also control the delayed trigger that makes them sacrifice the token at the end of turn. But you can't sacrifice something you don't control, so the Pestermite token that you stole won't be sacrificed and will remain on the battlefield indefinitely.

Q: If I have a Midnight Oil and a Spellbook in play, what's my maximum hand size?

A: This comes down to timestamps. Whichever card entered the battlefield last will win. If you played Spellbook, then the Oil, then Midnight Oil has the later timestamp and is going to determine your maximum hand size, which is probably not the best play since it's going to keep shrinking. But if you play the Oil first, then Spellbook, then Spellbook determines your maximum hand size and you'll have no maximum hand size, no matter how many counters the Oil has.

Where's that last Atog that I need?

Q: I cast Dire Fleet Daredevil, exiling a Living End from my opponent's graveyard. Can I cast it for free? Can I suspend it?

A: The answer to both questions is "no". You cannot cast the End, because the End has no mana cost. While the Daredevil lets you cast it from exile, its cost is still unpayable (since it has no mana cost), and you aren't able to cast it. And you can only suspend a card if it's in your hand. You can't suspend a card if it's anywhere else like exile, so you won't be able to suspend the End either. Pretty much all you did was exile the End from their graveyard.

Q: My opponent exiled one of my creatures with Banisher Priest. Then I cast Ixidron, turning the Priest face down. Do I get my creature back?

A: You'll get it back... once that face down Priest leaves the battlefield. Banisher Priest exiles the creature until the Priest leaves the battlefield. While turning the Priest face down removes its abilities, that doesn't cause the Priest to leave the battlefield, it's just a face down 2/2 creature with no abilities. Until you can remove that face down Priest from the battlefield, your creature remains exiled (but it will return, even if the Priest is face down and doesn't have its normal abilities when it leaves the battlefield).

Q: Can I evoke a Spitebellows to kill my opponent's Reality Smasher without having to discard a card?

A: Yep, that works. While evoking Spitebellows may feel like you're just casting a spell that deals six damage to a creature, that's not quite what's happening. You're casting the Spitebellows, it enters the battlefield, you sacrifice it, then its dies ability triggers. At that point, Reality Smasher is being targeted by an ability, not a spell, so the Smasher's ability will not trigger. By using Spitebellow's evoke ability, you can kill the Smasher without triggering the Smasher's ability.

Q: I cast Madcap Experiment, but my opponent has a Grafdigger's Cage in play. What happens?

A: Well, that depends - what artifact did you reveal with the Experiment? If you revealed a noncreature artifact, you're fine - the Cage won't do anything to stop it from entering the battlefield. But if you reveal an artifact creature - well, then you're going to have problems. The Experiment tries to put it on the battlefield, but the Cage stops it from entering, keeping that artifact creature on top of your library while putting the rest of the revealed cards on the bottom of your library. Hopefully you weren't hoping that Platinum Emperion you revealed was going to save you this game.

Q: I have a Walking Ballista in play with one +1/+1 counter on it and a Spirit Link attached to it. I remove the last counter to deal one damage to my opponent. Do I gain one life?

A: Nope, you don't. While Spirit Link might have been the inspiration for the lifelink ability, it doesn't actually give the attached creature lifelink. Spirit Link has a triggered ability that triggers when the enchanted creature deals damage. But in order for that ability to trigger, the Link has to be attached to the creature when the damage is dealt (in this case, when the activated ability resolves). Since the Ballista dies right after activating its ability (since it's a 0/0), the Link also goes to the graveyard shortly after. And since the Link isn't attached to the Ballista when the ability resolves, Spirit Link won't trigger and you won't gain any life.

Q: I control Serra Sphinx and a Stormtide Leviathan, while my opponent controls a Gravity Well. Can I still attack with the Sphinx?

A: You can! The Leviathan only prevents creatures without flying or islandwalk from being declared as attackers. Once they're attacking, they'll remain attacking, even if it loses flying and/or islandwalk. While Gravity Well will remove flying from the Sphinx after it attacks, it was legally declared as an attacker, and it will remain attacking, even after the Well's trigger removes flying from the Sphinx.

Q: I control a Vigor and a Ravenous Daggertooth. If my Daggertooth would be dealt damage, what happens? Do I gain 2 life and get +1/+1 counters?

A: Your Daggertooth will become bigger, but you won't get the enrage trigger. Vigor replaces the damage that would be dealt to the Daggertooth with the Daggertooth getting that many +1/+1 counters instead. The Daggertooth isn't dealt the damage, so enrage will not trigger. While Vigor will help your dinosaurs become bigger, it will effectively turn off any enrage triggers they have.

Q: I cast Thirst for Knowledge, but I have multiple artifacts that I want to discard. Can I choose to discard two artifacts instead of just one?

A: Sure, you can do that. You have to discard two cards unless you discard an artifact, but there's nothing preventing you from choosing to discard two artifacts. If you'd rather discard two artifacts instead of one, you can do that.

When in doubt, ask a friend to help you search.

Q: What happens if I copy a spell with epic, like Eternal Dominion?

A: Well, that depends: are you copying the epic spell when it's first cast, or one of the upkeep copies?

If you're copying the original spell, the original spell has epic. You'll be able to search the target opponent's library for an artifact, creature, enchantment, or land card and put it into play. Then epic will take effect, and while you'll get two copies during each of your upkeeps for the rest of the game (assuming it was your Dominion), you won't be able to cast any more spells either thanks to epic.

But if you copy one of the upkeep copies made by epic, things are a little different. The upkeep copy is a copy of the original epic spell, but the copy doesn't have epic. That means you'll be able to search their library for an artifact, creature, enchantment, or land card and put it into play, but you'll still be able to cast spells after that (but you won't get a copy of the Dominion during your future upkeeps).

Q: I cast Turf Wound targeting my opponent, then I destroy one of my opponent's lands with Field of Ruin. Can they still put a land onto the battlefield with the Ruin's ability?

A: Yep, they can. Turf Wound prevents them from playing lands this turn, but not from putting lands onto the battlefield. The Ruin's ability causes each player to search their library and put a basic land onto the battlefield. This isn't playing a land, so Turf Wound won't stop your opponent from putting a land onto the battlefield.

Q: I just animated and untapped all of my lands with Rude Awakening. If I wanted to give my lands +3/+3 with Karona, False God's trigger, what do I have to name?

A: Unfortunately, there's nothing you can name here with Karona to give them a bonus. Rude Awakening doesn't give your lands a creature type, and Karona only lets you name a creature type with its ability. Even if you have a basic land like Forest in play, you can't name "Forest" with Karona's trigger, since that's a land type, not a creature type. The best you can do is name "Avatar" to pump Karona itself, but your lands won't get a bonus.

Q: I've had a pretty active turn, casting multiple Time Warps and Temporal Manipulations, then finally casting Warrior's Oath after those extra turn spells have resolved. Can I choose to take the other extra turns first, then the turn created by the Oath?

A: Nope, there's no choice here. When there are multiple extra turn effects resolved during a turn, the most recently created turn is taken first. You don't get a choice in the matter. Since you cast Warrior's Oath last, you will take that extra turn first, and if you don't win the game by the end of that turn, you'll lose due to the Oath's delayed trigger. If you wanted the Oath turn to happen last, you either should hold off on casting it, or cast it before you cast your other extra turn cards.

Q: My opponent controls Taigam, Ojutai Master and casts Path to Exile. In response, I cast Cryptic Command, choosing to counter the Path and bounce Taigam. Will Cryptic Command counter Path to Exile?

A: Nope, it won't. When you resolve the Command, no matter what modes you picked, you follow the instructions in the order they're printed on the Command. The first mode listed is countering the spell, so we do that first. But since Taigam is still on the battlefield at that point, Taigam will prevent the Path from being countered. Then you bounce the targeted permanent, and Taigam is returned to their hand, but it's served its purpose here - the Command wasn't able to counter Path to Exile.

Q: My opponent attacks with Armory Automaton, choosing to attach my Skullclamp to their Automaton. I block and kill the Automaton. Who draws the cards, me or my opponent?

A: You draw the cards. You still control Skullclamp, even if it ends up attached to an opponent's creature. Since you control Skullclamp, you'll control Skullclamp's dies trigger, even if it was because it was attached to an opponent's creature that died, and you'll draw the cards, not the player who "borrowed" your Skullclamp.

Q: My opponent is controlling my turn with Mindslaver. Can they choose to miss my triggers?

A: Nope, they can't do that. They're just controlling your turn. Triggered abilities will still trigger like normal when their condition becomes true. They can't make you "forget" about your triggers. Now, they could make bad choices for the triggers (for instance, make you target yourself with a Blood Artist trigger so they won't lose any life), and if the trigger is optional (it uses the word "may"), they can choose not to use the trigger. But if the ability triggers, that trigger will go on the stack and will resolve. They can't choose to ignore the trigger, and you can always "help" them out by reminding them of your trigger.

That's all I have for this week. We'll see you all next week!


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