Published on 01/18/2010


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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

So is there a random chance of pulling
non-foil card or something?

Hey everyone! It certainly feels like a long time since I last wrote a Cranial Insertion article for you guys; I was a little under the weather last go-around, but thanks to Carsten Haese, the new guy, and Moko for filling in. And while I was gone, the Worldwake spoiler started filling up! This seems like as good a time as any to remind everyone that although we can't answer any rules questions now, even for officially spoiled cards, we will be happy to answer them once the set's FAQ comes out. Until then, there's always a possibility that rules might change, so hold 'em until after the prerelease! In the meantime, send the questions about cards that are already out to !

Q: Can we sanction a draft with those swank new all-foil Alara block packs?
A: If you have eight people willing to break their piggy banks open to draft with those shiny cards, sure! They're officially made products, the card pool is the same, and they're sealed, so go ahead - it's cheaper than an Alpha draft!

Q: In a multiplayer game, does everyone draw on their first turn, including the player who's going first?
A: Yep! And that rule's just there to keep things fair. In a one-on-one game, the player going first has a big speed advantage over their opponent. But a player skipping their first draw and the next seven players in the game getting an extra card wouldn't be fair at all.

Q: So I'm attacking with Akroma, Angel of Wrath and the defending player tries to use the Order part of Order/Chaos on her. Is this legal?
A: Off the stack, a split card has all characteristics of both halves. But on the stack, it only has the characteristics of the half being cast. Order isn't black or red, so Akroma's a legal target. Her twin sister, however....

Q: I have Nezumi Graverobber with mana on board to get rid of the one card in my opponent's graveyard and flip him. If he Lightning Bolts it, can I flip in response and have the spell fizzle?
A: A flipped card is the same object it was before, just flipped. Without other buffs to make a 4/2 survive the Bolt a 2/1 wouldn't, it's still going to die.

Q: Let's say I have five 1/1 Elf tokens in play and an Eldrazi Monument, then play March of Souls. How many creatures do I end up with - five or ten?
A: Just the five you started out with. March of Souls only makes creatures for each creature destroyed, but your Elves are indestructible.

Q: If I cascade into a Lavalanche with Bloodbraid Elf, can I choose whatever I want for X?
A: Sure, if you want it to be 0. Otherwise, no. When you're casting a spell without paying its mana cost, the only legal value for X is 0. Additional costs like kicker can be paid as much as you'd like though.

You're going to have to wait until I see
you again for any
Worldwake questions!
Q: If I attack with three Goblin Guides and my opponent is lucky enough to get three lands in a row, can I then smack him with a Runeflare Trap?
A: Nope. Goblins aren't smart enough to let people draw cards, they just sort of guide them into their hands. Only effects that say "draw" actually count as drawing cards, anything else is simply moving the card from the library to the hand.

Q: With a Platinum Angel on the field and a way to generate a trillion mana, can I pay a trillion life for Bond of Agony?
A: Only if you also have a trillion life. Although you can go down to negative life, you can't pay more life than you have.

Q: I have an Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician out and a Mogg Fanatic attacking. The Fanatic gets blocked. Can I put Ib's trigger on the stack and then sacrifice the Fanatic, getting the best of both worlds just like old times?
A: No. Ib's ability says "if you do", which means "if you do sacrifice it to this ability". If you sac the Fanatic in response to deal 1 damage, it won't be there when Ib goes looking to make him explode.

Q: Can Wretched Banquet destroy a creature that's the only one on the field?
A: Yep - since there's no creature on the battlefield that has less power than the target, Wretched Banquet's condition is fulfilled.

Q: I read an article recently where they said Meddling Mage doesn't stop a spell from being cast off of Isochron Scepter. Why is that? The copy's still being cast, isn't it?
A: It is, but the real sneaky part of the Scepter that makes it ignore meddling mages is that Meddling Mage only stops the named card from being played, and the copies created by Isochron Scepter aren't cards.

Q: I have three forests, three Nettle Sentinels and Chord of Calling in my hand. I cast Chord tapping three forests and three Sentinels for convoke. The Nettle Sentinels untap because of the green Chord. Can I tap them again for Convoke (for X=6)?
A: That won't work. The Nettle Sentinels won't untap until after you've cast Chord of Calling, at which point you've already paid any costs for the spell.

Q: I have a Vampire Hexmage out and my opponent has an Eternity Vessel on 43. When he plays a land and chooses to set his life total to the number of counters on Eternity Vessel, can I pop my Hexmage at it and make him go to 0 instead?
A: Not quite. Eternity Vessel is a "may" trigger, and your opponent won't choose whether or not to set his life total to the number of counters on it until it starts resolving. Once that happens, it's too late to remove all the counters from it. The best you can do is remove the counters in response, and then your opponent will probably choose to stay at whatever life total they were at instead of going to 0.

Q: With a Trinisphere out, can I set a Chalice of the Void on 3 to counter every spell that would cost less than 3?
A: There's actually no interaction between Trinisphere and Chalice other than the obvious one of trying to set a Chalice on 0 or 1. Chalice looks at the spell's converted mana cost, which Trinisphere doesn't change.

Q: What happens if I kick a Rite of Replication on an animated Mutavault?
A: You get land tokens, some of the most bizarre tokens in all of Magic. Copy effects only copy the printed characteristics of a card (plus any other copy effects), so you just get unanimated Mutavaults.

Q: I have two Nettling Curses on one my opponent's creatures, and then he claims that he can "forget" to untap it and there is nothing I can do about it. He claims that rule 502.2 lets him determine what will untap, but I thought that untaping your stuff was a forced action. Who is right?
A: Lots of casual players who come to the real tables who play under casual rules think that forgetting to untap things means they don't untap. I'm not sure where the "rule" came from, as it doesn't seem very casual or fun. But while rule 502.2 says that the active player determines which objects untap, it doesn't mean that they actually have a choice. Unless there's something saying "You may choose not to untap this" or something doesn't untap as normal, he'll "determine" that everything he controls untaps and do so.

You're not your own opponent, no matter
how bad you play.
Q: I know I can't Swerve a Cruel Ultimatum, but what about Twincasting one? Can I choose a different target?
A: You're right that you can't Swerve a Cruel Ultimatum. Cruel Ultimatum can only target an opponent of its controller, and so in a one-on-one duel it can't be Swerved back to the person who cast it. But Twincast creates a copy that you control, so you can turn it around on your opponent in that way. And not have to worry about any Swerves tripping you up in return!

Q: If I Maelstrom Pulse a Bloodchief Ascension, will I lose 2 life?
A: Nope! The reason for this is that Maelstrom Pulse only goes to the graveyard as the last part of its resolution, at which point Bloodchief Ascension is already in the yard.

Q: How much can I abuse a Killer Instinct and Esperzoa combo? Can I stack Killer Instinct's upkeep trigger before my Esperzoa's so that a creature artifact with a neat enters-the-battlefield ability (say, Sphinx Summoner) would get into play, trigger, then get bounced in my hand thanks to Esperzoa?
A: Yep! Esperzoa's ability doesn't target, it just bounces back an artifact when it resolves. So you can let Killer Instinct's ability resolve first, then return whatever you whip up so you get some more use out of it.

Q: So let's say Player A has a Chalice of the Void on 0, and Player B has a Hive Mind. Now player B casts Pact of the Titan with nothing else on the stack on his turn. What exactly happens?
A: When the Pact is cast, both the Chalice's and Hive Mind's abilities trigger. The triggers go on the stack in Active Player, Non-Active Player order, so first the Hive Mind trigger will go on the stack, then Player A's Chalice trigger will go on the stack. Chalice of the Void will counter it, and since the game needs to know something about the Pact and it's not there anymore, it'll use last-known information to create the copy. Player A will need to find some way to make by his next upkeep!

Alright, that's it for me this week! Next time I see you, I will be bringing some Worldwake questions to the table!

About the Author:
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.


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