Published on 04/09/2018

Thirteen Candles

Cranial Translation
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To celebrate Cranial Insertion's 13th
anniversary, Moko has invited
thirteen of his friends.
Greetings and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion. A little over thirteen years ago, Cranial Insertion published its very first article, and then Eli sent Moko to co-author Thijs to help him sort through his mail. The flight did not end well and Moko has been a Zombie ever since, which means that today we celebrate not only Cranial Insertion's thirteenth anniversary, but also Moko's thirteenth, um, undeathday? Rebirthday? Well, let's just call it a birthday.

To celebrate the fact that Cranial Insertion is now a teenager, we give you another fresh selection of rules questions. If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet short questions at @CranialTweet. One of our authors will respond to you, and your question might appear in a future article.

Note that Dominaria previews are in full swing, so you are welcome to send in questions about officially previewed cards, and we'll respond as long as an answer is available without speculating about upcoming rules changes. However, Cranial Insertion is traditionally spoiler-free, so we won't publish any Dominaria questions until the prerelease issue in a few weeks.

And now, without further ado, let us jump into this week's batch of rules questions.

Q: My opponent has a Bloodforged Battle-Axe equipped to their creature. I gain control of the creature and attack them. If the damage goes through, who gets the token copy of the Battle-Axe?

A: The token gets created by your opponent. You gain control of the creature, and the Battle-Axe stays attached to it, but your opponent still controls the Battle-Axe. This means that your opponent controls its ability and follows the instructions in the ability.

Q: Let's say that I control only a Whip of Erebos and some lands, and there's Erebos, God of the Dead in my graveyard. What happens if I target Erebos with the Whip?

A: First off, that is perfectly legal to do, since the ability that makes Erebos not be a creature only functions on the battlefield. Anywhere else it's always a creature card, so it's a legal target for the Whip's ability. The Whip's ability resolves and puts Erebos on the battlefield, where it arrives as a noncreature enchantment. However, the delayed triggered ability will still exile Erebos regardless of whether it's a creature or not at the end of the turn.

Q: I cast Decree of Pain and there's only an indestructible creature on the battlefield. Do I draw a card?

A: I'm afraid not. Decree of Pain counts how many creatures were actually destroyed by it, and the indestructible creature can't be destroyed, so no creatures were destroyed.

Q: What happens if Progenitor Mimic gets destroyed in response to its upkeep trigger?

A: The triggered ability checks whether the condition "if this creature isn't a token" is true, so it needs information about the source of the ability. That source is Progenitor Mimic as it existed on the battlefield. Since Progenitor Mimic is no longer on the battlefield, the game uses the last-known information from when Progenitor Mimic was on the battlefield. The ability resolves and creates a token copy of whatever Progenitor Mimic was copying.

Q: I cast Cannibalize and target my opponent's two Phyrexian Obliterators. In response, he sacrifices one of them. Does Cannibalize still resolve, and if so, can I choose which effect hits the remaining Obliterator?

A: Yes, Cannibalize still has a remaining legal target, so it resolves and does as much as it can. However, you don't get to choose which effect hits the remaining target because you have to follow the instructions in order. This means that you "choose" the only remaining target to exile it, and you can't put +1/+1 counters on the other target because Cannibalize can't affect an illegal target. In other words, you're forced to do the thing you probably would have chosen to do anyway if you had a choice.

Q: What should I do if I want to use Blacker Lotus or Chaos Confetti without tearing them into pieces? Also, when the ability resolves, do the pieces go to the graveyard or into exile?

A: Tearing up the card is one of the instructions you have to follow when the ability resolves, and it's not optional, so you have to do it. If you don't want to tear up the card, don't play with it.

The last instruction tells you to remove the pieces from the game. This wording has not been updated in Oracle, so you actually remove the pieces from the game, which means that the pieces are neither in the graveyard nor in the exile zone.

Q: Suppose I control a Half-Squirrel, Half-Kitten and Super Secret Tech. Does Half-Squirrel, Half-Kitten get the +1/+1 bonus if only one half of it is foil?

A: I'd say that it shouldn't get the full bonus if it's not entirely foil. In the spirit of Un-rules, it should get half the bonus if it's half foil, so it gets + ½ / + ½.

Thirteen can be a lucky number
under the right circumstances.
Q: If I target an opponent's card with Extirpate, can I then cast Archive Trap for free?

A: No, that doesn't work. Extirpate doesn't force your opponent to search their library; it instructs you to search their library yourself. Since your opponent didn't search their library, Archive Trap's alternative cost doesn't apply.

Q: I control Selvala, Heart of the Wilds and resolve Char-Rumbler. In response to Selvala's ability, I bounce Selvala to my hand. Do I get to draw a card?

A: You sure do. Selvala's ability still resolves, and it checks the creatures other than Char-Rumbler whether their power is greater than Char-Rumbler's power. Since there are no other creatures on the battlefield, Char-Rumbler's power is greater than any other creature's power, so you may draw a card.

Q: My opponent casts a Conflagrate that splits damage between me and my creature. If I use Deflecting Palm and choose Conflagrate as the source, what happens?

A: Deflecting Palm says the next time the chosen source would deal damage to you, it prevents that damage. This means that it only prevents the damage that would be dealt to you, and then it deals that much damage back to your opponent. The damage that's assigned to your creature is dealt normally.

Q: If I sacrifice three creatures to flash back Dread Return, can I target one of the creatures I sacrificed?

A: No, that doesn't work. Casting a spell is a fixed sequence of several steps, including choosing targets and paying the spell's cost. Choosing targets happens before paying the cost, so the creature you're planning to sacrifice as part of the flashback cost isn't in the graveyard yet when you have to choose the target.

Q: My opponent plays Ravenous Chupacabra and targets my Ranging Raptors with its enter-the-battlefield ability. Can I respond with Reckless Rage and target the Chupacabra and my Raptors before the Raptors die?

A: Absolutely. Ravenous Chupacabra's ability uses the stack, and by the time the ability goes on the stack, Chupacabra is on the battlefield. This means that you can cast Reckless Rage in response, and Ravenous Chupacabra is a valid target for it.

Q: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Eidolon of the Great Revel are on the battlefield and I cast Blightning. Does Eidolon's ability trigger?

A: I'm afraid so. Even though Thalia increases Blightning's total cost to , that has nothing to do with Blightning's converted mana cost. The converted mana cost of a card is derived entirely from the mana symbols in its mana cost which is (usually) printed in the top right corner of the card, and it has very little to do with how much mana a player has paid, will pay, or might pay to cast it. Blightning's converted mana cost is always 3, so casting it triggers the Eidolon's ability.

Q: I control a Counterbalance and my opponent casts Blaze. If I reveal a Blaze of my own with the Counterbalance trigger, does their Blaze get countered?

A: Only if they chose X=0, which is unlikely at best. When you calculate the converted mana cost of a card that has an X in its mana cost, X is considered to be 0 except if the card is on the stack. If it's on the stack, X has the value that was chosen for it. This means that your Blaze has a converted mana cost of 1, while your opponent's Blaze has a converted mana cost of X+1, which is not the same assuming that your opponent actually meant to deal damage with their Blaze.

Watch your step!
Q: There's a Rest in Peace on the battlefield and I destroy one of my opponent's creatures. If I hit another one of my opponent's creatures with Tragic Slip, does it get -1/-1 or -13/-13?

A: Tragically for you, and fortunately for them, it only gets -1/-1. Tragic Slip checks whether a creature died this turn, which means whether a creature went to the graveyard this turn. Because of Rest in Peace, the creature that you destroyed went to the exile zone instead of to the graveyard, so it didn't go to the graveyard.

Q: My opponent controls Master Biomancer and casts a 1/1 creature. Can I hit that creature with a -1/-1 spell to kill it before it gets counters from the Biomancer?

A: No, that's not possible. Master Biomancer creates a replacement effect that changes how your opponent's creature enters the battlefield. You can't respond to that ability, and the creature has those counters on it as soon as it's on the battlefield.

Q: I cast Insult earlier in the turn, and now I attack with a crewed Renegade Freighter. My opponent blocks it with two 3/3 creatures. Can I deal 3 damage to each of them and trample 4 damage to my opponent?

A: No. Insult does not double Renegade Freighter's power; it only changes how much damage is dealt once it gets dealt, but first the damage needs to be assigned, and Insult's effect doesn't change the rules for damage assignment. Your Renegade Freighter has 5 damage to assign, and it has to assign at least 3 damage to whichever blocker you put first in the damage assignment order. If you assign 3 damage to the first blocker, you can only assign 2 damage to the second blocker, and there's nothing left over to assign to your opponent.

Q: If I control only a Mistfire Adept and cast Temur Battle Rage on it, does it get trample?

A: It sure does. Casting Temur Battle Rage triggers Mistfire Adept's prowess ability, which goes on the stack above Temur Battle Rage and resolves first. By the time Temur Battle Rage resolves, it sees that you now control a creature with power 4 or greater, so you get the additional effect.

Q: Can I show my hand to my opponent if I want? And in a multiplayer game, if I get to see a player's hand with Peek, can I show the hand to the other players?

A: Yes to both, assuming that you're playing by the Magic Tournament Rules. Rule 3.12 of the Magic Tournament Rules says, in part, "Players may choose to reveal their hands or any other hidden information available to them, unless specifically prohibited by the rules." Thanks to Peek, your opponent's hand is hidden information that is available to you, so you may reveal that information.

Q: I'm at Friday Night Magic, and I'm watching my friend play a match. During game one, I notice something she could have played better, which I tell her about while they're shuffling up for game two. Her opponent is upset and tells me I shouldn't do that. Is he right?

A: Yes, he is right, although he probably should have called a judge. What you've done is called "providing strategic advice during a match" which falls into General Unwanted Behaviors in the Judging at Regular REL document. You might think that what you did is harmless because they are between games and the situation you're talking about is in the past, but your friend and her opponent still have at least one more game to play with the same decks, so the same situation could conceivably arise again. You're welcome to give strategic advice after the entire match is done, but you should refrain from doing so during the match, which includes the time between games of the match.

And that's all the time we have for now. Please celebrate our thirteenth anniversary responsibly, and please come back next week for our next episode.

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a DCI-certified Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He occasionally judges events in the Northwest Ohio/Southeast Michigan area.


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