Published on 04/23/2018

At Long Last

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How did we get here?
Well it's quite the saga...
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion, once again coming to you live from sunny Dominaria!

...Wait, "sunny"? I thought the last time we were back here the sky was shrouded in eternal clouds and the future was small and fragile enough to be held in a single elf's hands? That Magus fellow must be a much faster walker than he looks if he's managed to fully restore the entire plane's ecosystem in the few short years we've been...what? It's been over a decade since we've been here? No way, it can't have been more than, oh, lord you're right. What have I been doing with my life?

If you'd like to send us some rules questions to help ward off my existential crisis, send them to us via email at or tweet them at us @CranialTweet; you'll get an answer and possibly see your question in a future article.

Q: Sagas look really cool, but how do they work?

A: In flavor terms, a Saga is the story of a piece of Dominaria's history that is being magically re-enacted over the course of your turns. The basic idea is that the Saga causes a specific series of things to happen over the course of several turns, then goes away.

In game terms, Sagas work using lore counters. Every Saga enters the battlefield with one lore counter already on it, and you put a new lore counter on each of your Sagas on each of your turns as the first main phase begins.

Whenever a lore counter is added to a Saga (including when it first enters the battlefield), if that causes the number of lore counters on the saga to become equal to (or greater than) one of that saga's 'chapter numbers' (the Roman numerals to the left of the text box), that particular 'chapter ability' of the Saga triggers, and does whatever it describes.

Once a Saga has lore counters on it equal to (or greater than) its highest 'chapter number' (always 3 in Dominaria), and its final chapter ability has resolved, you sacrifice it.

Q: So...what happens if I start adding or removing counters in other ways?

A: Chapter abilities will only trigger when counters are added, not removed, so removing a counter won't cause a previous chapter to retrigger, but adding lore counters will trigger chapter abilities no matter how the counter is being added and no matter whether or not that particular chapter ability has triggered before.

So a card like Power Conduit, for example, could effectively make a Saga tell the same chapter of its story over and over every turn; cards like Steady Progress could allow you to speed up the process and trigger multiple chapter abilities in a single turn.

Q: Can I respond to a Saga's chapter ability?

A: Yes; a Saga's chapter ability is a normal triggered ability, and can be responded to just like any other. And like other triggered abilities, responding to a Saga's chapter ability by doing something to the Saga itself won't stop that ability from resolving and doing its thing.

Q: Can I respond to a Saga's third chapter by bouncing it or removing counters so it doesn't die?

A: Absolutely! A Saga is only sacrificed if it both has counters on it equal to or greater than its final chapter number and does not have a chapter ability sitting on the stack waiting to resolve. That means that it will still be on the battlefield while its final chapter ability is on the stack, so if you respond to that ability, you can do things to it (like bouncing or removing counters) to save it.

Q: When does The First Eruption's mana get added? When do you have to use it?

A: You add a lore counter to each Saga you control as the first main phase on each of your turns begins, and this causes the appropriate chapter abilities of those Sagas to trigger; those abilities are put onto the stack before players receive priority in your main phase.

This means that if you're not proliferating or otherwise adding counters at unusual times, The First Eruption's mana is going to be added during the first main phase of your turn. If you want to to use it, you need to spend it before leaving your main phase and moving to combat.

New vocabulary is a truly historic occasion.
Q: How does historic work?

A: 'Historic' is a new game term, an English word that's been defined to have a special meaning in Magic, like a keyword. Only instead of describing an ability or an action like existing keywords, 'historic' describes a specific collection of types: any card that's an artifact, a Saga, or Legendary is historic.

Q: ...Wait, does that mean Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage will allow you to cast the new Legendary Sorceries as though they have flash?

A: It does indeed—and since Raff is a legendary creature themself, that also handily satisfies the requirement that you need to control a legendary creature or planeswalker to be able to cast such a spell.

Q: If I can potentially cast legendary sorceries in response to things, what would happen if I cast two of the same one at once? Do I have to get rid of one?

A: No. The 'legend rule' that says you can only have one legendary permanent with the same name at the same time only applies to legendary permanent cards on the battlefield; it doesn't apply to legendary sorceries because they're never on the battlefield.

Q: Speaking of the legend rule, what happens if I use In Bolas's Clutches on something if I also control another, non-legendary one of the same thing?

A: Luckily for you, nothing happens. The legend rule only applies if you control two or more legendary permanents with the same name—controlling multiple permanents with the same name doesn't matter if only one (or neither) of those permanents is legendary.

Q: Kicker doesn't increase the converted mana cost of a card, right?

A: Correct; Kicker, like other effects that can alter what a player pays to cast a spell, doesn't affect the converted mana cost of the card it's on. A card's converted mana cost is always and only the total amount of mana in its actual mana cost, regardless of what actually ends up being paid.

Q: How does Knight of Grace work with Odric, Lunarch Marshal? Do my creatures gain anything, or is 'Hexproof from black' a different ability?

A: 'Hexproof from black' is a specialized form of hexproof that only prevents certain kinds of spells and abilities your opponent controls from targeting your Knight—it's a narrower form of the same ability, in the same way that 'protection from red' is a narrower form of 'protection from everything'.

Odric, Lunarch Marshal effectively takes the keywords from your creatures and spreads them around so everyone can enjoy them, and in the case of narrower forms of those abilities, Odric spreads around the same narrower form that your creature has. Thus, if you control Knight of Grace, Odric will give all of your creatures both first strike and hexproof from black.

Q: Merfolk Trickster makes creatures lose all abilities. How does that work with */* creatures like Majestic Myriarch?

A: If Merfolk Trickster is used on Majestic Myriarch, it wipes out the ability that normally defines the Myriarch's power and toughness. Without any ability to define its power and toughness, those */* stats are left to default to 0. Until now, all effects that caused a creature to lose all abilities also happened to set their power and toughness to a specific value, so this wouldn't matter, but this time we don't have that luxury—without some other effect boosting the Myriarch's toughness, it won't survive.

Q: ...What about Tarmogoyf?

A: Tarmogoyf, Tarmogoyf, Tarmogoyf! It's always about Tarmogoyf, isn't it? Nobody asks about poor old Gaea's Avenger, who started the whole business of having math problems built into your power and toughness, and even Lhurgoyf itself is left in the dust.

Luckily for the whole family, though, all of them survive Merfolk Trickster. The trickster wipes out the ability that defines their toughness, but it doesn't wipe out the printed power and toughness, and without that ability, the math that's actually there still applies. The * defaults to 0, but that just means "1 + *" is simply an unusual way of just saying 1. So Tarmogoyf lives as a 0/1.

Pay attention to math, folks—it's a lifesaver!

This card's truly a kicker in the pants.
Q: How is Damping Sphere going to interact with Utopia Sprawl-type effects?

A: Quite well for the player running Utopia SprawlDamping Sphere won't hinder such effects at all.

Damping Sphere says that if a land would produce more than one mana, it produces instead. But in the case of Utopia Sprawl, it's not the land producing the mana, it's Utopia Sprawl itself, and Damping Sphere doesn't care one whit about mana that's being produced by something that's not a land.

This goes for other such effects as well, like Caged Sun, Dawn's Reflection, and Heartbeat of Spring—in all of these cases, it's something else producing the mana, not the land. One card this answer doesn't apply to is Mana Reflection, which unlike those other cards causes the land itself to produce more mana than it normally would—in that case, the Sphere will see that it's the land producing additional mana and step in to stop it.

Q: What does Damping Sphere mean when it says 'type' of mana? Does that mean the one you get from a Mishra's Workshop with the Sphere out can be spent on anything?

A: The "type" of mana only refers to its color or lack thereof—any additional restrictions or riders that might affect how you spend the mana or what happens when you do still apply as normal, so if you tap a Mishra's Workshop for mana with a Damping Sphere on the table, you can still only spend that mana to cast artifact spells.

Q: If I give Thorn Elemental double strike, could it deal its first strike damage to the player and then its regular damage to the blocker? Or vice versa?

A: Indeed you can! Each time you're asked to assign combat damage for Thorn Elemental, you choose whether to assign its combat damage to its blockers as normal or to the defending player as though it wasn't blocked, and this decision is made independently every time.

Thorn Elemental doesn't know, and doesn't care, whether or not you've assigned combat damage before this turn or which option you chose when you did so, so you can switch things up as you wish.

Q: Can you use Llanowar Scout to flash in a land on your opponent's turn?

A: You can absolutely use the Scout to put lands onto the battlefield during your opponent's turn. You're not allowed to play lands on an opponent's turn, but that's not what the Scout is having you do—it's bypassing the whole process of playing the land and simply putting it onto the battlefield directly.

Q: Can I activate Drudge Sentinel if it's already tapped?

A: Yes you can. Tapping the Sentinel is part of the effect the ability has when it resolves, but that doesn't matter.

Unless something says otherwise, you can activate abilities of your permanents any time you have priority and can pay the cost of doing so. Drudge Sentinel's ability doesn't specify that you can only use it when it's untapped, and the cost of activating it is only —no tapping cost involved. As such, you can activate the ability any time you have priority, whether the Sentinel is tapped or not.

Q: If Seal Away is flickered, does the sealed creature enter tapped? What happens?

A: Probably not; things that are entering the battlefield do so untapped unless something specifies otherwise, and Seal Away does no such thing. As such, if Seal Away leaves the battlefield, the card it exiled is most likely going to be entering the battlefield untapped.

This means that a moment later when Seal Away re-enters the battlefield itself and you need to choose a target for its ability, the creature that just got returned probably won't be a legal target, and you'll be forced to choose some other creature an opponent controls that is tapped as a target.

Q: If Muldrotha, the Gravetide is flickered, can you play an additional one of each permanent type during your turn?

A: Absolutely, though you probably won't be able to play an additional land.

Effects like Muldrotha that allow you to play cards from unusual places in limited quantities only keep track of whether or not you've made use of their own specific effect—they don't care if you somehow managed to cast other cards from the same place without their help. If you controlled both Muldrotha, the Gravetide and Karador, Ghost Chieftain, you could cast two creature cards from your graveyard on each of your turns—one with Muldrotha, and one with Karador.

As such, since the Muldrotha that enters the battlefield after the flicker is considered a different object than the one that was on the battlefield beforehand, it doesn't know or care what you used the old Muldrotha to cast. All it knows is that you haven't used it at all yet, so go right ahead!

This won't help you play additional lands if you've already played a land this turn, however, since the rule that you can only play one land per turn applies no matter where you're playing the land from.

Q: If I control Lich's Mastery but my opponent cast Approach of the Second Sun for the second time, what will happen?

A: You're gonna have a bad time. While Lich's Mastery makes it so you can't lose, it doesn't stop your opponent from outright winning the game. Sure, most of the time when a player wins the game, it's because everyone else has lost, thereby leaving them the winner by default. But Approach of the Second Sun bypasses all that messy "other people losing" business and gets right down to the important bit: you winning.

Once your opponent has won the game, the game is over, so Lich's Mastery doesn't apply any more, and a loser is you.

That's all that's in the mailbag this week, but be sure to come back again next week for even more rules questions from Charlotte Sable!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go sit down and contemplate the relentless march of time and the inevitability of death.

- 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.

In your Damping Sphere answer, I think you meant Caged Sun instead of Cage of Suns.
#1 • Date: 2018-04-23 • Time: 09:21:03 •
Quote (Solaris84):
In your Damping Sphere answer, I think you meant Caged Sun instead of Cage of Suns.

Fixed. Thanks!
#2 • Date: 2018-04-23 • Time: 10:56:09 •

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