Published on 05/07/2018

Maternal Masters

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Happy Mother's Day!
Greetings, and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion. This Sunday is Mother's Day here in the U.S. and in many other countries, which is an occasion to celebrate and honor motherhood. If your mother plays Magic, she might like this article as a gift, but just in case, maybe you should get her something else, too.

As always, if you have Magic rules questions for us, please email them to or tweet short questions at @CranialTweet. One of our writers will reply to you, and your question might appear in a future article to educate readers like yourself.

Q: In last week's article, you said that Squee, the Immortal can be cast if it's exiled with Ixalan's Binding. I thought "can't" always beats "can", so how does this work?

A: "Can't" does beat "can" if both effects are applicable at the same time, but casting a spell is a process that consists of multiple steps, and you consider different effects at different times. To start the process of casting a spell, you only consider whether you're allowed to begin the process, ignoring any effects that might prohibit you from casting the spell. In particular, you ignore the effect from Ixalan's Binding at that time, and you begin the process of casting Squee by moving it from exile to the stack. Later on, you check whether any effects prohibit you from casting Squee, but Squee is no longer the exiled card, so Ixalan's Binding's effect has disappeared altogether and nothing is keeping you from finishing the process of casting Squee.

Note that Magic Online is handling this interaction differently and won't allow you to cast Squee, and the rules team may change this interaction with a future rules change, but the ruling for paper Magic under current rules is that you can in fact cast Squee.

Q: Time of Ice is on the battlefield on chapter one and I control Mirage Mirror. On my upkeep, the Mirror copies the Saga and, when my main phase hits, I tap down one of my opponent's creatures. Will the creature remain tapped after the Mirror turns back to itself even though it's no longer pretending to be a Saga?

A: Absolutely. The duration "for as long as you control Time of Ice" actually means "for as long as you control this permanent", so the effect that's set up by Mirage Mirror's copy of Time of Ice lasts as long as you control Mirage Mirror.

Q: I control Tiana, Ship's Caretaker, Bludgeon Brawl and Sol Ring. My Sol Ring goes to the graveyard. Can I get it back at the end of turn?

A: Yup! Tiana's triggered ability triggers based on the game state before the card went to the graveyard, so it sees that an Equipment has gone to the graveyard from the battlefield. The delayed trigger in your end step looks for "that card", which is what became of Sol Ring once it arrived in the graveyard. As long as it's still in the graveyard, the delayed trigger can find it and return it to your hand.

Q: I control Muldrotha, the Gravetide and play a Zoetic Cavern face-down from my graveyard. Which Muldrotha permission does this use, land, creature, or my choice?

A: It uses the "land" permission from Muldrotha, even though you end up casting a creature spell. As we've seen earlier in this article, casting a spell is a multi-step process that begins with proposing the spell and establishing permission to begin the process. At that time, Zoetic Cavern is a land card in your graveyard, so you have to ask Muldrotha for permission to play a land card from your graveyard in order to begin the process.

Q: Can Muldrotha, the Gravetide help me cast Lotus Bloom from my graveyard?

A: Nope. Muldrotha would happily give you permission to cast the card from your graveyard, but in order to cast it, you still have to pay its mana cost, which is the unpayable cost of "this space intentionally left blank." You can't suspend it from your graveyard, either, because the suspend ability only works from your hand.

Q: If I control Doubling Season and cast a Fall of the Thran, what happens?

A: Chapters I and II trigger, and you get to choose their order. To see why this is, we have to look at how the chapter triggers are defined. The trigger condition for chapter N, for any N, is "When one or more lore counters are put onto this Saga, if the number of lore counters on it was less than N and became at least N, [stuff happens]." Thanks to Doubling Season, the number of counters on Fall of the Thran went directly from zero to two. Since the number started at less than one and became at least one, chapter I triggers. Since the number started at less than two and became at least two, chapter II triggers. Both triggers want to go on the stack at the same time, so you choose the order in which to put them on the stack, and they'll resolve in the reverse order.

Q: Can the mana from Vodalian Arcanist be used to pay the kicker cost on something like Shivan Fire?

A: In practical terms the answer is yes, but the question assumes that mana knows which part of a spell's cost is being paid with it, which it doesn't. What's happening is that you announce that you're casting Shivan Fire with kicker, and then you calculate the total cost for that spell, which is . You're casting an instant or sorcery spell, so the mana you get from Vodalian Arcanist is totally cool with being spent for that purpose.

A toast to mothers everywhere!
Q: If I cast Everflowing Chalice for eight mana and then use Karn, Silver Golem to animate it, is it an 8/8 creature?

A: Not so much. The converted mana cost of an object is determined only by looking at the mana symbols in its mana cost. Everflowing Chalice's mana cost is , so its converted mana cost is 0. If you animate it, it'll be a very feeble 0/0 creature that'll head to the graveyard very quickly.

Q: If I cast Outmaneuver on creatures with double strike, do they deal double damage to my opponent?

A: Certainly, as long as you cast Outmaneuver before the first combat damage step. Double strike makes it so that there are two combat damage steps in the combat phase, and the creatures that have double strike deal damage in both of those. If you cast Outmaneuver before the first combat damage step, your creatures deal combat damage as though they weren't blocked in both combat damage steps.

Q: If I use Merfolk Trickster on Tarmogoyf, does the Goyf become a 0/0 or 0/1?

A: It'll be 0/1. It loses its characteristic-defining ability that normally defines its power and toughness, but it still has printed values for power and toughness that are * and *+1, respectively. The * is undefined, so it's treated as 0 and you end up with a power and toughness of 0/1.

Q: Can Rona, Disciple of Gix exile a Nezumi Graverobber from my graveyard with its enter-the-battlefield trigger?

A: Nope. While Nezumi Graverobber's flipped version is legendary, and therefore historic, in the graveyard the game only sees an unflipped Nezumi Graverobber, which is not historic.

Q: If I cast the legendary Traxos, Scourge of Kroog when there's already one on the battlefield, can I untap the one that's on the battlefield and get rid of the one I just played?

A: Sure, that works. Casting the second Traxos triggers the first Traxos's abilty, and that trigger goes on the stack above the second Traxos, so the first Traxos untaps while the second Traxos is still on the stack. Later, the second Traxos enters the battlefield, tapped, and you're now running afoul of the legend rule. You choose one to keep on the battlefield, and it's perfectly legal to choose the one that's untapped.

Q: Why can't Teferi, Hero of Dominaria untap untapped lands, but Teferi, Timebender can untap an untapped creature?

A: Well, neither of them can untap an untapped permanent, because untapping an untapped permanent is an impossible action. However, Teferi, Timebender can target an untapped creature, because the targeting clause is "target artifact or creature", which doesn't care whether the target is tapped. When the ability resolves, it does as much as it can, which is a big bowl of nothing if the target is already untapped. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, on the other hand, doesn't target the lands to untap. You simply choose two lands to untap when the triggered ability resolves, and you can't make a choice that would result in an impossible action, so you have to choose two tapped lands, if possible.

Q: If Fact or Fiction reveals a Narcomoeba and it's among the pile I put into my graveyard, does Narcomoeba's ability trigger?

A: It sure does! While the top five cards of your library are revealed and while they're being separated into two piles, they're still in your library as far as the game is concerned, because nothing moved them into a different game zone. The last instruction of Fact or Fiction moves the cards from your library to your hand or to your graveyard, depending on which pile they're in.

Pretty jewelry makes a fine gift for mom.
Q: Can Mox Amber produce mana if the only other permanent I control is a nonlegendary Jace, Cunning Castaway token I made with the -5 ability?

A: No. The word "legendary" in "legendary creatures and planeswalkers" refers to both creatures and planeswalkers, much like the word "red" in "red instant and/or sorcery cards" on Chandra Ablaze refers to sorcery cards as well as instant cards. Since you control neither legendary creatures nor legendary planeswalkers, Mox Amber won't produce any mana if you use its ability.

Q: Can I cast Ravenous Trap for free if I destroyed three token creatures of my opponent's earlier in the turn?

A: No. Ravenous Trap checks if an opponent had three or more cards put into their graveyard this turn. Creature tokens are creatures and they do go to the graveyard before they cease to exist, but they are not cards, so they don't count for Ravenous Trap's alternative cost.

Q: I control Vexing Shusher and cast Dash Hopes to counter a spell. Can I wait to see if my opponent pays 5 life and then respond with Vexing Shusher's ability to make Dash Hopes uncounterable?

A: No, you can't do that. The choice to pay life happens when Dash Hopes's triggered ability resolves. Once it starts resolving, players can't cast spells or activate abilities until it's finished resolving. You'd have to activate Vexing Shusher's ability before Dash Hopes's ability resolves, but if you do that, your opponent is extremely unlikely to pay 5 life.

Q: if i control Arvad the Cursed and I activate the +1 ability of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, does he become a 5/5 or a 7/7?

A: Gideon will get the +2/+2 bonus from Arvad, so he'll be a 7/7 creature. Becoming a creature adds a card type and some creature types to Gideon, but it doesn't remove his legendary supertype. His full type line after being animated is "Legendary Planeswalker Creature — Gideon Human Soldier Ally", which is quite a mouthful, but what matters is that he's still legendary.

Q: Does Naban, Dean of Iteration make Metallic Mimic trigger twice if I choose Wizard for its creature type?

A: No. Metallic Mimic doesn't trigger at all, with or without Naban on the battlefield. It has a static ability that creates a replacement effect that changes how creatures of the chosen type enter the battlefield. That's not a triggered ability, so Naban doesn't interact with it at all. In general, triggered abilities use the words "when," "whenever," or "at."

Q: Does Silent Gravestone's first ability stop chapters II and III of Fall of the Thran?

A: Nope. Silent Gravestone stops cards in graveyards from being targeted by spells or abilities, but Fall of the Thran doesn't target the land cards that are being returned, which you can tell because it doesn't use the word "target." Each player simply chooses two land cards during resolution, and Silent Gravestone's first ability can't do anything about this. Of course its activated ability can do something about it by exiling all potential candidates, but that's the answer to a different question.

And that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for another selection of Magic rules questions.

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.

Does Ixalan's Binding work the same way with a commander as it does with Squee, the Immortal?
#1 • Date: 2018-05-07 • Time: 04:31:22 •
If the player put the Commander into the command zone instead of exile then there\'s no \"exiled card\" and Ixalan\'s Binding\'s last ability doesn\'t do anything. If the player actually let the Commander get exiled then it\'s stuck there because there\'s no game rule or other effect allowing them to cast the Commander from exile (unless that Commander happens to be Squee, the Immortal).
#2 • Date: 2018-05-08 • Time: 07:26:06 •

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