Published on 05/28/2018

Memorial Day Rules Question Barbecue

Cranial Translation
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Chandra is ready to fire up the grill
Greetings, and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! It's the last Monday in May, which means that it's Memorial Day here in the USA. Officially it's a holiday to remember soldiers who died while serving in the armed forces, but unofficially it's the start of the summer season, which means barbecues, vacations, and stores advertising their goods for reduced prices in Memorial Day sales. We'll celebrate by sitting back in our lawn chairs, enjoying grilled meats and a refreshing chilled beverage, and answering some more of your rules questions.

As always, if you have questions you'd like us to answer, please send them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will respond to you, and your question might appear in a future article.

Q: How much does Warping Wail cost if I control Arcane Melee?

A: It costs . Arcane Melee only reduces the generic part of the spell's cost, which is the part of the cost that can be paid with any type of mana. Warping Wail costs one mana of any type and one mana that has to be colorless, and Arcane Melee only reduces the "mana of any type" part of that cost.

Q: I am eternalizing my Champion of Wits, and in response to its enter-the-battlefield trigger, my opponent flashes in Notion Thief. What happens?

A: Champion of Wits' enter-the-battlefield ability is optional, and you choose during resolution whether you want to use its ability. If for some reason you do choose to draw four cards, Notion Thief's ability applies and your opponent draws those cards instead. The "if you do" clause checks whether you chose to use the ability, not whether you actually ended up drawing the cards, so you'd still have to discard two cards in that case. It's better to choose not to use the ability, in which case your opponent doesn't draw any cards and you don't discard any cards.

Q: I am casting Griselbrand with my four Swamps and four Islands, and in response my opponent taps one of my Swamps with Mishra's Helix. Do I still get to cast Griselbrand?

A: Well, you already did cast Griselbrand, and your opponent's Mishra's Helix can't change that. After you announce that you're casting Griselbrand, your opponent won't get the chance to do anything until after you've completed that process, which means that Griselbrand is on the stack and paid for, and your lands are already tapped. Your opponent can activate Mishra's Helix in response, but that won't do anything at all. If your opponent wants to stop you from casting Griselbrand, they'd have to tap down your lands in your upkeep step proactively, before they know what you're planning to do.

Q: I cast Chandra, Pyrogenius, and in response to her entering the battlefield, my opponent deals 3 damage to her so that I can't activate her -3 ability. Can I respond to the damage and still use the ability?

A: There's a lot to unpack here. First off, your opponent can't respond to Chandra entering the battlefield. After Chandra resolves, you'll get priority first because it's your turn. You could use that priority to activate Chandra's -3 ability, and there's nothing your opponent can do about that with their damage spell. However, if you pass priority instead of activating the -3 ability right away, then your opponent can cast their damage spell, and you won't be able to activate Chandra's -3 in response because a loyalty ability can only be activated on an empty stack.

Q: Arya, Bran, Catelyn, and Daenerys are playing a multiplayer game. It's Arya's turn and she casts a spell and passes priority. Bran passes priority, and Catelyn casts a spell. Who gets priority next, and what has to happen for Catelyn's spell to resolve?

A: Catelyn gets priority back after she casts her spell, because she had priority when she cast that spell. If she passes priority, Daenerys is next to get priority because she's next in the turn order. In order for Catelyn's spell to resolve, all four players have to pass priority in succession without taking any actions. This means that all four players, starting with Catelyn and ending with Bran, have to pass priority in order for Catelyn's spell to resolve.

Q: Let's say I use Merieke Ri Berit to take control of a creature, and then I use Reality Ripple to phase her out. Does she phase back in tapped or untapped, and do I get a choice to untap her?

A: She phases back in tapped, and you don't get to untap her. Merieke was tapped when she phased out, and adding the "phased out" status doesn't affect her other statuses in any way, so Merieke is now tapped and phased out. On your next untap step, the first thing that happens is that Merieke phases back in, which removes her "phased out" status, but she keeps her tapped status, which is why she phases in tapped. Next, you determine which permanents you get to untap, which doesn't include Merieke because her ability that keeps her from untapping is in effect, so you don't get to untap Merieke. Also, when Merieke phased out, you lost control of the creature she took because the duration of the effect lost track of her, and now you don't even get to destroy that creature. In short, phasing out Merieke does not seem like a very profitable play.

Q: If I control Jodah, Archmage Eternal, can I pay for aftermath costs?

A: Yes, you can, because aftermath isn't actually a cost like flashback. Aftermath is a keyword ability that does three things. First, it allows you to cast the aftermath half from the graveyard; second, it prohibits the aftermath half from being cast from anywhere that's not a graveyard; and third, it sets up an effect to exile the card if it was cast from a graveyard. Nothing about the aftermath ability demands a particular cost to use it. You simply pay the mana cost to cast the aftermath half, and Jodah is happy to provide an alternative to paying that mana cost.

Throw some chicken on the grill
Q: Is there a way to get rid of an emblem?

A: Yes, there is: End the game. Other than that, no. Emblems live in the command zone, so they aren't permanents on the battlefield that can be destroyed or interacted with in any way.

Q: Can the Demon from Rite of Belzenlok be destroyed with Fatal Push?

A: Absolutely. The effect that creates the token doesn't give it a mana cost, so the token doesn't have a mana cost, which means that its converted mana cost is 0.

Q: If I cast Mirrorweave and I target a Plains that was turned into a 0/0 creature with Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper, do all other creatures turn into 0/0 creatures that die right away?

A: No. Mirrorweave looks at the copiable characteristics of that Plains, which are the characteristics that are printed on the card, as modified by other copy effects. There are no copy effects affecting the Plains, so the copiable characteristics are those of a Plains, so all creatures just turn into plain Plains.

Q: My opponent tries to use Cultural Exchange to exchange four creatures of hers for my four creatures, and I sacrifice one in response. What happens?

A: Your opponent may have announced that she's planning on exchanging those four creatures for your four creatures, but the choice of how many creatures and which creatures get exchanged is only made when Cultural Exchange resolves. Since you responded to her spell, she is not required to stick with what she announced, so she can choose different sets of creatures, and she might exchange three of her creatures for the remaining three creatures of yours.

Q: If I enchant my opponent's Dryad Arbor with Spreading Seas, is it still a creature?

A: I'm afraid so. Spreading Seas only affects the land type of the land it's attached to, and replaces any abilities that are printed on it with the ability to make blue mana. Being a creature is not an ability, though, so it doesn't lose that. It'll be a Land Creature — Island Dryad with the ability to make blue mana and a power/toughness of 1/1.

Q: If Erebos, God of the Dead has enough devotion to be a creature and gets enchanted with Lignify, is it still a creature?

A: Yup. Erebos is normally a creature, but it has an ability that turns off its creature-ness if your devotion is too low. That ability applies in layer 4 and does nothing if you have enough devotion, and then Lignify removes that ability in layer 6. Note that if your devotion drops below five, the "I am not a creature" ability does its thing in layer 4 before it gets removed in layer 6, so Erebos stops being a creature and Lignify falls off.

Q: Can Rakdos's Return target a planeswalker?

A: It sure can! The text that's printed on the card doesn't say so, but keep in mind that the printed text on the card is not the authority on what the card does. The card's Oracle text in Gatherer is the authority on what the card does, and Rakdos's Return is one of many cards that received Oracle text updates with Dominaria when the planeswalker redirection rule was eliminated. In order to preserve its previous functionality, Rakdos's Return's new Oracle text allows you to target an opponent or a planeswalker.

And don't forget the burgers
Q: Can I use Glittering Wish to get Appeal//Authority from my sideboard?

A: While a split card is not on the stack, its characteristics are the combination of its two halves. The Appeal//Authority in your sideboard is decidedly not on the stack, so it is a green and white card in the sideboard, which means it's a multicolored card you own that's outside the game. Do note that cards in exile aren't outside the game, so Glittering Wish can't help you reuse an aftermath card after you've used its aftermath.

Q: My opponent has enchanted one of my creatures with Suppression Bonds. Can I equip Lightning Greaves to it to make Suppression Bonds fall off?

A: No, that won't work. Shroud prevents the creature from being targeted by spells and abilities, but an Aura that's already attached to it doesn't target it, so shroud doesn't do anything to Auras that are already attached. You'd have to give your creature some form of protection, for example protection from white, to make Suppression Bonds fall off.

Q: Apart from power/toughness counters such as +1/+1 counters, so any counters intrinsically do anything? For example, do flood counters actually turn lands into Islands?

A: Not really. The only counters that cause effects in themselves are power/toughness counters. Other counters are just there for rules or abilities to notice them. For example, poison counters make you lose the game because there is a rule that makes you lose the game if you get too many poison counters; it's not an effect that's created by the counters. Quicksilver Fountain has an ability that creates a continuous effect, and it's that effect that turns lands into Islands. The counter is just there to mark the duration of Quicksilver Fountain's effect. If you somehow move the counter to another land, that other land won't suddenly become an Island.

Q: If I control Odric, Lunarch Marshal and a creature that can't be blocked, does that mean that none of my creatures can be blocked?

A: No. Odric, Lunarch Marshal only looks for a particular set of keyword abilities. An ability that states that a creature can't be blocked is not a keyword ability, so it's not among the abilities that Odric gives your creatures.

Q: My opponent uses Tasigur, the Golden Fang and mills a land and a creature into his graveyard. Can I use Scavenging Ooze to eat the creature card before my opponent gets to return it to his hand?

A: No, you can't do that. Once Tasigur's ability starts to resolve, it has to finish resolving before any player gets priority to do anything else, so you can't activate Scavenging Ooze in the middle of Tasigur's ability.

Q: I'm preparing for a Competitive REL tournament, and I want to play with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Do I have to have the printed emblem card from a booster pack to represent Gideon's emblem?

A: No, you don't need the emblem card. Just like tokens, you can use any object to represent an emblem as long as the object is not offensive and it's sufficiently clear what it represents. A rules tip card with "Gideon emblem" written on it in permanent marker, or something similar, is perfectly fine.

And that's all the time we have for today. Please celebrate Memorial Day responsibly, 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.

Won't the ultimate of Karn Liberated also get rid of emblems?
#1 • Date: 2018-05-28 • Time: 09:01:59 •
In a multi-player game, you can get rid of emblems without ending the game. If you kill a player, all emblems they have go away.
#2 • Date: 2018-05-28 • Time: 10:25:35 •

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