Published on 06/04/2018

Travel Madness

Cranial Translation
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The only part of travel worse than packing is unpacking.
Hi everyone and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! You've caught me in the middle of a couple of months of lots of travel, which is why Carsten and I swapped weeks. Things will be back to normal after this week, though! For now, though, let's hit the road and look for some questions.

If you'd like to ask us some questions, 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: If I have several copies of Muldrotha, the Gravetide on the battlefield thanks to Helm of the Host, can I play multiple cards of the same type from my graveyard?

A: Yes, you can. Each copy of Muldrotha allows you to play one card of each permanent type (artifact, creature, enchantment, land, and planeswalker) from your graveyard each turn. In this situation, you just need to make it clear which Muldrotha is being used for each card you play, as well as which type you're playing the card as if it has multiple types, such as artifact creature. Also, you'll still only be able to play one land from your graveyard this way unless another effect is letting you play additional lands on your turn.

Q: How do effects like the third ability of The Flame of Keld work if the creature doing extra damage is blocked by multiple creatures? Do each of the blocking creatures take additional damage, or is there just extra damage to assign in general. If it's the former, then would that factor in to dealing lethal damage to a blocker?

A: Effects that increase the amount of damage that a source would deal change the amount of damage that's dealt by that permanent. In the case of creatures and combat damage, this effect is applied when the damage is dealt, not when it's assigned, and it's not taken into consideration when assigning lethal damage.

Let's look at an example: If the Flame of Keld's damage boost is in effect and my 5/5 red creature is blocked by a 3/3 and a 4/4 (with that damage assignment order), then I still have to assign 3 damage to the 3/3 creature before I can move on to the next creature in the damage assignment order. So I assign 3 damage to the 3/3 and 2 damage to the 4/4. When combat damage is dealt, the extra damage will be added on and 5 damage will be dealt to the 3/3 and 4 damage to the 4/4.

Q: How does Damping Sphere's first ability interact with effects like Mana Flare?

A: The quick answer is that it doesn't.

The longer answer is that Damping Sphere's first ability only applies to mana abilities of lands that specifically add multiple mana to a player's mana pool, but effects like Mana Flare add the extra mana themselves rather than causing the land to produce additional mana. So the land is tapped for one mana and Mana Flare's trigger makes another mana and Damping Sphere just doesn't care. (Note that Mana Reflection is an exception to this, as it's the only card of this type that actually causes the land itself to produce additional mana.)

Q: If I happen to have my commander in my hand when Mindmoil triggers and I choose to put my commander in the command zone instead of the bottom of library, does it reduce the number of cards I draw from Mindmoil?

A: If you have five cards in your hand, including your commander, then you'll draw five cards off of Mindmoil's trigger despite sending your commander to the command zone. "That many cards" in Mindmoil's text means the number of cards that moved out of your hand as a result of the first part of the trigger resolving. If replacement effects change where some or all of those cards go, such as the commander moving to the command zone, Mindmoil just doesn't care and counts them anyway.

Maybe I should have used AirBNB...
Q: How does a Sram's Expertise interact with spells that have kicker. For instance I cast Sram's Expertise and then use its ability to cast Saproling Migration. Can I kick it for free? Can I cast it without the paying the base mana cost, but have to pay the four for kicker? Does kicker modify the spell so it has a higher CMC? What's going on here?

A: When you cast a spell without paying its mana cost, you don't have to pay the mana cost printed in its upper-right corner. That's the only part of the spell you don't pay for. You still have to pay any additional or optional costs, such as non-mana costs like discarding cards or sacrificing permanents, or kicker costs if you want to kick the spell. The converted mana cost of a spell doesn't change because of kicker costs or other costs. A spell's CMC is just the total value of its printed mana cost (with the chosen value of X used while it's on the stack if there's X in the cost).

In the situation you describe, Sram's Expertise saves you the mana cost of Saproling Migration, but you still need to pay if you want to kick it.

Q: Can you use the effect of Frenetic Efreet infinite times, and still resolve the coin flips even after it phases out?

A: You can't do anything infinite times in Magic, just an arbitrarily large number of times. In the situation you describe, you can hold priority and activate Frenetic Efreet a bunch of times before letting any of the activations resolve. Frenetic Efreet's ability doesn't specify that it has to be on the battlefield for the coin to be flipped, so you'll still get to flip all of those coins no matter what happens on the first flip.(In this case, I would recommend simulating the flips with a random number generator rather than forcing your opponent to sit through a billion and a half coin flips.)

Q: How does Druids' Repository interact with tokens that enter the battlefield tapped and attacking? (e.g. Geist of Saint Traft's Angel token)

A: It doesn't. A creature that enters the battlefield tapped and attacking wasn't declared as an attacker during the declare attackers step. This means that it didn't attack and so it won't trigger cards like Druids' Repository that trigger when a creature attacks.

Q: If I have Dauntless Bodyguard protect a crewed vehicle when it enters the battlefield, is it still protecting it after the vehicle is no longer crewed? If so, can it give indestructible only when it is crewed or even if it isn't?

A: Once Dauntless Bodyguard is protecting something, it doesn't stop working just because someone decided to dock the boat. Dauntless Bodyguard's second ability will grant the chosen vehicle indestructible even if it's not crewed. In this case "the chosen creature" in the second ability just means the permanent that was chosen when Dauntless Bodyguard enters the battlefield. Since that permanent was a creature at that time, it's still likely to be a creature when the ability is activated, and so the ability just refers to "the chosen creature" for the sake of clarity.

Q: Does Jodah, Archmage Eternal's ability allow me to cast both halves of Catch // Release (fused) for only ?

A: Yes, it does. When you cast a split card, you choose which half of it you're going to cast as you put the spell on the stack. If it has Fuse, then you can choose to cast both halves as well. Since this is just a choice made when proposing to cast the spell rather than any sort of alternate cost, you're then free to choose to use the alternate cost offered by Jodah to cast the fused spell.

Q: My opponent plays Gonti, Lord of Luxury and exiles a card from me. I use Mindslaver on them. Can I look at and cast that card while I'm controlling them?

A: While controlling another player, you can look at any in-game information that player has access to, such as the card exiled with Gonti, and you can make them cast it if they have enough mana. You can't cast it yourself, though, since Gonti only allows the controller of the trigger that exiled the card to cast that card.

Q: If I champion a creature stolen by Yasova Dragonclaw with a Changeling Titan does the stolen creature return to the battlefield under its owner's control when Changeling Titan dies?

A: Yes, it does. The rules for Champion specifically state that the exiled card returns to the battlefield under its owner's control, no matter which player controlled it when it was exiled by the Champion trigger.

Q: I control Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, The Gitrog Monster, and Path of Discovery. I attack with Sidisi, putting a creature, a land, and whatever else into my graveyard. Sidisi and Gitrog both trigger and I choose to have Sidisi's trigger resolve first. She creates a token, which triggers Path of Discovery. Do I draw a card now off of Gitrog? Or can I choose the order again?

A: In this scenario, it's important to keep track of what's on the stack and in what order. After Sidisi's second trigger creates a token, Path of Discovery triggers for it and that trigger goes on the stack above the Gitrog Monster's trigger. Unless the explore trigger puts a creature card into your graveyard, there won't be any more triggers going onto the stack and you can finally draw a card with your Gitrog trigger. If the explore trigger does dump another creature card into your graveyard, then Sidisi will trigger again, which creates another token, which explores, which could put another creature card into your graveyard, etc.

Q: Can Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger's cast trigger target a creature enchanted by Spirit Mantle?

A: No, it can't. In addition to protecting the enchanted creature from creatures on the battlefield, "protection from creatures" also means that abilities from creature cards in other zones can't target it either.

TL;DR: Protection from Creatures protects from creature cards in all zones.

Haven't I been to this airport before?
Q: Suppose an opponent reveals a Chancellor of the Annex at the beginning of a game, and, for my first spell of that game, I cast a Prowling Serpopard. Because it can't be countered, that overrules the Chancellor's triggered ability, correct? Also, does that mean that it burns the effect, and any subsequent spells won't be taxed?

A: You're correct on all counts here. The delayed trigger from Chancellor of the Annex's start of game effect will try to counter your Serpopard and fail. The trigger has now happened and so you can cast further spells without having to worry about that trigger.

Q: What happens if you kill a Hangarback Walker with a card that gives -1/-1 counters (Skinrender, for example)? Do the counters cancel out before it dies?

A: No, the counters don't cancel out before Hangarback Walker dies.

Hangarback Walker's death trigger looks at how it last existed on the battlefield before it died, and at that time it had both +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters on it. Since it had +1/+1 counters on it at that time, it will create a number of thopter tokens equal to the number of +1/+1 counters it had.

When multiple state-based actions need to be applied to the same permanent, i.e. counter annihilation and 0-toughness death, they're all applied simultaneously and not one at a time. This means that Hangarback Walker never exists on the battlefield without the +1/+1 counters on it and so it will still trigger.

Q: If I have a Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage on the battlefield, can I cast Torgaar, Famine Incarnate at instant speed even if I use Raff as sacrifice fodder?

A: Yes, this works just fine.

When you cast Torgaar, you first indicate how many creatures you're going to sacrifice and then sacrifice those creatures when you're paying the costs of the spell. All of the legality checks to see if you can cast Torgaar have been passed at that point and so sacrificing Raff to pay for Torgaar won't suddenly make casting Torgaar illegal.

Q: There's a card ruling for Lion's Eye Diamond that says that while it is still a mana ability, it can only be activated at times that you could play an instant. Does this mean it goes on the stack and if so can it be countered?

A: No, the ability still doesn't use the stack despite its timing restriction. It's still a mana ability and mana abilities never use the stack.

This timing restriction exists solely to prevent you from putting a spell on the stack and then being able to use Lion's Eye Diamond to pay for that spell once it's no longer in your hand.

The timing restriction exists to replicate the functionality that LED had when it was first printed. Before the Sixth Edition rules changes, all mana for a spell had to be generated before the process of casting the spell began.

Q: Does a Saga still trigger "after your draw step" if an effect makes you skip your draw step? (E.g. Psychic Possession)

A: Sagas get lore counters at the beginning of your precombat main phase, not in your draw step, so they have no interaction with cards that cause you to skip your draw step. (And they do have interaction with cards that cause you to skip your precombat main phase.)

This is a friendly periodic reminder that reminder text isn't rules text. In the case of Sagas, I bring this up in order to point out that "after your draw step" is a lot shorter to write out than "at the beginning of your precombat main phase" and so it was used to save space on the cards.

Q: If I were to use Mirage Mirror to copy a Saga like The Antiquities War, how would that work? Would the copy get a lore counter on it immediately due to the wording on the Saga cards?

A: It depends on when you make Mirage Mirror into a copy of the Saga.

If you copy it in your main phase or later, then nothing much will happen and Mirage Mirror will just go back to normal when the turn ends.

If you copy the Saga before your first main phase, then it will get a lore counter when your main phase begins and the appropriate chapter ability will trigger. (That lore counter will stick around on the Mirror in case you want to copy a Saga again later.) If the chapter ability that triggers happens to be the final chapter ability of the card it's copying, then you'll sacrifice your Saga/Mirror once that trigger resolves.

Q: How do Ezuri's Predation and Parallel Lives interact?

A: You'll create two tokens for each creature your opponents control. Only one token can fight any given creature an opponent controls, so half of the new tokens won't fight at all and will just sit around cheering the other tokens on.

Q: If I get Bojuka Bog out of my graveyard using Fall of the Thran, can I exile my opponent's graveyard before they get lands out of it, or will they still get the two lands from that chapter resolving?

A: No, this doesn't work. When you're resolving Fall of the Thran's chapter II/III trigger, each player chooses the lands that they'll return and then all of those lands enter the battlefield simultaneously. Bojuka Bog's trigger goes on the stack once the chapter ability has finished resolving, after your opponent has already returned their lands. (If you return Bojuka Bog to the battlefield for chapter II, they won't have lands to return for chapter III, though.)

Q: If I put Illusory Wrappings on a Dimir Doppelganger, will the creature's P/T change away from 0/2 the next time the Doppelganger copies a creature?

A: No, it will still have base P/T of 0/2.

When Dimir Doppleganger copies a creature card, it gains that card's P/T as part of the copy effect. Illusory Wrappings effect applies in a later sublayer and so it sets the P/T to 0/2 even if Dimir Doppelganger copied something else since the aura became attached to it.

Well, our journey for this week has come to an end and so it's time for me to start getting ready for another trip myself. As always, you can read more Q&A from me over at my blog at and Nathan will be travelling to his keyboard to answer more questions for you all next week!

- Charlotte


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