Published on 06/11/2018

Let the Games Begin!

Cranial Translation
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Such spacious accommodations!
Hiya everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! We're celebrating the release of Battlebond this week, the latest supplemental set from Wizards. I managed to reserve one of the luxury suites here at Valor's Reach here on the plane of Kylem, so we can talk about Battlebond in peace, and also watch some of the competitors duke it out between questions. So sit back, grab a refreshment or two, and enjoy the entertainment!

Remember, if you have a Magic rules question, you can send it to use, and we'll send you an answer. We may even use your question in a future article! If you have a short question, you can send it to us via our Twitter account at @CranialTweet. Or if you have a slightly longer question, you can e-mail us at .

Q: I heard that Battlebond is a set designed for two-headed giant drafting. But how do you do a two-headed giant draft?

A: For a two-headed giant draft, you seat each team at a table next to each other, usually with four teams at a table (so you still have eight players at your draft table). You open your boosters and draft as a team - that means that since there are two of you, your team will take two cards out of the booster instead of one and add those two cards to your drafted cards. The cards are not assigned to one player or the other - you'll build your two decks from your combined pool of cards once the draft is over.

Some wise words of wisdom: if you open a pack with partner cards in it, you should draft those partners. They'll synergize well with each other.

Q: Wait, partner? Is that like partner from Commander 2016?

A: Yes and no. It's similar to the partner commanders from Commander, but a little different. For example, let's take a look at Sylvia Brightspear and Khorvath Brightflame. In a Battlebond draft, if you play Sylvia Brightspear, when Sylvia enters the battlefield, you can have a player (for instance, your teammate) search their library for a card named Khorvath Brightflame and put it into their hand.

But if you're in a game of commander, you could have both Sylvia Brightspear and Khorvath Brightflame as your two commanders, similar to the partner mechanic. However, unlike the original partner commanders, the one from Battlebond only partner with each other. You couldn't run Khorvath Brightflame and Vial Smasher the Fierce as your commanders: while Vial Smasher has partner, Khorvath can only partner with Sylvia and no other legendary creature.

Q: I was reading the reminder text of Regna, the Redeemer, and it doesn't say anything about searching the library. Does this mean it gets around an effect like Aven Mindcensor?

A: Nope, it doesn't get around the Mindcensor. Reminder text is not rules text - it's there as a guide to help remind you what the ability does. In the cast of "partner with", the rules text does use the word "search", so if there's an Aven Mindcensor in play, you'd better hope that Krav, the Unredeemed is in those four cards or you won't find her partner.

Q: I use Totally Lost to put my opponent's Angel of Retribution on top of their library, then I cast Chakram Retriever. Can I target my opponent and force them to search for Chakram Slinger, knowing they don't have one in their deck, to force them to shuffle away the Angel of Retribution?

A: Nope, that won't work out. While you can target your opponent with the search trigger from the Slinger, the search ability uses the word "may", which means that the targeted player doesn't have to search if they don't want to. So you're free to target your opponent with the Retriever's trigger, but they can choose not to search when the trigger resolves to keep the Angel on top of their library instead of shuffled into their library.

Q: So how does a card with assist, like Out of Bounds, work?

A: Usually, you're only able to use your own resources to cast a spell. But with assist, you can ask for the help of another player to help you pay for the spell.

For instance, your opponent just cast Play of the Game, and you only have a single Island untapped. But another player is sitting there with untapped lands, and would love to not have their board destroyed. So you ask them if they want to help you cast Out of Bounds to counter their spell. Your new friend can help with the generic part of the cost (in this case, up to three mana), but you're still on the hook for the blue part of the cost, as well as the other part of the cost that your friend won't help with.

I would recommend talking with the other players first and see who wants to help out - it would be slightly embarrassing to cast Out of Bounds, but then find out that no one wants to help you pay for it!

Q: Can I have multiple players help me cast my assist spell?

A: Nope, only one other player can help you cast it. We haven't gotten around to crowdfunding our Magic spells yet. You can only enlist up to one other player's help to cast your assist spell. You can't ask two or more other players to help cast your spell.

Q: I've convinced Betty to help me cast Huddle Up by telling her I'll make her one of the two targets. But once I start casting it, I decide that I'm going to target Veronica instead of Betty. Is Betty still on the hook to help me pay for the spell?

A: Not really. Since targets are chosen before costs are paid, Betty will know that you've double-crossed her by the time we're paying costs, and if Betty doesn't want to help you pay anymore, then you're on the hook for the whole cost (or you'll fail announcement and back up if you don't pay ). So if you get into an agreement with someone about casting an assist spell, you'd better hold up your end of the bargain, because if you don't, they have no incentive to hold up their end of the bargain (and probably won't trust you again for the rest of the game).

So who are you cheering for today?

Q: Wasn't there a rules change in Dominaria about how attacking the opposing team works?

A: Yep, there was a rules change that affected combat in two-headed giant. It used to be that when you declared attackers, you attacked the team, but when it came time to assign damage during the combat damage step, you would choose one head or the other to deal damage to. This made effects like Ghostly Prison pretty powerful, because if one member of the team had the Prison, then you'd have to pay 2 to attack their team, even if you want to damage their teammate. It also made damage prevention effects a lot weaker - if you cast Mending Hands to prevent the damage to yourself, they could just assign the damage to your teammate and your damage prevention effect would go to waste.

But that all changed with the release of Dominaria! Now, as you declare attackers, you choose one of the heads on the other team to attack. The opposing team can still block with any of their creatures, but now you can dodge the Propaganda tax by attacking the teammate that doesn't control a Propaganda, and you can properly prevent damage with Mending Hands, since you'll know who will be damaged when combat damage is dealt.

Q: I'm in a five player multiplayer game, but now we're just down to me and one other opponent. If I play Bountiful Promenade, will it enter the battlefield tapped or untapped?

A: It enters the battlefield tapped. As the Promenade enters the battlefield, it checks to see how many opponents you currently have, not how many opponents you started the game with. While you may have started the game with four opponents, you only have one opponent as the Promenade enters the battlefield, so the Promenade will enter the battlefield tapped.

Q: I'm in a game of commander, and I'm about to take 25 points of combat damage from my opponent's commander Kresh the Bloodbraided, so I cast Stunning Reversal. What happens?

A: You survive....for a moment longer. After combat damage is dealt, you would lose the game since you've taken 21 or more points of combat damage from someone's commander, so the Reversal replaces losing with going to one life and drawing seven cards. Then, before you get a chance to do anything, we check state-based actions again. You've still taken 21 or more points of combat damage from a player's commander, so you lose the game, and since the Reversal has already been used, you'll actually lose the game (and before you can take advantage of the seven cards you just drew).

Q: I'm in a game of two-headed giant, and I attack and damage one of my opponents with Archfiend of Despair. During their end step, do they lose six life or 12 life from the Archfiend's trigger?

A: In two-headed giant, damage dealt to a player causes their team's life total to go down, but that doesn't count as their teammate taking damage or losing life as well. The opponent that you attacked is dealt six damage by the attacking Archfiend, but that doesn't mean their teammate took six damage as well. When the Archfiend's trigger resolves, the player that was damaged by the Archfiend loses six life, but their teammate does not lose any life from the trigger, since they have not lost life this turn. The net result is that their teams loses an additional six life to the Archfiend's trigger, not 12 life.

Q: If I attack with Cheering Fanatic, can I name Shock?

A: Sure. You're asked to choose a card name with the Fanatic's trigger, and Shock is the name of a card. However, this won't do very much for Shock. The Fanatic's ability can only reduce the generic part of the cost, not the colored part of the cost, so you'll still have to spend R to cast Shock. Unless there's a cost-increasing effect in play (like Sphere of Resistance), naming Shock with the Fanatic won't really do very much.

Q: My opponent cast Archon of Valor's Reach. After it resolves, if I think my opponent will name "instant", do I get a chance to exile it with Swords to Plowshares before its ability prevents me from casting it?

A: Nope, you don't get that chance. The Archon's ability uses the word "as", which mean that it's not a triggered ability: they choose a card type as it enters. This choice does not use the stack and cannot be responded to. As soon as it enters, they make their choice, and players are immediately blocked from casting spells of the chosen type. If they named "instant", you won't be able to use your Swords to Plowshares to exile the Archon.

Q: If I have a creature with shroud or protection from red, can it be chosen as the random creature for Last One Standing?

A: If luck is on its side, it can be! The choice of creature is random, and it doesn't target the creature. That means that a creature with shroud can be chosen as the survivor, and every other creature on the battlefield will be destroyed, leaving the creature with shroud as the victor (that's how this works, right? Last man standing gets the title?)

This match has me right on the
edge of my seat!

Q: If I cast Fumble on an opponent's creature, but I don't have any creatures in play, can I choose not to attach the equipment and auras that were attached to the bounced creature to another creature?

A: Nope, not an option. Someone has to pick up the dropped ball if possible. There's no "may" in Fumble's rules text. You have to attach the equipment and auras that were attached to the bounced creature to another creature if possible, even if it's a creature that opponent controls.

Q: I control a Fertilid with one +1/+1 counter and Together Forever. I activate and resolve Together Forever's ability, then remove Fertilid's last counter to activate its ability. Will Fertilid return to my hand?

A: It will! Once Together Forever's activated ability resolves, the creature will return to your hand if it dies that turn. It doesn't matter if it has a counter on it anymore. It just needed the counter on it when you activated the ability and when the ability goes to resolve. You'll be able to remove Fertilid's last counter to activate its ability and have Fertilid return to your hand via the trigger from Together Forever.

Q: My Arena Rector died in combat, but before its trigger resolves, my opponent casts Cremate, exiling it from my graveyard. Can I still search for a planeswalker card with the Rector's trigger?

A: No you cannot. When the triggered ability resolves, you get the choice of exiling the Rector or not. And you can only search if you exile the Rector when the trigger resolves - if it's not in the graveyard to be exiled when the trigger resolves, you can't choose to exile it, and you won't get to search your library for a planeswalker card.

Q: One of my opponent just cast Pir's Whim. Can I wait to see if I'm a friend or foe before deciding if I want to activate Sensei's Divining Top and put it on top of my library instead of sacrificing it?

A: Nope, you can't do that. Your opponent will not be choosing who is a friend and who is a foe until the Whim is resolving (and it's too late to respond). You're free to respond to the Whim before it resolves, but you'll have to guess whether you're going to be their friend or foe (and if you do put your Top on top of your library, they could decide you're their friend for the time being, forcing you to search and shuffle your library, since the search is not optional).

Q: If I attack with Gorm the Great and my opponent only has one creature, what happens?

A: Gorm's ability creates two requirements: Gorm must be blocked if able, and Gorm must be blocked by two or more creatures if able. You have to fulfill as many requirements without violating any restrictions. Gorm must be blocked, so their only creature must block it. It's not possible to fulfill the second requirement, since they don't have a second creature that could block, so we ignore that requirement. Your opponent's only creature will have to block your attacking Gorm.

Q: If I cast Bonus Round, does that mean my opponent's spells get copied too?

A: Unfortunately for you, it does. When Bonus Round resolves, it will affect all player's spells, not just you or your teammate's spells. If your opponent has an instant they want to cast during your Bonus Round, their spell will copied as well. So make sure your opponent is tapped out before you cast this!

That's all the games we have for this week. See you all next week!


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