Published on 06/18/2018

June Bug

Cranial Translation
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Pardon our destruction.
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! You might want to step outside for a few days, because with all the problems we've been having over the past week we're having the website fumigated. Somehow a bug's gotten into the system and it's wreaking havoc on practically everything, from the front page to the articles to the back-end staff pages where Moko sorts through our emails and plots the destruction of the living.

While we're waiting out the fumigation, if something's bugging you, be sure to send it to us at moko@cranialinsertion.com or via Twitter @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer and potentially see your question in a future article.



Q: If I have Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and play Grim Affliction, do I get two Snakes or only one?

A: Happily, you get two. While Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons only triggers once if you put multiple counters on a creature simultaneously, Grim Affliction doesn't work that way—instead, it puts a single, lonely -1/-1 counter on the creature (triggering Hapatra once), and then later allows you to proliferate and thereby put another one on it. Since this is a separate instance of putting a counter on the creature, Hapatra triggers a second time.



Q: Can Teferi, Hero of Dominaria's emblem exile something with protection from white?

A: It can indeed. While Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is white and therefore his abilities cannot target something with protection from white, the emblem his ultimate ability creates doesn't have any color at all, and it's that emblem that's the source of the exiling ability. Since the emblem isn't white, its ability can exile something with protection from white just fine.



Q: If I give Thought-Knot Seer intimidate, can it be blocked by a non-artifact colorless creature?

A: No, it cannot. A creature with intimidate can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and creatures which share a color with it, so in order for a non-artifact creature to be able to block a Thought-Knot Seer with intimidate, it would need to share a color with the Seer. But that's not possible, because Thought-Knot Seer has no colors at all—that's what being 'colorless' means.



Q: If I have an Ashnod's Altar and only one legendary creature on the battlefield, can I cast a legendary sorcery and sacrifice the creature to pay the cost?

A: You can indeed. The costs necessary to cast a spell are determined long after the point where the game determines whether or not you're allowed to cast it, and the game doesn't second-guess itself and re-check that later on.

You can start casting a legendary sorcery because at that point you do indeed control a legendary creature. With that decided, you then make all of the necessary decisions for the casting, and then the game determines the total cost of the casting. Since that cost includes mana, the game then gives you a chance to activate mana abilities (such as the Altar) and you do so, sacrificing your legendary creature. Then you pay the cost, and are finished casting your spell—the game doesn't know or care that your only legendary creature died in the process.




I'm sure the bug in our system's
something cute and harmless, right?
It doesn't mean any harm, it's just lost and afraid.
Q: I attack with Mistcutter Hydra and it deals damage to my opponent. Will her Dissipation Field return it to my hand?

A: Indeed it will. While protection from blue will protect Mistcutter Hydra from many cards, Dissipation Field is not one of them, because it's not doing anything that protection can stop. Protection from blue will only stop four kinds of things, generally abbreviated DEBT:
[list]
  • Damage. All damage that would be dealt to your Hydra by blue sources is prevented, but Dissipation Field isn't trying to deal damage.
  • Enchanting(/Equipping). Your Hydra can't be enchanted (or equipped) by any blue Auras or Equipment. (Stated more generally, anything that's blue can't be attached to your Hydra, but the acronym works better with E rather than A.) Again, Dissipation Field isn't doing that—it's not even an Aura.
  • Blocking. Your Hydra can't be blocked by blue creatures, and the Field definitely isn't doing that.
  • Targeting. Your Hydra can't be the target of blue spells or abilities from blue sources. But Dissipation Field doesn't target anything, because it doesn't use the word "target" anywhere.

    So since protection doesn't stop anything that's happening, the Field can go about its work unhindered, returning your Hydra neatly to your hand.



    Q: If there's a Rest in Peace on the battlefield, what does Grenzo, Dungeon Warden's activated ability do?

    A: Pretty much exactly what it normally does—Rest in Peace doesn't really hinder Grenzo, Dungeon Warden's dirty work in any significant way, because while it may cause the card to go somewhere other than the graveyard, Grenzo's ability doesn't need the card to have gone to the graveyard to function.

    To see why this happens, let's look at how Rest in Peace changes what happens when Grenzo's ability resolves. Normally, Grenzo's ability tells you the following:
    Put the bottom card of your library into your graveyard. If it's a creature card with power less than or equal to Grenzo's power, put it onto the battlefield.

    Rest in Peace has issues with that whole 'cards going to the graveyard' thing, so it takes out its handy red pen and makes some quick changes:
    Put Exile the bottom card of your library into your graveyard. If it's a creature card with power less than or equal to Grenzo's power, put it onto the battlefield.

    This modified version of the ability...still makes just as much sense as it originally did, and still functions perfectly fine. So it does.

    The only thing that changes is that technically the creature's now entering the battlefield from the exile zone rather than from the graveyard, so...uh...River Kelpie wouldn't trigger? But on the other hand it does get around Grafdigger's Cage, so I guess that all evens out.



    Q: If Kamahl's Druidic Vow reveals Dryad Arbor, do I get it even though it isn't legendary?

    A: Yes, you do, because while Dryad Arbor indeed isn't legendary, it is definitely a land, and Kamahl's Druidic Vow allows you to puts any and all of the lands you're looking at onto the battlefield, legendary or not. The fact that the Arbor is also a creature doesn't make it any less still a land.



    Q: Can Goblin Grappler use its provoke ability if it also has menace?

    A: It can, sure. The creature you target will be untapped, and your opponent will be required to declare that creature as a blocker for your Grappler. And since—thanks to menace—the only way that can legally happen is if something else also blocks it, that's what your opponent is forced to do! (If possible, at least.)

    If your opponent doesn't have a second creature that's able to block the Grappler, unfortunately, they won't have to abide by provoke's impossible requirement and the creature you untapped will be free to block something else, so maybe don't use provoke if that's what will happen.



    Q: Palace Guard blocks two of my attackers, one with trample and one without, but both with more than 4 power. How much damage can trample through?

    A: When figuring out how much damage can legally trample over to the opponent, you always get to take damage that's being assigned at the same time by other attacking creatures into account. So since your other creature will definitely already be assigning more than lethal damage to your opponent's Palace Guard, your trampler will be able to assign all of its damage—however much that may be—to your opponent.



    Q: The Flame of Keld's third chapter happens with Soul-Scar Mage out, and my opponent Shocks my creature. How many -1/-1 counters does it get?

    A: There are multiple replacement effects here that want to change what Shock will be doing to your creature—The Flame of Keld's effect wants it to deal 4 damage instead of 2, while Soul-Scar Mage wants it to put -1/-1 counters on your creature instead. Since it's your creature that this will be happening to, you get to decide which of these two replacement effects to apply.

    If you apply Soul-Scar Mage's ability first, it will replace the 2 damage with two -1/-1 counters, and nothing further happens, because there's no damage being dealt anymore, and The Flame of Keld's effect doesn't care about counters.

    If, on the other hand, you apply The Flame of Keld's effect first, it increases the damage Shock is trying to deal from 2 to 4, and since damage is still being dealt, Soul-Scar Mage will then come along and turn that into four -1/-1 counters.

    So, how many -1/-1 counters does your creature get? Either 2 or 4, your choice. (I recommend 2.)



    Q: Can Daretti, Scrap Savant's second ability be used to recur the same artifact you sacrifice?

    A: It cannot. You need to choose targets for activated abilities at the time you activate them, so you need to choose an artifact that's already in the graveyard at that time, and the artifact you're going to be sacrificing isn't a legal option, because it's definitely not in the graveyard yet—you don't even need to decide which artifact you intend to sacrifice to Daretti's ability until much later, when it's in the process of resolving.



    Q: Can Dauntless Bodyguard name Calciderm, and can I sacrifice it to prevent it from dying forever?

    A: Well, you can choose to have your Dauntless Bodyguard protect your Calciderm—shroud prevents targeting, but the Bodyguard's choice doesn't target. However, that won't be much help when your Calciderm's time counters run out, because vanishing means your Calciderm gets sacrificed, and indestructible doesn't stop that at all.

    The only things that your Calciderm having indestructible would stop are things that would destroy it: lethal damage, deathtouch, and effects that actually us the word 'destroy'. If you're worried about one of those things getting rid of your Calciderm before its time, go right ahead and give it a Bodyguard—just be aware it can't stop the relentless march of time.



    Q: Does preventing damage stop life gain from lifelink?

    A: Indeed it does. A source with lifelink that's dealing damage also causes its controller to gain that much life as part of the process, but the damage has to actually be dealt in order for that to happen. If the damage is prevented, none of its effects—lifegain included—will happen.




    Oh. That's...a lot nastier than I expected.
    Let me just go and fetch...let's say
    all the Raid.
    Q: My opponent used God-Pharaoh's Gift to bring back Tarmogoyf. Then they said their Muraganda Petroglyphs boosted their token. Huh?

    A: They're right. (Well, once the haste that God-Pharaoh's Gift grants it wears off.)

    Normally, a Tarmogoyf won't get boosted by Muraganda Petroglyphs, because as you can see from the fact that there's rules text in its textbox, it has an ability. A copy of Tarmogoyf won't normally get boosted either, because it copies that text.

    God-Pharaoh's Gift, however, isn't quite normal—instead of creating a straight-up copy of the original card, it makes a few modifications as part of the copying process to turn the result into a 4/4 black Zombie. And in order to make sure Tarmogoyf is a 4/4, it needs to get rid of that pesky P/T-defining ability. So that's what it does—the Gift's copy effect simply doesn't copy Tarmogoyf's ability.

    That means the resulting Zombie-Goyf doesn't have any abilities left, so it's fair game for boosting by Muraganda Petroglyphs.

    ...Once that pesky haste wears off, anyway.[c]




    Q: If I have Jodah, Archmage Eternal and Oath of Nissa on the battlefield at the same time, can I use five mana of any color to cast planeswalker spells?

    A: Absolutely. Heck, even better, you can use five mana of any type at all—including colorless mana—to cast any planeswalker spell.

    Jodah, Archmage Eternal gives you an optional alternative cost for casting any spell: . And when casting a planeswalker spell, Oath of Nissa allows you to spend mana as though it were of any color, so go right ahead and pay that cost with if you want to—it's all good.



    Q: My opponent casts Infinite Reflection on a creature, so I cast Darksteel Mutation on it. Do his creatures now enter as more darksteel insects?

    A: No, they do not—your Darksteel Mutation won't change what his creatures will look like at all.

    When you copy a permanent, the only things that get copied are things that are actually printed on the card itself and other copy effects. (With a few minor exceptions that don't apply here.) Other effects that modify what the permanent looks like, such as your Darksteel Mutation, are not copied.



    Q: Can I sacrifice Temple Garden with Knight of the Reliquary if there's a Blood Moon in play?

    A: Definitely not. Blood Moon says that Temple Garden is a Mountain, and since it doesn't say that that's 'in addition to its other types', what it means is that it's a Mountain and no longer whatever land types it was before.

    This means that your Temple Garden is no longer a forest , nor is it a plains, and therefore it can't be sacrificed to Knight of the Reliquary.



    Q: One player used Avarice Totem's ability to exchange two other players' creatures. (Activating it multiple times in response to itself to do so.) Then, the Avarice Totem player dies and leaves the game. What happens to the creatures the Totem exchanged?

    A: Not much—they stay right where they are.

    When a player leaves the game, all objects owned by them leave (including the Totem), and any effects which grant them control of any objects end...but neither of those things will give the other players back their original creatures. Let's look at an example to see why. We'll say our three players are Alice, Bob, and Carol, and our two creatures are Brushstrider and Cobblebrute. We start out with all three players controlling the permanents they naturally own: Alice controls Avarice Totem, Bob controls Brushstrider, and Carol controls Cobblebrute.

    Alice starts things off by activating Avarice Totem three times in response to itself—the first activation targets Brushstrider, the second targets Cobblebrute, and the third targets Brushstrider again. There are now three abilities on the stack: Exchange (Avarice Totem and Brushstrider), exchange (Avarice Totem and Cobblebrute), and finally exchange (Avarice Totem and Brushstrider).
    With no responses, we let the first ability resolve. This exchanges control of the Totem (currently controlled by Alice) and Brushstrider (currently controlled by Bob), creating two independent control-changing effects:
    Bob controls Avarice Totem.
    Alice controls Brushstrider.

    No responses, so the second activation resolves. This exchanges control of the Totem (currently controlled by Bob) and Cobblebrute (currently controlled by Carol), creating two more control-changing effects. Now the full list of effects, from oldest to newest, is as follows:
    Bob controls Avarice Totem.
    Alice controls Brushstrider.
    Carol controls Avarice Totem.
    Bob controls Cobblebrute.

    No responses again, so the third activation resolves. This exchanges control of the Totem (currently controlled by Carol) and Brushstrider (currently controlled by Alice), creating two final control-changing effects. The full list again is now:
    Bob controls Avarice Totem.
    Alice controls Brushstrider.
    Carol controls Avarice Totem.
    Bob controls Cobblebrute.
    Alice controls Avarice Totem.
    Carol controls Brushstrider.

    Whew! Okay, so play goes on and eventually Alice dies. As mentioned above, the Totem leaves the game with her, and any effects which grant her control of things end, so now let's take a look at what that does to our list of control-changing effects:
    Bob controls Avarice Totem. - Totem is gone.
    Alice controls Brushstrider. - Alice is gone.
    Carol controls Avarice Totem. - Totem is gone.
    Bob controls Cobblebrute.
    Alice controls Avarice Totem. - Totem is gone.
    Carol controls Brushstrider.

    That leaves us with...
    Bob controls Cobblebrute.
    Carol controls Brushstrider.

    Nothing tells us to end either of these effects when Alice leaves the game, so they continue to exist indefinitely.



    Q: If Illusionist's Bracers are on Najeela, the Blade-Blossom and I use its five-color ability, would I get 2 additional combat phases? And if so, would I untap all attackers on both of those combat phases?

    A: You would get two additional combat phases, but you wouldn't untap attackers before the second of them. Najeela, the Blade-Blossom untaps all attacking creatures at the time its ability resolves, not at the beginning of the combat phase it creates.

    So if you copy Najeela's ability with Illusionist's Bracers, you first untap all attacking creatures and create a second combat phase, but before you get to actually progress the turn and take that combat, the next ability resolves and tries to untap all attacking creatures again (even though they're already untapped) and creates a third combat phase. And with the untapping part of the ability done and gone, you won't get another free untap to work with.



    Q: Does Firesong and Sunspeaker work with Reverse Damage?

    A: They do. If Firesong and Sunspeaker are on the battlefield at the time the damage is prevented and the life is gained, they'll see that Reverse Damage—a white instant—is causing you to gain life, and will trigger, allowing you to deal 3 damage to target creature or player.



    Q: Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom says "Whenever a player wins a coin flip..." Whenever you flip a coin isn't a player always a winner even if it isn't you?

    A: Nope—heck, sometimes, there isn't even any winner at all.

    Some cards that have you flip a coin just check whether the result was heads or tails without specifying a winner—like Mana Clash. Such flips won't have any winners regardless of outcome.

    Even for flips that do specify a winner, like Zndrsplt itself, only the player actually performing the flip can win or lose that flip—the other player isn't involved, so they neither win or lose, no matter what the result. If you lose Zndrsplt's flip, you lose that flip, and that's it—nobody else won it just because you lost.


    That's all from me this week, but be sure to come back next Monday when Charlotte will be back again for another edition of Cranial Insertion.

    - 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.


     

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