Published on 07/02/2018

Quizzing by the Pool

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Yeah, we're gonna be so cool
Twisting by the pool
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! July has begun and the temperatures are rising, so we are seeking relief from the heat by diving into the cool waters of the Knowledge Pool. Moko has informed me that it has been a few months since our last quiz episode, and with the imminent release of Core Set 2019, this is a great time to find out what you've learned.

If you have questions you want us to answer, you can email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will send you a reply, and your question might appear in a future issue alongside a pun or pop-culture reference.

And now, without further ado, let us put on our swimsuits and dive into this week's quiz.

Q: Alice and Bob are playing Two-Headed Giant against Charlie and Debbie. Alice plays True-Name Nemesis. Who can she choose for True-Name Nemesis' ability?

A: The choices are...

A: Alice
B: Bob
C: Charlie
D: Debbie
E: Elliott, who is playing at the next table

The answer is
A, B, C, or D!

When you're asked to choose a player, you have to choose a player who is in your game, but it doesn't matter if that player is yourself, an opponent, or a teammate. Giving her True-Name Nemesis protection from herself or from her teammate is probably not a good idea, but it is a legal choice. Note that Alice can't give True-Name Nemesis protection from both of her opponents. She has to choose one or the other.

Q: Which of these can I target with Wizard's Lightning?

A: The choices are...

A: Llanowar Elves
B: Jaya Ballard
C: My opponent
D: A Forest
E: An emblem

The answer is
A, B, or C.

"Any target" simply means "target creature, player, or planeswalker", so that's what you can target with Wizard's Lightning. You can't target a noncreature land, even if you suspect it might get animated later in the turn.

Q: Which of the following statements are true when Solemnity is on the battlefield?

A: The choices are...

A: Devoted Druid's untap ability can be activated for free.
B: Lichenthrope can survive arbitrary amounts of damage.
C: Arcbound Bruiser enters the battlefield without +1/+1 counters and dies right away.
D: Planeswalkers enter the battlefield without loyalty counters and die right away.
E: I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

The answer is
B and C.

Planeswalkers are not players, and they aren't listed among the types of permanents that Solemnity affects, so D is false. A is false because Solemnity renders the cost for Devoted Druid's untap ability impossible, and you can't activate an ability if you're unable to pay its cost.

Solemnity does stop counters from being put on a permanent as it's entering the battlefield, as well as stopping counters from being put on a permanents that's on the battlefield, so that is indeed bad news for Arcbound Bruiser or any other 0/0 creature that enters the battlefield with +1/+1 counters. Finally, B is true because a replacement effect has no problem transforming a possible event into an impossible one, so the damage gets replaced with an instruction to pile a bunch of -1/-1 counters on Lichenthrope, which is an impossible action that is ignored.

Mana mana
Do doo do do do
Q: I control Snow-Covered Mountain, Crumbling Vestige, and Reflecting Pool. What types of mana can my Reflecting Pool make?

A: The choices are...

A: Colorless mana
B: Mana of any color, but only on the turn Crumbling Vestige entered the battlefield
C: Mana of any color, regardless of when Crumbling Vestige entered the battlefield
D: Snow mana
E: Mana mana

The answer is
A and C.

Reflecting Pool looks at all abilities of lands you control and what type of mana they would produce if they were to resolve right now. It doesn't matter if the circumstances that would lead to the ability's resolution actually exist. Reflecting Pool can produce mana of any color because that's what Crumbling Vestige's triggered ability would produce, and it can produce colorless mana because that's what Crumbling Vestige's activated ability would produce.

Snow mana is not a type of mana. It is a cost, represented by the symbol , that can be paid with any type of mana that was produced by a snow permanent. Reflecting Pool is not a snow permanent, so you couldn't pay an cost with mana from Reflecting Pool even if you control a Snow-Covered Mountain.

Q: I attack with a red 4/4 creature that has double strike and trample, and my opponent blocks it with a 1/1 that has protection from red. What's the maximum amount of damage I can deal to my opponent?

A: The choices are...

A: 0
B: 3
C: 6
D: 7
E: 42

The answer is

Because the attacker has double strike, there are two combat damage steps. In the first combat damage step, the attacker has to assign at least "lethal damage" to the blocker, and anything beyond that can be assigned to the defending player. Lethal damage doesn't mean that the damage actually has to be able to kill the blocker; it's simply a number calculated by taking the defender's toughness (1), and subtracting any damage already marked on it (0) or being assigned to it by other attackers (also 0). This means that "lethal damage" is 1, so 3 damage can be assigned to the defending player. The 1 damage that would be dealt to the blocker is prevented, so no damage gets marked on it. Therefore, in the second combat damage step, lethal damage is still 1, so the attacker has to assign 1 damage to the blocker and can assign 3 damage to the defending player, for a total of 6 damage.

Q: I control two Bramblewood Paragons and Primal Vigor. If I play a vanilla Warrior, how many +1/+1 counters can it get?

A: The choices are...

A: 0
B: 2
C: 3
D: 4
E: 42

The answer is
C or D.

As the Warrior is about to enter the battlefield, the game looks for any applicable replacement effects. Initially, the Warrior isn't entering the battlefield without any counters, so Primal Vigor's effect doesn't apply. The two Paragons' effects are applicable, so you choose one of them to apply. It doesn't matter which one, since they both do the same thing. Now the game checks again for applicable replacement effects. Since the Warrior is now entering with a +1/+1 counter, Primal Vigor's effect now comes up as a choice, as well as the other Paragon that you didn't apply before. If you apply Primal Vigor's effect first, the number of counters gets doubled to two, and the second Paragon bumps that number to three. If you apply the second Paragon's effect first, the number gets bumped to two and then Primal Vigor's effect applies and doubles the number to four.

Swim at your own risk
Q: I have Inalla, Archmage Ritualist in the command zone, and I control Naban, Dean of Iteration and Panharmonicon, and I play an Anathemancer. Assuming that I pay for Inalla's ability every time it triggers, how many Anathemancer triggers do I get in total?

A: The choices are...

A: 4
B: 6
C: 8
D: 12
E: 42

The answer is

Anathemancer entering the battlefield triggers its own ability and Inalla's ability, but Inalla is in the command zone, so Naban and Panharmonicon don't affect how many times Inalla's ability triggers. They do affect Anathemancer's ability, though, which triggers three times. When Inalla's ability resolves, it creates a token copy of Anathemancer that's also affected by Naban and Panharmonicon, so you get three more Anathemancer triggers, for a total of six triggers.

Q: I'm playing Commander, my commander is Licia, Sanguine Tribune, and I control Imminent Doom. The game has been going for a while, so I've cast Licia six times from the command zone already. Somehow, I gain 20 life and then I cast Licia. How many counters need to be on Imminent Doom so that Licia triggers its ability?

A: The choices are...

A: 0
B: 3
C: 8
D: 20
E: 42

The answer is

Imminent Doom looks at Licia's converted mana cost, which is a number derived from the mana cost printed in the top-right corner of the card. The mana cost is , which means the converted mana cost is 8. This number has nothing to do with what you actually spent to cast Licia, which is after you figure in all cost increases and cost reductions.

Q: How many poison counters does it take to kill a player in Commander?

A: The choices are...

A: 10
B: 15
C: 20
D: 21
E: 42

The answer is

The rule specifies a fixed number of poison counters that kills a player, and that number is ten. It is not based on the starting life total. The only exception to this rule is for Two-Headed Giant, where it takes fifteen poison counters on a team to kill that team, which happens to be half of the team's starting life total, but there is no such exception for Commander.

Q: In which of these formats is Mu Yanling legal?

A: The choices are...

A: Standard, but only in China
B: Standard anywhere.
C: Modern, but only in China
D: Modern anywhere
E: Legacy, but only in China
F: Legacy anywhere
G: Commander, but only in China
H: Commander anywhere
I: Forty-Two

The answer is
A, F, and H.

The Global Series: Jiang Yanggu & Mu Yanling product is a supplemental product, and as such it is by default only legal in Eternal formats, i.e. Legacy and Vintage, and casual formats such as Commander. An exception has been made to make the cards from those decks legal for Standard tournaments in China, but that exception does not apply to Modern tournaments.

And you've made it through the quiz. How did you do? If you got all ten questions right, congratulations! Moko will deliver a special trophy right to you, but maybe you shouldn't open the door for him if you value your brain.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you stay cool this week. Please come back next week when Nathan presents our first look at Core Set 2019!


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.

Isn't the answer to the Licia question 0 because it was cast from the Command Zone so Sunbird's won't trigger at all?
#1 • Date: 2018-07-01 • Time: 22:16:41 •
Quote (Cyborg99):
Isn't the answer to the Licia question 0 because it was cast from the Command Zone so Sunbird's won't trigger at all?

Whoops, you're right. That question was written in an alternate universe in which Sunbird's Invocation doesn't care about the zone from which the spell is cast :)

I've replaced Sunbird's Invocation with Imminent Doom.

Thanks, Carsten.
#2 • Date: 2018-07-02 • Time: 06:54:57 •

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