Published on 07/09/2018

Magic Origins: Nicol Bolas

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Guess who's back!
Hi everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! After a few years off, we have the grand return of the Magic core set! Sure, Core Sets aren't know as being the most flashy sets around, but time, we're getting some of the back story of the current major Magic villain, Nicol Bolas! He even gets his own double-faced card, ala the planeswalkers from Magic Origins. We even get new versions of the original Elder Dragons from Legends, which should excite many players.

But enough gushing about Nicol Bolas. You played in the prerelease this weekend, and now maybe you have some rules questions about an interaction you saw this weekend. So we're going to dive right in with some questions pulled from cards in Core Set 2019. If your question isn't answered here, send it to us and we'll answer it for you. We might even use it in an upcoming 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've heard that Alpine Moon naming one of the Urzatron pieces like Urza's Tower can shut down all three pieces. Is that true?

A: That is true. Alpine Moon will remove the subtypes and abilities from the named land and gives it the ability to tap for any color of mana. That means that if you name Urza's Tower, the Tower loses the types "Urza's Tower". And Urza's Mine and Urza's Power Plant are looking for a land with the subtype "Urza's Tower". It doesn't care about the name of the card (if they did, they would say "If you control a card named Urza's Tower and..."). Since Urza's Tower no longer has the subtypes "Urza's Tower", it will prevent the Urzatron from completing and generating seven mana as early as turn three.

Q: I have one card left in my library, and I know it's a Nexus of Fate. Can I draw it, cast it, end my turn, and keep recasting the Nexus until time is up in the round?

A: Nope, that's slow play. The Nexus is cast, resolves, then becomes the only card in your library again, which you draw again next turn. By repeatedly casting the Nexus and doing nothing else, you're not advancing the game state anymore. Unless you have other things you can do on your extra turns to advance the game state (for instance, attacking with an unblockable creature every turn), you will eventually have to make a different decision other than "Cast Nexus of Fate". Trying to do this will start to net you slow play warnings in a tournament, so if you find yourself in this situation, unless you can kill your opponent, you should just concede the game.

Q: I cast Cleansing Nova. Can I wait until the Nova resolves before I choose whether to destroy all creatures or destroy all artifact and enchantments?

A: Nope, you can't wait. Part of announcing a spell is choosing which mode you want. This doesn't happen when the Nova resolves, it happens when you're casting it. Everyone will know what mode you've chosen by the time they can respond and will be able to respond accordingly.

Q: What happens if I cast Declare Dominance on my Bristling Boar and attack with it? Does my opponent have to block with all of their creatures or just one creature?

A: Just one creature of their choice. When we're declaring blockers, we have to fulfill as many requirements as possible without violating any restrictions. The effect of the Dominance sets up a requirement that each creature the defending player controls blocks the Boar if able, but the Boar has a requirement that says it can't be blocked by more than one creature. What that means is that your opponent has to block the Boar with one creature of their choice. Their other creatures cannot block the Boar, but they're free to block other attacking creatures (or not block at all if they choose).

Q: I control Lena, Selfless Champion and three 1/1 soldier tokens. I sacrifice Lena to activate her ability, then cast Inspired Charge to make my tokens into 3/2 creatures. Are my tokens still indestructible?

A: Yep, they're still indestructible. When Lena's ability resolves, it looks to see what creatures had a lower power than Lena last had when she was last on the battlefield and gives them indestructible for the rest of the turn. Once the ability resolves, the creatures that gain indestructible are locked in. Altering a creature's power, whether by increasing or decreasing it, after the ability resolves won't affect what has indestructible or not. Even though you raised the token's power to three later on, the tokens are still indestructible from Lena's ability

Q: I attack my opponent's Tezzeret, Artifice Master with Leonin Warleader. Do the tokens have to attack Tezzeret as well, or can they attack my opponent?

A: They can attack your opponent instead of Tezzeret. The Warleader's ability does not specify what the tokens are attacking, so you get to choose what opponent or planeswalker they're attacking. While the Warleader is attacking Tezzeret, you can have the tokens attack your opponent instead of Tezzeret.

The tokens don't have to attack the same opponent or planeswalker either - if you want one to attack Tezzeret and the other one to attack the opponent, you can do that.

Q: What do I do with the card I look at with Dryad Greenseeker's ability if it's not a land?

A: If the card is a land card and you choose to reveal the card, then that card goes into your hand. But if you don't reveal the card (because it's not a land card or you don't want to reveal it for some reason), then the card stays where it is - on top of your library.

Why bother with a cunning plan when a simple one will do?

Q: I cast Thud sacrificing my Gigantosaurus. Can my opponent Murder my Gigantosaurus before I can sacrifice it?

A: Nope, they can't. Part of the cost of casting Thud is sacrificing a creature; paying costs does not use the stack and can't be responded to. By the time your opponent gets priority after Thud has been cast, Gigantosaurus is in the graveyard, not the battlefield, and can't be targeted by Murder.

Q: What happens if I activate Chaos Wand's ability targeting my opponent but they don't have any instants or sorceries in their library?

A: Turns out that your Wand is a little defective and you don't get to cast anything. You'll end up exiling all of the cards in your opponent's library (so you'll get to see everything left in their deck), not cast anything since you didn't exile an instant or sorcery card, then all of the cards that you just exiled up on the bottom of your opponent's library in a random order (kind of like shuffling their library, but won't trigger anything that cares about shuffling the library). You don't get to cast anything, but you do know everything left in their library!

Q: Can I cast Invoke the Divine with no artifacts or enchantments in play just to gain 4 life?

A: No you cannot. Invoke the Divine requires a target artifact or enchantment to be able to cast it. If there aren't any on the battlefield, then you cannot cast it since you cannot choose a legal target for the spell (note that, in a pinch, you could target an artifact or enchantment you control, if you're that desperate for the life).

Q: If I cast Hungering Hydra with X=6, will Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma reduce the cost to cast it by ?

A: Nope, you don't get a cost reduction here. Goreclaw cares about the power of the creature spell. While the Hydra would enter the battlefield as a 6/6, it won't get those counters until it enters the battlefield. On the stack, no matter how big X was, the Hydra's power is zero, so it will not get a cost reduction from Goreclaw.

Q: If I attack with Chromium, the Mutable and my opponent blocks with their Snapping Drake, can I activate Chromium's ability to make him unblockable and get past the Drake?

A: You can activate the ability, but you're going to make Chromium very sad by throwing its life away. Making a creature unblockable after blockers are declared won't undo a block that was already made - the attacking creature is still blocked by the defending creature and they will deal damage to each other like normal. So Chromium is still being blocked by the Drake, but instead of being a giant 7/7 Dragon, Chromium is a puny 1/1 Human, and will die from the damage the Drake deals to it in combat.

Q: I control three 1/1 soldier creature tokens and an Ajani's Last Stand. My opponent casts Cleansing Nova, with the "Destroy all creatures"
mode chosen. After the dust has settled, do I end up with one 4/4 Angel token or three 4/4 Angel tokens?

A: Just one token. While the Stand will trigger three times since three creatures you controlled died, you only get the 4/4 Angel token if you sacrifice the Stand when the trigger resolves. If the Stand isn't in play when the trigger resolves (perhaps because it was sacrificed to another trigger), you will not get the token.

In this situation, the first Stand trigger to resolve will cause you to sacrifice the Stand and you'll create a 4/4 Angel token. The remaining two triggers won't really do anything, since you no longer control the Stand and cannot sacrifice it when the trigger resolves.

Q: If I cast Doublecast, then cast a second Doublecast, and finally Fiery Finish, how many Finishes do I end up with?

A: Double the Cast, triple the spell! Once the first Doublecast resolves, you'll get one copy of the next instant or sorcery spell you cast this turn. When you cast the second Doublecast, the delayed trigger from the first Doublecast gives you one additional copy of the second Doublecast. Once the copy and the original are done resolving, you'll have two delayed triggers that will each give you a copy of your next instant or sorcery spell. Finally, you cast Fiery Finish, and both delayed abilities trigger, giving you two more copies of the Finish. That's three copies of the Finish, which means seven damage to three creatures (or 14 to one and seven to another, or maybe all 21 to the same creature, if the creature has a lot of toughness or you just really want to be sure that it's dead).

Q: If I have an Omniscience in play, can I cast Banefire using Omniscience with X=1,000,000?

A: No, you can't do that. If you're casting a spell without paying its mana cost and the spell has an X in the cost, the only value you can choose for X is zero. You're free to cast Banefire using Omniscience, but you'll have to choose 0 for Banefire, meaning your Banefire isn't going to deal any damage at all. In general, spells with an X in the cost and effects that let you cast a spell via an alternate cost don't work very well together, since X has to be zero.

A little more interesting than the original Chromium.

Q: Can I use Isolate to exile Adanto, the First Fort?

A: Yep, you can do that. Normally, a land has a converted mana cost of zero, and Isolate needs a permanent with a converted mana cost of one. But with double-faced card, the back side of a doubled faced card has the same converted mana cost as the front side. Adanto, the First Fort has the same converted mana cost as Legion's Landing, which is one, so it can be targeted and exiled by Isolate.

Note there is one exception here: if Adanto, the First Fort was not the original double-faced card but a copy (maybe you copied another Adanto with Vesuva), then the copy's converted mana cost is zero, since there is no front side to target.

Q: Using a Conspiracy naming "Human" and a Moonmist, I transform Nicol Bolas, the Ravager with Moonmist. What happens to Nicol Bolas?

A: Nicol Bolas applauds your ingenuity...then curses you as he goes to the graveyard. Transforming a card doesn't add or remove any counters from it, which is why Nicol Bolas (and the original flip planeswalkers from Origins) all exile themselves, then return themselves to the battlefield transformed - by exiling and returning themselves, they're entering the battlefield as planeswalkers, so they get their base loyalty.

But with your Conspiracy/Moonmist combo, Nicol Bolas isn't leaving or entering the battlefield, so he doesn't get any loyalty counters when he transforms. After Moonmist is done resolving, Nicol Bolas, the Arisen is on the battlefield, but he doesn't have any loyalty counters on him, so he ends up in the graveyard.

Q: What happens if I cast Fraying Omnipotence in a game of two-headed giant?

A: Some cards get better in two-headed giant, some get worse. This is probably an example of a worse card. Each player on the team will lose half of their team's life total, rounded up. That means that if your team is at 14 life, you will lose seven life, and your teammate will lose seven life, putting your team's life total to zero. If you were at 15 life, then you and your teammate would each lose eight life, putting your team's life total to -1. In either case, you and the opposing team's life total will drop to 0 or less, and the game will be a draw.

Q: Can I use Suncleanser to get rid of experience counters given to my opponent by their Mizzix of the Izmagnus?

A: You can! If you choose the second mode, you can use Suncleanser to get rid of all of the counters on your opponent. That includes all of the experience counters that Mizzix had given them. And as an added bonus, until your opponent can remove Suncleanser, they won't be able to get any more experience counters, which should hopefully slow down your opponent enough to catch up from all of their cheap instants and sorceries they've been able to cast.

Q: In Core Set 2019, I heard that the basic land slot could have a dual land (like Cinder Barrens) or a checklist card for Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. If we're drafting, what should we do with that slot?

A: Usually, you would remove the basic land from the pack when you draft it. However, since that slot could contain something else that might be relevant to the draft (like a dual land), Wizards is recommending that you keep that card (whether it be a basic land, a dual land, or a checklist card) in the pack. This keeps the number of cards in each player's pack the same (and someone might get a nifty checklist card).

Note that if you happen to be drafting during day 2 of a Grand Prix using Core Set 2019, they will be removing the basic land, dual land, or checklist card from the packs you draft with, so you won't have to worry about that at a Grand Prix.

That's all the rules goodness we have for this week. We'll see you all next week!

Is there any source for the second part to the final answer (dual lands being removed for GP Day 2 drafts)? Asking because neither this
nor this
makes any mention of it …
#1 • Date: 2018-07-15 • Time: 14:57:11 •

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