Published on 08/20/2018

Command Performance

Cranial Translation
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The yearly Commander sets never fail
to put on a good show.
Happy Monday everyone!
Commander 2018 is an amazing set and so even after a full column of answers to your C18 questions last week, our mailbag is still overflowing with questions about the awesome new cards in the set and about Commander in general, so let's not beat around the bush and get on with the show!

Remember, if you'd like to see us wax poetic in answer to your own questions, then send them to us via email at , or on Twitter @CranialTweet. You'll get an answer and potentially see your question in a future article.

Q: If Kestia, the Cultivator is my commander, do I have to pay the Commander Tax if I'm casting her for the Bestow cost?

A: Yes, you do.
Bestow is an alternate cost to cast Kestia. If she's your commander and you're casting her from the command zone, then you'll have to pay for each previous time you've cast her from the command zone this game no matter if you're casting her for her Bestow cost or not and no matter if she was previously cast as an aura or a creature spell.

Also, commander tax is finally called that in the Comprehensive Rules, so it's no longer a strictly informal term! Yay!

Q: If I have two commanders with Partner (e.g. Pir, Imaginative Rascal and Toothy, Imaginary Friend) and I've cast one of them once and the other one twice this game, how many copies of Genesis Storm will I get when I cast it?

A: You'll get three copies of Genesis Storm in addition to the original spell. This cycle of spells from C18 counts the number of times you've taken a card that's your commander out of the command zone and put it on the stack, so it looks at the total for both Toothy and Pir and not just the number of times you've cast one or the other.

Q: What happens if you try to awaken Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle? Will its base P/T be 12/12 or 0/0?

A: How do you feel when someone wakes you up early? Cranky? Still tired? A little weak? Well so does our lobster friend.

Awakening Arixmethes via artificial means sets its base P/T to 0/0 and makes it into an Elemental instead of a Kraken. Even if you later remove all the slumber counters, its base P/T will still be 0/0.

Also, if the awaken spell would remove the last counter from Arixmethes, then that happens before the awaken spell resolves and Arixmethes won't be a legal target for that portion of the spell. If the spell doesn't have any other targets, then it won't resolve at all and none of its effects will happen.

Q: Will the Mask token created by Estrid, the Masked do anything to protect a planeswalker it's attached to?

A: Totem armor won't do anything to stop a planeswalker from losing loyalty to damage and then going to the graveyard for having no loyalty, as that's not destroying the planeswalker.
What having totem armor will do is protect the planeswalker from direct destruction effects such as Dreadbore or Vindicate.

We hope our columns leave you wanting more!
Q: If I use Estrid, the Masked's ability to create a Mask token while I control Anointed Procession, what happens? Do the tokens attach to the same permanent or different permanents?

A: Anointed Procession and other effects that double token creation don't create the extra token themselves, rather they cause the original effect to create twice as many tokens. In the case of Estrid's -1 ability, this means that two Mask tokens will be created and attached to the chosen target. They're both attached to that permanent and you don't have any choice in the matter.

You would only get to choose what each token enchants if the tokens were created not enchanting a specific permanent, but that's not the case here.

Q: If my Varchild, betrayer of Kjeldor gives someone a bunch of Survivor tokens, then steals them for me when she dies, what happens to those tokens when that player leaves the game? For example, by having their skull beaten in by a horde of Survivor tokens.

A: The player that creates a token is its owner. When that player leaves the game, that token ceases to exist no matter who controls it at that time. If you beat your opponent to death with the Survivors that your Varchild created under their control, then the survivors go poof when that opponent dies.

Q: If control both Varina, Lich Queen and Alhammarret's Archive when I attack with some zombies, will I have to discard the new doubled amount of cards that I drew, or still only discard the amount equal to zombies I attacked with?

A: Varina's triggered ability uses "that many" to refer to the number of attacking Zombies. Alhammarret's Archive will double the number of cards you draw to "twice that many", but you'll still only discard "that many" cards. Overall, you'll end up netting one card in hand for each Zombie that attacked.

Q: How will Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign interact with split cards like Rags // Riches or Dusk // Dawn?

A: Anywhere other than on the stack, a split card always has a CMC equal to the combined costs of both of its halves, so Rags//Riches' CMC in your library is 4+7=11. This is the value that Yennett will look at to see what happens to the card.

If Yennett allows you to cast a split card with her ability, then you can choose which half you want to cast, even if that half has an even CMC. (Note that the Amonkhet split cards will only allow you to cast the top half this way as you can't cast the half with Aftermath since you're not casting it from your graveyard.)

Q: How does Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer's triggered ability work when cards like Polymorphist's Jest are used against him either in response to the trigger or after it resolves?

A: Brudiclad's ability will still resolve fully, even though your whole team is now a bunch of blue frogs for the turn. Polymorphist's Jest (and similar cards like Sudden Spoiling) don't change the copiable characteristics of the chosen token, so all of your tokens will still become copies of the chosen token even though Polymorphist's Jest's effects still apply on top of that. All your tokens will still be frogs for the turn, but then when the turn ends, they'll be copies of the chosen token as it was created.

Q: When I attack with Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign, do I still have to follow the rules of when the revealed spell can be cast, or can I play creatures/sorceries/etc. at that time?

A: If the card revealed by Yennett's trigger has an odd converted mana cost, the ability allows you to cast the spell as part of its resolution. Because you're casting the spell as part of the resolution of an ability, you're already ignoring normal timing rules and so it doesn't matter if the card is an instant or creature or planeswalker, you can cast it at that time. If you choose not to cast it, then you'll just draw it.

Q: I cast Xantcha, Sleeper Agent and give it to an opponent who controls an Ashnod's Altar. Do I have a chance to activate Xantcha a few times before my opponent gets priority to sacrifice her for mana?

A: Assuming that it's your turn, you'll get priority after Xantcha resolves. You can then activate Xantcha's activated ability. If you want to do this multiple times, you just need to be clear that you're holding priority between the activations. Once you pass priority to your opponent, they can sacrifice Xantcha and put a stop to your fun.
If Xantcha is no longer on the battlefield when the ability resolves, the game will remember who last controlled Xantcha and cause that player to lose life.

Q: I activate Aminatou, the Fateshifter's -6 ability, and an opponent casts Teferi's Protection in response. What happens to the phased out permanents when Aminatou's ability resolves?

A: Nothing happens to them since they're phased out. Phased out permanents can't be affected by anything that doesn't specifically say it affects them. Aminatou's ability just sees that player as controlling no permanents and so the player to that player's left or right will receive no nonland permanents while the player under Teferi's Protection will still receive the nonland permanents from the player who is passing to them.

Q: In a multiplayer game, Player A and Player B both have a Treasure Nabber, but Player C does not. Player C activates Sol Ring and Player B gains control of it (after a brief visit to Player A). Player B uses the Sol Ring on their turn and then Player A gains control of it. What happens to the Sol Ring if Player A doesn't use it on their turn? Does it go back to Player B or Player C?

A: When multiple Treasure Nabbers get together, it can create quite a bit of confusion with lots of mana rocks getting passed around left and right and every which way. What happens in this case is that the Sol Ring goes back to Player C since the durations of all of the control change effects from the various Treasure Nabbers have all expired at that point.
Treasure Nabber's effect has a duration, not a delayed trigger, so it doesn't matter if you don't control the artifact it nabbed anymore when your next turn ends, the effect will still wear off.

We here at CI pride ourselves on professionalism,
unlike some other entertainers.
Q: If I deal combat damage to a player with Geode Golem and I have two Partner commanders, can I cast both of them from the command zone for free?

A: No, you'll only be able to cast one of your commanders from the command zone without paying its mana cost. (And you still have to pay commander tax.) This is because of rule 702.123e, which say in part "If an effect causes you to perform an action on your commander and it could affect both, you choose which it refers to at the time the effect is applied."

Q: Can Gyrus, Waker of Corpses target a creature with Defender in my graveyard with its attack trigger?

A: Yes, it can. Since the token that Gyrus creates enters the battlefield attacking, it doesn't matter that it will have defender. Defender only matters when you're declaring attackers and so it doesn't matter here since the token enters the battlefield attacking after that point.

Q: My opponent casts Skull Storm while I control a Tajuru Preserver. What happens when Skull Storm and its copies resolve?

A: You're going to lose a lot of life. Tajuru Preserver won't let you sacrifice anything when Skull Storm resolves, so you're forced to lose half your life... for each copy of Skull Storm. I hope you can survive the storm. Watch your head.

Q: How do the tokens created by Gyrus, Waker of Corpses interact with cards like Doubling Season? Are the additional tokens also exiled at end of combat, or do they stick around?

A: Doubling Season never actually creates any tokens itself, but rather causes whatever is creating the tokens to create twice as many instead. This means that all the tokens are created by the same effect and are subject to the same conditions, i.e. being exiled at the end of combat here.

Q: Would I be allowed to suspend a noncreature spell (e.g. Ancestral Vision) while affected by Hope of Ghirapur's activated ability?

A: No, you won't be able to suspend that spell.
You have to be able to start to cast a spell by putting it on the stack in order to be able to suspend it, and you can't start casting a noncreature spell when you're under the effect of Hope of Ghirapur's activated ability.

Q: What happens if a double-faced creature that has been turned into a copy of another double-faced creature by Metamorphic Alteration attempts to transform?

A: It will transform successfully, but that's not the whole story here.
As you're probably aware, only double-faced cards can actually transform and any card that's not actually a double-faced card that's instructed to transform won't do anything. So our double-faced card physically transforms here, but the copy effect created by Metamorphic Alteration is still in effect, so it will still just be a copy of whatever Metamorphic Alteration made it a copy of, and not the other face of that card if it's a double-faced card.
None of the card's characteristics change despite the card itself transforming. This doesn't accomplish much unless the card that's being copied has a "transforms into" ability such as the one on Huntmaster of the Fells, which will trigger here.

Q: I let Plague Boiler naturally get a third counter in my upkeep, which then triggers its third ability. My opponent then activates an ability to save some of their creatures. In response, can I pay to remove a counter from Plague Boiler, bringing it to down to two counters, and then pay to put a third counter on it again and thereby triggering the third ability again?

A: No, this doesn't work.
Plague Boiler's third ability is a state trigger. Rather than triggering when a specific event happens, state triggers look for something to be true, usually something that can persist for a while. To keep state triggers from triggering endlessly when their trigger condition is met, a state trigger won't trigger if there's already the same trigger from the same source either on the stack or waiting to go on the stack. In the situation you describe, there's already a state trigger from Plague Boiler on the stack, so another one can't be added through the shenanigans you describe.

Q: I'm playing in a multiplayer game and I detain a creature with Inaction Injunction. If I'm eliminated from the game before my next start of turn, will that creature remain detained forever?

A: No, the creature won't be detained forever. There are rules for these sorts of things, you see, and the Azorius are very keen to follow them even in the case of your untimely death. Any effect that would last until the next turn, or a point in the next turn, of a player who's no longer in the game will last until that player would have begun their next turn in the normal turn order. So, when the player to your right passes the turn to the player to your left, the detained creature will be no longer detained.

Q: My Phylactery Lich puts a phylactery counter on Treasure Map. Later in the game, Treasure map transforms into Treasure Cove, which isn't an artifact anymore. What happens to the phylactery counter and Phylactery Lich?

A: Your Phylactery Lich is fine, since Treasure Cove still has a phylactery counter on it. (It transformed without leaving the battlefield, and so it retained all of its counters.) Phylactery Lich only cares that a permanent you control has a phylactery counter on it, not what kind of permanent happens to be holding the counter. Phylactery Lich will survive for as long as Treasure Cove stays on the battlefield and keeps its phylactery counters.

As the final curtain closes and the performers take a bow, I want to thank you all again for joining us here at the CI Theatre. You can read more Q&A from me over at my blog at and Carsten will be here to put on another show for you all next week!

- Charlotte


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