Published on 08/27/2018

Postcards from Lake Michigan

Cranial Translation
Português (Br) 简体中文 Deutsch Español Français Italiano

Fortunately there are no sharks
in Lake Michigan
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! I have recently come back from a camping vacation near the shore of Lake Michigan, and I had a wonderful time. I filled up on blue mana swimming in Lake Michigan, filled up on green mana hiking through the woods, and generally enjoyed myself relaxing and disconnecting from the hectic pace of an adult life. The only problem was that the vacation wasn't long enough and that I got a bunch of mosquito bites as souvenirs.

While I was out on vacation, of course we continued to get rules questions sent to us, so let's take a look at some of those. If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet short questions at @CranialTweet. One of our writers will get back to you with an answer, and your question might even appear in a future article.

Q: When I activate Bone Dragon's ability, can I go back and forth between paying a mana and exiling a card to make Desecrated Tomb's ability trigger multiple times?

A: No, that doesn't work. The rules say that you can pay the activation cost in any order, but that only refers to the two components of "" and "exile seven other cards from your graveyard," because there's also a rule that says that partial payments are not allowed. You can either pay all the mana first and then exile the cards, or vice versa. Either way, the seven cards are leaving your graveyard all at the same time, triggering Desecrated Tomb's ability just once.

Q: If Soulflayer delves away a Knight of Malice, does it get hexproof, hexproof from white, or no hexproof at all?

A: Hexproof from white is a variant of the hexproof ability, and cards that look for the hexproof keyword recognize hexproof from white (or from any other quality) as an instance of hexproof. As such, Soulflayer will gain the hexproof ability that Knight of Malice has, which is hexproof from white.

Q: I know that when Panharmonicon doubles Stonehorn Dignitary's enter-the-battlefield ability, my opponent skips their next two combat phases. Does Azor, the Lawbringer's ability work similarly so that my opponent can't cast instants or sorceries on their next two turns?

A: No. Stonehorn Dignitary's ability creates a replacement effect, so when it resolves twice, it creates two replacement effects. Replacement effects don't lock in a particular time for when to happen; they just wait for an event to happen and replace it as it happens. The next time your opponent would begin a combat phase, one of those replacement effects makes them skip that phase, and then the second effect has nothing left to do, so it'll wait around for the next time after that to do its thing, so the end result is that your opponent skips two combat phases.

Azor's ability on the other hand creates a rule-changing continuous effect for a certain period of time, and that period of time is during your opponent's next turn. That period of time is locked in when the effect is created, so both abilities create the same effect for the same turn.

Q: How do Quest for Pure Flame and Mana Clash interact? Does the Quest get a counter for each point of damage that Mana Clash deals? And if so, can I sacrifice the Quest once it reaches four counters in the middle of the Mana Clash to double the amount of damage Mana Clash deals from that point on?

A: Yes and no. Each time Mana Clash deals damage, it's a separate event, so Quest for Pure Flame triggers each time Mana Clash deals damage to your opponent. However, those triggers don't even go on the stack, let alone resolve, until Mana Clash is completely done resolving. After Mana Clash is done, all the Quest triggers resolve and put that many quest counters on the Quest. You could sacrifice the Quest then, but it'll be too late to change the damage that Mana Clash already dealt.

Q: Let's say I cast Polymorphous Rush to turn my Runeclaw Bear and my Ornithopter into copies of my opponent's Carnage Tyrant, and then I use Fated Infatuation to make a token copy of my Runeclaw Bear that's now a Carnage Tyrant until end of turn. After the turn ends, does that token become a Runeclaw Bear or does it stay a copy of Carnage Tyrant?

A: It'll remain a copy of Carnage Tyrant. Fated Infatuation creates a copy based on Runeclaw Bear's copiable values, which are the characteristics that are printed on it, as modified by other copy effects. That last bit is quite relevant here because Polymorphous Rush created a copy effect that modifies Runeclaw Bear's characteristics. This means that Fated Infatuation sees a Carnage Tyrant when it looks at what to copy, so it creates a copy of Carnage Tyrant.

Q: I control Crested Sunmare and a bunch of Horse tokens, and my opponent casts Hour of Revelation. Do all my Horses die?

A: No, just Crested Sunmare dies. Hour of Revelation creates one destruction event that attempts to destroy all nonland permanents at the same time. At the time the game determines which of those permanents can be destroyed, it hasn't destroyed Crested Sunmare yet, so your Horse tokens have indestructible, which means that they can't be destroyed. Hour of Revelation destroys what it can, which is just your Crested Sunmare, and then it's done. Your Horses no longer have indestructible now, but that doesn't matter because nothing is trying to destroy them now.

Q: Suppose I control Butcher of Malakir, Reassembling Skeleton, and a sacrifice outlet such as Spawning Pit. My opponent targets my Butcher with Terminate. In response, I want to sacrifice Reassembling Skeleton, bring it back, and repeat as often as I can pay to do that, in order to trigger the Butcher's ability a bunch of times. Can I do that?

A: Absolutely. Spells and abilities on the stack resolve one at a time, and in between each one, players get priority to activate more abilities or cast more spells if they wish. While your opponent's Terminate is waiting on the bottom of the stack and impatiently twiddling its thumbs, you can sacrifice and bring back Reassembling Skeleton as often as you want, as long as you can pay the cost. Terminate will only resolve once you stop doing that and both you and your opponent pass priority in succession when Terminate is on top of the stack.

Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.
Q: I have a Runeclaw Bear equipped with Spy Kit, and I control Now I Know my ABC's. Do I win the game at the beginning of my upkeep?

A: Yup. Now I Know My ABC's asks you twenty-six different but similar questions: "Do you control a permanent with A in its name?" and so on. Since your Runeclaw Bear has many different names, you can answer each of those questions by saying "Yup, that guy", pointing at your Runeclaw Bear, so you filfill the conditions to win the game.

Q: I still have a Runeclaw Bear equipped with Spy Kit, but now I enchant it with Wordmail. How big of a bonus does it get?

A: Congratulations, you broke Magic, again. I hope you're happy.

Kidding aside, let's think about this. Wordmail asks how many words are in Runeclaw Bear's name, and the rules don't tell us how to answer that question if the creature has multiple names. I think a reasonable interpretation is that you get to choose one of its names to use for the bonus, and I highly recommend you choose Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long Card Names So We Made this Card to Have the Absolute Longest Card Name Ever Elemental, which would result in a respectable +25/+25 bonus.

Q: If I control Ashes of the Fallen naming Zombie and discard a Runeclaw Bear to help activate Necromancer's Stockpile's ability, do I get a 2/2 Zombie token from the ability?

A: No. Necromancer's Stockpile checks if the discarded card was a Zombie card, which means it checks the characteristics of the card as it existed in your hand, not as it currently exists in your graveyard. It's a Zombie card in your graveyard, but it wasn't one in your hand, so you don't get a Zombie token from the ability.

Q: If I attack with Phyrexian Obliterator and my opponent blocks with a 14/14 that has first strike and trample, how much damage does it deal to my Obliterator?

A: It deals 14 damage, so your opponent will have to sacrifice fourteen permanents. As the saying goes, creatures don't pull their punches, which means they deal damage equal to their power even if that's more than enough to kill the other creature. Your opponent's blocker's power is 14, so it deals all 14 damage to your Obliterator. The fact that the blocker has trample doesn't help your opponent, because trample only matters for attackers.

Q: If I cast Decimate and my opponent sacrifices the targeted creature in response, does Decimate still destroy the targeted artifact, enchantment, and land?

A: Yup. As long as at least one of the targets is still legal, the spell resolves and does as much as it can, so it'll still destroy the remaining targets.

Q: If I control Guile and Counterspell my opponent's commander, do I get to cast it?

A: Yup. Guile replaces your Counterspell's effect from "Counter target spell" to "Exile target spell and you may cast that card without paying its mana cost." The commander rules then replace the exile part with allowing your opponent to put their commander into the command zone, but that doesn't change the fact that Counterspell's modified effect allows you to cast it.

Q: I control a creature that has a bunch of power/toughness bonuses from Equipment and Auras, and it's also equipped with Blade of Selves. Do the token copies from the myriad ability include the power/toughness bonuses?

A: No. As we've discussed earlier in this issue, copy effects only look at what's printed on the card, as modified by other copy effects. The power/toughness bonuses aren't copy effects, so they're not taken into account by the myriad effect.

Beware of mosquitoes!
Q: If I play Abnormal Endurance on a creature, can I keep sacrificing it to Ashnod's Altar to make arbitrary amount of mana?

A: No, that doesn't work. After you sacrifice it the first time, the ability from Abnormal Endurance brings it back as a new object without any memory of its previous existence, so the creature that comes back no longer has the ability that would bring it back again. You could sacrifice it a second time, but it won't come back a second time.

Q: Does Energy Flux destroy or sacrifice the artifact if its upkeep cost isn't paid? The printed text is all over the place over the various printings, so I'm a bit confused.

A: True, the printed text differs wildly between the different printings of this card, but fortunately, the printed text is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the card's Oracle text in Gatherer, which says that the artifact gets sacrificed if its upkeep cost isn't paid.

Q: Do I get a cascade trigger if Saheeli Rai makes a token copy of Bloodbraid Elf?

A: No. The token has cascade, but cascade only triggers when you cast a spell with that ability. The token is never cast, so its cascade ability doesn't get the chance to trigger.

Q: I'm playing at Competetive REL and my opponent casts Empty the Warrens without announcing the storm trigger. Does he get the tokens for his storm count, or did he miss the trigger?

A: Generally, players don't have to announce triggered abilities at all; they just have to demonstrate awareness of the trigger at an appropriate time. This varies depending on what the trigger does, but as a rule of thumb for triggers that don't require targets or choices, you have to show that you're aware of the trigger by the time it makes a visible impact on the game state. The storm ability creates invisible spell copies, so they're considered to resolve automatically, but their controller must demonstrate awareness of the resulting copies. For Empty the Warrens, they demonstrate awareness by creating the appropriate number of tokens. In short, as long as your opponent creates the correct number of tokens, they're acting legally even if they don't announce the storm trigger in any way.

Q: My opponent attacks me with a bunch of 1/1 Knight creature tokens and with Accorder Paladin, and he doesn't say anything about the Paladin's battle cry ability. Can I assume that the Knights are 1/1, or do I have do take the battle cry ability into account?

A: You shouldn't assume that the battle cry ability hasn't resolved just because your opponent didn't point it out. As we saw in the previous question, an opponent needn't acknowledge a triggered ability until it makes a visible impact on the game state. Battle cry doesn't change the visible game state, so it only needs to be acknowledged when combat damage is dealt unless you ask your opponent questions about the game state before then.

Q: I'm playing at a Grand Prix in the main event, and I realize that the artist of one of the cards in my deck is there. Is there anything that would prohibit me from getting that card signed?

A: As long as you manage to get the card signed between rounds without being late to your match, you won't have any problems. The rules state that artistic modifications of cards are acceptable as long as the modifications don't make the card unrecognizable, don't contain substantial strategic advice, don't contain offensive images, and don't cover or change the mana cost or name of the card. A simple artist's signature on the card doesn't cause any of those problems, so that is perfectly fine.

And that's all the time we have for this week's issue. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for another issue.

- Carsten Haese

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.


No comments yet.


Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!