Published on 09/24/2018

Happy Equiznox

(The Z is Silent)

Cranial Translation
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Happy Equinox!
Greetings and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion. Last weekend was the autumnal equinox, which means that it's fall now, even if the temperatures here in Ohio don't seem to reflect that reality. The leaves on the tree in my front yard are starting to turn brown, but I think it's dying of heat exhaustion. Apart from that, I can tell that it's fall because the stores have started to sell Halloween decorations and all sorts of foods and drinks in "pumpkin spice" flavor.

With the beginning of fall comes the impending release of the Fall set, Guilds of Ravnica, and we'll celebrate the occasion with a quiz where you can test what you've learned so far, before we stuff all new knowledge about the new set into your brains starting next week.

If you have questions for us, please email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will give you an answer, and your question might even appear in a future article.

And now, get comfortable with your pumpkin spice latte and let's jump into today's quiz!

Q: I control two Llanowar Elves, and one of them is enchanted with On Serra's Wings. If I enchant the other one with another On Serra's Wings, what do I have to get rid of?

A: The choices are...

A: Just one On Serra's Wings
B: One Elf and one On Serra's Wings
C: One Elf and both On Serra's Wings
D: Both Elves and both On Serra's Wings
E: Suddenly I'm in the mood for chicken wings.

The answer is
Your choice of B or C.

After On Serra's Wings has resolved, you control two pairs of legendary permanents with the same name: Two Llanowar Elves and two On Serra's Wings. The legend rule gets applied to both pairs simultaneously, so you choose one Llanowar Elves and one On Serra's Wings to keep, and you put the other two into the graveyard. If you for some reason choose to keep the On Serra's Wings that's attached to the Elves you're getting rid of, you'll lose that On Serra's Wings immediately as well because it's not attached to anything.

Q: Adam casts Nexus of Fate during Bob's turn, which Bob copies with Cooperate. In which order are the following turns taken?

A: The choices are...

A: Adam's regular turn
B: Bob's regular turn
C: Adam's extra turn
D: Bob's extra turn
E: The Turn of a Friendly Card

The answer is
C, D, A, B.

Nexus of Fate inserts the extra turn into the turn sequence immediately after the current turn. Since it's Bob's turn, the next turn would have been Adam's regular turn, followed by Bob's regular turn. The first Nexus of Fate that resolves is Bob's copy, since Cooperate created the copy on top of Adam's original that's still waiting to resolve. This inserts an extra turn for Bob before Adam's regular turn. Then, Adam's Nexus of Fate resolves and inserts an extra turn for Adam before Bob's extra turn.

Q: Which of these can I counter with Trickbind?

A: The choices are...

A: Crewing a vehicle
B: Hellspark Elemental's unearth ability
C: Cabal Therapy's flashback ability
D: Turning a face-down creature face up
E: Is this a trick question?

The answer is
A and B.

Trickbind can counter activated abilities and triggered abilities. Activated abilities are written in the form [cost]:[effect], while triggered abilities use the words "when," "whenever," or "at." None of the examples are triggered abilities, so the question is which of them are activated abilities. Crew is a keyword ability that represents an activated ability. You don't see the [cost]:[effect] pattern on the card, but it's in the rules, and it would be in reminder text if there were room for reminder text on the card. Since it's an activated ability, Trickbind can counter it.

Hellspark Elemental's unearth ability is also an activated ability, and the card is nice enough to include reminder text. This ability is activated from the graveyard, but that's okay, Trickbind isn't limited only to activated abilities on permanents.

Flashback looks a lot like unearth, but it's quite different. With flashback, you're actually casting a spell from the graveyard. It's not an activated ability, so Trickbind can't do anything here.

Finally, turning a face-down creature face up is a special action, not an activated ability, so Trickbind can't do anything there, either.

Thunderbolt and lightning
Very very frightening me
Q: I control two 1/1 Knight tokens, a 1/1 Vampire Knight token, a 2/2 Knight Ally token, and a 2/2 Zombie token. My opponent casts Homing Lightning targeting one of the 1/1 Knight tokens. Which of my tokens get dealt damage by Homing Lightning?

A: The choices are...

A: Only the 1/1 Knight that was targeted
B: Both 1/1 Knight tokens
C: All of them except for the 2/2 Zombie token
D: All of them
E: What are you playing? Commander or Chaos Draft?

The answer is

Homing Lightning looks at the name of the targeted 1/1 Knight token and then looks for all other creatures that have the same name. The tokens don't have a specified name, so their name is derived from their creature types. Your Knight tokens are named "Knight", your Vampire Knight token is named "Vampire Knight", and so on. This means that Homing Lightning also hits the second 1/1 Knight, but it doesn't touch any of your other tokens.

Q: During my opponent's turn, I activate Insolent Neonate's ability and discard Bridge from Below to help pay for the activation cost. Do I get a Zombie token from the Bridge?

A: The choices are...

A: You definitely get a token.
B: You definitely don't get a token.
C: You choose whether you get a token.
D: Your opponent chooses whether you get a token.
E: Moko chooses whether you get a token.

The answer is

Insolent Neonate's activation cost has two parts, and even though those parts are printed in a certain order, you get to choose the order in which to pay them. If you discard first, the Bridge is in your graveyard by the time you sacrifice Insolent Neonate, so its ability triggers and you get a token. If you sacrifice first, the Bridge doesn't trigger and you don't get a token. The fact that it's your opponent's turn has no bearing on this; it's your ability, so you choose how to pay for it.

Q: I attack my opponent with a 4/4 creature with deathtouch, and he blocks it with ten 2/2 Zombie tokens. How many of his blockers can I kill?

A: The choices are...

A: Exactly one
B: Exactly two
C: Exactly four
D: Anywhere from one to four
E: Kill 'Em All!

The answer is

After your opponent declares blockers, you arrange the blockers into a damage assignment order, which doesn't really matter since they're all indistinguishable from each other. Then, you assign damage, and you have 4 damage to assign since your attacker's power is 4. You have to assign "lethal damage" to the first blocker in the damage assignment order before you can assign any damage to the next blocker, but because your attacker has deathtouch, just 1 damage is enough to be lethal. You can assign 1 damage to the first blocker and then move on to the second, or assign more than 1 to the first blocker if you want to do that for some reason. You'll end up killing the first blocker in the damage assignment order for sure, and up to the next three blockers as well depending on how you choose to assign the damage.

Don't turn around
Q: Which of these does Torpor Orb stop?

A: The choices are...

A: Evil Twin's ability to copy a creature
B: Iona, Shield of Emeria's ability
C: Renegade Krasis's evolve ability
D: Boggart Mob's champion ability
E: I'm too tired to answer this question.

The answer is
C and D.

Torpor Orb stops triggered abilities, which are written using the words "when," "whenever," or "at." Evil Twin and Iona have static abilities that create replacement effect that change how they enter the battlefield. Those are not triggered abilities, so Torpor Orb doesn't stop them. Evolve and champion are keyword abilities that represent triggered abilities, and they would be triggered by a creature entering the battlefield, so Torpor Orb stops them from triggering.

Q: Which of these can block a creature with protection from black?

A: The choices are...

A: A Gwyllion Hedge-Mage that was cast with white mana
B: A Culling Drone
C: A Transguild Courier
D: A Treasury Thrull
E: Moko wants me to say "Moko."

The answer is

A creature with protection from black can't be blocked by a black creature, so this question boils down to which of these creatures are not black. A card's colors are determined from its mana cost unless it has a color indicator or an ability that changes its colors. Gwyllion Hedge-Mage has a hybrid mana symbol that's white and black, so it's black even if no black mana was spent to cast it. Culling Drone has black mana in its mana cost, but it's not black because devoid says its colorless. Transguild Courier has a color indicator giving it all colors, so it is black. Treasury Thrull is both black and white, so it is black; the fact that it's also white doesn't make it any less black.

Q: My opponent casts Gonti, Lord of Luxury, counts off the top five cards of my library and looks at them before I can stop him. What kind of infraction would this be in a Competitive REL tournament?

A: The choices are...

A: Game Play Error — Game Rule Violation
B: Game Play Error — Looking at Extra Cards
C: Game Play Error — Hidden Card Error
D: Unsporting Conduct — Cheating
E: Failure to Agree on Reality

The answer is
C or D, depending on the judge's investigation.

What your opponent did would be Cheating if he knew that what he was doing was against the rules and if he broke the rules intentionally in order to gain an advantage. The judge handling the situation would have to conduct a brief investigation to determine whether that's the case.

If we rule out Cheating, then this is an example of Hidden Card Error because your opponent has committed an error that can not be corrected by only publicly available information and did so without your permission. The penalty for this infraction is a Warning, and as an additional remedy, your opponent reveals the five cards to you. You choose one of those cards to be shuffled into your library, and the remaining four cards are the cards your opponent uses to finish resolving Gonti's ability.

Q: If I have a rules question at a tournament, who can I ask?

A: The choices are...

A: Your opponent
B: Your friend who is playing at the next table
C: A spectator at your table
D: A judge
E: Your imaginary friend

The answer is

Well, you could ask your opponent, but they don't have your best interests in mind, so it's probably best not to ask them. Your friend at the next table would be more trustworthy, but there are many reasons why you shouldn't ask them: You'd be interrupting their match, they might not know the rules either, and you might accidentally ask for strategic advice rather than just rules advice, which is not good. For similar reasons, asking a spectator is not a good idea, either.

Judges are well-versed in the rules of the game, they are the impartial arbiters of the tournament, and most importantly, they are eager to help you! So, whenever you have a rules question in a tournament, don't hesitate, raise your hand and call that judge.

And that's all for this quiz. I hope you did well. If you got all ten questions right, let us know in the comments, I'm sure Moko will want to talk to you!

Thanks for reading, and please come back next week when Nathan presents our first look at Guilds of Ravnica.


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.


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