Published on 10/15/2018

Past Time to Dine

Cranial Translation
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A portrait of the author,
immediately prior to Thanksgiving dinner.
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! Those of you who follow our writer rotation (all three and a half of you) may have noticed that normally I would have been the one writing the article you received last week, but Charlotte took over instead. This is because I was out of commission for the week leading up to last Monday, fasting in anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner, and afterwards I was in a food coma for several days. But now I'm back and ready to serve up another delicious helping of rules questions!

As always, if you'd like to contribute to our pantry full of questions, send them to us via email at , or tweet them at us @CranialTweet. You'll receive an answer and potentially see your question in a future article.

Q: If my opponent has Meddling Mage in play with Lightning Bolt named, what happens if I cast Sudden Spoiling? Is Bolt still named?

A: Lightning Bolt is still named—Sudden Spoiling doesn't erase the fact that that was the card your opponent named for their Mage—however, that doesn't mean much of anything at the moment since Meddling Mage no longer has the ability that would make you unable to cast things with the chosen name. So, until Sudden Spoiling's effect wears off, you'll be able to cast your Bolts.

Q: What happens if I activate Witch Engine's ability and sacrifice it in response?

A: You get . Congratulations! (In other unrelated news, the game will try to give control of Witch Engine to the opponent you targeted, but the Engine doesn't exist any more, so that doesn't actually do anything—the game will simply shrug and move on.)

Q: In the release notes for Resurgence, it says there isn't an extra combat on my turn if Resurgence is cast mid-combat. Why not?

A: Because the part where Resurgence goes to grant an extra combat starts off by saying "After this main phase...". If it's not currently a main phase—say, because you somehow managed to get Resurgence to resolve mid-combat—that part of the spell sees that it's not the right part of the turn for that part of the spell to take effect, so therefore it does nothing.

Q: If I cast Bloodbraid Elf and cascade into Den Protector can I choose to morph it instead of casting it normally?

A: No, you cannot. Cascade says that you can cast the spell you hit "without paying its mana cost". This means that instead of paying the normal mana cost, you instead pay an alternative cost of absolutely nothing. On the other side of the equation, Morph tells you that you can cast Den Protector face down by paying an alternative cost of instead of the normal mana cost. But...cascade is already telling you to pay an alternative cost: nothing! You can't apply both of these alternative costs to the spell at the same time, and you're already committed to the one provided by cascade, so you don't have the option of morphing.

A portrait of the author,
during Thanksgiving dinner.
Q: If I have my Mirage Mirror copy my Gauntlet of Power will it still boost the same color?

A: It will not boost anything at all. You may have chosen a color for your original Gauntlet of Power, but you never chose anything for your Mirage Mirror-Gauntlet because it entered the battlefield as a Mirror, and you don't get to choose a color now because the Mirror-Gauntlet isn't entering the battlefield. So you have a Mirror-Gauntlet on the battlefield with no color chosen for it, and without a chosen color, it doesn't boost anything at all.

Q: If The Eldest Reborn returns Golgari Findbroker, can I return The Eldest Reborn to my hand, or is it not a legal target yet?

A: Yes, you can return The Eldest Reborn. While the Saga is still on the battlefield as its ability resolves and Golgari Findbroker enters the battlefield, it's put into the graveyard as a state-based action immediately after that ability finishes resolving, and you don't select a target for the Findbroker's ability until a few moments after that happens. Since The Eldest Reborn is in the graveyard by then, it will be a legal target for the ability, and can be returned to your hand.

Q: When does the lifelink from Alms Beast go away?

A: Alms Beast has a static ability that causes any creature that is currently blocking or blocked by it to have lifelink—as soon as the creature is no longer blocking or blocked by Alms Beast, the ability stops giving it lifelink. This means that as soon as the combat phase ends, those creatures stop getting lifelink, because creatures stop being attacking and blocking creatures. They'd also lose lifelink if they left combat some other way, such as Spires of Orazca.

Q: If I double block my opponent's creature, at what point does she assign combat damage? When can I cast a pump spell?

A: Combat damage from attacking and blocking creatures is only assigned as the Combat Damage step begins, and is dealt immediately afterwards, before anyone has a chance to do anything else. This means that if you want to pump your creature to deal more damage or to protect it from being dealt more damage, you need to do so during the Declare Blockers step of combat, before damage is actually assigned.

However, this doesn't mean you won't know anything at all about how your opponent will be assigning their damage. As soon as blockers are declared, if an attacking creature is blocked by more than one blocking creature its controller must choose a damage assignment order for those creatures, which basically means they have to choose which one they think it's more important for them to kill. When the time comes for damage to actually be properly assigned later, your opponent can only assign damage to the second creature in the order if the first one has already been assigned lethal damage, and so on and so forth.

This means that during the Declare Blockers step, when you still have the ability to cast your pump spell effectively, you're going to know which of your creatures your opponent is more interested in killing.

Q: If I use Magnetic Theft to attach an Assault Suit to an opponent's creature, will I be able to give it to other opponents on their upkeep? Is giving control of something I don't currently control possible?

A: Absolutely. Assault Suit's ability doesn't care who currently controls the equipped creature, it simply says that a particular player gains control of it. You don't have to already control the creature in order for that ability to function.

Q: Can Metzali, Tower of Triumph target Shanna, Sisay's Legacy?

A: Metzali, Tower of Triumph can destroy Shanna, Sisay's Legacy, because that ability doesn't target anything in the first place. An ability only targets if it actually uses the word 'target' to describe something, and the Tower's ability does not. A creature does get chosen at random, but that creature is never the target of the ability.

Q: I read that if you play Affectionate Indrik, you choose the target for the fight, and if the opponent plays a pump spell in response you can opt not to fight? Is that true, and if so how does that work?

A: That is indeed true. As with any triggered ability, you need to choose all the necessary targets for the ability as it's put onto the stack, so you choose your target right away. But other decisions—such as whether or not you actually wish to use the ability to make Affectionate Indrik fight your selected target—are only made when the ability resolves. So, if your opponent responds to the ability by pumping their creature, when the ability resolves you can choose to not fight at all.

This also means that your opponent cannot wait to see whether or not you actually wish to have the Indrik fight your selected target before using any tricks they may want to use to affect the fight—if they wait until you make the decision, the ability is already in the process of resolving and will finish resolving completely before they get another chance to do things.

Q: How does Thought Reflection work with Alms Collector?

A: Interestingly, that actually depends on how many cards the player was originally going to draw, before taking either of those cards into account.

If a player is about to draw only one card—say, because it's their card for the turn—as it's only one card being drawn their opponent's Alms Collector initially does not care, so their Thought Reflection steps in and tells them to draw two cards instead. This then makes Alms Collector sit up and take notice, so it then applies. In the end, the original player and Alms Collector's controller each draw a single card.

If, however, the original instruction was to draw multiple cards—say, a Concentrate is resolving—both cards want to apply right from the start. Because Alms Collector wants to apply to all the draws as a whole while Thought Reflection only wants to apply to each one individually as it happens, Alms Collector's ability must be applied first. This changes the instruction so that the original player and Alms Collector's controller are each going to draw a single card. Since a card is still being drawn and Thought Reflection has not yet applied to that draw, it steps in. In the end, the original player draws two cards, and Alms Collector's controller draws a single card.

A portrait of the author,
immediately after Thanksgiving dinner.
Q: Divine Visitation has a ruling that says "If an effect changes under whose control a token would be created, that effect applies before Divine Visitation's effect applies. If an effect changes under whose control a token would enter the battlefield, that effect applies after Divine Visitation's effect is able to be applied." ...What?

A: This ruling is saying there's a difference between an effect like Crafty Cutpurse, which changes under whose control the token is created, and an effect like Gather Specimens, which changes under whose control the token enters the battlefield.

This happens because Divine Visitation (and Crafty Cutpurse) applies to the event of a token being created, of which "entering the battlefield" is a smaller component part. When one effect wants to apply to the whole of an event and another wants to apply only to a component part, the effect that applies to the whole event must be applied first—this means that no matter what, Gather Specimens will always be applied after Divine Visitation (or Crafty Cutpurse) has already been applied.

When it comes to a conflict between Crafty Cutpurse and Divine Visitation, both are applying to the same event, so that rule (616.1f, for those following along at home) isn't relevant, and a different rule steps in (616.1b) and says that because Crafty Cutpurse is modifying whose control things are going to enter the battlefield under, it needs to be applied first, before Divine Visitation.

Q: Will I get a quest counter on Pyromancer Ascension if I use a jump-start ability?

A: No, you won't, at least not unless you have a second one still in the graveyard. Immediately after you cast any instant or sorcery spell, Pyromancer Ascension checks whether or not that spell has the same name as a card in your graveyard—if it does, it triggers. However, if you're jump-starting a spell, that spell isn't in the graveyard any more—it's on the stack because you just finished casting it. As such, Pyromancer Ascension sees that there's no card with that name in the graveyard at the moment, and does not trigger.

Q: Can I cast non-instants during my upkeep with Experimental Frenzy?

A: No, you can't. Experimental Frenzy gives you the ability to play cards from the top of your library, which of course you usually cannot do, but it doesn't change the conditions under which you're able to do so, or indeed anything else about the process of playing cards other than where the cards you're playing come from. You can still only play a land if it's your main phase, the stack is empty, and you haven't played a land for the turn already, and you can still only cast a non-instant spell that doesn't have flash if it's your main phase and the stack is empty.

Q: Why does Golgari Raiders count itself if it's being returned from the graveyard to the battlefield?

A: Because immediately before it enters the battlefield, it's still in the graveyard.

Replacement effects (like Golgari Raiders' ability) change the events of the game as they're happening, but in order for those effects to do that the game needs to know which replacement effects apply to any given event (and how they apply) before that event actually occurs. So, you need to determine exactly how many counters the Raiders are supposed to enter the battlefield with before it actually does enter the battlefield...and at that point, the Raiders are still in the graveyard and must therefore be included in the count.

Q: If I Crumble to Dust Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, can I search for Search for Azcanta in the deck?

A: No, you cannot. Crumble to Dust is telling you to search its controllers library for cards with the same name as the land it just exiled, but that land was named Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, not Search for Azcanta. Since the front face of a card is effectively the only face of that card that exists while it's in the library, you're not going to be able to find any cards named Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin in that library, no matter how hard you search.

Q: If the card I chose for Mission Briefing leaves the graveyard prior to me casting it, may I still cast it?

A: Definitely not. When a card moves from one zone to another, it becomes a new object with no memory of its past existence (with a few exceptions, none of which apply here). Mission Briefing said that you could cast one specific card in the graveyard, but it didn't say anything about some other random card in another zone. Since nothing's allowing you to cast the new card in its new zone, you cannot do so.

Q: Why are you allowed to cast Gonti, Lord of Luxury's exiled card if Gonti leaves play, but not Rona, Disciple of Gix's ? What's different?

A: The difference is why you're allowed to cast the card. While Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Rona, Disciple of Gix do both say that you're allowed to cast the cards they exile, they provide that permission in different ways, and those different methods of permission-granting work differently.

Gonti, Lord of Luxury has one single triggered ability that, when it resolves, exiles one specific card and gives you permission to cast that particular card for a specified duration ("as long as it remains exiled"). This effect lasts for as long as its duration specifies, and since the duration doesn't care about whether or not Gonti remains on the battlefield, that doesn't matter.

Rona, Disciple of Gix on the other hand has two different abilities that can exile cards; unlike Gonti's ability, neither of those abilities give you permission to cast the cards they exile by themselves, so if those abilities were all Rona had, you wouldn't be able to cast the cards under any circumstances at all. Instead, Rona has a third ability that gives you permission to cast cards that have been exiled by either of her other two abilities. But that ability is a static ability, and by default static abilities only function while the card they're on is on the battlefield. Once Rona leaves the battlefield, that ability no longer applies, and without that ability granting you permission to cast those cards, you can no longer do so.

Q: If I cast Nexus of Fate while I control a Rest in Peace, can I shuffle it back in?

A: Indeed you can. Both Nexus of Fate and Rest in Peace are trying to replace the same event of "put Nexus of Fate into your graveyard" with something else, and since you control Nexus of Fate, you get to choose which of those effects to apply. So if you'd prefer the Nexus to get shuffled back into your library, you can absolutely do that. And if for some reason you'd prefer it to get exiled, you can do that instead.

Q: about Beacon of Tomorrows? Does that work the same with Rest in Peace?

A: Actually, no. Beacon of Tomorrows doesn't give you a choice the same way that Nexus of Fate does—when Beacon of Tomorrows resolves, it's definitely going to get shuffled into your library no matter what you might prefer. This is because Beacon of Tomorrows instructs you to shuffle it into its owner's library as part of its own resolution, well before it would normally be put into the graveyard like most other resolving sorceries. Since it's already in the library as resolution concludes, there's never a chance for you to put it into the graveyard, and therefore never a chance for Rest in Peace to do anything to it.

Of course, this means that if Beacon of Tomorrows is going to the graveyard for some reason other than because it's resolving as a spell—maybe your opponent milled it, maybe you're discarding it, whatever—it's definitely going to get exiled, because there's no reason for anything else to happen. You win some, you lose some.

Q: What happens to the other cards you surveilled if you decide you don't want to keep a Nexus of Fate? Do they stay on top or are they shuffled in?

A: The other cards stay on top, in whatever order you decided to leave them. When you surveil, you look at that the cards, then put any number of them into your graveyard and the rest on top of your library in any order. Nexus of Fate's ability replaces it going to the graveyard with you shuffling it into your library, so what you're doing then becomes "Shuffle Nexus of Fate into its owner's library, put the other cards you didn't want into your graveyard, and the rest on top of your library in any order." Since you're being instructed to put those cards into a specific position of the library, they're not included in the shuffle and simply end up where surveil says you should put them.

That's all for this week, but be sure to come back again next week for seconds! (Or thirds, or fourths, or seven-hundred-and-ninths...)

- Callum Milne

About the Author:
Callum Milne is a Level 2 judge from British Columbia, Canada. His home range is Vancouver Island, but he can be found in the wild throughout BC and also at GPs all along the west coast of North America.

I still find the difference between Gonti and Rona very confusing, even though I know that's how these cards work. A couple of additional questions if I may:

- Is it "official" that separate abilities are written as separate paragraphs? I'm asking because Gonti is written in several sentences: if the last one (starting with "For as long as...") has been written in a separate paragraph, would it be a separate ability?

- And if it had been instead written as a separate paragraph, and hence became a separate ability, would it still be possible to cast the card if Gonti was removed, despite the overall text being the same?
#1 • Date: 2018-10-15 • Time: 04:50:50 •
Yes, it's official that separate paragraphs means separate abilities. Rule 112.2c reads in part "each paragraph break in a card's text marks a separate ability".

If the last sentence of Gonti's ability was set apart as a separate ability, it would work the same way as Rona regardless of whether or not it kept the "For as long as..." part. The key thing is that static abilities of a permanent only work while it's on the battlefield, unless they specifically say otherwise or would only make sense otherwise. That also means that if the sentence was a separate ability it would be written like Rona's ability instead, to avoid confusing people about how it actually works.
#2 • Date: 2018-10-15 • Time: 09:58:14 •
Makes sense now. Thanks!!
#3 • Date: 2018-10-16 • Time: 04:39:41 •

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