Published on 10/22/2018

Flu Season's Greetings

Cranial Translation
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Note: This article is over two years old. Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes. Proceed with caution.

A slight exaggeration of
how the author felt this week.
Greetings and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion! As I'm writing this, I'm recovering from a cold I got about a week ago. I suppose that's what I get for complaining about how the weather was too hot four weeks ago. The weather has cooled down significantly, and I managed to catch a cold. Regardless, the show must go on, so here we are again, taking a look at a fresh batch of Magic rules questions.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please send an email to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will respond to you, and your question might appear in a future article.

Q: I surveil 2 with Notion Rain, choosing to put Nexus of Fate into the graveyard and to put the other card on top of my library. Does the other card stay on top or does it get shuffled in?

A: It stays on top. When you surveil, you choose which cards go where and then the cards all move at the same time. Nexus of Fate's replaces the part that puts it into the graveyard with shuffling it into the library, but you still put the other card on top of the library at the same time. The other card could only end up being shuffled into the library if you add it to the library before shuffling the library. Since the two actions are simultaneous, that's not what's happening, so the card stays on top of the library.

Q: I'm playing a Commander game with Alice and Bob. Bob controls Vizkopa Guildmage and Athreos, God of Passage, and Alice controls a Mimic Vat. On my turn, I Murder the Guildmage. Can Bob use Athreos's ability before Mimic Vat imprints the Guildmage? In case it matters, the turn order is me, then Alice, then Bob.

A: The turn order does matter, so thanks for including that detail. Murdering the Guildmage triggers Athreos's ability and Mimic Vat's ability at the same time, so both abilities want to go on the stack at the same time. When that happens, the game uses the "APNAP rule" to bring order to this chaos: The active player puts their triggers on the stack first in an order of their choice, and then the nonactive players do the same thing in turn order. This means that Alice's trigger goes on the stack first, followed by Bob's trigger. This means that Bob's trigger resolves first, and if the Guildmage ends up being returned to Bob's hand, Mimic Vat won't be able to find it to imprint it.

Q: I control a Goblin Banneret and a Sunhome Stalwart, and I attack with both. Can the two creatures mentor each other if I use the Banneret's ability in between the two mentor abilities?

A: That's an interesting idea, but it doesn't work the way you're hoping. The mentor ability has a targeting restriction that is checked when you put the ability on the stack. You can target the Banneret with the Stalwart's mentor ability, but the Stalwart is not a legal target for the Banneret's mentor ability because the Stalwart's power is not less than the Banneret's power at that time. Since there are no legal targets for the Banneret's mentor ability, the ability is removed from the stack and doesn't resolve.

Q: I control Mirage Mirror and activate its ability to copy Lazav, the Multifarious. Then, I use Mirror Lazav's ability to copy an Impervious Greatwurm in my graveyard. What happens at the end of the turn when Mirage Mirror's effect wears off?

A: Nothing visible happens. Mirage Mirror's copy effect wears off, but that effect was already being overwritten by the Lazav effect, which made Mirage Mirror into a legendary Impervious Greatwurm named Lazav, the Multifarious. Lazav's copy effect lasts indefinitely, so your Mirage Mirror continues to be a legendary Impervious Greatwurm named Lazav, the Multifarious.

Q: Does the corpse counter that Isareth the Awakener puts on the reanimated creature have any rules meaning? For example, if I remove the counter with Vampire Hexmage, do I still have to exile the creature if it would leave the battlefield?

A: No, the counter does not have any rules meaning. The counter helps you track which creatures were reanimated with Isareth, but it doesn't create the replacement effect that makes you exile the reanimated creatures if they would leave the battlefield. That replacement effect was created by the resolution of Isareth's ability, and it sticks around indefinitely until it gets its chance to apply.

Q: In a multiplayer game, I control Words of Waste and activate its ability once, and then I activate Mikokoro, Center of the Sea's ability to make each player draw a card. What happens?

A: When multiple players are instructed to draw cards at the same time, the draws happen in turn order starting with the active player, so the end result depends on whether you do this on your turn or on an opponent's turn and where that opponent is in the turn order relative to you. If you do this on your turn, your opponents discard first and then they draw a card. If you do this on an opponent's turn, the active player and the other opponents before you in the turn order will draw first and then discard, but the opponents after you in the turn order will discard first and then draw a card.

Q: Does Crackling Drake's power count a Staggershock that's in exile waiting to rebound? If so, what about while Staggershock is being cast off of the rebound?

A: Crackling Drake counts all instants and sorceries you own that are in the graveyard or in exile. That Staggershock that just resolved and was exiled instead of going to the graveyard is in fact in exile, so Crackling Drake counts it. However, when you cast Staggershock again off of rebound, you move it from the exile zone to the stack. It is no longer in exile or in the graveyard, so it's not included in Crackling Drake's power. Once the rebounded Staggershock resolves, it goes to the graveyard, where it will once again be counted towards Crackling Drake's power.

Be careful during flu season
and avoid getting infected.
Q: My Legion Warboss makes a token that turns out to be an Angel due to Divine Visitation. Does the Angel gain haste, and does it have to attack?

A: Yes and yes. Divine Visitation changes the characteristics with which the token gets created, but it doesn't alter any additional instructions or effects that are applied to the token after it's created. The Warboss's ability still gives the Angel haste and creates an attacking requirement for it.

Q: I resolve Mission Briefing and choose Submerge. If I control an Island and my opponent controls a Forest, can I cast Submerge for free?

A: Absolutely. Mission Briefing creates an effect that allows you to cast Submerge from your graveyard, but the effect doesn't demand that you pay a particular cost to cast it. Similarly, Submerge's ability that allows you to cast it for free doesn't demand that you cast it from a particular zone. This means that you can combine both effects and cast Submerge for free from your graveyard.

Q: Can I turn Scion of the Ur-Dragon into Foe-Razer Regent when Scion of the Ur-Dragon enters the battlefield and have it fight something?

A: No, that doesn't work. You could activate the Scion's ability immediately after it enters the battlefield, and it'll turn into a copy of Foe-Razer Regent when the ability resolves, but that's too late to trigger Foe-Razer Regent's enter-the-battlefield ability. The game checks for enter-the-battlefield abilities immediately after Scion of the Ur-Dragon has entered the battlefield, and it didn't have the ability at that time yet.

Q: If I use Muldrotha, the Gravetide to play an artifact card from my graveyard, does that trigger Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle's ability for casting a historic spell?

A: It sure does. To play a card means to play it as a land if it's a land card or to cast it if it's not a land card. Assuming that the artifact card you chose to play is not an artifact land, you're casting an artifact spell, which triggers Teshar's ability.

Q: Does Bloom Tender tap for if I control Najeela, the Blade-Blossom?

A: Nope. Bloom Tender's ability checks for each color whether you control a permanent of that color, and adds one mana of that color if you do. It looks at which colors your permanents are, not which mana symbols are printed anywhere on them. Najeela has the mana symbols for all five colors in her text, but that doesn't mean that she is all those colors; she is only red.

Q: Can I leave Centaur Omenreader tapped to take advantage of its cost reducing ability?

A: No, not without help. Unless an effect states that a permanent doesn't untap, such as Basalt Monolith, or that you can choose not to untap it, such as Vedalken Shackles, all your permanents automatically untap during your untap step. To take advantage of its cost reducing ability, you'll need something like Castaway's Despair to keep it tapped or find ways to tap it that don't involve sending it into harm's way by attacking with it.

Q: My opponent attacks me with an Affectionate Indrik and an Impervious Greatwurm, and I block the Indrik with Trapjaw Tyrant. If I use Trapjaw Tyrant's enrage ability to exile the Greatwurm, do I still take damage from the Greatwurm?

A: I'm afraid so. Neither the Indrik nor the Greatwurm have first strike or double strike, so they both deal damage at the same time in the combat damage step, so the 16 damage from the Greatwurm has already happened by the time Trapjaw Tyrant's ability even goes on the stack. Ouch!

Fun fact: Righteous Aura is not an Aura.
Q: If I use Righteous Aura to prevent damage from a source, does it prevent all combat damage from a creature with double strike?

A: Not if you only activate its ability once. One activation prevents damage from that source the next time it would deal damage. A creature with double strike punches you twice, and only the damage from the first punch is prevented by Righteous Aura. To prevent the damage from both punches, you'd have to activate the ability twice.

Q: I cast Mindclaw Shaman and target my opponent with its enter-the-battlefield ability. If I choose Capsize from her hand, can I cast it with buyback to get the card into my hand?

A: First off, yes, you can cast Capsize with buyback, but you have to spend to do so, since Mindclaw Shaman's ability doesn't waive that additional cost. However, the buyback ability specifies that the card goes back into its owner's hand, so you paid to give the card back to your opponent. Outside of silver-bordered Un-set shenanigans, a card can never go into the hand of a player that's not its owner.

Q: Let's say I use Cloudform to manifest the top card of my library, and then I use Aminatou, the Fateshifter's -1 ability to flicker the face-down creature. What happens?

A: Aminatou's ability exiles the card face-up, and then it tries to return the card face-up to the battlefield. If the card is an instant or sorcery card, it'll stay in exile. Otherwise, it gets returned to the battlefield, but Cloudform won't be attached to it. In either case, Cloudform is no longer attached to anything, so it's sad and goes to the graveyard.

Q: If I control two Deathcap Cultivators and a random creature, can I tap the Cultivators for black mana and then sacrifice all three creatures to cast Torgaar, Famine Incarnate?

A: Sure, that works. You start out by announcing that you're casting Torgaar, and that you're choosing to pay the additional cost of sacrificing three creatures. At this point, you're not paying the cost yet, so the creatures are still on the battlefield. You calculate the cost, which comes out to an affordable , and then you get the chance to activate mana abilities, so you tap the Cultivators for mana. Finally, you pay the total cost of sacrificing the three creatures and paying the two black mana you just added with the Cultivators.

Q: My opponent is at 5 life and I have five cards left in my library. If I cast Explosion for 6 to deal 6 damage to my opponent and draw six cards, who wins the game?

A: Nobody wins the game. The game is a draw. Explosion resolves, deals 6 damage to your opponent, and instructs you to draw six cards. Your opponent's life total goes to -1, and you're forced to draw a card from an empty library. Next, the game checks state-based actions, sees that you tried to draw a card from an empty library and that your opponent is at less than 1 life. Both you and your opponent lose the game at the same time, so the game is a draw and you'll realize a bit too late that targeting your opponent with both the damage and the card draw effect would have been a much better play.

Q: Is Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas legal in Standard now because it's in Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition?

A: No. Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition contains a number of Guilds of Ravnica cards, but it also contains special booster packs that include extra cards that are not part of the Guilds of Ravnica expansion set. Those extra cards are like Kaladesh inventions or Amonkhet invocations, in that they are inserted into booster packs of those expansion sets, but they are not part of those expansion sets. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is not in any expansion set that's currently in Standard, so it's not legal in Standard.

And that's all the time we have for today. I'll go curl up with a cup of hot cocoa to soothe my throat now, and I hope you'll be back next week for more Magic rules questions and answers.

- 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.

Using 'Bob' as a playername is neat (Question 2), but I'd suggest using something else. For those of us with Autocard Anywhere, a plugin tool that finds card names and creates a link to the card, every instance of Bob resolves to Dark Confidant (it does well established nicknames of cards as well). Just a thought for future installments.
#1 • Date: 2018-11-17 • Time: 08:20:28 •
Quote (wcstormcrow):
Using 'Bob' as a playername is neat (Question 2), but I'd suggest using something else. For those of us with Autocard Anywhere, a plugin tool that finds card names and creates a link to the card, every instance of Bob resolves to Dark Confidant (it does well established nicknames of cards as well). Just a thought for future installments.

Thanks for the suggestion, but our authors always tag any pertinent card names, so you shouldn't need an Autocard plugin when reading Cranial Insertion. It seems that AutocardAnywhere can be configured to work on certain sites, so may I suggest you turn it off on
#2 • Date: 2018-11-19 • Time: 09:15:24 •

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