Published on 11/19/2018

Fowl Play

Cranial Translation
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There are no turkeys in the Magic
Multiverse, so this chicken will have to suffice.
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion. This week we're celebrating Thanksgiving in the US, which means we'll go to family gatherings, eat turkey and other delicious foods, and reflect on what we're thankful for. I am thankful to Wizards of the Coast for always coming up with new Magic cards and interesting rules interactions, and I am thankful to our readers for sending in questions.

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

And now, let's dig into this week's feast of rules questions!

Q: My opponent attacks with a creature and casts Chart a Course on their second main phase. If I copy their Chart a Course with Twincast, do I have to discard a card?

A: I'm afraid so. When your copy of Chart a Course resolves, you follow its instructions, and all references to "you" on the card refer to you. Since you didn't attack with a creature this turn, you'll have to discard a card.

Q: I control an Experiment One with two +1/+1 counters on it and two Strangleroot Geists each with one +1/+1 counter on them. If I play Avatar of the Resolute, does Experiment One evolve?

A: It sure does. Because you control three creatures with +1/+1 counters on them, Avatar of the Resolute enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it, which means that it's a 6/5 as soon as it's on the battlefield. There is no moment in time at which it's a 3/2 on the battlefield. Since a creature with power greater than Experiment One's power entered the battlefield under your control, its evolve ability triggers.

Q: If I cast Mastermind's Acquisition choosing the second mode and there's at least one card in my sideboard, can I decide not to find anything when Mastermind's Acquisition resolves?

A: No. The "fail to find" rule applies when you're instructed to search a hidden zone for a card with particular characteristics. Mastermind's Acquisition doesn't search, it doesn't demand any particular characteristics of the card, and whether your sideboard is a hidden zone is a debate we fortunately don't have to get into since the "fail to find" rule already doesn't apply because of the first two points. You're instructed to choose a card you own from outside the game, so you have to do that.

Q: Can I choose a sorcery with Mission Briefing during my opponent's turn?

A: You could, but the result is probably not what you're hoping for. Mission Briefing resolves and creates an effect that allows you to cast the chosen card from the graveyard, and the duration of that effect is "this turn." The effect allows you to cast the card from an unusual zone, but it doesn't allow you to cast it at an unusual time. Since the card is a sorcery, you can't cast it during your opponent's turn, so being allowed to cast it from the graveyard is pointless.

Q: Can I use the mana from Manamorphose to cast Assault Strobe and use Rubblebelt Maaka's bloodrush ability?

A: No, you can't do both. Assault Strobe is a sorcery, so you can only cast it during your main phase. Rubblebelt Maaka's bloodrush ability targets an attacking creature, so it can only be used in the combat phase. Unused mana empties from your mana pool between steps and phases, so you can't use the mana from Manamorphose in two different phases.

Q: I'm at 2 life and eight poison counters, and my opponent is attacking me with Lost Leonin and Raptor Companion. Can I cast Healing Salve to prevent 1 damage from Lost Leonin and 2 damage from Raptor Companion in order to survive?

A: Yes, you can do that. Healing Salve creates a shield for a total of 3 points of damage, and you can order any damage that would be dealt to you at the same time in any order you see fit. Since Lost Leonin and Raptor Companion deal combat damage to you at the same time, you can make 1 damage from Lost Leonin and 2 damage from Raptor Companion the "next 3" damage that would be dealt to you in order to prevent that damage.

Q: I control Ajani's Pridemate, Lich's Mastery, and a Blood Operative. My opponent attacks me with two Adanto Vanguards, and I block one with my Blood Operative. Do Ajani's Pridemate's and Lich's Mastery's abilities trigger in the combat damage step?

A: Yes. When combat damage is dealt, the unblocked Vanguard deals three damage to you, which causes you to lose 3 life. At the same time, Blood Operative and the Vanguard it blocked deal damage to each other, and since Blood Operative has lifelink, the 3 damage it deals causes you to gain 3 life. The two events "you lose 3 life" and "you gain 3 life" happen at the same time, so your life total doesn't change, but those two events still happened, so the triggered abilities that look for those events do trigger.

I hope there are no vampires
at your family's feast.
Q: Can my opponent use Voidslime on Helix Pinnacle's win-the-game ability even though it has shroud?

A: Sure. Helix Pinnacle has shroud, but that only stops your opponent from targeting Helix Pinnacle. Voidslime targets Helix Pinnacle's triggered ability on the stack, which is not the same as targeting Helix Pinnacle.

Q: Can the provoke ability force Bloodsoaked Champion to block? My understanding is that it can't, but this ruling in the Legions FAQ seems to say that it can: "There's no requirement for the provoked creature to be tapped or to be able to block." Which is correct?

A: Your understanding is correct. The ruling only means that it's legal to target a creature with the provoke ability even if it's untapped and/or unable to block. When the provoke ability resolves, it does as much as it can: It sets up a blocking requirement, which does nothing if the creature is unable to block, and it attempts to untap the creature, which does nothing if the creature is untapped.

Q: I control Mindcrank and I've resolved Duskmantle Guildmage's first ability. If I hit my opponent with Gut Shot, will my opponent lose the game?

A: Probably. Gut Shot resolves, dealing 1 damage to your opponent, which causes your opponent to lose 1 life. This triggers Mindcrank's ability, making your opponent mill a card. This in turn triggers the delayed triggered ability that Duskmantle Guildmage created, causing your opponent to lose 1 life. Unless your opponent can stop this loop somehow, the two abilities will trigger each other until your opponent runs out of cards or out of life, whichever happens first. Even if they run out of cards before they run out of life, they'll still lose on their next turn when they go to draw from their empty library.

Q: If I control Experimental Frenzy, can I still cast madness spells when I discard them?

A: Sure. When you discard a card with madness, you discard it into the exile zone, and then you decide whether to cast it from the exile zone for its madness cost. If you do, you cast it from the exile zone, not from your hand, so Experimental Frenzy has no problem with that.

Q: My opponent attacks with Kaalia of the Vast and chooses to put Iona, Shield of Emeria onto the battlefield. Is there anything I can do to stop that from happening before Iona's ability kicks in?

A: Not really. You could counter Kaalia's ability if you have something that can counter a triggered ability, but you'd have to do so without knowing which creature your opponent will choose since the creature isn't chosen until the ability resolves. If you let the ability resolve, your opponent can choose Iona and put her on the battlefield and you won't get an opportunity to act until after the ability is done and Iona is on the battlefield, with her ability in full effect.

Q: If I attack with two Blade Instructors and a 2/2, can both Blade Instructors mentor the 2/2?

A: Yes and no. You can (and in fact have to) target the 2/2 with both mentor abilities. However, having power less than Blade Instructor's power, which is 3, is a targeting condition for the mentor ability. After the first ability resolves, your 2/2 is now a 3/3, which means that it's now an illegal target for the second mentor ability, so the second mentor ability doesn't resolve.

Q: Can I destroy a Snow-Covered Mountain with Field of Ruin?

A: No. Field of Ruin's ability can only destroy a nonbasic land. Nonbasic means "doesn't have the supertype basic." Snow-Covered Mountain is a basic snow land, which means it has both of the supertypes basic and snow. Since it is basic, it's not nonbasic, so it's not a legal target for Field of Ruin's ability.

Mmm, pumpkins.
Q: If I control As Foretold with two time counters on it, can I cast Hangarback Walker for X=1?

A: No. When you cast a spell that has an X in its mana cost without paying its mana cost, the only legal choice for X is 0, which yields a disappointing result in the case of Hangarback Walker.

Q: I control The Locust God and cast Kindred Discovery, choosing Insect. What happens if I draw a card now, for example by activating The Locust God's activated ability?

A: That depends on whether you have a way to stop the loop you're starting. If yes, this is an awesome way to attack your opponent with a huge swarm of hasty Insects. If not, it's a really complicated way to concede the game. Drawing a card triggers The Locust God's "create an Insect" ability, which triggers Kindred Discovery's ability to draw a card, which triggers The Locust God's ability, and so on. Since neither ability is optional, you can't just choose to stop the loop when you've had enough. Unless you can somehow interfere with the loop, it will go on until you draw from an empty library and lose the game.

Q: If I use Sensei's Divining Top's tap ability and it gets destroyed in response, do I put it on top of my library from my graveyard?

A: No. The ability only looks for the Top on the battlefield. If the Top goes to any other zone, the ability loses track of it and won't be able to put it on top of your library. You'll still get to draw a card, but the second part of the ability is ignored.

Q: Can a mono-red Commander deck include Ulamog's Reclaimer?

A: No. If your commander's color identity is only red, then your deck can only include cards with a red or colorless color identity. Ulamog's Reclaimer is colorless thanks to its devoid ability, but its color identity is based on the mana symbols in its mana cost. Since there is blue mana in its mana cost, its color identity is blue, which is outside your commander's color identity.

Q: If I goad an opponent's creature and then I leave the game before my next turn, does that creature stay goaded forever?

A: No. The effect only sticks around until the turn sequence reaches the point where your turn would have begun. Once that point is reached, the effect wears off and the creature is no longer goaded.

Q: In a Commander game, my opponent controls my turn with Mindslaver and uses some effect to exile my commander. Who chooses whether my commander goes to the exile zone or to the command zone?

A: Unfortunately for you, that choice will be made by your opponent. Since they control your turn, they make all in-game decisions that the game normally asks you to make. The choice whether to apply the command-zone replacement effect is one of those decisions, and your opponent is probably going to decide to let your commander go to the exile zone.

And that's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for more!

- 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.


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