Published on 11/26/2018

The Holiday Season

Cranial Translation
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I hope you don't find my list...un-Bear-able this year.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Now that we're officially passed the American Thanksgiving holiday, we can finally start prepping for Christmas next month (don't believe those naysayers that say that Christmas begins after Halloween - we still have another holiday to deal with before the Christmas season can begin). The first thing we have to do is get our Christmas lists ready, then start buying gifts, making our travel plans, making food - man I'm getting exhausted just thinking about it!

But let's take a break from preparing for Christmas and let's answer some rules questions. If you have a question of your own that you'd like answered, feel free to contact us and we'll answer your question. Shorter questions can be Tweeted at us at @CranialTweet. But if you have a longer question, you can e-mail us at .

Q: I attacked with my Thief of Sanity, and I exile Venerated Loxodon. Can I tap five black creatures to cast the Loxodon via convoke?

A: Nope, you can't. While the Thief's ability will let you spend mana as though it were mana of any type to cast the spell, it doesn't change how convoke works. While you can tap four creatures of any color for most of the cost to cast the Loxodon, the last one requires a white creature to be tapped (or you can opt out of using convoke for the last mana and just use one mana of any type via the Thief's ability). You won't be able to tap your five black creatures to cast the Loxodon.

Q: My opponent cast Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Can I cast Spell Swindle on Niv-Mizzet, just to get the treasure tokens?

A: You can! Niv-Mizzet can't be countered, but it can still be targeted by a counter spell while it's on the stack. And Spell Swindle doesn't need the spell to be countered in order for you to get the treasure tokens. You can cast Swindle on Niv-Mizzet, failing to counter it, but still getting six treasure tokens (to hopefully use on a permanent solution to your opponent's Niv-Mizzet).

Q: I cast Footbottom Feast, targeting five creatures in my graveyard. Do I get to choose the order they end up on top of my library?

A: Yes you do. All five creature cards would go to the top of your library at the same time, so you get to choose the order they're put on top of your library. The card you put on top will end up being the one you draw from the Feast, and the rest will be on top in the order you desired for future turns.

Q: My opponent controls a Witchbane Orb. If I cast Roiling Terrain targeting one of their lands, will they take any damage from the Terrain?

A: Yep, they'll take damage like normal. The Terrain only targets the land - it doesn't target the land's controller. Your opponent having hexproof won't matter, since they're not being targeted by the Terrain. Your opponent's land will be destroyed, and they'll still take damage from the Terrain, despite having hexproof.

Q: I have a Descendants' Path in play, but I don't have any creatures in play. What happens when the Path's trigger resolves during my upkeep?

A: When the trigger resolves, you'll reveal the top card of your library. No matter what card you reveal, it's not going to share a creature type with a creature you control (because you control no creatures), so you won't be able to cast it. Since you didn't cast it, it will go on the bottom of your library (you cannot choose to keep it on top). In effect, you'll just end up revealing the top card of your library and then putting it on the bottom, before you draw for the turn during your draw step.

Q: I control a Koth of the Hammer, but I don't control any Mountains. Can I still activate the +1 ability?

A: Nope, you cannot activate it. Koth's ability, unlike recent planeswalker that use the phrase "up to..." to let you activate the ability even if there's no target in play, requires a target Mountain. If you don't control any Mountains, then you cannot activate the ability. Of course, if your opponent controls a Mountain, you could target it to make it a 4/4 for the turn, but otherwise you won't be able to activate the +1 ability until you play a Mountain.

No, we make the list and eat the food,
not make the food and eat the list.

Q: My opponent has a Garruk Relentless in play. I copy it with Clever Impersonator, then my Impersonator Garruk drops to two loyalty. What happens?

A: A draw game. Since your Garruk has two or fewer loyalty counters on it, its ability will trigger, and when that trigger resolves, tries to transform itself. However, your Impersonator isn't a double-faced card, so it can't transform and it stays a copy of Garruk Relentless - which causes the ability to trigger again. That ability keeps triggering over and over again, failing to transform itself since it's not a double faced card. Unless someone can remove Garruk or increase its loyalty to three or greater, the game won't be able to advance and the game will be a draw.

Q: My opponent has a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir in play. I cast Hazoret's Undying Fury. Will Teferi prevent me from casting any of the cards exiled by the Fury?

A: The Fury is giving you the ability to cast the exiled cards while the Fury is resolving. That's not a time that you can normally cast a sorcery, so Teferi steps in and prevents you from casting any of the exiled cards. Even worse, your lands will still not untap during your next untap step, meaning you've exiled some cards that you would have rather cast, and you don't get access to your lands next turn. And this is your annual reminder that sometimes, Teferi is kind of a jerk.

Q: I have a Panharmonicon in play and I cast Isochron Scepter. Will I be able to imprint two cards on the Scepter? And what happens if I activate the Scepter's ability?

A: When the Scepter enters the battlefield, thanks to Panharmonicon, the Scepter's ability will trigger twice, so you'll be able to exile a total of two instants to the Scepter. And when you activate the Scepter's ability, you get a copy of both exiled cards, and you can cast a copy of one or both of them. Just another reason why Panharmonicon is a pretty good Magic card.

Q: I have two Howling Mines in play. I drew a Vampiric Tutor to the first Howling Mine trigger. Do I have a chance to cast the Tutor before I draw from the second Mine trigger?

A: Yep, you do. The Mine triggers resolve one at a time, not both at the same time. Once the first trigger has resolved, everyone gets priority again before the next trigger resolves. You'll be able to cast the Tutor you just drew before the second Mine trigger resolves and draw the card that you just tutored for.

Q: I have a Library of Leng in play, and my opponent casts Wheel of Fortune. Can I discard some cards to the top of my library and redraw them to the Wheel?

A: Yep, you can do that. Wheel of Fortune has each player discard their hands first before drawing a new hand of seven cards. Since you're discarding to an effect, the Library will let you choose some (or all) of the cards that were in your hand and put them on top of your library instead of putting them into your graveyard. When you draw seven cards from the second part of the Wheel's effect, those cards that you just discarded are on top of your library, and you'll redraw them.

Q: I control Omniscience and a Sen Triplets. Once the Triplet's triggered ability resolves, can I cast cards from my opponent's hand for free via Omniscience?

A: No, you can't. Omniscience only lets you cast cards from your hand without paying their mana cost. While the Triplet's ability will give you permission to play cards from your opponent's hand, they're not actually in your hand, and Omniscience won't care about them. You won't be able to use Omniscience to cast spells from your opponent's hand for free, only from your own hand.

Q: I'm in a multiplayer game, and one of my opponents has a No Mercy in play. If I attack that opponent with enough creatures to kill them, will my creatures also be destroyed?

A: Your creatures will not be destroyed by No Mercy. While No Mercy will trigger for each creature that dealt damage to them, before those triggers can go on the stack, state-based actions will cause that opponent to lose the game. That means that their triggers from No Mercy won't go on the stack or resolve (since they're no longer in the game), meaning that your creatures will not be destroyed and will live to see another combat.

Q: I have one card in my hand - Careful Study. If I cast the Study and draw an instant, can I cast that instant before I have to discard it?

A: Nope, you have to discard it before you can cast it. Players don't get priority to cast spells in the middle of a spell or ability resolving, meaning that once a spell or ability starts to resolve, you won't get priority to do anything again until that spell or ability is completely done resolving. That means that you have to fully resolve the Study (meaning drawing two cards and discarding two cards) before you get priority again. You won't have priority after you've drawn two cards but before you discard, so if you drew an instant, you'll have to discard it before you can cast it.

An accurate picture of what the
average family get-together looks like.

Q: I cast Palace Jailer, becoming the monarch and exiling my opponent's creature. Later on, my Jailer dies, and then one of my opponents becomes the monarch. Even though the Jailer is no longer on the battlefield, does my opponent get their creature back?

A: Yep, they get their creature back. The Jailer is similar to a card like Banisher Priest, except the return condition is "an opponent becomes the monarch" instead of "the Priest leaves the battlefield". That condition for returning the creature is set up when the Jailer's enter the battlefield trigger resolves. The Jailer doesn't have to be on the battlefield when an opponent becomes the monarch in order for the exiled creature to return, so losing the Jailer, then the monarchy will still cause the exiled creature to return to the battlefield.

Q: I have a face down Battering Craghorn in play, and my opponent controls a Cursed Totem. Can I still turn my Craghorn face up?

A: Yep, you can. Turning a face down creature face up is a special action, and the Totem only prevents players from activating abilities of creature. Since morph is not an activated ability, the Totem won't stop you from turning it face up and you can still surprise your opponent by turning your morph into the Craghorn.

Q: I have a Horn of Greed in play. I cast Circuitous Route and put two lands onto the battlefield. Do I get to draw two cards?

A: Nope, you don't get to draw any cards from the Horn. Horn of Greed triggers when you play a land. It won't trigger if you're putting a land onto the battlefield. The Route is telling you to put the lands onto the battlefield, not play the lands, so Horn of Greed will not trigger and you will not draw any cads.

Q: I have a City of Traitors and a Grixis Illusionist in play. Can I use the Illustionist's ability on the City of Traitors so I can play a land and not sacrifice the City?

A: Yep, that's possible. Since the Illusionist's ability doesn't say "in addition to its other types", when you use the Illusionist's ability on a land, it loses all other abilities and only has the ability to tap for the chosen color of mana. That means that City of Traitors will lose the "sac me if you play a land" ability once the Illusionist's ability resolves, and playing a land will not cause your City of Traitors to go away.

Q: I heard somewhere that silver-bordered cards are legal in commander. Is that true?

A: No, they're not legal right now. For a short time last winter, right after the release of Unstable, the commander rules committee said it was ok to use silver-bordered cards (with some cards exceptions, like Ashnod's Coupon) in commander. However, that was a short-time thing - they were only allowed for about a month. After that, silver-bordered cards returns to the "not playable in commander" list.

Of course, if you're really interested in playing with them, you could always ask your play group to decide if they're ok for your play group. Just be careful - some silver-bordered cards are pretty powerful and can be un-fun (different from being "Un-" fun), and may not be the best way to show your group how to have fun with silver-bordered cards.

Q: I'm playing in a Last Chance Qualifier that's taking place at my local Grand Prix. It's a single elimination tournament with a time limit. I'm battling my opponent, and we've reached time in the round. What happens now?

A: First off, we're going to do what we normally do when we reach time in the round: the active player finishes their turn, and then you'll get five additional turns. At the end of those five turns, if the game isn't over, we're going to start asking some questions.

First, how many games has each player won? If one player has won one game and the other player has won zero games, the player who won more games wins the match. If both player have the same number of game wins, the next thing we'll check is life totals: does one player have a higher life total than the other player? If so, the player with the higher life total wins the game (and the match). But, if players both have the same life totals (or if you're between games), we'll continue playing, except we have a new state-based action that will apply for the rest of the match: if you have a lower life total than your opponent when state-based actions are checked, you lose the game.

This can lead to some interesting sideboarding strategies, where player side out their high casting cost spells for cheap creatures in hopes to get that first point of damage in (and thus win the game). And where a card like Soul Warden ends up being one of the best turn 1 plays.

Well, that's it for today. See you all next week!


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