Published on 12/31/2018

Five! Four! Three! Two! One! QUIZ!

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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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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.

Please be careful with
fireworks this New Year's Eve
Greetings and welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion. It's New Year's Eve, which means that it's time to reflect upon the past year and make plans for the new year. It's also a time to set off fireworks and consume alcoholic beverages, if you're so inclined. We're setting off a dazzling fireworks display of rules questions in the form of brand-new quiz episode.

By the way, if you're following our rotation of authors, you may have expected an article by Callum today, and I am not Callum. Unfortunately, Callum has decided to step down from writing for Cranial Insertion in order to focus on other personal priorities in the coming year. We thank him for his years of dedication to our mission of educating players and judges in the rules of Magic, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

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

And now, let's light the fuse, step back to a safe distance, and enjoy this week's fireworks display of rules questions.

Q: I control Experimental Frenzy. Which of the following am I allowed to do?

A: The choices are...

A: Cycle Angel of the God-Pharaoh from the top of my library
B: Cycle Angel of the God-Pharaoh from my hand
C: Use Simian Spirit Guide for mana
D: Suspend Ancestral Vision
E: Do the Safety Dance

The answer is
B and C.

Experimental Frenzy forbids you from playing cards from your hand, but it doesn't forbid activating activated abilities of cards in your hand. Cycling and Simian Spirit Guide's ability are activated abilities that function in your hand, so you can still use them when you control Experimental Frenzy.

Suspending a card is not an activated ability of a card in your hand. It is a special action, and you can't suspend a card if you are forbidden from casting it, so you can't suspend cards while you control Experimental Frenzy.

Finally, while Experimental Frenzy allows you to play the top card of your library, cycling is not the same as playing the card, so you can't cycle the top card of your library.

Q: I activate Lazav, the Multifarious's ability to copy a Phyrexian Dreadnought that's in my graveyard. In response, my opponent uses Deathrite Shaman to exile the Dreadnought. What happens when Lazav's ability resolves?

A: The choices are...

A: I get to choose another creature to copy.
B: Lazav still copies Phyrexian Dreadnought.
C: Lazav becomes a 0/0 and dies.
D: Nothing happens.
E: Everything happens.

The answer is

Lazav's ability targets the card in the graveyard, so when the ability resolves, it re-checks the legality of its target. Since the card has moved out of the graveyard in the meantime, it's no longer a legal target for Lazav's ability. Since the ability's only target is now illegal, the ability does not resolve. The game says "Never mind" and removes the ability from the stack, and none of the ability's effects happen.

Q: I control Divine Visitation, and I do various things that create tokens. Which of the following statements are true?

A: The choices are...

A: A token created by Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker still has haste.
B: A token created by Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker still must be sacrificed at the beginning of the next end step.
C: A token created by God-Pharaoh's Gift is still a black Zombie.
D: A token created by God-Pharaoh's Gift still has haste.
E: My brain hurts.

The answer is
B and D.

Divine Visitation replaces the entire instruction for creating the token, but it doesn't change anything that happens to the token after it has been created. Both Kiki-Jiki's ability and God-Pharaoh's Gift's ability follow the pattern of "Create a token that's a copy of (something), except (some exceptions). (Some other stuff.)" Divine Visitation modifies this to "Create a 4/4 white Angel token with flying and vigilance. (Some other stuff.)" In Kiki-Jiki's case, the delayed triggered ability for sacrificing the token still gets set up, but the token won't have haste. In God-Pharaoh's Gift's case, the token still gains haste until end of turn, but it won't be a black Zombie.

Don't let Chandra anywhere
near your fireworks.
Q: My opponent targets me with Geth's Verdict. Which creature can I choose to sacrifice?

A: The choices are...

A: A creature with shroud
B: A creature with hexproof
C: A creature with protection from black
D: A creature with indestructible
E: Moko

The answer is
A, B, C, and D.

When Geth's Verdict resolves, you simply choose one of your creatures to sacrifice. The chosen creature is not being targeted, so shroud, hexproof, and protection don't interfere with this choice. Also, sacrificing a creature is not the same as destroying it (even though the results of those two actions look the same), so having indestructible is irrelevant as well.

Q: I control Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Which of these will trigger its card draw ability?

A: The choices are...

A: An unblocked Invisible Stalker
B: An unblocked Blighted Agent
C: An unblocked Ornithopter
D: Using Prodigal Pyromancer's ability in the combat damage step
E: This can't happen as described because Edric refuses to be controlled.

The answer is
A and B.

Edric's ability triggers when a creature you control deals combat damage to an opponent. It doesn't matter in which form the damage is dealt, so it doesn't matter whether the attacking creature has infect or not. Ornithopter's power is 0, so it doesn't deal any combat damage, so it doesn't trigger Edric's ability.

Combat damage is the damage that's dealt in the combat damage step as a consequence of attacking. Damage that's dealt due to an activated ability such as Prodigal Pyromancer's ability is never combat damage, even if it happens in the combat damage step, so it won't trigger Edric's ability.

Q: I control Zedruu the Greathearted, with which I donated two of my permanents to my opponent, and I also control Gerrard Capashen. My opponent has four cards in their hand. How many times does my Ajani's Pridemate's ability trigger in my upkeep?

A: The choices are...

A: One
B: Two
C: Five
D: Six
E: Forty-Two

The answer is

Ajani's Pridemate's ability triggers each time a separate event causes you to gain life. Zedruu's ability and Gerrard's ability resolve separately, causing separate life gain events. Zedruu causes you to gain 2 life in one chunk, and Gerrard causes you to gain 4 life in one chunk. Each of those events triggers Ajani's Pridemate's ability once, for a total of two triggers.

Ooh! Aah!
Q: Arya, Bran, Catelyn, and Daenerys are playing a game of Commander. Arya controls a bunch of Wolf tokens. She attacks Bran with one token, Catelyn with two tokens, and Daenerys with three tokens. If none of the tokens get blocked, how many times does Arya get to untap her lands with Nature's Will's trigger?

A: The choices are...

A: Once
B: Twice
C: Three times
D: Six times
E: Hodor

The answer is

All Wolf tokens deal their combat damage at the same time, but Nature's Will sees three separate instances of the event it's looking for: One or more creatures are dealing combat damage to Bran, one or more creatures are dealing combat damage to Catelyn, and one or more creatures are dealing combat damage to Daenerys. Therefore, Nature's Will's ability triggers three times and Arya gets to untap her lands three times.

Q: Alice controls Alms Collector and Bob controls Underrealm Lich, and Bob casts Harmonize. Which replacement effect gets applied to Harmonize first?

A: The choices are...

A: Alms Collector's effect gets applied first.
B: Underrealm Lich's effect gets applied first.
C: Alice chooses which effect gets applied first.
D: Bob chooses which effect gets applied first.
E: Moko chooses which effect gets applied first.

The answer is

One might be tempted to answer that Bob chooses which replacement effect gets applied first because both effects want to change how Harmonize affects Bob, and that is usually how the interaction of multiple replacement effects is decided. However, the rules prescribe that certain types of replacement effects have to be applied before certain other types of replacement effects. Harmonize's "draw three cards" event is essentially a container event that contains three smaller "draw a card" events inside it. In such a case, the replacement effect that applies to the outer container event has to be applied before the replacement effect that applies to the inner events, which means that Alms Collector's effect must be "chosen" first.

Q: I control a Blighted Agent, an Ornithopter that's equipped with Whispersilk Cloak, a Merfolk token that was made unblockable with Merfolk Sovereign, and a Herald of Secret Streams with a +1/+1 counter. After I declare attackers, my opponent casts Sudden Spoiling. Which creatures are still unblockable after Sudden Spoiling resolves?

A: The choices are...

A: The Blighted Agent
B: The Ornithopter
C: The Merfolk token
D: The Herald of Secret Streams
E: The Cheatyface I snuck into play while you weren't paying attention

The answer is
B and C.

To answer this question, it's important to note the difference between an effect and the ability (or spell) that created the effect, and it's important to distinguish continuous effects created by a static ability from continuous effects created by a resolving spell or ability. Sudden Spoiling removes all abilities from your creatures, but it doesn't end or remove any effects that were created by spells and abilities that have resolved in the past.

Blighted Agent has a static ability that creates a continuous effect as long as the ability exists. Removing the ability ends the effect because the ability is no longer there to produce the effect. The effect on the Merfolk token, on the other hand, exists because an activated ability resolved and created the effect for a set duration. Removing the activated ability doesn't end that effect, so the Merfolk Token is still unblockable.

The Ornithopter is still unblockable because this effect is being created by Whispersilk Cloak's static ability, which is unaffected by Sudden Spoiling. Herald of Secret Streams, on the other hand, was unblockable only because its own static ability made it so, so just like in the case of Blighted Agent, removing the ability ends the effect it creates.

Q: Which of these things can I do if I control another player with Mindslaver?

A: The choices are...

A: Look at the cards in their hand
B: Look at their library
C: Look at their sideboard
D: Force them to concede the game
E: Use their credit card to buy a box of Ultimate Masters

The answer is

Controlling a player allows you to make in-game decisions on their behalf and gives you access to in-game information they legally have access to, but there are certain limitations. Making the player concede the game is explicitly excluded from this because otherwise everybody would just use Mindslaver as a "target player loses the game" effect, which isn't very interesting. You can't look at the player's sideboard, because that information is outside the game, and you can't look at their library because they aren't allowed to look at their library either, unless an effect instructs them to do so.

And that's it for this quiz. If you got all ten questions right, you might want to consider joining our team to fill the void that Callum is leaving. If you're interested, or know someone who might be interested, please feel free to send us an email.

As always, thanks for reading, and please come back next week for the first issue of 2019!

-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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