Published on 01/21/2019

Pledge of Ravnica Allegiance

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Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion. The Ravnica Allegiance prerelease is behind us, and we hope you had fun arguing like the Azorius, conducting business like the Orzhov, reveling like the Rakdos, smashing like the Gruul, or doing whatever the Simic are doing. Now that the release of Ravnica Allegiance is near, it's time to look at some of the questions that have come up, or might come up, with these new cards.

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

And now, let's get on with our first look at Ravnica Allegiance.

Q: If I cast Captive Audience and my opponent somehow has hexproof, can I still make them gain control of it?

A: Sure! Captive Audience creates a replacement effect that changes under whose control it enters the battlefield, and you choose an opponent as that replacement effect is applied. The opponent is not being targeted by anything, so hexproof is powerless to prevent your opponent from gaining control of Captive Audience.

Q: If I cast Dagger Caster, is there a point at which I can use Bladebrand on it to turn its enter-the-battlefield into a one-sided board wipe?

A: Sure. Dagger Caster's ability goes onto the stack after Dagger Caster arrives on the battlefield, and you can respond to that ability with an instant spell such as Bladebrand. Bladebrand resolves first and gives Dagger Caster deathtouch. Then, Dagger Caster's ability resolves and deals deadly deathtouch damage to each of your opponent's creatures.

Q: If my opponent uses Act of Treason on one of my creatures, can I cast Final Payment to sacrifice it?

A: That depends on when exactly you cast Final Payment. If you respond to Act of Treason with Final Payment, that's perfectly legal. Until Act of Treason resolves, you still control the creature, so you can sacrifice it to pay the additional cost for Final Payment. If you let Act of Treason resolve first, then you no longer control the creature, and you can only sacrifice a creature you control.

Q: Does Teysa Karlov double up afterlife triggers?

A: Yup. Afterlife is a keyword ability that triggers when the creature it's on dies, and you do control the creature at the moment it dies. As such, a creature dying is causing a triggered ability of a permanent you control to trigger, so Teysa's ability kicks in and makes the afterlife ability trigger an additional time.

Q: What about Fireblade Artist's ability, does Teysa Karlov double that ability?

A: No. The reflexive "when you do" trigger in Fireblade Artist's ability is not caused by the creature dying; it's caused by you sacrificing the creature. Sacrificing a creature causes it to die, but it's the sacrifice, not the dying, that caused the "when you do" ability to trigger.

Q: My opponent is at 1 life, and I cast Carnage on them. In response, they flash in Angel of Grace. After Carnage resolves, can I cast Blade Juggler for its spectacle cost?

A: Nope. Carnage deals 3 damage to your opponent, but thanks to Angel of Grace's effect, this damage doesn't result in any loss of life. Spectacle doesn't care if damage was dealt. It checks if an opponent lost life this turn, and your opponent didn't lose any life this turn, so the spectacle cost doesn't apply.

Q: I activate Biomancer's Familiar's ability, targeting my Pteramander that already has +1/+1 counters on it. In response, my opponent destroys Biomancer's Familiar. Can I still adapt Pteramander as though it had no +1/+1 counters on it?

A: Yup! Once you activate Biomancer's Familiar's ability, it goes on the stack as an ability that's independent from its source. It still resolves even if Biomancer's Familiar is no longer on the battlefield at that time, so it still sets up the effect that changes the rules for the next time your Pteramander adapts this turn.

Fun fact: The Simic accidentally
created Sharktocrab while trying out
a new recipe for Bouillabaisse.
Q: My opponent controls Cindervines and I'm at 1 life. If I cast Deploy to gain some life, will I live?

A: Nope, you're toast. Cindervines's ability goes onto the stack on top of Deploy, so it resolves first and deals 1 damage to you before Deploy ever gets the chance to resolve.

Q: If I activate Combine Guildmage's first ability and then I cast a creature with riot, does that mean the creature can't have haste?

A: No, you can still choose to give the creature haste. Riot doesn't mean that the creature only has haste if it doesn't have any +1/+1 counters on it. As the creature enters the battlefield, the riot ability asks you if you want it to enter with a +1/+1 counter from that ability, and if you choose not to, the creature gains haste. The +1/+1 counter from Combine Guildmage's ability is separate, so in the end the creature either enters with two +1/+1 counters without haste, or with one +1/+1 counter and haste.

Q: I control two Rhythm of the Wild and cast a creature with riot. What happens?

A: Each Rhythm of the Wild gives your creature an additional instance of riot, so it has a total of three instances of riot. Each instance of riot functions separately, so you choose three times whether to give the creature an additional +1/+1 counter or haste. Since multiple instances of haste are redundant, you probably want to choose the counter for two of the riot abilities, and the third riot ability can either give the creature haste or a third counter.

Q: My opponent targets one of my creatures with Consign to the Pit, and in response I give it indestructible with Resolute Watchdog. Does Consign to the Pit still deal 2 damage to me?

A: I'm afraid so. Giving the creature indestructible doesn't make it an illegal target for Consign to the Pit. It simply makes it impossible for Consign to the Pit to destroy it, but the 2 damage is not contingent on the creature being destroyed, so the damage still happens.

Q: Does Dovin's Acuity's second ability trigger if I cast Sentinel's Mark in my main phase?

A: No. The ability only triggers when you cast an instant spell during your main phase. Sentinel's Mark has flash, but it's still an enchantment spell, not an instant spell.

Q: I cast Emergency Powers during my main phase to get the addendum effect, and there is already a card in my hand that I really want to put onto the battlefield. Can I do the addendum first and then shuffle my hand away?

A: No, that doesn't work. When a spell resolves, you follow its instructions in the order in which they're written. The addendum happens after you shuffle away your hand and draw seven new cards, so the card you put onto the battlefield with the addendum effect has to come from among the seven new cards that you drew.

Q: I control an Incubation Druid and a Plaza of Harmony. If I don't control any Gates, can Incubation Druid make colored mana?

A: No, it can only produce colorless mana in this case. Incubation Druid looks at what types of mana a land you control could produce, so it looks at what types of mana Plaza of Harmony could produce. The first ability could certainly produce , but the second ability is another story. It has to look at what types of mana a Gate you control could produce, and since you don't control any Gates, no type of mana can be defined this way, so the Plaza's second ability wouldn't produce any mana if it resolved right now.

According to the Azorius,
the Rakdos put the "barf" in "bar food."
Q: Does Pestilent Spirit turn Gates Ablaze into a board wipe spell?

A: As long as you control at least one Gate, sure. Gates Ablaze deals that much damage to each creature at the same time, and Gates Ablaze has deathtouch thanks to Pestilent Spirit, so each creature is dealt damage by a source with deathtouch. When state-based actions are checked, all creatures end up getting destroyed.

Q: If I go first, when exactly do I scry 3 if I reveal Sphinx of Foresight from my opening hand? Don't I skip the upkeep step of my first turn?

A: No, you only skip the draw step of your first turn if you go first. The beginning phase of your first turn still has an untap step and an upkeep step, even though ordinarily nothing happens in those steps early on in a game. Thanks to the Sphinx, there is something to do in your upkeep step during your first turn, so you scry 3 and then you proceed to the main phase of your first turn.

Q: If my opponent controls Tithe Taker and there are eight instant and sorcery cards in my graveyard, how much does it cost to adapt my Pteramander on my opponent's turn?

A: It only costs . Effects that increase an activation cost are applied before cost reduction effects are applied. Tite Taker's ability increases the adapt cost to , but Pteramander's own ability then reduces that to .

Q: My opponent controls Cavalcade of Calamity and attacks me with an Ornithopter. If I want to prevent the damage from Cavalcade of Calamity's ability with Healing Grace, what do I have to choose as the source?

A: The source of the damage is the thing that's dealing the damage. The ability says that Cavalcade of Calamity deals the damage, not the creature that triggered the ability, so Cavalcade of Calamity itself is the source of the damage.

Q: If I cast a creature with riot and I forget about its riot ability, what happens?

A: When the creature enters the battlefield, the game asks you whether you want to put a +1/+1 counter on it, and if you don't, the creature gains haste. Since you didn't put a +1/+1 counter on it, the creature gained haste, whether you're aware of this or not. In other words, the creature having haste is the default outcome if you don't acknowledge the riot ability.

Q: My opponent just made a million tokens using an infinite combo, and I manage to get Rakdos, the Showstopper onto the battlefield before they can attack me with those tokens. What happens?

A: Well, the game rules say that you have to flip a coin a million times, but in practice that would turn Rakdos into The Tournament Stopper. If this situation were to come up in a game that I'm judging, I'd shortcut the game state to a likely end result. Since the tokens are indistinguishable from another, it doesn't matter which exact tokens get destroyed, and the coin flip is likely to come up tails for about half of the tokens. Therefore, I'd rule that your opponent gets to keep half a million of those tokens, which is probably still plenty for them to win the game.

And that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for more 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.


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