Published on 01/28/2019

Allies, Allegedly

Cranial Translation
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You're all so eager to prod us with your questions!
The absence of Jace, the Living Guildpact, from Ravnica has stirred up all sorts of intrigue and infighting between the guilds with Nicol Bolas pulling the strings in pursuit of some greater plan. This is very similar to what Callum's departure has caused here at the CI Offices, though I promise that we're not all Moko's puppets...
Well, I'm not at least. I'd be careful around Carsten and Nathan if I were you, though, at least until we find a fourth writer again...

But enough office politics. Let's get on to some intriguing questions about this fascinating new set!
If you'd like the CI team to answer your question, please send it to us via email at or tweet it to us @CranialTweet. We'll make sure to send you a private reply and your question might also appear in a future CI column.

Q: If I control a face down morph and Guardian Project and cast another morph, do I get to draw a card?

A: Yes, you do.
Face down creatures, such as those with morph abilities or manifested cards, don't have names and as such they can't share a name with any other creature, even other face down creatures. (You can't share something you don't have.)

Since your new face down creature can't share a name with anything, it will always trigger Guardian Project.

Q: Is the ability of Priest of Forgotten Gods a mana ability? Its "any number of targets" wording seems to allow for no targets and thus it could maybe get around the "no targets" rule for mana ability.

A: No, this ability isn't a mana ability because it [i]can[/c] have a target. Anything that could have a target can't be a mana ability, even if no targets are chosen for it. There's a new rule clarifying this.

One way to think about this is that in order to choose targets for Priest's ability, even if you want to choose no targets, you have to put the ability on the stack. Since you're putting the ability on the stack, it's already not a mana ability and thus it can be responded to.

Q: If I cast Electrodominance during my opponent's turn, could I cast a sorcery with its effect or do I need to obey timing restrictions?

A: Electrodominance allows you to cast a card with CMC X or less from your hand as part of its resolution. You can't normally cast spells while another spell is resolving, so we're already violating normal timing rules here. This means that it doesn't matter what type(s) the card is (as long as it's not a land) because you're casting it at an unusual time anyway. So go nuts and cast your sorceries!

The important thing to note here is the difference between effects that instruct you to cast a spell immediately (e.g. Electrodominance, cascade, suspend) and ones that grant you permission to cast a spell within a certain time period (e.g. Theater of Horrors, Vance's Blasting Cannons). Only in the latter case do you need to obey normal timing restrictions.

Q: Does Teysa Karlov cause Reveillark's leaves the battlefield trigger to trigger twice when it dies?

A: Yes, but only if it's dying.

An ability that triggers when something "leaves the battlefield" doesn't care about what zone that object is moving to, whereas an ability that triggers when something dies only cares about it moving from the battlefield to the graveyard.

Luckily, dying is a subset of leaving the battlefield so any "leaves the battlefield" abilities that trigger from a creature dying will trigger again through Teysa Karlov if she's around.

Intrigue and infighting aside, the show must go on.
Q: If I control a Rakdos, Lord of Riots and my opponent has lost life this turn, does Rakdos's cost reduction apply to the spectacle cost of my Blade Juggler?

A: Yes, this works.

Spectacle is an alternate cost and the spectacle cost on a creature spell can be reduced by effects like Rakdos's cost reduction ability.

For example, if your opponents have lost a total of 2 life this turn, Rakdos will reduce Blade Juggler's spectacle cost by making it only cost to cast.

Q: Will Cavalcade of Calamity trigger when I attack with Grasping Scoundrel or will the +1/+0 apply before the trigger is checked?

A: No, it won't.
As soon as Grasping Scoundrel is declared as an attacker, its bonus kicks in and buffs it up to 2 power. This means it's too big by the time we check to see if Cavalcade of Calamity's trigger triggers and so it won't help out the Scoundrel here.

Q: If I target Sharktocrab with Biogenic Upgrade, does Sharktocrab's second ability trigger once or twice?

A: It will trigger twice.
Biogenic Upgrade first adds counters to its targets and then doubles the number of +1/+1 counters on those targets. These are separate instances of counters being placed and so Sharktocrab's ability will trigger once for the counters being added and once for the counters being doubled.

Q: I control Pestilent Spirit and cast Pyroclasm. My opponent kills my Pestilent Spirit before Pyroclasm resolves. Does Pyroclasm still have deathtouch when it resolves?

A: No, it won't.
Pestilent Spirit's ability that grants deathtouch to your instants and sorceries is a static ability and so it only functions while Pestilent Spirit is on the battlefield. As soon as Pestilent Spirit dies, any instant or sorcery spells you control on the stack will no longer have deathtouch and just deal their damage as normal without the added effect. In other words, you need to control Pestilent Spirit when your spell resolves in order for the deathtouch ability to do anything.

Q: Does my opponent get to see the cards exiled by Theater of Horrors or Light Up the Stage or are they basically "in my hand" and thus hidden?

A: Your opponent gets to see those cards.
When an effect exiles a card, it exiles that card face-up unless the effect specifically says that the card is exiled face-down. Neither of the cards you mention specify how the cards are exiled, so they're just exiled face-up as normal for everyone to see. Members of the Cult of Rakdos aren't really keen on hiding their antics, you know.

Q: If I copy Mesmerizing Benthid with Phantasmal Image, the Image/Benthid will always have hexproof, right?

A: Correct. Phantasmal Image as Mesmerizing Benthid will be an Octopus Illusion, and this will satisfy its "as long as you control an Illusion" requirement to have hexproof. If you needed to control a different creature that was an Illusion, it would specify "another Illusion" or something similar.

Q: If I sacrifice Murderous Redcap to activate Prime Speaker Vannifar's ability while also controlling River Kelpie, what order does everything happen in? If I fetch another River Kelpie, do I get any triggers from it? I'm confused with all the triggers and everything.

A: Sacrificing a creature is a cost to activate Vannifar's ability, which is already on the stack by the time you sacrifice your Murderous Redcap. This means that Redcap's persist trigger will go on the stack above Vannifar's activated ability and resolve first.

Once Murderous Redcap has returned to the battlefield, both its own enters the battlefield trigger and River Kelpie's first ability will trigger. You can stack these triggers in any order you like, but they all go on the stack above Vannifar's ability.

Once you've drawn a card and dealt 1 damage to something, Vannifar's ability will finally resolve. If you tutor up another River Kelpie, it will show up way too late to trigger for anything that just happened.

Q: When I control Smothering Tithe, do I have to remind my opponents about the trigger or do I just get to make treasures if they don't pay ?

A: It's up to you to remember Smothering Tithe's trigger, not your opponents. If you want the trigger to happen, you have to point it out when an opponent draws a card and give them the opportunity to pay . If you don't, then you've missed the trigger and it won't happen unless your opponent wants it to. You don't get to stay quiet and just assume they're not paying while you accumulate treasure. The same goes for Rhystic Study and casting spells, by the way.

Q: Will my Verity Circle trigger when an opponent's creature enters the battlefield tapped? Why or why not?

A: No, it won't.
To "become tapped", a permanent has to go from being untapped to being tapped. A creature that enters the battlefield tapped arrives in a tapped state without ever being untapped. If you want to get the most out of Verity Circle, you'll need to set aside your Orb of Dreams and pick up your Icy Manipulator.

Keep your friends close and your enemies... dead.
Q: Can I play Sphinx of the Guildpact in my Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign commander deck? I seem to remember that Transguild Courier could only be played in five-color decks.

A: Sadly, it can't hang out with Unesh in your deck.
Sphinx of the Guildpact doesn't have any colored mana symbols in its mana cost or rules text and it doesn't have a color indicator. The ability that makes it all five colors is, however, a characteristic-defining ability, which is the rare fourth criterion that's considered when determining a card's color identity for commander.

Even though Transguild Courier has been freed from the bonds of its color indicator, this doesn't change which decks it can be played in either.

When color indicators were introduced in Innistrad, almost all abilities that set a card's color(s) were replaced with color indicators, including Transguild Courier. However, Transguild Courier was never printed with a color indicator and so when a reasonable five-color indicator couldn't be figured out for Sphinx of the Guildpact while it was being designed, it was decided that these cards would just revert to having abilities that defined their colors.

Q: If I control both Lavinia, Azorius Renegade and Tithe Taker, will Lavinia counter the free spell from my opponent's Electrodominance if it's cast on my turn?

A: Unfortunately for you, Lavinia and the Tithe Taker are working against one another here. Tithe Taker adds to the cost of the free spell, which means that mana will be spent to cast it and thus Lavinia won't trigger and counter it.

It's important to note here that all Tithe Taker's ability does is to impose an additional cost. It's not a trigger and thus there's no way to make it happen after Lavinia's ability.

Q: Does Biomancer's Familiar reduce the cost of turning face down creatures with morph face up?

A: Sadly not.
Turning a face down card face up for its morph cost is a special action and not an activated ability, so the cost to do so can't be reduced by effects like the one on Biomancer's Familiar or Heartstone.

Q: I control Teysa Karlov and two Blind Hunters. When one of the Blind Hunters dies, will Teysa's ability allow it to haunt both her and the other Blind Hunter? Also, will Teysa copy the trigger when a haunted creature I control dies?

A: Not quite, no.
While Teysa's ability will cause Blind Hunter's death trigger to trigger twice. You can target both the other Blind Hunter and Teysa with those triggers, but only one of them will matter. Once the first trigger resolves and exiles Blind Hunter from your graveyard, the second trigger won't be able to find Blind Hunter anymore and so it won't be able to haunt the second target.

Teysa won't copy Blind Hunter's other trigger when the creature it haunts dies, since the source of the trigger isn't a permanent in this case.

Q: If Rakdos, the Showstopper's triggered ability destroys a creature with Afterlife, do get to flip coins to try to destroy the spirit tokens too?

A: No, Rakdos's trigger doesn't work this way.
When you go to resolve the trigger, you flip all the coins first and then destroy everything that's going to be destroyed all at once. The tokens from the Afterlife trigger don't exist yet when Rakdos is snapping his fingers to cull half of the audience and so they're not included in the festivities.

Q: How does Sower of Discord interact with Panharmonicon, if at all? Do I get to choose four players? Can I select one player twice and does that change how Sower of Discord's life loss ability triggers?

A: You only get to choose one pair of players because Sower of Discord's second ability is a replacement effect, not a triggered ability.

Replacement effects that ask for a choice like this use "As ~ enters the battlefield, ..." whereas triggers use "When ~ enters the battlefield, ..."

Q: Let's say I have Divine Visitation and Sparkspitter on the battlefield. I use Sparkspitter's ability, but Divine Visitation transforms it into a 4/4 Angel. Does it still have trample, haste, or the sacrifice trigger?

A: Sparkspitter is going to start spitting out Angels instead of Spark Elementals here. Since trample, haste, and the sacrifice trigger are all abilities that those tokens would be created with, they're all overwritten by Divine Visitation and you just get 4/4 flying, vigilance Angels instead. On the upside, you don't have to sacrifice anything!

We've survived another day on the troubled streets of Ravnica and I've survived another day at the CI offices, so until next week remember to stay curious and keep your head down.

- Charlotte


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