Published on 02/11/2019

My Punny Valentine

Cranial Translation
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He's not annoyed,
he just has Resting Lich Face.
Greetings and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion! This Thursday is Valentine's Day, which is a holiday that was invented by the retail industry to sell flowers, chocolates, and greeting cards. If you have a loved one in your life, show how much you love them by buying them flowers, chocolates, and a greeting card, or whatever else they might like.

For this Valentine's Day episode, I'll do what I love to do, which is to answer rules questions and make awful (or awfully funny) puns. If you have questions you want us to answer, please email them to or tweet short questions at @CranialTweet. One of our writers will get back to you with an answer, and your question might appear in a future episode alongside a pun or a pop-culture reference, or both.

Q: I control Josu Vess, Lich Knight that was kicked and I enchant it with Helm of the Host. Do I get more Zombie tokens from the Josu Vess copies?

A: Moko wants to say yes because he's a fan of Zombies, but unfortunately the rules don't support that answer. The Josu Vess token copies all abilities from the original, but it doesn't copy whether it was kicked. The "if it was kicked" condition checks whether you chose to pay the kicker cost for the Josu Vess token as it was cast, but the token was never cast at all, so it can't have been kicked.

Q: Can I Repudiate the 2 damage part of Flames of the Raze-Boar, or the damage from Hypothesizzle?

A: No and yes, in that order. Repudiate can counter activated and triggered abilities, and neither spell involves an activated ability, so the question comes down to which spell has a triggered ability. Triggered abilities always use the words "when," "whenever," or "at" to identify themselves. Flames of the Raze-Boar doesn't have a triggered ability; it's just an additional instruction that's followed if a certain condition is met at that time. Hypothesizzle on the other hand has a triggered ability that's triggered by discarding a nonland card in the first part. That trigger goes on the stack as a separate object and can be countered with Repudiate.

Q: I cast Light Up the Stage and exile a Rift Bolt with it. Can I suspend the Rift Bolt?

A: No, you can't do that. Suspend only works if you could cast the card from your hand, so it only works if the card is actually in your hand. If it's any consolation, you could cast the Rift Bolt from exile, but that'll cost its usual mana cost of . If you can't afford that before the end of your next turn, the Rift Bolt will be stuck in exile indefinitely.

Q: My opponent controls an untapped Guardian Beast and I play Master Thief to steal my opponent's Sol Ring. If Guardian Beast gets tapped or destroyed later, do I gain control of my opponent's Sol Ring then?

A: No. When Master Thief's enter-the-battlefield resolves, it instructs you to gain control of the Sol Ring, but thanks to Guardian Beast's ability, that is an impossible action, so the impossible action is simply ignored. This means that Master Thief's ability did a whole lot of nothing, and you won't gain control of Sol Ring retroactively after Guardian Beast's effect goes away.

Q: I control an Amplifire and for its ability I reveal a Tarmogoyf that would be 2/3 on the battlefield. How big does Amplifire get, and does it get bigger when a new card type is put into a graveyard?

A: Amplifire is 4/6, and it won't get bigger when a new card type is put into a graveyard. When Amplifire's ability resolves, it looks at the power and toughness of the creature card that you revealed. Because Tarmogoyf's power and toughness are defined by a characteristic-defining ability that works in all zones, its power and toughness is currently 2/3. Amplifire's ability uses those values to create an effect that sets its base power/toughness to 4/6. This effect doesn't change after it's been set up, so Amplifire stays 4/6 regardless of how many card types are in graveyards.

Q: If I take control of my opponent's Theater of Horrors, for example with Eyes Everywhere, can I play cards exiled with it after I deal damage to them?

A: Absolutely. The "you" in Theater of Horrors' rules text refers to its current controller, which you are at the moment. The ability that allows you to play cards exiled with Theater of Horrors doesn't restrict it to cards you own, so go nuts and play your opponent's cards to your heart's content as long as you have the mana to do so.

Q: I control Divine Visitation and Chainer's Torment's last chapter ability goes off. How much damage does the token deal to me?

A: It still deals X damage to you, where X is half your life total, rounded up. Divine Visitation changes what kind of token the ability creates, but the instruction for the damage is not changed in any way, and the damage is not based on the token's power.

The rhythm is gonna get you
Q: My opponent controls Humility and I control Rhythm of the Wild. If I cast some vanilla creature, does it have riot or not?

A: That depends on whether Humility or Rhythm of the Wild entered the battlefield more recently. As your vanilla creature is about to enter the battlefield, the game has to check which replacement effects apply to it. Rule 614.12 tells us to check the characteristics of the creature as it would exist on the battlefield, taking into account existing continuous effects that would apply to it. The effects that would apply to it come from Humility and Rhythm of the Wild, and the two that matter are the layer 6 effects of "has riot" and "loses all abilities." Since those effects are independent of each other, they are applied in timestamp order, so the more recent one wins.

Q: I use Naughty to put my opponent's Karn Liberated into my hand. If I cast Brainstorm, can I choose to put Karn back, and if so, where does it go?

A: Well, the first part is easy: Of course you can choose to put Karn back. It is in your hand, so it is among the cards from which Brainstorm makes you choose. The second part is trickier. There is a rule that says if an object would go to a library, graveyard, or hand of anybody other than its owner's, it goes to its owner's corresponding zone. Naughty obviously ignores this rule, but there's no reason I can think of why Brainstorm should ignore this rule, so I would say Karn goes back to your opponent's library. However, if your playgroup thinks that Karn going into your library is more fun, they are free to make that decision.

Q: I control Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage and Omniscience, and my opponent attacks me with a creature. Can I flash in Entirely Normal Armchair and sacrifice it to destroy the attacker before my opponent can return the Armchair to my hand?

A: Yes, that works. After Entirely Normal Armchair resolves, your opponent gets priority first, so they could activate Entirely Normal Armchair's ability first, but that ability won't resolve immediately. Before it resolves, you get the chance to respond with the sacrifice ability to destroy your opponent's attacker.

Q: I control a Bloodthrone Vampire that's equipped with Blade of the Bloodchief. I attack with it, and my opponent sacrifices Tar Pitcher to kill it. What happens?

A: Your Vampire lives. Your opponent activates Tar Pitcher's ability by putting it on the stack, choosing its target, and then paying the cost by sacrificing Tar Pitcher. This triggers the Blade's ability which goes on the stack above Tar Pitcher's ability, so the Blade's ability resolves first and gives your Vampire two +1/+1 counters, which is just enough to make it survive the 2 damage from Tar Pitcher's ability. (Author's note: You wouldn't believe how often I almost typed "Tart Pitcher." I must be hungry.)

Q: If I control Vizier of Remedies, can I tap and untap Devoted Druid as often as I want to make large amounts of green mana?

A: Yes, that works. To activate Devoted Druid's untap ability, you announce that you're using it and then you pay the activation cost of putting a -1/-1 counter on it. The Vizier changes that to "nothing happens", but that doesn't change the fact that you did your best to pay the cost. The end result is that you get to untap Devoted Druid for free, which allows you to make as much green mana as you want.

Q: I'm in a four-player game, and I control Notion Thief and Smothering Tithe. If I cast Wheel of Fortune and my opponents don't have the mana for Smothering Tithe's ability, do I draw 28 cards and get 28 Treasure tokens?

A: Only half of your dreams are coming true here, in that you get to draw 28 cards. (I hope you have enough cards left in your library for that.) Notion Thief replaces your opponents' card draws with card draws for you, so Smothering Tithe's ability never gets the chance to trigger and you won't get any Treasure tokens from this play.

Q: If I control my opponent's turn with something like Mindslaver, can I make them cast Disenchant without a target just to get rid of it?

A: Nice try, but that doesn't work. Mindslaver only allows you to make legal in-game decisions for your opponent and direct them to take legal in-game actions. In order to cast Disenchant legally, they have to choose a target for it if one is available, and if no target is available, you can't make them cast it.

Come on baby, fight my lyre
Q: I'm in a multiplayer game and I activate Goblin Lyre's ability. Can I choose the opponent after the coin flip so I can choose a player with few creatures if I lose the flip?

A: No, that doesn't work. The chosen opponent or planeswalker is the target of the ability, and targets for an ability have to be chosen when the ability is activated, while the instructions (including the coin flip) are followed later, when the ability resolves.

Q: Does attacking with Adanto Vanguard trigger Cavalcade of Calamity?

A: No. Some triggered abilities check the game state right before an event to see if they triggered, but Cavalcade of Calamity's ability is not one of those. It checks after the declaration of attackers whether any of the attackers have power 1 or less. At that time, Adanto Vanguard's ability is in effect, so its power is 3, which is too big to trigger the ability.

Q: I control Furnace of Rath and block a 4/4 trampler with a 0/4 Wall. How much damage do I take?

A: Good news, you won't take any damage at all. Furnace of Rath changes how damage is actually dealt, while trample influences how damage is assigned. When your opponent assigns combat damage, the game doesn't care that there's a Furnace of Rath there that might change things later. Trample means that any damage beyond lethal damage to your blocker can be assigned to you, but your opponent has to assign all 4 damage to your Wall, so there is no damage left over to assign to you. When the damage is dealt, Furnace of Rath kicks in and doubles the damage to your Wall to 8, which means that your Wall is well and truly dead while you are entirely unscathed.

Q: Can I search for a planeswalker with Thalia's Lancers' enter-the-battlefield ability?

A: Absolutely. All planeswalkers also have the legendary supertype in their Oracle text. Even if they weren't originally printed with the legendary supertype, they have been given errata to be legendary.

Q: I activate Karn, Scion of Urza's +1 ability, and in response my opponent kills it. The ability resolves and I exile a card. If I play a new Karn, can I use its -1 ability to get the exiled card and put it into my hand?

A: Yes, that works. Unlike similar cards that use the phrase "exiled with ", Karn uses silver counters to track cards that it has access to. As long as there's a card you own in exile with a silver counter on it, Karn's -1 ability can get to it regardless of when or how it was exiled.

Q: Does casting Rix Maadi Reveler for its spectacle cost trigger Hero of Precinct One's ability?

A: No. In the absence of a color indicator or characteristic-defining ability that says otherwise, a spell's colors are determined by the colors of mana in its mana cost, and the mana cost is what's printed in the top right corner of the card. Rix Maadi Reveler's mana cost is regardless of what you actually paid to cast it, so it's only a red spell even if you cast it for its multicolored spectacle cost.

And that's all the time we have for now. I wish you a happy Valentine's Day and I hope you'll be back next week for more Rules Q&A and puns.

- 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.

I have a follow-up question to the "stealing Theater of Horrors" question. If my opponent casts Hostage Taker and exiles my Rekindling Phoenix (but does not have the mana open to recast it), and the next turn I use my Angrath, the Flame-Chained's -3 ability to gain control of that Hostage Taker, can I then cast my Rekindling Phoenix from exile?
#1 • Date: 2019-02-12 • Time: 10:13:19 •
No you may not. The permission to cast the exiled card is set up by the enter the battlefield trigger resolving. It does not matter who controls the Taker, what matters is who controlled the enter the battlefield trigger. That was your opponent, so your opponent is the only player that can cast the exiled creature card, not whoever controls Hostage Taker at the moment.
#2 • Date: 2019-02-12 • Time: 14:09:05 •

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