Published on 03/04/2019

Industrial Evolution

Cranial Translation
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And who are we to justify
the right in all we do?
Greetings, and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion. Following our tour of Ravnica's guilds, today's issue is influenced by the Simic Combine. I actually tried to join the Simic Combine myself, and as my audition experiment I left a container of yogurt in my fridge for several months past its expiration date. It evolved into something truly horrific, but I have yet to hear from the guild if I've been accepted.

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 send you a reply, and your question might appear in a future article to educate readers like yourself.

I have to go feed my yogurt monster now, but please go ahead and read on without me.

Q: Does Fathom Mage evolve if I play Fertilid?

A: Absolutely. Fertilid enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it, so it enters the battlefield as a 2/2, not as a 0/0. When Fathom Mage's ability checks what just entered the battlefield, it sees that a creature with greater power and/or toughness entered, so the evolve ability triggers.

Q: If I control two Wilderness Reclamations, so I get priority in between the two triggers?

A: Certainly. The two triggers go on the stack and resolve one at a time, and both players have to pass priority in succession after the first one before the second one resolves. That gives you plenty of opportunity to tap your lands for mana in between to do useful or awesome things with. Just keep in mind that this is happening in your end step, so you're limited to instants and instant-like spells and abilities.

Q: Can Golgari Thug target itself with its death ability?

A: Yes, it can, and if it's the only creature card in your graveyard, it must. The ability goes on the stack after Golgari Thug has gone to the graveyard, so it is a creature card in your graveyard when you choose the target for the ability. Since it doesn't say "another" or any other criteria to exclude itself, it is a legal target for its ability.

Q: I control Omniscience and my opponent controls Trinisphere. If I use Omniscience to cast Price of Fame targeting a legendary creature, how much mana do I have to pay?

A: You'll have to pay . Trinisphere kicks in after the total cost has been calculated and checks whether the total cost includes at least three mana, and bumps up the cost if it's less than three mana. To calculate the total cost, you start with the alternative cost of given by Omniscience, then you apply cost-increasing effects and additional costs, of which there aren't any, and then you apply Price of Fame's cost reduction effect, which does nothing because the cost is at that point. The total cost is , which is too low for Trinisphere, so the cost gets bumped up to .

Q: Can I use Spellskite's ability to redirect an equip ability that my opponent activated?

A: No. You can use the ability, but it'll fail to do anything to the equip ability. The equip keyword has the targeting restriction "target creature you control", so an equip ability of an equipment that your opponent controls can only target a creature they control. Spellskite can only change the target to itself if it's a legal target, which it isn't in this case.

Q: Let's say I use Cauldron Dance to return Apprentice Necromancer from my graveyard to the battlefield, and then I sac it to return some other creature from my graveyard to the battlefield. Does Cauldron Dance's ability return Apprentice Necromancer to my hand at the end of the turn?

A: No such luck, sorry. The "it" in the delayed trigger to return it to your hand at the beginning of the next end step only refers to the creature that Apprentice Necromancer became on the battlefield. Once you sacrifice Apprentice Necromancer, the card in the graveyard becomes a new object without any connection to the creature it was on the battlefield. Cauldron Dance's delayed trigger can't find the creature it's supposed to return to your hand, so it doesn't return anything.

Q: If my opponent controls Linvala, Keeper of Silence, can I still turn face-down creatures face up?

A: Yes, you can do that. Turning a face-down creature face up is a special action, not an activated ability, so Linvala doesn't interfere with that.

And those who came at first to scoff,
remained behind to pray
Q: If I control Master Biomancer and play Sharktocrab, do I get to tap something down with Sharktocrab?

A: Yup! An ability that triggers when counters are put on a creature triggers when counters are put on it while it's on the battlefield or when it enters the battlefield with those counters. Sharktocrab enters the battlefield with at least two +1/+1 counters here, so its ability triggers.

Q: What happens if I control Master Biomancer and copy it five times with a kicked Rite of Replication? Does the fifth token get really huge?

A: Only if you think 4/6 is really huge. The five token copies all enter the battlefield at the same time, not one after the other. As the tokens enter the battlefield, the game checks for relevant existing replacement effects, and only the effect from the original Master Biomancer exists at that moment, so each token enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it. However, creatures that enter the battlefield will get a total of twenty-two +1/+1 counters put on them — two from the original Biomancer and four each from the five tokens — which is firmly in "huge" territory.

Q: I control a tapped Prognostic Sphinx and my opponent tries to Murder it. Can I discard a card in response to give it hexproof to save it?

A: Sure. Tapping the Sphinx is part of the effect of that ability, not part of the cost. The cost is simply to discard a card. When the ability resolves it does as much as it can, so it gives the Sphinx hexproof and tries (and fails) to tap the Sphinx.

Q: In a commander game, Christina controls David's Eyes Everywhere because David had used it to exchange control of it and some permanent of Christina's. If Christina loses the game, where does Eyes Everywhere go?

A: When Christina leaves the game, all control-changing effects that gave her control of anything end, including the effect that gave her control of Eyes Everywhere. In the absence of any other control-changing effects, Eyes Everywhere will go back to David's control.

Q: If there's a Mana Maze on the battlefield, can I cast a blue spell followed by an artifact and then another blue spell?

A: Sure, that works. Mana Maze's ability only looks at the colors of the most recently cast spell this turn. It doesn't look at all spells or the most recently cast colored spell this turn. Your second blue spell doesn't share any colors with the artifact spell, so Mana Maze has no problem with you casting it.

Q: I control Elenda, the Dusk Rose with two +1/+1 counters on her. If Elenda and another creature die at the same time, do I get three or four Vampire tokens?

A: You'll only get three Vampire tokens. Elenda's first ability still triggers, but by the time it resolves, Elenda is in the graveyard, so that additional +1/+1 counter has nowhere to go. When the second ability resolves, it checks what Elenda's power was when she was last seen on the battlefield, which was 3, so you get three Vampire tokens.

Q: I control It That Betrays and I get my opponent to sacrifice his commander. Do I get to put his commander onto the battlefield under my control even if he puts it into the command zone instead of in the graveyard?

A: Yup. It That Betrays's ability looks for the card in whichever zone it went to as a result of being sacrificed, and it doesn't specify that it only looks in the graveyard. When your opponent's commander was sacrificed, it went directly into the command zone, so that's where It That Betrays's ability looks for it.

I had a premonition,
it's gonna be my turn tonight.
Q: How does Cast Through Time interact with Temporal Mastery or Nexus of Fate?

A: One of them will rebound, the other won't. Rebound exiles the card from the stack if it would go to the graveyard as it resolves. Temporal Mastery exiles itself during resolution, so it never gets to the "go to the graveyard" part of its resolution and rebound doesn't get to replace this event. Nexus of Fate, on the other hand, creates a replacement effect that replaces going to the graveyard with being shuffled into your library. As Nexus of Fate is finished resolving, it wants to go to the graveyard, but there are two replacement effects that want to modify this event: its own replacement effect and rebound's replacement effect. You choose which one to apply, and if you choose wisely, the card gets exiled and will rebound next turn.

Q: I use Tooth and Nail to put Craterhoof Behemoth and Avenger of Zendikar onto the battlefield. Is it possible that the Plant tokens from Avenger's ability also get the buff from Craterhoof Behemoth's ability?

A: Sure! After Tooth and Nail has put the Avenger and the Behemoth onto the battlefield, there are two triggered abilities that want to go on the stack at the same time. Since you control both abilities, you choose the order in which to put them on the stack, and they'll resolve in the reverse order. If you put the Avenger's ability second, it'll resolve first and create a bunch of Plant tokens. Those Plant tokens are then included in "creatures you control" for the Behemoth's ability, so they'll count for X and they get +X/+X and trample.

Q: I control a 9/9 and a 7/7, and I cast Overwhelming Stampede, and then I attack with my two creatures. If my opponent casts Sudden Spoiling before damage, what happens?

A: Your opponent will wonder why they didn't cast Sudden Spoiling in response to Overwhelming Stampede. Both of your creatures got +9/+9 from Overwhelming Stampede, and that bonus is applied on top of the 0/2 base power and toughness they get from Sudden Spoiling, so your creatures are pretty sizable 9/11 creatures. They don't have trample, but they'll be able to kill most of the things that your opponent can throw in their way.

If your opponent had cast Sudden Spoiling in response to Overwhelming Stampede, things would look very different. Your creatures would have been 0/2 when Overwhelming Stampede resolved, so they wouldn't be getting any power/toughness boost at all and you'd be quite unlikely to bother attacking with them at all.

Q: My opponent is casting Show and Tell. Can I choose In Bolas's Clutches and take control of whatever my opponent chooses?

A: No. Both chosen cards are put onto the battlefield at the same time, and you have to choose something to attach In Bolas's Clutches to as it's entering the battlefield. At that time, whatever your opponent chose isn't on the battlefield yet, so you'll have to attach In Bolas's Clutches to something else.

Q: If my opponent casts Drain Power on me and I tap my lands in response, does my opponent still get all that mana?

A: Unless you have something to spend that mana on, yes. When Drain Power resolves, it forces you to activate a mana ability of each of your lands, which does nothing if you already tapped all your lands. However, in the next instruction it pulls all unspent mana out of your mana pool, regardless of whether that mana was added to your mana pool before or during Drain Power's resolution, and all that mana gets added to your opponent's mana pool.

Q: In a tournament match, Arthur has won the first game against Bob, but he seems to be losing the second game. Bob has an emblem from Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Arthur has no permanents left, but Arthur continues to play and refuses to concede the game. Is Arthur stalling?

A: Not from what you've described so far. Arthur is under no obligation to concede the game no matter how hopeless his situation seems to be. As long as he is playing at a reasonable pace, which should be very swift for the "draw, maybe play land, go" situation he's in, he's not doing anything wrong. Ultimately, it's Bob's responsibility to win in the available time as long as Arthur isn't deliberately wasting time.

Speaking of time, that's all the time we have for today. Before I go, I want to take a moment to remind you of a tournament that'll happen in Toledo, Ohio in just under two weeks: Cast a Spell on MS, the annual charity tournament to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is happening on March 16th. It'll be the tenth time I'm organizing this tournament, and I hope some of you are in the area that day so you can come have fun playing Magic and helping me raise money for a good cause.

Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for more Magic Rules Q&A.

- 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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