Published on 03/18/2019

Lost in the Library

Cranial Translation
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That librarian will definitely enforce
the "Silence!" policy.
Hi everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! After our corroboration with the Azorious a few weeks ago, they invited me to have a walk through their library. Unfortunately, I seem to have taken a few hundred wrong left turns and I'm completely lost in their library. Let's be honest - this isn't the worst thing in the world. I've got plenty of things to keep me entertained (I just need to pull a book off the shelves and I'm good to go), and there seems be a steady source of water, even in the back. I think my ultimate plan is to find the L-Space (you know, the connection between all libraries as described in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series) and hopefully find myself in a library that I'm a bit more familiar with.

But in the meantime, you have some rules question, and I have some rules answers, so let's get dive right in (as soon as I finish this chapter). You can send us short questions at @CranialTweet, and longer questions can be sent to .

Q: I cast Jadelight Ranger, and it's enter the battlefield ability triggers. Do I get priority between the two explores to cast an instant?

A: No you do not. The Ranger has a single triggered ability that causes you to explore twice. No one gets priority while the triggered ability is resolving, so you can't cast spells or activate abilities after the first explore has happened, but before the second explore happens.

Q: What if, instead, I had a Path of Discovery in play and I cast Merfolk Branchwalker? Can I cast an instant between the two explores with the Branchwalker?

A: Yep, that's a different situation. Instead of one trigger telling you to explore twice, it's two different triggers, each telling you to explore once. Since they're separate triggers, they resolve one at a time, and players will get priority after the first explore trigger resolves, but before the second one resolves (and you could cast and resolving an instant before you explore the second time).

Q: I have a Goblin Electromancer in play, and my opponent just cast Tithe Taker. If I wanted to Shock their Tithe Taker on their turn, how much will it cost me?

A: Just a single red mana. When we're figuring out the cost to cast a spell, we start with the mana cost of the spell, then we apply cost increasers (like Tithe Taker), and then we apply cost reducers (like Goblin Electromancer). So we start off with our base cost of . We add one from Tithe Taker, making the cost . Finally, we apply the Electromancer's effect, and it returns the cost to , and we'll only need one red mana to Shock their Tithe Taker on their turn.

Q: If I play two Forbidding Spirits on the same turn, how much does my opponent have to pay to attack next turn?

A: They'll have to pay four mana per creature. Both Spirits set up a tax that needs to be paid if your opponent wants to attack next turn, and both taxes have to be paid to attack you or your planeswalker. Your opponent will have to pay four mana for each creature they want to attack you with until your next turn - two for each Spirit.

Q: I control a Cabal Stronghold and a bunch of basic non-Swamp lands. If I play Chromatic Lantern, will that make my lands into swamps to help fuel my Cabal Stronghold?

A: No it will not. The Lantern doesn't give your lands any basic land types, it gives them the ability to tap for any color of mana. Your other basic lands don't become swamps, so they won't benefit your Stronghold.

Q: I'm at -17 life, but I'm still in the game thanks to Platinum Angel. My opponent plays Eldrazi Displacer and activates its ability targeting my Platinum Angel. Do I lose the game?

A: No you won't. The Displacer's ability exiles and returns the creature during the resolution of the activated ability. State-based actions are not checked in the middle of the activated ability resolving, so the game won't see you at -17 life without Platinum Angel in play. The Displacer can effectively tap the Angel, but it's not exiled long enough to cause you to lose the game.

Please do not throw books at fellow patrons,
or you will be ejected from the library.

Q: I control a Tatyova, Benthic Druid and a Manabond. During my end step, I use Manabond's trigger, putting three lands into play. What happens?

A: Tatyova doesn't care why the lands are entering the battlefield, just that they're entering the battlefield under your control, so Tatyova's ability will trigger three times for the three lands you just put onto the battlefield. But those triggers won't go on the stack yet - we need to finish resolving Manabond's triggered ability first. So you'll discard the rest of your hand, then we'll put the triggers from Tatyova on the stack. Once we're done resolving all of the triggers, you'll have three new lands in play, a new hand of three cards, plus three more life.

Q: I'm attacking with Drana, Liberator of Malakir and a Cabal Evangel. If they both go unblocked, how much damage will my opponent receive?

A: Two from Drana and three from the Evangel, for a total of five damage. Drana has first strike, while the Evangel does not, so Drana gets to deal damage first. That causes Drana's ability to trigger, and Drana and the Evangel both get a +1/+1 counter. It's too late to benefit Drana (since Drana has dealt its damage already), but the Evangel hasn't dealt damage yet, so it will benefit from the counter and will deal three damage in combat, for a total of five damage dealt.

Q: My opponent cursed me early on by enchanting me with Curse of the Bloody Tome. Later, I cast Runed Halo, and give myself protection from Curse of the Bloody Tome. What happens to my opponent's Curse?

A: It goes to the graveyard. You now have protection from Curse of the Bloody Tome, and one of the benefits of protection is that you can't have permanents with that name attached to you. Your opponent's Curse unattaches and ends up in their graveyard, since you can't have the Curse attached to you anymore.

Q: I have an Alhammarret's Archive in play, and I activated the second ability of Sensei's Divining Top. Do I put the Top on top of my library before I draw the extra card from the Archive or after I've drawn?

A: After. The Archive has a replacement effect that replaces the first part of the Top's activated ability ("Draw a card") with drawing two cards instead. Both of those cards end up drawn before we move to the second part of the effect (putting the Top on top of your library), meaning you won't be able to put your Top on top of your library and also draw it from the same Top activation.

Q: Why can a card like Master Transmuter return and put the same artifact onto the battlefield, but I can't sacrifice and return the same creature with something like Hell's Caretaker?

A: The main difference is the word "target". The Caretaker's ability targets, and you choose a legal target before costs are paid. Since the creature you're sacrificing is still on the battlefield at the point when you're choosing targets, it's not a legal target for the abilty.

But the Transmuter's ability does not target - you return an artifact to your hand, then put an artifact card from your hand onto the battlefield. The Transmuter's ability doesn't target the card you're putting onto the battlefield (which would be hard enough anyways, since the hand is a hidden zone), so you're free to return an artifact to your hand, then put that same artifact back onto the battlefield.

Q: I have a Shivan Meteor suspended that's about to have the last time counter removed. But I'm the only player with a creature on the battlefield. Can I choose not to cast Shivan Meteor when the last time counter is removed?

A: No you cannot. When the last time counter is removed, you must cast the suspended card if able. If you're the only player with targetable creatures on the battlefield, you must choose one of your own creatures to target with the Meteor - you can't choose to not cast it and leave it in exile.

There would be two cases where you wouldn't be forced to cast the Meteor. If there were no legal targets for the Meteor at all (maybe your opponent just wiped the board with Planar Cleansing), when the last time counter is removed, you can't cast it, and the Meteor stays in exile. Or if there was an additional cost to cast the spell (for example, you have a Sphere of Resistance in play, forcing you to pay 1 to cast it), you wouldn't be forced to pay the extra cost to cast the spell, and the Meteor would stay in exile. Note that in both cases, the Meteor says in exile, but is no longer considered suspended (since it doesn't have any time counters on it), and you won't be able to cast it on a future turn.

Q: My opponent is casting Evangelize, choosing me to target one of my creatures. Can I choose my Benthic Giant as the target to counter their Evangelize and so they can't steal one of my creatures?

A: No you cannot. Even though you're choosing the target creature, your opponent still controls Evangelize. Your Giant has hexproof, meaning it can't be the target of a spell or ability controlled by your opponent. It doesn't matter that you're choosing the target for their spell, what matter is that your opponent still controls Evangelize, so you won't be able to target your creature with hexproof.

Bad librarian! Don't eat the delicious books!

Q: I have a Platinum Emperion in my graveyard. If I Reanimate the Emperion, will I end up losing any life?

A: Nope, you won't lose any life. Reanimate works similiar to Madcap Experiment, if you're familiar with that combo from Modern. When you're resolving Reanimate, the first thing you do is return Platinum Emperion from your graveyard to the battlefield. Then Reanimate wants you to lose eight life, but since you control the Emperion at that point, your life total won't change and you'll stay at your current life total.

Q: I'm at 10 life, and I cast Toxic Deluge, paying 10 life. Will the Deluge still resolve?

A: No it won't. You pay 10 life as part of the cost of casting the Deluge, not on resolution. If you pay all of the life that you have, after you're done announcing the Deluge, the game sees you're at 0 life, and you lose the game. Since you lost the game, any spell you have on the stack (like the Deluge) leave the game with you and won't resolve. All you've really done is found a fancy way to kill yourself (but not any creature on the battlefield).

Q: I have a Moldgraf Monstrosity in play, but only one creature card in my graveyard. If the Monstrosity dies, what happens with its triggered ability?

A: You'll have a pretty good idea of what creature you'll be getting back. The Monstrosity's dies trigger isn't optional, so when that trigger resolves, you'll have to exile it. If you have only one creature card in your graveyard, then the trigger will do as much as possible and it will only return that one creature from your graveyard to the battlefield. Just be thankful you had a creature card in your graveyard - if you had no other creature cards in your graveyard, then the Monstrosity would end up exiling itself and you wouldn't get anything back!

Q: I have a Price of Glory in play, and I cast Piracy on my turn. If I tap my opponent's lands for mana, will that cause Price of Glory to trigger and destroy their lands?

A: No it will not. Price of Glory doesn't care who controls the lands, it cares about which player is activating the mana abilities. Piracy gives you the opportunity to tap your opponent's lands for mana, but since it's your turn, Price of Glory won't trigger and your opponent's land will not be destroyed.

Q: I have a Pit Spawn in play, and my opponent blocked with three 4/4 creatures. Since Pit Spawn has a triggered ability that destroys the creatures it damaged, can it exile all three of the 4/4s before they can deal damage to the Spawn?

A: Pit Spawn can exile two of them, but the third one will survive. When assigning damage, you don't get to look into the future to see that Pit Spawn has an ability that will exile the damaged creatures. That means you still have to assign combat damage like normal. The best you can do is assign four damage to one blocker and two damage to the second (exiling them both), but the third 4/4 won't take any damage and will be able to damage Pit Spawn during the normal combat damage step.

Q: My opponent controls Night of Souls' Betrayal. I have a Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer and a 6/6 Wurm token on the battlefield. When Brudiclad's beginning of combat trigger resolves, will I get a chance to make the 2/1 Myr token into a copy of the Wurm token or will it die?

A: You can make your Myr into a Wurm to save it. State-based actions aren't checked in the middle of Brudiclad's trigger resolving. After the token is created, you get the chance to make your tokens (including the Myr token) into a copy of your Wurm token. Making it a copy of the Wurm means it's a base 6/6 instead of a base 2/1, and it will not die due to the Betrayal once the trigger is done resolving.

Q: We're playing a game of planechase, and last turn, we turned up Spatial Merging, revealing the planes Academy at Tolaria West and Aretopolis. If I roll chaos on the planar die, which trigger happens first?

A: You get to choose. Since you rolled chaos on the planar die, both chaos abilities from the Academy and Aretopolis trigger. You control those triggers (since you're the player that rolled the planar die), so you get to choose the order the triggers are put on the stack and whether you'll draw from Aretopolis, then discard to the Academy; or if you'll discard to the Academy, then draw from the Aretopolis.

That's it for this week. We'll see everyone again next week!


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