Published on 03/25/2019

Spring into Action

Cranial Translation
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What can't we face if we're together?
Greetings, and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion! The March Equinox has come and gone, which means that it's now officially Spring in the northern hemisphere. The temperatures here in Ohio are not really pleasant yet, but at least I'm already getting Spring allergies, so I'm getting the worst of both worlds.

On a more positive note, if you've read my last article three weeks ago, you might wonder how Cast a Spell on MS went. Thanks for asking, it went great! We had about 70 total players in the event, and we raised a total of $3300 for the National MS Society. It was an awesome feeling to see the player community get together to support a good cause, and I'm looking forward to doing this again, and maybe I'll even inspire some of you to get out there and get involved in causes you believe in.

Speaking of causes we believe in, here at Cranial Insertion we believe in answering rules questions! If you have rules questions for us, email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will get back to you with an answer, and your question might appear in a future article.

Q: If I put Eternal Witness onto the battlefield with Collected Company, can the Witness's enter-the-battlefield return Collected Company to my hand?

A: It sure can. Eternal Witness's enter-the-battlefield trigger doesn't go onto the stack until after Collected Company has finished resolving. At that time, Collected Company is in your graveyard, so it's a legal target for the Witness's trigger.

Q: If I use Reanimate to put Platinum Emperion onto the battlefield, do I still lose 8 life to Reanimate?

A: No, you're safe. You follow Reanimate's instructions in order, so you put Platinum Emperion onto the battlefield first, and its static ability takes effect right away. By the time Reanimate tells you to lose 8 life, changing your life total is impossible, so the impossible instruction is ignored and your life total stays put.

Q: I'm at 2 life, down from my starting life total of 20. My opponent controls a Runeclaw Bear and an Archfiend of Despair, and I control an Exquisite Archangel with a +1/+1 counter on it. If my opponent attacks with both creatures and I block the Archfiend with the Archangel, what happens?

A: Sadly, you'll lose the game. After combat damage is dealt, you're at 0 life and both the Archangel and the Archfiend have lethal damage marked on them. State-based actions kick in to clean up the mess and the game tries to make the following things happen at the same time: You lose the game, and Archfiend and Archangel get destroyed. Before this event happens, applicable replacement effects get to modify it, and the Archangel replaces the "you lose the game part" with "set your life total to 20 and exile Exquisite Archangel." However, when this modified event happens, Archfiend of Despair is still on the battlefield, so gaining the 18 life necessary to set your life total to 20 is impossible. The Archangel gets exiled or destroyed (your choice), and the Archfiend gets destroyed, and your life total stays at 0. State-based actions check again, see that you're still at 0 life and cause you to lose the game, and this time there's nothing to replace that event, so you lose the game for real now.

Q: Let's say I control Cavalcade of Calamity and my opponent controls Weakstone. If I attack with Grizzly Bears, does Cavalcade of Calamity trigger?

A: Yes, it does. Weakstone has a static ability whose effect kicks in as soon as Grizzly Bears is declared as an attacker. After you've declared attackers, Cavalcade of Calamity checks what has attacked, sees that a creature with power 1 or less has attacked, and its ability triggers.

Q: I cast Emergency Powers in my main phase, but I have fewer than seven cards in my library after shuffling my hand and my graveyard into my library. If one of the cards I draw is a Platinum Angel, can I put it onto the battlefield with the Addendum effect in time to keep myself from losing the game?

A: Yes, that works. Drawing from an empty library doesn't cause you to lose the game right away. Instead, the game checks as part of the state-based action check whether a player tried to draw from an empty library since the last time state-based actions were checked. This check happens after Emergency Powers has finished resolving, so Platinum Angel is on the battlefield and you're safe from the consequences of having drawn from an empty library.

Q: Can I cast Phantasmal Image if there aren't any creatures on the battlefield? And if so, would this trigger enter-the-battlefield abilities on other permanents?

A: Absolutely. Like all permanent spells, Phantasmal Image doesn't require a target to be cast, so you can cast it regardless of whether there are any creatures on the battlefield. When it resolves, you choose what to copy with its replacement effect, and if you can't choose anything, it enters the battlefield as a 0/0. Immediately after it enters, state-based actions send it to the graveyard, but that doesn't change the fact that it entered the battlefield, so it'll trigger any relevant enters-the-battlefield (and dies) triggers accordingly.

Q: My opponent controls Ever-Watching Threshold and I attack with a flyer that they don't block. If I use ninjutsu to replace the flyer with Skullsnatcher, how many cards does my opponent draw with Ever-Watching Threshold?

A: Just the one card for the flyer. Skullsnatcher is put onto the battlefield attacking, but it was never declared as an attacker, so it didn't attack and doesn't trigger Ever-Watching Threshold.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Shadow
Q: I attack my opponent with a flyer that goes unblocked, and I use Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow's commander ninjutsu ability to replace the flyer. If my opponent tries to kill Yuriko with Price of Fame, can I use Skullsnatcher's ninjutsu ability to replace her and save her?

A: Sure, that works. Skullsnatcher's ninjutsu ability requires that you pay and return an unblocked attacker you control to your hand. Yuriko was not declared as an attacker, but she is an unblocked attacker you control, so assuming that you have the necessary mana to activate the ability, you can use Skullsnatcher's ninjutsu ability to save Yuriko.

Q: Does naming Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow with Pithing Needle shut down her commander ninjutsu ability in the command zone?

A: I'm afraid so. Pithing Needle shuts down all activated abilities of sources with the chosen name (except mana abilities), regardless of where the source might be. After Yuriko has been named with Pithing Needle, her commander ninjutsu ability can't be activated from anywhere.

Q: Why does the Oracle text for Earthlore have an explicit restriction to activate its ability only if the enchanted land is untapped?

A: I can't think of a rules reason for that restriction. Tapping a tapped permanent is an impossible action, and activating an ability is impossible if you can't pay its cost, so the card would work exactly the same way if that restriction weren't there. However, there was a time in Magic's past when it wasn't explicitly spelled out in the rules that tapping a tapped permanent is impossible, so my guess is that the explicit restriction is there for the sake of clarity and for historical reasons.

Q: If my opponent steals my Grizzly Bears with Act of Treason and then phases it out with Vodalian Illusionist, what happens? My opponent claims that he controls Grizzly Bears indefinitely because it was phased out when Act of Treason's effect was supposed to wear off. Is that true?

A: No, that's not true. Continuous effects can still end while the permanents they affect are phased out. At the end of your turn, Act of Treason's effect simply goes away even though Grizzly Bears is phased out at the time. It phases back in during your opponent's untap step, because he controlled it when it phased out, but it phases back in under your control because Act of Treason's effect is no longer around.

Q: Can I use Sunforger to cast Fire // Ice, and if so, which half can I cast?

A: Yes, and you can cast either half. In your library, Fire//Ice is a red and blue instant card with a converted mana cost of 4, so it fulfills the criteria of what Sunforger's ability is looking for. When you cast the card, you choose one of its sides to cast, and Sunforger doesn't care if the side you choose is red, so you can cast Fire or Ice.

Q: If I control a Coat of Arms and two Merfolk Wizards, do they each get +2/+2?

A: No, they only get +1/+1 each. Coat of Arms counts creatures, not creature types, and each creature gets +1/+1 for each other creature with which it shares at least one creature type, regardless of how many creature types they share. (If it counted creature types, creatures with changeling would be absolutely nuts!) Each Merfolk Wizard sees one other creature with whom it shares at least one creature type, so each Merfolk Wizard gets +1/+1.

Q: Does Teysa Karlov double the trigger from Athreos, God of Passage? If so, what does the second trigger do if the card's already back in my hand?

A: First off, yes, Teysa Karlov does double the trigger from Athreos, God of Passage. What exactly happens when the triggers resolves depends on whether you target different opponents with the triggers or not, and what the player or players you targeted decide to do. When the first trigger resolves, the player that is targeted by it chooses whether to pay 3 life. If they don't, the card goes into your hand and the second trigger probably won't do much. The player that's targeted by it can choose to pay 3 life, but nothing will happen if they don't, so they probably won't.

If the player that's targeted by the first trigger does pay 3 life, the player that's targeted by the second trigger still needs to pay 3 life to keep you from getting the card back. In the simplest case, if you target the same player with both triggers, that player has to pay a total of 6 life to keep you from getting the card back.

Teenage Wasteland
It's only Teenage Wasteland
Q: If I enchant a nonbasic land with Nylea's Presence, can it still be destroyed with Wasteland?

A: Yup. Wasteland's targeting requirement is "nonbasic land", which means a land that doesn't have the basic supertype. Nylea's Presence gives the land a bunch of land types, but it doesn't give it the supertype "basic", so the land is still a legal target for Wasteland's ability.

Q: How does Saheeli, the Gifted's middle ability interact with the XX in the cost for Mass Manipulation?

A: It doesn't interact with the XX directly, but it affects the total cost that the XX is a part of. For a concrete example let's say you control five artifacts and you choose X=4. The cost starts out as , which is for X=4. The effect from Saheeli's ability reduces that cost by , which leaves the total cost to cast Mass Manipulation at a slightly more affordable .

Q: I control a Thing in the Ice that has been transformed into Awoken Horror. If my opponent bounces the Awoken Horror to my hand with Reflector Mage, can I cast it again before Reflector Mage's effect wears off?

A: Certainly. The name of the creature that Reflector Mage returned to your hand was Awoken Horror. In your hand, the card is named Thing in the Ice, which is not the same, so the "can't cast it" effect from Reflector Mage won't stop you from casting it again.

Q: My Lumbering Battlement has exiled a Mirror Image among other things. When Lumbering Battlement dies, can the returning Mirror Image copy the Lumbering Battlement?

A: No, it can't. Mirror Image doesn't return at the same time as Lumbering Battlement leaves the battlefield. Lumbering Battlement's ability creates a separate event to return the exiled cards immediately after it has left the battlefield. This means that Lumbering Battlement is not on the battlefield as Mirror Image enters the battlefield, so it's not a legal choice to be copied with Mirror Image.

Q: Can I use Misdirection on my opponent's Temporal Mastery to take the extra turn myself?

A: Nice try, but that doesn't work. Temporal Mastery doesn't give an extra turn to a target player, it gives an extra turn to its controller, which is usually the player who cast Temporal Mastery. Since Temporal Mastery doesn't have a target, you can't even target it with Misdirection. Commandeer would be able to do what you want, but that's a different question.

Q: My opponent's Assassin's Trophy resolves, and I don't want to search for a basic land, but I want to shuffle my library, so I pick up my library, look through it, pretend that there aren't any basic lands left, and shuffle it. A few turns later my opponent notices that there are basic lands left in my library after all and calls a judge. What happens?

A: Nothing much happens, except that the judge explains to your opponent that what you did was entirely legal. Since Assassin's Trophy asks you to search a hidden zone for a card with a specific quality, the following rule kicks in:
701.18b If a player is searching a hidden zone for cards with a stated quality, such as a card with a certain card type or color, that player isn't required to find some or all of those cards even if they're present in that zone.

Because of this rule, you don't even have to pretend that you overlooked a card when you searched, since deliberately choosing not to find a basic land with Assassin's Trophy is perfectly fine.

And that's it for this week's episode. Please be sure to come back next week for a special April Fool's Day episode.

- 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 curious obsession with the comment that "like all permanents ... doesn't require a target to be cast" in the question about Phantasmal Image. Auras do require targets, right? Or is it legal to put an aura without a target on the stack, but it won't resolve?
#1 • Date: 2019-03-25 • Time: 12:49:18 •
Quote (micahcf):
I have a curious obsession with the comment that "like all permanents ... doesn't require a target to be cast" in the question about Phantasmal Image. Auras do require targets, right? Or is it legal to put an aura without a target on the stack, but it won't resolve?

You are correct, Aura spells require a target to cast. I suppose I should have said "creature spells".
#2 • Date: 2019-03-25 • Time: 13:30:27 •

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