Published on 04/15/2019

Endings and Beginnings

Cranial Translation
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Howdy! I'm sure you're asking yourself, "Self, who is this name I've never seen on Cranial Insertion before?" I'm an L2 from US South who is very excited to answer rules questions basically all the time. When I'm not answering rules questions, I'm developing software things, mostly related to Magic.

Now then! Since we just brought on a new author and wrapped up our anniversary, we thought we'd bring you a bit of a beginnings-and-endings theme. What happens when stuff enters the battlefield? What happens when stuff leaves the battlefield (or the game)? Let's find out!

And, as always, a friendly reminder: If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to email the team at

It's tricky (tricky) tricky (tricky)

Q: If I flash in a Merfolk Trickster in response to a creature's enters-the-battlefield ability, does the ability get countered?

A: No, it doesn't.
Removing an ability from a creature doesn't affect the ability that's already on the stack. The ability will still do what it's supposed to do, no matter how tricky your Trickster thinks it is.

Q: I control an Yixlid Jailer, and my opponent's Worldspine Wurm dies. What triggers?

A: The Worldspine Wurm's first ability (its "dies" trigger) will still trigger; the "put into a graveyard from anywhere" trigger will not.

When something has a leaves-the-battlefield ability, it looks back in time to the last moment it was on the battlefield. When the Wurm was last on the battlefield, it had its "dies" ability.

However, since a "graveyard from anywhere" ability isn't a leaves-the-battlefield ability, it doesn't look back in time. The Jailer prevents it from happening, since it tries to trigger from the graveyard.

Q: If my opponent casts a Clone, can I respond to their choice of what to copy?

A: Nope!
If you ask your opponent "what are you copying?" you're implicitly letting the spell resolve, so your opponent's Clone will enter as a copy of what they wanted.

You can respond to the Clone spell itself, but since they don't have to choose what it's copying until the Clone actually enters the battlefield, you'll have to guess what they might choose.

Q: I control a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and my opponent controls a Rest in Peace. What happens when one of their creatures dies?

A: Your opponent chooses which replacement effect applies first, and then the other one does nothing. They can choose to apply Rest in Peace's effect first, in which case the creature is just exiled; or they can apply Kalitas' effect first, in which case you'll get a Zombie and the creature will be exiled.
They'll probably choose to apply Rest in Peace first.

Q: How does Teysa Karlov work with... anything? I want her to work with everything. She's cool!

A: She's super cool! She also only works sometimes. Here are some common quick hits:

1. "Dies" means that the creature actually went to the graveyard. If there's a Rest in Peace in play or someone sends their commander to the command zone, that creature didn't "die," so Teysa has nothing to double.

2. Something else dies while Teysa is on the battlefield: Teysa makes it trigger twice.

3. Teysa and another creature die at the same time: Teysa makes it trigger twice.

4. Something like Sidisi, Undead Vizier sacrifices a permanent: The ability triggered because a creature was sacrificed, not because the creature died. Teysa won't double the trigger.

What's a god to an aura?
Q: If I cast Anger of the Gods and an opponent's creature is enchanted with Spider Umbra, what happens to the creature? Is it exiled? Does it die?

A: The Spider Umbra will be destroyed.
While both cards have replacement effects, "destroy" has to happen before "dies." The destruction is replaced by the Umbra, replacing "destroy the enchanted creature" with "instead remove all damage from this creature and destroy this Aura." Since the destruction of the creature is replaced, it certainly isn't ever dying, so Anger of the Gods never has an event to apply to.

Q: My opponent controls an It That Betrays. If I sacrifice my commander to some effect, but it ends up in the command zone, does my opponent get it?

A: Yes, your opponent gets your commander.

It That Betrays' effect doesn't care where the card ends up, only that it was sacrificed. It That Betrays' effect can still follow the sacrificed permanent to the next public zone it moves to. This means it can follow a commander to the command zone. It could also follow a card to exile if it's sacrificed while a Rest in Peace is in play.

The short version is that It That Betrays can track any sacrificed permanent to the first public zone (exile, command, or graveyard) it goes to, and fetch it from that zone.

Q: If I exile an opponent's commander with Oblivion Ring, what happens?

A: If your opponent sends their commander to exile, it will return to the battlefield when Oblivion Ring leaves the battlefield.

If they choose to send their commander to the command zone, however, it won't get returned to the battlefield if Oblivion Ring leaves the battlefield.

This is because Oblivion Ring specifically looks for "the exiled card," which means it's looking for the card in the exile zone. If the card isn't in the exile zone when Oblivion Ring's leaves-the-battlefield ability triggers, the card won't be returned.

Q: What about if I exile my opponent's commander with Banishing Light?

A: Their commander will be returned if Banishing Light leaves the battlefield, no matter if they sent it to the command zone or exile.

Because Banishing Light isn't looking for "the exiled card" or something similar, it tracks their commander to the first public zone it went to. Whether their commander went to exile or to the command zone, if it hasn't left that zone by the time Banishing Light leaves the battlefield, it will return.

Q: How does Pir, Imaginative Rascal interact with planeswalkers?

A: Super well!
When a planeswalker enters the battlefield, Pir will add an additional counter to its starting loyalty — for example, a Jace, the Mind Sculptor would enter with 4 loyalty counters. Then, if you activate one of the planeswalker's +loyalty abilities, it will get that many counters plus one.

A fool off his guard could fall and fall hard
out there on the dunes.
Q: I have an Endless Sands that has exiled a few creatures. If my opponent destroys that Endless Sands, and I play another, can I cast any of the cards exiled by the first Endless Sands?

A: No, you can't.
Endless Sands has a pair of linked abilities. Its second and third abilities are linked: any given Endless Sands can only return the cards that were exiled by itself.

Q: My opponent has a Containment Priest entering the battlefield at the same time as my Grizzly Bears. Can my Bears actually enter?

A: They can.
Since the Bears and the Priest are entering simultaneously, the Priest's replacement effect can't apply to the Bears. Replacement effects have to already exist to apply to other objects; anything with a replacement effect entering at the same time as another object can't affect that object.

Q: If someone casts Chaos Warp on my commander, what happens?

A: Regardless of whether or not you send your commander to the command zone, you'll still shuffle your library, and you'll still reveal the top card of your library after the shuffle.

Q: I cast an Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle while I control a Rhythm of the Wild. Can I give Arixmethes a +1/+1 counter?

A: Arixmethes will have slumber counters and the +1/+1 counter from Riot.
Regardless of what order you want to apply these replacement effects, saying something will have counters on it when it enters isn't the same as it actually having the counters yet. So, even though Arixmethes will have a slumber counter on it, it doesn't yet, so it will still get the +1/+1 counter.

Q: My opponent stole a creature card from my library with Bribery, then they lost the game. What happens to the creature they took?

A: The creature is exiled.
When a player leaves the game, any control-changing effects giving that player control of objects end, and anything that player owns leaves. Then, if they still control anything, those things are exiled.

Don't look a gift goat in the mouth.
Q: So what happens if I generously give my opponent some permanents with Zedruu the Greathearted, but then that player leaves the game?

A: You'll get the permanents back.
As mentioned above, the control-changing effect giving that player control will end, so they'll return to your control. Then you can generously offer your gifts to someone else! No returns, please.

Q: I control a Pestilent Spirit. I sacrifice it to pay for Thud. Does Thud still have deathtouch?

A: No, it doesn't.
Pestilent Spirit's static ability stops the moment it leaves the battlefield. Since Thud sacrifices the Spirit as part of its cost, way before Thud resolves, the Spirit won't be around to give Thud deathtouch anymore.

Q: I cast Living Death, and my opponents and I all put a lot of creatures onto the battlefield. How do we handle their enters-the-battlefield triggers?

A: They go on the stack in Active Player, Nonactive Player order, or "APNAP" for short. This means that, if it's your turn, your triggers are all on the stack first, then your opponents' in turn order.

Each player can order their own triggers on the stack relative to one another. So Player A can arrange their own triggers how they want, and Player B can arrange theirs how they want — but all of A's are on the stack before any of B's.

Q: My opponent casts Cathartic Reunion, and I flash in a Spell Queller to exile it. If my Spell Queller leaves the battlefield later, does my opponent have to discard two cards to cast the Cathartic Reunion?

A: They do.
Spell Queller lets you cast the exiled card without paying its mana cost, but you still have to pay any other costs, whether that's sacrificing a creature, discarding a card, or anything else.

Q: My opponent attacks me with a Charnel Troll, and I block it with my Grizzly Bears. If I return my Bears to my hand with Blink of an Eye, what happens to the Troll's combat damage?

A: Since the Troll has trample and it has no creatures to assign damage to, it can assign all 4 damage directly to you.

That's it for this week! Stay tuned for the upcoming weeks. I hear there's a WAR looming on the horizon?

- Andrew

About the Author:
Andrew is a Level 2 judge from Dallas, TX who spends too much time on his computer.


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