Published on 05/13/2019

WAR, What is it Good for?

Cranial Translation
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Evil in 30 minutes or it's free.
Greetings, fellow denizens of the multiverse. We've been in the grip of war for a few weeks now, but we continue to endure here at the CI offices. No matter how strongly we feel the pull of Ral's beacon, we promise to stay put and bring you answers to all of your questions week in and week out!

Before we get back to the trenches, I'll remind you that if you'd like the CI team to answer your question, please send it to us via email at or tweet it to us @CranialTweet. We'll make sure to send you a reply and your question might also appear in a future CI column.

Q: My opponent controls an Iron Bully with a +1/+1 counter on it. I then cast Grim Affliction targeting it. What happens when I go to proliferate? Are the counters still there? Can I just proliferate the -1/-1 counter to kill the Bully?

A: While it's true that +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on the same permanent will annihilate each other in equal numbers, this only happens when state-based actions are checked and never in the middle of spell or ability resolving, so the counters will still be on Iron Bully when you proliferate. Unfortunately, this doesn't make much of a difference here as proliferating Iron Bully will give it both an additional +1/+1 counter and another -1/-1 counter. The rules for proliferate changed with War of Spark, and so now you just add one more of each type of counter on the chosen permanent(s) and player(s) rather than choosing one type for each of them. In the end, Iron Bully will have an equal number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it and they'll annihilate each other, leaving the Bully naked but alive.

Q: My opponent controls Narset, Parter of Veils with 3 loyalty counters on it. On my opponent's turn, I cast Explosion for X=3 targeting Narset and myself. How may cards do I draw, one or three?

A: You'll only draw one card here.
While Explosion will deal enough damage to Narset to reduce her loyalty to 0, she won't leave the battlefield until state-based actions are checked and that won't happen until after Explosion has finished resolving. Since Narset is still on the battlefield when you would draw cards, you'll only be able to draw a single card here.

Q: If I attack with Ilharg, the Raze-Boar and put Trusted Pegasus onto the battlefield with his trigger, will the Pegasus's own ability trigger and be able to give Ilharg flying?

A: No, this won't work.
In order for Trusted Pegasus's triggered ability to trigger, it has to be declared as an attacker at the beginning of your declare attackers step. When it enters the battlefield off of Ilharg's trigger, that point has long since passed, so the Pegasus won't be able to carry the big pig majestically into battle.

Q: Does Ugin, the Ineffable make it cheaper to cast cards with morph face down?

A: Yes, he does.
When you cast a face down spell, it goes on the stack as a 2/2 creature spell with no other characteristics. That lack of characteristics includes color, so your face down morph will cost only to cast while you control Ugin.

Ravnica may be in ruins,
but at least the bestest doggo is here.
Q: What happens if Hostage Taker targets
a God-Eternal with its trigger? If my opponent puts it into their library, what happens when Hostage Taker dies?

A: When Hostage Taker exiles the God-Eternal, its last ability will trigger and go on the stack. Hostage Taker's controller will get priority before the trigger resolves, but they won't be able to cast the God-Eternal unless they can cast it as though it had flash thanks to an effect like Emergence Zone's. (If they do, then the trigger is moot and won't be able to find the God-Eternal.) When the trigger resolves, the God-Eternal's last controller can choose to put it into its owner's library. If they do, then the card is no longer exiled with Hostage Taker and can't be cast with Hostage Taker's ability. If the Hostage Taker then leaves the battlefield, nothing happens to the God-Eternal since Hostage Taker's trigger lost track of it when it left exile.

Q: I control Simic Ascendancy and cast Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi on one of my lands. Does this trigger Simic Ascendancy or not?

A: No, unless the land you targeted was already a creature at the time.
When you're resolving a spell or ability, you follow its instructions in the order they're written. This means that Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi will put +1/+1 counters on the land first and then turn it into a creature. Since Simic Ascendancy is looking for counters to be put onto creatures (and not lands) it won't take any notice of the counters being added to your land and won't trigger.
If the land you target is already a creature when Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi starts to resolve, then Simic Ascendancy will trigger, but this requires extra work on your part.

Q: I use Jace, Wielder of Mysteries's -8 ability while he's at 8 loyalty, sending him to the graveyard. Do I still win if I have less than seven cards in my library when the ability resolves?

A: Yes, you'll win.
While it's true that you've tried to draw from an empty library at least once during the process of resolving Jace's ability, that doesn't matter until state-based actions are checked. As we've already discussed, that doesn't happen during the resolution of spells and abilities and so we can proceed on to the "win the game" part of Jace's ability. You have no cards left in your library, so you'll win the game before any state-based actions can try to make you lose the game here.

Q: My opponent's only nonland permanent is a Spark Double that's a nonlegendary copy of Tibalt, Rakish Instigator. Will my opponent lose the game if I resolve the -8 ability of Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God in this scenario?

A: Yes, they will.
Despite a case of questionable templating on the English version of his card, Bolas's ability looks for legendary creatures and legendary planeswalkers. If a player doesn't control either of those things, such as your hapless opponent in this case, they'll lose the game.

Q: My opponent attacks my planeswalker with a creature that will kill it. In response, I turn it into an artifact creature using Liquimetal Coating and Sydri, Galvanic Genius. Is my planeswalker still a planeswalker? Is it still being attacked?

A: Sadly yes, despite all your alchemy and mad science, your planeswalker is still a planeswalkers and is still being attacked.
"Why, though?" I can hear you asking. "I thought setting a permanent's types removed its other types." You're correct here, clever reader, but there's an exception to this rule, of course. Normally an effect has to say "in addition to its other types" in order for a permanent to maintain previous types, but effects that say something "becomes an artifact creature" also maintain other types of the permanent, so while Sydri's effect might look like it can hide our Planeswalker's spark, this is sadly not the case.

Q: Do non-black cards that amass have a black color identity? For example, can I play Commence the Endgame in a mono-blue commander deck?

A: The only things that contribute to a card's color identity are colored mana symbols in its mana cost or text box, any color indicators it might have, and any abilities it might have that add extra colors to the card (e.g. Sphinx of the Guildpact).
Producing an off-color token isn't any of these things, so the fact that a card can produce a black Zombie Army token doesn't factor into its color identity any more than being able to produce a green Frog Lizard token. So yes, you can play Commence the Endgame in your mono-blue commander deck. Enjoy!

Q: If I cast Orim's Thunder without kicking it, can I still target Feather, the Redeemed with the second part of its effect in order to get Feather's trigger?

A: No.
Whether or not you're going to pay optional costs like kicker is determined before targets are chosen for a spell, so only targets for the relevant effects of that spell will be chosen. This means that you'll only choose a target creature for Orim's Thunder if you kick it.

Q: If the first card I draw on my turn is a spell with Miracle and I control God-Eternal Kefnet, can I pay the miracle cost for both the original card and the copy from Kefnet?

A: No. You're misunderstanding how Miracle works.
When you draw a card with Miracle as your first card for the turn while you control God-Eternal Kefnet, you can reveal it for Miracle, Kefnet, or both. Assuming that you reveal it for both, you'll then have two triggers trigger and go on the stack in the order of your choice. When the miracle trigger resolves, you can cast the card itself for the miracle cost if you wish. If you don't, then the card stays in your hand. When Kefnet's trigger resolves, you'll copy the revealed card and be able to cast it for less than its printed mana cost. You can't pay the miracle cost for Kefnet's trigger because the copy's miracle ability didn't trigger.

Q: If I target one creature with Chandra's Pyrohelix and it's copied by Ral, Storm Conduit's -2 ability, am I stuck with one target even though I can change the targets of the copy?

A: When you copy a spell, it will always have the same modes and the same number of targets and division of damage as the original spell, for each of those things that the original had. These are decisions that are made during casting and a copy of a spell never gets to re-select these things even if its targets can be changed.

Always go out with a bang.
Q: Is the mana I get from Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion still available to cast a card with madness that I discard to hand size during cleanup?

A: Yes, the mana will still be available.
When you go to your cleanup step, you first discard to hand size and then end any "this turn" and "until end of turn" effects, including Neheb's which stops his mana from leaving your mana pool, but the mana has already floated into this step and so it's safe until we pass into the next cleanup step.
Yes, there will be a next cleanup step since something is triggering in this one and giving players priority. Once everything is cleaned up, the madness trigger goes on the stack and then resolves as normal, allowing you to cast the Fiery Temper or whatever with Neheb's mana. Just don't try to repeat this trick in the next cleanup step since Neheb's mana will be gone.

Q: My Deputy of Detention is exiling my opponent's Ghalta, Primal Hunger. I cast Time Wipe and choose to return Deputy of Detention to my hand as it resolves. What happens to Ghalta? Does it return in time to die or not?

A: When Time Wipe resolves, we follow its instructions in order, so first we return Deputy of Detention to its owner's hand, which ends the duration of its exile ability and returns the exiled creatures to the battlefield, and then we destroy all creatures, including the newly returned Ghalta.
Deputy of Detention returning the exiled card(s) happens basically immediately and so because Time Wipe is worded sequentially, the returned creatures will die. If Time Wipe said "Return a creature you control to its owner's hand AND destroy all creatures", then the effects would happen simultaneously and the returned creatures from Deputy would survive, but this isn't the case.

Q: I control Saheeli, Sublime Artificer and a Servo token. I play an Enigma Drake and use Saheeli's loyalty ability targeting both of my creatures. In response, my opponent kills my Drake. What happens? Does the ability still resolve?

A: Saheeli's ability resolves, but it does nothing.
Saheeli's loyalty ability has two targets and both must still be legal in order for the ability to do anything when it resolves. If only one of the targets is legal at the time of resolution, then Saheeli lacks either something to turn into a copy of something else or the something else to make the first target into a copy of. If this is the case, then the ability resolves and does nothing and your Servo stays as just a Servo.

Q: I control Flux Channeler and cast The Eldest Reborn. Is my Saga on the battlefield in time for Flux Channeler to give it an extra counter?

A: No, this doesn't work.
Flux Channeler will trigger when you cast The Eldest Reborn, and that trigger goes above it on the stack. This means that you'll proliferate before your Saga is on the battlefield. You'll have to wait until you cast your next noncreature spell if you really want to proliferate that Saga.

Q: When I'm resolving Niv-Mizzet Reborn's ability, do I have to choose a card for each color pair that I can or can I leave all the cards of one pair to go back to the bottom of my library?

A: When resolving Niv-Mizzet's ability, you have to do as much as you can to satisfy its instructions. Specifically, this means that you have to choose a card for each color pair that you can. There's nothing optional in Niv's ability, so you're forced to take cards into your hand that you might prefer to leave in the library if there aren't any other options for that color pair.

Q: My opponent, who currently doesn't control an Army, casts Relentless Advance. In response, I cast Crafty Cutpurse. What happens when my opponent goes to amass 3?

A: Since your opponent doesn't currently control an Army, they'll try to create a 0/0 black Zombie Army token. However, Crafty Cutpurse's replacement effect steps in and yoinks that token over to your side of the battlefield instead. Your opponent then tries to continue resolving the amass instruction, but is unable to choose an Army they control and so no +1/+1 counters are placed on any Army. Finally, your 0/0 token will die unless some other effect is giving it extra toughness.

Q: My Spark Double is a copy of Lazav, the Multifarious. If I make it a copy of a creature card in my graveyard with its activated ability, will it be legendary or not?

A: Yes, it will be legendary, which will be bad for you if the original Lazav is still under your control as well.
Even though the Spark Double copy of Lazav isn't legendary at first, its activated ability will make it legendary when it resolves since these types of effects no longer use the word "still" but instead just make the permanent legendary as a matter of course.

The battle may be over, but the WAR is not yet won. Don't worry about us, though: We'll keep fighting the good fight here at CI and Andrew will be back with you all next week to reinforce you with more great answers to your awesome questions!

- Charlotte


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