Published on 07/08/2019

Into the Core

Cranial Translation
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Another set? Already?
You've got a bit more blood left to give, I'm sure.
Welcome once again to another edition of Cranial Insertion. I had so much fun last time, so I'm really looking forward to digging into more of your Modern Hori—

What? It's time to write about Core Set 2020? But Modern Horizons hasn't even been out for a month yet... and we just had War of the Spark before that... Fine fine... Yes, I'm excited for M20. It looks like a great set. Yes, I know the readers are full of questions about the new new cards, not the old new cards...

Before we get to the questions, though, here's the usual reminder 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.

Right, so Core Set 2020! More new cards! Yay! Let's get to it! Into the Core we go!

Q: So what's the deal with the new London Mulligan? When exactly do I put cards on the bottom of my library? Most importantly, how does it work with Serum Powder?

A: Starting Core Set 2020, there is indeed a new mulligan procedure for all of Magic. The new procedure is colloquially known as the London Mulligan because it was tested out at Mythic Championship II in London this past April.

The new mulligan rules work as follows:
After drawing their first hand of (normally 7) cards, a player can choose to either keep that hand or to mulligan it. If the player chooses to mulligan the hand, they shuffle that hand back into their library and draw another full hand of the same number of cards as before. The player then puts a number of cards from their hand on the bottom of their library equal to the number of times they've taken a mulligan so far. Further mulligans proceed in the same manner.

A common shortcut in this process will be to just shuffle your hand back in without putting cards on the bottom if you know you're taking a mulligan further anyway, but if you do this be sure to keep track of how many times you've taken a mulligan so far.

As for Serum Powder, its effect can be applied when you normally choose to take a mulligan, which in this case is after you've put back cards on the bottom of your deck. So if you have taken a mulligan twice to a hand with Serum Powder in it and wanted to use it, you'd first put two other cards on the bottom of your library before exiling Serum Powder and the other four cards in your hand and drawing another five cards to replace them.

Q: Protection is coming back and I'm pretty confused about what it does. Help please?

A: Sure thing. Protection is a complicated ability because it does four different things that aren't really related to each other. As an example, let's look at Unchained Berserker and its Protection from White as we go through the four things that protection protects from:

- All damage that would be dealt to Unchained Berserker by white sources is prevented. This means that it can block any white creature and survive combat.
- Unchained Berserker can't be enchanted or equipped by white auras or equipment, so it can't have Pacifism or Ancestral Blade attached to it. This also means that auras or equipment that the creature is protected against will fall off it later gains protection from that color. This includes your own auras and equipment too, by the way.
- Unchained Berserker can't be blocked by white creatures. It can still freely block white creatures itself, though. (Gaining protection after blockers have been declared won't make it unblocked, though.)
- Unchained Berserker can't be the target of white spells or abilities from white sources. This means that it can't be the target of Devout Decree or Hanged Executioner's activated ability. Note that this also includes your own spells and abilities as well as your opponents.

A handy acronym to remember how protection works is DEBT: damage, enchant/equip, blocked, targeted.

Q: I think I understand what protection does now, but what sort of stuff won't it protect my creature from?

A: While protection is a powerful ability, it doesn't do everything and will only do the four specific things I laid out in the previous answer. This means that anything that doesn't try to deal damage, enchant/equip, block, or target your creature will still be able to affect it.
Planar Cleansing will destroy Unchained Berserker. Insurrection will temporarily steal Cerulean Drake. Black Sun's Zenith will put -1/-1 counters on Apostle of Purifying Light.
Also, protection abilities only function while the creature is on the battlefield and not while it's in other zones like the stack or your graveyard. This means that Goblin Piledriver can be countered by a blue spell despite it having Protection from Blue.

Q: Does Mystic Forge allow me to cast cards with morph face down from my library?

A: Yes, you can do this.

The morph (or megamorph) ability of the card allows you to cast it face down as a colorless card and Mystic Forge allows you to cast colorless cards from the top of your library, so the two abilities in tandem allow you to cast that morph card face down from the top of your library, no matter what its printed colors might be. This is because you turn the card face down before you even begin to cast it.

Q: Does Yarok, the Desecrated double the number of loyalty counters placed on a planeswalker when it enters the battlefield?

A: No.

A planeswalker gets their initial loyalty counters from an inherent replacement effect, so Yarok doesn't interact with that.

Getting loyalty counters as an enters the battlefield trigger wouldn't work, though, since that means the planeswalker would enter the battlefield with no loyalty and immediately die before its trigger could give it any.

Enough space to hold all of your M20 questions.
Yes, even that one. And that one. That one too...
Q: I have Bag of Holding on the battlefield that has exiled a few cards. If my opponent bounces it and I replay it, is my new Bag of Holding able to get the exiled by its previous iteration?

A: Bag of Holding will only keep track of the cards it exiles for as long as it's on the battlefield. If it leaves the battlefield for any reason, then those cards are just lost and won't be accessible with any other Bag of Holding you might have at a later point, even if it's the same Bag that was just blinked or bounced and replayed.

Q: I discard Fiery Temper and choose not to cast it for its madness cost. Will it go into my Bag of Holding or not?

A: Yes, it will.
Even though a card with madness is exiled instead of put into your graveyard as you discard it, that card is put into your graveyard if you choose not to cast it when the madness trigger resolves. Normally, this would mean that Bag of Holding would lose track of it when it changes zones for a second time, but part of the rules for madness allow these cards that aren't cast to be able to be tracked through this second zone change by effects that would look for them in the graveyard, such as Bag of Holding. That Fiery Temper of yours will go into the Bag when its trigger resolves, waiting to explode again later one.

Q: If I cast Planar Cleansing while controlling Leyline of the Void, what happens to my opponent's non-land permanents?

A: They're exiled.

Leyline of the Void's second ability is a replacement effect, so it applies immediately before any permanents go to change zones. This means Leyline of the Void is still on the battlefield when determining where cards destroyed by Planar Cleansing will go and its ability will exile those cards even while it's being destroyed too.

Q: I control Yarok, the Desecrated and Null Profusion. Will playing a land trigger Null Profusion once or twice?

A: Just once.
To play a card means to play a land card as a special action or to cast a non-land card as a spell.
Taking the special action of playing the land is what's causing Null Profusion to trigger, not the land entering the battlefield. This means that Yarok's replacement effect won't apply to Null Profusion's trigger. However, any landfall triggers of other permanents you control will trigger twice.

Q: Embodiment of Agonies... Just what? How does this card even work?

A: As embodiment of Agonies is about to enter the battlefield, you'll look at all the non-land cards in your graveyard with mana costs—sorry Mox Tantalite, you don't count—and determine how many different mana costs are among those cards and give Embodiment of Agonies that many +1/+1.

Basically, you're just comparing the actual printed mana costs, so a card that costs is different from a card that costs , which is different from a card that costs , which is different from a card that costs , etc.

The only time you don't look at just the printed cost is with split cards, where you combine the two halves to determine the mana cost of the card when it's in your graveyard. This means that Toil // Trouble and Rakdos, the Showstopper both have a mana cost of while in your graveyard, for example.

Q: I control Leyline of Anticipation and my opponent controls Teferi, Time Raveler. When can I cast spells?

A: Sadly, Teferi is the winner in this fight.

When two cards contradict each other like these two do, the card that puts restrictions on what you can do always wins over the card that allows you to do something when you normally can't do it. (The short way to remember this is "Can't beats can.") It doesn't matter what order the effects come into being as the restrictive effect will always win. Note that this only applies when two cards contradict each other and not when a card contradicts the rules of the game, as cards override the rules of the game all the time and they work just fine.

Q: I hit my opponent with three 1/1 tokens with lifelink while I control Angel of Vitality. Do I gain 4 life or 6 life from lifelink?

A: When multiple creatures with lifelink deal combat damage at the same time, each creature's damage is a separate instance of gaining life and so Angel of Vitality's replacement effect applies separately to each one. This means that you'll gain 2 life from each token's damage for a total of 6 life.

Q: When I cast Blood for Bones, can I return the creature I sacrifice to the battlefield or my hand or can I not target it that way?

A: Blood for Bones doesn't target anything and you don't choose which creature cards to return to the battlefield or your hand until the spell is resolving. Since the creature you sacrificed to pay the additional cost is in the graveyard at that point, you can indeed choose it for reanimation or return to hand.

Not quite what I meant when I asked my
partner for a hot (k)night out on the town.
Q: If I use Reanimate to return Vilis, Broker of Blood to the battlefield, will he trigger for the life I lost to Reanimate?

A: Yes, he will.
When you're resolving a spell or ability, you always follow its instructions in the order they're printed, so Reanimate will always return the target creature card to the battlefield before you lose any life. Since Vilis comes back right before you lose eight life to Reanimate, he'll take note and trigger to have you draw eight cards, as is only fair by the terms of your contract.

Q: I've given my opponent a couple of emblems with Chandra, Awakened Inferno's first ability. Whose responsibility is it to remember the triggers from the emblems? My opponent keeps forgetting them.

A: Your opponent has the emblems that are supposed to trigger, so your opponent is responsible for remembering those triggers in their upkeep. You shouldn't have to remind them every turn even though your card made the emblems.
If you're playing in a tournament and this happens, you should call a judge to get the situation sorted out as soon as possible.

Q: Does Veil of Summer stop my spell from being countered if my opponent has already cast a spell like Negate to counter it?

A: Yes.
As long as Veil of Summer resolves before Negate does, it will make your spells unable to be countered this turn, so Negate won't have any effect when it resolves and your spell will be able to resolve unhindered.

Q: I attack with Ripscale Predator which is equipped with Wolfrider's Saddle. Can my opponent block it or do the evasion abilities make it unblockable?

A: Menace says that your Ripscale Predator can't be blocked except by two or more creatures and Wolfrider's Saddle says that it can't be blocked by more than one creature. There's no number of blockers other than zero that can satisfy both of those conditions, so your Ripscale Predator can't be blocked here as its two evasion abilities are asking for opposite restricted sets of blockers.

Q: I've activated Kethis, the Hidden Hand's ability to let me cast cards from my graveyard this turn. I also control Exploration and haven't played any lands this turn. Can I play Inventors' Fair from my graveyard, sacrifice it to tutor an artifact to my hand and then play it from my graveyard again so I can tutor another artifact?

A: No, this doesn't work.
Kethis's ability doesn't just give you blanket permission to play legendary cards from your graveyard. Instead, he grants that ability to each card that's in your graveyard when the ability resolves. As soon as you play Inventors' Fair from your graveyard, it becomes a new object that no longer has the ability granted to it by Kethis, so you won't be able to play it from your graveyard again unless you active Kethis's ability a second time.

Core Set 2020 is quite the exciting set for a core set, and I hope you've all been enjoying it. That's all the questions we have time for this week, but come back next week when Andrew will be answering more of your M20 questions... unless Wizards decides that they need to squeeze in yet another set before then.

- Charlotte


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