Published on 07/22/2019

A Slice of Pi

Cranial Translation
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You spin me right round, baby
Right round, like a record, baby
Greetings and welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion! Today is July 22nd, which some people might write as 22/7, which is a quite decent approximation of the famous circle constant pi. To mark the occasion of this Pi Approximation Day, we're bringing you another well-rounded selection of rules questions fresh from our inbox!

If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will get back to you with an answer, and your question might appear in a future article.

And now let's dig into this week's questions!

Q: How does Colossus Hammer interact with Daggersail Aeronaut's ability?

A: Not terribly well. A Daggersail Aeronaut that's equipped with Colossus Hammer won't have flying even if you start a turn after the Hammer has been equipped. Note that the Aeronaut's ability isn't a triggered ability that gives it flying at the beginning of the turn. It's a static ability that conditionally creates an effect. The timestamp of that ability is when Daggersail Aeronaut entered the battlefield, while the timestamp for Colossus Hammer's effect is when it was equipped. Since that's a later timestamp, the Hammer's effect will always override Daggersail Aeronaut's ability.

Q: I attack my opponent with Knight of the Ebon Legion that's been pumped to 4/5, and with Vorstclaw. My opponent blocks Vorstclaw with Daybreak Chaplain. Does my Knight get a +1/+1 counter in my end step?

A: Yup. In the combat damage step, your Knight dealt 4 damage to your opponent, causing them to lose 4 life, and Daybreak Chaplain dealt 1 damage to Vorstclaw, causing them to gain 1 life, and some other damage that doesn't matter also happens. The life loss and life gain happen at the same time, but they are still distinct events. Knight of the Ebon Legion only checks whether an event matching the description "a player loses 4 or more life" happened during the turn, and it sees that such an event did indeed happen, so the ability triggers.

Q: If I control God-Eternal Kefnet and Experimental Frenzy, can I still use Kefnet's ability to cast a copy of the card I reveal in my draw step?

A: Absolutely. Experimental Frenzy stops you from casting cards from your hand, while Kefnet's ability tells you to copy the revealed card and cast the copy. A copy of a card is not the same as a card, so Experimental Frenzy's restriction doesn't apply.

Q: Can I cast Berserk on Wild Beastmaster before I declare attackers so that all my creatures get a bigger bonus?

A: Sure, that works. Berserk's casting restriction only prevents you from casting it during or after the combat damage step. Any time before the combat damage step is fine, regardless of whether you're in the combat phase or not.

Q: I activate Grindstone and one of the cards being milled is Nexus of Fate. What happens?

A: Nexus of Fate has a replacement effect that changes where it goes as it's going to the graveyard, so it meddles with what happens during resolution of Grindstone's ability, as opposed to a triggered ability that would first have to wait for Grindstone's ability to finish resolving all the way. Grindstone tells you to put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard, and Nexus of Fate changes that to "reveal Nexus of Fate and shuffle it into your library, and put the other card into your graveyard." The two things happen simultaneously, so the end effect is that you put the non-Nexus card into your graveyard and you shuffle Nexus into your library. Since Nexus of Fate was revealed, the game can check whether it and the other card share a color, so if the other card is blue, you repeat the Grindstone process.

Q: If I control Yarok, the Desecrated and cast Necromancy, can I reanimate two creatures?

A: Yup. Necromancy's enter-the-battlefield ability will trigger and resolve twice. The first resolution returns a creature card from a graveyard to the battlefield and attaches Necromancy to it, and the second resolution does the same to a second creature card. Necromancy will only be attached to the second creature, but the first creature remains on the battlefield since there are no consequences for Necromancy becoming unattached from it. However, when Necromancy leaves the battlefield, both creatures end up getting sacrificed.

Q: I control Yarok, the Desecrated, Naban, Dean of Iteration, and Panharmonicon. If a Wizard enters the battlefield and triggers an enter-the-battlefield ability, how many times does that ability trigger?

A: It triggers four times. Yarok, Naban, and Panharmonicon each give you one additional trigger, and they don't affect each other in any way, so you get exactly three additional triggers for a total of four.

Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball
Q: If I control Yarok, the Desecrated and Torpor Orb, and I play a creature with an enter-the-battlefield ability, does that ability trigger once?

A: No, it doesn't trigger at all. Yarok's effect only applies if an ability triggers in the first place, and Torpor Orb stops the ability entirely. Since the ability isn't triggering at all, Yarok's effect has nothing to add to.

Q: I control Feather, the Redeemed and my opponent controls Grizzly Bears. If I target Feather and the Bears with Reckless Rage and then respond with Gods Willing to give Feather protection from red, what happens?

A: When Reckless Rage resolves, it checks whether its targets are still legal. The Bears are still a legal target, while Feather is not. Fortunately for you, Reckless Rage still has a legal target, so it resolves and does as much as it can, which is exactly what you want it to do. Reckless Rage resolves and deals 4 damage to the Bears, but it spares Feather. Also, Feather's ability returns Reckless Rage and Gods Willing to your hand at the end of the turn, so you get to do the same thing to another creature later.

Q: I enchanted my opponent's commander with Death Watch and now I'm destroying it with Terror. Does Death Watch's ability still trigger if my opponent puts their commander into the command zone?

A: I'm afraid not. Death Watch's ability triggers when the enchanted creature dies, which just means that it goes from the battlefield to the graveyard. The command zone replacement effect moves the commander to the command zone instead, so the commander didn't actually die.

Q: I control Fathom Mage with four +1/+1 counters and I use Bioshift to move its counters to another Fathom Mage. Do I get to draw four cards? Similarly, if I use Vorel of the Hull Clade to double the counters on Fathom Mage from four to eight, do I get to draw four cards?

A: Yes in both cases. Fathom Mage's ability triggers each time a +1/+1 counter is put on it for any reason, even if the instruction that results in the counter does not use the verb "put." Moving counters and doubling counters both result in counters being put on Fathom Mage, and the ability triggers for each counter separately, so in both cases the ability triggers four times.

Q: If I hit Narset's Reversal with Brilliant Ultimatum, can I copy the Ultimatum with Narset's Reversal?

A: No. You cast Narset's Reversal while Brilliant Ultimatum is resolving, so the Ultimatum is on the stack and it's a legal target for Narset's Reversal. However, Brilliant Ultimatum then finishes resolving and leaves the stack. When Narset's Reversal goes to resolve, it finds that its only target has become illegal, so it fails to resolve.

Q: If I control Pestilent Spirit and cast Fungal Infection on an opponent's 3/3 creature, does that creature die?

A: Nope. Fungal Infection has deathtouch thanks to Pestilent Spirit, and getting -1/-1 probably doesn't feel very nice, but it's not damage. Deathtouch on a spell only matters if that spell deals damage, which only happens when the spell actually uses the words "deal" and "damage" as Shock does, for example.

Q: I control Zendikar Resurgent and I remove five storage counters from Rushwood Grove to make mana. How much green mana do I get?

A: You'll get six mana. Zendikar Resurgent's ability triggers once, because you're tapping one land for mana. When the ability resolves, you add one mana of the type that Rushwood Grove produced. Rushwood Grove produced five green mana, and Zendikar Resurgent produces one green mana, for a total of six.

All my life's a circle
Sunrise and Sundown
Q: My Grunn, the Lonely King attacked alone so his power and toughness got doubled. Can I use Sundial of the Infinite so that he can stay doubled indefinitely?

A: No, that doesn't work. A lot of things still happen when you end the turn, and one of those things is that a cleanup step still happens. This means that "until end of turn" effects such as Grunn's effect still wear off as normal.

Q: If Dark Depths and Magus of the Moon come in off of Warp World, does Dark Depths still enter the battlefield with counters?

A: Yup. Dark Depths and Magus of the Moon enter the battlefield simultaneously during the first wave of Warp World's resolution. As Dark Depths enters the battlefield, it checks for any effects that would stop its replacement effect from applying, and there aren't any because Magus of the Moon isn't on the battlefield yet, so it enters the battlefield with ice counters on it.

Q: Does Warkite Marauder's "lose all abilities" effect turn Transguild Courier colorless?

A: No, although the reason might be different than what you might think. Transguild Courier is all colors because of its ability, but removing that ability doesn't remove its colors because of the beloved layers. Continuous effects get applied in layer order, and the color-changing effect from Transguild Courier's ability gets applied in layer 5. The ability-removing effect from Warkite Marauder is applied in layer 6, so Transguild Courier's ability gets removed, but this doesn't undo the effect that already applied in layer 5.

Q: How does Bag of Holding interact with cards with madness, for example Reckless Wurm?

A: Let's work that out. Discarding Reckless Wurm does several things. Because of madness, you discard it into the exile zone, which triggers the part of the madness ability that offers you to cast it. However, you're still discarding the card, so this also triggers Bag of Holding's first ability. Since you control both abilities, you choose which one resolves first.

If you choose the madness ability to resolve first, things work out pretty cleanly. Either you cast the card for its madness cost, in which case the Bag's ability won't be able to find it, or you don't cast it and the card moves into the graveyard where the Bag's ability will find it and exile it.

If you choose the Bag's ability to resolve first, it gets a little weirder. The Bag's ability looks for the card in the graveyard and doesn't find it, because it was discarded into exile, so the Bag's ability does nothing. Then, the madness ability offers you to cast the card. If you don't, the card is put into your graveyard and stays there.

Q: Can I use Alpha Unsummons in a Standard tournament?

A: Yes, you can. You can use any white-bordered or black-bordered printing of Standard-legal cards in a Standard tournament, and Unsummon is Standard-legal because it was reprinted in Core Set 2020. However, since the corners of Alpha cards are more rounded than cards from later printings, you'll have to sleeve your deck in opaque sleeves.

Q: How long are the rounds in a Magic tournament?

A: That depends on the tournament organizer, so you should ask them if you need an exact answer, but there are some guidelines in the Magic Tournament Rules that should give you a rough idea. Rounds are required to be at least 40 minutes long, so you shouldn't expect rounds shorter than that in a sanctioned tournament. The recommended time limit is 50 minutes, and in my experience most tournament organizers stick to that recommendation, but shorter (down to 40 minutes) and longer rounds are possible.

And speaking of time limits, we're all out of time for this week. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week for another round of rules questions and answers!

- 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.


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