Published on 08/05/2019

Cabin Fever

Cranial Translation
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There's nothing like getting away from it all. long as you still have WiFi.
Greetings from a cabin in the middle of Finland. I'm staying here for a week and enjoying the simple pleasures of life: Food cooked over an open fire, watching the sun set over a beautiful lake, not having access to running water... well, maybe not the last one. However, just because I'm here relaxing doesn't mean that your questions are going to go unanswered. A CI writer's work is never done, even if it has to be done outside in a lounge chair sipping on a beer.

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.

Now then, let's dig into the mailbag and have a nice relaxed time of answering an assortment of quality questions.

Q: How do cards that reduce generic mana costs interact with cards that have costs? For example, what happens when I go to cast Apocalypse Hydra when I control Gargos, Vicious Watcher?

A: When you cast a spell with in its cost, you declare the value of X before you apply any cost reduction effects, such as Gargos's ability. What this boils down to is that you get whatever the cost reduction is as a bonus.
In the case you describe, let's say you have seven mana available to cast Apocalypse Hydra. You could normally cast Apocalypse Hydra with X=5, but once you apply Gargos's ability that would reduce the cost to , which leaves you with four mana left over. This means that you can cast your hydra with X=9, and Gargos will reduce the cost to the you can afford to pay.

Q: I'm at 23 life and attacking with Angel of Vitality and Healer's Hawk. My opponent blocks the angel with Boreal Elemental, trying to kill it. However, the lifelink on the hawk will put me to 25 life. Does the angel live or die here?

A: Your angel will live.
When combat damage is dealt, Angel of Vitality will deal 2 damage to Boreal Elemental and Boreal Elemental will deal 3 damage to Angel of Vitality. Healer's Hawk will deal 1 damage to your opponent and you'll gain 2 life thanks to the angel's replacement effect. Since you're at 25 life, Angel of Vitality will immediately get +2/+2. When state-based actions are checked after damage, Angel of Vitality is a 4/4 with 3 damage marked on it, so it will live to fight another day.

Q: I have four Dreadhorde Invasions on the battlefield and don't control an Army. After all the upkeep triggers have resolved, will I have four 1/1 Zombie Armies or a single 4/4 Zombie Army?

A: You'll get a single Zombie Army that will receive the counters from all the Amass triggers.
It's important to remember that spells and abilities always resolve one at a time and never simultaneously. This means that the first trigger will see that you don't have an Army and create a token, which will then get the +1/+1 counter. Each subsequent trigger will amass onto that Army token too. You only get a Zombie Army token if you don't control an Army when the Amass ability resolves. It doesn't matter if you don't have one when the ability triggered or not.

Q: My opponent controls Sliver Overlord and I cast Sakashima the Impostor, which copies Sliver Overlord. Maintaining priority, I activate the take control ability twice, once targeting Sliver Overlord and once targeting Sakashima. Will this work to avoid giving my opponent a chance to keep Sliver Overlord?

A: This will work and you'll have both Overlords even if your opponent activates his Overlord in response. Any activations your opponent puts on the stack will resolve before your activations and so your activations will always resolve last and result in you controlling both Overlord and Sakashima, leaving your opponent no way to steal them back.

Fire just makes food taste better.
Q: Does equipping Korlash, Heir to Blackblade with Spy Kit allow me to discard any non-legendary creature to activate Korlash's Grandeur ability?

A: No, sadly it doesn't work this way.
Korlash's Grandeur ability isn't asking you to discard a card with the same name as Korlash, but rather to discard a card specifically named "Korlash, Heir to Blackblade". Giving Korlash all the names with Spy Kit doesn't change the fact that his Grandeur ability still only allows you to discard other copies of Korlash.

Q: If I make two tokens with Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, then turn my tokens into copies of the Myr token that Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer makes, do I still sacrifice Chandra's tokens at end of turn?

A: Yes, you'll still sacrifice the tokens that Chandra made.
The delayed trigger that causes you to sacrifice the tokens is part of the effect that creates them and not an ability given to them, so changing what they are won't prevent the sacrifice. The delayed trigger knows what permanents it's looking for, even if their characteristics are different.

Q: If I exile my opponent's Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis with Hostage Taker, thus gaining the ability to spend mana as if it were mana of any type to cast it. Can I tap blue, red, or white creatures to convoke Hogaak?

A: You can, but they'll only pay the generic portion of Hogaak's mana cost like for any other spell with convoke. Hostage Taker lets you spend mana freely in order to cast Hogaak, but Hogaak can't have mana spent to cast it, so that ability is completely useless in this case. You'll have to tap two black and/or green creatures to cast it. (You already have Hostage Taker, so you just need one more!)

Q: After I active Urza, Lord High Artificer's last ability, can I use Sensei's Divining Top after the shuffle but before exiling the top card of my library?

A: No, this doesn't work.
Once Urza's ability starts to resolve, the ability will resolve completely before anyone can take any other actions. Shuffling your library is the first part of the ability's resolution, so there's no opportunity to cast spells or activate abilities in the middle of the resolution. The point of the ability is that you cast a random card. You spin the wheel and take your chances: That's what makes the ability fun.

Q: How does Plague Engineer naming Thopter interact with the Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek combo? I've heard different answers from different sources.

A: It stops it dead in its tracks.
For those not familiar with the combo in question, it works by sacrificing an artifact to Thopter Foundry, usually Sword of the Meek itself, so that the Sword is in your graveyard when the Foundry ability resolves. The 1/1 Thopter entering the battlefield will trigger Sword of the Meek from the graveyard and return it to the battlefield attached to the Thopter. You can then repeat the process by sacrificing the Sword to the Foundry again and again for each mana that you have. (Recently, Urza, Lord High Artificer has been added to the combo which allows it to go infinite by tapping the thopter and sword for before activating Foundry again. This gives you infinite mana, life, and thopter tokens. It also allows you to cast your whole deck with Urza.)
As for Plague Engineer, it stops the combo by causing Sword of the Meek to not trigger from the graveyard. Thopter tokens will enter the battlefield as 0/0 creatures, meaning that they die immediately. More importantly, they won't trigger Sword of the Meek because they're not 1/1s. (Sword of the Meek's trigger looks at the total P/T of the creature, not just its base value.) No trigger means nothing new to sacrifice and no combo.

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

A: Quite well!
Pir's ability will cause each planeswalker you control to enter the battlefield with an additional loyalty counter above its starting loyalty. He'll also cause any abilities with a positive loyalty costs to add an extra counter to that planeswalker when you activate them. He doesn't have any effect on abilities with 0 or negative loyalty costs.
For example, you control Pir and cast Garruk Wildspeaker. Pir's ability will cause Garruk to enter the battlefield with 4 loyalty counters instead of 3. When you activate Garruk's +1 ability to untap two lands, you'll put two loyalty counters on Garruk instead of just one.

Q: I have Feather, the Redeemed on the battlefield with Sunforger attached. I activate Sunforger ability, and search my deck for Aurelia's Fury. Can I cast it with X=0? If so, can I target Feather for 0 damage, thus exiling Aurelia's Fury and returning it to my hand at end of turn?

A: Not only can you cast Aurelia's Fury with X=0, you have to when you're casting it for free with Sunforger. Unfortunately, you won't be able to choose any targets for Aurelia's Fury. This is because the rules for dividing damage among targets which say that you can't have more targets than there is damage to divide. Since there's no damage to divide, you can't have any targets and you can't get Aurelia's Fury back to your hand like this.

Q: Can something be replaced with something else that can't happen? For example, if I have an Abyssal Persecutor in play, alongside Jace, Wielder of Mysteries what happens if I draw from an empty library? Is the draw replaced but then the win has no effect and the game continues, or do I lose because the replacement could not happen? It looks like the former to me but I'm uncertain.

A: An event can indeed be replaced by something that can't happen, but that thing will just not happen and as much of the modified effect as possible will happen. Jace replaces drawing from your empty library with winning the game, but you can't win the game so drawing from your empty library is just replaced with nothing at all. You don't lose since the draw is replaced, though.

Q: I have Gideon Jura and a Spark Double copying him. Both Gideon and the copy then use their +2 abilities targeting the same opponent. What happens when my opponent goes to declare attacks on their next turn?

A: Each of your Gideons have created a requirement on each of your opponent's creatures to attack that Gideon. Obviously, it's impossible to obey both requirements at the same time, so each creature will have to obey as many requirements as possible by attacking one Gideon or the other. Your opponent can choose which one each creature attacks, likely leading to a poor outcome for your Gideons.

Getting away from it all is nice, but only for so long.
Q: I control both Yeva, Nature's Herald and Vizier of the Menagerie, can I cast green creature cards from the top of my library as though they had flash? Or do the abilities not combine like that?

A: Yeva doesn't put any restriction on where you have to cast creatures from to benefit from her ability, so it will apply to all zones that you can cast creature spells from, which includes the top of your library thanks to the Vizier. The abilities play nicely together.

Q: My opponent uses Hostage Taker to target my commander, who I choose to put into my command zone instead of exile. Hostage Taker later leaves the battlefield. Can I put my commander back into play from the command zone if it hasn't changed zones since?

A: Yes, this works, as odd as it sounds.
Effects like Hostage Taker that exile a permanent for a limited duration, i.e. "until [something]", can track the card if it goes to a public zone instead of to the exile zone, such as the command zone. As long as the "exiled" object doesn't leave that other public zone in the interim, it will be returned to the battlefield when the duration expires despite never having been put into exile. This is because the effect that exiles it doesn't specifically look for a card in the exile zone, unlike older cards such as Oblivion Ring.

Q: Some cards, such as Inkfathom Witch, mention "unblocked creatures" without specifying that those creatures need to be attacking; does "unblocked" mean "attacking but not blocked" or does it also include creatures which are themselves blocking or which aren't in combat at all?

A: Unblocked is a specific state that an attacking creature gets when no blockers are declared against it during the declare blockers step. While creatures in any situation other than being blocked aren't blocked creatures, being an unblocked creature has a specific meaning. Only attacking creatures can be blocked or unblocked, and only once blockers have been declared.

Q: Wouldn't Giant's Ire always draw a card? The phrasing makes it seem that it would because you control spells on the stack, and it's a Giant...

A: While spells on the stack do indeed have a controller, a Giant spell on the stack isn't a Giant; it's a Giant spell. When a card like Giant's Ire uses a creature type or other permanent subtype by itself, it means a permanent of that subtype on the battlefield and not a card or spell of that subtype in any other zone.

Q: I attack my opponent with two 1/1 Goblin tokens and Chandra's Spitfire while I also control Cavalcade of Calamity on the board. How much combat damage will Spitfire deal?

A: Chandra's Spitfire will deal 10 damage to your opponent or whatever creature is blocking it.
When you attack with your three creatures, Cavalcade of Calamity will trigger for each of them. When each trigger resolves, noncombat damage is dealt to your opponent which triggers Chandra's Spitfire. Three triggers means a total of +9/+0 to the Spitfire and a whole lot of damage coming through.

Q: My Unholy Indenture is enchanting my opponent's Cavalier of Gales. When Cavalier dies, which trigger happens first? Do I get it or does it get shuffled into my opponent's library before that happens?

A: It depends on whose turn it is.
When Cavalier of Gales dies, both the Cavalier's own trigger and the trigger from Unholy Indenture will be waiting to go on the stack. Which order they're put on the stack is determined by whose turn it is. If it's your turn, then Endenture's trigger goes on the stack first with Cavalier's trigger above it. This means that Cavalier's trigger resolves first and shuffles it away before Endenture can return it to the battlefield. If it's your opponent's turn, then the triggers go in the opposite order and Endenture will return the Cavalier to the battlefield under your control before it can be shuffled away. (Incidentally, you'll also resolve its ETB trigger before your opponent shuffles their library and scrys 2.)

As the sun sets and the sauna warms up, it's time for me to bid you all adieu until next time! I hope you all find the time to get away and relax in whatever way you can and enjoy the rest of your summer. (Or winter if you're in the southern hemisphere.)

- Charlotte

About the question including Sliver Overlord and Sakashima.

Since each ability on the stack resolves one by one.
I think there is a timing for opponent to steal their stuff back:
1) Response your activation, steal your Sakashima via my Overlord.
2) Then your ability resolves, which steals my Overlord, I'll steal it back via MY Sakashima.
3) Then your ability resolves, you take back your Sakashima, but I'll steal him again via MY Overlord.
#1 • Date: 2019-08-05 • Time: 19:20:27 •
The answer about Abyssal Persecutor and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries seems to be wrong to me. Jace doesn't have a replacement effect. He simply makes you win the game during the resolution of his ability before state based actions can be checked. You're still going to lose as soon as state based actions are checked if you fail to win from the ability.
#2 • Date: 2019-08-06 • Time: 04:04:35 •
animepimp: You are incorrect. Jace does have a replacement effect. It replaces "draw from an empty library" with "you win the game". Even if you can't win the game, the draw was still replaced, so you won't lose the game. From Gatherer:

If for some reason you can't win the game (because your opponent controls Platinum Angel, for example), you won't lose for having tried to draw a card from a library with no cards in it. The draw was still replaced.
#3 • Date: 2019-08-09 • Time: 10:31:45 •

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