Published on 08/12/2019

How Do I Tell a Card I Want to Kiss It?

Cranial Translation
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I can't hear you over the sound
of how awesome this card is.
School is starting again soon, which is considered in many cultures to be a "major bummer." As the summer draws to a close, think of the good times. Playing outside with your friends! Long days at the beach! Countering your opponent's greedy Genesis Wave with a Mana Tithe! You know, the usual summer fun.

But learning doesn't have to wait for school! This week's questions are a grab bag of knowledge. Come get you some.

As usual, 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 answer every question we get, and your question might also appear in a future CI column. You'd basically be famous.

Let's get this show on the road. What better way to start than with yet another question about Yarok? This guy is popular.

Q: I control a Yarok, the Desecrated and Monkey Cage. What happens when a creature enters the battlefield?

A: Monkey Cage will trigger twice, and you'll end up with 2 times X Monkey tokens, where X is the creature's converted mana cost.

Monkey Cage's trigger doesn't care if you actually can sacrifice Monkey Cage. When each trigger resolves, it'll do as much as it can. The first one to resolve will sacrifice the Cage and make Monkey tokens; the second one will just make Monkey tokens.

Q: I control a Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. My opponent targets me with Explosion, with a large enough X to deal lethal damage and make me draw more cards than are in my deck. Do I win? Do I lose? Is the game a draw?

A: You win this time, Gadget.

Jace makes you win in the middle of Explosion resolving, since it replaces "tried to draw from an empty library" with "win the game" immediately. The game never gets to checking state-based actions, so you having 0 or less life isn't relevant!

Q: I have Curator's Ward attached to a legendary creature. If my opponent overloads Cyclonic Rift and returns both permanents to my hand, do I draw one or two cards?

A: You'll draw two cards.

At the last moment the Ward was on the battlefield, it was attached to a historic permanent, so the trigger remembers that and lets you draw two.

Q: I control a Bloodlord of Vaasgoth. I activate Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord's -3 loyalty ability and put another Vampire into play. Does my Bloodlord trigger?

A: No, it doesn't.

Sorin's ability just puts the Vampire directly onto the battlefield. You aren't casting anything, so the Bloodlord won't trigger.

Watch out, boy, she'll chew you up
Q: I attack with Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and put a Goblin Grenadiers onto the battlefield with her trigger. If the Grenadiers aren't blocked, can I sacrifice them?

A: You sure can.

While "whenever ~ attacks" triggers require the creature to be declared as attackers, triggers that check if a creature is "unblocked" don't care about that at all! They only check that no creatures were declared as blockers for that creature.

Feel free to do this every turn with Goblin Grenadiers. This is how you make friends.

Q: I control a Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer. I turned all of my tokens into copies of a token I made with Heat Shimmer. What happens to the tokens at the end of the turn?

A: They'll all be exiled.

Heat Shimmer says "except it has [...] 'At the beginning of the end step, exile this permanent.' " This means it's a part of the token's copiable values — the "except" there makes it an exception to the copying process. When you copy that token, that ability comes along with it.
Compare this to, say, a token created by Saheeli Rai's -2 loyalty ability. While the token Saheeli made will be exiled at the end of the turn, anything you make a copy of that token will stick around, because the "exile it" bit isn't part of the token's copiable values. It's just an instruction.

Q: The top card of my graveyard is a Body Double, and then I cast a Volrath's Shapeshifter. Does the Shapeshifter enter as the Body Double and then get to copy something else, or what?

A: The Shapeshifter will be a regular old Body Double and, probably, die immediately (unless you've got a Glorious Anthem or something).

The Shapeshifter's ability doesn't start doing anything until it's already on the battlefield, which is later than "as" it enters the battlefield like Body Double and other Clone-like effects care about.

Q: I control a Rubinia Soulsinger. I activate her ability, and in response, I untap her with Twiddle. What happens to the creature I targeted?

A: Absolutely nothing!

Rubinia's ability has a duration of "for as long as you control Rubinia and Rubinia remains tapped." Since you untapped her before the duration of "remains tapped" started, the effect won't do anything at all.

Q: I control a Necropotence and discard a Fiery Temper. What happens to the Fiery Temper? Can I cast it? Where does it end up if I do? Where does it end up if I don't?

A: When you discard the card, you choose the order the triggers go on the stack (which also means the order in which they resolve).

If you resolve Necropotence's trigger first, Temper will end up in the graveyard regardless because Necropotence's trigger was already resolved. If you decide you want resolve the Madness trigger first, but then don't cast the spell for some reason, the card will be exiled.

Of course, if you cast the Madness card, it'll go to your graveyard and skip all of this trigger madness. Yes, that's a pun. No, I'm not proud of myself.

Q: I control a Viscera Seer and an Abyssal Gatekeeper. If I sacrifice the Gatekeeper to activate the Seer's ability, what happens first?

A: Each player will sacrifice a creature before you scry with the Seer's ability.

The first step of activating an ability is putting it on the stack. Later in the process, you pay costs, which in this case includes "sacrifice a creature." Since the cost was paid after the Seer's ability was put on the stack, the Gatekeeper's ability has to go on the stack above the Seer's ability, which means the Gatekeeper's will resolve first.

Q: I have a bunch of Bestowed creatures enchanting some of my other creatures. If I cast Cleansing Meditation while I have Threshold, what happens to those Bestowed creatures?

A: Those creatures will come back to the battlefield as creatures.

You can only Bestow creatures when you cast them. Since returning things to the battlefield isn't casting them, you can't Bestow them again. They'll all come back as creatures. They might be confused.

Q: I control a Necromancer's Stockpile. If I discard a Stinkweed Imp, can I replace the Stockpile's draw by dredging the Imp back to my hand?

A: Yes, you can.

You have to pay costs for an ability before the ability resolves, so you've already paid the cost of ", Discard a creature card" way before the ability starts to resolve.

This means that the card you discarded is already in your graveyard, so when the Stockpile's ability starts to resolve, you can replace "Draw a card" with "Dredge the card you just discarded." Very cool!

Q: I control a Mirror Entity. I activate its ability for = 0, then activate Bazaar Trader to give the Entity to an opponent. Whose creatures have base power and toughness 0/0?

A: Your creatures do.

Abilities pretty much only care about who controlled them when they were put on the stack. Even if you give away the source of an ability, that ability definitely remembers who activated or triggered it.

This card will make a lot more sense in a couple weeks.

Q: If I target myself with Loaming Shaman and decide to shuffle 0 target cards into my library, do I still have to shuffle?

A: You sure do.

The rules really, really want you to shuffle if something tells you to, even when you're trying to shuffle an empty set into the library.

Q: Can I cast Fling for free off Kari Zev's Expertise?

A: Well... you don't have to pay the mana cost, but you still have to pay the additional costs. You'll still have to sacrifice a creature.

Q: I copied my Medomai the Ageless with a Sakashima the Impostor. Can Sakashima attack in extra turns?

A: No, he can't.

When a card refers to itself by name (like "Medomai can't attack during extra turns"), it's just referring to "this particular object." It doesn't matter what thing gets that ability — it could be a Sakashima or a Mirage Mirror or a whatever else, but if a permanent has somehow copied Medomai or gained its text, it just means "this thing can't attack during extra turns."

Q: How does Spirit of the Labyrinth interact with Sylvan Library?

A: You can't actually draw the cards from Sylvan Library, because the rules say the Library's "you may draw two additional cards" is, in fact, a cost.

The rules also say that if a cost wants you to draw multiple cards, and you can't draw multiple cards, then you can't pay that cost.

Q: I control a Ral, Storm Conduit. I target myself with Chain of Smog. Can I copy it indefinitely? Does this just... win the game?

A: It sure does, and yes, this is silly!

Notice that Chain of Smog doesn't care about if you actually could or did discard cards. That is, it's not phrased like "Target player discards two cards. If they did, they may copy this spell."

You can absolutely target yourself, and copy it forever (and target yourself with each copy).

Q: My opponent attacked me with five Grizzly Bears. I'm at 8 life, and my opponent is at 2 life. What happens if I Deflecting Palm one of the Bears?

A: The game is a draw!

Since none of the creatures involved here have first strike or double strike, all of the damage is dealt at the same time. Deflecting Palm has a replacement effect that basically boils down to "instead of this source of damage hurting you, Deflecting Palm hurts that source's controller." This happens at the same time as that source's damage would normally happen.

This means that if you Deflecting Palm one of the Bears, your opponent is dealt 2 damage at the exact same time as you're dealt 8 damage. Then, state-based actions see that both of you would lose at the same time, and the game says "Oh, well that's silly," and calls it a draw.

Bonus silliness: If this happens in game 3 of a match, you'll go to game 4! Contrary to common perception, matches aren't "best of 3," they're "first to 2 wins."

Q: I'm playing an Urza, Lord High Artificer deck in Modern, and I can make a lot of mana very quickly. I'm worried about all the shuffling, though. Is this potentially slow play?

A: It isn't, but the explanation is a longer one.

I'm gonna let you in on some "tribal knowledge" for this one: You don't have to physically shuffle between every resolution of Urza's second ability, if you
1. Already don't know the position of any cards in the library, and
2. The spell you're resolving doesn't manipulate any of the cards in the library (maybe Impulse for example)

This is a Weird Thing (tm), but a long time ago we had this goofy card called Mind's Desire and a bunch of people much wiser than I am said "Well, if you randomize the whole library, and just exile the top card, the rest of the library is still random!" And this situation is basically the same thing.

But this part is important: Strictly by the Comprehensive Rules, you definitely do shuffle for each resolution of Urza's ability. This means that even if you aren't taking the physical action, the game still cares about it for things like Cosi's Trickster.

That's it for this time, friends. Carsten's got you covered next week.
And, hey! If you're at MagicFest Vegas in a few weeks, come find me! I'd love to meet ya.

- 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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