Published on 09/09/2019

Mom, Volrath Won't Stop Copying Me!

Cranial Translation
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This card was actually named after the
people selling it for $20.
For those of you who don't know me — and I'd imagine that's a lot of you — I like two things above all other things in Magic. I like Commander, and I like the silly things you can do in Commander.

Commander 2019 has been out in the wild for a little bit now, which means I can finally talk about some of these goofy cards, and how they interact with other goofy cards!

As a friendly reminder, 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 could show up in a future article.

I'm gonna kick this one off with a question involving my very favorite creature type: Licid!

Q: I control a Volrath, the Shapestealer. I make it a copy of Dominating Licid, then activate the Licid ability to make Volrath an aura and attach it to my opponent's Grizzly Bears. What happens at the start of my next turn?

A: Volrath turns back into Volrath, but... he's still an enchantment aura, he's still attached to the Grizzly Bears, and you can still pay to end the effect. This is because the effect setting Volrath's types applies in a later layer than the effect that determined what Volrath is (or isn't) a copy of.

Since Volrath is back to regular Volrath, though, and not a copy of the Licid, he no longer says "You control enchanted creature," so your opponent will regain control of the Grizzly Bears. Volrath remains attached to it. They're friends now!

Q: My opponent has a Sylvan Library, and draws two cards at the beginning of their draw step. Can I cast Storm Seeker while my opponent has those cards in their hand to deal some extra damage?

A: No, that won't work.

Sylvan Library has one big ability: your opponent draws the cards, then figures out if they want to pay 4 life to keep a card, or put that card back. Since it's all one ability, you won't get priority in the middle of it resolving to take any actions.

Q: I control a Teferi, Time Raveler. My opponent casts an Assassin's Trophy to try to destroy Teferi, but I flash in a Spell Queller and exile the spell. If my Queller dies while I still control Teferi, can my opponent cast their Assassin's Trophy?

A: No, they can't.

Spell Queller's leaves-the-battlefield trigger wants your opponent to cast Assassin's Trophy as the trigger is resolving. Since this isn't "any time they could cast a sorcery" — that is, during their main phase, when the stack is empty — they can't choose to cast Assassin's Trophy. It will be stuck in exile.

Q: I control a Yawgmoth's Will and discard a card with Madness. If I choose to not cast the Madness spell, where does it end up?

A: It will be stuck in exile. Unlike the interaction with Bag of Holding or Necropotence that Charlotte mentioned in her M20 article, Yawgmoth's Will has a replacement effect, not a triggered ability, so there are no tricky stack interactions you can play with.

As an interesting note, when it gets stuck in exile, it actually becomes a new object! This happens because it was in exile already (because you discarded it to exile since it has Madness), and then Yawgmoth's Will's replacement effect replaces "go to the graveyard" with "go to exile." If an object already in exile somehow gets exiled again,it becomes a new object. Weird.

I told you this would make
more sense in a few weeks!
Q: Atla Palani, Nest Tender seems neat. How does she work with Mirror Entity?

A: They work great together.

Mirror Entity makes all creatures you control have all creature types, which includes "Egg." This means that any creature that dies after its ability has resolved this turn will trigger Atla.

For a lot of fun, you can activate Mirror Entity with = 0, making all of your creatures 0/0 Eggs, which will promptly die and make Atla trigger for each one. That's how you make an omelette!

Q: I control a Muldrotha, the Gravetide. Can I cast Lotus Bloom from the graveyard?

A: No, you can't. Lotus Bloom has an unpayable cost, so you can't cast it for its "normal" cost. You also can't suspend it, because suspend only works from your hand.

Q: Okay, but let's get back to Volrath, the Shapestealer for a second. Wasn't he in the morph deck? How does he work with, well, morph cards? What happens if Volrath copies, say, a face-down Deathmist Raptor?

A: Volrath will be a 7/5 creature with no text, name, subtype, or mana cost. He won't be able to turn face-up (because he isn't face-down). He'll still have his ability, though, so if you want to pay to make him a copy of something cooler, you can. And you should. He deserves better.

Q: Speaking of face-down cards, let's say I cast Command the Dreadhorde, and I choose to return Clone and Ixidron. There are already a few creatures on the battlefield. What can Clone be a copy of? Is Clone face down? I'm confused.

A: So, first, the easy one. Clone will not be face down, because it isn't on the battlefield yet when Ixidron's replacement effect applies. For the same reason, Clone can't enter as a copy of Ixidron.

For the slightly weirder answer, you'll be able to choose something for Clone to copy. If you want to choose, say, a Barbarian Horde, then the Clone will be a face-up copy of that, and the final board state will be a face-up Clone (copying Barbarian Horde), a face-up Ixidron, and then face-down creatures.

Q: When my Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero dies, can I save him somehow? Or do I have to exile him?

A: In response to his dies trigger, you can get him out of the graveyard using something like Brought Back, and the rest of the trigger will still do what it's supposed to do.

Unlike Academy Rector which says "you may exile it. If you do...", Gerrard doesn't actually care if you exile him. It's just "exile it and do the other stuff." Since the second part doesn't depend on the first part, you'll just do as much as you can when the trigger resolves.

Or, hey, since you're probably playing this card in commander: Even if you send Gerrard to the command zone instead of exile, the triggered ability will still return everything else to the battlefield. Neat!

Q: I control a Greven, Predator Captain. If I sacrifice a Mindslicer to his attack trigger, how many cards will I have once everything resolves?

A: You'll have 0 cards in your hand.

Greven's ability is all one block of things you have to do — you sacrifice the creature, draw cards equal to its power, then lose life equal to its toughness. After all that is finished, Mindslicer's triggered ability has each player discards their hand.

Q: If I pay and Unattach my Sunforger, can I cast Comply?

A: No, you can't.

Failure // Comply is, in fact, a blue and white instant and sorcery card that costs 3 mana, which means it's definitely a "white instant card with converted mana cost 4 or less" that Sunforger wants. However, Comply has Aftermath, which means it can only ever be cast from the graveyard.

Q: I control a Skirk Prospector and a Goblin Warchief. If I try to cast a Bazaar Trader, but want to sacrifice the Warchief to help pay for it, will it cost or ?

A: It'll only cost .

In the process of casting a spell, we have to figure out what the cost of the spell is before we start activating mana abilities or paying for it. In this case, we look at the Bazaar Trader's normal cost of , then see the Warchief reduces this by , so its cost is . Once the spell's cost is determined, it's locked in. Any changes to the game state after that point won't affect it. So, we are free to activate the Prospector's mana ability, sacrifice our Warchief to make , and pay for our discounted Bazaar Trader. I'm sure our Trader appreciates such a great deal.

Q: My opponent controls a Phantasmal Image copying some random creature. I cast Cryptic Command, choosing to return the Image to my opponent's hand and tap all creatures they control. What happens?

A: You're probably not going to like it.

When the Image is targeted by your Cryptic Command, it triggers and its controller has to sacrifice it. Then, when your Cryptic tries to resolve, its only target is no longer legal, so the whole spell does nothing. Your opponents remaining creatures won't be tapped.

Identity theft is not a joke, Volrath.
Millions of families suffer every year.
Q: Okay, okay, one more Volrath question. I control a Wall of Stolen Identity that's a copy of Grizzly Bears. Volrath copies the Wall. What are Volrath's characteristics?

A: Volrath is now a 7/5 Grizzly Bears. It is a Creature - Wall Bear, and it has defender and ": Until your next turn, [this object] becomes a copy of target creature with a counter on it, except it's 7/5 and it has this ability."

The Wall and Volrath each have copy effects that include exceptions. These exceptions become part of the copiable values of the object, so other copy effects can "see" those changes.

Q: I control a Ruhan of the Fomori, and my opponent controls a Pramikon, Sky Rampart choosing right. If Ruhan's trigger chooses an opponent other than the opponent to my right, what happens?

A: Ruhan can't attack the player he chose, so he doesn't have to attack at all. His ability notes that he only has to attack that player "if able," but Pramikon says that isn't allowed. Ruhan can still freely attack the player to your right, though.

Q: I'm confused about Veilstone Amulet. Isn't this basically just hexproof? Why doesn't it say that?

A: So, Veilstone Amulet might seem like hexproof, but it has a couple important differences.

First, because it changes the rules of the game instead of the characteristics of objects, the set of permanents it applies to isn't set in stone when the ability resolves.

A good comparison is Heroic Intervention. Because this spell changes characteristics by granting them hexproof and indestructible, the set of affected permanents is only what's available when the spell resolves. If you cast a creature after, that creature won't benefit from Heroic Intervention.

In contrast, because Veilstone Amulet changes the rules, it constantly applies. That means that once the Amulet's ability resolves, if, say, you make a token with Adanto, the First Fort, that token also can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.

Second, Veilstone Amulet doesn't grant any abilities to anything, so it's unaffected by things like Sudden Spoiling. Yes, your creatures will still be 0/2, but the effect of the Amulet still applies to them. Your opponents still won't be able to target your creatures, because the Amulet didn't give them this ability to lose.

Q: If I cast a Control Magic on my opponent's Ajani's Chosen. Will the Chosen trigger?

A: Yes, it will.

Right after Control Magic resolves, the game checks to see if anything should trigger. Well, you control the Chosen (you gained control of it the instant Control Magic resolved), and an enchantment just entered the battlefield under your control! The Chosen will make a Cat token, and if you really, really want to, you can attach your Control Magic to the token.

Q: I was watching a match at an SCG Open and I think I saw a player make a mistake. What should I do?

A: Ask the players to pause their game, and call a judge. If the players ask why, be vague. Tell them you think you saw an error, but don't tell them what it was. You don't want to accidentally give away information, or remind a player of a trigger they were about to miss, or something similar. When the judge arrives, tell them what you saw, and they'll look into it!

You can do this at any event at Competitive REL or lower. If you find yourself at a Professional REL event for some reason, you can't ask the players to pause, but you should definitely still call a judge immediately.

That's it for this one, friends. See you next week!

About the Author:
Andrew is a Level 2 judge from Dallas, TX who spends too much time on his computer.


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