Published on 10/28/2019

A Halloween Monster Mailbag

Cranial Translation
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Is anything scarier than a sorcery that was
errated to be an enchantment for a while?
Welcome everyone to this year's spooky, scary Halloween edition of Cranial Insertion! We've got… uh… well nothing really, just the usual lot of rules queries and headscratching questions. Oh, and some candy… here have some candy and forget I said anything about this week's article being at all spooky or scary.

While you're munching down on that fun-size Snickers, I'd like to remind 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.

Q: How does Fae of Wishes's adventure Granted work in a Commander game?

A: It doesn't, unless you and your playgroup have agreed on its scope before the game starts.
By the official rules, cards that bring cards from outside the game into the game don't work in commander. However one of those rules is that individual playgroups are allowed to modify the rules to suit their needs with prior agreement, so it's possible but requires agreement of the group beforehand.

Q: Can I play black cards with extort in my Judith, the Scourge Diva Commander deck or does that mana symbol put it outside of her color identity?

A: The symbol is part of Extort's reminder text and so it doesn't affect the card's color identity. (Only mana symbols in the cards cost and the text of its abilities counts, not reminder text.) This means that you can play mono-black cards with extort, such as Crypt Ghast or Pontiff of Blight, in your deck without any issues.

Q: If I exile an adventurer card with an impulse draw effect such as Light up the Stage, can I cast the adventure or just the creature?

A: You can cast the adventure or the creature. If you're allowed to cast an adventurer card, the only time you can't cast its adventure is if it's already in exile because of its adventure having resolved. In any other situation where you're allowed to cast the card, you can choose whether or not to cast it as a creature or as an adventure.

Q: What exactly is Adamant? Is it a trigger or something else?

A: Adamant is an ability word. Ability words are used to tie together groups of abilities with related effects but don't have any inherent rules themselves. (Other ability words include things like Landfall, Delerium, and Hellbent.)
Adamant abilities are either additional effects on an instant or sorcery, e.g. Cauldron's Gift, replacement effects that modify how the spell resolves, e.g. Vantress Paladin, or a triggered ability in the case of Clockwork Servant. All of these work slightly differently in terms of rules, so using an ability word allows for these disparate effects to be called out as similar.

Q: How can I build a legal deck and sideboard if I draft eight copies of Seven Dwarves? I know that I can only play seven in my deck, but doesn't having the eighth one in the sideboard make my deck illegal?

A: In a draft, your sideboard consists of all the cards that you drafted but aren't playing, so that's where your eighth dwarf will have to live. There's no way to draft a card and not have it in either your deck or sideboard. However, you're still limited to a maximum of seven copies of Seven Dwarves in your deck, since the ability of the card overrides the format's normal deck construction rules.

Q: My opponent has Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and I have Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. If I Flame Jab my opponent, what happens? Does the fact that Gisela can reduce 1 to 0 mean that the extra damage from Torbran doesn't apply?

A: When multiple effects are trying to modify and/or prevent damage like this, the player being damaged (or the controller of the permanent being damaged) is the one that gets to choose which replacement or prevention effect to apply first. This means that they're very likely to choose to prevent the damage first, which leaves Torbran with nothing to increase and a very sad dwarf. (Your opponent can choose to apply Torbran's effect first, but they're not likely to.)

Q: How does Emry, Lurker of the Loch work with artifacts in your graveyard with no mana cost? For example, if target Lotus Bloom with Emry, what happens? Can I cast it for not?

A: Emry possesses some powerful magic, but even she can't allow you to cast a card with no mana cost. The only way to cast a nonland card without a mana cost, such as Lotus Bloom, is to do so by paying an alternate cost (including by not paying its mana cost). Emry's ability just gives you permission to cast the card, but doesn't impose an alternate cost to cast it, making casting it just as impossible as normal. And no, you can't suspend it either since you can only ever suspend cards from your hand.

Q: If I have Hall of the Bandit Lord and Nikya of the Old Ways in play, and I tap Hall of the Bandit Lord for mana, does the extra mana from Nikya also grant haste to a creature?

A: No, it doesn't.
Nikya's ability is what makes the extra mana, not the land itself. This means that only the original mana from the land carries any special effects, such as the mana from Hall of the Bandit Lord. Of effects that create extra mana, only Mana Reflection causes the land itself to make that mana and allows you to give two creatures haste with Hall of the Bandit Lord.

Q: Does the cost reduction ability of Biomancer's Familiar reduce the untap ability given by Crab Umbra?

A: No, it doesn't.
The untap ability is an ability of Crab Umbra and not the creature it enchants. In order for Biomancer's Familiar to reduce the cost of an ability from an aura, the aura has to actually give the ability to the creature, such as the ability granted by Gauntlets of Light.

Q: If Rayami, First of the Fallen dies, does he exile himself?

A: Yes, Rayami will exile himself if he would die. This exile can be replaced by sending him to the command zone if he's your commander, though.
Replacement effects that modify where a permanent goes when it leaves the battlefield are checked immediately before that zone change happens, and at that time Rayami is still on the battlefield and thus his ability can be applied.

Q: I activate Narset Transcendent's -2 ability and then cast Welcome Home. Will the adventure rebound or just be exiled allowing me to cast Flaxen Intruder later?

A: Rebound and the rules for Adventures both have a replacement effect that want to send a card somewhere other than the graveyard as it resolves. As the controller of the spell, you get to choose whether to exile it for Rebound or for the Adventure. If you exile it with Rebound, then you'll get to cast the card (either the adventure or the creature) in your next upkeep. If you cast the adventure this way, you'll exile it as normal and can later cast the creature from exile.

Q: I have only one card left in my library, and I use Teferi, Temporal Archmage's +1 ability. Can I choose whether to leave that card in my library or do I have to put it into my hand?

A: The card will go into your hand.
When you're resolving a spell or ability and can't do everything it wants you to do, you have to do as much as possible and do it in the order listed on the card. This means that Teferi will always put the last card of your library into your hand, since that's the first action taken when resolving his +1 ability.

Q: If Syr Konrad, the Grim is returned to the battlefield from the graveyard, does his ability trigger since he left the graveyard?

A: No, it won't.
The part of Syr Konrad's trigger that cares about creature cards leaving your graveyard is a triggered ability that looks back in time. That means that Syr Konrad has to have already been on the battlefield before the creature card left the graveyard in order to trigger. Obviously he can't be both in the graveyard and on the battlefield simultaneously, so the trigger doesn't happen.

I was working in my lab late one night...
Q: If Kytheon, Hero of Akros is my commander, does combat damage done by his other side, Gideon, Battle-Forged count towards commander damage?

A: Yes. Your commander is always your commander, no matter what its name or status at the moment. Being your commander is a property of the card itself that transcends any in-game effects, meaning that your commander's combat damage dealt to opponents is still tracked even if it's transformed, face down, or a copy of something else.

Q: I have a three part question about Spellweaver Volute and its interaction with split cards that are both an instant and a sorcery, such as Warrant // Warden.
1. Can I Spellweaver Volute enchant such a card?
2. If so, when I cast another sorcery, can I use Spellweaver Volute's trigger to cast Warden despite it being a sorcery?
3. If so, will casting Warden in this way trigger Spellweaver Volute again?

A: 1. Yes, Spellweaver Volute can enchant a card that's both an instant and a sorcery, just like an aura with "Enchant artifact" can enchant an artifact creature.
2. Yes, you can cast the Warden half of the copy when Spellweaver Volute's trigger resolves. The trigger just says to copy the enchanted card and allows you to cast that copy, meaning you choose which half to cast.
3. Yes, this will trigger Spellweaver Volute again, allowing you to cast a copy of whatever you attach it to next. Even though the ability triggers while it's still attached to the previous card, it will be attached to the next instant card by the time the trigger resolves.

Q: If I control both Omniscience and Chorus of the Conclave and cast a creature, can I just choose a huge value of X for Chorus's bonus before reducing its cost with Omniscience?

A: When you're casting a spell while you control Omniscience, you only get out of paying the printed mana cost of the card. You still have to pay any other additional and optional costs. This means that you'll have to pay the additional mana for the optional cost added by Chorus of the Conclave and don't just get it for free. What else were you planning on spending your mana on, though?

Q: I've always had players argue with me over Diaochan, Artful Beauty's activated ability. When I use it, I thought that I would target one creature then my opponents all offer another target, then I would pick one and destroy both targets. I was told that the player who controlled my target was the one who picked the second target. Were either of us right?

A: Neither of you were correct, actually.
When you activate Diaochan's ability, first you'll choose a target and then you'll choose an opponent (who doesn't have to be the controller of the target, but can be) and that opponent will choose the second target.

Q: I cast Burn at the Stake while I control Kykar, Wind's Fury and a bunch of spirit tokens. Can I both tap the tokens for the spell and sacrifice them for mana to pay for it?

A: No, you can't.
While you are allowed to pay the costs of a spell or ability in any order, you have to generate any mana that will be paid before any payments are made. This means that any spirits you plan on sacrificing for mana will be long gone by the time you choose which creatures to tap for Burn at the Stake.

Q: Will Tsabo's Web keep lands with cycling, e.g. Canyon Slough, from untapping? Cycling does nothing on the battlefield, but it's still an activated ability that's not a mana ability, right?

A: Correct.
Cycling is an activated ability and Tsabo's Web doesn't discriminate between abilities that function on the battlefield and abilities that only function in other zones, such as cycling.

That's all for this week. Join us again next week for more questions and thanks for reading!

- Charlotte


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