Published on 11/18/2019

This is a Playtest Article

Cranial Translation
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Serra Angel has finally been colorshifted to
the right colors - black/green - with Golgari Death Swarm.

Hi everyone, and welcome to this week's Cranial Insertion! A few weekends ago, we finally got to see what were in the Mystery Boosters that were announced a month ago. While I think many people predicted that it would a product in the vein of a chaos draft (featuring cards from a wide variety of Magic sets), I don't think many people expected to see the "playtest cards" that ended up in the convention version of the packs. They're cards that, well, mostly work in Magic, but kind of do weird things (along the lines of cards from Future Sight). Maybe one mixes and matches different sides of a split card. Or lets one of your creatures become your commander (even if you're not in a game of commander!). There's a lot of weird and exciting stuff in these playtest cards.

While we can try to answer questions about them, I would suggest reading the release notes first. Some cards currently work in the rules, while others would require some work for the rules to handle. And since they're not tournament legal, the release notes will be your best bet to figure out how we'll handle them. You can send short questions (about playtest cards or not) to us via our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and you can send us longer questions to our e-mail address at .

Q: I have no cards in my graveyard, and I cast Festive Funeral targeting my opponent's Bloodhaze Wolverine. Will my opponent's Wolverine die?

A: Nope, it survives. The Funeral won't go to the graveyard until the final step of resolution - it's still on the stack while we're counting the number of cards in your graveyard. Since your graveyard is empty, the Funeral will give the Wolverine -0/-0, and the Wolverine will not die.

Q: I control a Wishclaw Talisman and a Manifold Key. Can I activate the Talisman's ability, respond by untapping it with the Key, then activate the Talisman's ability again?

A: Yep, you can do that. You won't lose control of the Talisman until the activated ability resolves, and you can activate the Talisman's ability as long as it's your turn. You just need to activate the Talisman's ability, respond with the Key's ability, let the Key's ability resolve, then activate the Talisman's ability again. If you had two Keys, you could even untap the Talisman a second time and activate it a third time, using up all of the charges on your Talisman and leaving your opponent with an empty monkey's paw.

Q: I control Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and an Electrostatic Field. My opponent attacks with a 2/2, and I block with the Field. Will Torbran let my Field deal 2 damage to the creature it blocked?

A: No it will not. Dealing zero damage is the same as not dealing any damage at all. For Torbran's ability to apply, the red source must be dealing one or more damage in the first place. Since the Field is dealing zero damage in combat, Torbran's ability won't get to apply and won't do anything to the zero damage the Field would deal in combat.

Q: I control Feather, the Redeemed. If I cast Gravitic Punch, can I choose to put the Punch in my graveyard instead of exile so I can cast it again via jump start that turn?

A: Nope, you can't do that. Feather's replacement effect isn't optional - you have to choose to put the instant or sorcery card into exile instead of your graveyard. The Punch goes from the stack to exile and won't return to your hand until the end of the turn - it won't spent any time in the graveyard at all.

Q: My opponent controls Ashiok, Dream Render. I want to cast Dig Through Time. Will Ashiok stop my Dig from working?

A: Nope, your Dig Through Time will work just fine. Ashiok will prevent you from searching your library, but Dig Through Time isn't a search - you're just looking at the top seven cards of your library. Just looking at the top X cards doesn't count as a search, so your Dig isn't stopped by their Ashiok and you'll still get your two cards like normal.

Q: I cast Hostage Taker and exile a face down creature my opponent controls. What happens?

A: Since the face down creature left the battlefield, it's face up in exile, so everyone gets to see what the card actually is. Assuming it's a nonland card in exile, you'll be able to play it via the Taker's ability (and if it's a card with morph, you can choose to cast it face down, although it won't be much of a surprise to your opponents as to what it actually is). But if the exiled card is a land (because it was manifested, or it's Zoetic Cavern), you won't be able to play it. The Taker's ability lets you cast the exiled card, but not play the exiled, so a land would be stuck in exile. Finally, if the Taker leaves play and you haven't had a chance to cast the exiled card yet, assuming it's a permanent card, it will return to the battlefield face up under its owner's control.

Q: I control Experimental Frenzy and the top card of my library is Ash Barrens. Can I use the basic landcycling ability from the Barrens while it's on top of my library?

A: No you cannot. Discarding can only happen from your hand, not from your library or any other zone. Since the Barrens is not in your hand, you'll only be able to play it as your land drop, not activate its landcycling ability (but keep in mind that once you do draw it, since you're activating an ability and not casting a spell, the Frenzy won't stop you from landcycling it).

How about a backwards Terminus named "Sunimret", with
reverse miracle to let you cast it from the
bottom of your library.

Q: I control Oracle of Dust and my opponent has a bunch of cards in exile, including a few cards that I would prefer stay exiled. If I activate the Oracle's ability, who gets to choose which exiled card ends up in my opponent's graveyard, me or my opponent?

A: You get to choose. You're the one activate the Oracle's ability, not your opponent, so you get to make the choice of which card you put into the opponent's graveyard. While your opponent might prefer one card over another, it's not their choice to make since they're not the one activating the ability, you are.

Q: I control a Strata Scythe that's exiled a Swamp. If I play Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, will my Scythe count all of the lands on the battlefield and give my equipped creature a huge bonus?

A: Nope, Urborg won't do very much here. The Scythe is looking for lands with the same name as the exiled card. Urborg makes everything into Swamps, but doesn't affect the land's name. Since Urborg doesn't change the name of any of the lands in play, it doesn't have any special interaction with the Scythe.

Q: If I cast my first Take Inventory of the game, when it resolves, will I draw one card or two cards?

A: Just one card. While it's resolving, the Inventory is still on the stack - it won't go to the graveyard until the final step of resolution. When the resolving Inventory is checking your graveyard, it won't count itself since it's still on the stack while it's resolving, so if you don't have any other Take Inventories in your graveyard, you'll only draw one card.

Q: I control a Rite of Passage. I attack with a 2/2, and my opponent blocks with a 2/2. Will my 2/2 survive combat because of the counter from Rite of Passage?

A: Nope, your creature will also die. The Rite has a triggered ability that triggers when your creature is dealt damage. The creature has to survive the damage that was dealt to it for it to get the counter. After combat damage is dealt, the Rite will trigger since your 2/2 was dealt damage, but we check state-based actions before that trigger can go on the stack and your 2/2 dies before it can get the counter from the Rite.

Q: My opponent controls a Phyrexian Obliterator. I cast Lightning Axe targeting the Obliterator. Can I use the trigger from Willbender to make my opponent sacrifice five permanents instead of me?

A: No you cannot. The Obliterator's trigger does not target anything - you can tell because it does not use the word "target". You controlled the source that dealt damage to the Obliterator, so you'll be the one that sacrifice the permanents, and you can't use Willbender to make your opponent sacrifice in your place.

Q: I control Urza, Lord High Artificer equipped with Swiftfoot Boots. If I activate Urza's ability and tap the Boots, will Urza still have hexproof and haste?

A: Yep, he will. Tapping an equipment doesn't "turn off" the equipment - it still functions like normal even if it becomes tapped. Don't be afraid to tap your Boots to make some mana with Urza's ability - your tapped Boots still work just like normal and Urza will still have hexproof and haste.

Q: I control Femeref Enchantress and another creature with a Mask token from Estrid, the Masked attached to it. If the other creature would be destroyed and the Mask is destroyed instead, will the Enchantress trigger and let me draw a card?

A: Yes you will. The Mask token is destroyed instead of the creature, and it goes to the graveyard for a brief time before it ceases to exist due to state-based actions. The Enchantress sees the Mask token going to the graveyard, and it will trigger, even though the token disappears from your graveyard a short time later.

And Domesticated Mammoth comes with a free Pacifism!
Too bad it's attached to the Mammoth...

Q: I'm in a multiplayer game, and I control Shared Fate and a Dakra Mystic. I activate the Mystic's ability, and one of my opponents reveals a Doom Blade that I would love to be able to exile and cast, but I know that some of my opponents would also like to exile the Blade. How do we figure out who gets to exile the Blade?

A: If multiple players would draw a card at the same time, we start with the active player (who makes all of their draws), then we go in turn order, with each player drawing. However, with Shared Fate in play, instead of drawing a card, that player chooses one of their opponent's libraries to exile a card from instead.

That means that if you want first choice of which card to exile from an opponent's library, you want to activate the Mystic on your turn - if you activate it on an opponent's turn, the active player gets to make the first choice and not you. Once the active player has made their choice and exiled the card, we proceed in turn order, with each player making their choice. The next player could choose a known library to exile a card from, or they could pick a previously chosen library. In this case, they won't get the Doom Blade, but maybe the next card down (which is a mystery to everyone) will be better than that Doom Blade.

Q: Can I use the mana from Boseiju, Who Shelters All to get around my opponent's Nether Void?

A: Assuming you're casting an instant or sorcery spell, yes. The Void has a triggered ability that triggers when a player casts a spell - it's not a tax effect that increases the cost of the spell. If your spell is uncounterable, when the Void's trigger resolves, you don't have to pay, and not paying won't do anything to your spell.

Q: I activate Scarwood Bandits's ability targeting one of my opponent's artifacts. Can any opponent pay , or just the controller of the artifact that I targeted?

A: Any of your opponents can pay. The Bandit asks each of your opponents if they want to pay [mc]2[/c] to prevent you from stealing the targeted artifact. If one of them does pay, then the ability does nothing and you don't gain control of the artifact. If you want to guarantee that you can steal the artifact, you'll have to wait for all of your opponents to run low on mana, otherwise one of them can interfere with your artifact stealing plans, even if you're not stealing one of their artifacts.

Q: I control Mizzix of the Izmagnus, but I have no experience counters. If I cast Contentious Plan, will I be able to proliferate the experience counter from Mizzix?

A: Yes you will. The trigger from Mizzix will resolve before the Plan resolves, and you don't choose what permanents or players you will proliferate until you're instructed to proliferate when the Plan resolves. By the time we're resolving the Plan, you have your experience counter from Mizzix's trigger, so you'll be able to use proliferate to give yourself another experience counter.

Q: I control a face down creature that I cast via morph. My opponent activates Oko, Thief of Crowns's +1 ability targeting my face down creature. Can I still turn my face down creature face up for its morph cost?

A: Not anymore. In order to turn a face down creature face up via morph, we show the front face of the card (revealing the morph cost), pay the morph cost, and turn it face up. But due to Oko's +1 ability, your face down creature doesn't have any abilities, including a morph cost. Since it doesn't have a morph cost, you can't pay the morph cost to turn it face up, and your face down creature is stuck face down.

Q: What if I had manifested my creature instead? Could I turn it face up by paying its mana cost?

A: Yep, that would work. With manifest, you have to reveal the mana cost of the creature card to turn it face up. Oko's ability doesn't get rid of the card's mana cost, so you'll still be able to turn it face up if it was manifested.

Note that even after it's turned face up, it's still affected by Oko's ability, so it's still a 3/3 creature with no abilities.

That's it for this week. We'll see you all again next week!


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