Published on 11/25/2019

Oko no Moko

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Ding, dong, the witch is dead
Thanksgiving is this week in the US, so we're gearing up for a lot of food and festivities. Unfortunately, in the face of Oko's banning, we have a little less Food to go around, but I know I'm certainly thankful for him being gone.

I'm also thankful for Cranial Insertion, and you, our lovely readers! I like rules, and I like interesting questions, and I like sharing knowledge. This is basically a perfect storm. A nerdy, nerdy storm.

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.

Q: I control Library of Leng, Breathstealer's Crypt, and Bone Miser. If I reveal a creature card and don't pay 3 life, then discard the card to the top of my library, what happens?

A: You'll make a 2/2 black Zombie token.

Since the effect making you discard is also the effect that revealed the card, the game can "see" what the card is. Even though you're moving it to a hidden zone, the game knows that it was definitely a creature card, so Bone Miser will trigger.

Q: I control Happily Ever After. If I already have the other conditions met, Can I flash in Transguild Courier at the beginning of my upkeep to control a permanent with all five colors and win the game?

A: No, this won't work.

Happily Ever After has an "intervening if" clause, which means it checks if it's true twice: once when it would trigger, and again when it would resolve. If the whole "if" clause isn't true when your upkeep starts, it doesn't go on the stack at all.

Q: I gave Melira, Sylvok Outcast persist just before she died. When she comes back, will she have a -1/-1 counter on her?

A: She will!

Because her static ability affects more than just herself, it isn't considered as she's entering the battlefield. She'll have a -1/-1 counter on her. I would guess she's unhappy about this.

Q: How about Tatterkite, then? How does it work if I give it persist and then it dies?

A: Ah, see, there's the difference! Tatterkite's static ability only affects itself, so this ability can be considered when determining what happens as it enters the battlefield. Tatterkite will not enter with a -1/-1 counter.

Two! TWO Jailer questions,
ah ha ha.

Q: My opponent controls Yixlid Jailer. If I cast Soulflayer and pay for it by delving Storm Crow, will my Soulflayer have flying?

A: No, it won't.

Soulflayer's ability cares about what the card looked like at the moment it was exiled from the graveyard. At that moment, Jailer's effect still applied to the card, so it had no abilities.

Q: My opponent controls Yixlid Jailer. I have Wonder in my graveyard, and I control an Island. Do my creatures have flying?

A: No, they don't.

Wonder's effect is dependent on Jailer's, because both apply in the same layer, and Jailer's effect changes the existence of Wonder's effect. This means we have to apply Jailer's effect first, so Wonder has no abilities, and your creatures don't gain flying.

Q: I'm having trouble understanding Word of Command. What exactly can I and can't I do while I'm resolving this spell?

A: You can cast almost any spell. Word of Command gives you a new permission that says "your opponent has to cast this right now," so you can make them cast a planeswalker or sorcery (or any card type!) if you want to. Note that you still have to pay attention to casting restrictions. You can't make them cast Blaze of Glory during their upkeep, for instance.

You can activate mana abilities, but the mana abilities have to be from lands, and that mana can only be used to activate other mana abilities or to cast the spell. This means that you can't sacrifice all their creatures to Phyrexian Altar, and you can't tap all their lands to tap them out if you aren't actually going to make them use all that mana to cast the spell.

Q: I control Toshiro Umezawa. If I cast Doom Blade to kill one of my opponent's creatures, can I target the same Doom Blade with Toshiro's trigger?

A: You sure can! Toshiro's trigger doesn't go on the stack until Doom Blade is totally done resolving. The last step of a spell resolving is putting it into its owner's graveyard, so when Toshiro's trigger goes on the stack, Doom Blade is in the graveyard and a legal target.

Q: If my opponent taps a land enchanted with Utopia Sprawl, will Damping Sphere do anything?

A: It won't. The land makes one mana, and then Utopia Sprawl makes one mana, too. Even though these are related events, this isn't the same thing as the land itself generating two or more mana, so Damping Sphere will allow it.

Q: I used Olivia Voldaren's first ability to make my opponent's Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant a Vampire. Then, I activated Olivia's second ability to gain control of Sasaya. If I flip Sasaya into Sasaya's Essence, do I lose control of it since it's no longer a Vampire?

A: You'll keep control of Sasaya's Essence. Olivia's second ability basically only cares if the thing is a Vampire at two times: when you put the ability on the stack, and when the ability resolves. Once you've gained control of the object, the only thing that matters is that you keep controlling Olivia.

Q: I turned my opponent's Storm Crow into an Elk with Oko, Thief of Crowns. Then my opponent played The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Will my opponent have to pay at the beginning of their upkeep to keep the Elk?

A: They will! Since Tabernacle entered after Oko's effect started, the creature will have the ability "At the beginning of your upkeep, destroy this creature unless you pay ."

However! If Tabernacle is already in play, and then you use Oko's ability to turn the creature into an Elk, the creature won't have that ability, since Oko's effect has a later timestamp.

I look forward to this question no longer being relevant when Oko is banned in all formats.

Q: I control Kaalia of the Vast and Aven Squire. If I attack with Kaalia and put Baneslayer Angel into play, will Kaalia benefit from Exalted?

A: She sure will. Exalted only cares that your creature "attacks alone," which means that it was the only creature that was declared as an attacker. Other things entering the battlefield already attacking won't affect it.

Q: I cast Scapeshift, sacrificing 7 lands to get Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and six Mountains. I control no other lands. How much damage will I deal to my opponent?

A: You'll deal a total of 18. Valakut sees all the Mountains that entered with it. Each Mountain can see that you control five other Mountains, so Valakut will put a trigger on the stack for each one of them. 3 * 6 = 18

Ain't no Mountain high enough
to keep me from Boltin' you, babe
Q: Hold on. I'm the opponent of the player from the last question, and I don't want to take 18 damage! Is there anything I can do?

A: If you destroy one of the Mountains, you'll only take 3 damage. That's a lot less than 18!

Valakut triggers have one of those "intervening if" clauses I mentioned earlier. For the 5 Mountains that are still on the battlefield, when their triggers try to resolve, they'll see that your opponent no longer control five other Mountains, so the triggers won't resolve.

However, the trigger from the Mountain that was destroyed will still see that your opponent controls five other Mountains, so that one will resolve just fine, and you'll take 3 damage from it.

Q: I control Soldevi Adnate and The Chain Veil, which I made into a creature with Ensoul Artifact. Can I sacrifice Veil to the Adnate to pay for Veil's activated ability?

A: No, this doesn't work. Your last chance to activate mana abilities is just before you start paying costs. If you sacrifice The Chain Veil to generate mana, it won't be on the battlefield anymore when you have to pay costs, which means you won't be able to tap it to pay for the in the cost.

Q: My opponent casts Clone, and in response I cast Gather Specimens. We have no idea what to do now. Please help.

A: You'll gain control of the Clone first, and then you get to choose what it copies. This is probably much friendlier than the alternative, because if your opponent still got to choose what the Clone copied you'd probably be very disappointed in the outcome.

Q: I'm planning on going to a MagicFest soon, and I have some buy-a-box Kenrith, the Returned King in my list. Since they're only available in foil, can I get proxies from the Head Judge?

A: Well... no. Even though they're only widely available in foil, you can get non-foil Kenriths in Throne of Eldraine Collector Boosters. Because it's possible to acquire non-foil versions of Kenrith, the Head Judge probably won't issue proxies.

That's all I have for you this week, friends. If you're going to be at CommandFest DC in a few weeks, come say hi! I'm going to be there all weekend answering all kinds of wild rules questions, and I can't wait!

- Andrew

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

The Melira/Tatterkite example is really strange. Is there anything in the comprehensive rules that makes the difference clear between static abilities that count as EtB effects and those that don't? (the difference is clear from the explanation, but I'm looking for more general wording).
#1 • Date: 2019-11-26 • Time: 03:09:13 •
It's not about whether the ability counts as an EtB effect, it's about what class of objects the replacement effect applies to. If the replacement effect only applies to the object with the ability (Tatterkite) then you take it into account as the object enters the battlefield. If it applies to a larger class of objects that could include the object with the ability (Melira) then you don't take it into account. This is from 614.12 in the CR section about replacement effects.
#2 • Date: 2019-11-26 • Time: 09:43:47 •
Thanks for providing the exact rule section, I couldn't find it!
#3 • Date: 2019-12-03 • Time: 07:28:12 •

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