Published on 12/02/2019

CI's Secret Lair Search

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Nice enough, but the neighbors
seem a bit dangerous.
Secret Lairs are all the rage in the Magic world right now, so I decided that I would take a bit of time away from the CI office and see if I could find us our own super awesome secret lair.

While I'm waiting on hold with the real estate agent, 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.

Ugh, this hold music is unbearable. I guess I can answer some of your questions while I wait...

Q: If I put Zacama, Primal Calamity onto the battlefield from my hand with Tooth and Nail, will Zacama's land untapping ability trigger?

A: No, it won't. Zacama's ability will only trigger if you cast it and you put it onto the battlefield directly without casting it, so no trigger for you.

Q: In your last article, you mentioned that Syr Konrad, the Grim wouldn't trigger when he returns to the battlefield from the graveyard. Is this also the case for other cards that return to the battlefield at the same time as he does? For example, if Konrad is in my graveyard when I resolve Living Death, will Konrad trigger at all for any of the dying creatures or returning creatures?

A: No, the same reasoning applies as last time. Konrad has to be on the battlefield to trigger, and he's not on the battlefield yet when Living Death moves card in or out of the graveyard. He would trigger for all of the creatures being exiled from graveyards and all the other creatures dying if he were on the battlefield when Living Death resolved, though.

Q: I have Soulherder, Knight of Autumn and Charming Prince on the battlefield. At the beginning of my end step, I have Soulherder's trigger target my Charming Prince. When the trigger resolves, I choose the third mode of Charming Prince's enters-the-battlefield trigger, targeting Knight of Autumn. When will Knight of Autumn return to the battlefield?

A: At the beginning of the end step of the next turn, which will be your opponent's turn.
Since you're already solidly in the middle of your end step, it's too late for the delayed trigger of Charming Prince to resolve this turn, so it will have to wait until the next turn.

Q: Does Training Grounds fully reduce the mana cost of Bogbrew Witch's activated ability, since there's still a cost of tapping her?

A: No, it will reduce the cost from ", " to ", ".
Training Grounds doesn't care about non-mana portions of the costs it reduces and can only ever reduce the mana portion of an activated ability's cost to one mana no matter what other non-mana components the cost may have.

Q: If I target the same spell with multiple copies of Narset's Reversal because of an effect like Thousand-Year Storm, will all of them make copies of the target or only one?

A: Only one. The first copy of Narset's Reversal to resolve will return the original spell to its owner's hand. This means that all of the other copies no longer have a legal target and so they'll fail to resolve.

Q: If I attack and my opponent doesn't block my creature, can I use Courtly Provocateur to force them to change their blocks?

A: No, this doesn't work. Courtly Provocateur's ability can't change which creatures attacked or blocked once those decisions have been made. If you want to force a creature to attack or block, you have to use Courtly Provocateur before attackers or blockers are declared, as appropriate.

I like the view, but it must be
sweltering in the summer.
Q: Does Gaze of Pain itself have a target, or do I choose targets if/when my creatures attack and and aren't blocked?

A: The only thing that Gaze of Pain does is set up a delayed trigger. The spell has no target. Each creature you control that attacks and isn't blocked will trigger that delayed trigger and you'll choose a target for each of those triggers at that time. (They can be different targets.)

Q: My Living Lore (exiling Time Warp) blocks my opponent's Trapjaw Tyrant. How do the triggered abilities of the two creatures stack once combat damage is dealt?

A: Since it's your opponent's turn, they'll put Trapjaw Tyrant's enrage trigger on the stack first (choosing its target at this time), and then you'll put Living Lore's damage trigger above it. Your trigger resolves first; however, since Living Lore is no longer on the battlefield due to taking lethal damage you cannot sacrifice it and will not be able to cast nor resolve Time Warp before Trapjaw Tyrant's trigger resolves. In addition, that trigger won't do anything since Trapjaw Tyrant is no longer on the battlefield and so the target won't be exiled at all.

Q: Can Stunning Reversal prevent an opponent from winning the game due to an alternate victory condition such as Laboratory Maniac?

A: No, this won't work. There's a difference between you losing the game and your opponent directly winning the game. While the most common way a game is won is by causing all of your opponents to lose, an effect that causes a player to directly win the game doesn't cause that player's opponents to lose the game (except in odd circumstances involving multiplayer games with range of influence). Since you're not losing the game, there's nothing for Stunning Reversal's effect to replace and your opponent will win the game normally.

Q: If a creature that has protection from creatures blocks Questing Beast, how exactly is combat damage handled?

A: Normally, protection from creatures will prevent all damage that would be dealt to the protected creature from creatures, but Questing Beast says that the damage can't be prevented. When two cards directly contradict each other like this, the effect that says something can't happen always wins out over the effect that wants the thing to happen. This means that Questing Beast will deal its damage normally to the protected creature and that creature will die due to Questing Beast's deathtouch when state-based actions are checked next.

Q: How does Fires of Invention interact with casting commanders? Does it ignore commander tax?

A: No, it doesn't ignore commander tax. You can never ignore commander tax when you're casting your commander from the command zone. You can only ever cheat it by putting your commander onto the battlefield from the command zone by other means, such as with the activated abilities of Derevi, Empyrial Tactician or Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow.
As for Fires of Invention specifically, it will save you the printed mana cost but you'll still need to pay the commander tax with mana as normal.

Q: What happens when I exile Murderous Rider from the stack with Spell Queller and then later Spell Queller dies? Can my opponent cast Swift End or just Murderous Rider when the leaves the battlefield trigger resolves?

A: Spell Queller's second trigger instructs the exiled card's owner to cast it if able without paying its mana cost. Since the instruction isn't any more specific than that, your opponent will have the choice of whether they'd like to cast Murderous Rider as a creature or as its Adventure, Swift End. If they cast Swift End, then it will be exiled and can later be cast as Murderous Rider.

Q: What happens when Oko, Thief of Crowns turns Glass Casket into a 3/3 Elk? Does the creature exiled with Glass Casket come back immediately? Is it lost forever?

A: When Glass Casket's trigger resolves, it exiles the target creature until Glass Casket leaves the battlefield. The full effect is contained in the resolution of this single trigger and so something like Oko's elkification that removes Glass Casket's abilities won't be able to stop the creature from eventually returning from exile. Additionally, Glass Casket is still on the battlefield, albeit in elk form, so the duration of its exile effect hasn't ended. The creature will remain locked inside the glass elk until it leaves the battlefield, completely unaffected by Oko's shenanigans.

Ah, this one is perfect.
What do you mean it's already taken?
Q: If I turn my Darksteel Citadel into an artifact creature using Skilled Animator, is it still a land?

A: Yes. Normally, an effect that changes a permanent's types or subtypes will remove any other types or subtypes unless it explicitly says that the change happens "in addition to its other types", but there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. Specifically in this case, an effect that says that something "becomes an artifact creature" secretly has this type retention included. Similarly, an effect that changes a land into something else and says "it's still a land" also preserves any other types that land may have.

Q: I control Unbound Flourishing and Vial Smasher the Fierce. I cast Voracious Hydra with X=4 as my first spell for the turn. How much damage will Vial Smasher's trigger deal?

A: Ten, if you stack your triggers correctly. Unbound Flourishing's first trigger will literally double the value of X in Voracious Hydra's mana cost on the stack from 4 to 8, so if you let that trigger resolve first, then it will have a converted mana cost of 10 when Vial Smasher's trigger resolves. Of course you're also free to just deal 6 if you want to resolve the triggers in the opposite order.

Q: If I control Beanstalk Giant and eight lands and my opponent controls Harmonious Archon, how big is my Giant?

A: Beanstalk Giant is 3/3. The effect from Harmonious Archon that sets base power and toughness applies after the Giant's own P/T defining ability, meaning that it's a 3/3 like everything else that's not an Archon.

Q: Will the tokens created by Najeela, the Blade-Blossom when she attacks trigger Druids' Repository?

A: No, they won't. Druids' Repository will only trigger when a creature is declared as an attacker. Creatures that enter the battlefield attacking aren't declared as attackers and thus won't trigger "attacks" triggers like Druids' Repository. They'll be able to generate these triggers on your next turn when they attack again, though.

Q: I cast Collective Defiance, choosing the first two modes (damage to a creature and damage to a player or planeswalker). I then copy it with Expansion. How many and which modes does the copy have? Can I change the modes for the copy?

A: The copy will have the same modes as the original, so your copy will be able to deal damage to a player/planeswalker and to a creature. You can't ever change modes when you copy a spell, even if you can change that spell's targets.

Hmm… I didn't expect it would be so hard to find a cool secret lair. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to be happy in our current offices here. I guess we can spend some of the moving costs on those cool new Secret Lair sets instead. Hooray!

That's all for this week! We wish you all the best of luck in claiming the Secret Lairs of your choice this week and hope you'll join us again next week for more Cranial Insertion.

- Charlotte


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