Published on 12/09/2019

Lucky Number Thirteen

Cranial Translation
简体中文 Deutsch Español Français Italiano

Who's afraid of the number 13?
Your opponent, probably.
Greetings, and welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion! Today is Monday the 9th, which means that this Friday is Friday the 13th. Many cultures regard that date as unlucky, but since December 13th is my birthday, and it occasionally falls on a Friday, I don't subscribe to that particular superstition. In my youth, the days leading up to my birthday were always a fun time filled with anticipation of cool new toys I'd get as gifts. Now that I'm older, I'm more likely to get randomly assigned physical ailments from my aging body than cool toys, but it's still fun to celebrate my birthday with family and friends.

As usual, I'll celebrate this year's birthday by answering more rules questions. If you have questions for us, please email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will get back to you with an answer, and your question might appear in a future article.

Let's dive into today's selection, and we'll begin with a correction to an incorrect answer from two weeks ago.

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: Contrary to what we said two weeks ago, Bone Miser's ability doesn't trigger and you don't make a Zombie token, even though you revealed the card before you discarded it. Since this is a pretty non-intuitive result and we're contradicting ourselves from two weeks ago, we'll do something we rarely do here and quote the Comprehensive Rules:

701.8c If a card is discarded, but an effect causes it to be put into a hidden zone instead of into its owner's graveyard without being revealed, all values of that card's characteristics are considered to be undefined. [...]

This rule tells us that it doesn't matter whether the card is revealed before the discard or after the discard. What matters is whether the card is being revealed by the replacement effect that causes it to be put into a hidden zone. (If you're wondering what an effect looks like that doesn't fall under this rule, check out Wheel of Sun and Moon.) Library of Leng's replacement effect doesn't reveal the card, so that rule kicks in and tells the game to treat that card as having undefined characteristics. Bone Miser looks at the card and says "It doesn't look like anything to me," and none of its abilities trigger.

Q: I use Golos, Tireless Pilgrim's ability and one of the exiled cards is Emrakul, the Promised End. If I play Emrakul from exile without paying its mana cost, do I get to control my opponent's next turn?

A: Yup! To play a card means to play it as a land (if it's a land card) or to cast it as a spell (if it's a nonland card). Since Emrakul is a nonland card, playing it means casting it, so its triggered ability triggers.

Q: I activate Liliana, Untouched by Death's -3 ability and there's a Murderous Rider in my graveyard. Can I cast Swift End from my graveyard?

A: Nope. When you cast an adventurer card, you replace its characteristics with the part you're trying to cast before you check if you're allowed to begin casting it. When you try to cast Swift End from your graveyard, you're trying to cast an instant card from your graveyard, not a Zombie card, so the permission that's granted by Liliana's -3 ability doesn't apply.

Q: If Collected Company finds Flaxen Intruder, can I cast Welcome Home and get three Bear tokens?

A: No, that doesn't work. Collected Company doesn't offer you to cast the cards it finds; it offers you to put them onto the battlefield. You're simply putting Flaxen Intruder onto the battlefield, and the alternative characteristics of Welcome Home don't matter at all in this situation.

Q: How about if I cascade into Flaxen Intruder with Bloodbraid Elf? Do I get Bears?

A: Yup! Bloodbraid Elf's cascade asks you to exile cards until you exile one with a converted mana cost less than four. Flaxen Intruder's converted mana cost is one because the characteristics of Welcome Home are invisible while the card is not on the stack, so cascade allows you to cast the card without paying its mana cost. When you cast the card, you choose whether to cast Flaxen Intruder or Welcome Home, and you're allowed to cast Welcome Home even though it costs six mana.

Q: I control Rayne, Academy Chancellor, who is not enchanted, and my opponent casts Comet Storm targeting three things. If I counter Comet Storm, do I draw any cards?

A: Yes, assuming your opponent isn't throwing Comets at themselves, you get to draw up to three cards. Rayne's ability triggers once each time you or a permanent you control becomes the target of Comet Storm, so it triggers three times. By the time you counter Comet Storm those abilities are already on the stack, and countering Comet Storm doesn't remove the abilities from the stack.

Q: I still control Rayne, Academy Chancellor who is still not enchanted. My opponent targets her with Spit Flame so she puts on Alexi's Cloak in a hurry. How many cards do I get to draw?

A: You get to draw up to two cards. Rayne's ability triggered once when your opponent cast Spit Flame, and that ability is now on the stack and waiting to resolve. Rayne gaining shroud doesn't remove that ability from the stack any more than countering Comet Storm did in the previous question. Additionally, Rayne is enchanted at the time the ability resolves, so you'll get to draw a nifty bonus card.

Banned from Standard,
but not from Cranial Insertion
Q: If Oko, Thief of Crowns makes a Food token and then later turns it into a 3/3 Elk, can it still be sacrificed to Wicked Wolf?

A: No. Oko's +1 ability turns the Food token into a creature that's just a green 3/3 Elk. It's no longer an artifact, so it loses the artifact subtype Food. The token is still named "Food", but Wicked Wolf's activation cost cares about the Food subtype, not the name.

Q: If I cast a morph face down and Oko, Thief of Crowns does his Elk thing, is the morph a 2/2 or a 3/3, and can I turn it face up?

A: It's a 3/3 because Oko's effect sets the power and toughness in layer 7b, which is well after the morph's being-face-down sets it to 2/2. You can't turn it face up, though, since in order to do that you'd have to reveal its morph cost, which it doesn't have because it's an Elk that doesn't have any abilities.

Q: How does Solemnity work with Saga cards?

A: It works really well if you're hoping to shut down the Saga. The Saga enters the battlefield without a lore counter, and the turn-based action to put lore counters on it in your main phases won't put a lore counter on it either. This means that the Saga's chapter abilities can't trigger while Solemnity is on the battlefield, which renders the Saga sad and useless.

Q: My opponent controls a Suspicious Bookcase that's enchanted with Aerial Modification. What does it become if I enchant it with Deep Freeze?

A: Oh, look, it's a question about layers! To get the characteristics of the frozen, modified Bookcase, we start with what's printed on the Bookcase and then apply effects in layer order. In layer 4, Deep Freeze adds the creature type Wall, which does nothing because the Bookcase is already a Wall. In layer 5, Deep Freeze adds the color blue. In layer 6, we apply the effects from Aerial Modification and Deep Freeze in timestamp order, so the Bookcase first gains flying and then loses flying. In layer 7b, Deep Freeze sets the power/toughness to 0/4, and then Aerial Modification's +2/+2 is applied in layer 7c. In the end, the Bookcase is a blue 2/6 Wall artifact creature with defender and no other abilities.

Q: If I use Viashino Heretic's ability on my opponent's Blightsteel Colossus, does the Heretic deal damage to my opponent?

A: Yup! The ability resolves and does as much as it can. It tries to destroy the Colossus and fails because the Colossus has indestructible. However, the damage is not contingent on destroying the artifact, so the damage still happens and the Heretic deals 12 damage to your opponent. Ouch!

Don't worry, it's just a phase.
Q: If I exile something with Banishing Light and then Teferi's Protection causes Banishing Light to phase out, does the exiled thing get returned to the battlefield?

A: No. Unlike "for as long as" effects like the effect on Sower of Temptation, which ends when Sower of Temptation phases out, the "exile until" effect of Banishing Light actually ties the return event to the event of Banishing Light leaving the battlefield. Phasing out doesn't cause Banishing Light to leave the battlefield, so the exiled thing remains exiled.

Q: If a noncreature artifact gets animated and somehow phases out, does Time and Tide phase it back in?

A: That depends on how the artifact was animated. If it was something like Sydri, Galvanic Genius, or even our old friend Oko, Thief of Crowns, the effect that turned the artifact into a creature continues to apply to it while it's phased out, so it's a phased-out creature and Time and Tide phases it in. If it was animated by something like March of the Machines, the animation effect won't apply to it while it's phased out, so it's a phased-out artifact and Time and Tide won't phase it in.

Q: What's the color identity of Ceta Sanctuary?

A: Just blue. A card's color identity comes from colored mana symbols in its mana cost and rules text, as well as any characteristic-defining abilities or color indicator. The only source of a color identity that Ceta Sanctuary has is the blue mana symbol in its mana cost. The color words in its rules text don't contribute to color identity.

Q: My opponent casts her commander Muldrotha, the Gravetide from the command zone for ten mana because she already cast it from the command zone twice before. If I target the spell with Refuse, does she take 6 or 10 damage?

A: Only 6 damage. Refuse looks at the spell's converted mana cost, and a spell's converted mana cost has very little to do with how much mana was spent to cast it. The converted mana cost is derived entirely from the mana cost that's printed in the card's upper-right corner — shush, Tarmogoyf! — regardless of any alternative cost or additional costs that may have figured into the total cost of the spell. Muldrotha's mana cost is , so its converted mana cost is six.

Q: What happens when Emrakul, the Aeons Torn goes on The Grand Tour? And what happens if Blightsteel Colossus goes on tour instead?

A: Let's start with Emrakul. Emrakul has a triggered ability that triggers when Emrakul is put into your graveyard. This ability won't even go on the stack, let alone resolve, while The Grand Tour is resolving. This means that after you discard Emrakul, the Tour continues and eventually concludes with you putting Emrakul on the battlefield. Then, Emrakul's ability goes on the stack, and when it resolves, you shuffle your graveyard — which doesn't contain Emrakul — into your library.

Blightsteel Colossus is different. Blightsteel Colossus creates a replacement effect that changes what happens when The Grand Tour asks you to discard it. Instead of putting Blightsteel Colossus into your graveyard, you reveal it and shuffle it into your library. At that point, The Grand Tour loses track of the card, so any of the instructions after the discard are impossible and the tour is cut short.

Q: What does Present Arms do when my library is enchanted with Animate Library? And what does it do when I control Split Screen?

A: To exchange your library, you simply exchange all the cards in it, so the cards in your library become your outside-the-game original deck, and the deck from outside the game becomes your animated library. I hope it's a Battle of Wits deck so you can smack your opponent with a 250/250 creature.

If you control Split Screen while you resolve Present Arms, you choose one of your libraries to be the one that gets exchanged with the deck from outside the game, and the other three libraries remain unchanged.

And that's all the time we have for today. This is my last article of the year, so I wish you happy holidays and a safe journey into the year 2020. See you next year!

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.

In the question about Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and The Grand Tour the answer about Emrakul is wrong. The entire scenario can't happen at all because Emrakul has protection from colored spells, so she can't be targeted by The Grand Tour. Maybe it could be a good idea to replace Emrakul with another card with wich the scenario could happen, maybe Kozilek, Butcher of Truth or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
#1 • Date: 2019-12-09 • Time: 09:50:38 •

Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!