Published on 12/23/2019

Just Hear Those Slay Bells Jingling

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Here comes the brand new
humbug in ya ear
Ho ho ho! Santa stopped by the Cranial Insertion offices before he set off on his main mission for the season, and good news: he left us presents! Granted, they're just weird rules questions, and not, like, a Playstation 4 or anything, but we're grateful all the same. With all the holiday planning we've been doing, we'd forgotten to write our article for the week! Leave it to Ol' Saint Nick to come through in a pinch.

We transcribed the questions he wrote down as best we could, but honestly, his handwriting is pretty bad, and this paper was completely covered in milk stains and cookie crumbs. Hopefully these all make sense.

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: One of my opponents controls Pramikon, Sky Rampart, choosing left. If I goad the creatures that the opponent to my right controls, who or what can those creatures attack?

A: They not only can attack you or a planeswalker you control — they have to!

Goad creates two attacking requirements: The creatures have to attack if able, and they have to attack someone other than you if able. Even though they can't fulfill the second requirement, they can definitely fulfill the first one, so your neighbor will have to deliver you (or your planeswalkers) a season's beating.

Q: If I control Fires of Invention and cast Part the Waterveil, can I cast it for free with its Awaken cost?

A: No, you can't. Fires and Awaken are both alternate casting costs, and you can only choose one of those when you cast a spell. If you want to awaken one of your lands, you'll have to pay the full cost.

Q: My opponent is very mean, and controls both Contamination and Damping Sphere. If I tap my City of Traitors for mana, what happens?

A: No matter which way you apply the replacement effects, City of Traitors taps for .

If you apply Contamination's effect first, then the land only makes , which is just one mana, so Damping Sphere's effect no longer applies.

If you apply Damping Sphere's effect first, then the land makes , and then Contamination applies to that and turns it into anyway.

Q: I've made a few Caribou tokens with Caribou Range. If my opponent casts Turn to Frog targeting one of my tokens, and I let it resolve, can I still sacrifice it to gain 1 life?

A: No, you can't. A "Caribou token" is a token with the creature subtype "Caribou." Since Turn to Frog makes its only creature subtype "Frog," it won't be able to be sacrificed to Caribou Range anymore.

This time it actually is Equinox. Sorry.
Q: I control Dryad Arbor, Equinox, and no other land creatures. If my opponent casts Puppet's Verdict, can I activate Equinox to counter it?

What if I control Dryad Arbor and Stalking Stones, which I've already activated to turn into a creature?

A: In the first case, Equinox won't counter Puppet's Verdict. Equinox can't counter something that might destroy one of your lands.

In the second case, Equinox will counter Puppet's Verdict. One of your lands is definitely going to be destroyed — it's not a matter of "if," Burr, but "which one."

What, you didn't think Santa knew about Hamilton? I'm hip! I'm "with it"!

Q: My opponent's Skullbriar, the Walking Grave has 3 +1/+1 counters on it. If I exile it with Phyrexian Ingester, how big is my Ingester?

A: Unfortunately, your Ingester will just be 4/4. We apply the Ingester's effect in a sublayer before we get to the counters, so when the Ingester is checking out the Skullbriar, it doesn't know the counters exist.

Q: Alright, what if I exile Skullbriar with Bishop of Binding instead. Same thing?

A: Well... actually no. Bishop figures out the value of X when its triggered ability resolves. Ingester, meanwhile, has to mess around with layers to determine its own power and toughness.

Skullbriar is permanently on my naughty list for silliness like this.

Q: I control Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker and Bog Imp equipped with Grafted Wargear. If I equip Wargear to another creature, will Shirei return Bog Imp to play?

A: Yes, you'll get your Imp back. By the time Wargear's trigger resolves, it's been unattached for a good bit of time, so the +3/+2 it was getting is long gone.

Note that it would be different if you sacrificed your Imp while Wargear was still grafted to it. In that case, it was a 4/3 at the last moment it was on the battlefield, so Shirei won't give it back to you.

Q: I exiled my opponent's Venerated Loxodon with my Hostage Taker. Can I tap any five creatures to Convoke to cast the Loxodon?

A: You'll still have to have a white creature to Convoke the in the Loxodon's cost. While Hostage Taker lets you spend mana as though it were any color, Convoke isn't mana. It's just another way to pay.

Of course, you can just tap mana to pay for the in its cost, but that's much less exciting.

Q: I control Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and Repercussion, and I have ten cards in my graveyard. I cast Shower of Coals, targeting three of my opponent's creatures. How much damage does everything take?

A: Each of your opponent's creatures will take six damage - Shower of Coals deals 4 damage, then Torbran's effect applies and makes each instance of damage into 6 damage instead.

Then, for each of those creatures, your Repercussion triggers. Torbran will apply to each one of those triggers, meaning your opponent ends up taking 8 damage from each trigger, for a total of 24 damage. Not bad!

I can only assume your opponent must have been very naughty, so thanks for delivering their gifts for me.

Q: I attacked with Goblin Rock Sled last turn. If I can find some other way to untap it, can I attack with it again this turn?

A: You can! Your Sled doesn't say "this can't untap no matter what," it just says you can't untap it during the next untap step. If you untap it with, say, Twiddle, it'll be ready to help you deliver pain to your opponents again.

Q: I control Ghoulcaller's Bell. My opponent controls Dark Confidant. At the beginning of their upkeep, if they reveal a card with Confidant's trigger that I really don't want them to have, can I activate my Bell and put it into their graveyard?

A: No, this won't work. No player gets priority to activate abilities in the middle of Dark Confidant's trigger resolving, so unfortunately you'll have to watch that very good card go right into your opponent's hand.

But hey, at least you know it's coming, right? That's something!

Q: My opponent casts Languish. I control a lot of 2/2 Bear tokens. Can I save them with Wrap in Vigor?

A: Unfortunately, no.

Regeneration can only stop something from being destroyed — things like too much combat damage, or deathtouch, or something like Doom Blade that says "destroy." Languish doesn't do any of those things. It just makes your creatures have negative toughness. This is something the game is very not pleased with, but it isn't destroying your creatures, it's just telling them "Hey, you should be dead, right?" and then sending them to the graveyard.

Do I even need to check twice?
Q: If I sacrifice a Food to pay for Bog Naughty's ability, can I also pay to gain 2 life?

A: Nope, this doesn't work. You know how you can't put one dollar in two vending machines at the same time? This is like that - you're sacrificing the Food token to pay for Bog Naughty's ability, which means you definitely can't also sacrifice the Food token to pay for its own ability.

Q: I control Cylian Sunsinger. I activate its ability, and in response my opponent targets their Grizzly Bears with Mirrorweave. What happens when Sunsinger's ability resolves?

A: Every creature will be a copy of Grizzly Bears, and they'll all have +3/+3.

Sunsinger's ability doesn't care if the thing that activated it is actually named "Cylian Sunsinger." When an ability refers to itself by name, it just means "this object." So, when the ability starts to resolve, it goes "Okay, so what made me? This object? This thing that is currently a copy of Grizzly Bears? Cool!" and then the effect gives +3/+3 to all creatures named Grizzly Bears, which, right now, is all of them.

Q: I control Exquisite Archangel. My opponent hits me for 21 commander damage. What happens?

A: The Archangel saves you for the briefest of moments, and then you lose.

First, the game sees you have 21 or more damage from the same commander, so it wants you to lose. Your Archangel leaps in to save you, setting your life total to 40 instead... but then, the game sees you still have 21 or more damage from the same commander, so it makes you lose again, and this time there's no Archangel to save the day.

Q: If I control someone else's commander and it gets destroyed, can I choose if it goes to the graveyard or the command zone?

A: Nope, your opponent still chooses, since they're the owner of the commander. While it's true that you'd decide how most replacement effects apply to things you control, commanders are different. Their owner determines their fate if they would go to exile, graveyard, library, or hand.

However, if you control your opponent's turn and their commander gets destroyed, you make all decisions for them, so you can totally decide their commander goes to the graveyard.

Q: I cast Gifts Ungiven. Can I really only choose two cards if I want to? This seems wrong.

A: You can!

Note that Gifts says "up to" four cards. You can find 1, 2, 3, or 4 cards. If you're feeling incredibly dangerous, you can even find 0! If you choose two or fewer cards, your opponent is forced to choose those as the ones to put into your graveyard.

That's all Santa left us, it seems. I'm thankful he stopped by - the team here definitely needed a short break.

Happy Holidays from the Cranial Insertion Staff. Be well, be merry, and be excellent to each other. <3

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


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