Published on 02/14/2011

You've Besieged My Heart

Cranial Translation
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Note: This article is over two years old. Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes. Proceed with caution.

When I was looking for Valentine's
Day-related cards, I found this art oddly
appropriate. Almost creepily so!
Roses are red, Lotuses are black... well, I'm bad at this poetry stuff, but our foreign-language translators are probably happy I didn't try to rhyme anyway, and the rest of you are probably happy you didn't have to read it! It's Valentine's Day in the US, which means that if you're reading this and haven't sent me flowers yet, you'll have to hurry to get them to me in the next twenty-four hours or so. Hint: my favorite flowers are Lotuses.

In lieu of $800 flowers, you can send us rules questions to . No idea how you'll fashion them into a bouquet (maybe with some creative origami?), but we'll appreciate them all the same! Now let's dig into that mailbag and see what's written on these cards!

Q: If I temporarily swipe a Piston Sledge from another player with Word of Seizing, can I sacrifice it to itself so its original controller doesn't get it back at the end of the turn?

A: Sure, you can do that! There's nothing stopping you from sacrificing Piston Sledge to pay the cost of its own ability, it's just usually a bad idea to do so. You will need to have a legal target to activate the ability though, so you'll need a creature you control that can be the target of Piston Sledge's equip ability.

Q: So I was playing against my friend's deck and he had a Skill Borrower out. The top card of his library was an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. When it attacks, does it annihilate 6?

A: Thankfully, annihilate isn't an ability that Skill Borrower can borrow. Annihilate isn't an activated ability, it's a triggered one. There's an easy way to tell the difference: activated abilities have a cost and an effect separated by a colon like the one next to the word "difference" earlier in this sentence. If your friend wants to annihilate you for 6, he'll have to do it with Emrakul itself.

Q: If you counter a Black Sun's Zenith, will it get shuffled into its owner's library still? Is there any way to get rid of a Zenith for good?

A: Oh yes, countering a Zenith is one sure way to stop it from coming back in the future. All the Zeniths shuffle back in as part of their effect. But if the Zenith doesn't resolve (and the most common reason for that is that the Zenith has been countered), none of its effects will happen, including the part where it gets shuffled back into its owner's library.

Q: If a Rot Wolf is equipped with Mortarpod and tries to kill something, does the controller of Rot Wolf get a card?

A: Nope. In order to activate Rot Wolf's damage ability (the one Mortarpod has kindly granted it), you'll need to sacrifice the Wolf as a cost. By the time Rot Wolf's ability resolves, it's not on the battlefield anymore for its triggered ability to trigger.

Q: My opponent has no poison counters, but I'd just love to give him some for Valentine's Day. Can I equip Mortarpod onto my Core Prowler, sacrifice it, and proliferate the poison counter it gives him?

A: Unfortunately this combo won't work out, and neither will your relationship if you're offering your significant other poison counters for Valentine's Day. Core Prowler's activated ability goes on the stack as the first part of activating the ability, then you'll pay the costs for it, which is sacrificing Core Prowler. This means that the Prowler's proliferate trigger goes on the stack on top of the activated ability, and resolves first. At that time, your opponent doesn't have a poison counter.

Q: My opponent has an Akroma's Memorial on the battlefield, and I want one of my own. Can I cast mine, then use Mirrorworks to make a copy of it, or will all three die?

A: This'll net you one Akroma's Memorial sitting on your side of the battlefield. Mirrorworks triggers when your Memorial enters the battlefield, then state-based actions are checked, both Memorials die, and then Mirrorworks's trigger goes on the stack. If you pay , you'll get an Akroma's Memorial token thanks to some last-known information about your original Akroma's Memorial.

Q: My opponent attacks me with Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, and I sacrifice Karmic Justice and three other permanents. Will Karmic Justice trigger four times?

A: There's a minor hitch in your plan if you've hoped a little Karmic Justice would save you from Eldrazi. Karmic Justice will only trigger if a permanent you control is destroyed by a spell or ability. Though both destroying and forcing you to sacrifice a permanent both have the same end result, Karmic Justice only triggers on one of them.

Q: There's been a lot of talk about Virulent Wound having a delayed triggered ability, but Rot Wolf only having a regular triggered ability. How do I know when something has a delayed triggered ability and when it has a regular triggered ability?

A: Regular triggered abilities always start with "When", "Whenever", or "At". Delayed triggered abilities are created by another effect, and you can find them embedded in the text of a spell or ability that creates them. They're usually something like "When [...] this turn," or most commonly, "At the beginning of the next end step".

"Bring new candy hearts with
little sayings on them to the unbelievers."
—Tome of Machines, verse 17<3
Q: How does Gore Vassal work with Melira's Keepers? It can't put a -1/-1 counter on the Keepers, so can it even target them? If so, will they regenerate?

A: Melira's Keepers can't have counters on it (they "can't be countered" - though we kinda used that joke with Tatterkite), but the ability can still target them. When Gore Vassal's ability resolves, it'll do as much as possible, which is to regenerate it.

Q: So I've got a Fangren Marauder and a Mirran Crusader all ready to block for me, which is good, because I only have 1 life left. My opponent attacks with three 1/1 Myr artifact tokens. I believe that without first strike, there is no way that I can gain life until after dying, which, is no good. After Mirran Crusader does his dirty deed, will I be able to trigger the Marauder's ability in time?

A: Yep, you'll survive! Creatures with double strike deal combat damage at the same time first strikers would (and again in the regular combat damage step), so an artifact will go to your opponent's graveyard and trigger the Marauder before any of the unblocked Myr tokens would deal combat damage to you.

Q: I bought my Kodama of the North Tree something pretty to wear for Valentine's Day: a Nim Deathmantle. Unfortunately, she (why not?) has shroud... but if she's put into a graveyard, can I use it to bring "her" back?

A: Technically trees are both male and female, but whatever floats your boat. Shroud prevents you from using the equip ability to target the Kodama, but Nim Deathmantle's triggered ability doesn't target, it just returns the creature to the battlefield and attaches itself and clings on... like some ex-girlfriends I know, hey-ooooo!

Q: If I have a Nim Deathmantle equipped on an Iron Myr that I'm using to block, can I use the mana from the Myr to return it to the battlefield? Or is the mana gone from my mana pool before the triggered ability goes on the stack?

A: This is a really subtle interaction that would've been do-able before the M10 rules change about mana emptying at each step instead of phase. The last time you get priority before your Myr bites the dust is in the declare blockers step, so that's the latest you can tap your Myr for mana. As soon as the combat damage step begins, your Myr is assigned and then dealt damage, with you not getting priority to use the Myr's mana ability, and any mana you generated in the declare blockers step is already gone.

Q: Platinum Angel says I can't lose the game, and my opponents can't win the game. What happens if a non-opponent would win the game, like in Star Magic?

A: Star Magic isn't supported by the Comprehensive Rules, so there will be some issues like this. In a multiplayer game, an "I win" effect is turned into "all my opponents lose" - but you're not an opponent. And a player wins in Star Magic when both of his opponents are defeated, which Platinum Angel doesn't stop. No one else loses, that player just wins.

So, strictly by the book, your non-opponent will win the game, but the Star Magic rules aren't very well made with consideration for all of the actual rules of Magic. The problem is that in recognized casual variants, you have teammates or opponents, not neutral players you can't win with. You should discuss with your playgroup whether you, as a group, believe that this answer is okay or whether you should make special exceptions for effects like Platinum Angel's.

Q: If I cast a Genesis Wave for 6, and I reveal a Hellkite Charger and a Bear Umbra, can I time it to put the Bear Umbra on the Hellkite Charger and use the combo to win the same turn?

A: Sadly that won't work. All the permanents you reveal are put onto the battlefield at the same time, so you'll need another permanent that's already on the battlefield for you to attach the Bear Umbra to. You'll need to find another way to win the game... maybe the other four permanents you might've hit along with a 5/5 flying Dragon with haste could help you with that?

Q: At the prerelease I managed to draft two Knowledge Pools. During a game I played one of the Knowledge Pools, and the other one showed up in the Pool. My opponent decided to get rid a useless spell to play the exiled one. My question is, when either of us play a spell, which pool will it end up in? And does that change depending on whose turn it is?

A: You're right about it depending on whose turn it is. Triggers go on the stack in Active Player, Non-Active Player order, so whoever's turn it isn't will have their Knowledge Pool nab the spell. When the active player's trigger goes to resolve, the non-active player's Knowledge Pool trigger has already exiled the spell, so there's nothing for AP's Knowledge Pool to do.

Q: Do emblems carry on in the subgame created by Shahrazad? I checked the rules and it mentions that commanders, vanguards and planes go to the new Command zone, but no mention of emblems.

A: You're correct! Emblems won't carry over, as they're part of the original game, not the new one. Nothing from the original game carries over to a subgame except anything explicitly referenced in the effect that makes that subgame, such as your library.

Q: From what I understand, things like "draw three cards" is really drawing a single card three times. So if you were to draw multiple cards and had cards with dredge in your graveyard, could you choose to dredge the first one and wait to see what ends up there before deciding for the next draw? If yes, can you even use dredge from cards that ended up in your graveyard from the last draw?

A: You've understood this perfectly. Each card drawn happens one at a time, so you'll choose whether to replace each draw with dredging as it occurs. And each time you do, you'll get to look in your graveyard to see if there's anything worth your while to dredge back.

Something tells me he won't be
getting any Valentine's Day cards.
Q: If one of my opponents is at 42 life, can I one-shot him with my Commander, Heartless Hidetsugu?

A: Nope, but you'll be that much closer to winning the game some other way. Commander damage (which doesn't have nearly as much pun potential as "General damage") only comes from combat damage, not damage in general. See what I did there? This is what I'm talking about.

Q: I control a Myr Propagator. I cast a Giant Growth on it. If I activate Myr Propagator's ability, will I make a 4/4 Myr token that will stay 4/4 after the end of my turn, or will the new token lose Giant Growth's buff like the original Myr Propagator? If the token loses Giant Growth's buff, is there a way to buff Myr Propagator such that the token it creates will keep the buff permanantly?

A: Unfortunately there's no way your Myr token will ever be a 4/4, unless you've got another Giant Growth in hand. Copy effects only copy the printed characteristics of a card, plus things tacked on by other copy effects. The token's printed characteristics will be defined by the effect that makes that token, so in Myr Propagator's case, the token looks exactly like original.

Q: As linked abilities are coming up in Cranial Insertion pretty often lately, I've been wondering: What constitutes a linked ability? I gather that all Imprint abilities are linked, but apparently Phyrexian Revoker is as well. How do we know which abilities are considered linked, since it isn't stated on any card?

A: In general, abilities are linked when one has you make a choice or do something to an object, and another ability (or part of the same ability at a later time) refers to that choice or object. There's a list of all the ways abilities can be linked in section 607 of the Comp Rules, but I can't think of any specific card examples that fall outside of the general guideline I just gave.

Q: If I Genesis Wave and pull a Green Sun's Zenith, I know that I can't tutor up a creature because I can't spend anything on X, but is it possible to "search my library for a green creature card with converted mana cost 0 or less", and although I would fail to find one (assuming no Dryad Arbors in the deck), still shuffle the Zenith back into my library instead of it going to the graveyard?

A: Genesis Wave doesn't actually do anything with Green Sun's Zenith at all! It's not a permanent card, so it won't be put onto the battlefield. Putting things onto the battlefield isn't the same as casting them, so Green Sun's Zenith will always end up in your graveyard.

If you were to cast Green Sun's Zenith without paying its mana cost, such as from cascading into it, X would always equal 0. In that case, you could cast it, fail to find anything, and shuffle it back in instead of it winding up on the bottom of your library.

Well that's it for us! Now stop reading this on your phone and get back to your Valentine's Day date! Eli will be here next week.

About the Author:
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.


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