Published on 02/28/2011

Survival of the Fittest

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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.

Do you have what it takes?
By that, I mean green mana.
Well, since Eli went and destroyed reality last week, I can just force my way through the cracks to get in an article before Carsten's. It's been too long since they've done a fun quiz article, so that's what I've brought for you.

This article is certainly not just a way for me to measure which among you have the juiciest, fittest brains so I can snack on them. Nope.

See how you do on these questions, and if I am appeased, Carsten will return next week with more questions from the inbox. You can also help appease me by sending your questions in to that address. One of the guys will send you back an answer after I chew on it some.

Remember, some questions may have more than one right answer, and some might even have no right answers! Good luck, and may the most delicious player win.

Q: In response to my (obviously) kicked Rite of Replication targeting Brine Elemental, my opponent flashed in Ixidron! What do I get?

A: The answer is...
A: Five face-down 2/2 colorless tokens that can turn face up.
B: Five face-up 2/2 colorless tokens.
C: Five face-down 2/2 colorless tokens that can't turn face up.
D: Five Brine Elemental tokens.
E: Five golden rings.

The rite answer is
B, boring bears!

In general, no effects are copied when copying an object. But there are two exceptions: other copy effects are copied by a copy effect, and stats defined by face-down status are copied. The status itself isn't copied, so the tokens will be face up like everything else that enters the battlefield by default.

Q: Which of the following abilities can Stifle counter?

A: The answer is (watch out, there may be more than one right answer!)...
A: Emrakul, the Aeons Torn's annihilator trigger.
B: Emrakul, the Aeons Torn's extra-turn trigger.
C: Koth of the Hammer's first ability.
D: Koth of the Hammer's second ability.
E: Emrakul, the Aeons Torn attacking Koth of the Hammer.

The answers are
A, B, C, and D!

Attacks aren't abilities. You can't counter them. But you can counter everything else on the list. Annihilator and the extra-turn trigger? Plain old triggered ability. Koth's first ability? Loyalty ability, which is a plain old activated ability plus some saucy rules.

Koth's second ability? Also a simple loyalty ability. Surprised there? Yes, it adds mana, and it's an activated ability, but a loyalty ability can't ever be a mana ability.

Emrakul's two abilities don't get the benefit of Emrakul's protection ability since you target the abilities, not Emrakul itself.

Q: My opponent and I are both at 6. Who wins if I cast Scapeshift on my turn and dig up two Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and six Mountains, but my opponent has Tunnel Ignus?

A: The answer is...
A: You win.
B: Your opponent wins.
C: The game is a draw.
D: You choose since it's your turn.
E: Flip a coin.

The fatal answer is
B, you die a tunnely death!

When multiple things trigger at the same time, they're put on the stack in APNAP order. Yes, you didn't think we could get through a rules quiz without an APNAP question, did you?

For those of you confused by my scary acronym, it means "Active Player, Non-Active Player." That describes the system of stacking triggers where the active player puts all of his triggers on the stack first, and then each other player in turn order does the same. The stack resolves last-in-first-out much like a baby bird's feeding time, so NAP's triggers resolve first. What with it being your turn and all, your opponent's Tunnel Ignus triggers will resolve first and kill you, and then the game's immediately over before your triggers can resolve to kill him too.

Q: What happens to Bribery-d creature after its controller leaves the game but its owner is still in?

A: The answer is...
A: Its owner gets it back.
B: It's exiled.
C: It's put in the command zone.
D: It's put in its owner's graveyard.
E: It's set on fire and inhaled.

The answer, assuming you don't bribe me to say otherwise, is

When a player leaves the game due to losing, conceding (which is still losing), or being eaten by bears (which is certainly some sort of losing), all effects giving that player control of stuff end and those things go back to their next controller as determined by layers. But there isn't an effect giving the guy control here! He's just the default controller! So the owner can't get it back since he never had it. In this case, the card's exiled so it can stare reproachfully at its owner for the rest of the game.

Q: Four turns ago, I equipped a Grafted Exoskeleton to my Tel-Jilad Fallen, and we just noticed now. What do we do?

A: The answer is...
A: Leave the game state as it is.
B: Unattach the Equipment, but it doesn't trigger.
C: Unattach the Equipment, and it does trigger.
D: Rewind the game to four turns ago.
E: Commit seppuku.

The judgely answer is
C, this is weird!

Of course, you call the judge and the judge does the fix, but close enough for government work.

Let's start with A and D: we're not going to try to rewind the game four freaking turns! That's just crazy talk. But we can't just leave things as they are, since an Equipment can't legally be attached to something with protection from artifacts. So we know the Exoskeleton has to be unattached.

When doing this fix for Game Rule Violations, we don't just perform a fix by the magical hands of the judge: we apply state-based actions as normal. Just like if you had a normal green guy that gained protection from artifacts, the Exoskeleton will fall off, trigger, and blow up your Fallen – even though this would never happen in a normal MSS draft.

Q: Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas animates my Sphere of the Suns that has already had a Giant Growth resolve on it, and then I activate Mirror Entity for 7. How big is my dude?

A: The answer is...
A: 5/5
B: 7/7
C: 8/8
D: 10/10
E: 99/99

The spherical answer is
D, big rolling ball!

What quiz could be complete without a layers question, too? Here we go, layers!

You do remember your Order of Operations, don't you?

In layer 7b, we go by timestamps, and the Sphere becomes 5/5, then becomes 7/7. Next, in layer 7c, it becomes 10/10 from Giant Growth. It doesn't matter when Giant Growth resolved; it always applies later thanks to the layer rules. But you know what? The guys wrote an entire article that answers this question (click the link I just gave you), so go ahead and read it if you haven't already!

Q: I control Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and I have a Dryad Arbor in my hand. When can I flash it in?

A: The answer is (again, there may be more than one)...
A: Never, you can only play it normally during your main phase.
B: Your upkeep.
C: Your main phase, in response to another spell.
D: Your opponent's combat phase.
E: Between games.

The flashy answer is
B and C!, Your turn only!

Thanks to flash, you can play your land creature any time you could cast an instant. That's an extra permission to the normal land-drop rules. But because it's a land, you run into one of the few outright restrictions in the rules: you can't play a land if it's not your turn, period. All restrictions must be obeyed, but you can pick and choose among permissions, so you can play it any time at all during your turn when you could cast an instant.

Q: My Ezuri's Brigade has metalcraft, and my opponent controls a Darksteel Sentinel and a 2/5 infectious Mirran Crusader thanks to his Accorder's Shield and Corrupted Conscience. I cast Slagstorm choosing to hit creatures and attack – how much damage do I get to deal to my opponent if he blocks with both creatures?

A: The answer is...
A: Surprise! Rather than pick a letter, pick a number this time!
B: Raise your arms in despair at not having multiple choice answers.
C: Declare that this non-standard question format will kill Magic.

The answer is
4 damage! Weak!

In the first-strike damage step, Mirran Crusader will whittle your Brigade down to a mere 6/6 – did you forget that step?

Then we go to normal combat damage. While assigning damage, you take any damage already dealt into account, but you do not take into account effects that will prevent, redirect, or otherwise futz around with the combat damage. Darksteel Sentinel has 3 damage on it, and it's a 3/3, so it's not going to stop any damage. Mirran Crusader has 3 damage on it, so you have to assign 2 to it – even though protection from green will prevent that 2 damage – and then the other 4 damage can go to the dome.

Q: What will a Chalice of the Void set to three counters counter?

A: The answer is (guess what, multiple answers may be right)...
A: A flashed-back Call of the Herd.
B: A face-down Vesuvan Shapeshifter.
C: Black Sun's Zenith where X = 1.
D: Joraga Warcaller kicked once.
E: Ambiguity.

The answer is
A and C!

It's really, really hard to change something's converted mana cost.

Call of the Herd costs four mana to flashback, but that doesn't change its converted mana cost – the CMC is still 3. Alternate costs won't change CMC. Kicker won't change CMC for Joraga Warcaller, either.

What does change something's CMC is the value of X (use the number chosen for X while it's on the stack) and being face down. You paid three mana for your morph, sure, but it has no mana cost, so its converted mana cost is still 0. You paid 1 for X for Black Sun's Zenith, so treat it as though its mana cost were on the stack, and its CMC is 3.

Ambiguity costs four mana and doesn't do anything weird here. I can't imagine why you'd answer with that..

Q: I control a creature with two Snake Umbras on it, and my opponent Doom Blades it. What happens to my Umbras?

A: The answer is...
A: Both are destroyed.
B: One of your choice is destroyed.
C: One of your opponent's choice is destroyed.
D: The player whose turn it is decides.
E: A black hole swallows your table.

The doomy doomy doom answer is
B, pick a card, any card!

Here we have a multiple-replacement-effect question, whee! The controller of the affected object chooses. Doom Blade isn't what's being affected, even though its effect is being made wonky. It's the creature that's about to be destroyed that's being affected. So you get to choose which replacement effect applies first out of the two, and then look at it again.

These aren't triggered abilities. You can tell because totem armor doesn't say "when" in the reminder text. So they don't "both trigger" - after you apply one and look at it again, the other totem armor doesn't apply since the critter is no longer being destroyed. Only one Umbra is taken out.

Q: I control Inexorable Tide and sacrifice Necropede to cast Flesh Allergy. Can I proliferate the -1/-1 counter so both of my opponent's 2/2 creatures die?

A: The answer is...
A: Yes, since you can order your triggers any way you'd like.
B: No, since the sacrifice happens before the spell is cast.
C: Yes, since the spell is cast before the sacrifice happens.
D: No, since you have to choose targets for proliferating before a counter is put.
E: In my day, we didn't play with these new-fangled "creatures," we just used Channel and Fireball to win on turn one.

The inexorable answer is
A, you pick the order!

Yes, Necropede's ability triggers first. You do pay costs before a spell becomes cast, so kudos if you got that bit right. Too bad that doesn't matter here.

When a player's about to receive priority, we check for anything that triggered since the last priority pass. All of those triggers go on the stack in the order their controller chooses. (But remember APNAP, too. Oooo, scary acronym again.) No player tried to get priority in between Necropede dying and Flesh Allergy becoming cast, so you can order them as you'd like.

Also remember, proliferate does not target. No, just no.

Q: My opponent tried to Mana Leak my Thrun, the Last Troll! What's the penalty?

A: The answer is...
A: A Warning.
B: A Game Loss.
C: A Disqualification.
D: A Shrug.
E: A Hug.

The answer is
F, yaaawn!

Okay, D is also kind of correct. More accurately, there is no penalty. Nothing says Thrun can't be the target of spells while on the stack. It just won't be countered, even if you decline to pay and instead stick out your tongue and say "neener." No rules have been broken here.

Q: Moonlace targets Nimble Mongoose on the stack. What happens?

A: The answer is...
A: It's colorless while it's on the stack but will be a green permanent.
B: It's colorless while on the stack and will become a colorless permanent.
C: It's green while on the stack but will be a colorless permanent.
D: It's green while on the stack and will become a green permanent.
E: You lose Magic forever for playing Moonlace.

The answer is
B and E, it's colorless forever but who the heck plays Moonlace?

You know, I picked my questions and answers, and then Eli told me that at Grand Prix-Denver someone actually played Moonlace in his Commander deck. I am floored. Floored, I tell you.

An object that changes zones becomes a new object with no relation to the old object. Simple rule of Magic. And because it's a simple rule, there is obviously a list of exceptions. One of them is that a spell that becomes a permanent as it resolves is still affected by things that affected the old object. Nimble Mongoose becomes colorless on the stack, stays colorless on the battlefield, and you're obviously playing Commander with Sean Hunt.

Q: You've got a Reflecting Pool, a Pillar of the Paruns, and an Ancient Tomb, and a Snow-Covered Mountain. What color(s) and types can Reflecting Pool make now?

A: The answer is (you know what I say here)...
F: Any color mana, but only for multicolored spells.
G: Any color mana

The answer is
B, D, and G!

Reflecting Pool can add any type of mana that you could otherwise generate with your lands. "Type" includes colorless. If it meant "of any color" that's what it would say, like Exotic Orchard. So you can add a colorless mana. You can also add red, either because of your Mountain or because of your Pillar.

Types of mana don't count restrictions, so the Pillar's restriction is ignored. It only adds one mana, so you won't get both mana from looking at Ancient Tomb. There is no such thing as snow mana, so you can't add that. ("Snow mana" is common shorthand for the symbol, which really means "One generic mana, which must have been generated from a snow permanent, oh and by the way Reflecting Pool isn't snow.")

One day we'll be able to add bananas to our mana pool. But today is not the day.

Q: Do I get a card or counter when I cycle Naya Sojourners but am enchanted with Wheel of Sun and Moon?

A: The answer is...
A: Only a card because the "when you cycle" ability triggers from the graveyard.
B: Both, because the "when you cycle" ability triggers from your hand.
C: Neither, because you didn't cycle the card, you put it into your library.
D: Both, because the trigger is part of the cycling ability.
E: You don't get a counter, your creature does, and this is an evil, sneaky trick question.

The answer is
B! Or E, but we're not that pedantic.

"When you cycle" triggers fire from wherever the card ends up. In this case, it would mean that it triggers from the library, but then that pesky rule about looking back in time kicks in (603.6d is awesome), so it has to trigger from your hand. You still did cycle it, even though it didn't end up in your graveyard, so you do get a card. The trigger isn't tied that tightly with the cycling ability, so D is wrong. If there were a Yixlid Jailer out instead of the Wheel, the Sojourner wouldn't trigger: in that case, it would trigger from the graveyard, except not because of the Jailer.

If you got 15 out of 15, please leave a comment with a sample of your brain for tasting purposes. If you got 14 out of 15, you'll do for a snack. 13 out of 15, you're awesome, but not quite succulent enough for my tastes. 12 out of 15, you're still good at this.

Now, I'm being offered a great bounty to repair Eli's gash in reality, so I'm going to stop smashing this keyboard and go fix it. Carsten will really be back next week – come back then!

- Moko the Great

About the Author:
Moko was born in Tanzania, and died in a tragic accident involving a catapult while being transported from Eli Shiffrin to Thijs van Ommen between the first two Cranial Insertion articles. Subsequently zombified, he helps sort their mail and occasionally answers questions. His pastimes include bananas and brains. Mmm brains.


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