Published on 02/03/2020

Groundhog Day, Again

Cranial Translation
Deutsch Español Français Italiano

Haven't we done this before?
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! Yesterday was Groundhog Day, which means that people in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania consulted a groundhog for a weather forecast, and I'm sure other places in the US have similar traditions. If the groundhog sees his shadow, winter will last for 49 more days, and otherwise it'll only last for 7 more weeks, or something like that. I have my doubts about the accuracy of a groundhog's weather forecast, but I don't doubt that it's a fun tradition, and I'm not in the business of denying people their fun. All I know is that I've had about enough of this winter, and I'm looking forward to spring.

While we wait for spring, let's answer some rules questions. As always, if you have questions for us, you can email us at or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will get back to with an answer, and your question might appear in a future article to educate and/or amuse readers like yourself.

Q: I control Nightmare Shepherd and Gideon Blackblade dies during my turn. If I exile Gideon, what exactly is the token copy during my turn?

A: Surprisingly enough, the token copy will look exactly like the original Gideon during your turn, a legendary 4/4 Human Soldier planeswalker creature with indestructible. Nightmare Shepherd's ability creates a token with the characteristics of "copy Gideon Blackblade as printed, except it's 1/1 and a Nightmare in addition to its other types." However, Gideon as printed is not a creature, so it can't have a creature type or power and toughness, so the exceptions of the copy effect do nothing and you get a token that's exactly like Gideon as printed, and once its animation effect applies, it looks exactly like an animated Gideon.

Q: If my opponent casts Control Magic to take care of my Runeclaw Bear, can I respond with Acrobatic Maneuver on my Bear to keep it?

A: Certainly. Aura spells are kind of odd because they are permanent spells that have a target. Your opponent casts Control Magic targeting your Bear, and by flickering the Bear you turn it into a new object that has no relation to the Bear it was just a moment ago. Control Magic's target has become nonexistent — and hence illegal — so Control Magic doesn't resolve and goes to the graveyard.

Q: I control Thassa, Deep-Dwelling and Lazav, the Multifarious that's copying Thassa; let's call him Thazav. If I also control Fblthp, the Lost, can I flicker him with both Thassa's and Thazav's ability to draw two cards?

A: No, that doesn't work. You can target Fblthp with both abilities, but you choose the target when the abilities are put on the stack, so you choose Fblthp as the target for both abilities. The first ability that resolves flickers Fblthp and turns him into a new object. The second ability finds that its target has suddenly vanished, so it doesn't resolve and won't flicker Fblthp a second time.

Q: I control a saga and its last ability has triggered. Can I respond to the ability by removing its lore counters with Vampire Hexmage to get the last effect and keep the saga on the battlefield?

A: Yes, that works. Sacrificing the saga is not part of its last effect. It is a state-based action that checks whether the saga has at least as many lore counters as its final chapter number on it, but this state-based action doesn't kick in if the saga's ability has triggered and not left the stack. If you remove the lore counters with Vampire Hexmage, then the conditions for this state-based action are no longer true once the final chapter ability has resolved, so there's no reason for you to sacrifice the saga.

Q: If I cast Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger from my hand for , can I cast Tale's End to counter the sacrifice ability and keep Kroxa?

A: Absolutely. Kroxa's "sacrifice it unless it escaped" ability is a regular triggered ability that uses the stack and you can respond to it, and Tale's End can counter triggered abilities among other things. In the end, you get a 6/6 monstrosity for , which seems pretty good.

Q: If Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is in my graveyard and I control Underworld Breach, can I escape Kroxa by paying and exiling three cards from my graveyard, and keep it?

A: Yup! Kroxa's enter-the-battlefield ability only cares whether Kroxa escaped; it doesn't care whether it escaped using the escape ability that's printed on the card.

Q: If I use Athreos, Shroud-Veiled to put a coin counter on a face-down creature and the creature dies, does it return to the battlefield, and does it return face-up or face-down?

A: It returns face-up. The dies ability tracks the card into the graveyard, where it arrives face-up, and then the ability returns the card to the battlefield. Since the ability doesn't state whether the card enters the battlefield face-up or face-down, it's face-up by default.

Q: My opponent has enchanted my creature with Dreadful Apathy and activates the exile ability. If I respond by giving the creature protection from white with Gods Willing, does my creature still get exiled?

A: I'm afraid so. After Gods Willing resolves, Dreadful Apathy is now illegally attached to your creature, and state-based actions cause it to fall off. However, contrary to a common misconception, it doesn't unattach and then go to the graveyard; Dreadful Apathy goes directly into the graveyard, so this situation is basically the same as just destroying Dreadful Apathy, which we covered two weeks ago. Dreadful Apathy's ability resolves and uses its last-known information to find the enchanted creature. Your creature does have protection from white, but that doesn't stop the ability from resolving since the ability isn't targeting the creature or doing anything else that protection cares about.

Q: I control Dreadful Apathy that's attached to an opponent's creature and activate its ability. In response I use Flicker of Fate to attach Dreadful Apathy to a different creature. Which creature ends up getting exiled when the ability resolves?

A: The first creature. Dreadful Apathy returns to the battlefield as a new Aura without any connection to its previous existence. The source of the ability on the stack is the original Dreadful Apathy that no longer exists, so once again the game uses its last-known information to find the enchanted creature, so the ability exiles the first creature.

Q: So, if I use Simic Guildmage instead to move Dreadful Apathy to another creature in response to the ability, the ability will exile the second creature?

A: Exactly! Moving an Aura with Simic Guildmage doesn't turn the Aura into a new object, so the source of the ability is still on the battlefield when it resolves, so it exiles whichever creature the Aura is attached to at that moment.

Q: Does Leyline of Sanctity protect me from Unmoored Ego?

A: Yup! Unmoored Ego is a targeted spell, and Leyline of Sanctity makes you an illegal target for your opponent's spells, so your opponent can't cast Unmoored Ego targeting you.

Q: If Phantasmal Image copies Acidic Slime, is the copy green, blue, or both?

A: Just green. Phantasmal Image becomes a copy of Acidic Slime with the stated exceptions of also being an Illusion and gaining the "don't look at it too hard" ability, but the exceptions don't change its color in any way.

Q: If I control two Angel of Vitality and gain 1 life, would I gain 2 or 3 life?

A: You'll gain 3 life. Each Angel sees that "gain 1 life" event and says "I want to modify that!" The first effect applies and changes the event to "gain 2 life", and then the second effect applies and changes it to "gain 3 life". Now that both effects have applied to the event, they don't get to apply again and replacement effects are done, so the event finally happens and you gain 3 life.

Q: I use Ashiok, Nightmare Muse's -7 ability and choose to cast my opponent's exiled Hydroid Krasis. How does that work?

A: Not well. You're casting Hydroid Krasis without paying its mana cost, so you're not paying any cost that includes X. Because of this, the only legal choice for X is 0, so this is essentially just a fantastically complicated way of moving your opponent's Hydra from exile to the graveyard.

Some dance to remember,
some dance to forget.
Q: Let's say I attack with Gallia of the Endless Dance and with Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. Does Gallia's ability trigger?

A: Nope. Kari Zev's ability creates an attacking token, but that token was not declared as an attacker, so it never attacked. Since you only attacked with two creatures, Gallia's ability doesn't trigger.

Q: Does Silent Gravestone stop escape? What about Ashes of the Abhorrent?

A: No. Using the escape ability doesn't target the escaping card nor the cards you're exiling to pay for the ability, so Silent Gravestone doesn't interfere with escape in any way. Ashes of the Abhorrent works great, though. Escape is an alternative cost to cast the card from the graveyard, and Ashes of the Abhorrent stops players from casting cards from graveyards.

Q: Does Ichthyomorphosis stop the counter-doubling effect from Hydra's Growth?

A: Not even a little bit. Ichthyomorphosis removes all abilities from the creature, but the counter-doubling effect from Hydra's Growth is not an ability of the creature. Hydra's Growth has a triggered ability itself that doubles the counters on the enchanted creature, and Ichthyomorphosis doesn't stop that ability.

Q: If I cast a modal spell like Azorius Charm and copy it with Twincast, can I choose a different mode for the copy?

A: No. Twincast makes a copy of the original spell including all of its original choices, with the only exception being that you get to choose different targets. Twincast doesn't say that you get to choose a different mode, so the copy has the same mode as the original.

Q: My opponent casts Cruel Revival and I turn Willbender face-up in response. Who gets the second effect of Cruel Revival?

A: I'm afraid you wasted Willbender's ability for no reason. Willbender can only target a spell or ability that has a single target, so if your opponent casts Cruel Revival with two targets in order to get the second effect from it, you can't even target it with Willbender's ability. Since there is no legal target for Willbender's ability, the ability promptly gets removed from the stack and doesn't do anything, and Cruel Revival resolves with its original targets.

Q: I'm at 7 life and my opponent attacks me for exactly lethal damage. I block one of his attackers and he casts Ride Down on my blocker. In response, I sacrifice my blocker to Ashnod's Altar. Will the attacker that I blocked deal damage to me or not?

A: It will not. When you sacrificed the blocker, you removed Ride Down's only target, so Ride Down doesn't resolve and none of its effects happen. This means that the attacker you blocked does not gain trample. Since it was blocked, it remains blocked even though the blocker has gone away, and since it doesn't have trample, it won't deal any combat damage.

Q: I'm playing Commander and my opponent's commander is about to die, so I flash Minion's Return onto it. Do I get the creature?

A: That depends on whether your opponent wants you to have it, so I'm going out on a limb and say probably not. Your opponent still gets to choose whether to put their commander into the command zone, and if they do, then the commander didn't actually die, so Minion's Return's ability won't trigger.

And that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for reading and please come back next week for more Magic rules!

- 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.


No comments yet.


Follow us @CranialTweet!

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

Follow our RSS feed!