Published on 03/07/2011

Back to Reality

or, No more monkeying around!

Cranial Translation
[No translations yet]

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Welcome back to reality! I mean, welcome back to another Cranial Insertion! After Eli broke reality with his reckless punning and allowed Moko to squeeze a quiz article into our rotation, I'm finally getting a turn to answer your questions from our inbox at . If you have a question, send it in for an answer by email and possible publication in a future issue.

Before we dive into the Q&A part, I'd like to repeat an announcement that Eli made on my behalf two weeks ago. I'm organizing a charity Magic tournament to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Cast a Spell on MS, on March 19th in Toledo, Ohio. All entry fees will go straight to the National MS Society, so this is your chance to support a good cause while playing the game you love, and of course you'll get to meet me! If you're in the area on March 19th, come on over to the University of Toledo for your chance to win some nifty prizes!

Q: I control Bazaar Trader and pop my Mindslaver to control my opponent's next turn. During that turn, can I use Bazaar Trader to give one of his permanents to me because I effectively control his permanents now?

A: No, that doesn't work. Mindslaver doesn't give you control of your opponent's permanents. It gives you control of your opponent, so you get to tell him what to do with the things he controls, but he is still their controller. This means that your Bazaar Trader can't target any of your opponent's permanents.

However, you could use Bazaar Trader's ability on itself during your own turn and give it to your opponent. Then, when you control his turn, you can compel him to use the Trader to give one of his permanents to you, but he gets to keep the bizarre Trader.

Q: I control my opponent's turn with Mindslaver and I see that he has two Morbid Plunders in his hand. He's got a bunch of nasty dudes in his graveyard and I want to prevent him from getting them back, so I force him two cast both Morbid Plunders with zero targets. Is that legal?

A: Absolutely! Morbid Plunder targets up to two cards, which means any number that isn't greater than two. If the spell wanted to exclude zero, it would use "one or two targets" like Forked Bolt. Zero is a number that's not greater than two, so casting Morbid Plunder with zero targets is perfectly legal even if it's almost never a good idea.

Q: How does Gideon Jura's ability work in Two-Headed Giant?

A: It works the same as in a regular duel. The two heads in a Two-Headed Giant team share a life total and their turns, but otherwise they are two separate players that control objects separately. Gideon Jura's ability targets one of the two heads, and only the creatures that are controlled by that head are required to attack. The creatures that the other head controls are unaffected by this requirement.

Q: What does Dissipation Field do in Two-Headed Giant?

A: Not much, I'm afraid. As I just said in the previous answer, each player controls their permanents separately, and "you" in a card's text doesn't suddenly mean "you and/or your teammate" in Two-Headed Giant. The "you" in Dissipation Field's ability only refers to the head that controls it. For combat damage, the attacking team decides which head receives the damage when combat damage is assigned to the defending team, and noncombat damage is always dealt to a specific player anyway, so it's generally very easy to play around Dissipation Field's ability by dealing damage to the head that doesn't control Dissipation Field.

Q: I know that equipment fall off an animated Inkmoth Nexus when it stops being a creature, but what happens if it has any +1/+1 counters on it?

A: No rule or effect is telling the counters to go away, so they stay. They won't create an effect while Inkmoth Nexus isn't a creature, but they'll go back to providing a nifty bonus when you animate it again.

Q: My opponent uses Act of Treason to steal my Wurmcoil Engine and sacrifices it to cast Kuldotha Rebirth. He claims that he also gets the Wurm tokens from Wurmcoil Engine. Is that right?

A: I'm afraid so. He controlled Wurmcoil Engine when it left the battlefield, so he controls its leave-the-battlefield ability and he puts the tokens onto the battlefield under his control. Looks like he'll soon add some injury to the insult of stealing your Wurmcoil Engine!

Tezzeret, Creator of Rules Questions
Q: If I use Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas' -1 ability on a Darksteel Axe, is the resulting 5/5 artifact dude indestructible?

A: For sure! Tezzy's ability doesn't say anything about removing abilities, so it doesn't remove abilities. The only implicit ability removal anywhere in the game happens when you set a land's subtypes to a basic land type, which is totally not what's happening here. Have fun with your indestructible 5/5 beatstick!

Q: My opponent has a random dork that's equipped with Sword of Feast and Famine, and he attacks my planeswalker with it. Does he get to untap his lands?

A: Nope. The Sword's ability only triggers when the equipped creature deals combat damage to a player. A planeswalker is not a player, so beating up a planeswalker with the Sword doesn't trigger the Sword's ability.

Q: Does naming an equipment with Phyrexian Revoker stop its equip ability?

A: Certainly. Equip is an activated ability, which you can see in its reminder text that shows the tell-tale "[cost] : [effect]" template that all activated abilities follow.

Q: I'm at 10 life, I control a Death's Shadow which is currently 3/3, and my opponent attacks me with a 5/5 creature and a 4/3 creature. If I block the 5/5 with Death's Shadow and let the 4/3 through, does Death's Shadow live or die?

A: It lives! Combat damage is all dealt at once, so Death's Shadow is dealt 5 damage at the same time you're dealt 4 damage. As your life total goes down, Death's Shadow immediately gets bigger, so it is now a 7/7 that has 5 damage marked on it. When state-based actions check for creatures with lethal damage, they see none and Death's Shadow survives.

Q: What happens when I tutor for a living weapon with Stonehewer Giant's ability?

A: The enter-the-battlefield ability of living weapon has to wait for Stonehewer Giant's ability to finish before it can even go on the stack. This means that you put the equipment onto the battlefield and attach it to a creature of your choice first. Then, when the living weapon trigger resolves, a tiny Germ appears and snatches the equipment from the first creature. Who would have thought that Germs could be so strong? Note that you can activate abilities and cast spells in response to the living weapon ability, which might be useful if the living weapon is Mortarpod.

Q: I control Invoke Prejudice and no creatures. What happens when my opponent casts any creature spell?

A: Your opponent will have to pay extra or his spell will be countered. Invoke Prejudice's ability asks the spell whether it shares a color with a creature you control, and if the answer is no, the ability triggers. Since you don't control any creatures at all, the answer can't possibly be yes, so it must be no.

Q: My opponent casts a nasty spell with converted mana cost 3, and I want to counter it with Disrupting Shoal. I don't have enough mana to cast it, but I happen to have Illusion // Reality in my hand. Can I exile that to pay the alternative cost of the Shoal and counter my opponent's spell?

A: Surprisingly enough, yes, that works. When you cast Disrupting Shoal, you first choose a value for X, and then you pay the cost. The value for X you need is 3, so you choose 3. Then you pay the cost by exiling a blue card with converted mana cost 3 from your hand. Illusion//Reality is blue because at least one half of it is blue, and it has converted mana cost 3 because at least one half of it has converted mana cost 3. The fact that the two criteria are met by two different halves doesn't matter.

Can you keep a secret?
I couldn't find a Weaver of Lies,
so I'm using a face-down Akroma instead.
Don't tell anyone!
Q: My opponent swings at me with a face-up Exalted Angel. I don't have any defenses in the air, but I have a face-down Weaver of Lies that I can use to turn his Angel face down. If my opponent has the mana open to turn his Angel face up again, is there any way I can block it face-down on the ground?

A: I'm afraid not. Even though turning a face-down creature face up doesn't use the stack, you still need priority to do this. You'd have to make your move in the declare attackers step at the latest, since that's the last time you'll get priority before you have to declare blockers. However, after you do this, both players have to pass priority in succession in order for the game to advance to the declare blockers step. This gives your opponent the opportunity to turn his Angel back into a flier that soars over your defenses to smack you in the face.

Q: If I unearth Fatestitcher and then Momentary Blink it, do I get to keep it?

A: Yup! The replacement effect that wants to exile Fatestitcher when it leaves the battlefield only kicks in if Fatestitcher doesn't go to the exile zone. Since that's where Momentary Blink is taking it anyway, the replacement effect doesn't apply. The Fatestitcher that Momentary Blink returns to the battlefield is a new object that has nothing to do with the creature it used to be earlier. Neither the replacement effect nor the delayed triggered ability that would have exiled the earlier Fatestitcher have any desire to exile this new Fatestitcher.

Q: I control Spiritual Focus and my opponent makes me discard two cards with Hymn to Tourach. Do I draw 2 cards and gain 4 life?

A: Sure! Spiritual Focus triggers whenever your opponent forces you to discard a card. When you're forced to discard two cards, Spiritual Focus sees two separate instances of its trigger event, so the ability triggers and resolves twice.

Q: I'm building a Zur the Enchanter deck and I want to check whether my evil plan works. I plan on tutoring for Darkest Hour then cast Light of Day to lock all creatures out from attacking or blocking, and then using Moonlace to make Zur colorless so that it can continue to smash face. Does that work?

A: Congratulations for finding a use for Moonlace! Yes, that works. Darkest Hour and Moonlace both create color-changing effects that aren't dependent on each other, so they simply apply in timestamp order. First, Darkest Hour paints everything black and then Moonlace makes Zur colorless. Good job!

Q: Can I use Nim Deathmantle in a Commander deck that uses a nonblack commander?

A: Yup. A card's color identity is primarily derived from the colored mana symbols that are printed on it. The word "black" is not a black mana symbol, so there is no black in Nim Deathmantle's color identity.

Q: How does infect interact with Luminarch Ascension? Do I get a counter at the end of my opponent's turn if I only got dealt damage by a creature with infect? I thought I do, but Luminarch Ascension says "(Damage causes loss of life.)" so I'm not sure.

A: Yes, you get the counter. The reminder text you quoted is only meant to cover most cases, but not all cases, and it has no rules relevance. Damage to a player usually causes loss of life, but it might not. If the source has infect, the damage causes you to get poison counters rather than you losing life. Since you didn't lose any life, the Ascension's ability triggers.

Q: So, I'm in a single-elimination tournament, the match is tied and out of time, and we're both at the same life total, so we're now playing in "sudden death" mode to determine who wins the match. If I hit my opponent with a creature with infect, do I win?

A: Not unless said creature also has lifelink. In sudden death, you need a change of life totals that leaves your opponent with a lower life total than yours. Damage from a source with infect doesn't change your opponent's life total, so the game continues. This quirk puts infect decks at a disadvantage in sudden death, but then again, if your infect deck goes to time, you're probably doing it wrong.

And speaking of going to time, I'm all out of time for now. Thanks for reading, and once again, I hope to see some of you at Cast a Spell on MS on March 19th!

- 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.


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