Published on 02/10/2020

Just Another Valentine's Day

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The stars in her eyes...
and her fingers...and her shoulders...

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! It's the middle of February, and you know what that means - Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching. It's a big deal for some, and and a "meh" from others. Personally, I fall more into the "meh" camp, but that's ok - it's not a holiday for me, it's for others that care, and I'll happily work for someone who'd rather have the night off.

But whether or not you have any Valentine's Day plans this year, we're here to keep you occupied, as we do our weekly dive into the rules of Magic. You can send us question that we'll answer, and you might even see your question used in a future article. You can send us short questions via Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and longer questions can be sent to us at .

Q: I control Elspeth Conquers Death and I have a Lagonna-Band Storyteller in my graveyard. If I use the chapter III ability of Elspeth Conquers Death to put the Storyteller on the battlefield, will I be able to target the saga with the Storyteller's enter the battlefield trigger?

A: Yes you will. The Storyteller returns while the Elspeth Conquers Death's trigger is resolving, but that trigger can't go on the stack until after the trigger is completely done resolving. Elspeth Conquers Death will go to the graveyard due to state-based actions (since its final chapter ability has resolved), and then we can put the Storyteller's trigger on the stack - and since the saga is in the graveyard, it's a legal target for the Storyteller's trigger.

Q: My opponent casts Aspect of Lamprey. Can I cast Mystic Repeal while the Aspect is on the stack to prevent it from entering the battlefield?

A: No you cannot. The Repeal can only target an enchantment on the battlefield. It can't target an enchantment spell on the stack (otherwise, it would use the phrase "enchantment spell"). If you want to Repeal the Aspect, you'll have to wait for it to resolve (and its enter the battlefield trigger has already been put on the stack) before you can cast the Repeal targeting it.

Q: My opponent casts Portent of Betrayal targeting one of my creatures. Since I don't want to be attacked by my own creature, I activate Entrancing Lyre's ability targeting it. During my next untap step, assuming that I choose to untap the Lyre, will my creature also untap?

A: Nope, you can untap the Lyre, but your creature will remain tapped until your next turn. During your untap step, we determine which permanents will untap, and then untap them all at the same time. At the point when we're figuring out what will untap, the Lyre is still tapped and preventing your creature from untapping. You can choose to untap your Lyre, but the creature that you tapped will remain tapped until your next untap step.

Q: If my opponent targets my Tectonic Giant with their Banishing Light trigger, will I get my Giant's triggered ability?

A: No you won't. The Giant's ability triggers if it attacks or if it's targeted by a spell. It will not trigger if it's targeted by an ability. Banishing Light (the spell) doesn't target anything, but it does have an enter the battlefield ability that target. But at that point, the Light is a permanent on the battlefield, not a spell on the stack, so the Giant's ability will not trigger.

Q: I attack with Gallia of the Endless Dance and two other creatures. When Gallia's trigger resolves, I don't have any cards in my hand. Can I still choose to discard a card at random so I can draw two cards?

A: Nope. If you have no cards in your hand, you can't choose to use the trigger and discard nothing. To be able to draw two cards, you must be able to choose a card at random from your hand to discard, and you can't choose to use Gallia's ability if your hand is empty..

Q: If I name "Godless Shrine" with chapter II of Medomai's Prophecy, then after the chapter III ability resolves, play Godless Shine, do I draw two cards?

A: Nope, you won't draw. The third chapter ability only triggers if you cast a spell with the chosen name. But lands aren't spells and can only be played, they can't be cast. Naming a land is a thing you can do, but it's not a useful thing you can do, since it won't trigger if you play the land after the chapter III ability resolves.

But could a Beast ever learn to love a human?

Q: I control a Nightmare Shepherd and a Yarok's Fenlurker. If my Fenlurker dies and I exile it to the Shepherd's trigger, will the token still contribute to my devotion?

A: Yep, it will still help out your devotion to black. A token that's not a copy of something has no mana cost, and therefore does not help out devotion. But a token that is a copy of something (like the token you make with the Shepherd's triggered ability) will copy the mana cost of the original card. The original Fenlurker has a mana cost of , so the token copy of the Fenlurker will also have a mana cost of and will contribute two to your devotion to black.

Q: I control an Enigmatic Incarnation and a creature that's been enchanted by my opponent's Inevitable End. Can I sacrifice Inevitable End to my Incarnation trigger during my end step?

A: No, you can't do that. While the End is attached to a creature you control, your opponent still controls the aura. Since you can't sacrifice something you don't control, you won't be able to sacrifice your opponent's End to your Incarnation trigger.

Q: I control a Dungeon Geists which is currently preventing one of my opponent's creatures from untapping. If I flicker the Geists with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling's triggered ability, can I prevent two creatures from untapping?

A: The new creature won't untap, but the creature you originally tapped will untap like normal. The effect that prevents the creature from untapping lasts for as long as you control the Geists. While the Geists was exiled and returned immediately by Thassa's triggered ability, it did leave the battlefield, so the effect that stopped the first creature from untapping ended. Unless you target the original creature again with the Geist's triggered ability, it will untap like normal during your opponent's untap step.

Q: I control a Polukranos, Unchained enchanted with my opponent's One with the Stars. If I activate Polukranos's fight ability, will the fight actually happen?

A: Nope, there won't be a fight. One with the Stars makes Polukranos into just an enchantment (and not a creature), but it retains its other abilities. You're free to activate Polukranos's fight ability. However, a noncreature permanent cannot be involved in a fight, so when the activated ability resolves, nothing happen since Polukranos is not a creature, and no damage will be dealt.

Q: I control a Nightmare Shepherd and a Spark Double that's currently a copy of Nyxborn Brute. If the Double dies and I choose to exile it to the Shepherd's triggered ability, is the 1/1 token a copy of Spark Double or a copy of Nyxborn Brute?

A: It's a copy of Nyxborn Brute. The Shepherd tells you to make a copy of the creature, not a copy of the creature card. Since a "creature" only exists on the battlefield, the Shepherd's trigger will look at how the creature looked when it was last on the battlefield, not what the creature card looked like in the graveyard or in exile. When the Double was last on the battlefield, it looked like the Brute, so you'll get a 1/1 token copy of the Brute, not a copy of Spark Double.

Q: I have Fires of Invention in play and a Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger in my graveyard. If I want to cast Kroxa from my graveyard, can I cast it for free?

A: You may not - you can only cast it via escape. We can only use one alternate cost when casting a card. The Fires is an alternate cost, and so is escape. And since escape is the only effect that lets you cast the card from your graveyard, you can only cast Kroxa by paying its escape cost, not via the Fires's ability.

Q: I control Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner and I cast Klothys, God of Destiny, but my devotion to red and green is too low to make it a creature. Do I still get to draw a card from Kiora's triggered ability?

A: Nope, you don't get a Kiora trigger. If your devotion isn't high enough as Klothys enters the battlefield, then it enters as a legendary enchantment, not a creature. Since it's not a creature, it can't have a power and toughness, so Kiora's ability would not trigger.

Do note that we're checking to see if Kiora's ability should trigger after Klothys has entered the battlefield, so if Klothys's own mana cost is enough to push your devotion to red and green to at least seven, Klothys will enter as a creature and you will get the Kiora trigger.

Hopefully, your Valentine's Day plans don't
require an end of night kiss.

Q: I control Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. If my opponent enchants it with Ichthyomorphosis, will my lands still have all basic land types?

A: Yes they will! This is because of everyone's favorite Magic rules, layers.

Layer 4 is the layer where we apply effects that add or remove types and subtypes, which is when the Dryad gives all of your lands all basic land types. And layer 6 is the layer where we apply effects that add or remove abilities. This is when Ichthyomorphosis removes the Dryad's abilities, but it won't do anything to an effect that applied in an earlier layer. Ichthyomorphosis will remove the ability to play an extra land, but thanks to the way layers work, your lands will still gain all basic land types.

Q: I just cast Storm Herald, and when its enter the battlefield trigger resolves, I choose Daybreak Coronet and Hyena Umbra. Will I be able to attach both auras to the Herald?

A: No you will not. Both auras are entering the battlefield at the same time - you're not putting one onto the battlefield, then the other. When you're choosing what creatures to attach the auras to, you have to choose something legal to attach it to. Even if you intend on attaching the Umbra to the Herald, when we're choosing what to attach the Coronet to, the Herald doesn't have another aura attached to it, making the Herald an illegal choice to attach the Coronet to. If you control another creature with an aura already attached to it, you can attach the Coronet to that creature, but you can't rely on the Umbra being returned at the same time to be able to attach the Coronet to the Herald.

Q: I control a 6/6 Polukranos, Unchained and Vigor. If I activate Polukranos's fight ability targeting an opponent's 4/4, how big will my Polukranos be after the fight?

A: That's up to you. It could be a 2/2 creature... or it could be a 10/10! When Polukranos would be dealt damage during the fight, there's two replacement effects that want to apply to that damage - Polukranos's replacement effect wants to prevent that damage and remove that many +1/+1 counters, while Vigor also wants to prevent that damage and put that many +1/+1 counters on the creature instead. Since you control Polukranos, you get to choose which replacement effect applies first. More than likely, I bet you want your Polukranos to get bigger, so by applying Vigor's replacement effect first, the damage will be prevented and Polukranos will gain +1/+1 counters instead of losing them.

Q: Will my Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin help out my devotion to blue?

A: No it will not. The back side of a double faced card doesn't have a mana cost, so it won't contribute anything to devotion. While the back side will have the same converted mana cost as the front side (in the case of Azcanta, two), it only gets the converted mana cost, not the mana cost of the front side, so the back side won't help out your devotion at all.

Q: My opponent controls an Imposing Sovereign and I control Amulet of Vigor. If I play a creature, will it end up tapped or untapped?

A: It spends a short time tapped, but it will ultimately end up untapped. The Sovereign causes your creatures to enter the battlefield tapped. But since the creature is entering the battlefield tapped, your Amulet will trigger and will cause your creature to untap. So while your creature will enter tapped, thanks to your Amulet, it will end up untapped once the Amulet's trigger has resolved.

Q: I control Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God and Gideon Jura. If I activate the +2 ability on Gideon, then use Nicol Bolas and activate the same +2 ability on Nicol Bolas, what happens when my opponent has to attack next turn? Are they unable to attack at all since the can't attack both Gideon and Nicol Bolas?

A: When declaring attackers, we have to fulfill as many requirements as possible without violating any restrictions. During your opponent's turn, there's two requirements for each of their creatures - that creature must attack Gideon if able, and that creature must attack Nicol Bolas if able. They can't fulfill both requirements (since they can't attack two planeswalkers at the same time), but they can fulfill one requirement if that creature attacks Gideon or Nicol Bolas. For each creature your opponent controls control, that creature attacks Gideon or Nicol Bolas. They can send them all at one planeswalker or the other, or they could split up their attacks, just as long as each creature that could attack attacks one of the two planeswalkers.

Q: I control Guardian Beast and a Wishclaw Talisman. If I activate the Talisman's ability, do I have to give my opponent the Talisman?

A: Nope, you keep control of the Talisman. The Beast is a weird card (welcome to early Magic design), but in current Magic, part of its static ability says that other players can't gain control of your artifacts. As long as the Beast is untapped when the Talisman's ability resolves, you'll still tutor for a card like normal, but you'll retain control of the Talisman since your opponent can't gain control of your artifacts, including the Talisman.

That's all I have for this week. We'll see you again next week!


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