Published on 02/17/2020

Dead Presidents

Cranial Translation
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It's good to be the king
Hello, dear reader! Today is Presidents' Day, which is an American holiday to commemorate George Washington's birthday and, more commonly, to get cheap appliances or towels or something. I'm not sure where the connection is, honestly. Was George a phenomenal homemaker? That bit of his life was always left out of our history books.

Anyway, you're not here to learn about strange American holidays. You're here to learn about Magic! So let's do that instead. There might be a test later, so be sure to take good notes.

As a friendly reminder, if you'd like the CI team to answer your question, please send it to us via email at or tweet it to us @CranialTweet. We answer every question we get, and your question could show up in a future article.

Q: I control Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Divine Visitation. If I attack with Brimaz, is the Angel token still attacking?

A: Yes, it is. Divine Visitation just replaces what the token looks like, but it doesn't change anything else the effect tells you to do. Similarly, if Brimaz blocks a creature, you'll create a 4/4 white Angel token with flying and vigilance blocking that creature.

Q: I control Brago, King Eternal and Strionic Resonator. Can I copy Brago's trigger and target the same permanents with both triggers?

A: Well, you can, but it won't do much. When the first Brago trigger resolves and flickers the permanents, the permanents that re-enter the battlefield are new objects. The other trigger won't have any legal targets.

Q: If my Kingfisher and my opponent's Hushbringer die at the same time, will I draw a card?

A: You won't. When we're figuring out what triggers when it dies, we look at the moment just before it died. Just then, Hushbringer was on the battlefield, so no cards for you.

Q: I control Tymaret, the Murder King and my opponent controls Rest in Peace. Can I still activate Tymaret's abilities?

A: Absolutely! Sacrificing something doesn't mean it has to go to the graveyard. If "put it in the graveyard from the battlefield" is replaced with "put it into exile from the battlefield," it was still sacrificed. Tymaret is still pleased by your offering.

Did I stutter?
Q: I control five Faeries. My opponent casts Echo of Eons. In response, I flash in Spellstutter Sprite, targeting Echo of Eons with Sprite's enters-the-battlefield triggered ability. With the trigger on the stack, my opponent exiles one of my Faeries with Path to exile. What happens next?

A: Your Sprite's trigger won't do anything. Since you only control five Faeries now, Echo of Eons is no longer a legal target for the Sprite's trigger. Echo of Eons will resolve, and your Faeries will be very unhappy about it.

Q: If I control Underworld Breach, can I cast a morphed Zoetic Cavern?

A: You can't, but I appreciate your creativity.

While you're considering casting Zoetic Cavern for its Morph cost, it acts like a creature card (so, for instance, you could cast it from the top of your library with Garruk's Horde). Since it's a nonland card, it technically has Escape... But, because Escape and Morph are both alternate costs, you can't apply both. Your Cavern is, unfortunately, stuck in the underworld.

Q: My opponent controls Sulfuric Vortex. I have 10 life. I activate Magus of the Mirror, targeting my opponent, who has 30 life. What happens?

A: You'll both end up at 10 life. When an effect tries to set your life total to a specific number, you'd gain or lose the appropriate amount of life to get there. Magus's effect wants you to gain 20 life (to get from 10 to 30), but Sulfuric Vortex steps in and says you gain no life instead. There's nothing there preventing your opponent from losing life, though, so they'll go from 30 to 10.

Q: Does the same thing work if my opponent has Rampaging Ferocidon instead of Sulfuric Vortex?

A: No. Where Vortex uses a replacement effect that replaces "gain life" with "gain no life," Ferocidon says players can't gain life at all. In this case, since you can't gain life to go from 10 to 30, the exchange of life totals can't happen at all, so nobody's life total would change.

Q: I control Lurking Evil. If I activate it once and make it a creature, does it still have that ability? Or can I keep activating it as much as I want?

A: You can activate it as many times as you like. There's no restriction on how many times you can activate it, so you can pay half your life over and over again if you have a death wish.

Q: My opponent enchanted my Daxos, Blessed by the Sun with Heliod's Punishment. What is Daxos's toughness?

A: Daxos will have 0 toughness for just a moment, then get put into your graveyard. He loses all abilities, which includes the one that determines what his toughness is. Since nothing's defining that number anymore, the game treats it as 0. Daxos has to go back to the Underworld, it seems.

Q: I control Ink-Treader Nephilim and a few other creatures. I target it with Giant Growth, but my opponent counters with Counterspell. Will I still get copies of Giant Growth?

A: You will. The trigger knows what spell triggered it, so it can use the spell's last known information to make copies of it. Since the spell was only targeting Ink-Treader Nephilim, the trigger is happy and will make copies

Q: ...Okay. What if I remove Ink-Treader Nephilim instead, will that stop the trigger from making copies?

A: Ah, you're too smart! Yes, this will stop the trigger from creating copies of Giant Growth. When the trigger tries to resolve, it checks its intervening if clause again. The spell doesn't target the Nephilim anymore because the Nephilim doesn't exist, so the trigger can't do its thing.

Q: If I name Akroma, Angel of Fury with Pithing Needle, can my opponent turn Arkoma face-up?

A: They can! Morph isn't an activated ability, but a special action. Pithing Needle will do its best - you can definitely name Akroma with it, after all! — but its best isn't good enough this time.

What's a king to a god?
Q: I control Ephara, God of the Polis and play three creatures. At the beginning of the next upkeep, do I draw three cards?

A: Nope, you'll just draw one. Ephara only triggers one time, and she doesn't care how many creatures entered. She just asks "did any creatures enter last turn?" and if any did, you'll draw one card.

Q: My opponent controls Kismet. If I play City of Brass, will I take 1 damage?

A: No, you won't. For something to "become tapped," it has to go from "untapped" to "tapped." Entering already tapped doesn't satisfy the requirement, so you're safe... until you decide to tap City for mana, anyway.

Q: I have five devotion to white and I'm attacking with Heliod, Sun-Crowned. My opponent blinks one of my other white creatures with Eldrazi Displacer. What happens to Heliod?

A: Heliod will be removed from combat. For the briefest moment, your devotion to white was less than 5, so he stopped being a creature. Since he stopped being a creature, he was immediately removed from combat.

Q: I control Nightmare Shepherd, Kormus Bell, and a bunch of Swamps. If one of my Swamps dies, can I exile it? If I can, what does it look like?

A: It died as a creature, so you can exile it. You'll get a token copy of a Swamp, which Kormus Bell then makes a 1/1 black creature. It won't be a Nightmare.

Q: Can I use Snow-covered basics for Theros Beyond Death limited events? I mean, there aren't any cards in the set that care about snow permanents, so it doesn't affect anything, right?

A: It might not affect anything, but you still can't use Snow-covered basics here. You can only add any number of regular basic lands to your limited pool. You have to draft or open snow basics to use them, and since you can't do that in Theros Beyond Death limited, you can't use them.

That's all for this week! If you have today off, I'm very jealous. Please remember me when you're buying a new washer/dryer pair.

- Andrew

About the Author:
Andrew is a Level 2 judge from Dallas, TX who spends too much time on his computer.

Is there a CR citation for the Heliod/Displacer question?

The only rules i could find are I could find are:

506.3. Only a creature can attack or block. Only a player or a planeswalker can be attacked.

506.4. A permanent is removed from combat if it leaves the battlefield, if its controller changes, if it phases out, if an effect specifically removes it from combat, if it's a planeswalker that's being attacked and stops being a planeswalker, or if it's an attacking or blocking creature that regenerates (see rule 701.14) or stops being a creature. A creature that's removed from combat stops being an attacking, blocking, blocked, and/or unblocked creature. A planeswalker that's removed from combat stops being attacked.

The first rule seems only to dictate what permanents can initially be declared as attackers and blockers (if we\'re interpreting the verbs \"attack\" and \"block\" as we do in all other contexts). And the second rule discusses what criteria causes a permanent to be removed from combat, but doesn\'t say anything about a permanent no longer being a creature.
#1 • Date: 2020-02-17 • Time: 08:28:21 •
Hi ! I think that 506.4 is enough in that case : "[...] or stops being a creature [...]".

Indeed, as Heliod is no longer a creature due to the devotion loss, it "stops being a creature" and is "removed from combat".
#2 • Date: 2020-02-17 • Time: 12:50:17 •
Ayep, 506.4 is the rule. If Heliod stops being a creature for any amount of time, it's removed from combat. It's not just something that's checked when state-based actions are checked or when a player gets priority. For a brief time while the Displacer's ability was resolving, your devotion to white dropped below 5, so Heliod stops being a creature for a brief moment and is removed from combat. It doesn't matter that the creature returns almost immediately, Heliod stopped being a creature for a moment and was removed from combat.
#3 • Date: 2020-02-17 • Time: 14:18:03 •

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