Published on 03/02/2020


Cranial Translation
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Hold on tight, things are
about to get nutty!
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion. Unsanctioned is out, so today we'll leave our black-and-white-bordered comfort zone, and we'll make ourselves un-comfortable in the silver-bordered world where the rules are a bit more flexible. Today we'll focus entirely on what Unsanctioned has to offer, answering questions people have asked, or questions we can reasonably — or un-reasonably — expect people to ask about Unsanctioned. Note that in the silver-bordered world there can be more than one correct answer to a question; we'll give you our interpretation, but if your playgroup agrees that a different interpretation is more fun, go with that.

As always, if you have questions for us, please email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will respond to you, and your question might appear in a future article.

And now, without further ado, let's look at some silver-bordered rules questions!

Q: Can I proliferate the acorn counters I get from Acornelia, Fashionable Filcher?

A: Absolutely! Acorn counters are like poison counters in that they are counters a player can get, except that they are more useful and less deadly. Much like poison counters can be proliferated, so can acorn counters.

Q: I control Abstract Iguanart and cast a spell. My opponent counters the spell. Does Abstract Iguanart's ability still work?

A: Yup. Countering a spell doesn't un-trigger any abilities that were triggered by the spell being cast, so the ability still resolves. Since the spell is no longer on the stack, Abstract Iguanart's ability uses the spell's last known information, which in silver-bordered Magic includes the artist credit, so the ability still does its thing and might give the Iguanart a +1/+1 counter.

Q: Does Alexander Clamilton trigger his own ability?

A: I'm afraid not. While Alexander Clamilton is indeed wordy himself, he is on the stack while you cast him, and his ability only works once he's on the battlefield.

Q: Can I augment Mer Man with Bat- to make Batman?

A: Well, technically you've made Bat-Man, but sure, close enough. It'll be a 4/4 flyer, so it shouldn't be too difficult to make your opponent lose 3 or more life during your turns to draw a card with Bat-Man's end-step ability.

Q: I control Divine Visitation and cast B.O.B. (Bevy of Beebles). What happens?

A: Unless you happen to control some Beeble tokens already, this is not going to end well for B.O.B. As it enters the battlefield, you're instructed to create four 1/1 Beeble tokens, but because of Divine Visitation you're creating four Angel tokens instead. Once state-based actions are checked, B.O.B.'s loyalty is zero because you don't control any Beebles, so B.O.B. goes to the graveyard. At least you got four 4/4 Angels for your trouble; I'm sure you'll put them to good use.

Q: Can I Stifle Boomstacker's sacrifice ability?

A: Sure. It's a regular (ish) triggered ability that uses the stack, and as such you can respond to it and counter it with Stifle or anything else that can counter triggered abilities. You get to keep Boomstacker, and Boomstacker's power and toughness depends on how much of the stack landed on the card. Unless you're really unlucky, at least one die will remain on Boomstacker, so it'll be at least a 1/1.

Q: My opponent controls a Boomstacker with a stack of six dice on it. What happens if I accidentally or "accidentally" bump the table and cause the stack to fall?

A: I'd rule that this doesn't count and Boomstacker's ability doesn't trigger, and your opponent gets to rebuild the stack however tall it was before it fell. Also, if you bumped the table "accidentally", I'd give you a talking-to about how your behavior might be considered not fun and that it might cause other people to not want to play with you anymore.

Tastes like chicken.
Q: I control Flavor Judge and my opponent casts Hunt the Weak targeting one of their creatures and one of mine. Can I use Flavor Judge's ability to try to counter Hunt the Weak?

A: Sure. Hunt the Weak has two targets and one of them is a permanent you control, so it is a spell that targets a permanent you control. The fact that it also targets a permanent you don't control doesn't change that.

Q: Can I just reveal my hand to get a big discount to cast Infernius Spawnington III, Esq.?

A: No, that doesn't work. While there's nothing illegal about revealing your hand at any time, Mr. Spawnington III only counts cards you've revealed due to the keyword action "reveal", due to costs or effects instructing you to reveal a card, such as activating an augment card.

Q: I want to play Rings a Bell, but my playgroup and I speak Chinese or some other language where the concept of letters doesn't apply directly. What should we do?

A: Be creative while staying in the spirit of the card. The point of the "four of more letters" restriction is that the word should be long enough that it can't be snuck into a sentence too easily without being noticed. Your playgroup might decide on an "at least two characters" rule, or your group could vote on a case-by-case basis whether the chosen word is long enough.

Q: I control Stet, Draconic Proofreader and there's a Rock Lobster in my graveyard that I want to exile with Stet's attack ability. If I want to deal damage to my opponent Arya, when do I need to activate Stet's ability to delete the A from her name?

A: The latest you can activate the ability is right before Stet's "Whenever Stet attacks" ability resolves, which is usually right after you declare attackers. Once Stet's ability starts to resolve, you choose whether to exile a card and which card to exile. This choice triggers the "When you do" trigger, and at that time you have to choose a target whose name begins with the same letter as the exiled card. If you haven't already activated and resolved the letter-deleting ability by then, Arya won't be a legal target at that time.

Q: Let's say I'm playing a game of Unsanctioned close to midnight on the last day of summer and I play Spirit of the Season, so it gains haste. What happens at midnight when the season changes to autumn?

A: First off, thanks for asking this entirely plausible question and allowing me to include Spirit of the Season in this article! Secondly, when midnight comes around and the season changes, nothing happens to the Spirit of the Season that's already on the battlefield. The season is only relevant when the enter-the-battlefield ability resolved, and Spirit of the Season gains haste for as long as it's on the battlefield. If you were to flicker Spirit of the Season somehow, for example with Flicker, it would come back as a new creature, its enter-the-battlefield ability would resolve again, and it would get a +1/+1 counter now.

Q: Can I put Dryad Arbor onto the battlefield with Strutting Turkey's ability?

A: Certainly. Dryad Arbor is a creature card without a mana cost, so its converted mana cost is 0, which fits the "2 or less" condition for Strutting Turkey's ability.

Q: I control Doubling Season and activate Pippa, Duchess of Dice's first ability. Do I get two Die creatures?

A: No. Doubling Season only kicks in when tokens get created, and Pippa's ability doesn't create a token; it turns a die into a creature token, which is an entirely different process.

Q: If I control two Syr Cadian, Knight Owls thanks to Mirror Gallery and Clone for example, will I gain double life for damage dealt by Knights I control?

A: Sadly, no. Knightlifelink is essentially the same as granting Knights you control lifelink, and multiple instances of lifelink are redundant, so multiple instances of Knightlifelink are redundant as well.

Q: I control Surgeon General Commander and a double-faced card. If the double-faced card transforms, does that trigger Surgeon General Commander's card draw ability?

A: No. While one could be forgiven for thinking that a person transforming into a werewolf is a mutation of sorts, "mutate" is a keyword action with a specific meaning, and only performing that keyword action (or enchanting or augmenting a creature) triggers Surgeon General Commander's ability. However, I can't tell you what "mutate" actually means, since as of this article no cards have been printed with this keyword. It's no secret that this keyword will be introduced in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, but as to what it actually means, your guess is as good as mine. All I can tell you is that transforming a double-faced card is not the same as mutating a creature.

Two men enter! Un-man leaves!
Q: Can I play Underdome in a Modern deck if I only care about its ability to make colorless mana?

A: No can do. Silver-bordered cards are never legal in "black-bordered" formats such as Modern, even if you only use them for effects that work perfectly fine in black-bordered Magic.

Q: But the full-art basic lands from Unsanctioned are legal in Standard decks, aren't they?

A: They sure are. They are official black-bordered printings of Standard-legal cards, so they are legal to use in Standard tournaments as well as any other sanctioned tournament.

Q: Can I destroy Ardenvale Tactician with Duh?

A: Nuh-uh! Even though there seems to be reminder text on the piece of cardboard, that reminder text is not visible to the game. On the battlefield, an adventurer card only has the characteristics of its creature part, and there is no reminder text in the creature part of the card.

Q: I resolve Ad Nauseam and encounter Who/What/When/Where/Why. How much life do I lose?

A: To calculate the converted mana cost of a split card that's not on the stack, you combine the mana costs of both halves, or all fifths in this case. This means that the converted mana cost of Who/What/When/Where/Why is 13 and you'll lose 13 life. Maybe putting that card into an Ad Nauseam deck is not the best idea.

And that's it for today's article. I hope you had fun with this look at some wacky silver-bordered cards, but if you didn't, next week's article should have significantly fewer silver-bordered cards in it. See you then!

- 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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