Published on 03/21/2011

Banana Equivalent Dosage

or, Potassium-40 Makes You Smart

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Chimpanzees are not really apes.
They are actually just monkeys.
Welcome back for more Cranial Insertion! In fact, this article will be the last one of our sixth year – Carsten will welcome us into CI's seventh year of publication next week. Quite shocking to think on just how much time that is, and how many players have come and gone just in the time that I've been writing about the game, much less my time as a player and judge...

So have a banana, everyone! Because, while discussing the terrible Sendai earthquake over in Japan (our Japanese judges and translators are okay and not too near the epicenter, much to our relief), the amazing term "banana equivalent dose" came up. It's how much radiation the potassium-40 in a banana gives off as you eat it (a banana a day for a year gives you roughly 36 microsieverts – wow, Cranial Insertion is extra educational this week) so that you can compare other things to bananas rather than to big scary numbers and words like microsieverts. It may also explain a lot about Moko that we just can't pass off as a side effect of zombification, artificially heightened intelligence, and/or him being a chimpanzee.

If you can spare bananas (or money) and want to help, don't forget that you can donate to the international relief efforts at You may have trouble sending bananas by PayPal.

So nosh on that banana and read on for this week's goodies from the mailbox! Still got questions? Email them in, and we'll get you an answer and you might even get your question in a future article.

Q: Where are all these documents you refer to for answers?

A: They used to be scattered all over the Wizards website, turning it into a scavenger hunt to get all the bits and pieces you needed, but now they're lumped together a bit more!

On this page, you can get the Comprehensive Rules, or click Magic Tournament Rules to get over to the DCI documents, including the MTR itself, the Judging at Regular document, and the Infraction Procedure Guide. You can find many of these documents translated into many languages at as well!

If it's about the actual game, it's probably in the Comprehensive Rules.

If it's about fixing a mistake, it's probably in the IPG.

If it's about how tournaments go, it's probably in the MTR.

Q: My Blightsteel Colossus got Arrested, but I still have my Kuldotha Forgemaster – can I sacrifice the Colossus itself to go search for it and get it back?

A: You sacrifice three artifacts as the cost to activate Forgemaster, and the Colossus's replacement effect turns that into "sacrifice those two artifacts while shuffling me into your library." The shuffling happens as part of the cost now, well before the ability actually resolves – by the time it does resolve, your Colossus will long since have been chilling in your library, ready to be found and brought back without a warrant for its Arrest.

Q: Can I sacrifice Burrenton Forge-Tender without a red source to choose so it'll be in my graveyard rather than Path to Exiled?

A: The only restrictions on activating an ability are those explicitly written out ("Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery," for example) and targets, which must be chosen upon announcement. Any other choices, including things like "choose a source," are made as the ability resolves. If you can't make those choices, such as because there is no legal choice as in this case, then you just don't make that choice. The ability was still activated, including the cost of sacrificing your Forge-Tender, and it still resolved.

Q: What happens with a blocked creature gains protection from the color of the creature blocking it? Do the blocks become undone?

A: Once blocked, critters stay blocked unless something specifically says otherwise – and those are extremely rare, such as Balduvian Warlord. In your case, the blocking creature just won't deal damage to the blocked creature, but the blocked creature still deals damage to the blocking creature.

The little common that could.
Q: Opponent controls Contested War Zone, and I connect with a Squadron Hawk with Sword of Feast and Famine. Can I stack the triggers so I'll untap the War Zone?

A: Sort of – you won't have to make any choices stacking the triggers, but you'll untap your shiny new War Zone! Since the triggers are controlled by different players, you put the active player's, yours, on the stack first, and then your opponent's. The stack resolves last-in-first-out, you gain control of the War Zone, and then it untaps. It's too late to pump your hawk for damage, of course, but extra mana is never bad!

Q: I pay to attach my Strandwalker from its Germ to a Rot Wolf, and my opponent kills the Wolf in response. Where's my Strandwalker now?

A: It's still on the Germ it rode in on. Since the Wolf is dead, the entire ability is countered upon resolution, and no moving is done at all. It's important to remember that the Equipment doesn't become unattached from what it previously equipped at any point until it actually moves.

Q: How many counters does my Beastmaster Ascension get if I attack with Hero of Bladehold?

A: Just one. While the tokens are put onto the battlefield attacking, Beastmaster Ascension only triggers when a creature is declared as an attacking creature during the turn-based action – not any that somehow become attacking later on in any way.

Q: Does my opponent get an extra turn when he plays Emrakul, the Aeons Torn from Windbrisk Heights since he isn't casting it?

A: But he is casting it! To play a card means to either play it as a land or to cast it as a spell, whichever is appropriate. So if you "play" a creature spell, the game translates that to "okay, it's a creature card, so you're casting it rather than just playing it."

Q: My Chimeric Mass got -1/-1 counters on it in addition to its charge counters. Do they cancel out? If not, what does proliferate do here?

A: The only counters that cancel out are -1/-1 counters versus +1/+1 counters – no other combination at all will cancel out. Not -0/-1 and +0/+1; that is rare enough that the rules are fine letting it coexist if it somehow happens. Not two -1/-1 and +2/+2; Baron Sengir is too cool for that.

When someone goes to proliferate our Baron Sengir with two -1/-1 counters on him, that player does what proliferate says: give it *a* counter of *a* kind it already has. Those "a"s there mean singular. Pick one kind of counter, and give it one more of that kind, not every kind.

Q: There aren't any Squadron Hawks left in my deck, so I don't want to search when I cast one. Do I still have to shuffle?

A: Nope. All of Squadron Hawk's stuff hinges on the one "may": you may do all of it (with the normal exception of failing to find, and thus failing to put into your hand), or you do none of it at all. Other effects say that you "may search... . Then shuffle your library." When it's a separate sentence, it's a separate instruction, but that isn't the case with our birdy friend here.

Q: I control two Knight Exemplars and two White Knights, and my opponent casts Slagstorm. Then he gives one of my Exemplars -4/-4. What happens now?

A: First, state-based actions (SBAs) are checked, and the -1/-1 Knight Exemplar is put into your graveyard since it has toughness 0 or less. That isn't destruction, so being indestructible is meaningless here. Then SBAs are checked again, and your second Knight Exemplar dies – damage sticks around until the cleanup step, even if it's not doing anything at the time. After that, all of your other Knights are destructible and have lethal damage, so they bite the dust with the third SBA check. And then, finally, the game can move on.

Q: I heard that regenerating a creature removes it from combat, is that true?

A: That's true indeed. Regenerating a permanent creates a replacement effect that means "The next time that thingy would be destroyed this turn, instead remove all damage marked on it and tap it. If it's an attacking or blocking creature, remove it from combat." It doesn't tend to come up in games a lot, so it's one of the finer points of regeneration that a lot of people forget.

Q: A creature with lifelink hit my creature, so I regenerated it. Does he still gain life?

A: Note the definition of regeneration from above. Regeneration stops the destruction and then removes the damage marked on it; it doesn't prevent the damage, or stop it from ever being dealt in any way. That damage was dealt, and life was gained before SBAs even tried to destroy the creature!

He wants a banana that big.
Q: Cunning Sparkmage pings my opponent, and I redirect it to Gideon Jura, who is currently a creature. Since I'm redirecting it, not damaging Gideon, will the damage be prevented?

A: Once you redirect the damage, now it's damage that will be dealt to Gideon. And because of that, now Gideon's prevention effect applies, and will stop the damage. Remember that you don't just apply one replacement/prevention effect and call it good; you look again and see if any such effects apply to the new result after having applied the first one.

Q: Can I attack with a couple Elvish Archdruids, Copperhorn Scout, and Ezuri, Renegade Leader and then untap them, tap them for mana, pump my team, and they'll all still be attacking?

A: That works! Becoming untapped doesn't remove a creature from combat; nor does tapping it to activate an ability once it's become untapped. Similar to the question earlier with a blocked creature gaining protection, attacking creatures only stop being attacking if an effect specifically says so, though there are a couple of exceptions here (regeneration and change of control are the ones you're likely to see). Your creature can tap, untap, dance the watusi, and sing a little song, and it's still attacking unless something says otherwise.

Q: Is it okay to draw on my first turn and discard a Vengevine rather than play a land?

A: Sure, it's fairly unusual to want to skip your first land drop when you could play a land, but there is no rule saying that you must always make the optimal play, and what you described might actually be a smarter play than dropping a land!

Q: Do I have to choose targets and which is taking how much damage from Arc Trail before my opponent decides to counter or not?

A: Yes, you do. Your opponent can't do anything until you've completed the process of casting a spell, which includes choosing targets (and which target is which, since there are multiple targets) and, in the case of things like Forked Bolt, dividing the damage.

Q: If a suspended card can't be cast, will it trigger again next turn? Or can I add counters with Jhoira's Timebug or something?

A: A suspended card is only a suspended card if it's in exile with time counters on it. If it has no time counters, none of the suspend abilities will trigger since it's not suspended, and Jhoira's Timebug can't add counters since it's not a suspended card.

Q: Can we play with Pristine Talisman in Standard?

A: It's not printed in a Standard-legal set, so no, you can't. It's only been released as a promotional item so far, and promotional items not tied to a set are only legal in Legacy, Vintage, and casual formats such as Commander that use the Legacy or Vintage card list for their own legality. You'll have to wait until Friday the 13th in May to run Pristine Talisman in your Standard deck!

Q: Do we pass around basic lands in a draft or not?

A: 7.7 of the MTR is fairly clear, so it's surprising that so many judges do this wrong: you keep the non-foil basic land, token/tips card, and any "hidden treasure" cards from Zendikar if you are so incredibly lucky. As soon as you open the booster, put those down. They are yours, and are not passed around.

Q: Who skips the first-turn draw in Two-Headed Giant? It keeps changing!

A: Actually, it's changed once in the history of the format, but lots of players (and some judges) get confused, so they might be telling you wrong. The original rule was that the player on the right skipped his draw on the first turn; the current rule is that the entire team skips the draw step, just like in normal Magic, and thus neither player draws.

Q: Is Heartless Hidetsugu a one-shot kill in Two-Headed Giant for any team at an even life total?

A: Yes, that certainly does kill a team. A player's life total is the same as the team's life total; if the team is at 10, Hidetsugu deals 5 damage to each player on the team, the team loses 10 life as a result, and the team loses. This is just one of the many reasons that Vintage and Legacy 2HG are sort of degenerate formats.

That's all for this week. Thanks to all of our readers and contributors, new and old, for six good years, and here's to yet another coming up.

Until next time, don't forget to tally your bananas!

- Eli Shiffrin
Tucson, Arizona

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.


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