Published on 03/23/2020

Welcome to the Isolation Zone

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Well, that's one way to practice social distancing...
I'm not going to sugar-coat things. It's a scary world out there right now. The COVID-19 virus is ravaging the world in a way I've never seen in my lifetime. Almost everywhere in the world events are being cancelled, shops and restaurants closed, and people told to self-isolate or at least not meet in even moderately-sized groups. This has led to a huge impact on Magic events and local game stores everywhere, many of which are being forced to close or at the very least curtail in-store play.

With everything that's going on, though, it's important to remember that these measures are being taken for the good of everyone. Please, follow the recommendations of your national or regional health authority and don't put yourself or others you come into contact with at unnecessary risk. Wash your hands frequently, don't touch your face, practice social and physical distancing and don't go out if you're not feeling well. Magic is a luxury, your health is not.

However, since the CI offices only exist online, we're still happy to bring you the CI content you expect and your questions week in and week out. (For the time being, at least. We will let you know if anything changes.) You can send your questions to or tweet them to @cranialtweet. We answer every question we get and there's a chance your question will show up in a future article.

Q: During a recent game of Commander, Player A cast Emrakul, the Promised End and gained control of Player B's next turn. During Player B's turn, Player A makes Player B's creatures attack Player C. Player C cycles Gempalm Polluter, making Player A lose the game. What happens to the rest of Player B's turn?

A: What's confusing you here is the fact that Player A is controlling B on that turn and not controlling the turn itself. Turn's don't have controllers, just active and non-active players. Since Player A is no longer in the game, there's no longer an effect controlling Player B, so they'll now be able to finish their turn as normal. They'll still get the extra turn after that the turn ends, since that turn is created when Emrakul's trigger resolves.

Q: I control Infernal Darkness and Thrull Parasite. On my next upkeep when I put Infernal Darkness's cumulative upkeep trigger on the stack, can I use Thrull Parasite's tap ability to remove the age counter from it and avoid ever paying the cumulative upkeep cost?

A: No, this doesn't work. A cumulative upkeep trigger doesn't add an age counter to its permanent until that trigger starts to resolve. Immediately after the counter is added, you have to either pay the cumulative upkeep cost for each age counter on it or sacrifice it. No one gets priority in the middle of this process, so you can't use Thrull Parasite to remove it before you have to pay. The best you can do is keep Infernal Darkness at a single counter each turn.

Q: If One with the Stars is on Dryad Arbor, can it still tap for mana?

A: No. Since One with the Stars removes Dryad Arbor's creature and land types, it also removes the subtypes associated with those types, i.e. Dryad and Forest. Since it's no longer a forest, it no longer has the innate mana ability tied to that subtype and thus it can't be tapped for mana.

Q: A friend of mine mentioned that certain exile effects such as Grasp of Fate allow you to return your commander to the battlefield once the source is destroyed even if you opted to put your commander in the command zone. Is this the case?

A: Yes, this is true, but only under specific circumstances. In order for the commander to be able to be returned to the battlefield when Grasp of Fate leaves the battlefield, the commander has to have remained in the command zone since Grasp of Fate's trigger resolved. If it left the command zone and later returned, then it's a new object and Grasp of Fate won't recognize that it was the card its trigger moved from the battlefield.
So, in summary, if a commander gets put in the command zone when the trigger resolves, and it stays there until the exiling card leaves the battlefield, then it will return to the battlefield when the exiling card leaves the battlefield.

Q: What is the timing on when the exiled card is returned to the battlefield from Banishing Light? Is it a trigger? If it's not a trigger and a Banishing Light leaves the battlefield in the middle of the resolution of a spell or ability would the exiled object return to the battlefield immediately or wait until after it finishes resolving?

A: Banishing Light's ability returns the exiled card immediately since the card is exiled for a specific duration. It's not a separate trigger and doesn't use the stack. The exiled card will come back immediately after the effect that removes Banishing Light happens. For example, if Banishing Light was exiling Bronze Sable and Austere Command was cast with its second and third modes chosen, then Banishing Light will be destroyed by the second mode and Bronze Sable will be returned to the battlefield in time to be destroyed by the third mode.

14 days to go...
Q: What happens if a creature that has an Umezawa's Jitte with no counters and Sword of Truth and Justice equipped to it hits my opponent for combat damage? Is it possible to stack the triggers so that the Jitte can get an extra counter when I proliferate?

A: Both the Sword and the Jitte will trigger when your weapon-wielding warrior wails on your opponent. As the controller of both triggers, you can stack them so that the Jitte trigger resolves first and has some counters on it when the Sword instructs you to proliferate. Just make sure that the Jitte trigger resolves first.

Q: My friend's Gonti, Lord of Luxury stole Treachery out of my deck and then cast Treachery to steal one of my creatures. I cast Confiscate on Treachery to get my creature back, but then my friend destroyed Confiscate. Do they regain control of Treachery and therefore my creature?

A: Yes, they do. By the way, it doesn't matter if Confiscate was enchanting Treachery or your stolen creature, as either would get it back for you. When multiple control-changing effects apply to the same permanent, then the most recent of those effects is the one that wins out. This is what happens if you enchant the creature directly. If you enchant Treachery like in your question, then you control Treachery and also its effect to control the enchanted creature. When Confiscate is destroyed, then your opponent controls Treachery again and thus also controls the enchanted creature.

Q: Can I kill Korvold, Fae-Cursed King when it enters the battlefield before my opponent can draw a card from its trigger?

A: At the very least, you can kill it before its enters-the-battlefield trigger resolves. When Korvold enters the battlefield, that trigger goes on the stack. If Korvold is no longer on the battlefield when that trigger resolves, then its second trigger won't be able to trigger to draw a card. However, if your opponent has other sacrifice outlets, then they'll be able to react to your removal spell with those to draw cards with Korvold before your spell resolves.

Q: If I cast Thrill of Possibility and discard Worldspine Wurm to pay the extra cost, do I shuffle it into my library before or after drawing cards?

A: Before. Thrill of Possibility is already on the stack when you discard Worldspine Wurm, so it's graveyard trigger will go on the stack above the spell itself. This is true for any trigger that triggers due a spell being cast, an ability being activated, or any costs for spells or abilities being paid. They'll all resolve before the spell or ability itself.

Q: How does Guardian Beast interact with Pendant of Prosperity? Does controlling a Beast allow someone to keep the Pendant when they cast it?

A: Guardian Beast can only protect artifacts that were in its grasp in the first place, but Pendant of Prosperity enters the battlefield directly under an opponent's control. Since you never control the Pendant when it enters the battlefield, Guardian Beast doesn't have any control change to prevent. Pendant of Prosperity would need a wording similar to the one on Akroan Horse for Guardian Beast to do what you want it to do here.

Q: I have a Protean Thaumaturge and a Nightmare Shepherd. Protean Thaumaturge is copying a Haktos the Unscarred. It dies, so I get a 1/1 Haktos token with Protean Thaumaturge's trigger and choose a random number for its protection. If the token copies Haktos again to make it a 6/1, will it then remember the number chosen when it was a 1/1?

A: The random choice made when the token entered the battlefield won't help when it copies Haktos again as the new copy effect gives the token a different pair of linked abilities for which no random choice has been made. Since no number was chosen, the token won't have any protection.

Q: If I control Ugin's Nexus and copy it with Mirage Mirror, will I take the extra turn or not? And why?

A: Once Mirage Mirror becomes a copy of Ugin's Nexus, the legend rule will be invoked and you'll have to put one of your Ugin's Nexuses into your graveyard, except its replacement effect will exile it instead. As for the extra turn, it depends on if you keep your original Nexus or your Mirage Mirror. If you keep the Nexus, then it will cause you to skip the extra turn. If you keep the Mirage Mirror, then it won't be a Nexus anymore when your extra turn would begin and so it will happen normally. Hurray!

Q: I use Strionic Resonator to copy the delayed trigger from Plasm Capturewill both triggers give me the same mana, or can I get a different combination of colors from each trigger?

A: You don't choose what spread of colors to add to your mana pool until the trigger resolves. Nothing beyond the total amount of mana is locked in by the time you copy the trigger. Each trigger resolves separately and thus different combinations of mana can be chosen. Also, yes, you can copy the trigger with Strionic Resonator since the trigger isn't a mana ability and thus uses the stack.

Remember to wash your hands with soap
for at least 20 seconds. Do it often.
Q: If I control Kethis, the Hidden Hand and Bolas's Citadel, will casting a legendary spell from the top of my deck cost me less life due to Kethis's ability?

A: No. While Kethis's ability reduces the cost to cast legendary spells, such abilities don't actually change the spell's converted mana cost. Bolas's Citadel has you pay life equal to the converted mana cost, which just means the total of the printed mana cost and doesn't take things like cost reductions or increases into account.

Q: Can I activate Spellskite to target an exalted trigger on the stack?

A: Yes, but only because Spellskite's ability can target any spell or ability on the stack. Will targeting an exalted trigger with Spellskite change what it affects? No. Exalted triggers don't target and since they don't target, there's nothing that can be changed.

Q: Can a Theros god, such as Klothys, God of Destiny, be removed by enough -1/-1 counters if there isn't enough devotion to make it a creature?

A: Not immediately, no. If you get one or more -1/-1 counters on a god while they're a creature, you can start proliferating them, but they won't kill the god until the next time its controller gets sufficient devotion again. For example, a noncreature Klothys with five or more -1/-1 counters on it will stay on the battlefield since these counters don't do anything on permanents that aren't creatures, but as soon as Klothys's controller has seven or more devotion to red and green, she'll become a creature again and die to state-based actions before anyone can intervene.

Q: Is it possible to react to my opponent activating Sundial of the Infinite or does the turn just end?

A: Sundial of the Infinite's ability uses the stack like any ability other than mana abilities, so it can be responded to normally. Once it starts to resolve, however, players won't receive priority again until the next upkeep unless something triggers in the cleanup step.

Q: If I have Leyline of Anticipation and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim in play, can I cast spells from Golos's activated ability as though they had flash or does the exile part of his ability keep the normal timing ruling?

A: Leyline of Anticipation allows you to cast any spell you can cast as though it had flash, so this includes the spells you cast off of Golos's ability. Note that specific timing restrictions spelled out in each card's text can still supersede this. For example, you can still only cast Berserk before the combat damage step, even with Leyline.

Thank you everyone for joining us remotely for this edition of Cranial Insertion. I know this week's column isn't funny and it probably made you think about things you'd rather ignore for the moment, but this pandemic is no laughing matter. We'll be back with lighter fare next week and we hope you stay healthy and join us then for more!

- Charlotte


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