Published on 04/04/2011

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Aww, you shouldn't have!
No, really.
I can hardly believe that Cranial Insertion's been around six years! Even though I've only been writing it for a little over two of those, I've been reading it for much, much longer. Cranial Insertion was one of the key things that helped me to pass my level 1 exam and become a judge.

Like Carsten said last week, the sixth anniversary is traditionally the Iron anniversary... but according to some things on the internet I've read, it's also the sugar and wood anniversary! I can't think of anything I'd rather have for my anniversary than a pile of Wood Elementals - they make great kindling for a nice romantic anniversary fire.

Send us more questions to , or to our new Twitter feed @CranialTweet! That's right, now you have a new venue to submit your rules questions, though that character limit might be a bit challenging. Write - or "tweet" - in, and we'll have enough questions for another six years!

Q: At the end of my turn, I've got eight cards in my hand and discard a Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. This is obviously during my cleanup step, but my opponent wants to respond by exiling my graveyard with Tormod's Crypt. Since no one gets priority during the cleanup step, can he?

A: Unfortunately for you and your Eldrazi pal, he can do this. If any conditions for state-based actions are true, or trigger conditions are met, players will get priority in the cleanup step. It happens from time to time. Once both players pass priority without doing anything in the cleanup step, the step ends and another cleanup step is generated. They'll keep coming until there's a cleanup step in which no player gets priority, and then the turn will end.

Q: Can Arc Trail target the same creature twice, so I can kill something with three toughness?

A: Nope. "Another target" on the card means just that - another target. You won't be able to direct it all at one thing. In the same way, if there's no creatures out and you want to hit your opponent for 2, you're going to have to take 1 damage yourself! Or vice-versa if you like living on the edge, I guess.

Q: An Ixidron turned my commander face-down. If I attack with my newly face-down commander, does my opponent take commander damage or just regular damage? How's he even know which is my commander and which is just a normal face-down creature?

A: Commander-ness is a property of the card, so it doesn't matter if it's face-up or face-down. For some commanders like my poor 1/2 Adun Oakenshield, this is actually a power boost! Your opponent will know which card is which because you have to keep them clearly identified; you can't play three-card monte with your creatures and surprise him when you tell him that he didn't block your commander.

Q: I was wondering about the interaction of a card like Living Plane (or any other permanent that makes lands creatures), and something like Intruder Alarm. Would you be able to untap all your land(creatures), every time another land(creature) enters the battlefield?

A: You would! There's never a time when a land is on the battlefield and it isn't a creature, so Intruder Alarm sees a creature entering the battlefield and goes off, letting every creature untap. This seems like a good way to generate a lot of mana - just remember, the land creatures don't have haste, so any lands that entered the battlefield this turn won't be able to tap for mana. (Lands that were already on the battlefield for a turn and were turned into creatures can tap for mana or attack though!)

Q: Suppose I have a Flayer Husk animated via Karn, Silver Golem. I then Clone the animated equipment. Since animation effects are not copiable, is Clone then an inanimate non-creature copy of the Flayer Husk with no power and toughness, legal to equip onto another creature?

A: That's right! The Cloned Flayer Husk will be a normal Flayer Husk, complete with the living weapon ability. You'll be able to pop it right off that Germ and onto another creature... maybe even that first animated Flayer Husk!

Q: I have out March of the Machines and turn an Aura into an artifact with Liquimetal Coating. Since creatures can't be attached to other creatures, when the Aura unattaches itself from its host it is immediately sent to the graveyard for being an unattached Aura, even though it's now a creature, correct?

A: Yup. Auras not attached to anything are put into their owner's graveyard as a state-based action. It doesn't matter if the Aura has another type other than enchantment, because this is a special rule that applies to Auras.

Q: Can I use Echo Mage's ability to copy an epic spell like Enduring Ideal when it goes off during my upkeeps?

A: You can echo an epic spell just fine. Echo Mage's activated ability isn't casting a spell, and copying a spell isn't casting a spell either. To get the most bang for your buck though, you should copy the original Enduring Ideal spell when you first cast it. That way, you'll get two Enduring Ideals every upkeep instead of just one... and you can point Echo Mage at either one of those every turn!

Q: I saw someone pay for multiple activations on a Raging Ravine... why?

A: Maybe they've got some extra mana and still haven't heard about that whole mana burn deal! Just kidding - the real reason is that Raging Ravine gains that triggered ability once for every time its creature-becoming ability is activated. The more you activate Raging Ravine before it attacks, the more +1/+1 counters it'll get when it finally swings!

Q: If I use Copy Enchantment to copy a Treachery, do I get to untap up to five lands?

A: Indeed you do! Copy Enchantment enters the battlefield as a copy of Treachery, so you'll get to untap up to five lands if you want.

Can the Twitter bird tap for any
color mana? I don't think so!
Follow @CranialTweet!
Q: A Squadron Hawk equipped with a Sword of Feast and Famine attacks me, and I cast Harm's Way on the Squadron Hawk, redirecting 2 damage to the Hawk's controller. Because the source of the damage is still Squadron Hawk, does the damage to its controller trigger the Sword?

A: Yes! The source of the damage is still the Hawk, and it's still combat damage, so the Sword will trigger. He'll untap his lands (because "you" still refers to the controller of the Sword), and he'll discard a card. He'll get another trigger to untap his lands and make you discard a card as well if any of that combat damage headed your way, though.

Q: So my opponent is at 2 life and controls a Celestial Colonnade and I have given them a Jinxed Idol. He's tapped out and I pass the turn. Can he activate AND sacrifice the Colonnade on his untap phase in order to survive?

A: There's no way he'll survive this. The first time he gets priority to activate Jinxed Idol is in his upkeep step, and before that, Jinxed Idol triggers and the triggered ability gets put onto the stack under his control. Even if he activates the Colonnade and sacrifices it in response, he's still going to take 2 damage and lose the game.

Q: If there's a Yixlid Jailer out, can I play cards from my graveyard with Yawgmoth's Will?

A: Sure! You can cast them with Yawg's Will, but not with any abilities those cards have (or rather don't have anymore) that would normally let you cast them from your graveyard, like flashback. Yawgmoth's Will doesn't give those cards abilities, it sets up its own effect that lets you cast cards from your graveyard that turn.

Q: When I resolve a Mind's Desire for four copies and hit all lands, because that's just my luck, can I play them all?

A: Only if you've got a Fastbond or some other method of playing more than one land in a turn. Mind's Desire lets you play the exiled cards, but you're still limited to your one-land-per-turn limit unless otherwise specified. If you've already made your land drop for the turn and don't have any Fastbond-style effects, then this Mind's Desire isn't going to do much.

Q: I'm curious about Heritage Druid in conjunction with Mana Reflection. Do I get or ? Also, for Seton, Krosan Protector and a Mana Reflection, does the tapping a creature ability produce or ?

A: Strangely enough, neither of these will get you any extra mana. The rules define "tapping for mana" as activating an ability with in its cost. You're not doing that with Heritage Druid or Seton, you're just following an instruction to tap a creature.

106.9. To "tap a permanent for mana" is to activate a mana ability of that permanent that includes the symbol in its activation cost. See rule 605, "Mana Abilities."

Q: My Mirran Crusader is wielding a fancy Sword of Feast and Famine. If I smack my opponent with it, do I get to untap my lands twice and have him discard two cards? If I've got five lands at that point, can I make fifteen mana?

A: Yes and no. Each combat damage step, your Mirran Crusader will deal combat damage, and you'll get a new trigger that lets you untap your lands and force your opponent to discard. Sadly for you though, mana empties between steps, not phases, so the mana you make in the first combat damage step won't carry over to the second. With normal lands, you'll never get to fifteen mana this way.

Awww, for... hey, stop giving us bad cards!
Q: My buddy enjoys playing Bribery targeting me when our group plays Commander, no matter who else is playing. I got sick of losing my best dudes all the time, so I built a Commander deck with just one creature in it — Phage the Untouchable. If he targets me with Bribery and Phage is the only creature, can he fail to find one or does he have to find her — and subsequently lose?

A: Whenever you're searching a hidden zone for a card with specific quality, you can fail to find anything even if you know it's there. You can effectively make his Bribery useless, but you can't make him kill himself.

Q: If I have a Kuldotha Flamefiend under a Mimic Vat and also control a Liquimetal Coating, can I make my Flamefiend tokens into artifacts and sacrifice them to their own abilities to distribute 4 damage?

A: That works! Kuldotha Flamefiend says "an artifact", not "another artifact" (which would look weird since it's, you know, not an artifact under normal circumstances). You can sacrifice it to itself and spread out the 4 damage however you want.

Q: Why should I keep track of my life total on paper? Why don't dice work?

A: Dice work fine... until someone bumps the table accidentally. They're also really hard to keep track of life total changes on, so if there's ever a dispute over life totals, it's impossible to show the changes that have taken place over the course of a game. Generally speaking, unless a judge has a reason to believe otherwise, they're usually going to side with the player who's kept track of life changes on paper just because they can easily see what damage has been taken over the entire course of the game.

Q: My rating's high enough to qualify for the Pro Tour! Can I borrow my friend's DCI number to play in a tournament without worrying about my rating?

A: Nooooo, definitely not. The system in place that determines who's good enough to play in the Pro Tour isn't fundementally flawed just because your rating goes down when you lose. If your rating's high enough to qualify, you should be good enough to keep your rating high if you keep playing. Using someone else's DCI account to try to artifically hide your rating is a great way to make sure you don't play in the Pro Tour though - just check the Suspended DCI Memberships page for all those lengthy suspensions for Fraud!

Q: I know this is going back a few months, but given that the way you calculated the number of golems for the Precursor Golem + Rite of Replication was exponential, I was wondering if you had a formula for determining this.

A: Luckily, our Italian translator whipped up a formula for this!

If you target a Precursor:
Pfin = (P-1)*6^P + 6
Tfin = T*6^P + 10 P(P-1)*6^(P-1) +10

If you target a vanilla token
Pfin = P*6^P
Tfin = (T-1)*6^P + 10*P^2*6^(P-1) +6

The equations are for each resolution of Rite of Replication kicked; P is the number of Precursors prior to the copies being made, and T is the number of vanilla tokens. Pfin and Tfin are the final numbers.

That's all folks! Remember to follow us on Twitter: @CranialTweet, and come back next week to see if any of your questions made the article!

About the Author:
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.


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