Published on 04/06/2020

Strange Times

Cranial Translation
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Please maintain social distancing, Mr. Bear.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Well, since my last article here, I think it's safe to say that things in the world have become very weird and taken a turn for the unexpected. But Magic is still here, and you all still have questions about Magic and how the cards work. Our goal here is still the same - answer your Magic rules questions and hopefully educate you on some of the intricate interactions in Magic. And maybe we can even distract you a little bit and give you a little bit of normalcy for your life (you're still reading our articles every Sunday night/Monday morning, right?)

And we're still here to answer your questions as well. Questions you send in may even be used in a future article. You can us send short questions to us via Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and you can send long questions to us at .

Q: My opponent attacks me with a Brine Giant equipped with a Mirror Shield. If I block with a Moss Viper, does my Viper still get to deal damage to the Giant?

A: No it will not. The Shield's ability triggers and resolves during the declare blockers step, before the Viper gets to deal damage. Since the Viper is destroyed before the combat damage step, it won't deal any damage in combat and your opponent's Giant will survive combat.

Q: My opponent control Haktos the Unscarred, which has protection from each converted mana cost except four. If I cast Rise to Glory, can I return Mire's Grasp to the battlefield and attach it to Haktos?

A: Nope, you can't do that. While putting an aura on the battlefield doesn't target the creature, you do have to choose something legal to attach it to. Mire's Grasp has a converted mana cost of two, which Haktos has protection from, and that makes Haktos an illegal choice to attach the Grasp to. You won't be able to attach the returning Grasp to your opponent's Haktos.

Q: I control Tibalt, Rakish Instigator. My opponent attacks it with a 5/5 Dream Trawler. Does my opponent gain any life from lifelink?

A: Nope, they won't gain any life. While Tibalt is reduced to zero loyalty by Dream Trawler's combat damage, Tibalt won't go away until state-based actions are checked. Since Tibalt is still on the battlefield when your opponent would gain life from lifelink, Tibalt will stop your opponent from gaining life from Dream Trawler's lifelink ability.

Q: I have a large number of planeswalkers in my graveyard, including The Wanderer. If I cast Command the Dreadhorde, targeting all of the planeswalkers in my graveyard, will The Wanderer prevent the damage that the Dreadhorde would deal to me?

A: No it will not. We follow the instructions in the order they're printed on the Dreadhorde. First, you take the damage, then you return all of the targets to the battlefield under your control. The Wanderer is not on the battlefield when you take the damage, so the damage will not be prevented. To prevent the damage from the Dreadhorde, you have to start out with The Wanderer in play, not relying on the Dreadhorde returning it to the battlefield.

Q: Will having The Wanderer in play prevent me from losing life to Cauldron Familiar's triggered ability?

A: Nope. The Wanderer only works against noncombat damage. It doesn't do anything about loss of life. While taking damage causes you to lose life, losing life doesn't count as taking damage. The Wanderer won't prevent you from losing life to your opponent's Familiar's triggered ability.

Q: My opponent is attacking me with a 5/5 creature with trample. I block with Everdawn Champion. Will I take any trample damage?

A: Trample will happen like normal, so you'll likely be taking three damage. With trample, you assign what would be lethal damage to all creatures blocking it before you start assigning damage to the defending player. It doesn't matter that the damage that would be dealt to the Champion is prevented. Two damage would be lethal to the Champion, so they can assign two damage to your blocker and the remaining three to you.

Q: I control Wort, the Raidmother and another red creature. If I cast Word of Seizing, will I be able to make a copy of it with Wort's conspire ability?

A: Yes you will! Split second doesn't stop triggered abilities from going on the stack or resolving, so you'll be able to conspire the Word and make a copy of it like any other spell with conspire.

Luckily, our germs haven't figured out
how to use swords yet.

Q: I cast Unified Front, spending one green, one white, one red, and one colorless mana to cast it. How many tokens do I end up with?

A: Three tokens. Converge counts the colors of mana that you used to cast the spell, and as you've probably heard us say before, colorless is not a color. You used three different colors of mana to cast the Front, so you'll only get three tokens, not four tokens.

Q: I control a Pyromancer Ascension and I have Bonecrusher Giant in my graveyard. If I cast Stomp, will my Ascension get a counter?

A: Nope, it won't trigger. Unless you're casting the adventure spell with the instant or sorcery side, the card only has the characteristics of the creature side. In your graveyard, it's only named Bonecrusher Giant, it's not named Stomp. The spell on the stack doesn't share a name with a card in your graveyard, so the Ascension will not trigger and it will not get a counter.

Q: Do tokens dying count towards Bitter Ordeal's gravestorm trigger?

A: They do! The Ordeal counts any permanent that went to the graveyard from the battlefield that turn for its effect. While tokens don't spend very long in the graveyard before they cease to exist, they do to go the graveyard when they die, and the Ordeal will count dying tokens for its gravestorm trigger.

Q: My opponent controls a Spelltithe Enforcer. If I cast Protean Hulk, can I choose not to pay for the Enforcer's trigger and sacrifice the Hulk?

A: No you cannot. The Enforcer's trigger resolves before the spell that triggered it. That means that the Hulk is still on the stack (and not on the battlefield) when you're resolving the Enforcer's trigger. The Hulk it's not on the battlefield yet, so if you choose not to pay, you will not be able to sacrifice the Hulk that you just cast to the Enforcer's trigger.

Q: I control Kresh the Bloodbraided and a Wood Elves. My opponent casts Nausea. How many counters does Kresh get from the Elves dying?

A: Kresh doesn't get any counters. To determine how many counters Kresh gets from its trigger, we check the creature's power when it was last on the battlefield. Thank to Nausea, the Elves were a 0/0 creature when they were last on the battlefield, and since its power was 0, your Kresh won't get any counters.

Q: I have a Conjurer's Bauble in play. Can I activate the Bauble's ability and target the Bauble itself to put it on the bottom of my library?

A: Nope, you can't. Targets for the Bauble's ability are chosen before we get to paying costs to activate the ability. The Bauble hasn't been sacrificed yet when we're choosing targets for the ability, so it's not a legal target for its own ability and can't put itself on the bottom of your library.

Even if you're cooped up, you should still
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Q: I control Sen Triplets, and I resolved its trigger targeting my opponent. I see they have a Kiora Bests the Sea God in their hand. Can I activate Thran Temporal Gateway and put the saga from my opponent's hand onto the battlefield?

A: No you cannot. You can play the cards in your opponent's hand, but they don't actually become a part of your hand. Since their cards are not in your hand, you cannot use the Gateway's ability to put a card from your opponent's hand onto the battlefield. If you want to cast the saga, then you're going to have to pay for it - no cheating it into play with your Gateway.

Q: I'm attacking with an Emmara, Soul of the Accord equipped with a Paradise Mantle. If I also have a Reconnaissance in play, can I generate infinite mana and tokens by repeated untapping my Emmara with the Reconnaissance activation, then tapping it for mana?

A: Nope, you can't do that. Reconnaissance requires a target attacking creature, and when the activated ability resolves, it removes the creature from combat. So the first activation will untap Emmara and remove it from combat, but any additional activation won't do anything since Emmara is no longer an attacking creature.

Q: I cast a large Epic Experiment, exiling, among other instants and sorceries, Bonus Round. Is it possible to cast my spells in an order so that Bonus Round will give me copies of the other spells I cast via the Experiment?

A: Nope, there's not a way. Bonus Round has to resolve before it starts making copies of instant and sorceries. And with the Experiment, you have to cast everything while the Experiment is resolving - you can't cast the Round, let it resolve, then cast the other instants and sorceries exiled by the Experiment. No matter what order you cast the spells, you can't get the Round to resolve before you cast the other spells cast via the Experiment, so you won't get copies of the other spells you cast via the Experiment.

Q: My opponent just activated the -14 ability of Karn Liberated. I responded with Teferi's Protection. Do my phased out permanents carry over to the restarted game?

A: Nope, they get shuffled in with everything else. Karn's ability ends the current game and starts up a new game. Since the game is over, your phased out permanents get shuffled back into your library for the restarted game, and you don't get to start the restarted game with your board from the previous game.

Q: It's my opponent's turn, and they control The Gitrog Monster and have eight cards in their hand. During their end of turn step, I cast Quicken, then Yawgmoth's Will. We move to their cleanup step, and they discard a land, triggering Gitrog Monster. Do I still have a chance to cast Notion Thief from my graveyard to steal their draw?

A: No you do not. During the cleanup step, we do a few things. First, the active player discards down to their maximum hand size. Then, we remove all marked damage from creatures, and all "this turn" and "until end of turn" effects end. Then, in this case, since we have a trigger that triggered during the cleanup step, that trigger goes on the stack and players get priority. However, the Will's effect has already ended, since it's an "until end of turn" effect, so you won't be able to cast the Thief from your graveyard.

What you could do is wait for their cleanup step and for them to discard, and if they discard a land card, cast your Quicken, Yawgmoth's Will, and the Thief from the graveyard. Normally, players don't get priority during the cleanup step, but if something triggers (like The Gitrog Monster), then players will get priority. So if you want to flash in your dead Thief, you can wait for them to discard during their cleanup step, then cast your spells during the cleanup step, all in response to their trigger, and steal their draw.

Q: I'm in a multiplayer game with Abed and Britta. Abed controls four nonbasic land, and Britta controls six nonbasic lands. I attack each of them with a 3/3 creature, then cast Mercadia's Downfall. How big are my creatures?

A: The creature attacking Abed is a 7/3, the creature attacking Britta is a 9/3. Your 3/3s are attacking different players, and the Downfall wants to figure out how big of a bonus it should give each creature. But since your creature are attacking different players, it counts the number of nonbasic lands the player that creature is attacking controls. You don't count the nonbasic lands all of your opponents control, so it's possible for the Downfall to give your creatures a different bonus if they attack different opponents.

Q: Can I run Parhelion II as my commander?

A: Nope, you can't. Only legendary creatures and cards that say that can be your commander can serve as your commander. While Parhelion II is legendary and has a power and toughness printed in the corner, it's not a creature - it's an artifact that can become a creature. Since it's not a legendary creature, it cannot be your commander.

That's all we have for this week. Be safe, and enjoy the rest of your week!


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