Published on 05/09/2011

All Will Be One

or, Hail Moko, Father of Monkeys

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Are you ready to rock?
Welcome back for our extra-glistening New Phyrexia special! By now, you all should have had a chance to play with the biomechanical fruits of Phyrexia's labors, but we've dug deeper into the gooey innards of how they work and by now we're probably well on our way to compleation.

Small price to pay to bring you all knowledge!

If you need us to make a return trip to this infected well of knowledge (not a pool of knowledge, mind you), send an email to or tweet us at @CranialTweet – not only can we get you an answer to your pressing questions, they may even appear in an upcoming article.

And now, for this article, let's get glistening.

Q: Can spells cast only with Phyrexian mana be Nixed, or is paying the 2 life paying the Phyrexian mana?

A: Nix only cares about what you paid, not what costs you fulfilled; you fulfilled the cost of Mental Mistep by paying 2 life, but you did not pay any mana, so Nix can counter it.

Q: If I Mindslaver my opponent who controls a Trespassing Souleater, can I make him pay himself down to 0 or -1 so that he dies?

A: You can activate the ability as many times as you can pay for it, even if it's redundant and/or would normally be a dumb thing to do. Once you're down to 1 life, though, you can't activate it anymore by paying life – you can't pay life you don't have. (And, of course, all of the "you" here means "your opponent, as you command him to do.") If his life total is odd, you'll have to wait until your turn to do something to finish him off, and won't be able to enjoy commanding him to off himself.

Q: Does the player who goes first skip his entire beginning stuff, untap, upkeep, draw? Or just the draw? It matters for the Chancellor cycle.

A: Only the draw step is skipped – any Chancellors you reveal will trigger on your upkeep even if you're on the play. Normally nothing at all will happen during that untap and upkeep step, but if Wizards didn't find ways to make unusual things happen when they've never happened before, Design wouldn't be doing its job!

Q: If I exile Barren Glory with Karn Liberated, can I mulligan down to zero cards no matter what I draw and just win?

A: Not only do you win the game, I think you just might win Magic forever. There used to be a rule about only taking a mulligan if you had a certain number of lands, but the current Paris mulligan rule lets you mulligan as many times as you'd like, for any reason, even if that reason is just "I'm so not going to win, so I'll mulligan down to 0 to be funny." If the reason is "So that I start the game with a trigger that says I win," that seems even better!

We had the cutest little Phyrexian,
now here's the cutest little Mirran!
Q: Jin-Gitaxias is saying that my hand size is reduced by seven, but Reliquary Tower says I have no maximum hand size! How many cards can I hold?

A: Do I dare step my toes into the fetid waters of mathematics, rather than leave this scary subject to Carsten? I do! Infinity minus seven is still infinity, so that's how many cards you can hold. Or maybe it's better to say "undefined minus seven is still undefined." Wah, math. Either way, you get the same result, and you won't have any maximum hand size.

Q: If I control Bludgeon Brawl and Puresteel Paladin, will every artifact draw me a card?

A: Yup! When objects enter the battlefield, you apply any continuous effects, such as that of Bludgeon Brawl, before you check for triggers, such as that of Puresteel Paladin.

Q: Will two Chancellor of the Tangles help me cast Myr Superion?

A: Only if Citanul Hierophants is holding their hands. If you reveal them for their ability, they'll give you that was produced by creature cards, but not by creatures – "creatures" only exist on the battlefield.

Q: Can I cast Myr Superion using Birds of Paradise and Mana Reflection? What about a Dryad Arbor and Heartbeat of Spring?

A: Mana Reflection will work, since that creates a replacement effect that causes the same source to produce twice as much mana. Heartbeat, however, has its own personal triggered ability, and Heartbeat is the source of the extra mana, so you'd have to make Heartbeat into a creature to be able to use its mana to cast Myr Superion.

Q: Can I use Semblance Anvil to make Myr Superion free and get around its restriction?

A: Sure, if you're not paying any mana for it, then you won't run into its restriction at all!

Q: If Phyrexian Metamorph copies a noncreature artifact, does it die for being 0/0?

A: If it did, then the whole "copy of a creature or an artifact" clause would be sort of pointless, wouldn't it? If you copy a noncreature artifact, then you copy it entirely: Metamorph stops being a creature, and has no power or toughness at all, not a toughness of 0.

Q: Phyrexian Metamorph copies a Phylactery Lich – since it's also an artifact, can it put the counter on itself?

A: Nope. You have to pick an artifact to put a counter on immediately before Phyrexian Lichymorph enters the battlefield, and it's not quite there yet at this point.

Q: Will Rage Extractor trigger itself?

A: Rage Extractor's triggered ability only works while it's on the battlefield. It can't both be on the battlefield and be cast at the same time since Schroedinger didn't build it, so it can't trigger on its own casting.

Q: Do spells with Phyrexian costs like Blinding Souleater trigger Rage Extractor?

A: Rage Extractor only cares about the spell's mana cost, not any other costs that appear anywhere in its textbox (and not even what you actually paid). Blinding Souleater has a mana cost of no matter what, so Rage Extractor won't get worked up over it.

Q: Will Melira, Sylvok Outcast with Phyrexian Unlife keep me alive forever?

A: That works! Melira should take a good, hard look at her life choices and see if she wouldn't be better off working with Phyrexia rather than against it. All sources will deal damage to you as though they had infect, which means that they'll deal damage in the form of poison counters, which Melira then stops from happening. You can take damage all the live-long day, and you'll still not get any poison.

Q: Can I make both Arc Trail targets point at Spellskite?

A: If you couldn't cast Arc Trail like that, then you can't swivel its targets to look like that, either. When you change a target, the resulting set has to be as legal as the original set was.

Q: After I exile a Phyrexian Metamorph copying Consecrated Sphinx using Exclusion Ritual, what can't my opponent cast? More Metamorphs, or more Sphinxes?

A: While in exile, the copy effect will have long ceased to apply. It'll be a plain old Metamorph in exile, and your opponent can't cast any more of them. He can still cast big scary Sphinxes, though.

Q: I tap two Swamps to Go for the Throat Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger – will they untap?

A: They won't. Even though Vorinclex will have shuffled off its vaguely-mortal coil, it created a continuous effect with its triggers: the lands don't untap. Getting rid of the source of a trigger won't stop the trigger from resolving, and Vorinclex doesn't say that it has to still be on the battlefield for those triggers' continuous effects to do their thing.

Q: I Soul Conduit two of my opponents, and then a third opponent kills one of them in response by putting him down to -3 or so life. Does the other opponent die too now?

A: Nope! The -3 life player loses and leaves the game, and then Soul Conduit tries to force an exchange... but can't, since an exchange must actually be made or it doesn't happen at all.

Q: Is there any way I can pump up Immolating Souleater without giving my opponent a chance to Doom Blade it before it connects?

A: In order to move on to the combat damage step, both players must agree "yup, I'm done playing/activating things, let's do this." Since your opponent will always have to say "not doing anything, fine" for you to get to the damage step, he will always have a chance to say "no, I want to do something, I want to smack that stupid thing into oblivion!" before it can deal him damage.

Q: Will Glint Hawk Idol still become a creature when an artifact creature enters the battlefield if my opponent controls a Torpor Orb?

A: Nope! Even though Glint Hawk Idol triggers when an artifact enters the battlefield, if that artifact is also a creature, Torpor Orb will say that it can't cause abilities to trigger. It doesn't matter that the ability doesn't specifically trigger on a creature entering the battlefield.

Q: Will Torpor Orb stop Etched Monstrosity from getting counters? Will it stop Phyrexian Revoker from naming a card?

A: Neither of those are triggered abilities, so you'll get them both. A triggered ability starts with "when," "whenever," or "at," although "at" wouldn't apply to a creature entering the battlefield.

Q: I got off Karn Liberated's ultimate, but one of the six players lost earlier and is just sitting here. Does he get to sit around even longer?

A: The official stance is pretty clear: that player that left the game may have left the venue, may be involved in another event, or any number of other things. He is not part of the restarted game.

However, in any unsanctioned event (which means any group multiplayer game, other than 2HG), you're entirely welcome to bend the rule and welcome the other player back if he's around and willing!

For now, we are still hemmed in by the constraints of time and space, and so it's time for me to leave some questions for next week. Will there be more about New Phyrexia? Oh yes indeed. This set is not only popular, but also has lots of fine interactions that raise questions.

Until next time, may all your victories be compleat!

- 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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