Published on 09/28/2020

Making Landfall

Cranial Translation
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I hear you like combat phases...
Hiya everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Zendikar Rising has made landfall for many of us now, as its official release was last weekend. Whether you're able to purchase at your local store or play it online, you've certainly had a lot of questions about Zendikar Rising. So many that you might say we have a new ability - "Landfall - Whenever you play a land, if you have a rules question, you may ask it. If you do, Cranial Insertion will answer it".

And if you want to trigger our landfall ability, there's two ways you can do that. You can send us short questions via our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and you can send longer questions to our e-mail address - . We might even feature your question in an upcoming article.

Q: I control Ashaya, Soul of the Wild and my opponent casts Blood Moon. Does anything weird happen?

A: Lots of weird things happen. And it's all thanks to our friend - layers!

Both Ashaya and Blood Moon want to apply in layer 4. However, we have a dependency - Blood Moon's effect is dependent on Ashaya's effect, because apply Ashaya's effect will make your creatures into lands (which means Blood Moon would affect more permanents), so we apply Ashaya's effect first, making your creatures into Forest lands. Then we apply Blood Moon's effect. Your creatures are nonbasic lands, so your creatures become Mountains and lose all of their normal abilities. When we get to layer 7 and we need to figure out the power and toughness of Ashaya, it doesn't have its characteristic-defining ability (since it was lost when it became a Mountain), so its power and toughness are undefined, and we treat an undefined power and toughnes as 0. So Ashaya becomes a 0/0 creature and dies. And since Ashaya died, its effect ends, and your creatures stop being lands (and are no longer affected by Blood Moon) and once again have their normal abilities.

Q: I have a Skyclave Shadowcat with a +1/+1 counter on it, and it dies in combat. Will I get to draw a cad?

A: Yep, you'll get to draw. The Shadowcat doesn't exclude itself from its triggered ability, so as long as it had a +1/+1 counter on it when it died, the Shadowcat's ability will trigger and you'll draw a card.

Q: I have a Moss-Pit Skeleton in my graveyard. If I cast Scale the Heights and put a +1/+1 counter on a creature I control, will I end up drawing the Skeleton?

A: You won't draw it while resolving the Heights. When the Heights resolves, you'll put a +1/+1 counter on your creature, and the Skeleton's ability triggers. But we can't put that trigger on the stack yet - we have to finish resolving the Heights first. When the Heights makes us draw, we'll be drawing a random card from our library, then once the Heights is done resolving, we can finally put the Skeleton's trigger on the stack and set it up so we'll draw the Skeleton the next time we would draw.

Q: I control a Lithoform Engine and a Cragplate Baloth that I cast last turn. Can I make another copy of the Baloth with the Engine?

A: No you cannot. The last ability of the Engine can only target a permanent spell, and "spells" only exist on the stack. When you cast the Baloth last turn, it was a creature spell while it was on the stack (and thus would have been a legal target for the Engine's ability). But once it resolves, it stops being a spell and is just a permanent on the battlefield. You have one chance to copy the Baloth - when it's cast and on the stack. Once it resolves, it won't be a legal target for the Engine's ability anymore.

Q: I'm attacking with a 1/1 Fireblade Charger. My opponent gives it -1/-1 with Subtle Strike. Do I still get to deal damage with its triggered ability?

A: The trigger will deal 0 damage. The Charger's dies trigger will deal damage equal to its power to the target, based on the Charger's power when it died. But in this case, its power was 0 when it died, since the Strike gave it -1/-1. That means the Charger's trigger won't deal any damage to whatever it targeted.

Q: I still control a Lithoform Engine, and I cast Nahiri's Binding. If I copy the Binding with the Engine's last ability, can I choose to attach the copy to a differnt creature?

A: Nope, the copy is targeting the same creature as the original. Copying a spell doesn't innately give you the ability to change the targets. Most copy effects will let you change the targets when you make a copy, but not the final activated ability of the Engine. While you can make a copy of the Binding with the Engine, the Binding copy will have the same target as the original Binding - you can't try to attach the copy to a different creature.

I think we're reaching a critical mass
of questions now.

Q: I control a Scute Swarm with a Migratory Greathorn mutated on top, making it a 3/4 Greathorn with the Swarm's abilities. I play my sixth land. What does my token look like?

A: When you copy something, you copy the card as printed, as modified by other copy and mutate effects. That means that the token made by the Swarm's landfall trigger will be a 3/4 Migratory Greathorn with the Swarm's triggered ability, since we copy everything gained through mutate. However, note that the token isn't considered to have mutated yet, so creating the token won't trigger the Greathorn's ability and won't let you get another basic land from your library.

Q: I control a Nighthawk Scavenger that is a 3/3 thanks to the land and creature in my opponent's graveyard. If my opponent casts Vanquish the Weak targeting my Scavenger, will the Scavenger die?

A: Yep, the Scavenger dies. When the Weak resolves, since the Scavenger's power is 3, the Vanquish will destroy the Scavenger. Then the Weak finishes resolving and goes to your graveyard. The Scavenger's power becomes 4, since there's now three card types among cards in your opponent's graveyard, but the Scavenger is already dead.

This isn't like casting Lightning Bolt on a 2/3 Tarmogoyf, because in the Tarmogoyf situation, Tarmogoyf won't die while the Bolt is resolving - it dies when state-based actions are checked after the Bolt is done resolving (and has gone to the graveyard). The Weak destroys the Scavenger while the Weak is resolving, so it goes to the graveyard too late to help out the Scavenger.

Q: I'm attacking with a Kor Blademaster and an Akoum Warrior equipped with a Cliffhaven Kitesail. My opponent blocks the Blademaster with Rowan's Battleguard. Will my Akoum Warrior still deal damage during the normal combat damage step?

A: Nope, it won't deal any damage. During the first strike combat damage step, the Blademaster and the Battleguard deal damage to each other, while the Warrior deals its damage. The Blademaster dies, and the Warrior loses double strike. When we get to the normal combat damage step, the Warrior had double strike during the first strike combat damage step, but it doesn't have double strike anymore. Losing first or double strike after first strike damage is dealt doesn't let it deal damage during the normal combat damage step, so the Battleguard won't deal damage during the normal combat damage step.

Q: I control Omnath, Locus of Creation that's already triggered three times this turn. If I play a fourth land, triggering Omnath again. What happens?

A: Nothing. Omnath only cares about the first, second, and third times its trigger has resolved its turn. If you manage to get lucky and trigger Omnath four or more times in the same turn, those triggers won't do anything and you won't gain life, mana, or deal any damage.

Q: My opponent casts Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath from their hand. In response to the sacrifice trigger, I cast Spikefield Hazard targeting Uro. Where does Uro end up?

A: Uro ends up in exile. You damaged Uro with the Hazard, so if Uro would die this turn, Uro ends up exiled instead of the graveyard. And since Uro wasn't escaped, it will be sacrificed when that trigger resolves. Uro would go to the graveyard when it's sacrificed, but because of the Hazard, Uro ends up taking a trip to exile instead of your opponent's graveyard.

Q: I control Jace, Mirror Mage and its token copy. I cast Mythos of Illuna on the Jace token. How many loyalty counters does the token copy enter with?

A: Just one counter. The original Jace's ability says it's a copy of Jace, except it changes two things about the token: the token isn't legendary, and the token has a starting loyalty of 1. Those are part of the copiable characteristics of the token, so copying the token Jace with Illuna means you have a nonlegendary Jace, but it has a starting loyalty of 1 instead of 4.

Q: I control Yasharn, Implacable Earth and a Terror of the Peaks. Is my opponent allowed to cast Deadly Alliance targeting the Terror?

A: Nope, they can't target the Terror with spells as long as you control Yasharn. The Terror imposes a three life tax on your opponent's spells if they want to target the Terror. But Yasharn prevents your opponent from paying life to cast a spell. As long as you control Yasharn, your opponent won't be able to cast spells targeting the Terror since your opponent can't pay 3 life to cast the spell targeting the Terror.

I think we have enough questions now,
thank you very much.

Q: On my opponent's turn, I cast Quicken, then Scale the Heights. Does this let me play a land on my opponent's turn?

A: No it does not. You cannot, for any reason, play a land on an opponent's turn. You ignore any effect that would let you play a land if it's not your turn. You're free to put a land card onto the battlefield (for instance, you could use Murasa Rootgrazer's ability to put a land onto the battlefield on an opponent's turn), but not play a land on an opponent's turn.

Q: I control a 4/4 Myriad Construct. I cast four spells, then I cast Grapeshot, targeting the Construct. If I target the Construct with all of the storm copies, how many tokens do I end up with?

A: 20 tokens. The Construct's ability triggers when the Construct becomes the target of a spell. However, you get the tokens even if the Construct isn't sacrificed when the trigger resolves (there's no "If you do..." like similiar cards have).

Casting Grapeshot will cause the Construct's ability to trigger once, and targeting it with the four copies from the storm trigger will give you four more Construct triggers. The first trigger to resolve will cause the Construct to be sacrificed, and you'll get four tokens. The other four triggers won't cause the Construct to be sacrificed (since it's no longer on the battlefield), but you'll still get four tokens from each trigger (since that was its power when it was last on the battlefield), and you'll end up with a total of 20 tokens.

Just remember to resolve your storm trigger before you resolve the initial Construct trigger, otherwise, the Construct will be sacrificed before you can put the storm copies on the stack.

Q: If I cast a spell with multikicker (like Enclave Elite) kicked three times, will Verazol, the Split Current trigger and let me copy the Elite?

A: Yep, it will. Multikicker is a kicker variant, and Verazol just cares that the spell was kicked. A spell with multikicker that's kicked at least once is a spell that was kicked, so Verazol will trigger and will let you make a copy of the Elite that is also kicked three times.

Q: I control Phylath, World Sculptor. If I play Khalni Garden, can I put the counters on the plant token I get from the Garden?

A: You cannot. You have to choose a target plant when you're putting the Phylath trigger on the stack. No matter how you stack the triggers, the Garden's trigger hasn't created the plant token when you're choosing targets for Phylath's trigger, so you can't choose the new token as a target for Phylath's trigger.

Q: I control Akiri, Fearless Voyager with a Pariah's Shield attached to it. If my opponent attacks me, is it possible to redirect the damage to Akiri with the Shield's ability, then in response make Akiri indestructible with its own ability to save it?

A: Nope, you can't do that. You don't get priority in between the combat damage being redirected to Akriri and the damage being dealt to Akiri. If you let combat damage get dealt, then Akiri will die to the damage before you can activate Akiri's ability to make it indestructible. If you activate the ability and unattach the Shield before the combat damage step, Akiri will be indestructible, but the Shield isn't attached to Akiri when you would take combat damage, so the damage won't be redirected to Akiri.

You'd have to equip Akiri with a second equipment (so you can unattach the other equipment instead of the Shield) to make Akiri indestructible and keep the Shield attached.

Q: If I control Cloak and Dagger does it count as a member of my party?

A: Nope. Whiletribal lets Cloak and Dagger count as a rogue, the party mechanic only cares about creatures with the chosen types. Cloak and Dagger is not a creature, it's a tribal artifact, so while it counts as a rogue, it won't help out your party.

Q: I control an Inkmoth Nexus and an Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor. Assuming I want the biggest Nexus with infect possible, do I need to activate the Nexus's ability before or after Obuun's ability?

A: Before. Obuun's ability won't remove any abilities from the land, and to determine the Nexus's power and toughness, the effect with the latest timestamp will win. If you resolve Obuun's trigger, then activate the Nexus's ability, since the Nexus's ability has a later timestamp, the Nexus is a 1/1 with flying, infect, trample, and haste. But if you activate the Nexus's ability, then resolve Obuun's trigger, the Nexus will be an X/X for the turn (along with flying, infect, trample, and haste), since Obuun's ability has a later timestamp.

That's it for this week. We'll see you all again next week!


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