Published on 10/05/2020

Questioning Dead

Cranial Translation
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I am not dying until I am damn good and ready.

The dead are everywhere, they come at us with simple questions, advanced questions, and the dreaded corner case. We must arm ourselves with the MTR, the Comprehensive Rules, and our wits to survive this onslaught.

If you too are a zombie seeking answers you can do so via our Twitter account at @CranialTweet for shorter questions, or you can send longer questions to our e-mail address - . We might even feature your question in an upcoming article.

Q: Shambling Zombie #1 asks "In a two player game, I control Leyline of Sanctity and my opponent casts Negan, the Cold-blooded, what happens to Negan's trigger?"

A: When Negan's trigger attempts to go on the stack, it fails to find a legal target and the trigger gets removed from the stack. Negan the creature hangs out with 'Lucille' in hand, but causes no creatures to be sacrificed this turn.

Q: Zombie on Fire asks "How does Negan, the Cold-Blooded's first ability work?"

A: Lets say Alice casts Negan. She targets Norman with Negan's ability. Alice and Norman must each choose a creature controlled by Norman. They do this privately from each other. Simplest way to do this may be to write down their choices on separate sheets of paper. If they both chose the same creature only that one gets sacrificed, otherwise Norman loses two different creatures. This is kinda of a fun mini game, Alice wants to not chose the same creature as Norman to get extra bang for the ability, while Norman want to guess the same to reduce the detriment he will suffer.

Q: Moko the Zombie Chimp asks "On my last turn I activated my Jace, Architect of Thought's first ability. This turn my opponent attacks Jace with Woodland Changeling, but before damage the opponent swaps out the "zombie rogue" for Zareth San, the Trickster. Does Jace take 4 damage or 3?"

A: Jace will take 4 damage. Jace's first ability only trigger when a creature is declared an attacker. Zareth's ability puts him into play attacking, which gets around Jace's ability.

Q: Putrid-Moss Zombie asks "I cast Replenish with the only card in my graveyard being Infernal Scarring. Which of the following creature can I put it on?
A) My opponent's 2/2 Zombie token wearing Swiftfoot Boots
B) My Stillmoon Cavalier
C) My 2/2 Zombie token
D) My 2/2 Zombie token wearing Lightning Greaves"

A: So A, C, and D are all legal choices. If a spell or ability puts an aura onto the battlefield without casting it you merely attach it to something it can legally be attached to. Hexproof and Shroud do not prevent auras from being attached, they do prevent them from targeting the creature if it was cast. But since this aura wasn't cast it has no problem. Stillmoon however, has protection from black, and that prevents black auras from being attached to it, so it's not a legal choice.

You never take your enemy at their word.
You measure them by their actions.

Q: Zombie Hand of Ash Williams asks "My opponent attacks with Michonne, Ruthless Survivor and two zombies, if I kill one zombie before her trigger resolves will she still be indestructible this combat?"

A: Yes. Michonne's trigger only cares if two or more zombies attacked at the same time as her. If one or even all the zombies are gone before the trigger resolves, she will still be indestructible until end of turn.

Q: Water Logged Zombie asks "I control Phyrexian Unlife and Death's Shadow and my current life total is -10. How big is Death's Shadow?"

A: Death's Shadow will be a 13/13. If a calculation that would determine the result of an effect yields a negative number, zero is used instead. So having negative life, will not increase it to beyond a 13/13.

Q: Sprinting Zombie asks "My opponent is ending his turn, he targets me to pass me a Jinxed Choker with 10 counters on it, and I currently have a life total of 4. Can I sacrifice the choker to my Claws of Gix before the opponents turn ends so I don't die to it during my upkeep? "

A: Yes, you can. Even during the Beginning of the End Step Phase, each player gets priority after each spell or ability resolves, giving you one brief moment to offload the dangerous choker.

Q: Crawling Zombie asks "Can my opponent Stifle the ability of moving my companion Jegantha, the Wellspring from my sideboard to my hand?"

A: No they can not because that is a special action. Special actions can not be responded to by your opponents as they don't use the stack. Some special actions are restricted to when you can use them, but these too can't be responded to by your opponent. The most common special action is playing a land for the turn. The newest one is taking your companion from your sideboard and putting it into your hand. Since they can't respond and it doesn't use the stack at all, they can't cast spells targeting the special action.

Q: Freshly Turned Zombie asks "My opponent is trying to discard the only card in his hand Vastwood Thicket to activate Borborygmos Enraged's last ability to kill my 2/2 Zombie token. Can he do that?"

A: No, he can't. Vastwood Thicket, is the backside of Vastwood Fortification, and so while its in their hand, the game doesn't recognize it as a land for the purposes of discarding a land.

Q: Frozen Zombie asks "I control Rakdos, Lord of Riots and a 2/2 zombie token. The opponent has lost 8 life this turn because of not blocking my two creatures. In my 2nd main phase, if I cast Josu Vess, Lich Knight and want to kick it, does Rakdos's cost reduction ability lower the kicker cost also?"

A: Yes, it does. Kicker cost is an additional cost and will be reduced by Rakdos's ability. So in this case it would cost you only to cast the Josu Vess kicked.

Hey you, dumbass. Yeah, you in the tank. Cozy in there?

Q: Skeletal Zombie asks "If I attack with Glenn, the Voice of Calm can I make his power bigger with Giant Growth after he has gone unblocked but before he has dealt damage?"

A: Yes. Immediately after blockers are chosen both you and your opponent can cast instants (or spells with flash) and/or activate abilities, before combat damage happens.

Q: Deadite Zombie asks "I control a Torpor Orb and the only creature on the battlefield is my Cursed Minotaur. My opponent casts a Clone. Does the Orb prevent them from having the clone become a copy of my minotaur?"

A: It does not. Clone has a replacement effect, not a triggered ability. So the Clone can still become a zombie minotaur if your opponent wants it to.

Q: Plague Zombie asks "My opponent target's a 2/2 zombie token with Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast's 2nd ability. Before it resolves I Murder the token. Does my opponent still get a free creature from their library?"

A: They do not. Since the ability lost its only target, the ability doesn't resolve.

Q: Zombie Clown asks "I control Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage and Cunning Nightbonder, if I cast Varina, Lich Queen does she cost less?"

A: Unfortunately, no. Raff doesn't actually give Varina flash, just lets you cast her as though she had it. Cunning needs the card to actually have the ability to reduce it's mana cost.

Q: Shambling Zombie #2 asks "My opponent's commander Geth, Lord of the Vault is about to die in combat, is there time for me to steal it using Thrilling Encore before they put it into their command zone?"

A: Unfortunately, no. Moving a dying commanders from the graveyard to command zone is a state based action that doesn't use the stack and happens before any player gets priority. However, if they choose to leave the commander in the graveyard you can still steal it.

Q: Riot Gear Zombie asks "My Scathe Zombies has a +1/+1 counter on it. My opponent casts Ixidron, after that resolves does my facedown Scathe Zombies still have a +1/+1 counter on it?"

A: Yes, it does. Counters, Auras, and equipment on your creatures stay where they are if the creature is put facedown by Ixidron.

Q: Zombie Stuck on a Fence asks "I control Bruvac the Grandiloquent and then cast Sibsig Host. Does Bruvac make the host mill the opponent twice as many cards, even though the word Mill doesn't appear on the card?"

A: Yes, yes it does. Sibsig Host, along with almost every card that takes cards from a library and puts them into a graveyard have been Oracle Texted to say "mill". A cards oracle text must say the word "Mill" for Bruvac to work with it. So you may need to check the oracle text to know which cards work with Bruvac. You can see the Oracle text of a card by going to Its important to note, Bruvac only doubles milling to your opponents, so in this example you mill 3 while your opponents each mill 6.

Q: Zombie Nurse asks "I control four Scathe Zombies and Nim Deathmantle. My opponent casts Wrath of God and I have 16 untapped swamps. How many Scathe Zombies can I revive with the Deathmantle?"

A: All four of them. The Deathmantle will trigger for each zombie, and one by one you can revive them for each. Each time one is revived the Deathmantle will become unattached from the previous creature and become attached to the new one.

You're sitting over there talking out of
both sides of your mouth.

Q: Zombie of George Romero asks "I control Daryl, Hunter of Walkers and my opponent attacks with 3 zombie tokens. Can I block one zombie with Daryl, then tap Daryl to shoot a 2nd zombie, so I only take 2 damage from one unblocked zombie this turn?"

A: Yes, you can. After you choose blockers, you can activate tap abilities of your blocking creatures so long as they are currently untapped and not suffering "summoning sickness".

Q: Shambling Zombie #3 asks "If I equip Daryl, Hunter of Walkers with Basilisk Collar do either Lifelink or Deathtouch work with his tap ability?"

A: Yes, both do work with with his tap ability. So he can kill nearly any creature with his crossbow and gain you life at the same time.

All questions have been answered, the zombie horde has been distracted by loud noises in the distance. We can take a moment to breathe. That is until next week, when they return for more answers.

- Justin Hovdenes
Level 2 Magic Judge
Rapid City, SD


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