Published on 12/28/2020

Year's End

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Happy New Year!

Hello hello,

It's been a long weird year. I only got to judge one major event this year (Magic Fest: Phoenix), haven't judged a local event since March, I think, and I can't remember the last Pre-release I went to.

On the good side, my local magic shops both seem to be surviving, my personal job has kept me busy, I got to start writing for Cranial Insertion starting in July, the vaccine is on its way, and we have had more commander products than you can shake a stick at.

I hope this year went well for each of you, at least as well as can be expected, and it seems we have good reasons to be cautiously optimistic about next year.

If you have a rules question, you can send shorter questions to us via our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and you can send longer questions to our e-mail account .

Q: Is Phyrexian Tower's second ability a mana ability?

A: Both of its abilities are mana abilities. The following determines what activated abilities count as mana abilities:

605.1a An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets all of the following criteria: it doesn't require a target (see rule 115.6), it could add mana to a player's mana pool when it resolves, and it's not a loyalty ability.

Q: My opponent's Song of the Dryads is currently enchanting my Divine Transformation that use to be enchanting my 1/1 soldier token. If I Disenchant the Song, do I have to re-attach it to my soldier or can I attach it to any other creature on the battlefield?

A: So I have some bad new. When Divine Transformation stopped being an aura, it became unattached. Now that it will become an aura again, nothing is attaching it to a creature, so its placed in the graveyard for being an aura that isn't attached to anything.

Q: I cast Tempt with Discovery and search up a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Only one opponent searches their library and finds a land to put on the battlefield. If I find Vesuva can I clone Valakut?

A: Yes, you can. Because Valakut enters the battlefield before Vesuva, the Vesuva can clone Valakut. If you searched up both and put them on the battlefield at the same time you could not (example sacrifice 2 lands to Scapeshift and try to have Vesuva clone the other land entering at the same time as it).

Q: If I target my opponent's Vampiric Tutor with Deflecting Swat, do I get to choose which card they target?

A: Short Answer, no. You can legally target any spell with Deflecting Swat, even if Deflecting Swat won't have an effect on that spell. And because Vampiric Tutor has no targets, Deflecting Swat will not allow you to change how the card functions when it resolves.

Do you think the ball drop this year
should literally be a ball of fire?
-Grok the goblin last words
Q: I control two Cabal Therapists and two 1/1 Thrull tokens. If I sacrifice a Thrull to each Therapist, do I name each card as the abilities are put on the stack or as each trigger resolves?

A: This is rather sweet. You name the card as each resolves. With your first trigger you can make an educated guess, like name Llanowar Elves vs a green elf deck. The opponent then reveals their hand, you may or may not have named the correct card but now you know their whole hand. When the second one resolves you can now name any non-land card you know they have in their hand.

Q: In a 3 player game, I just killed an opponent by attacking with an unblocked Belbe, Corrupted Observer. During my 2nd main phase does she still make me mana, even though that opponent is now dead?

A: Yes, she still does.

Q: Earlier this turn I returned a Forest to my hand because I played a Golgari Rot Farm. If I now cast Narnam Renegade, does its Revolt ability work?

A: Yes, the Renegade will get the +1/+1 counter. Revolt is looking for a permanent to have left the battlefield for any reason, this includes return to hand, put into graveyard, getting exiled, or shuffled into the library.

Q: I control Yarok, the Desecrated and then cast Minister of Pain. Do I have to sacrifice one or two creatures to give may opponent's creatures -2/-2?

A: Yarok does give you two Minister of Pain triggers, but sacrificing the creature is part of the trigger so you will need to sacrifice a creature for each one to get to -2/-2.

Q: My opponent attacks me with a Proud Wildbonder and I block it with a 3/3 Beast token. The opponent chooses to assign the Wildbonder's damage as though it wasn't blocked. Does the Wildbonder still die?

A: Yes, it does. The Beast token survives. You take 4 damage from the Wildbonder and it deals no damage to the Beast. The Beast still deals its full damage to the Wildbonder.

Q: My opponent controls twenty 1/1 squirrel tokens. I cast Apex Altisaur. I have it fight a squirrel token. Then its enrage ability triggers. Do I have no choice but to have the Altisaur keep fighting squirrels until it dies?

A: You are not forced to keep fighting. Altisaur's ability says "it fights up to one creature", this means you can choose zero creatures and it stops fighting. You can safely fight nine squirrels this way with out killing your Altisaur.

Q: I heard you can go infinite with Kodama of the East Tree, Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith and Gruul Turf. Is this true and how does it work?

A: Supposing you have both legends on the battlefield first, than play Gruul Turf, each of these 3 cards triggers at the same time.

This allows you to stack the abilities in the order of your choosing.

You want the top ability on the stack to be Gruul Turf, followed by Toggo, and last East Tree. You need the Turf to return itself to your hand. Then when Toggo creates a Rock, East Tree Triggers again. When East Tree's trigger resolves, put the Turf back onto the battlefield because it has a mana cost equal to the Rock.

You now can rinse and repeat, doing this as many times as you want. Once you have enough Rocks, or other land fall triggers, either choose to return a land other than Gruul Turf to your hand or choose not to put a permanent on the battlefield with East Tree to stop the combo.

Q: I currently have an Unsubstantiate on the stack targeting an opponent's spell. Can I Twincast the Unsubstantiate, choosing to return a creature to the opponents hand?

A: Yes, you can. This works because Unsubstantiate is worded a little differently than other cards.

This would not work with something like Bant Charm because the charm is a model spell. If Bant Charm is targeting an instant spell and you Twincast it, you can only have it counter instant spells; you can't choose a different mode like destroy target artifact.

Unsubstantiate is not model, so it's target can be moved to any creature or spell (other than itself).

Q: I have an Impact Tremors and cast Hostility. Did I just make infinite 3/1 elemental tokens with haste and can now kill my opponent with an avalanche of tokens?

A: Sadly, no. You actually created no tokens. Hostility only works against damage caused by "spells". Tremors causes damage as a permanent.

Be safe, well at least
safer than Grok
Q: I control a Guttersnipe and cast Lightning Bolt targeting my opponent. The opponent Counterspells the Bolt. Does my opponent still take damage from the Guttersnipe's trigger?

A: Yes, they do. The Guttersnipe damage of 2, happens even if the Bolt is countered.

Q: I control Ironclaw Orcs with my Kaya's Ghostform attached to it. My opponent uses Ugin, the Spirit Dragon's second ability paying 2 loyalty to exile all non-land permanents with converted mana cost 2 or less. Do my Orcs come back from exile?

A: The orcs do come back. Because both Kaya's Ghostform and the Ironclaw Orcs were exiled at the same time, you get your orcs back.

Q: When I imprint a card under Isochron Scepter, can I keep the exiled card secret until I activate the Scepter?

A: No, you cannot. By default all exiled cards are revealed and face up for everyone to see unless the ability that exiled them specifically says otherwise.

Q: I know some older cards can damage planeswalkers that don't say so on the card. As an example can Tendrils of Corruption hurt my opponent's Garruk Wildspeaker?

A: Tendrils cannot. When planeswalkers first came out there was a planeswalker redirection rule for spells that could target players. This is no longer the case, instead, your best bet to determine what cards can target is to check their official oracle text. If it can damage a planeswalker it will either say so specifically or will say any target. You can find Oracle text here at Gatherer.

Q: My opponent claims his Teferi, Time Raveler stops me from being able to cascade with my commander Maelstrom Wanderer. Is that true?

A: In all the important ways, yes. You still "cascade", flipping cards over from the top of your library until you hit an appropriate card, however you cannot cast the card you find, and must randomize it along with all other cards revealed this way to the bottom of your library.

Q: I have a facedown Ebonblade Reaper. Can I attack with it, then morph it up before damage to avoid loosing half my life to its attack trigger?

A: Yes, you can. In fact, that's what the card was designed to do.

Q: In a 4 player game, one opponent controls a Raving Dead with my Vow of Malice attached to it. How does the Raving Dead function if I'm the person chosen at random?

A: Because it can't attack you, the Raving Dead is now free to attack any opponent other than you or any planeswalker you don't control.

Have a good new year, and keep it safe.

- Justin Hovdenes AKA Hovey
Level 2 Magic Judge
Rapid City, SD


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