Published on 08/22/2011


or, All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Like we need to make this any
worse with Island of Wak-Wak-Walk.
Carsten walks on Mountains. Paskoff walks on Pro Tours. I walk on questions! They're nice and squishy and gently massage my soles. Much nicer than concrete convention center floors.

So, I am roughly twenty times unblockable this week! Tons of questions pouring in, and I'm sure we'll have another giant pile in our mailbox on Monday when I wake up. Want to join the pile and increase my unblockability? Send your questions in to or tweet us at @CranialTweet (in English, please – our amazing translators must be doing better than ever, judging by the number of foreign-languages questions we're getting! But, unfortunately, Google Translate is embarrassing for everyone involved.)

And, if you're heading out to Philadelphia in a few weeks for the first major Modern event, which just so happens to also be a Pro Tour, you'll find me and Paskoff around! I'll be judging, Paskoff will be hanging around being awesome, and Carsten will be there in spirit.

Bonus points if you email us a picture of spirit-ghost-Carsten from the Pro Tour.

Q: So any cards with the new card frame are legal in Modern, right? Does that mean FUT and PLC time-shifted cards with different frames aren't legal? And Commander cards are legal?

A: Card frame is a rule of thumb to remember which sets are legal – Eighth Edition and onward for Core Sets, Mirrodin and onward for expansion – but it isn't the rule. Those sets I just mentioned are the rule. So timeshifted cards from Time Spiral with the old frame are legal (as are any reprints of otherwise legal cards, as usual), and Planar Chaos and Future Sight time- and future-shifted cards are legal. Commander cards weren't released in boosters, so they're not legal unless the card is otherwise in a legal expansion; same with DCI judge foils, so no Survival of the Fittest shenanigans. You can run Bob's old-frame judge foil, though, if you can get one!

Q: Does Doubling Season make planeswalkers enter the battlefield with twice the loyalty?

A: It does! Entering the battlefield with counters is a result of the resolving spell and replacement effect, and so that will be doubled. However, remember that activating a plus-loyalty ability won't be doubled, since that's a cost rather than an effect adding counters.

Q: If an indestructible creature dies when it has 0 toughness, won't lethal damage get rid of a Darksteel Myr?

A: Nah. It's a common misconception, but damage doesn't actually lower toughness. A 2/2 creature that's dealt 1 damage is a 2/2 creature with 1 damage marked on it, not a 2/1 creature. And thus a 0/1 indestructible creature such as our Myr friend dealt 31415 damage is a 0/1 creature with over nine thousand damage marked on it, and will bask happily in the flames of tons and tons of damage until someone uses Turn to Frog to make it explode hilariously.

Q: Does Helm of Awakening get you an extra card from Blue Sun's Zenith?

A: You can think of it that way, yes. What it really does is reduce the cost by . So if you choose X to be 4, you reduce to , and by spending all six mana you have, you draw four cards.

Mountain Stongholdwalk is also rather
less useful than mountainwalk.
Q: If I sacrifice a creature enchanted with Parasitic Implant during my upkeep after the Implant's already triggered, will my opponent still get a Myr?

A: He will. Unlike some cards like Standstill and Blind Zealot, Parasitic Implant's trigger doesn't contain the useful phrase: "If you do..."

Since there is no "if you do" specification for the "get a little bitty Myr" (precise templating technology there), it'll happen even if nothing else from the trigger (ie, sacrificing Parasitic Implant) can happen; the resolving trigger does as much as it can, which is to create a Myr token.

Q: How does Teferi's Veil interact with unearth?

A: Quite well, actually. At end of combat, the unearthed creature phases out. This isn't a zone change, so unearth doesn't care; phasing is just a status change that makes the creature invisible to everything. And oh hey, look at that, unearth's end step trigger can't find that invisible creature for you to sacrifice! Guess you just won't sac it, then. During your next untap step, it'll phase back in giggling and get into some more combat.

Do note that if it ever actually does get destroyed, unearth's replacement effect still applies, and it'll be exiled.

Q: I was under the impression that a critter with deathtouch and trample did not count 1 point as lethal for trample purposes. Is that wrong?

A: It is wrong, but only since M11. Before M10, deathtouch was a trigger, and couldn't interact with trample damage assignment anyway. After M10, it was a state-based action performed as a result of damage, but you still had to assign lethal to each blocker to get through to the player. But after M11, the game moved to a more common-sense view of "lethal damage" regarding deathtouch creatures and trample, and 1 damage is lethal. Note that the rules still ignore prevention effects, so 1 damage to a pro-green blocker from a green deathtouchy trampler will still be lethal for assigning trample damage.

Q: My brother's deck contains all kinds of barely-legal shenanigans, like giving persist to a Spike Feeder and removing +1/+1 counters infinite times to gain infinite life, and doing the same trick to deal infinite damage using Triskelion. I insist that these are not possible, because the creature comes back as a new object without persist, but he continues to believe it lasts until end of turn regardless. Who is right?

A: That isn't barely legal, it's not legal at all! You got it right – a creature changing zones becomes a shiny new object with no memory of any other objects it has been, even if it's the same physical card. There are a few minor exceptions for stack-to-battlefield moving and for finding cards as they leave the battlefield, but nothing as strong as "that card, no matter where it goes, has persist written on it for the rest of the turn."

Q: How do join forces cards like Minds Aglow work when you copy them?

A: Pretty poorly. Mana is pooled for the join forces ability as the spell resolves, not as it's cast, and no one can do anything once the spell starts resolving until it's done resolving other than add mana to it or do what the spell says to do. So if you make a copy, there will just be two chances for everyone to pay mana, and players can do stuff in between the first one resolving and the second (untap everything with something you drew!), but you won't be able to copy the number of cards to be drawn.

Q: I have Swiftfoot Boots and cast Timely Reinforcements – can I pay more to give all three of my tokens haste and attack?

A: That won't work. Once the Boots become unattached, the token they were attached to loses haste. Since that token hasn't been under your control for long enough yet, it can't attack yet. All attackers are declared simultaneously, so you can't have one guy charge in then throw his boots back to his buddy, either.

Q: Do tokens trigger Butcher of Malakir? Or do they never actually go to the graveyard?

A: Everyone knows that tokens won't hang out in the graveyard, which is good... but people get confused about how exactly that works! Here's how it goes: The token does die, and it ends up in the graveyard. Anything that cares about this event will trigger, and then the token ceases to exist entirely before any player can do anything. So it's a perfectly reasonable shortcut to not physically put the token card (or die, glass bead, or bunny that you're using to represent that token) into the graveyard, so long as you remember that it did go there.

Q: If I Body Double a Clone, do I get to Clone something from the battlefield?

A: You can! After you apply one replacement effect to modify an object entering the battlefield, you look around again: are there any more replacement effects that could modify it, considering what you just applied? And since you applied Body Double and told it to look like a Clone, it has a new replacement effect to be considered that lets it copy something on the battlefield! So now you can apply that, too, and then any replacement effects that apply as a result of what you copy from the battlefield, and so on and so forth.

Q: Some cards say "When X, if Y, Z" and some say "When X, Z if Y." Is there a difference, or it just about what sounds best?

A: There is a difference, though it usually won't matter. If the "if" clause appears in the middle, then that condition must be true both at the time the ability triggers and when the ability resolves; if it's not true when the ability triggers, then it won't actually trigger at all, and if it's not true when it resolves, the ability won't do anything. However, if the "if" condition isn't in the middle, it'll only be checked as the ability resolves.

Compare Blade-Tribe Berserkers, which must see you having artifacts as it enters and as the trigger resolves, with Dream Thief, which lets you draw a card even if you cast a second spell in response to the trigger. The decision of which to use is a combination of which sounds better and which causes the fewest weird interactions.

No. Just no.
Q: Can I take a creature permanently with Act of Treason and Sundial of the Infinite?

A: That would make Sundial of the Infinite Possibilities even crazier! But no, you can't do that. Act of Treason doesn't have an end step trigger like unearth does; it has a continuous effect that expires during the cleanup step. It's one of those "until end of turn" effects that Sundial's reminder text mentions; ending the turn skips straight over to the cleanup step when Act's effect will expire.

Q: I copy Inkmoth Nexus with Phantasmal Image while I control a Lord of the Unreal. Next turn when I activate it, will it be a 2/2 thanks to my Lord?

A: Oddly enough, it will not be. All of Phantasmal Image's copy effect is applied at once in layer 1; but since it's not a creature, "is an Illusion" can't have any effect. Later on, in layer 4 when it becomes a creature, it can't remember "Oh yeah, I wanted to be an Illusion but couldn't, let's do that now!" – effects only apply in their specific layers. So it won't be an Illusion, and won't get pumped (or hexproof, for that matter).

Q: I cast Phantasmal Image and choose to copy your big dude. But you sacrifice your big dude in response. What happens now? It dies for being 0/0 not copying anything?

A: What we have here is a broken shortcut. You don't chose what Phantasmal Image will copy until it resolves – but it's a valid shortcut to announce that ahead of time to save time. However, when your opponent responds to the spell by sacrificing his big dude, that breaks the shortcut; now you have to pick a creature when you're actually supposed to among the other creatures on the battlefield. Note that if he lets you resolve Phantasmal Image, then it's too late for him to stop you, since he cannot respond to your choice after the Image resolves; and if there are no other creatures on the battlefield, then your Image will indeed be a 0/0 and die.

Q: My opponent stole Gideon Jura with Avarice Totem and made me attack Gideon, then I stole it back on my turn. What do my creatures do now?

A: Whatever they want! Oh, wait, that could be very, very bad. We had that issue with Floral Spuzzem years ago and still haven't recovered.

So let's rephrase that as "whatever YOU want them to do!" Gideon's effect says that they must attack Gideon if able, and since Gideon is now their friend again, they are unable to attack him (rules of politeness are strictly enforced in the Multiverse, unlike reality). Since they're not able to attack him, the requirement is moot and you can have them attack your opponent, attack his planeswalkers, or not attack as you like.

Q: If I Fling Chandra's Phoenix, will it come back to my hand?

A: That works fine. As part of casting Fling, you sacrifice the Phoenix; then Fling sits on the stack while players pass priority, and then when it eventually resolves your Phoenix will have long since been in your graveyard and will trigger.

Q: I forgot what exactly I ended up with in my toolbox-style Birthing Pod deck. Can I look at my decklist to see what I can get so I can figure out what to sacrifice?

A: Nope! The only notes you can refer to during a game are notes you made during that match's games. Notes from outside the match are verboten except between games. Your best bet would be to try to remember what you have that you think you might forget, and write it down as soon as the game starts.

Q: My opponent forgot to untap his lands before drawing a card – do they stay tapped for his turn now?

A: Untapping is mandatory. If he forget, he broke the rules – by accident, I'm sure, but he has to do it right and untap them now. (Technically, rewind, untap, and step forward – but same result.)

Q: I'm going to a Grand Prix, so I need to know – do I need the exact token cards for any of my stuff that makes tokens? Or can I use similar stuff face down with the ad showing?

A: You can use anything for tokens that you could at FNM. You can use token cards, you can use dice or glass beads, you can use ripped up junk commons... anything that couldn't be confused for a card from your deck (which means no taking cards out of your yard to be tokens – you can't do that at FNM, either). The important thing is that players can tell whether or not it's tapped, and tell tokens apart, so dice aren't really a good thing to use, but if you can make that stuff clear it's okay.

Q: I lost my DCI number! What should I do?

A: Ask whoever's running the tournament – the Wizards Event Reporter has a DCI number lookup function. If you got your number too recently, though, it might not be in the system yet. In that case, call the store where you got your number, and they should be able to look you up from whatever event it was that you played in.

That's all for this week! Come back next time for Carsten's article which will not involve any sort of walking, and the week after when Moko, our glorious zombified chimpanzee secretary returns with a very special column for you. I'll see you at Philadelphia, and then be back for our spooky Innistrad special!

Until next time, beware what goes bump in the night!

- 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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