Published on 10/24/2011

All Hallow's Eve... Eve

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Come back next week
for all the spooky fun!
Well we're a week away from Halloween, and since Halloween falls on a Monday, on Cranial Insertion Day (the best day of the week as far as I'm concerned), you can bet we've got so many Halloween-y puns we can scarecly contain ourselves. I'm going to do my best to behave myself since you'll get the full brunt of Carsten's pun-filled wrath next week, but enjoy these not-so-frightening questions in the meantime.

And remember to send in your questions to , or Tweet them to @CranialTweet! We'll try to get to them before the Halloween party. I'm coating myself in green and black paint and going as a Tarmogoyf.

Q: I look at the top card of my library with Delver of Secrets, but it is definitely not an instant or sorcery. Can I use my Deranged Assistant to knock the non-instant/non-sorcery card off the top of my library and hope the next card is good to transform the Delver?

A: This only works if you've got two Delver of Secrets. That way you can wait for the first trigger to miss, then activate your Deranged Assistant, and then hope the next card is what your other Delver of Secrets is looking for. You can't do anything between looking at the top card and checking if Delver of Secrets transforms, because it's all part of the ability resolving and you won't get priority there. But if you have two Delver of Secrets each trigger resolves separately, so the second Delver's trigger will still be on the stack after the first one's resolves.

Q: I was playing Commander when someone gave me a Celestial Dawn with Zedruu the Greathearted and then told me I couldn't cast spells anymore. What gives?

A: If you're not playing white then he's somewhat correct. Your non-white commander will not allow your lands to produce white mana, so your newly christened Plains will only produce colorless mana. Non-land things you control that make mana will produce the proper colors, but as you can only spend that mana as though it were colorless, so that's a moot point. You'll need some colorless way to deal with your new gift, or you're not going be playing many spells until it's gone!

Q: I have a Mirage copy of Mystical Tutor in my Commander deck, and it says I can find a "mana source" with it. Does that mean a land, or can I get anything that produces mana?

A: Like interrupts, mana sources are a card type lost in the past, and all cards that were printed with the card type "mana source" (all two of them) have been errated into being instants, as the Oracle text on Mystical Tutor says. You can safely cross out "mana source" and "interrupt" from the card text (though that may hurt the value of the card so I wouldn't recommend literally doing it), because all that's left of the mana source card type is me joking about how an Urza's Saga Dark Ritual makes my Tarmogoyf bigger. (It doesn't.)

Q: If I Capsize something with buyback, and that something gets sacrificed or otherwise removed from the battlefield in response, does the buyback still happen?

A: Without a legal target, Capsize will be countered when it tries to resolve and none of its effects will happen. That includes the buyback effect, so Capsize will wind up in your graveyard.

Q: Sower of Temptation doesn't steal a creature forever if it's destroyed in response to its enters-the-battlefield trigger, but Oblivion Ring does. I don't understand the difference! Could you explain it?

A: It's all a matter of numbers - in this case, the number of abilities. Sower of Temptation has one ability and it has a duration attached to it. That duration ends even before its effect would begin, so the rules say it doesn't even happen. No swapping the targeted creature over to your side momentarily, or anything! Oblivion Ring has two abilities, and don't confuse the leaves-play trigger with a duration. In response to Oblivion Ring's enters-the-battlefield trigger, if it's destroyed, its leaves-the-battlefield trigger goes on the stack above the first, and resolves before it exiles the target of the first ability. There's nothing to return at that point, so "nothing" gets returned from exile and then "something" gets exiled.

Q: Some old cards like Illusionary Presence say "land type" instead of "basic land type". Does that mean I can give my creature Desertwalk? Or Urza's-walk?

A: Both of those are land types! You can choose any land type with Illusionary Presence, not just basic ones.

The Eldrazi probably don't
have a word for Blasphemy anyway.
Q: I want to cast a Blasphemous Act to get rid of six of my opponent's creatures, but I only have a Mountain. Oh, and one Eldrazi Spawn tokens. Can I still cast Blasphemous Act?

A: Once you announce Blasphemous Act and determine the total cost to cast the spell, that cost is "locked in". Even if a creature leaves the battlefield, say, by sacrificing itself to use a mana ability, the cost to cast the spell remains the same.

Q: If I Mindslaver a player, and then during the course of their turn their commander gets exiled, can I choose to leave it in exile instead of putting it in the command zone? If I do, is it stuck there forever?

A: You can and it is. Choosing to replace going to the graveyard or the exile zone with being put back into the command zone is a choice the general's owner makes. And since you're making all the decisions for them, you don't necessarily need to make the best ones regarding the health and well-being of their commander.

Q: I've got a creature with an Ice Cage on it, and a Loxodon Warhammer that was on it beore. I don't have any other creatures, but can I activate the equip ability anyway, targeting the creature that it's already attached to, just to remove the Ice Cage?

A: Sure! All equip needs is a creature you control that's a legal target. You don't need another creature to give the Warhammer to and then to give it back; you can just have the equipped creature toss it from one hand to the other, which will shatter the Ice Cage in the process.

Q: With Skaab Ruinator in my yard and a Back from the Brink on the field, do I need to exile three creature cards from my graveyard to bring a token of the Ruinator out?

A: All Back from the Brink cares about is that you exile the creature and pay its mana cost. Mana cost doesn't include additional costs, and you're not casting Skaab Ruinator, you're just activating an activated ability of another permanent that's doing something with the Ruinator. You don't need to pay the additional costs.

Q: A few months ago you said that you wouldn't even flip a coin if you targeted a Phantasmal Dragon with Goblin Bangchuckers. The question I have is why do you not flip the coin? Shouldn't the statement "Flip a coin" mean that you have to flip the coin before the rest of the clause? It seems weird to be able to target the Dragon without the coin flip, because the wording makes it sound as if you should only be allowed to actually target something if you win the flip.

A: The order of the wording doesn't matter. All targets need to be chosen as an ability is put onto the stack, and the coin isn't flipped until the ability is already resolving. But in this case, it never gets that far, because the ability is countered when it tries to resolve because the Phantasmal Dragon has vanished in a puff of being-noticed.

Q: If I activate my Inkmoth Nexus at the beginning of my upkeep, can I copy it with Cryptoplasm and swing in the air for 2 infect damage?

A: That won't work. Cryptoplasm triggers at the beginning of your upkeep, and needs a legal target for its ability to stay on the stack. Then you get priority to activate Inkmoth Nexus, but Cryptoplasm has long passed caring about any creatures you have.

Q: I flash in a Snapcaster Mage and give my Brimstone Volley flashback. When I flash it back, I use my Burning Vengeance to deal 2 damage to one of my opponent's creatures, killing it. But since Brimstone Volley was already on the stack at that point, will it still get the morbid bonus?

A: Brimstone Volley's morbidness isn't locked in when it's cast, it's something that's only checked on resolution. So if a creature dies while Brimstone Volley is hanging out waiting to resolve, it'll be dealing 5 damage on resolution instead of the normal 3.

Q: If two Nether Traitors die at the same time to a Wrath of God, do they see each other die and trigger?

A: They see each other die (how sad!), but they won't trigger. Nether Traitor's ability mentions it bringing itself back from the graveyard, so it only triggers from the graveyard. That means it has to be in the yard already when another creature is put into the graveyard for it to trigger.

Q: If I Krovikan Rot my own creature, will its recover ability trigger off that?

A: It won't. Much like Nether Traitor, Krovikan Rot only triggers from the graveyard because that's where it mentions triggering from. But the semi-confusing part here is that Krovikan Rot isn't even in your yard until the last part of its resolution, which is after it's already destroyed your poor creature.

Q: I was considering using Memory's Journey for my sideboard until I realized that it might mean that I can't select which cards my opponent shuffles back into his library. Does he target the cards? Or do I?

A: Since you're casting the spell, you choose all targets for it unless explicitly stated otherwise (see: Evangelize). In Memory's Journey's case, you target a player and three cards in that player's graveyard, then they shuffle the three targeted cards into their library when the spell resolves.

Gideon's Frog Halloween costume
doesn't make him any less durable,
just easier to make fun of.
Q: I attack with my animated Gideon Jura, who is promptly turned into a Frog with... Turn to Frog. Now is all damage still prevented to him, or does that go away too?

A: Even though Gideon lost all his abilities, the "prevent all damage" effect was part of the ability that caused him to become a creature in the first place. This effect is still active even though the ability that created it is gone, so he's quite an unsquishable Frog.

Q: Can I hit a player and one of their planeswalker pals with Arc Trail?

A: No, planeswalkers aren't creatures or players, so they're not legal targets for Arc Trail. You'd need to target the planeswalker's controller, then redirect the damage when Arc Trail resolves. But if you do that, you'll need another target for Arc Trail, because you can't target the same player with Arc Trail twice.

Q: Does Torpor Orb or Humility prevent Phantasmal Image from copying something?

A: Nope! It may stop the Image from doing anything useful that turn, but it won't stop it from copying. Phantasmal Image has a replacement effect that modifies how it enters the battlefield and makes it come in as a copy of another creature. All this happens before it enters the battlefield, so even Humility won't stop it.

Q: If I attack my opponent with Geist of Saint Traft, can I put the token onto the battlefield attacking my opponent's Sorin Markov?

A: Sure! If a creature is put onto the battlefield attacking, you'll get to choose who it attacks. It could attack any planeswalker or even another opponent entirely, even if they weren't involved in the combat decisions initially.

Well that's all for BOO! Sorry, I couldn't let Carsten have all the fun scaring you next week!

About the Author:
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.


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