Published on 03/26/2012

Copper Anniversary!

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

The 7th anniversary is also the
wool anniversary, so here's a (copper?) sheep!
Hello there Cranial Insertees! ...Wow, I hope that name doesn't catch on. As you may have known, we're moved to our own site for our seventh anniversary. That's the "copper" anniversary for those of you who follow the traditional American wedding anniversary gift schedule. I had intended to fill this article with copper-related card rulings, but try as I might, there just aren't many rules questions that could arrise from copper-named cards. They're all pretty plain, as you can see.

In addition to the new site, we also have a new way to get in touch with us to ask us whatever rules questions crop up in your games: . Or, you can just click Moko over there to the left, or Tweet them to us at @CranialTweet. Keep sending in questions to help keep this site up and running!

Q: When my 120/120 lifelinking Copper Myr gets chump blocked by my opponent's 1/1 Human token, how much life do I gain?

A: All 120! Creatures always deal damage equal to their power; they don't deal less because they know how much it takes to kill the other creature(s) in combat with them. However your Myr got that way, they're going to gain 120 life when they smash that Human.

Q: Can I cast Decimate with only a creature on the battlefield?

A: Nope - although a spell only needs one legal target to resolve, you need to choose all legal targets in order to cast a spell.

Q: In my Eldrazi Spawn deck, I have two cards that depend on tapping my creatures: Kyren Negotiations and Harmony of Nature. Can I tap a newly summoned Spawn using either of those cards?

A: You can! Only costs involving the or symbols can't be paid; you're just tapping these creatures as part of the cost for another card, so you can even tap creatures that have "summoning sickness".

Q: If I suspend a Rusted Relic with Jhoira of the Ghitu, can I swing for 5 when it comes in as long as I have metalcraft?

A: Even though Rusted Relic is entering the battlefield as a creature, it's not a creature spell. Suspend says "If you cast a creature spell this way, it gains haste until you lose control of the spell or the permanent it becomes." While you're casting Rusted Relic, it's simply an artifact spell, so it won't have haste when it enters the battlefield.

Illus. 23b - Back when CI first started,
the comp rules were much
harder to read.
Q: I Momentary Blink a Myojin of Night's Reach, does it come back with a counter if i originally cast it from my hand?

A: It won't, because the Myojin that enters the battlefield from the exile zone has no memory of the Myojin that once left the battlefield due to Momentary Blink. When a card changes zones, it's treated as a new object.

Q: So I control an opponent's Primeval Titan via Mind Control, my sole creature on the board, and my opponent controls only a Llanowar Elves.

I cast Cultural Exchange, targeting myself and the aforementioned opponent. Will my Mind Control on the Titan cause me to maintain control of it and gain my opponents creature?

A: Both Mind Control and Cultural Exchange's effects apply in the same layer - which is layer 2, the control layer. When you're dealing with competing effects applying to the same object in the same layer, you do it in timestamp order. Cultural Exchange was the last one to be created, so it'll override Mind Control's effect.

Q: If I have two Sower of Temptations temping a single Primeval Titan, what happens if one of the Faeries dies?

A: If only one of them dies, you're in good shape! Both of them are giving you control of Primeval Titan, and even though those control effects have different timestamps, the later one doesn't completely erase the older one; it's still there, tugging on the Titan.

Q: Can I take some vague, cryptic notes during a draft so I can keep track of what I've picked so far? Or put the cards in different piles in front of me, so long as they're face-down?

A: No way - the Magic Tournament Rules says you can't take notes of any kind during a draft, even if you're just an observer; unless you're observing a draft as a member of the press of course, they don't just have great memories to get them up on the draft viewer. All cards you pick also need to put in a single pile - not only are multiple piles against the rules, but they make it easy to accidentally pass part of your draft picks as another pack!

Q: When I pick a double-faced card, do I need to leave it on the top of the pile at all times?

A: You only need to leave it revealed until you pick another card, and then that next card you pick can cover the double-faced card. The reason for this is that like I said above, every card you pick needs to be put in a single pile. Many players got confused when they heard that a double-faced card can't be hidden; that just means that you can't put your most recently-picked double-faced card at the bottom of your drafted pile of cards. You're more than welcome to hide it once you pick another card!

Q: What's the time limit a player has for taking their turn?

A: Due to the complexity of Magic, there's no way that we can put a time limit on a player's turn. But no matter what the complexity of the turn, the game state didn't get there spontaneously, except in the case of Warp World or something equally as disturbing, so both players shouldn't have too much new information to process every turn. If a judge thinks someone is playing slowly, then they are! Also, if you're concerned someone is playing slowly, you can call over a judge and ask them to watch and make sure both of you are playing at a reasonable pace.

Q: If my graveyard has twenty cards in it, including a Visions from Beyond, and I flashback it with Snapcaster Mage, how many cards do I draw?

A: You'll only get to draw one. As part of casting the spell, you move it from the zone it's in to the stack. Visions from Beyond checks to see how many cards are in your graveyard as it's resolving, but it won't be in the graveyard until the last part of its resolution. This means that Visions from Beyond won't count itself, because it's not in the graveyard when it asks if you have twenty cards in your yard.

Q: Someone told me I could flash in a Briarpack Alpha during the cleanup step and the creature it buffs would get +2/+2 all during the next turn, since the beginning of the end step where the buff would wear off already passed. Is this real?

A: No, there seems to be a slight misunderstanding there between "at the beginning of the next end step" and "until end of turn". The former wears off at the beginning of the end step, so effects that say that would last most of the next turn if they were applied after the start of that turn's end step. Briarpack Alpha says "until end of turn", which means it wears off in the cleanup step. Players don't usually get priority during the cleanup step unless something needs to trigger or conditions for state-based actions exist. But even if they do, another cleanup step will generate after that one, and keep doing so until there's a cleanup step where no one needs to get priority. So there's no way to make Briarpack Alpha's buff permanent.

Q: If I use Dwarven Warriors to make a 2/2 creature unblockable and equip it with Trepanation Blade will it still be unblockable even if it reaches a power greater than 2?

A: It'll still be unblockable. Dwarven Warriors's ability's only restriction is on targeting, and the creature's power is 2 when that ability is targeting the creature and resolving. Its duration ("this turn") doesn't specify anything happening if the creature's power becomes greater than 2, so the creature is still unblockable.

Q: Speaking of Dwarves, can I use Dwarven Armory more than once during my upkeep?

A: You can use it as many times as you have lands and mana. Dwarven Armory doesn't have a triggered ability that triggers at the beginning of your upkeep and resolves, it's got an activated ability with a really weird timing restriction. It even says "any upkeep", so you can use it during another player's upkeep if you want! And it puts a +2/+2 counter on a creature, not two +1/+1 counters, so it won't remove any -1/-1 counters on the targeted creature.

Q: I say "declare attackers" and my opponent Vapor Snags my Hero of Bladehold, can I then play a Falkenrath Aristocrat and swing with it?

A: When you say "declare attackers", that's a shortcut saying that you're moving to the beginning of combat step and passing priority to your opponent. If your opponent takes an action then, they're assumed to be doing so in the beginning of combat step. You can't cast a creature there unless it has flash.

Q: After the recent legacy GP an argument over Flayer of the Hatebound and Bridge from Below has arisen. Am I correct in the assumption that since Bridge creates the token, and Bridge is in the graveyard, that this counts the Zombie tokens as having entered from the graveyard, thereby triggering Flayer?

A: It won't cause Flayer of the Hatebound to trigger. The trigger that creates the Zombie tokens is triggering from a card in a graveyard, but that doesn't mean that the Zombie tokens are entering the battlefield from there. They're not entering the battlefield from anywhere, actually - they just spontaneously exist when the triggered ability resolves.

Q: I steal my opponent's Soul Seizer with Traitorous Blood and attack with it, causing Soul Seizer to trigger when it hits my opponent. I put it on my opponent's Balefire Dragon and pass the turn. Now that it's an Aura instead of a creature, what happens when the turn ends?

A: Your opponent will regain control of his permanent, which is now an Aura, and thereby gain control of his Dragon. Even though Soul Seizer is now an Aura instead of a creature, it's still the same permanent, so Traitorous Blood's effect can keep track of it. Ghastly Haunting says "You control enchanted creature", and "You" in a card's text always refers to the effect's controller.

Q: Brimstone Volley says "Morbid:" Brimstone Volley deals 5 damage to that creature or player instead if a creature died this turn."

The morbid ability reads like it ought to be a replacement effect. If I cast Brimstone Volley at a Phytohydra, can I apply the Phytohydra's replacement ability first to replace (Deal 3 damage) with (put 3 +1/+1 counters on Phytohydra), and then apply Brimstone Volley's replacement ability second to replace (Put 3 +1/+1 counters on Phytohydra) with (Deal 5 damage)?

A: Sadly, no. Brimstone Volley does have a replacement effect, but it's a self-replacement effect: it's a part of the spell that replaces what it does as it resolves. Self-replacement effects always apply first, before any other replacement effects, so you can't choose to apply it after the other replacement effects.

Q: Say I have a Whispers of the Muse in my graveyard. At my opponent's end step, I cast Snapcaster Mage targeting Whispers of the Muse with buyback. Does it get exiled after resolving or does it go back in my hand?

A: You can pay the additional cost for buyback if you want, but it'd be a waste of mana. Flashback says to exile the spell if it would go anywhere else, so when Whispers tries to go back to your hand, it'll go to the exile zone instead.

Happy Copper Anniversary!
Q: If I combo out with Painter's Servant plus Grindstone and begin milling my opponent and they flip Blightsteel Colossus or Progenitus off the top of their deck, what happens with the stack and the resolution of my Grindstone's effect? Does the Blightsteel/Progentitus shuffle back in immediately? Or does it's replacement effect wait around for me to finish resolving my Grindstone?

A: Replacement effects don't use the stack, so they'll apply right then and there and won't wait for Grindstone to finish resolving. They'll shuffle back in, and Grindstone will keep on milling. If you ever hit two such creatures though, the game will be a draw since there's no possible way for Grindstone to ever finish resolving!

Q: If I have a Torpor Orb out, and I cast one creature such as Hell's Thunder, Hellspark Elemental, or Ball Lightning, will the end of turn trigger trigger at the end of turn?

A: They will, since they're all "at the beginning of the next end step" triggers, not things that trigger when the creature enters the battlefield.

Q: If I control a Psychic Vortex with five counters on it and an Obstinate Familiar, can I draw only four cards and sacrifice the Vortex by not paying the total cost?

A: You can't choose to pay only part of the cost of a cumulative upkeep ability. You either need to pay all of it and keep the permanent around for another turn, or pay none of it and sacrifice the permanent. You are choosing to pay the cost though, you're just replacing what happens when you do get around to paying it. So you can pay the cost for Psychic Vortex and only draw four out of the five cards, because each draw is treated as a separate event.

Q: I attack my opponent with my Thief of Hope, but he wants to block with a Samurai of the Pale Curtain. The Thief sure looks like it's flying through the clouds. Can he do that?

A: This question is usually asked about Whippoorwill, not Thief of Hope. Are you just making this up to be current? You see, the Thief of Hope doesn't fly — nowhere in the card text does it say that he has flying.


Quote from CompRules:
204.1. The illustration is printed on the upper half of a card and has no game significance. For example, a creature doesn't have the flying ability unless stated in its rules text, even if it's depicted as flying.

He must walk on the clouds. Or something. So if you live in a desert, you're safe from random Thieves of Hope running around trying to sell you Spirit Scout Cookies.

Of course, there's a psychological advantage to having creatures that look like they're flying. If your opponent didn't read the card, he might not have realized that he could block. In this situation, however, he's blocked by a Samurai of the Pale Curtain, and just gets removed from the game.

If that last question looks familiar, it's because it's from our very first article! I wasn't around then, or even thinking about playing Magic during Kamigawa block (maybe that's for the best), but this column was the thing that got me interested in judging again, five years ago, after taking a break around Urza's Legacy. Here's to another seven years of questions!

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.

I like the Cranial Insertion article format
#1 • Date: 2012-03-26 • Time: 15:53:13 •

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