Published on 04/02/2012

The Day after April Fools' Day

or, Just Another Magic Monday

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Oddly enough, nobody played Legacy Weapon
at the Legacy Grand Prix
Welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion. Yesterday was April 1st, also known as April Fools' Day, a day on which people in many countries play good-humored practical jokes on their friends. Fortunately that was yesterday and today is a new day, so I narrowly avoided having to write an April Fools' Day special involving only cards such as Fool's Demise, Jester's Cap and Cosi's Trickster. Also, perhaps more importantly, you narrowly avoided having to read it. How lucky!

Instead, I will reminisce about the somewhat recent Grand Prix in Indianapolis and present a number of interesting Legacy interactions I encountered there, along with the usual selection of questions from our mailbox. If you have question you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet to us at @CranialTweet.

Q: I control Counterbalance and my opponent is flashing back Lingering Souls. If I reveal Stoneforge Mystic off of Counterbalance's trigger, does that counter Lingering Souls?

A: No, it doesn't. The converted mana cost of a spell is calculated only based on the mana cost in the top-right corner of the card, regardless of how much was actually paid for the spell. The converted mana cost of a flashed back Lingering Souls is 3, not 2.

Q: My opponent is playing a Show and Tell deck, and I'm pretty sure that he's choosing an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as his card. Can I choose a Phantasmal Image and have it copy Emrakul to foil his plan?

A: No, that doesn't work. You can choose the Phantasmal Image, but it won't be able to copy the thing your opponent is choosing. Both chosen cards enter the battlefield at the same time, and Phantasmal Image has to choose something to copy as it's entering the battlefield, so Emrakul is not on the battlefield yet when that choice happens. Oblivion Ring would be a much better countermeasure since it targets with an enter-the-battlefield ability after Show and Tell has resolved, and it is well known that Emrakul can be Oblivion-Ringed.

Q: My opponent is attacking me with his Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, so I'm sacrificing six permanents to its annihilator ability. One of those permanents is my Wheel of Sun and Moon that's enchanting me. Where do the sacrificed permanents go?

A: They all go to the bottom of your library! The six permanents are sacrificed simultaneously, and before they can go anywhere at all, the game has to figure out where they should go. At that point, the Wheel hasn't gone anywhere yet, so it's still on the battlefield and its static ability that changes were the cards go is still in effect.

Q: My opponent is resolving Faithless Looting and he's dredging up some Golgari Grave-Trolls instead of drawing. In doing so, a couple of Narcomoebas hit the graveyard. Can I prevent those Narcomoebas from entering the battlefield with Tormod's Crypt?

A: Certainly! Narcomoeba's "pop out of the graveyard" ability is a regular triggered ability that uses the stack, so the Narcomoebas don't actually pop out during the resolution of Faithless Looting even though some dredge players shortcut this process and put the little blue guys straight onto the battlefield while dredging. In reality, those abilities have to wait for Faithless Looting to finish before they can even go on the stack, let alone resolve. That gives you plenty of time to exile the Narcomoebas, and then their ability will do nothing because it can't find them in the graveyard to put onto the battlefield.

Q: So, from what I've been told, a Clone that copies a Progenitus gets shuffled into its owners library, but a Clone that copies an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn does not. How come?

A: You've been told correctly. Despite superficial similarities, the shuffle abilities on Progenitus and Emrakul are two fundamentally different mechanisms. Progenitus has an ability that creates a replacement effect. Replacement effects are applied just before the modified event happens, so they have to evaluate the current game state, right before the event, to see if they apply. At that moment, Clone is a copy of Progenitus with all the privileges that come with being a ten-headed Hydra. In particular, it has the ability that replaces its trip to the graveyard with being shuffled into its owners library.

Emrakul, on the other hand, has a triggered ability that is triggered by being put into the graveyard from anywhere. Such a triggered ability evaluates the game state right after the event to determine whether it triggered. A Clone that copies Emrakul reverts to being just a Clone after the event, so it doesn't have the shuffle ability anymore that could be triggered by the event.

Q: If I stash a Chalice of the Void under a hideaway land, can I pay extra for a nonzero X when I cast it from underneath the hideaway land?

A: Nope. The hideaway land instructs you to cast the card without paying its mana cost. Since there's an X in the mana cost that's not defined on the card, the rules force you to "choose" X to be 0.

Remember, the printed card text doesn't count!
Q: If I turn my opponent's nonbasic lands into Mountains with Blood Moon, do they still count for Price of Progress?

A: They sure do! A land is basic if (and only if) it has the supertype Basic in its type line. Blood Moon doesn't give nonbasic lands the supertype Basic, despite what certain printings of that card might say in their printed text. What matters is the Oracle text, which only gives nonbasic lands the Mountain subtype, so they are nonbasic Mountains.

Q: My opponent is countering my Tarmogoyf with Force of Will, and I try to use Misdirection to make Force of Will counter itself. My opponent says that that's illegal and calls the judge. What should happen next?

A: Well, your opponent is correct, a spell can never legally target itself. Trying to make Force of Will target itself is an illegal choice, so you have broken a game rule. At Competitive Rules Enforcement Level, you would receive a Warning for a Game Rule Violation. Then, at all Rules Enforcement Levels, the situation would be corrected by undoing the illegal choice and continuing the game from there by making a legal choice. Misdirection tells you to change Force of Will's target, so you can't leave it targeting Tarmogoyf. However, Misdirection itself is still on the stack, since it's still resolving, so you can change Force of Will's target to Misdirection. Misdirection then goes to the graveyard, which leaves Force of Will with an illegal target so Force of Will is countered on resolution. Finally, your Tarmogoyf will resolve, which is exactly what you were hoping to achieve in the first place.

Q: So, with mana burn gone, what's the deal with Braid of Fire? It just keeps adding mana to your mana pool and it doesn't matter whether I use it?

A: Yup! There is no mana burn, so Braid of Fire is all upside now. You can just let it make mana, and if you don't use it by the end of the upkeep step, the mana simply vanishes without the need for a mana sink. Since neither the Legacy nor the Modern tournament scene are being overrun by Braid of Fire decks, this slight increase in power level is clearly not a problem.

Q: Let's say my opponent controls a Phage the Untouchable. Can I kill my opponent by hitting Phage with Undying Evil and then Go for the Throat?

A: Sure, that evil plan works just fine as long as your opponent doesn't interfere with it. When Phage undies, she's a new permanent with no relation to her old incarnation. The new Phage was never cast at all, let alone from your opponent's hand, so she kills your opponent. What a sweetheart!

Q: How does intimidate work against colored artifact creatures like Vault Skirge? Can Vault Skirge block a Spectral Rider? Can it block a Memnite that's wearing a stylish Executioner's Hood?

A: The answer is yes to both. Intimidate asks a potential blocker two questions: "Are you an artifact creature?" and "Do you share a color with the attacker?" If the answer to at least one of those questions is yes, the blocker is allowed to block the attacker. Since Vault Skirge is an artifact creature, it is allowed to block attackers with intimidate regardless of what colors it or they may have.

Q: If my opponent plays Nevermore and names the card I have imprinted on Isochron Scepter, can I still cast that spell off of the Scepter?

A: Yes, you can. Nevermore only prohibits you from casting cards with the chosen name. Isochron Scepter makes a copy of the imprinted card and tells you to cast the copy. The copy is an imaginary ghost of a card rather than an actual card, and Nevermore for some reason doesn't prohibit you from casting imaginary ghosts.

Q: Does Xenograft naming Ally allow me to make an infinite number of wolves with Turntimber Ranger?

A: Sure, that works. Xenograft's effect applies immediately as soon as the Wolf token enters the battlefield. Hence, the token enters as a Wolf Ally creature and it triggers the ability to make another Wolf Ally, and so forth until you're getting tired of making Wolf Allies.

Q: Are you sure? My friends at the last tournament said this doesn't work and they cited a ruling from Xenograft that says, "For example, if Warrior is the chosen creature type and you control Bramblewood Paragon, a Runeclaw Bear would not enter the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter."

A: Yup, I'm sure. Bramblewood Paragon is a completely different situation. Bramblewood Paragon creates a replacement effect that changes how a creature enters the battlefield, which must be processed before the creature enters the battlefield. Turntimber Ranger has a triggered ability that triggers off of a creature entering the battlefield, which is checked after the creature has entered the battlefield.

Worst massage ever
Q: I control a Soul Seizer that's equipped with Sword of War and Peace, and I hit my opponent with it. I decide to transform it into Ghastly Haunting and attach it to my opponent's Primeval Titan. What exactly happens to the Sword?

A: The game realizes rather quickly, when state-based actions are checked, that the Sword is no longer attached to a creature. It is attached to an Aura, and that's just not right, so the Sword becomes unattached. It won't automatically become attached to the Titan you stole, but you're certainly welcome to attach it to the Titan if you've got the mana to do so.

Q: If I sacrifice Yavimaya Elder to draw a card, do I draw first, search first, or do I even get to choose?

A: There is no choice here. The first step of activating the Elder's ability is to put the ability on the stack. Later, when you pay the cost of the ability, that triggers the "search for land" ability that goes on top of that, and thus will resolve first. You can't draw first, no matter how much you want to!

Q: If I have Reckless Assault and Pain Magnification in play and I pay and 6 life to have Reckless Assault deal 3 damage to my opponent, does Pain Magnification trigger?

A: Nope. You actually can't pay and 6 life to Reckless Assault. You can pay and 2 life, and you can do that three times, but each activation resolves individually with a chance to do things between them. Pain Magnification triggers if a single source deals 3 or more damage in a single event, and that's not what's happening here since the damage is dealt in three separate events.

Q: So, here's the setup: I have a Snapcaster Mage and a Stoneforge Mystic in my graveyard, an Unearth in my hand, and I have two black mana open. Can I Unearth Snapcaster Mage, then give flashback to the Unearth I just cast and cast it again to Unearth Stoneforge Mystic?

A: Sure, that works. Snapcaster Mage's ability is an enter-the-battlefield ability, so it triggers when Snapcaster is put onto the battlefield during Unearth's resolution, but the ability has to wait until Unearth is done resolving to be put on the stack. Unearth is in the graveyard then, so Snapcaster Mage's ability can target it.

Q: I control a Riku of Two Reflections and cast a Phantasmal Image. The Image resolves and enters the battlefield as a copy of my opponent's Vorosh, the Hunter, for example. I pay the cost for Riku to make a token copy of the Image. Does the token enter the battlefield as Phantasmal Image or as Vorosh? If it's the latter, is this a 4-mana way for me to kill someone's commander and have a copy to myself?

A: Copy effects take into account other copy effects when they determine what they're copying, so the token that Riku makes is a phantasmal copy of Vorosh, including the "if you look at me I go poof" ability. So yes, this is a 4-mana method of killing a general and keeping a copy of it, but the copy is vulnerable to being targeted.

Q: I control an Isochron Scepter that has Trickbind imprinted on it. My opponent doesn't like that and tries to Shatter my Scepter. If I save my Scepter by phasing it out with Vision Charm in response, can I continue to cast Trickbind with it when it phases back in?

A: Sure, that works. While the Scepter is phased out, the game treats it as though it's not there, but it's still the same object it was before and it's not leaving the battlefield. This means that it doesn't forget which card it exiled, so you can still cast copies of Trickbind after it phases back in.

And that wraps up the questions for this episode. Before I go, it is my distinct pleasure to give you an update about the charity tournament I organized on March 24th, Cast a Spell on MS. To say that it was a HUGE SUCCESS would be an understatement. A grand total of 118 players were there, 91 players were in the main event, and the event raised a total donation of $2665 for the National MS Society. That's double what we raised last year, and the turnout exceeded even my most immodest imagination. I'd like to express my sincerest gratitude to all the sponsors and donors whose generous support made this success possible, and especially to all the players who came and battled for a good cause. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements in early 2013 about the next Cast a Spell on MS!

Until next time!

-Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.

For the Bramblewood Paragon question, does it make a difference if I control Conspiracy instead?
#1 • Date: 2012-04-04 • Time: 16:09:12 •
Quote (Jenesis):
For the Bramblewood Paragon question, does it make a difference if I control Conspiracy instead?
Nope, ETB replacements ignore all continuous effects not native to or specifically affecting only the object entering

Last edited on 2012-04-04 20:31:13 by Eli
#2 • Date: 2012-04-04 • Time: 16:12:49 •
Quote (Eli):
Nope, ETB replacements ignore all continuous effects not native to or specifically affecting only the object entering

This is a very interesting result. Just to check up on whether I really understand it, the answer would be different if someone hit the creature spell with an artificial evolution, naming "Warrior"? I'm thinking yes, since 614.12 says to take into account "continuous effects generated by the resolution of spells or abilities that changed the permanent's characteristics on the stack", and conspiracy doesn't work that way, but artificial evolution does.
#3 • Date: 2012-04-09 • Time: 08:33:48 •
You have it exactly right. :)
#4 • Date: 2012-04-11 • Time: 03:43:15 •

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