Published on 06/04/2012

Planeswalking on Sunshine

(and don't it feel good!)

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

The lava is always hotter
on the other side of the volcano
Welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion! The weather is getting hotter, at least where I live, so this is a perfect time to stay inside and play some Magic! This past weekend saw not only various World Magic Cup Qualifiers, but also the release event for Planechase 2012. If you went to a release event, I hope you had a phenomenal time and lots of fun. To continue the celebration of that release, this issue is all about the crazy planes, wacky phenomena, new cards, and returning mechanics in Planechase 2012. Next week we'll be back to our regularly scheduled program of rules questions from our inbox, so please feel free to send in your questions by clicking the "Email Us" button, by sending email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Now, let's put on our planeswalking boots and travel through the æther!

Q: How many planes and phenomena can I have in a planar deck?

A: That depends on whether you're using individual planar decks or a shared planar deck. If each player has their own planar deck, each deck has to contain at least ten cards, and up to two of those can be phenomenon cards. If you're playing with a single shared deck, the minimum deck size is ten per player or forty, whichever number is smaller. A communal planar deck can have up to two phenomenon cards per player. Also, each card in the planar deck has to be different, so there's currently a hard limit at eight unless you play with different house rules, since that's how many phenomenon cards have been printed to date.

Q: Are the new normal-sized cards in Planechase 2012 legal in sanctioned tournaments?

A: Yes, but only in Legacy and Vintage tournaments. They're not legal in Standard or Modern, because Planechase 2012 is neither a core set nor an expansion set.

Q: What does Fractured Powerstone do in a Legacy tournament?

A: Not much, I'm afraid. It produces colorless mana, and that's it. You can activate the ability for rolling the planar die, but it won't do anything on resolution because there is no planar die in the game.

Q: Let's say I use Fractured Powerstone to roll the planar die and I don't like the result, so I want to roll it again. Do I have to pay mana now because it's the second time I'm rolling the die?

A: Nope! The turn-based action that allows you to roll the planar die doesn't care how often you've rolled the die; it cares how often you've used that turn-based action. Since you haven't used that action yet this turn, you get to roll the die for free.

Q: If I encounter two phenomena in a row, can I have the second one happen first?

A: No. You flip over the first phenomenon, resolve its ability, and then you flip over the next card. You won't even know whether you're hitting another phenomenon until after the first one has happened.

Q: Can planeswalking be Stifled?

A: That depends on why you're planeswalking. If you rolled the planar die and it came up ("planeswalk!"), then yes. Rolling that symbol triggers a triggered ability that goes on the stack that can be Stifled. Planeswalking away from a phenomenon that has done its thing is a state-based action that doesn't use the stack, so that can't be Stifled.

Note that you can Stifle the phenomenon's effect, since that's also a triggered ability. However, after the ability has been countered, the state-based action still makes you planeswalk away from the phenomenon, so you won't get stuck in the Interplanar Tunnel oohing and aahing at the pretty lights.

Q: Can I proliferate scroll counters on Aretopolis?

A: That's a neat idea, but it doesn't work. Proliferate can only interact with counters on players and permanents. Permanents exist on the battlefield, and planes exist in the command zone, so planes are not permanents.

"Yo dawg, I heard you like to cascade..."
Q: How do I cascade twice when I cast Maelstrom Wanderer?

A: Very carefully, I'd hope. When you cast Maelstrom Wanderer, two cascade abilitities go on the stack, and they'll resolve one by one. You reveal cards for the first cascade, cast whatever comes up, and put the other cards on the bottom of your library. The spell you cast off of the first cascade goes on the stack above the second cascade, so that spell has to resolve before the second cascade goes off. If any spells you hit during a cascade have cascade themselves, it would be a good idea to keep track of the pending cascades on a piece of paper to avoid confusion or spontaneous cerebral combustion.

Q: Can I cast Mass Mutiny if one of my opponents doesn't control any creatures?

A: Yes, you can. The printed text wouldn't allow this, since the spell would need exactly one target for each opponent, but that's not the intended behavior. The phrase "up to one" was inadvertently omitted from the rules text, and the card has received errata to correctly convey its intended behavior in its Oracle text.

Q: Can I use Talon Gates' ability on a card with converted mana cost 0?

A: You can, but I'm not sure why you'd want to do that. You'll end up exiling it with no time counters, so the card won't ever become a suspended card since being suspended requires actually having time counters on it. It'll just sit in exile indefinitely and be bored.

Q: Let's say I attack with a creature that goes unblocked, so I ninjutsu it for Sakashima's Student and I choose to have it copy Kessig Cagebreakers. Do I get a Wolf token, too?

A: No, sorry. "Whenever [something] attacks" abilities only trigger when the something is actually declared as an attacker. A creature that's put on the battlefield attacking didn't actually attack, so it doesn't trigger such abilities.

Q: I attack with a Voiceless Spirit and it goes unblocked. Can I let the Spirit deal first strike damage, then ninjutsu it out for a Ninja and let the Ninja deal normal damage?

A: Sure, that's legal. The Spirit is still an unblocked attacker after it has dealt damage, and both players get the chance to cast spells and activate abilities after first strike damage has been dealt. In the second combat damage step, the Ninja will be an attacking creature that hasn't assigned combat damage yet, so it gets its own damage in.

Q: If an unblocked attacker has counters or Auras on it and I ninjutsu-swap it for a Ninja, does the Ninja take the counters or Auras?

A: That would be useful, but it doesn't work that way. When you return the unblocked attacker to your hand, the counters on it cease to exist and the Aura briefly remains on the battlefield attached to nothing until state-based actions notice this unnatural state of affairs and whisk the Aura off to the graveyard.

Q: If I have a creature that's enchanted with multiple totem armors, what happens if my opponent tries to Doom Blade it?

A: You'll choose one of the Auras that'll be destroyed, and the other one will stay on. What's happening here is that each Aura creates a replacement effect that wants to modify how the destruction event affects your creature. As the controller of the affected creature, you get to choose one to apply. Once that replacement effect has been applied, the modified event is no longer trying to destroy your creature, so the other Aura figuratively shrugs its shoulders and says, "all right, I'll get the next one."

Q: Would it be the same if I have a Blight Mamba with one Felidar Umbra and I regenerate it in response?

A: Yup! Both the regeneration and totem armor create a replacement effect that applies to the destruction of Blight Mamba, so you choose one to apply and the other sticks around for later. The regeneration shield only sticks around until the end of the turn, though, so you'll probably choose that. However, note that regeneration also taps the creature and removes it from combat (if applicable) which totem armor doesn't do.

From beneath you it devours.
Q: Our chaotic duel has sent us to Jund, and I cast Gluttonous Slime. Does it have devour 1, devour 5, or devour 6 now?

A: It technically has both devour 1 and devour 5 now, which is unfortunately not the same as devour 6. Each devour ability only counts how many creatures were fed to that ability, and you can't feed a creature to both abilities, so you'll probably ignore the devour 1 ability and feed all your fodder to the devour 5 ability.

Q: If I cast Beetleback Chief on Jund, can I feed the Goblin tokens it makes to its devour ability?

A: No, that doesn't work. The devour ability is a replacement effect that asks for a meal immediately as Beetleback Chief enters the battlefield. The ability that makes the tokens is a triggered enter-the-battlefield ability that uses the stack, so it'll resolve quite a while after Beetleback Chief has devoured its meal.

Q: Earlier in the turn I cast a spell that my opponent countered, and now I'm trying to cast Illusory Angel. My opponent says I can't do that because the countered spell doesn't count. Is that right?

A: No, that's not right. Illusory Angel only asks whether you cast another spell, which you did. The fact that that spell never resolved is irrelevant. Countering a spell keeps it from resolving, but it doesn't undo the fact that it was cast.

Q: If I control True Conviction, does my Dreampod Druid count as enchanted?

A: No. To be enchanted, Dreampod Druid needs to have at least one Aura attached to it. Being affected by a non-Aura enchantment is not enough to turn on the Saproling factory.

Q: I control Sai of the Shinobi and take one of my opponent's creatures with Mark of Mutiny. Does the Sai's auto-attach ability trigger?

A: Nope. When a creature changes controllers, it doesn't leave the battlefield and reenter under a new controller. The creature stayed on the battlefield the whole time and merely changed its allegiance for a while.

Q: If an opponent targets my Runeclaw Bear with a nasty spell, can I Redirect the spell to my Elderwood Scion to make it cost more?

A: Nice try, but no. By the time you get to respond, the nasty spell has already been cast and paid for. Changing how much the spell would have cost after that time doesn't bother the spell even a little bit.

Q: We're on Hedron Fields of Agadeem and my opponent attacks me with a 4/4 creature. Can I stop the creature by giving it +3/+3 with Giant Growth?

A: No, you just did your opponent a favor. Effects that stop a creature from attacking are only checked at the moment the creature is declared as an attacker. After that point, such effects do nothing. To get the desired outcome, you should have boosted the creature before it was declared as an attacker.

And that concludes our journey through the multiverse. Until next time, may your planeswalking be just chaotic enough.

- 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.


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