Published on 06/18/2012

Eternally Yours

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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 preferred Legacy Weapon these days is actually a Demon. Go figure.
We've had a bit of a lull in the Grand Prix schedule the last few weeks due to World Cup qualifiers, but GPs are looming on the horizon again, including one in my favorite format — Legacy! If you happen to be slinging eternal cards down at GP Atlanta at the end of this month, feel free to find me and say hi. In the meantime, I'll be fending off the allure of the format by tackling some rules questions.

And as always, if you've got questions, please send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: If my opponent casts a Krosan Grip targeting my Lion's Eye Diamond, can I use its ability in response? Or does the "only any time you could cast an instant" mean I can't use it against split second?

A: You can crack your Diamond, if you really want to (hopefully you have something on the battlefield or in your graveyard to spend that mana on, though, since you won't have a hand anymore!). The phrase "any time you could cast an instant" is just shorthand "any time you have priority", which is the normal rule for casting instants. And you do get priority when a spell with split second is on the stack, you just normally can't do much with it. Fortunately, activating mana abilities — and Lion's Eye Diamond has a mana ability — is one thing you're allowed to do, so this works.

Q: I have a couple of Blood Artists, my opponent's at 10 life, and five creatures just died in combat, so I targeted him with all ten Blood Artist triggers. He says he's going to let five Blood Artist triggers go off, then cast Faith's Shield to get protection from black; how is that legal? Doesn't he have to let the whole stack resolve before casting another spell? And besides, protection doesn't stop life loss, does it?

A: This is a really neat play, and yes it works! First of all, though it's a common misconception, you don't have to let everything on the stack resolve before doing anything else. Spells and abilities resolve one at a time, and players get priority and can do stuff in between each one, so letting five triggers resolve, then casting Faith's Shield, is perfectly legal.

And while it's true that protection doesn't stop life loss, it does stop targeting. Blood Artist's triggered ability is targeted, and once he gains protection from black he'll be an illegal target for an ability from a black source, so the remaining Blood Artist triggers will be countered for having no legal target. Just remember that Faith's Shield does still need a target even with fateful hour; it can target any permanent he controls, though, so he doesn't necessarily need to have a creature for this to work.

Q: If I use Ghostly Flicker targeting my Precursor Golem and one of my lands, does Precursor make copies since the only creature being targeted is a Golem?

A: Nope. "Targets only a single Golem" means the spell has to have exactly one target, and that target has to be a Golem. Ghostly Flicker always has two targets, so Precursor Golem will never get to copy it.

Q: I know that if I Cloudshift one of my tapped creatures, it comes back untapped. Does the same thing work for a double-faced card transforming? Say, if I have a tapped Huntmaster of the Fells and cast Moonmist, will Ravager of the Fells enter the battlefield untapped?

A: Nope. A pretty common confusion is the idea that a double-faced card leaves or re-enters the battlefield when it transforms. It doesn't go anywhere; it just changes from one face to the other without leaving, entering or changing zones in any way, and transforming doesn't change its tapped/untapped status. So your tapped Huntmaster transforms into a tapped Ravager.

These Goblins haven't learned about Engineered Plague yet...
Q: I have one Accumulated Knowledge in my graveyard. My opponent doesn't have any. If I give mine flashback with Snapcaster Mage, how many cards do I draw?

A: Just one, unfortunately. When you cast a spell — any spell — the first step is moving it out of whatever zone it's in, and onto the stack. So that Accumulated Knowledge isn't in your graveyard anymore when it goes to count, and you'll only accumulate one measly card from it.

Q: My opponent is at 5 life and I just drew Bonfire of the Damned and cast it using miracle, with X=5. He says that only sets the X in the miracle cost, though, so the X in its mana cost is zero and he can Mental Misstep it, but I don't think that works. Who's right?

A: You are, and your opponent's going to end up pretty toasty from that Bonfire. Any time a card has X on it in multiple places, all instances of X on the card have the same value. So even though you cast the Bonfire for its miracle cost, the X in its mana cost will have the correct value — 5 — and Bonfire's converted mana cost on the stack will be 11, not 1.

Q: If I have two creatures in my graveyard and Fling Splinterfright, does it deal 2 or 3 damage?

A: A slightly less frightening two. Fling uses what's called last known information to determine the creature's power, which basically means that it just asks what the creature's power was the last time it was seen on the battlefield. At that point its power was still only 2 because it hadn't gone to the graveyard yet.

Q: My friend has a deck built around the "level up" cards from Rise of the Eldrazi, and he says they all start out at level 1. Is that right? I thought they started out at zero!

A: You thought right. The "level" is equal to the number of level counters on the creature; nothing says they enter with any level counters on them, so they enter with zero counters and start out at "level zero".

Q: I've got a Fireball in hand and enough mana to kill my opponent. And I've got Grand Abolisher to keep him from countering it. But he says he can turn his morphed Willbender face-up to redirect my Fireball to me! I don't think that works, since turning it face-up is an activated ability. Who's right?

A: Your opponent is. Even though it kinda looks like an activated ability, turning a morph face-up... isn't. It's actually a special action, and he can do it any time he has priority. Since it's not an activated ability, he can do it even when Grand Abolisher is shutting down most of his other options, so your Fireball is going to be bent to his will.

Q: I'm getting ready for a Legacy tournament, and I want to use Chalice of the Void to stop combo decks. But I'm not sure how many counters I need to stop a storm spell — is it zero to counter the copies, or does it have to be the same as the converted mana cost of the storm spell?

A: Chalice of the Void won't actually stop storm; if it has the right number of charge counters, it can counter the original spell (say, four to counter Tendrils of Agony), but that won't counter the storm trigger (which is independent of the spell itself once it's on the stack), and won't counter the copies because they're never cast. They're just created directly on the stack.

Q: What about Hypergenesis? If my opponent cascades into it off Shardless Agent, can Chalice counter it?

A: That one works, and is actually pretty easy! Hypergenesis has no mana cost, so its converted mana cost is zero. And cascade has you cast the spell you cascade into, so a Chalice on zero will see a zero-CMC spell being cast, trigger and counter it.

Q: If my Duplicant imprints my opponent's Geist-Honored Monk, whose creatures does it count? And does its power/toughness keep changing when creatures enter and die?

A: The word "you" on a card means its controller, if it has one, or its owner if it doesn't. In exile, Geist-Honored Monk looks at how many creatures its owner controls, and Duplicant's power/toughness will come from that. So your Duplicant's power/toughness will come from the number of creatures your opponent controls. And it will change as the number of creatures he controls changes; Geist-Honored Monk has what's called a characteristic-defining ability, which is "on" in all zones, and updates constantly.

Q: I just cast Azusa, Lost but Seeking, and I want to play my two extra lands. Can my opponent stop that by immediately killing her?

A: Nope. Due to the way Magic's priority rules work, it's easy to make sure he doesn't get priority to cast a spell until you've played both lands. First, Azusa resolves and enters the battlefield; the active player (that's you!) gets priority first, and so you can play a land. That's a special action and doesn't use the stack, so he doesn't get a chance to respond. You also get priority first after you take a special action, so you can go ahead and play the other land, and the whole time your opponent hasn't had priority and so hasn't been able to cast a spell to kill Azusa.

Suleiman plays with an interesting variant on the banned list.
Q: If I use Sedris, the Traitor King to unearth a creature, and then Cloudshift that creature, does it come back? Or does unearth make it stay exiled?

A: It will come back! Unearth only cares about the creature trying to go somewhere other than exile. But that's where Cloudshift sends it, so unearth doesn't see anything to fix here. Then, since the now-exiled creature is no longer the same game object unearth was paying attention to, Cloudshift can bring it back and it'll stick around permanently.

Q: My opponent just cast Animate Dead to bring back a Sun Titan. Is there any way I can destroy Animate Dead before the Titan comes back, to keep its enters-the-battlefield ability from going off?

A: Yup! Animate Dead's current wording may look kind of complicated, but ultimately it's just got a simple triggered ability that brings the creature back. And, importantly, it has what's called an "intervening if"; the "if Animate Dead is on the battlefield" bit is checked when the trigger resolves, and if Animate Dead is gone, the trigger won't do anything at all, including bringing back the creature. So if you have an instant-speed way to blow up the Animate Dead, Sun Titan will stay in the yard and never get a chance to shine.

Q: I have Humility and my opponent has a Mishra's Factory. When he turns it into a creature, is is 2/2 or 1/1? Can it still pump itself or another animated Factory?

A: It'll be a 2/2 with no abilities. Usually, whenever you have multiple effects trying to change exactly the same thing — in this case, setting power/toughness — the latest one "wins". So as long as he activated Factory after Humility entered the battlefield, its P/T setting effect will be the latest one, and it'll be 2/2. It will still lose all its abilities, though, including the ability to tap for mana and the ability to pump an Assembly-Worker (and remember that ability works on anything with the "Assembly-Worker" creature type, not just another animated Factory!).

Q: My opponent got out a Sneak Attack and used it to put Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play. I have a Karakas, but he still has another red mana open; isn't there any way I can avoid being attacked?

A: Well, there is, but you'll still get annihilated. If you activate Karakas in the beginning of combat step, he can just use Sneak Attack again in that step and have Emrakul back and ready to be declared as an attacker. If you wait until after Emrakul's been declared as an attacker, you can bounce it to avoid the fifteen damage, but the annihilator trigger will already be on the stack and you'll end up sacrificing six permanents.

Q: If I Willbender the trigger of my opponent's Vendilion Clique back onto him, do I get to see his hand?

A: Nope. Vendilion Clique instructs its controller to look at the targeted player's hand, so if you get the ability to target the Clique's controller, he'll just look at his own hand, and won't have to show it to you. But if he chooses to put a card from his hand on the bottom of his library, he will have to show you that, since Clique says that card gets revealed.

Q: I've got Griselbrand, but my opponent has a 7/7 Knight of the Reliquary, and uses his Ulvenwald Tracker to make them fight. If he also uses Mother of Runes in response to give the Knight protection from black, what happens? Do they still fight? Do I gain any life?

A: They'll still fight because both creatures are still legal targets of Ulvenwald Tracker's ability. But things won't go so well for you or for your big card-drawing demon, since the Knight's will hit Griselbrand for seven, and his protection from black will prevent all the damage Griselbrand would deal. So Griselbrand dies and you don't get any life out of it.

Q: How does Thalia, Guardian of Thraben affect a suspended spell that just had its last counter removed?

A: Thalia imposes an additional cost on any non-creature spell being cast; she doesn't care how it's being cast. And even when you get to cast something "without paying its mana cost", you're still on the hook for additional costs. If you can't or won't pay the extra mana, your suspended spell will stay exiled forever.

That's all the questions I've (eternally) witnessed this week, but tune in next week when Carsten brings another installment of Cranial Insertion!

- James Bennett

About the Author:
James Bennett is a Level 3 judge based out of Lawrence, Kansas. He pops up at events around Kansas City and all over the midwest, and has a car he can talk to.

Q: If I use Ghostly Flicker targeting my Precursor Golem and one of my lands, does Precursor make copies since the only creature being targeted is a Golem?
\"A: Nope. \"Targets only a single Golem\" means the spell has to have exactly one target, and that target has to be a Golem. Ghostly Flicker always has two targets, so Precursor Golem will never get to copy it.\"

I am pretty sure this answer is wrong. The golem would make copies because of his comes into play ability (i.e. when he flickers he comes back into play) Plus it works even better for the caster, because as you point out the second golem ability won\'t trigger due it not targeting \"only a single target\" Hence his golem buddies currently on the battlefield wont get flickered out of existence.
#1 • Date: 2012-06-19 • Time: 09:18:01 •
@wryshadow: "make copies" and "make tokens" are two VERY different things that you seem to have mixed up.

...i enjoy all those casual/highlander questions, never thought about unearth not caring about exiling creatures. but then again, creatures usually don't come back from exile^^
#2 • Date: 2012-06-19 • Time: 09:23:04 •
@Reidan, I may have missed that terminology and your right that makes a world of difference, but I still feel like the intention of the inquirer was do I get to make more tokens. In which case I would say they do.
#3 • Date: 2012-06-26 • Time: 13:33:33 •

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