Published on 07/16/2012

Thirteen by Thirteen

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Who's afraid of the number 13?
Welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion. Since you're reading this, I can only surmise that the world did not end last Friday despite the fact that it was not only Friday the 13th but also the release of Magic 2013. Maybe this confluence of unlucky numbers made the day a particularly lucky one? Anything's possible.

So, let's take a look at the questions that Moko has selected randomly, I mean carefully, from our mailbox. If you have questions for us, please send them to us by emailing , by clicking the Email Us button, or by tweeting at @CranialTweet. As always, your question will be answered as soon as one of our writers gets to it, and it might appear in a future issue.

Q: If I have the emblem from Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and cast Morality Shift, does that mean that I'm essentially drawing my entire library?

A: Basically yes, assuming that your opponent doesn't interfere with some well-timed graveyard hate. To exchange your graveyard and your library, you simultaneously put all cards from your graveyard into your library and all cards from your library into your graveyard. The latter part triggers the emblem's ability for each card, offering you to put each card into your hand when the ability resolves. Your opponent could respond to this bunch of triggers by exiling your graveyard, but if he or she doesn't, you'll end up with a whole bunch of cards in your hand. The cards aren't actually drawn, so they wouldn't trigger Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind's ability for example, but you'll probably find some other way to win the game with all the cards you just put into your hand.

Q: Let's say my life total is at 3 and I control Rhox Faithmender. What happens when Elderscale Wurm sets my life total to 7?

A: When an effect sets your life total, it actually causes life gain or life loss based on the difference between your current life total and the new life total. To set your life total from 3 to 7, Elderscale Wurm wants you to gain 4 life. Rhox Faithmender doubles that to a life gain of 8, so you end up at 11 life.

Q: My opponent just cast Chain Lightning on my Tinder Wall. Can I let Chain Lightning resolve and then sacrifice the Wall for mana to throw his Chain Lightning back in his face?

A: Yes, that works! Chain Lightning doesn't actually destroy your Wall. It marks 3 damage on your Wall, which is lethal, but the Wall won't be destroyed until state-based actions are checked after Chain Lightning has finished resolving. Before that happens, Chain Lightning offers you to pay mana, which gives you permission to activate mana abilities, and sacrificing Tinder Wall for mana is a mana ability.

Q: My opponent controls Sylvan Library and he announced that he's about to use its ability to draw two additional cards. Can I flash in Vendilion Clique after he's drawn those cards but before he decides which cards to put back?

A: No, sorry. Sylvan Library's ability is one big ability that resolves as a whole, from drawing the additional cards all the way to putting back cards or paying life, and this ability can't be interrupted by anybody. You can flash in the Clique before this ability resolves by responding to it, or flash the Clique in after the ability has finished resolving, but you can't do it at the moment you really want to do it.

Q: My opponent just fetched a Huntmaster of the Fells with Birthing Pod, and that was the only thing that happened before he passed the turn to me. Does the Huntmaster transform now?

A: I'm afraid so. A Werewolf that was just cast wouldn't transform, because it counts itself as a spell that was cast, but this Huntmaster here pulled off the trick of entering the battlefield without being cast. Nobody cast any spells during the previous turn, so the trigger condition for the Huntmaster's transform trigger is met. The fact that the Huntmaster wasn't there to witness the entire turn is irrelevant since the trigger asks the game what happened during that turn, not the Huntmaster.

Q: How does Omniscience interact with Future Sight? Can I play nonland cards from the top of my library for free?

A: No, that doesn't work. Future Sight's printed text says that you may cast the top card "as thought it were in your hand," but that text is obsolete. The current text doesn't ask you to pretend that the top card of your library is in your hand; it simply allows you to cast it right from the library. Omniscience only applies to cards that are actually in your hand, so there is no interaction with Future Sight.

Q: I control Omniscience and my opponent controls Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Do I still have to pay the for my noncreature spells?

A: Yes. "Without paying their mana costs" doesn't mean "without spending any mana at all." Omniscience gives the cards in your hand an alternative cost of , but that only replaces the mana cost that's printed in the top-right corner of the card. You're still responsible for paying additional costs and cost increases such as the from Thalia's effect.

First lesson:
Stick them with the pointy end!
Q: I control a Voiceless Spirit that's equipped with a fresh Umezawa's Jitte, and I attack with it. My opponent blocks with Vampire Nighthawk. After the Spirit deals first strike damage, can I remove one of the new counters to give the Nighthawk -1/-1 and finish it off?

A: Sure, that's perfectly legal. After combat damage has been dealt in the first combat damage step, both players get the chance to cast spells and use abilities before the game moves on to the next combat damage step. The -1/-1 effect makes Nighthawk a 1/2 with 2 damage marked on it, so it's destroyed right away and your Spirit is safe from its deadly fangs.

Q: I just cast Empty the Warrens with a giganimous storm count. My opponent responds with a surprise Force of Will. How much does that mess up my plan to smash face with a horde of Goblins?

A: Not much at all, really. Even if Force of Will counters the original Empty the Warrens in response to the storm trigger, the storm trigger still resolves and makes lots of copies of Empty the Warrens using last-known information. Your horde is only two Goblins smaller, which is probably still enough to smash face with.

Q: My opponent is trying to blow up my Dryad Arbor with Wasteland. Can I use Yavimaya Hollow's ability to regenerate it?

A: Absolutely! Dryad Arbor is a creature as well as a land, so you can target it with Yavimaya Hollow's ability, which sets up a regeneration shield around your Dryad Arbor. Then, the next time your Dryad Arbor would be destroyed, which is when Wasteland's ability resolves, instead it's tapped, all damage marked on it is removed, and it lives.

Q: If my opponent uses Intuition to fetch three Progenituses from his library, can I use Tormod's Crypt to exile the two that are put into his graveyard before they get shuffled back in?

A: Not a chance. Progenitus has a replacement effect that replaces going to the graveyard with being shuffled into the library, so those two Progenituses don't ever touch the graveyard.

Q: If I use Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet to blow up a token, do I get a Vampire token out of it?

A: Sure! The destroyed token still makes it to the graveyard, so it fulfills Kalitas' condition for making a Vampire token before state-based actions notice the dead token in the graveyard and make it vanish into nonexistence.

Q: I control my opponent's Elixir of Immortality, and I also control Psychic Surgery. If I activate the Elixir's ability, who shuffles what, and does Psychic Surgery's ability trigger?

A: The Elixir's ability instructs you to do all the shuffling, so as far as the game and Psychic Surgery are concerned, you shuffle the Elixir into your opponent's library and your graveyard into your library. Even if your opponent shuffles his own library to save time, Psychic Surgery's ability doesn't trigger.

Q: Does Spirit Mantle protect a creature from Dominating Licid's ability?

A: It certainly does! The Licid's ability targets the creature that the Licid is to become attached to, and the ability is from a creature source. As such, a creature with protection from creatures is an illegal target for that ability.

It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!
Q: So, two weeks ago you said that the active player wins the game with Laboratory Maniac if both players run out of cards with Prosperity, but now I read in the Magic 2013 FAQ that the game is a draw if both players run out of cards with Jace, Memory Adept's third ability. What's the difference?

A: Laboratory Maniac makes all the difference here. Losing the game due to drawing from an empty library is a state-based action, and state-based actions are only checked between spells and abilities, never during spells and abilities. So, without the Maniac, Jace's ability resolves, both players draw their cards, and if both players draw from an empty library, they both lose the game simultaneously during the state-based action check that happens after Jace's ability has finished.

Laboratory Maniac creates a replacement effect that replaces drawing from an empty library with winning immediately. Unlike the state-based action check, this game win happens right away during the resolution of Jace's ability, at the moment the card draw happens. Since the active player performs all card draws first, the active player wins the game before the nonactive player even begins to draw.

Q: I was playing Two-Headed Giant in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013, and I attacked with a single creature with exalted, and my teammate also attacked with a creature. Exalted didn't trigger. Is that right?

A: Yup, that's right. When the game checks to see if your creature attacked alone, it also sees your teammate's attackers and determines that it didn't attack alone. This means that exalted is not all that good in Two-Headed Giant.

Q: How do multiple Call to the Kindred work? If I have one on Geist of Saint Traft and one on Champion of the Parish, what exactly do I do in my upkeep? Also, do I still get the normal draw for the turn?

A: Each Call to the Kindred triggers at the beginning of your upkeep step. Both abilities go on the stack, and then they resolve one by one. Since Champion and Geist have different creature types, the order in which you resolve the triggers matters. Since you control both triggers, you choose the order in which they go on the stack.

When the first ability resolves, you get to look at the top five cards of your library, put a matching creature card from those five cards onto the battlefield, and put the rest on the bottom of your library. Then the second ability resolves and you do the same thing again, but with a different top 5 cards and a different creature type.

You still get a draw step after your upkeep, so after all that is done, you proceed to your draw step and draw your card for the turn.

Q: If I control Krosan Drover, how much mana do I have to spend to cast Primordial Hydra with X=4? It costs 6, so the cost should be reduced to 4, but then the cost reduction would go away so it should cost 6 again and now I've thought myself into an infinite loop. Help!

A: Let's see if we can break that loop. The cost reduction you get from Krosan Drover is based on Primordial Hydra's converted mana cost, which is a number that's derived from its mana cost. The mana cost is the stuff printed in the top-right corner, , and this gives us a converted mana cost of X+2. If X=4, the converted mana cost is 6, so the Hydra qualifies for the cost reduction. Fortunately for us, this cost reduction doesn't change the Hydra's converted mana cost; it changes the spell's total cost, from to , so you end up spending .

Q: How does Sanguine Bond work in Two-Headed Giant? Specifically, let's say I control Sanguine Bond and my teammate gains life with Chalice of Life, does Sanguine Bond trigger?

A: No, Sanguine Bond's ability doesn't trigger in that case. Life totals in Two-Headed Giant are weird. While the entire team shares a life total, gaining life and losing life still happens to individual players. This is very similar to how a joint bank account works: Two people have access to one bank account with one balance. Each account holder can individually deposit or withdraw money, and the result of the transaction is applied to the joint account balance. If your partner deposits money into the account, your account balance goes up, but that doesn't mean that you deposited any money in that transaction. In terms of this analogy, Sanguine Bond only triggers when you deposit money, I mean life, into your team's life total. Your teammate's life gain is applied to your shared life total, but it wasn't deposited, I mean gained, by you.

Q: After I shuffled my deck, my opponent cut it by taking just the top card and putting it on the bottom. Is that legal?

A: Yup, that's legal. You presented your deck to your opponent for further randomization, and there are no requirements as to what your opponent must or mustn't do beyond of the usual rules that he can't peek at the cards' faces, destroy your cards, or waste time. At the Competitive Rules Enforcement Level, players should actually shuffle their opponent's deck, but since this rule mostly exists to protect players from opponents stacking their deck, there is no penalty for not doing so.

And that concludes this issue. Please come back next week when James brings us another selection of entertaining rules questions. Until then, may you find that 13 is a lucky number after all!

- 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.

I thought there was a minimum number of cards that need to be cut to qualify as a legal cut.
#1 • Date: 2012-07-16 • Time: 02:04:01 •
3.9 in the Magic Tournament rules just says \"At Competitive and Professional REL tournaments, players are required to shuffle their opponents' decks after their owners have shuffled them. The Head Judge can require this at Regular REL tournaments as well.\"

What is actually considered a shuffle is left intentionally vague. There\'s nothing that says a particular number of cards just be \"cut\" or anything of that nature (a cut is a simplified method of shuffling). Putting the top card on the bottom probably won\'t do much if that player is trying something shady though, so I recommend something slightly more thorough.
#2 • Date: 2012-07-16 • Time: 12:24:13 •
Quote (jack0fhearts):
I thought there was a minimum number of cards that need to be cut to qualify as a legal cut.

Once upon a time, the tournament rules distinguished between a shuffle and a cut. However, this distinction does not exist anymore in the current tournament rules. Also, even back when this distinction existed, there was no minimum number of cards required for a cut. The last definition I can find is in the DCI's Universal Tournament Rules from 2007, where cutting was defined as follows: "One time only, removing a single portion of a deck and placing it on top of the remaining portion without looking at any of the card faces. Anything more than this one cut is considered a shuffle."
#3 • Date: 2012-07-16 • Time: 15:26:52 •
A question that raised in my mind about the Call of the Kindred question!

If the Legendary Creature - Spirit Cleric trigger reveals a Legendary Creature - Elf, can it bring the elf into the battlefield?

I try to further my unsureness: in the gatherer Legendary is a type, while elf and cleric are subtypes.

How this fits in the oracle wording of the Aura?

#4 • Date: 2012-07-16 • Time: 17:23:27 •
Quote (empio):
A question that raised in my mind about the Call of the Kindred question!

If the Legendary Creature - Spirit Cleric trigger reveals a Legendary Creature - Elf, can it bring the elf into the battlefield?

I try to further my unsureness: in the gatherer Legendary is a type, while elf and cleric are subtypes.

How this fits in the oracle wording of the Aura?


Legendary is actually a supertype. The creature types in your example are Spirit, Cleric, and Elf. Since the Elf doesn't share any creature types with the Spirit Cleric, you can't put it onto the battlefield with that ability.
#5 • Date: 2012-07-16 • Time: 17:41:37 •

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