Published on 08/27/2012

Around the World in Three Days

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

This is roughly what
I imagine GenCon looks like.
Hello and welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion. Recently, Indianapolis hosted the gaming convention GenCon, which in turn was the venue for the first World Magic Cup. Unfortunately I couldn't go, but from the coverage I caught it looked like a really amazing event. Our congratulations go out to the 71 teams that qualified for this tournament and especially to the team from Chinese Taipei who emerged victorious.

Elsewhere in the world, Magic players continued to send us questions via email to or Twitter to @CranialTweet. If you have questions, please send them in and we'll answer as soon as we can. Here is this week's selection of questions:

Q: I control Talrand, Sky Summoner and cast Switcheroo. Can I target the Drake token that Talrand makes for casting Switcheroo?

A: No, that won't work. Talrand's ability won't even go on the stack, let alone resolve, until you've finished the process of casting Switcheroo. Part of that process is to select Switcheroo's targets, so the Drake token doesn't exist yet when you have to choose Switcheroo's targets.

Q: I control an Archaeomancer and flicker it and something else with Ghostly Flicker. Can Archaeomancer's enter-the-battlefield ability return Ghostly Flicker to my hand?

A: Absolutely. Archaeomancer leaves and returns during the resolution of Ghostly Flicker, which triggers its ability. That ability can't be put on the stack until Ghostly Flicker has completely finished resolving, since you can't put a trigger on the stack while something else is in the middle of resolving. So by the time you put Archaeomancer's trigger on the stack and choose its target, Ghostly Flicker will be in the graveyard and legal to choose.

Q: Can I use the mana from Priest of Urabrask's ability to pay for Electropotence's ability to make it deal 2 damage?

A: Certainly. Both abilities go on the stack at the same time and you control both of them, so you get to arrange them on the stack as you choose. Put the Priest's ability on the stack last so that it resolves first and you get the result you want.

Q: How do enter-the-battlefield abilities work with Primal Surge? Do the permanents see each other entering the battlefield?

A: The permanents enter in sequence, one by one, so permanents that enter earlier see the later ones entering, but not the other way around. For example, if you get a Runeclaw Bear, a Soul of the Harvest, and a Giant Spider, in that order, you'll only draw one card because Soul of the Harvest only saw the Giant Spider entering the battlefield.

For a slightly trickier example, let's look at Avenger of Zendikar. Let's say you Surge into two lands, an Avenger of Zendikar, and three more lands, in that order. The Avenger's landfall ability triggers three times because it didn't see the two lands that entered before it. In contrast, the Avenger's own enter-the-battlefield ability just counts how many lands you control, which it does when that ability resolves. At that time, you control all five lands plus whichever lands you already controlled before, so you get that many Plant tokens. Of course, since you get to order the triggers as you choose, the new Plant tokens will also get the three +1/+1 counters from the landfall abilities if that is what you want.

Q: My opponent just sacrificed his Gravecrawler to his Bloodthrone Vampire. I want to hit it with Surgical Extraction, but my opponent says he can re-cast it from the graveyard right away because he has priority. Is that correct?

A: No, not exactly. While it is true that he gets priority after activating Bloodthrone Vampire's ability, he also needs the stack to be empty in order to cast a creature spell. The stack is not empty because Bloodthrone Vampire's ability is on the stack now. Your opponent has to pass priority in order to get that to resolve, and that gives you the opportunity to extract the Gravecrawler.

Q: What can I fetch with Verdant Catacombs?

A: Verdant Catacombs can fetch any Forest or Swamp, which means a land that has the subtype Forest and/or the subtype Swamp. The land doesn't have to be basic, so fetching a Murmuring Bosk is perfectly legal. However, the ability to make green or black mana by itself is not enough, so you can't fetch a Darkslick Shores or Razorverge Thicket.

Hey, I just met you
and this is crazy
but here's my weapon
so fight me maybe
Q: Which keywords interact with a fight like Prey Upon? Specifically, what about first strike, trample, deathtouch, and lifelink?

A: Fighting causes creatures to deal damage, but it's not combat. Consequently, keywords that change what the damage does interact with fighting, but keywords that changes the rules of combat don't. Deathtouch and lifelink change what the damage does, so those keywords are relevant in a fight. First strike and trample change the rules of combat, so those abilities are irrelevant in a fight.

Q: How does Gisela, Blade of Goldnight work in Two-Headed Giant?

A: Like so many things in Two-Headed Giant, Gisela is a bit weird. The damage-doubling effect works just fine, because both players on your opposing team are your opponents. The damage-halving effect doesn't work quite as well since it only affects damage that would be dealt to you or permanents you control. It's not at all interested in damage that would be dealt to your teammate or his permanents. This means that Gisela is particularly useless against combat damage from unblocked attackers because your opponents can just pile all the combat damage onto your teammate.

Q: If I play all the cards from my hand, can I draw seven new cards?

A: Nope. We occasionally hear this question from new players and casual play groups, but it's purely a misconception rooted in the wishful thinking that the cards in your hand should not be a limited resource. You can only draw cards when you're instructed to do so by a rule or an effect, and no rule exists that lets you draw a new hand after emptying your hand. The rules let you draw one card on each of your turns, and that's it.

Q: My opponent casts Goblin Charbelcher and has enough mana to activate it right away. Can I respond with Hallow to mess up my opponent's plan?

A: Sure, you can do that. The prevention effect that's created for the Charbelcher spell will continue to apply to the Charbelcher permanent that the spell becomes on resolution. This is one of the few exceptions to the rule that an object that changes zones has no connection to the object it was before the zone change.

Q: My opponent controls Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and I would like to cast Engineered Explosives with no charge counters. Can I do that?

A: Only if you can produce colorless mana somehow. Even if you choose X=0, Thalia bumps the total cost up to , and sunburst looks at the colors you use to pay that total cost. If you only have basic lands, you'll be using one color to pay that, so the Explosives will come with one counter.

Q: My opponent wants to dredge his Life from the Loam. Can I Stifle that?

A: I'm afraid you can't. Dredge is not an activated or triggered ability. It is a static ability that creates a replacement effect, so it can't be Stifled.

Q: My opponent is beating up my Faerie deck with the help of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Can I use Sower of Temptation to take control of his Praetor and turn the tables on him?

A: No, the Sower can't help you. The Sower enters the battlefield as a feeble 0/0. This triggers its enter-the-battlefield ability, but state-based actions have to be checked before the ability can go on the stack. State-based actions are checked and Sower of Temptation is put into your graveyard. When the triggered ability finally resolves, it doesn't create a control-changing effect because the duration for that effect — "as long as Sower of Temptation remains on the battlefield" — already ended before the effect even began.

Q: I control Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger and just cast Piracy. Which Vorinclex effect kicks in if I tap my opponent's land for mana, the "extra mana" effect or the "keep it tapped" effect?

A: That'll be the extra mana effect. Vorinclex looks at who is tapping the land, not who controls the land that is being tapped. Normally those would be the same player, but Piracy makes it possible that they're different players.

Q: I just cast a spell that my opponent doesn't like, so he's trying to counter it with Force of Will. Can I Commandeer it and make it counter itself?

A: Not quite. Force of Will can't target itself because a spell or ability on the stack is an illegal target for itself. Or, as the rule puts it:

114.4. A spell or ability on the stack is an illegal target for itself.

However, Commandeer is still a spell on the stack while it's resolving, so you can change Force of Will's target to Commandeer. Commandeer will then leave the stack and Force of Will is left hanging high and dry with an illegal target, which also gets the job done.

Q: I control Sigarda, Host of Herons and my opponent managed to get Unnatural Hunger onto her. Can I sacrifice a creature in my upkeep to avoid taking damage from Unnatural Hunger?

A: Nope, you're in a pretty bad spot there. "A happens unless you do B" means "You may do B. If you don't, A happens." So, Unnatural Hunger asks you whether you'd like to sacrifice a creature, and if you don't, you'll be dealt damage. Since it's an ability your opponent controls, Sigarda forbids you from sacrificing a creature to that ability, so your only legal option is to take the damage. Ouch!

Q: I control two Reflecting Pools and a Forest. If the Forest gets blown up, can the Reflecting Pools still make green mana?

A: No. If you only control Reflecting Pools, none of them can make any mana. In order to make mana, Reflecting Pool needs to refer to a land that could definitively make mana at that moment. The Reflecting Pools just point at each other without ever giving a definitive answer of what they can produce.

Q: Does Yixlid Jailer prevent my Narcomoeba from triggering?

A: I'm afraid so. Some zone change triggers look back in time and trigger from the zone that the object left. Leave-the-battlefield triggers are the most important example of that case. Narcomoeba's trigger is not one of those cases, though. Its ability triggers from the zone in which Narcomoeba arrived, which is the graveyard, but in the graveyard it doesn't have the ability thanks to Yixlid Jailer.

Q: I know that Ichorclaw Myr's ability only triggers once regardless of how many creatures block it. However, what happens if I use Flash Foliage after declaring blockers? Would that trigger Ichorclaw Myr's ability again?

A: Nope. The ability only triggers when Ichorclaw Myr becomes blocked, which means that it triggers when Ichorclaw Myr goes from not being blocked to being blocked. It was already blocked when Flash Foliage put that Saproling in its way, so the ability doesn't trigger again.

Q: Is the stack a zone?

A: Yup! The stack is a waiting area where spells and abilities chill out and wait for their turn to resolve. Players don't usually have a specific spot on the table for the stack, but it is still a zone just like the battlefield or the exile zone.

And that concludes this week's installment. Thanks for reading, and please come back next week!

- 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.

Concerning Gisela, Blade of Goldnight in 2HG, what if my teammate and I both have a Bazaar Trader? Would it be possible to "donate" her to my teammate in response to damage on the stack or something like that?
#1 • Date: 2012-12-31 • Time: 12:03:23 •
Quote (demonzbane):
Concerning Gisela, Blade of Goldnight in 2HG, what if my teammate and I both have a Bazaar Trader? Would it be possible to "donate" her to my teammate in response to damage on the stack or something like that?

No, that's not possible. Combat damage doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to.
#2 • Date: 2012-12-31 • Time: 12:09:26 •

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