Published on 09/10/2012

Raining Cats and Dogs

but Mostly Cats

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Beats up Goblin Welder every time.
As the rainy season here in Arizona winds to a close, I shall send it off with raining cats and dogs. Well, just cats. Because cats are awesome. You can't leave a dog alone for five days while you go off to work a Grand Prix.

For our non-English readers, I shall assume that the translators explained the cat theme at some point; for the English readers, I also invite you to imagine the title very literally. It would be the cutest thunderstorm ever.

Anyway, it's also raining questions and doubts! (Fun fact: "doubts" is incorrect in English, but our Romance-language readers ask about it so much, it almost sounds correct to me. My, but this week's article is linguistically educational.) As always, if you have more questions, send them in with the big Moko button at the top left, email to , or tweet us at @CranialTweet for a short, choppy answer.

On with this week's deluge!

Q: How big can my Skinshifter get if it's paired with Wolfir Silverheart?

A: As big as it wants! Let's see, you run four Giant Growth, four Titanic Growth...

Oh, in a vacuum. Effects that add or subtract power and toughness always apply after effects that set them to specific numbers, to the +4/+4 will always come after setting it to 2/2, 4/4, or 0/8, no matter in what order the effects were created. So you can get a 6/6, an 8/8 trample, or a 4/12 wall of DOOM.

Q: I have Laboratory Maniac and no cards left in my library, and my opponent has Platinum Angel. What happens when I try to draw for my turn?

A: Your maniacal laboratory dude will replace the deathly draw with you winning. After he does that, though, Platinum Angel stops you from winning. Your draw still doesn't happen, though, so the state-based action that would kill you for trying to draw and failing doesn't get to apply, either, and you survive.

Q: Can I combine Soltari Guerrillas and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight to smack a creature for 12 damage?

A: Nope. Gisela can only apply her doubling to the damage once, even after the damage changes where it'll go. To make matters worse for you, your opponent, being the player taking the damage, can choose to apply the Guerrillas's effect first and point the damage to his creature before it's doubled. That doesn't matter for Gisela, but it'll matter for some other interactions if you're cooking up damage-doubling shenanigans.

Q: Can I unearth a creature, then bounce it with Restoration Angel and keep it forever?

A: Forever is an awfully long time, but you'll keep the creature for as long as it lives. Unearth's replacement effect says to exile the creature if it would go anywhere else, so it won't interfere with Restoration Angel exiling it. When the creature returns, it'll be a brand new object with no relation to the one that was unearthed, so the delayed trigger won't exile it at the end step and the replacement effect won't exile it when it dies.

Vintage common, or
Megaman villain?
Q: Doesn't the latest timestamp win when effects are fighting, like Humility versus Treetop Village?

A: In the case of Humility and Treetop Village, both effects get to apply. So one applies, and then the other undoes all the hard work the first effect put into it because it's just a rude bully like that, using timestamp order to determine who's the bully. With ordinary dependency, the independent effect wins, and then the dependent one may or may not get to do anything, regardless of timestamps. In the case of dependency loops, though, you will almost always end up with one effect not applying at all, and that will be the later one.

What is dependency? Oh boy. The brief overview of what you realistically need to know is in Order of Operations.

Q: Will Cackling Counterpart on a Phyrexian Metamorph let me copy something new, or only what that Metamorph is copying?

A: It'll just copy what the Metamorph is already copying. Its copy effect replaces its characteristics entirely, including its own text. Since copy effects are themselves copiable, you'll copy that and there won't be the enter-as-a-copy ability to copy something else.

Q: If I pay and 2 life to copy Engineered Explosives with Phyrexian Metamorph, how many counters does it get?

A: Two! Even though you cast it as Phyrexian Metamorph, it enters the battlefield as Engineered Explosives. It looks back to when it was cast, sees two colors spent on it, and gets two charge counters.

Q: I want to cast Day of Judgment and float some mana so I can cast what I get with Solemn Simulacrum. Can I float a "mana of any color" from Birds of Paradise, or do I have to pick a color right away?

A: You'll have to choose right away. The game doesn't let you add hybrid mana to your mana pool, or sparkling five-color mana, just the five colors or colorless.

Q: Can my Arena take out my opponent's Geist of Saint Traft since he chooses the target?

A: He chooses the target, but you still control the ability. Hexproof only cares about who controls it, not who chooses the target, so your opponent can't have your ability target his creature with hexproof.

Q: When you cast a split card like Fire // Ice, can you cast both halves at once?

A: The very first thing you do when casting a split card is choose which half you're going to cast. The card is put onto the stack with only that half's information. You can't cast both halves.

Q: I thought I read somewhere that putting Armadillo Cloak on a creature with lifelink gave it double lifelink. Is that true?

A: That's quite true. Armadillo Cloak doesn't give the creature lifelink - it has its own triggered ability that triggers after damage, while lifelink modifies what damage being dealt means. It'll trigger after you gain life from lifelink and give you yet more life.

Q: Can Gaea's Blessing shuffle itself in when I cast it?

A: Nope. Remember those crazy teenagers? The first step of casting a spell is to put it onto the stack, and the very last part of resolving a spell is to put it into its owner's graveyard. In between is where you choose targets, and at that point, Gaea's Blessing isn't in your graveyard yet.

Dogs get a non-humanoid
legendary creature. Now
cats need one, too.
Q: I cast Radiate on Oblation because I want my friends to do terrible things to me. What order do permanents get oblated?

A: As the controller of Radiate, you're the one putting all those copies onto the stack. Since you're doing all the putting, you choose their order on the stack.

Q: Does Frogtosser Banneret reduce prowl costs?

A: It does! The Bannerets, and most cost reduction abilities, apply to any cost paid to cast a spell, not just the mana cost.

Q: Will I get to hit a player if I use Kessig Wolf Run to pump my Exuberant Firestoker?

A: Yup, this gets you a not-really-free not-really-Shock. The end step is before the cleanup, and "until end of turn" wears off in the cleanup. Back at the end step, when Exuberant Firestocker wants to trigger, the effect still exists, so it can see itself being big and awesome and trigger.

Q: Tandem Lookout and its buddy attack, and Tandem Lookout dies to normal combat damage the same time its buddy hits unblocked. Since state-based actions are processed before triggers, I don't get a card, do I?

A: You do get a card. State-based actions are processed before triggers are put onto the stack, but triggered abilities can trigger at all sorts of weird times. They trigger whenever the condition is matched, such as at the time combat damage is dealt. Even though the other creature won't have that ability when the trigger is put onto the stack, it's already triggered and goes on just fine.

Q: How does it work with three of us have a Mimic Vat and something dies?

A: It works with AP NAP! Not to be confused with cat nap, which sounds like a good idea now. Bye!


Oh, I'm not done with the article yet, am I? The active player - the guy whose turn it is - puts his triggers on the stack first, then you go around the table in turn order putting more Vat triggers on the top of the stack. The topmost one resolves, and its controller may exile the creature that died. If he does, no one else can get it now. If he doesn't, the next player down gets to choose, and so on.

Q: Do blocking creatures tap, too, just like attacking creatures?

A: While a creature must be untapped to block, blocking doesn't tap it. Enough newer players seem to make this mistake, so keep an eye out for it - they'll often half-tap and you'd think they're just moving it, but then they get upset at you using a tap ability after blocks.

Q: How many rounds should we have for a 40-player FNM?

A: How many do your players want? The recommendation for Premier events for 40 players is six rounds, but for FNM, you don't need to follow that - if your players just want to do four and go to bed, you can do that. You could even do three rounds, which is the minimum, if they really want. Just make sure to announce at the start how many rounds it'll be.

Q: If my opponent keeps holding his hand so that I can see the cards, do I have to tell him?

A: The rule is that you can't seek out to obtain information you shouldn't have. However, during a game, any information that you do have you're always allowed to share. You're not doing anything to obtain this information, and your opponent isn't doing anything wrong by giving it, so everything's okay. It would be nice and sporting to let him know what he's doing, but the DCI has a wide legal area between what is sporting behavior and Unsporting Conduct.

Q: Can Trinisphere be played in a nonblack Commander deck?

A: It sure can. Color identity doesn't consider reminder text - nothing about Trinisphere uses black mana, and the black mana symbol there is just an example.

Time to come in out of the rain for this week. Carsten will be back next week with more questions, and you'll see me again in three weeks for our Return to Ravnica prerelease article! Which guild is yours? Do you remember my guild from seven years ago? Wow, I've been writing this a long time.

If you're impatient to see Carsten again, though, make sure to check back in over the weekend when we beam out some breaking news.

Until next time, may your cats always land on their feet.

- Eli Shiffrin


About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.

I'm a little confused about the answer for the Soltari Guerillias question. Especially:
"To make matters worse for you, your opponent, being the player taking the damage, can choose to apply the Guerrillas's effect first and point the damage to his creature before it's doubled."
1. I choose to redirect the damage, not my opponent. He can't "point the damage to his creature", i do that.
2. As long as i control the doubling effect (other that gisela) and the guerillias, i choose the order as well.
#1 • Date: 2012-09-10 • Time: 10:02:31 •
Soltari's Oracle reads:
: The next time Soltari Guerrillas would deal combat damage to an opponent this turn, it deals that damage to target creature instead.

You activate an ability with a target, that generates a replacement effect. Then, the controller of the affected object chooses how to apply all applicable replacement effects.

He can apply Gisela's first: so he's taking 6 damage; then, applies Soltari's one, and 6 damage are redirected.

If he applies redirection first, the creature is taking 3 damage, then Gisela doubles to 6. So, the net result is the same. You don't apply twice the replacement effect to the same event.

Rules 614.5 and 616.1, for reference. And also Gisela's FAQ.

Donato Del Giudice
L2, Italian Translation Manager
#2 • Date: 2012-09-10 • Time: 16:09:01 •
Didn\'t Oliver Ruel get DQ\'ed for looking at his opponent\'s hand by using the reflection in his opponent\'s sunglasses?

Edit: Here\'s his description of the story

Sounds like the DQ was for lying, but he obviously wouldn\'t have lied had he known it was legal.
#3 • Date: 2012-09-10 • Time: 22:34:28 •
^ Using your opponent's glasses to read their hand is cheating. But if they accidentally spill their hand because they're clumsy then that's a freebie.
#4 • Date: 2012-09-13 • Time: 22:03:24 •
just a couples of clarifications :D

First: what\'s wrong with \"doubts\" ?? You mean that there is no \"s\" ? as in \"I had a doubt, now I\'ve got plenty of doubt\" ?? (learning english via CI... now that\'s new! :D)

/edit: ah ok, I\'ve read the italian translation :D

Second: about the Bird of Paradise question, you say: \"You\'ll have to choose right away. The game doesn\'t let you add hybrid mana to your mana pool, or sparkling five-color mana, just the five colors or colorless.\"

But, can I tap Bird of Paradise for colorless? I thought not! \"any color\" means A color. colorless mana is \"way harder\" to produce indeed, out of mishra\'s lands and the like... Same for City of Brass, can I get colorless mana from this painful land?

Maybe I just read the answer wrongly!

/edit: THIS i\'m still very worried about!

Ciao & good work!

Last edited on 2012-09-14 17:23:57 by empio
#5 • Date: 2012-09-14 • Time: 15:43:03 •
Empio, of course you can't add colorless mana from BoP, because they don't read "add one mana of any 'type'."

The author means that the types of mana you can add to your pool are very well-defined by the rules. Once you add mana, it must be of a single 'type', which means either one of the five colors or colorless (in case you have that option). You can't leave it undefined while you resolve the ability.

Donato Del Giudice
L2, Italian Translation Manager
#6 • Date: 2012-09-16 • Time: 20:41:11 •

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