Published on 04/03/2006

Divide // Conquer

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Cranial Insertion
By Thijs van Ommen

Welcome back to Cranial Insertion. With split cards returning in Dissension, we thought it'd be a good idea to do half an article or so on that topic. So here we go.

Split cards have two card faces printed on one card. Until Dissension, five split cards have been printed in each of Invasion and Apocalypse, and one more in Unhinged.

Most of the time, a split card will have two values for each of its characteristics. For example, Fire // Ice has a mana cost of both and This may sound like some kind of paradox. But remember than any ordinary multicolored card like Putrefy also has two different values for its "color" characteristic. Split cards take the same principle a step further.

The above is not true when a split card is on the stack. Only one half of the card determines the characteristics then. You choose which half this is as part of moving the spell to the stack. That puts it before any of the other choices involved in play a spell which Eli outlined two weeks ago. So with the previewed card, you only need to choose a value for X if you're playing the Punishment half, and you only pick a target if you're playing the Crime half.

Q: Can I Frazzle Reality?

A: While Reality is on the stack, its only color is green. Because blue is not one of its colors, it is a legal target for Frazzle.

Q: How many times does Circu trigger when I play either half of Spite // Malice?

A: Only once, because as a spell, the split card has only one color. Split cards with multicolored halves could cause Circu to trigger twice, like ordinary multicolored cards already can.

Q: What happens when I Twincast a split card?

A: When you create a copy of a spell, all choices made for that spell are also copied. This includes the choice of which half of a split card to use. So the copy of the spell will have the text of both halves of the split card, but only one of them will be "active", just like with the original spell.

Many effects in Magic want to know characteristics of object. This may cause some confusion when they expect to find one answer and receive two. If possible, treat this situation in the same way as you would with multicolored cards: If some effect wants to know if a card is Blue, it will get the answer "yes" if Blue is among the card's colors; otherwise, it will get "no". Translated to split cards, this means: If some effect wants to know if a card has converted mana cost 2 or less, it gets "yes" if the card has a converted mana cost that is 2 or less. So you can imprint Stand // Deliver on Isochron Scepter, and you'll be able to bounce permanents with the Scepter's second ability (which doesn't doublecheck what is imprinted on the Scepter).

Q: Can I get two Fire // Ice and three other cards with All Suns' Dawn?

A: For each color, you get to choose a target of that color. You can choose one Fire // Ice as the blue target and another as the red target, so this works fine.

Q: Can I get two Fire // Ice and two other cards with Gifts Ungiven?

A: In this case, you don't get to say that you use one split card for "Fire" and the other for "Ice". What happens is that Gifts Ungiven looks at the names of the four cards. It finds six names, and they must all be different. As soon as it sees that the name "Fire" appears twice among the cards you selected, it realizes that the four cards don't have different names as required.

Q: Can Conjurer's Ban stop split cards? Do I have to name one of the halves, or do I name the split card as a whole?

A: Conjurer's Ban and similar effects stop split cards quite effectively. When naming a card, you must give the complete value of the "name" characteristic of a card. For a split card, this would be Night and Day. Now if someone tries to play the card Night // Day as the spell Night, the game will check if there is a match between that card's name and the card name you chose. Even though the spell is Night, the card is Night // Day, so you can't play it.

Q: Can I play Disrupting Shoal, removing Illusion // Reality, to counter Hypnotic Specter?

A: If you're planning to target the Specter, I assume you're choosing X=3. So the card you remove for the alternative cost must be a blue card with converted mana cost 3. Illusion is blue, and Reality has a converted mana cost of 3. This means that Illusion // Reality meets both requirements, so it can satisfy the cost. It doesn't matter that the right match came from a different half of the split card in each case.

I many cases, this "multicolor logic" doesn't work, because the effect might want information about the split card's characteristics that can't be expressed as "yes" or "no". If that happens, the effect receives several answers and must deal with each of those seperately.

Q: What happens if I reveal Crime // Punishment with Dark Confidant?

A: Dark Confidant's effect wants to know the converted mana cost of the revealed card, which can't be expressed as yes/no. The mana cost is and , so the converted mana cost is 5 and 2 (X is 0 except on the stack). You'll lose "5 and 2" life, which is 7 life.

Q: I control a flipped Akki Lavarunner. I play Erratic Explosion targeting my opponent, and end up revealing Pain // Suffering. How much damage would the Explosion deal?

A: The converted mana cost is 1 and 4, so the Explosion will hit for "1 and 4" damage. Tok-Tok, Volcano Born does the math and sees that a red source is about to deal a total of 5 damage to a player, which he increases to 6. It's still one source dealing damage once, so Tok-Tok only gets to add 1 point in total rather than 1 point per half.

Q: If I reveal Crime // Punishment for Scent of Nightshade, how much does it contribute to X?

A: Scent asks of each card "Are you black?" This can be answered with yes or no. If the answer is yes, the card is counted. But it still only counts as one.

*ow* Apparently, Eli is wrapping up on the other side, so it'd better go, too.

-Thijs van Ommen, The Netherlands
Cranial Insertion
By Eli Shiffrin

Welcome back to Cranial Insertion. For this half of the card- er, article, we'll discuss something entirely the opposite of split cards.


Oh, wait. We do that anyway.

So this article won't be too different than usual, except that I'm going to be referencing the Comprehensive Rules a lot so you can look up the exact rules that apply to my answers.

And we're crammed in such a small space! I feel so close to you all!

Q: I attack my opponent with a Hunted Phantasm and he responds by casting Curtain of Light. Is my unblockable creature now blocked?

A: Your Phantasm is now blocked and very confused. It seems that your Phantasm is not aware that "this is unblockable" only affects the declaration of blockers - any other effects that make something blocked can block it just fine. (See the CR glossary for "Unblockable".)

Q: If I activate and attack with my Genju of the Cedars, and my opponent blocks with his Suntail Hawk, then Last Gasps my Genju, can I reactivate the Genju's ability to refresh his power and toughness?

A: Nothing will change the Genju's power and toughness in this situation.

For one, the Genju has no power nor toughness. The land does.

But you also can't restore the Forest to a 4/4. With the layers rule 418.5a, Last Gasp is applied in sublayer 6d, but the Genju's ability is applied back in 6b. When applying their effects, any number of Genju activations will always set the power and toughness in 6b, and the Forest will always be knocked back to 1/1 in 6d.

Q: Living Lands and Soilshaper. I play a Spirit and make a Forest a 3/3. Does that effect overrides the Living Lands?

A: It does! This time, both Living Lands and Soilshaper want to be applied in layer 6b, so they have to fight it out for the right to set the power and toughness. However, Soilshaper has a bazooka in the form of rule 418.5h, which says the effect that started most recently wins, so your Forest will be a 3/3 stompinator.

Q: What happens if I draw a card and forget to reveal a card for Dark Confidant?

A: You are unhappy. The judge is unhappy. Your mother is unhappy. Everyone is unhappy except your opponent.

What we have to do to fix this situation, if the card you drew but were supposed to reveal has touched your hand of cards, is reveal the most expensive card in your hand. You take a lot of life loss. Then you draw your card for the turn and get a warning.

Doing this multiple times will likely result in a game loss - Dark Confidant can kill you in so many ways! Not only can he reveal a Healing Salve when you're at 1 life, but he can summon the wrath of judge.

Q: Can I put Dark Confidant on top of my library so I won't forget?

A: Dark Confidant doesn't like sitting precariously on top of libraries. Nor does anything else. The Universal Tournament Rules (section 37) tends to shove them off where it says that nothing may "obscure a player's deck."

Q: I stole a creature with Control Magic and then played Forbidden Ritual. Can I somehow sacrifice both the creature and Control magic for the Ritual?

A: You can indeed. The important thing to note is that state-based effects are not checked between repetitions of the Ritual since no one receives priority, so if you sacrifice the creature, Control magic will be sitting around humming in fear until the ritual is completely done resolving - or until you slaughter it's poor manameat to sacrifice it for a later iteration.

However, if you sacrifice the Control magic first, the creature immediately goes back to its previous controller when the continuous effect of Control magic is no longer there.

Q: In your recent Cranial Insertion: Paper Anniversary you posted that if you insist that your opponent shuffles his deck hundreds of times, you are guilty of unsporting conduct.

My question is how would this affect a deck built around shuffling, such as a deck based around the card Warp World? Would I be penalized for playing Warp World 50 to 100 times?

A: Nah, that's generally fine. A normal Warp World deck wins by the comes-into-play effects of the other permanents, so those 100 shuffles probably won't ALL happen. Making your opponent shuffle for no reason is bad, but these shuffles are part of an action that progresses the game state, instead of just burning the clock or ruining his cards.

Q: I've got a Blind Hunter in play, and my opponent comes at me with a gang of 1/1 weenies. If I splice a Hideous Laughter onto an Otherworldy Journey targeting my Blind Hunter, does the creature get removed from play before the -2/-2 takes effect?

A: Yup. When you splice things, the spliced text is added after the actual card's text. So when Otherworld Journey resolves, first it'll remove your Hunter, then it'll send all those other creatures on a decidedly less happy journey.

Q: Can I whisper to my teammate in a 2-Headed Giant tournament?

A: You are more than welcome to whisper sweet nothings into your teammate's ear. Any form of communication aside from written communication is okay - including speaking in Spanish, French, or Klingon.

Q: If I sacrifice Burning-Tree Shaman to play Scorched Rusalka's ability, will he hit me?

A: Nope. Burning-Tree Shaman doesn't trigger until the activated ability is actually played, but he won't be in play at that point (see this article for more information on the timing of playing stuff) since he was sacrificed during the playing of the ability.

That's all for this week. Join us next week when I come back for more of... well... the same thing I did this week. But I get the entire page to myself! Yay!

And soon we'll start our Dissension rules reviews. We would be doing previews, but WotC doesn't love us enough.

My shoulders hurt. *stretches*

*accidentally punches Thijs in the nose* Sorry Thijs!

Until next time, happy splitting!

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge

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.


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