Published on 11/19/2012

Ravnica: City of Cats

or, I Can Has Shockland?

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Most cats come "litter-box trained"
due to natural instinct to hide
odorous waste that would give
a cat's location away.
Welcome back to Cranial Insertion, where we look at the unsung heroes of the plane of Ravnica. Not the stuffy, self-centered guilds. Not the boring unguilded peasants. The adorable kittens that populate the alleys and hearths of the city!

I may or may not be feeling unwell and thus a little sillier than usual.

Do you have more questions about the cunning little feline inhabitants or, for some reason, other cards? Toss us an email at (or click the shiny Moko button at the top left of the page) or tweet us at @CranialTweet.

As for now, let the questionings commence!

Q: Hey, Niv-Mizzet never answered the question about revealing an Epic Experiment with another Epic Experiment in his interview!

A: Beware questioning the whims of giant dragons, for you are tasty with ketchup. However, now that he's gone to a safe distance, we can finish where he left off.

While casting a spell with an in the mana cost, if you're not paying its mana cost, 0 is the only legal value for X. You can't choose 2, even if your X for the first Epic Experiment was 5.

Q: Can Chancellor of the Spires make a stupid number of Sphinxes if my opponent has a Cackling Counterpart in his graveyard?

A: Yes, you can fill the sky with half-eagle-half-kitties. The first Chancellor enters, and you put its triggered ability on the stack targeting Cackling Counterpart. You eventually cast it when the trigger resolves, and target your Chancellor.

Cackling Counterpart resolves, and you get a Chancellor token, whose ability triggers. However, it's not put onto the stack yet! You need to finish resolving Cackling Counterpart, including putting it into its owner's graveyard. After that, the trigger goes on the stack, and now is when you choose a target for it... such as that Cackling Counterpart that so graciously made you a Sphinx a second ago.

Q: What happens if I attack my opponent's planeswalker with Nacatl War-Pride?

A: Hey, there are two questions in there! How sneaky!

The first question is how many baby kittens you get. When you attack a planeswalker, the controller of that planeswalker is the defending player, so you count how many creatures that player controls to determine how many tokens you get.

Now that you're getting some number of tokens, what are they attacking? Since the ability doesn't specify, you can choose for each token whether it's attacking that same planeswalker, another planeswalker, that player, or another player if there are others you can attack.

Q: How does landwalk interact with attacking planeswalkers?

A: As noted in the last question, the defending player while attacking a planeswalker is that planeswalker's controller. Landwalk, when spelled out nicely, means "This creature is unblockable if defending player controls a land," so your plainswalker will walk over to his planeswalker freely if he controls a Plains.

Q: Are lifelink and deathtouch triggered abilities?

A: Not anymore. They used to be, once upon a time, but that time is in the distant murky past when Dinosaurs - wait, Dinosaurs were never a creature type in Magic - when Slivers roamed the earth. As part of the M10 rules changes, lifelink became a result of damage that happens simultaneously with life loss and damage being marked on creatures, and deathtouch became something a state-based action looks for.

Q: Can Ranger's Path get a couple Temple Gardens?

A: It can! Unlike less cool lands like Sunpetal Grove and Koskun Keep, Temple Garden has the land subtype Forest right there on the type line. That's all Ranger's Path cares about; it doesn't care about the name, it doesn't care about colors produced, it only cares about whether or not the land you find has the Forest subtype.

Saber-toothed cats were at the top of
the food chain due to extremely powerful
forelimbs rather than their teeth.
Q: If I Spelljack my opponent's Misthollow Griffin, who gets to cast it first?

A: That depends on whose turn it is. Since Spelljack gives you a duration in which you may cast the exiled card, you can't cast it right away while Spelljack is resolving (unlike Epic Experiment, which is much better-known lately). Since the Griffin is a creature spell, it's presumably your opponent's turn. After your Spelljack resolves, the player whose turn it is - hi opponent! - gets priority first. If he chooses to cast his Misthollow Griffin for its mana cost, it will no longer be exiled and you won't be able to cast it.

Q: What if it's Praetor's Grasp instead of Spelljack that exiles the Griffin?

A: Face-down Griffins don't have any abilities, including abilities that let them be cast from exile. Your opponent won't be able to cast it at all since nothing he can see says that he can.

Q: Why does Grand Arbiter Augustin IV reduced white-blue spells by and Nightscape Familiar only reduces blue-red spells by ?

A: Because Auggy has two abilities - each one reduces the cost by for a total of . The Familiar cycle has just one ability, and that one ability reduces the cost of a spell by if it meets the qualifications, being blue or red.

Q: Will a Thundermaw Hellkite tap down my opponent's board if he has Akroma's Memorial?

A: It will. If becoming tapped were contingent upon damage being dealt, it'd state that very explicitly, as seen on Aggravate. Your Hellkite will have its damage prevented, but all those flying Angel-wannabes will be tapped.

Q: What happens when a Fencing Ace gets blocked by a Grim Roustabout that regenerates?

A: First we have first-strike damage. The Fencing Ace tickles Grim Roustabout's ribs with its pointy little sword, and then the Skeleton regenerates. This removes it from combat, since it's too busy laughing or something. When the time for regular combat damage comes around, Fencing Ace prepares to take a swing... but there is no blocking creature for it to deal damage to and it doesn't have trample. It stands there looking sad and assigning no damage.

Q: Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir versus Hypersonic Dragon - who wins?

A: If Roger Corman films this, we all win. Otherwise, it comes down to a boring "can't vs can" fight, and "can't" always wins those. But wait, you telepathically tell me from the future, neither card says "can't"! Fun quirk of the rules: "can only" is defined to mean "can't except" - so Teferi really says "Each opponent can't cast spells except any time he or she could cast a sorcery." And thus does Teferi, probably played by Samuel L. Jackson, punch a Dragon in the face.

Q: How does Dueling Grounds interact with Finest Hour's extra combat?

A: Hey, this is another twofer! It matters for both attacking and blocking.

For attacking, whichever creature attacked the first time gets to attack again. It's the same creature, assuming it survived the first combat, and so attacking with it meets Dueling Grounds's restriction. It'll get another set of exalted bonuses, too!

For blocking, whichever creature blocked the first time can also block again... assuming it survived. If not, no creatures can block.

Q: If Jace, Architect of Thought dies a messy death before my opponent attacks, do his creatures still get -1/-0?

A: They will. As Jace's first ability resolves, it creates a delayed triggered ability that's independent of Jace. It'll trigger and shrink your opponent's creatures no matter what happens in the meantime.

While a "pride" refers to a group
of lions, a group of smaller cats
is known as a "clowder."
Q: Four 2/2 creatures attack me, and I control two Palisade Giants. Do they both survive?

A: Nope, one's going to die a pokey death. All normal combat damage is dealt at the same time, and Palisade Giant doesn't look for "a source" dealing damage - it just looks for any one time of damage being dealt and moves it around.

Q: My 4/4 Rhino token is blocked by two Runewings. Can I assign all 4 damage to one so my opponent only gets one card?

A: While it's normally best to have a creature deal damage as deep through the combat damage assignment order as possible, you don't have to. You can assign "overkill" for any reason, whether to overcome a prevention effect, to stop a creature with a naughty death trigger from dying, or just because you feel like being merciful.

Q: I made a token copy of Mirror-Mad Phantasm. What does its ability do now if I activate it?

A: The same thing as a nontoken Mirror-Mad Phatasm's ability does. You shuffle it into your library (although we recommend that you do not physically shuffle the token in, since it'll cease to exist shortly), and then reveal cards from the top until you reveal a card named Mirror-Mad Phantasm. The token isn't a card, so you just ignore it entirely (see, don't bother putting it in while you shuffle) and see if you find such a card. If you don't, your entirely library gets dumped into your graveyard.

Q: Do I have to cast my spells for Epic Experiment in the order I exile them?

A: Nope, you exile them all and then after that you're instructed to cast them. You can cast them in any order you'd like.

Q: When I cast spells with Epic Experiment, do they stay exiled or go to my graveyard?

A: The very first step of casting a spell is to take it from wherever it was and put it onto the stack. As soon as that happens, the card's no longer exiled; nothing says they should go back to exile, so they'll go to your graveyard like any other spell after they resolve.

Q: I won game one, and we drew game two after time was called. Is the match a draw?

A: A winner is you! A match naturally ends after someone's won two games, but if the match ends due to time and only one player's won a game, that player wins the match. Game two is a draw, which may or may not matter for tiebreakers, so make sure to correctly report the 1-0-1 result.

Q: I won game one, he won game two, and time was called while we were shuffling. Do we still only get five turns?

A: You get zero turns. If both players haven't finished mulligans before time is called, the game never starts. The final result is 1-1, no draws (again, a draw like that might affect your tiebreakers if they matter for the tournament).

Q: What are the rules for altering a card's art?

A: There are three hard rules that absolutely must be followed: 1) The art must remain recognizable; 2) The modifications must not make the card marked; 3) The name and mana cost may not be covered or altered. Additionally, apply common sense: offensive alterations are no better than offensive tokens, and "substantial" strategic advice isn't any better on a card than it is on a cheat sheet in your pocket.

Beyond that... it comes down to the Head Judge's discretion. Many judges will not allow alterations that cover the card's borders, and a number will not allow alterations that cover the text box.

Just ask the Head Judge of an event before playing with altered cards, and have backups on hand. If you didn't bring a replacement Geist of Saint Traft and you're told you can't use the altered one you have, you won't get a proxy for it; you'll have to run a different card, and that's not going to be fun times.

And now, buried beneath a towering pile of soft, warm kittens, it's time to wrap up this article. Join us next week when Carsten comes back with another pile of questions, assuming he manages to emerge from his turkey coma in time.

Turkey coma? Yup, happy Thanksgiving to our American readers!

Until next time, may your family gatherings be purrfect.

- 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.

But Dinosaurs were in magic. I'll refer you to one of my favorite little green guys from Ice Age:
#1 • Date: 2012-11-18 • Time: 22:52:08 •
Dat looks like a Creature - Lizard to me.
#2 • Date: 2012-11-19 • Time: 12:32:55 •
Look at the picture of the physical card
#3 • Date: 2012-12-03 • Time: 10:49:53 •
I had a game state where my opponent had mirror mad phantasm and 2 cards in library and I was dead to it next turn. I Traitorous Blooded it and sacced it, getting lucky and hitting his other 2 cards.
#4 • Date: 2012-12-13 • Time: 23:01:31 •

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