Published on 11/26/2012

Thanks Given

Cranial Translation
简体中文 繁體中文 Deutsch Español Français Italiano Pусский

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

'Tis the season to be thankful
Welcome back to another episode of Cranial Insertion. As Eli mentioned last Monday, many of our American readers celebrated Thanksgiving last week. Thanksgiving is the time of the year when we stuff ourselves with stuffed turkey and reflect on what we're thankful for. I personally am thankful to Wizards of the Coast for continually making Magic better than ever. I am also thankful to our readers for continuing to send in rules questions so that we here at Cranial Insertion have something to write about. As my token of appreciation, here is another selection of rules questions from our inbox.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet them to @CranialTweet. We'll always answer directly, and your question might be chosen to appear in a future issue.

Now, let's dig in!

Q: Let's say I control Bruna, Light of Alabaster and there's a Cage of Hands in my graveyard that I want to get out so I can bounce it to my hand. If I attack with Bruna, can I attach Cage of Hands to her, and will she continue to attack?

A: Sure, that's perfectly legal. Bruna's triggered ability pulls Cage of Hands from your graveyard and attaches it to Bruna. The fact that Bruna now has a "can't attack" ability doesn't matter at all, since attack restrictions are only checked when attackers are declared. The game is already past that point, so Bruna will happily continue to attack.

Q: Does Cathars' Crusade's ability trigger when I animate my Selesnya Keyrune?

A: Nope. To enter the battlefield, a creature has to go from "not on the battlefield" to "on the battlefield." The Keyrune was already on the battlefield, so it didn't enter the battlefield when it became a creature.

Q: My opponent casts an uncounterable spell such as Loxodon Smiter. Can I target that spell with Geist Snatch just to get a Spirit token?

A: Sure, that works. Geist Snatch can target any creature spell, and a Loxodon Smiter on the stack is indeed a creature spell, so it's a legal target. When Geist Snatch resolves, it does as much as it can, which means that it tries and fails to counter Loxodon Smiter and then gives you a token.

Q: I control Leyline of Lifeforce and cast a creature spell, so it's uncounterable due to the Leyline. Can my opponent use Cryptic Command to bounce my Leyline and counter my spell?

A: No, he can't counter your spell that way. He can cast Cryptic Command with those modes and targets, but the instructions are followed in the order they're written in the card text. Since countering happens first, your spell is still uncounterable at that time, so Cryptic Command fails to counter your spell and then it bounces the Leyline to your hand.

Q: I hit my own Doubling Season with Aura Mutation. How many Saprolings do I get?

A: You'll get five Saprolings. You follow Aura Mutation's instructions in the order written, so you first destroy Doubling Season and then you get tokens. Since Doubling Season is no longer on the battlefield when you get the tokens, its ability is no longer around to double the number of tokens.

Q: If my opponent's Angel of Fury dies while I control it with Traitorous Instinct, who will shuffle the Angel into his library?

A: Nobody, actually. The Angel simply goes to the graveyard and stays there. The reason for this has two parts. First off, a creature that dies goes directly to its owner's graveyard, even if another player controlled it at the time it died, so your opponent's Angel of Fury won't touch your graveyard even for a nanosecond. Secondly, the triggered ability is a leave-the-battlefield ability that looks back in time to see if it triggered. Just before the Angel left the battlefield, you controlled it, so it checks whether the Angel went to your graveyard. Since the Angel didn't go to your graveyard, the ability doesn't trigger at all and nobody gets to shuffle it into their library. Note that this is very different from a "dies" trigger which triggers regardless of whose graveyard the creature goes to.

Q: I control a bunch of Centaur tokens and my opponent casts Detention Sphere, targeting one of my Centaurs with its enter-the-battlefield ability. Can I save my Centaur army from extinction by blinking the targeted Centaur with Restoration Angel?

A: Sure, that works, except that the Centaur token you're blinking won't come back from its trip to the exile zone. When Detention Sphere's ability tried to resolve, it discovers that its target has unexpectedly vanished, so its only target has become illegal. This means that the ability is countered on resolution, so none of its effects happen and it won't exile anything.

Stuff with chopped instants and sorceries,
serve hot.
Q: Can I cast Syncopate for X=0 without targeting anything just so I can feed it to my Nivmagus Elemental?

A: Nope. Syncopate requires a spell as a target, and you can't cast a spell without choosing the required number of targets.

Q: Bummer. Can I cast Syncopate targeting itself then?

A: Nope, that doesn't work, either, since a spell is never a legal target for itself. In order to feed Syncopate to Nivmagus Elemental, you'll also need some other spell to target with Syncopate. Maybe cast Fireball for 0, then target that with Syncopate for 0, and then feed both to Nivmagus Elemental! Burp!

Q: If I exile a Pack Rat with Dark Impostor, what do I get when I activate the token-making ability the Impostor gets from the Rat?

A: You'll get a token that's a copy of Dark Impostor, which is probably not quite as useful as a Pack Rat token. The name "Pack Rat" in Pack Rat's text should be read as meaning "this thing here," so Dark Impostor gets an ability that says "Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of this thing here."

Q: My opponent casts Lingering Souls from his hand and then wants to flash it back right away, but I want to respond with Purify the Grave. Can I do that?

A: No, that's not possible. The hard-cast Lingering Souls goes to the graveyard as the very last step of its resolution, and then your opponent gets priority to act first because he is the active player. If he uses his priority to flash back Lingering Souls, the card moves from the graveyard to the stack right away before you can respond with Purify the Grave.

Q: My opponent casts Lord of Extinction while there are ten cards in all graveyards and I counter it with Essence Backlash. How much damage does Essence Backlash deal to my opponent?

A: Essence Backlash looks at the power the spell had when it was countered. Fortunately for you, and unfortunately for your opponent, Lord of Extinction's power is defined by a characteristic defining ability that functions everywhere, so the ability functions even on the stack. At the moment the spell was countered its power was 10, so Essence Backlash deals a whopping 10 damage. Ouch!

Q: If I target my opponent with Dwell on the Past, who chooses how many cards he shuffles into his library?

A: You do. The "up to" in "shuffles up to four target cards" indicates a variable number of targets, so you choose how many cards to target when you cast the spell. When it resolves, there are no choices involved and your opponent shuffles exactly those targeted cards into his library as long as they're still legal targets then.

Thanks for the free 4/4!
Q: If I cast Inquisition of Kozilek on my opponent and the only eligible card in his hand is Loxodon Smiter, do I have to choose it?

A: I'm afraid so. Inquisition of Kozilek doesn't say "may," so choosing a card with converted mana cost is not optional. This means that your opponent gets a free Loxodon Smiter onto the battlefield, so he has something to be thankful for.

Q: If Thraximundar attacks and the defending player sacrifices their commander into command zone, does Thraximundar still get a counter?

A: Sure. Thraximundar's counter-adding ability triggers on a player sacrificing a creature, not on that creature going to the graveyard, so the ability triggers regardless of where the sacrificed creature ends up.

Q: Can I have both Rakdos the Defiler and Rakdos, Lord of Riots on the battlefield at the same time?

A: Yup! While it may be a bit of a paradox to have two different versions of the same being on the battlefield at the same time, the rules don't worry about this paradox. The legend rule checks the entire name of the card, and those two cards have different names when you look at the entire name, so they both stick around. This is good for you and bad for your opponent who will soon suffer a severe case of Rakdos intolerance.

Q: If I Unsummon my opponent's Dryad Militant, does Unsummon go to the graveyard or into exile?

A: Unsummon wants to go the graveyard after it has finished resolving. At that moment, Dryad Militant is no longer on the battlefield, so its effect is no longer active, so Unsummon actually goes to the graveyard.

Q: In a recent game, my opponent controlled Sporogenesis and a Psychotrope Thallid with two spore counters and one fungus counter on it. I destroyed the Thallid and my opponent put three Saproling tokens onto the battlefield, claiming that the cards have gotten errata and spore counters are the same as fungus counters. Is that true?

A: Only in the land of wishful thinking and make-believe. If the cards had gotten errata, their Oracle text would reflect that, and it is easy to verify that the Oracle text for Sporogenesis mentions fungus counters while Psychotrope Thallid mentions spore counters. Since those counters have different names, they are not interchangeable no matter how much your opponent wants them to be the same.

Q: At which Rules Enforcement Levels am I allowed to take sideboarding notes to a match?

A: That's allowed at all Rules Enforcement Levels. The rules regarding notes are the same at all RELs: During games of a match you're only allowed to refer to notes you made during that match, but between games you may refer to notes that were prepared before the match. You only get three minutes between games for sideboarding and shuffling, though, so the notes you use should be accordingly brief.

Q: My opponent controls an active Pyromancer Ascension and two Guttersnipes. He casts Desperate Ritual and says "take 4" to acknowledge the Guttersnipe triggers, so I take 4 damage. Now he wants to add 6 mana from Desperate Ritual and its Pyromancer Ascension copy, but I don't think he can do that because he didn't announce the Pyromancer Ascension trigger. Can he still get the copy and the extra 3 mana?

A: First off, I'll assume that this is at a tournament with Competitive Rules Enforcement Level, since at Regular REL you're supposed to point out when your opponent misses a trigger he controls. Then again, based on your description it doesn't sound like your opponent missed his Pyromancer Ascension trigger. It's true that he didn't explicitly announce the trigger, but the rules don't require an explicit announcement. The rules only require that the trigger's controller demonstrate awareness of the trigger at some point by the time it would resolve.

Since the trigger goes on the stack above the original Desperate Ritual, the trigger would only be considered missed if your opponent resolved the original Desperate Ritual without demonstrating awareness of the trigger. However, your opponent did demonstrate awareness of the trigger exactly at that moment by communicating his desire to have two Desperate Rituals resolve, so I would rule that he didn't miss the trigger and he gets 6 mana.

And that's all the time we have for today. Until next time, may you find many things to be thankful for.

- 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.

For the last question, Pyromancer Ascension only copies the spell; there's no mention of *casting*. As such, there should be only one Guttersnipe trigger.
#1 • Date: 2012-11-26 • Time: 20:16:48 •
Quote (ongchinkai):
For the last question, Pyromancer Ascension only copies the spell; there's no mention of *casting*. As such, there should be only one Guttersnipe trigger.

There are two Guttersnipes, so there are two Guttersnipe triggers from casting the Ritual.
#2 • Date: 2012-11-26 • Time: 20:25:09 •

Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!