Published on 01/07/2013

Out with the Old

or, Welcome to 2013

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Happy new year!
Welcome back to the first Cranial Insertion of the brand new year! Have you stopped to think that children born in 2000 become teenagers in 2013? Scary.

So, following our chimp-tastic interlude last week, we're back to answering all of your questions from the inbox in the articles. Got more? Send them to or on Twitter to @CranialTweet, and we'll get you an answer and maybe even use your question for a later article.

Here's what's been brewing for the last couple weeks:

Q: Vesuvan Shapeshifter enters the battlefield as a copy of Angel of Serenity, turns face down, turns back face up copying the Angel again, and then dies. Will the creatures come back?

A: They won't, surprisingly enough. The "leaves the battlefield" trigger is linked to the "enters the battlefield" trigger. When the Shapeshifter stops being a copy of the Angel, then becomes a copy again, the new copy effect gives it a different set of linked abilities. The new "leaves the battlefield" trigger has no ties to the one that exiled creatures, so it won't bring anything back.

Q: I cast Tidehollow Sculler, then Humility. My opponent destroys my Humility, and then kills the Sculler. Does he get his card back?

A: He does. This isn't like the Angel situation in the last question where the creature gained a new set of linked abilities; its abilities are always generated by the text printed on it. They just blink out of existence for a little bit, but then come back from the same place they came from before. The link remains, and the "leaves the battlefield" trigger brings the card back.

Q: What happens when Undead Alchemist mills Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre?

A: Since Undead Alchemist only causes its milling on combat damage, we'll assume it's your turn, your Alchemist, and your opponent's Ulamog. Both effects trigger when Ulamog hits the yard, and then the active player's trigger - yours - is put onto the stack, followed by the nonactive player's. The last one on the stack resolves first, and Ulamog is shuffled away with the rest of the graveyard, and then the Alchemist's trigger creates a Zombie token. Note that getting the token is in no way contingent upon actually exiling the creature card; it'd say so explicitly if that were the case.

If Ulamog gets milled through some other means when it's not your turn, you get a much happier result! Now the Alchemist's trigger resolves first, exiles Ulamog, gives you a Zombie, and then the opponent's graveyard gets shuffled away, sans Ulamog.

Q: Say I'm at 29 life and attack with my Serra Ascendant. He is blocked by a vanilla 2/2. Does the Ascendant die from the combat damage or does the life gain apply in time to keep him alive?

A: Normally the result of damage is damage marked on a creature or the player losing life. Lifelink adds another result: the source's controller gaining life. This happens as part of dealing damage, so you'll be at 30 life before state-based actions come around to look for overly-damaged creatures, and the Ascendant will already be big and brutal by that time.

Let's just fast-forward through
January and get to the good stuff.
Q: My opponent casts Temporal Mastery and Reverberates it, then I Reverberate it, too. What happens now?

A: The boring rulesy answer is that extra turns are taken in the opposite order as created, similar to things resolving on the stack. But let's use a visual!

Here's the turn order, with the current turn bolded and player turns named O and Y for "opponent" and "you": YOYOYOYO

Temporal Mastery resolves for your opponent, so now we have (with extra turns underlined): YOYOOYOYO

You didn't say which of the Reverberates resolves first, so I'll assume you let your opponent's and the resulting copy resolve first: YOYOOOYOYO

And now you Reverberate and get your copy: YOYOYOOYOYO

Each time a "take an extra turn after this one" effect is created, you just tack that extra turn on immediately after the current one, and they'll accumulate and then happen just as the funny string of letters is laid out.

Q: My opponent counters my morph with Desertion. But that morph is Lumithread Field. Does he get it? What does he get if so?

A: Your field of lights will desert you and go help him as an enchantment. The spell is a creature spell, so that fits Desertion's requirement for switching sides. But he puts the card onto the battlefield, and without anything specially telling it to come in face down, it'll come in face up!

Q: If I throw down an Ulvenwald Bear against a Llanowar Elves in a Guild Feud with nothing else having died, will the morbid trigger be put on the stack and eventually resolve after the Bear chomps on the Elves?

A: It won't. At the time that the Bear enters the battlefield, its morbid trigger immediately checks to see if it should trigger at all. Since nothing's died, it doesn't see any reason to get off its lazy butt and get on the stack.

Q: If multiple Chancellor of the Spires were to enter the battlefield simultaneously could they all target and successfully cast the same card in an opponents graveyard?

A: They can all target the same card, but after one of those triggers resolves, the card gets cast - it goes on the stack, eventually resolves, and goes back to the graveyard as a brand new object. This new object has no relation to its previous existence, and is not the same card that the other Chancellors targeted, so their triggers get countered for lack of a target.

Q: Can you counter a creature spell that has hexproof?

A: You sure can! Hexproof only does anything while the object with hexproof is on the battlefield, and it can be targeted just fine while it's on the stack or in a graveyard.

Q: How does Mindslaver work with skipping turns?

A: Mindslaver doesn't lock in when it'll enslave your mind. It just waits, patiently, stalking in the grass like an adorable kitten, preparing to pounce on your mind as soon as you actually take a turn and wrest control from you.

Q: Rule 120.2a says that the active player does all of his draws first. Does that mean that if we're both out of cards in our library and I activate Temple Bell on my opponent's turn, he dies first?

A: That isn't what it means. True, your opponent tries to draw and fails to do so first, but that doesn't make him lose the game yet. Losing the game because you couldn't draw when told to is a state-based action, and they're all processed after Temple Bell's ability is done resolving. At that point, you'll both have tried and failed to draw, so you'll both lose simultaneously and the game gets to draw instead.

Q: What happens if an indestructible creature gets brought down to 0/0?

A: Have you ever seen an indestructible light-switch cover? You can't scratch it, but let me tell you, a couple good whacks with a sledgehammer and it's gone. The not-terribly-clear-but-amusing point is that an indestructible thing can't be destroyed, but it may still suffer other horrible fates. Having 0 toughness is one such fate; that puts it straight into its owner's graveyard without destruction, so being indestructible won't help.

Q: Can I Wild Ricochet a spell without targets?

A: You can - Wild Ricochet's only targeting requirement is "instant or sorcery spell." If that spell doesn't have any targets, then you just don't choose new targets, but you still get a copy.

Remember when lifegain was ridiculed?
Q: Can Cloudshift or Restoration Angel save Thragtusk from Supreme Verdict?

A: They won't. They can save your Thragtusk from an Ultimate Price since leaving and returning renders the target illegal, but Supreme Verdict does not target and the set of creatures to destroy isn't locked in at any point. Thragtusk will leave, return, make a token, and then Supreme Verdict destroys all creatures, including Thragtusk and the token you made.

Q: We both control a Huntmaster of the Fells. What happens when one of us doesn't cast any spells on our turn?

A: Both Huntmasters trigger to go howl at the moon. Whoever's turn it is puts his trigger on the stack, then the other player puts his on the stack on top. The top one resolves first, and then, before the other transformation trigger resolves, the "when transforms" trigger goes off. If it kills the remaining Huntmaster, which the player probably will choose to do, that other Huntmaster can't transform and can't Shock anything.

Q: On my opponent's turn, can I cast Evil Twin if I copy his Restoration Angel?

A: Evil Twin doesn't have flash, so you can't cast it when it's not your turn. It might eventually become a creature with flash, but that has no impact on how you can cast it.

This may seem entirely obvious to some of you, readers, but as Evil Twin has started seeing more play, I've seen a few players just think "Restoration Angel, that has flash, so I'm going to get a Restoration Angel now!" and cast Evil Twin without thinking. Be careful!

Q: A deathtouchy Izzet Staticaster targets one of my three Wolf tokens, so I use Restoration Angel to get rid of that token. Doesn't that save the other two tokens?

A: That one Wolf will give up its very existence to save its litter mates. Restoration Angel will exile it, and it can't come back since it's a token, but that does make Staticaster's ability have an illegal target. With all legal targets now illegal, the ability is countered entirely and nothing is dealt any damage. A memorial service for our brave, noble Wolf token will be held at noon on Wednesday.

Q: How does Safe Passage work in a Two-Headed Giant game?

A: Pretty poorly. Creatures attack the team, not a specific player. When you get to combat damage assignment, any damage that makes it through gets assigned to a specific head. So they can just pile the damage onto the head that isn't in a Safe Passage. On the bright side, your creatures will survive (but not your teammate's, oh well).

Q: I snagged control of my opponent's commander, and then bonded it to Deadeye Navigator and flickered it. Do I get it back forever now?

A: You'll get it forever and ever! Even if your opponent chooses to put his commander in the command zone rather than exile, that's the first place it goes to and so Deadeye Navigator's effect can find it and return it. Now you're its default controller, and it can proceed to deal lethal commander damage to its own owner!

Q: Someone was saying that under new rules, cards like Unburial Rites are both black and white, since a white mana symbol appears in the text. Is that true?

A: It's not true. What that "someone" is confused about is "color identity," which only applies to deckbuilding legality for Commander. Unburial Rites is always only black, due to its black mana symbol in its mana cost and lack of color indicator, and never white; but its color identity is black and white due to the white mana symbol in its text. That means that it's only legal in a deck whose commander is at least both white and black, but Iona, Shield of Emeria naming white will never stop it from being cast.

Q: Someone claims he opened a Gatecrash card in a RTR draft, so I just have to know: Can he play it in the draft?

A: Nope! Remember the crazy Zendikar "hidden treasures"? A small percentage of ZEN boosters had a valuable old card randomly inserted. Rather than allow people to use Mox Ruby in a Limited format, the Magic Tournament Rules were updated to say that cards not specifically printed in the product opened can't be played in that format. So if the GTC-in-RTR story is true, the player couldn't use that card in the draft.

Q: If my opponent has four Dissipates and two Negates in his deck, and I ask "How many counterspells do you have in your deck?" what can he answer?

A: He can answer just about anything that isn't obscene. The contents of a player's deck is very much private information - he is under no obligation whatsoever to tell other players about it, and is free to lie (believably or not) about its contents. If he wants to claim to run seventeen actual Counterspells in his RTR draft deck, he may do so.

That's a wrap for this week, but Carsten and James will be back over the next two weeks with more goodies before our big Gatecrash prerelease article! Are you ready for the fourth large expansion in a row? My storage boxes aren't.

Until next time, but only until that time, may your gates remain uncrashed!

- 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.

In response to the temporal mastery/reverberate question: wouldn\'t the reverberates resolve first, then the copies are put on the stack above TM?
#1 • Date: 2013-01-07 • Time: 00:05:39 •
That's what I believe as well.
The Temporal Mastery has to be on the stack in order for the Reverbrates to work, so it will definitley resolve last.
So that makes the only two possible solutions:

Another thing, shouldn't the following Question:
Q: We both control a Huntmaster of the Fells. What happens when one of us doesn't cast any spells on our turn?

Rather read like this:
Q: We both control a Huntmaster of the Fells. What happens when BOTH of us don't cast any spells on THE SAME turn?

I'm asking because right now it ready like only one player didn't cast any spells, while the other happily did - but the trigger for Transform is that NO spells were cast at all.
#2 • Date: 2013-01-07 • Time: 07:19:52 •
Zitat (jack0fhearts):
In response to the temporal mastery/reverberate question: wouldn't the reverberates resolve first, then the copies are put on the stack above TM?

Yes - we focused on resolving the ambiguity of the original question's ordering, and missed. Whoops. A correction will be noted next week. (The answer as it pertains to ordering extra turns is correct, just the order things resolved is impossible.)

@BladewingX: In this case, the ambiguity has only one reasonable resolution, since in the other, the card itself says that nothing triggers so there's no question.
#3 • Date: 2013-01-08 • Time: 10:55:49 •
I was just wanting to make sure I wasn't misreading the solution. Thanks for the clarification!
#4 • Date: 2013-01-13 • Time: 11:20:23 •

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